Chris Benoit Double Murder–Suicide: Four Years On.

A few months ago, I blogged about the disgrace of Charlie Sheen and John Galliano, and how Two & a Half Men  and Christian Dior were right to fire the men and disassociate their brands from them.

In that post, I also wrote about professional wrestler Chris Benoit who, four years ago today, committed a double murder–suicide, strangling his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son using chokeholds, then killing himself using a weight machine.

At the time, the mainstream media had a field day with the tragedy, especially when it was speculated that steroids and their side-effects—specifically ’roid rage—played a role. Outspoken, right-winged commentators like Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly had no shortage of perspectives on the case, and used “expert” witnesses (some credible, like fellow World Wrestling Entertainment stars John Cena, Chris Jericho, and Bret Hart, and some not-so-credible, like former WWE wrestlers Marc Mero and Steve Blackman, who both had axes to grind with the company) and opinions to bolster their arguments that pro-wrestling is nothing but a homoerotic display of extreme violence and degradation of all that is good and right in American culture by a bunch of ’roided-up, “fake” performers.

Books such as Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family & Crippled a Sport  by Steven Johnson, Heath McCoy, Irv Muchnick and Greg Oliver and Matthew Randazzo V’s Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit & the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry have examined that case and divided fans on the topic.

When I originally wrote the article below for a university paper, then subsequently re-edited it for a wrestling website, I struggled to reconcile the “family man” and 20-year pro wrestling veteran that fans and co-workers loved, with the monster who orchestrated a horror weekend involving domestic violence and obvious mental illness on Benoit’s part.

I have to admit I’m still biased, and still don’t feel as badly about Benoit as I should and do feel about someone like Charlie Sheen. As I wrote in “Minus Two & a Half Men:

“On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives…, sullied the reputation of professional wrestling and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today…

“Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.”

So, without further ado, here is a version of the article I mentioned above, originally written in 2008, with regular edits thereafter. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Over the weekend of 23rd and 24th June, 2007, the world of professional wrestling was rocked by the double murder-suicide involving World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Chris Benoit, his wife and seven-year-old son.

Benoit was scheduled to appear at a WWE pay-per-view on the night of Sunday, 24th June, but had to return home abruptly a few days earlier, claiming that his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel, had food poisoning. Suspicions arose when Benoit sent five odd text messages to co-workers and friends, repeatedly stating his “physical address”, which door to his suburban home was unlocked, and where his dogs were tied up. When repeated phone calls from the WWE went unanswered, and inquiries into local hospitals in the Atlanta, Georgia, area proved fruitless, WWE contacted authorities, who had a neighbour search the home, finding the bodies of Nancy, 43, and Daniel, 7. The body of Benoit, 40, was found hanging from a weight machine in his home gym.

At first it was thought the gruesome body count was the result of a triple-murder, and WWE ran a special three-hour tribute edition of their flagship show Raw, dedicated to the memory of Benoit. However, about 26 hours later news broke that it was actually Benoit who killed his family and himself. All mentions of his name were banned from WWE programming, and repeats of the tribute show were cancelled in international markets.

Doug Frattallone, a television producer, reporter and anchor, and author of the “Professor Wrestling” column on The Pittsburgh Channel website, says, “If there’s police tape around the home of one of your employees—and your employee and his family is inside, deceased—that might be a signal that there’s foul play. It’s certainly not the time to immortalise someone [with a tribute show]”.

The media, particularly in the US, had a field day with this story as more aspects of the crime came to light. Bad press has surrounded sports entertainment pretty much since its inception, and has only increased as the juggernaut that is WWE becomes more popular on a global scale. For example, when the Chris Benoit tragedy was revealed, US news programs, such as FOX’s controversial OReily Factor, were quick to point out that four prominent professional wrestlers had died since the book Wrestling Babylon by Irv Muchnick was published in 2007, adding to the industry’s negative profile. In the tome, Muchnick reveals 2002 and 2006 studies that focused on the premature deaths of 62 power lifters and 3, 850 National Football League (NFL) players respectively, and how the bigger men and men suspected of using steroids died at rates much higher than their non-drug-using counterparts. These findings lend themselves to the theory that Benoit committed his crimes while experiencing “’roid rage”, which I will return to later. But, Muchnick says, little attention has been paid to “the mortality rate of pro wrestlers…” because “…they’re just, you know, wrestlers”, and “are not actual human beings”.

