And as I spit my dying wish, you’re listening to something else

494befdb83834fba0af476cb062eb42e

Even in my early days in Australia, there was a fondness and affection for what the Footy Show was in the old days, not what it was currently. It’s always had a sepia toned glow of nostalgia – at least in my time. The peak era of blokey blokes doing blokey bloke things on TV. Remember that bit with the M&M or when Crawf pulled Sams daks down! Hilarious! The success of the show enforced a particularly Melbourne way of doing things, and that was to others detriment at times, putting up walls and closing down avenues for those not in on the “success”. Criticise us would you? Get out of here, you’ll never set foot in this establishment again! At it’s peak, it wasn’t just a show, it was a clique, an establishment, a swaggering gang. And of course, it established one thing – criticism of it’s brand of “humour” was to not be able to just have a LAUGH (c Herald Sun 50/50 writers) and to have you be dismissed as some kind of second tier media, politically correct humorless shrew. If you didn’t appreciate that time Sam Newman compared a South East Asian man to a monkey (and then followed it up by comparing that man to Serena Williams ten minutes later, do you GET IT!) or some of the Molly Meldrum/Roland Roccacelli “jokes”, well, if you don’t like Australia you can just leave you humorless shrew Yank!

There’s a moment in one of the early years where the camera cuts to a group of women in the crowd – a hens party, or a netball team, whooping and cheering. Eddie McGuire  conspiratorially nods to Sam Newman in the footy trip language of “yer in” here, and Sam responds by sitting up peacock straight in his chair and preening. Cut to the women in the audience, then back to Sam, lasciviously preening more. And that was on top of every show opening with Sam being played in by the James Bond theme and a woman in the crowd being shown clapping. The tone of the show has always put me off, just little moments I see like that. There’s always been a barrier to my full comprehension of the show, something off about its humour. Something about the banter of the bloke puts up an immediate barrier, something about that show…but that’s just me, and believe me, this blog post isn’t telling you not to watch, hey, knock yourself out. Comedy is after all subjective, and it’s unfair to say the Footy Show is 100% terrible, the Shane Crawford charity events have to go into the books as some of Australia’s best ever TV  – but my experience as a viewer is to sit uncomfortably through a world of humour that seems deliberately exclusionary. He’s fat! He’s gay! He’s hairy! He’s old! But it’s all in fun! You wouldn’t get it, that mannequin stunt? Fucking pisser! Caro deserved it, old dog that she is! Make us a cup of tea love, the blokes are on, talking footy, you wouldn’t understand…

Writing about Sam Newman is a difficult act – after all, the obvious angle is to point out his age and make fun of that, but making several age comments at the start of an article about him bullying people induces a certain hypocrisy, even if it is the easiest way to get into the topic. So best stick to the issue at hand – on Thursday nights Footy show, after a joke which slipped through to the keeper from Bill Brownless about Caitlyn Jenner being ugly, Sam Newman decided to use all his experience in live TV – the live TV expertise eulogized by James Brayshaw and Eddie McGuire as “world class” or “best in the world” – to casually mention when asked who Caitlyn Jenner was, replied “I know who he… it is. I do.” It. And there it was, the deep discomfort I always feel as a viewer when THAT banter comes into play. And in truth, it didn’t feel like banter. It felt like a really nasty, old world view attack. A belittling. A bullying. Footy club banter at it’s most debasing. The kind of public bullying that spills on to the streets, that causes people to get beaten up in the schoolyard, in the street, at its worst. You aren’t one of US, not a man, now a woman, some freak you are….not…anything. Just an it. Not that Bill Brownless (remember ladies, you are akin to a wallet) came out of it better, given he made the initial joke. Nor anyone really. Given the clip was apparently pre-recorded, to think it went to air is pretty unthinkable. Someone let it go to air. Someone thought it was funny, or Sam being Sam. Like the old days. Like the Nicky Winmar “skit”. Like the Naomi Robson/Sam Lane/Caro “editorials”. Like the old days…like the glory days…best in the world at live TV…

Hey, maybe you think calling Caitlyn Jenner an “it” is a harmless piece of hysterical Sam being Sam banter, the kind of chaotic live “Aussie” TV we don’t see enough of these days…get us the beers love, Almost Footy Legends is coming on! I think I’m in one of these clips! I’m not naive enough to think the world changes here. I know just like in the Nicky Winmar “skit”, where Garry Lyon is pissing himself in the background, Bec Maddern and Hutchy covered for Sam by simply “moving on”, just like she laughed off being compared to Shrek because that’s what you do on this show! You cop it!- Bec Maddern, that’s a topic for another day by the way. There’s always a cover for these views. You don’t get it, just having a laugh, political correctness, what happened to free speech, you don’t like it when Margaret Court tells it like it IS…hey on Bounce, Danny Frawley did a Chinese accent! Ripper! Did you hear that one about the #28 in the Chinese game being the fried rice with blackbean sauce!

