By Sandi Tighello
Enough. I’ve had enough. And I’m sure, if you think and breathe, you’ve had enough too. Of what? Of the rubbish, of the media coverage, of the non-event that is Gordon Ramsey vs. Tracey Grimshaw.
This week so far has proved that my decision to start my own magazine was the best one I could have made. Because, safe to say, if I worked for any of the publications, or television stations, that created a story out of three comments that tumbled out of the mouth of a man who is well-known for being a wanker, I’d be embarrassed.
Australia, we have a real problem on our hands. We have a problem with the quality and integrity of Australian media. We have a massive problem when a non-event is created and hyped into a news story, and then run as a story in all manner of publications and on all manner of networks. Australia, we’ve got a problem when that story, five days later, is still making front page news. When the publishers of information, and the keepers of secrets, participate in a ‘he said, she said’ bickering match. We’ve got a problem when the Prime Minister of Australia engages in a debate that has been largely fabricated.
The problem in Australia is that each state only has up to two major newspapers. That each state watches the same program at 6.30pm every night. And these newspapers, and programs, hold the majority, and therefore, hold the power. Worse off, each night families, friends and retired couples gather around their television to be hypnotised by what is essentially rubbish.
In this article, Onya writer Jonathan Howcroft perfectly described programs like Today Tonight and A Current Affair as disproportionate sway tawdry condescending bile. And that would be an understatement.
We will all unfortunately remember Chk Chk Boom girl Claire Werbeloff and the fifteen minutes of fame she received a few weeks ago, simply for lying about an eyewitness account during the Kings Cross shooting. Naturally, it was the Nine Network’s A Current Affair that explained how a 3am prank turned her into what they described as a ‘global media star’. A star with t-shirts and beer mugs made in her honour. A star with a bikini shoot for a lads mag lined up. Puh-lease.
A mini star was born, all from spurting racist comments into a TV camera. Well, some people thought it was racist. Some people thought it was funny. She claims to have said the whole thing in jest. Just as Gordon Ramsey has claimed his comments were said in jest. Just as some people thought they were funny. Just as some people thought they were offensive.
I won’t enter a debate on Gordon Ramsey being wrong, or Tracey Grimshaw being right. As far as I’m concerned she can gouge his eyes out. Or he can pour spaghetti bolognaise over her head. I just don’t care. What I will comment on, though, is that for a country that prides itself on being full of larrikins, it seems to me that we very rarely know how to take a joke.
Claire Werbeloff made a joke. It wasn’t very funny. But our media created a star out of her. Gordon Ramsey made a joke. It wasn’t very funny. But rather than letting it slide, rather than leaving it to rest, to die where it should have, our media created an issue out it. Would the situation have been different if he directed his comments at someone else? Someone not so widely adored? How come Gordon Ramsey hasn’t had t-shirts printed in his honour, or wasn’t offered a shoot in a women’s mag for being a dick?
My point is that the world is full of awful comments and nasty people. But we don’t have to publish all of them. We don’t have to create an issue out of everything. Because here’s what, if you let something die, there and then, it won’t continue to exist. But, if you poke and prod and push and exhaust something, it will live on.
After Claire Werbeloff was ‘discovered’, Facebook pages and groups were created in disgust, with people sharing their thoughts and opinions. One such opinion was, “don’t give her the attention she’s after…she is on ACA tonight, I suggest everyone boycott it and watch CH7.”
Ah, but that’s the problem. One such program is no better than the other. There is a lack of choice. A lack of competition. A lack of class or intelligence in the Australian media.
When I stumbled upon another comment in the Claire Werbeloff Is A Liar And Moron Group, by a woman named Louise, I couldn’t help but cheer that someone else thought the same as I did:
“Why the f*** does my country worship idiots like this? It makes me really sad.”
Me too Louise, me too.