Although not a wrestling fan at the time of Owen Hart’s death, a fatal accident that occurred during a pay-per-view where Hart was involved in an entrance via a cable from the rafters, I can only imagine the bad press generated at that time. And at the end of 2005, Eddie Guerrero, a second-generation wrestler and one of Benoit’s best friends, died of heart failure resulting from heavy drug use earlier in the wrestler’s life. This death didn’t cause as much controversy as Hart’s and Benoit’s (The Los Angeles Times newspaper dedicated almost ninety times as much info on Benoit as it did on Guerrero’s death), however there was some debate over drug use in sports entertainment once the toxicology report was released. WWE have overhauled their Wellness Policy, in which wrestlers are monitored on and penalised for drug use more stringently.

Kevin McElvaney, Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine and WrestleZone.com columnist, shares his thoughts on the Wellness Policy:

“Chris Benoit was obviously either allowed to ‘slip through the cracks’ or somehow circumvent the Wellness Policy through a loophole or with a cheating device… There was a recent change implemented in the Wellness Policy which addresses the possibility of cheating in urine tests. Wrestlers must now lift their shirts and pull their pants down to their knees while giving urine samples, while a representative of the testing team observes. Some people were probably using urine filtration devices to produce clean samples, and it’s possible that Chris Benoit did the same thing… One problem with the… policy—at least as of June 2007—was that doctors notes excused plenty of drug abuses that would otherwise have been punished…”

Fellow WrestleZone.com reporter Keelan Balderson echoes McElvaney’s concerns on the legitimacy of the program:

“…There are a few major loopholes that wouldn’t be allowed in the Olympics, for example… If you have a legitimate doctor’s prescription for a substance… it’s allowed to slide”.

Benoit had a doctor’s prescription, from the corrupt Dr. Philip Astin, who was charged with 175 counts of illegally prescribing drugs to Benoit and others, and has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

When reading the many farewell messages on the websites of Benoit’s peers and fellow wrestlers at the time the news broke, it’s clear he and his family’s deaths were hard to fathom. Former WWE Champion and current commentator for the SmackDown! Brand, Booker T, said on Houston, Texas, news program KHOU:

“I feel like the human life is a delicate piece of equipment and everyone has their breaking point. We don’t know what his breaking point was… We’re all human. I just think it was a huge malfunction and whatever it was, we may never know”.

Controversial former WWE Superstar Bret Hart, brother of the late Owen Hart, was interviewed extensively in the wake of the tragedy, saying Benoit was a locker-room leader and never expressed any signs that could have signified the events that occurred. “It knocked you off your feet the second you heard it…”, Hart said, “I can’t imagine Chris killing his son…”. In fact, Hart revealed that as a child, Benoit “reminded me of my own little son…”

Rob Van Dam, a former WWE Superstar who is known for being outspoken, holds Benoit in the highest esteem:

“Chris was truly a role model’s role model. You simply had to respect him and admire his focus and unmatched discipline. If I ever got asked a question about who I looked up to the most in the business… it’s Chris Benoit—in the ring and in the dressing room and with his family”.

However, there are others who view Benoit’s actions as unthinkable. Former WWE Diva Victoria, who chose to vent her feelings on MySpace, said the murder-suicide was “selfish” and “hurtful”, fearing that the high profile of Benoit “glamorises the situation”.

And of course there’s the official statements from WWE and Vince McMahon (whose WWE character and alter-ego “Mr. McMahon” was involved in a murder angle in the weeks leading up to Benoit’s death, which was immediately abolished in light of the tragedy) who appeared on US morning show Today, and his wife and WWE CEO Linda McMahon on Good Morning America. In Vince’s interview, he said that Benoit doesn’t represent what the WWE is about (although when he was alive, many people in the company, wrestling insiders and wrestling fans would say that Benoit was exactly what the WWE was about, or should be about), and that there was “no way of telling that this man was a monster”.

The WWE knows how smart their fans are in terms of knowing what goes on outside the ring, so why not incorporate some of that into the product? Chris Benoit will never be mentioned on or in WWE programming and publications again. However, to my knowledge Benoit has been mentioned twice on WWE programming since his demise [up to May 2008]: once in an onscreen address from Chairman McMahon the night after the Raw tribute show aired, saying that references to their disgraced employee will cease immediately, and during Ric Flair’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech (which has been edited out of the forthcoming WrestleMania XXIV DVD, on which the ceremony is a bonus feature). Due to the sensitive nature of the crimes it’s obvious why they haven’t been used to bolster the product.