Except we do get it. More and more we get it. And Annie Nolan gets it. And Patrick Dangerfield gets it. And Liam Picken gets it. And the PR world gets it, since it’s now bad for your brand to be on the show. And the bean counters get it at Channel 9, wondering if this is all worth it anymore. And the audience gets it, since the ratings are down to the point Channel 7 are moving Friday Front Bar to Thursdays. OK, so the brave new world of comedy being lead by Mick Molloy (with a teaser trailer from Wayne Carey) isn’t great, but it’s something…we do get it. There is a brand of humour you have that engages in bullying, belittling, setting you against them. That says you can’t be “them”. That you don’t have to condone anymore, that you can call out, should you choose to stand up to the “comedy” that passes for world-class entertainment (c James Brayshaw). And if players are on board, all to the good. The world is changing. You can embrace the change, or, well, you can put to air a pre recorded bit where you call a transgender woman an “it” to appreciative yuks. I mean, again, maybe you thought it was a hilarious knee slapping moment of amazing comedy worthy of champagne and awards…

After all, it was only an “it”…

The Doorstop and the damage done

Something strange and curious has happened this year with football media – this blog is partially born out of an untapped frustration at the way “sledgegate” was reported. And since then, the media has slipped even further. Floundering for nothing much to talk about, they’ve engaged in infighting amongst themselves (Mark Robinsons thoughtful reaction to the Sam Newman comments was “what about Barrett and Hutchy!” – which is the sharpest of ground axes), come up random topics of the week (Runners! Get rid of them! That was one of my favourites, akin to Karl Pilkingtons “Do we need em?”), TMZed themselves up with a dip into Jake Stringers personal life, and Graham Cornes even wanted Tommy Bugg charged with dis-repute for his Instagram post. There’s a maelstrom of noise, hot takes and charged up opinions. And none of it is really sticking. There’s too many journalists with nothing to do. It’s a cacophony of sound, saying little, meaning even less…

On Monday on Footy Classified (to recap – a show with “footy” in the title with an entire panel of people who hate footy) featured a grown up, adult, robust discussion between Nathan Buckley and Craig Hutchison on the role of media in 2017. Having read Nathan Buckley’s book, I know Buckley has had his run ins with the media – not just the obvious “will he/won’t he” coaching discussion, but from his playing days. FIGJAM? Put into the public domain by a journalist, Jon Anderson. Buckley hates Scott Burns? Buckley hates Paul Williams? All media inventions, that stuck for years. And of course, lest we forget, Nathan Buckley sat on 360 next to Mark Robinson last year, who in a pretty amazing moment of clarity more or less said “ah well, just had a guess at the number of Collingwood players who failed a drug test! Good story though!”. Not like you can blame him for being at the end of his tether (and you can insert your own club version of this frustration here: I’ll just say the words Sean Dempster and move on). Things have got so bad in the media this year, there was a suggestion that Damien Barrett had called for an end to sensationalism. Which…sorry, let me get that quote about irony dying again…

Of course, Footy Classified being Footy Classified, they immediately spoiled it by putting up a “First Take” style “poll question” on Twitter asking “Who won the stoush!” because adults can’t talk to each other loudly and fairly without it becoming a poll question. And it’s pretty clear to all and sundry that some of Nathan Buckleys requests weren’t entirely practical (soundbites are always going to be used, it’s impractical to load an entire 12 minute context filled press conference anywhere but a website). It didn’t pass the irony watcher in me that Buckleys clip about out of context clips was edited into a shorter clip for Footy Classifieds Twitter feed, but I digress. From the media side, Craig Hutchison seemed to argue the media should have access to…do what exactly? Go all Wandering Brian and ask the players their favourite flavour of Gatorade? Oh, and blah blah, take the TV money when it suits you etc etc. It was a very interesting discussion that preyed on the divisiveness years of “what does this loss MEAN!”, agenda building, narrative TV and gossip and rumour about trading, unhappiness, captaincy problems and something bad about Tom Rockliff. Because always Tom Rockliff. And that’s on top of the never ending pointless media wars that devour players. Do an interview with THAT channel will you! Well, get my laptop, we’ll see how well you are going after this critique…

However, in this most divisive of years and, to be honest, one of the worst media years in living memory, what would they do with this mythical access (and if you are in the media, this is the point you mention something about “NBA! You can ask anyone anything!” don’t forget)? What would they do? Tell you something profound? The usual spin is “it’s for the fans”, which is, and this my PR hat on again, absolute nonsense. Particularly now. After all, a player is free to show their personality, tell their story, take up social issues in many, many forums. The extra access is for only one reason: content. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. However, Buckleys words did engender a strange defensiveness and inner reflection from the media. Gerard Whateley piped up the media was being compared to TMZ in his Jake Stringer summation, Julian De Stoop (king of the door stop) defended the door stop as some sort of easy process for everyone to go through, and then there was Jon “Uncomfortable” Ralph. Ralphs article was very interesting. Firstly, that a journalist from ANY Murdoch paper would decry clickbait journalism. Secondly, he used the phrase “fearless reporting” as if finding out Jordan De Goey lied about his injury was some sort of Woodward and Bernstein investigation. And finally, probably one of the most amazing quotes in any newspaper this year, or any year. I promise, this is a direct quote from the Herald Sun.

The media makes its share of mistakes and sometimes misrepresents quotes because it rates or sells papers”

Now STOP…stop right there. That is a direct quote, word for word, verbatim from the paper. I didn’t make that up. So if you read that, why would ANYONE in club land possibly want to deal with the media? “We mis-represent quotes because it rates or sells paper” – why read on? If you need a sense of a floundering media, if you ever wonder why clubs don’t want Wandering Brian, well, wandering, don’t return Damien Barretts calls or aren’t keen to put people up for interviews without, Collingwood pre Grand Final 2010 style, telling them to be as boring as possible on the team bus, well, cut and paste that quote…

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s