Many are wondering what drove Benoit to murder his wife and child and take his own life over the span of three days. (Nancy was killed on Friday 22nd June, Daniel on Saturday 23rd June and finally, Benoit on Sunday 24th June, according to medical reports.) Much speculation revolved around “’roid rage”; violence stemming from the use of steroids. However, the rage usually only occurs for a few minutes after taking the drug, and with the murders taking place over three days, ’roid rage seems unlikely. Balderson says, “…There have been no studies that prove it even exists and on top of this there was method in Benoit’s actions—you can’t kill your wife, son and yourself in one quick burst of rage”. Heath McCoy, writing in Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport, agrees: “… there was much about the incident that indicated deliberation, not rage”. Contributing doctors on the case revealed that withdrawal from steroids does cause bouts of severe depression, fatigue and mood swings, which seems a more likely scenario. But the abundance of steroids found in Benoit’s possession (Dr. Astin provided the wrestler with ten months worth of steroids every few weeks), isn’t evidence to support withdrawals. Though, “to be safe, I think steroids should be treated as the cause of the problem, but so should concussions, mental health, and personal problems,” says McElvaney.

The factors in Benoit’s life mentioned above may have contributed to the tragedy. Benoit suffered a broken neck eleven years ago, and if he was still feeling the effects of the injury, it could have impacted tremendously on his emotional and physical wellbeing. The travelling involved with being a WWE Superstar results in being away from home for long periods of time, which can take a toll on personal relationships. Reports surfaced that Benoit and his wife Nancy fought constantly for the wellbeing of Daniel who, it was alleged, had Fragile X syndrome, a form of inherited developmental delay that can be accompanied by growth problems (Benoit had apparently been injecting his son with Human Growth Hormone [HGH] in an attempt to counteract that) and autism. Benoit may have transferred his paranoia about his own size onto his son. It took the wrestler years to break into the mainstream American market because he was “such a small man”. Bret Hart says when he met Benoit as a teen, he “remembers him looking closer to nine or ten”. Balderson explains:

“I think all smaller wrestlers deep down feel that they need to be bigger to make it [in the WWE] because that’s how Vince [McMahon] likes it… Vince continues to push wrestlers… because of their size [as opposed to actual wrestling talent], so there is an ideology that to make it in this industry you have to be big, or at least ripped for your size.”

Which Benoit was. McElvaney goes on:

“…Chris was self-conscious about his own size and, apparently, insecure about Daniel’s size. The latter is completely unjustifiable, to me. I think the fact that Chris Benoit injected his son with HGH affects my opinion of him far more than the fact that he, himself, used steroids.”

Daniel’s condition had been pretty well concealed, as McMahon, Benoit’s closest friends, and even Nancy’s parents were not aware of it (they deny that their grandson suffered from Fragile X). As stated earlier, grief over the death of friend Eddie Guerrero may have been a contributing factor to the killings, or at least Benoit’s state of mind. Greg Oliver, another author of the book Benoit, was in contact with the wrestler at the time of Guerrero’s death:

“‘… I do not believe that I will ever find someone that I will bond with and be able to understand and be understood as I was with Eddie… My wife Nancy bought me a diary and I have started to write letters to Eddie…’”

Said diary was not found by the authorities.

Also, it surfaced that Nancy filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against her husband in 2003, signaling that perhaps domestic violence was an occurrence in the marriage. (The divorce petition and restraining order were later dropped.) It had also been speculated that Benoit was to be demoted in the WWE. Just weeks before the tragedy, it was reported on many wrestling news websites (not WWE.com) that the WWE creative team didn’t feel Benoit had a strong enough on-screen persona or microphone skills to be a top Superstar or champion. However, the pay-per-view that Benoit missed the Sunday that he died was the day that he would once again be a World Champion. Chris Jericho weighed in on this at the time on Nancy Grace:

“… He was about to become the ECW Champion… ECW is more with some younger guys that are just learning, and Chris was a great trainer and so well respected, they wanted him to be kind of more of a trainer to some of these younger guys… So to move Chris to ECW, Chris would not see that as a demotion”.

His other stint as World Heavyweight Champion was at WrestleMania 20 in 2004, where Daniel and Nancy came into the ring to celebrate with Benoit. “… A hundred years from now, at WrestleMania 120, they’ll look back and see [that] Chris Benoit made Triple H tap out at Madison Square Garden…”, Benoit has said. No, they won’t. McCoy believes what Benoit did “to drag it [wrestling] down and scandalise it in the eyes of the public would have shamed [Benoit] to the core”.

Once again, WWE’s decision to pull all mentions of Chris Benoit from their product was the socially responsible and ethical thing to do. “Future generations will never know what a great performer he was, and that’s a shame,” says Oliver. “He epitomised what professional wrestling could and should be: hard-hitting, dramatic, serious action between high-calibre, exciting athletes”.

“We can… never forget or forgive these horrible acts… And that overshadows everything else in his life. But you can’t tell the story of pro wrestling without talking about Chris Benoit,” says Jericho.

Much like you can’t tell the story of the history of the world without taking the bad with the good. And, if turning on the nightly news is anything to go by, there’s still a lot of bad.

*

Three years after I wrote this article (with some edits I made just now), my feelings have changed somewhat. But if reading the copious amounts of literature on the subject of Benoit and questionable behaviour in sports entertainment (some of which I’ve mentioned here and, if you have any interest in this topic whatsoever, I advise you pick up. Perhaps I could even lend you a copy ;)), professional wrestling companies aren’t completely innocent in all this. One of the sections I edited out of the piece for publication on The Scarlett Woman was about wrestling legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka who, in 1983 after a domestic violence incident, was suspected of murdering his girlfriend. Yet he still appears frequently on WWE television as one of the greatest high-flying wrestlers of all time. I guess it goes to show that domestic violence, drug use and all manner of other crimes are passable in the entertainment industry (sorry to bring his name up again, but Charlie Sheen comes to mind), just as long as you’re not found guilty of murder. Then you’re really done for.

Related: Minus Two & a Half Men.

Elsewhere: [WTAE Pittsburgh’s Channel 4] Homepage.

[WrestleZone] Homepage.

[MySpace] TNA Knockout Tara AKA WWE Victoria (TNA Knockout Tara)’s Page.

Image via Who’s Dated Who.

Magazines: You Say It Enough, It Loses Its Meaning.

 

“N*gger.” “Wog.” “Hitler?”

According to Fiona Scott-Norman in this fortnight’s Big Issue, Hitler is still a word thats “boil… cannot be lanced”.

N*gger has been reappropriated by African American’s in hip hop and rap music. Wog is a common utterance in Australian society that I don’t personally feel comfortable using, but just flick over to any Aussie comedy and you’ll hear it.

But the same doesn’t go for Hitler, whose reference at the Cannes Film Festival recently by avant-garde Danish film director, Lars von Trier, has seen him banned from the festival for life. “For life!” Scott-Norman reiterates.

von Trier was joking when he said he could relate to the “enduringly monstrous” Hitler. There’s no question it was in bad taste, but banning for life? Really? I’m sure they could focus on banning people like Roman Polanski, who’s a U.S. fugitive wanted for sexual assault, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose marital indiscretions have come to the forefront in recent weeks. But racism is viewed more harshly than sexism. On one hand, I think both should be treated equally. On the other, at least there is a no-tolerance policy on racism in France. John Galliano is testament to that. Mel Gibson’s—who’s been caught on tape espousing racist and sexist vitriol—inclusion on the red carpet at this year’s Cannes not so much.

Related: FuckWalk: The Floodgates Have Opened.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

The Big Issue, 1–14 March 2011 Review.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Rebecca Black is subversifying the pop world.

“Yet here the discerning viewer notes that something is wrong. Because it is a simply matter of fact that in this car all the good seats have already been taken. For Rebecca Black (her name here would seem to evoke Rosa Parks, a mirroring that will only gain in significance) there is no actual choice, only the illusion of choice.

“The viewer knows that she’ll take the only seat that’s offered to her…”

The Awl even goes so far as to say Black’s relationship with the rapper in her “Friday” clip might be Lolita-esque, and that the video is a commentary on “a crypto sex scene from which we return to the suburban house party”. Creepy.

What it feels like for a (tween star) girl.

I hate answering the phone. When I lived at home, I would never answer the landline when it rang. Now that I fend for myself and can only afford one phone, I only answer numbers I recognise. So does Pamela Paul, via MamaMia.

Extremely racist anti-abortion billboards aimed at African Americans.

Lucy Ormonde asks if it’s acceptable for women to make the first move. My answer: hell yes! Otherwise I would never get any action!

“Words That Are Transphobic & Why.”

The Sartorialist’s “sturdy” shitstorm.

It’s okay to be “fat”, just as long as it’s in the right places, ie. bum, hips and boobs, allowing for a small waist, à la Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks.

After reading this review, I can’t wait to see Sucker Punch: a “Burlesque meets Inception” amalgamation of “bustiers, fishnets and glitter instead of asylum uniforms” where Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish et al’s characters reside in the film. These are just some “of the many clues that we are not actually inside the mind of a young girl, but inside Zach Snyder’s spank bank!”

Perhaps it could have been titled something else, but “How to Be Skinny” has some good points.

Kate Walsh is not a loser!:

“She’s certainly not a loser, based on her many accomplishments. Having a baby doesn’t instantly turn you into a winner. If you feel like a loser for not having a baby, that is your personal truth, but it is not The Truth. And! The fact that so many media outlets picked up this one sentence segment—from a long cover story with quotes about divorce, high heels and Lady Gaga—shows that we, the public are the real losers, for placing so much importance on how a woman uses her uterus.”

“5 Seconds of Every #1 Song From 1993–2011.”

“What Celebrity Culture Means:” Asking completely unqualified famous teenage boys their opinions on abortion and rape:

“‘Thanks for joining us tonight Mr. Bieber. What are your views on climate change? How do you feel about Iraq? And what do you think of the criticism levied against the parents of the Columbine shooters?’”

Going Gaga for breast milk.

On catastrophes and guilt.

Is gay marriage really the hallmark of society’s downfall? Not according to this fab pie chart.

Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, John Galliano et al: our obsession with celebs behaving badly.

Sarah Ayoub-Christie likens the freelance market to war, via Lois Lane, on The New Adventures of Superman. I’m inclined to agree!

“Jackie O & the Twisted Politics of Being a Bad Mother” at MamaMia.

Jezebel has also picked up the story.

Where’s the (nerd) love?

Today’s celebrity perfumers could take a lesson from the late Liz Taylor in personal branding.

90% of Facebook users take note: “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling.”

The fashion life cycle of the meat dress.

Images via Democratic Underground, Graph Jam, Feministing, The Awl.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Megan Fox’s body politics:

“… You have a picture of said body—made even thinner through creative posing—that’s used to sell underwear. In other words, she is paid to be thin. Period. All the talk about her abs and her weight-training regimen don’t have anything to do with the reality: Her body is her business. Literally. It’s her business, not ours, whether she’s healthy—that’s between Ms. Fox and her doctor. And it’s her business—an integral part of her financial strategy—to be thin.”

This is a superb, graphic and thought-provoking piece of writing on waxing, vaginoplasty and the ubiquity of female lady-parts. Semi-NSFW, but I recommend reading it at any cost:

“… while we can look over with horror at a tribe of women who claim that if their five-year-old happened to bleed excessively after having her clitoris cut off, that she must have been a witch, here in our own backyard, we give it some fancy name like vaginoplasty and somehow it’s less archaic? Goodness, we’re so civilized.”

Bern Morley on song lyrics and what we let our children listen to. Good stuff.

The double standards of cheating. FYI, I don’t agree with them.

Sachar Mathias divulges her favourite black dolls. Does this make-shift Michael Jackson Ken count? It is circa late ’90s/early ’00s—his face mask, baby-dangling period—so maybe not…

Anti-Semitism in the fashion house of Christian Dior goes further back than just John Galliano’s comments.

James Franco was a jerk to Kristina Wong. I think he’s a jerk in general.

CNN recently published an article asking if “whites are racially oppressed?” That’s like saying there needs to be an international men’s day if there’s a women’s one. Seriously, someone tried to argue that to me last week!

Charlie Sheen and “The Disposable Woman”.

Thanks for the shoutout, Beauty Redefined.

Celebrities behaving badly: who’s responsible?:

“But is it the responsibility of the media to be the moral gatekeepers of what we should and shouldn’t know about? Is it their responsibility to diagnose supposed ‘mental illness’ and on that basis, stop reporting on certain stories?

“… If drug addled celebrities on the front pages didn’t sell, they wouldn’t be there. So is the problem us? Just who is egging on who[m] here?”

Alissa Warren is a bit unsure if Waity Kaity is the royal for her.

Rick Morton on Pauline Hanson’s political return.

Images via Jezebel, Carlen Altman.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

How to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel:

“Holding tight to a mission statement that stands first and foremost to ‘empower women,’ and a slogan stating the brand is one to ‘Inspire, Empower and Indulge,’ the company ‘helps customers to feel sexy, bold and powerful.’

“Where once sexualized representations of women in the media presented them as passive, mute objects of an assumed male gaze, today women are presented as active, desiring sexual subjects who choose to present themselves in an objectified manner because it suits their ‘liberated’ interests to do so.

“Not only are women objectified as they have been, but through sexual subjectification, they must also now understand their own objectification as pleasurable and self-chosen.”

Why Britney Spears is the everywoman pop star of our generation.

Unfortunately for John Galliano, “Rehab Does Not Cure Anti-Semitism”.

Also, Gawker wonders “How the Hell is Anti-Semitism Having a ‘Moment’?”

Owen Wilson managed to escape the tabloid microscope of Hollywood after his 2007 suicide attempt, unlike so many other stars who’ve fallen of the mental health wagon (the aforementioned Britney, Lindsay Lohan and flavour of the moment, Charlie Sheen):

“…it is Wilson who seems to have gotten the hall pass. He has never explained what happened to him that anguished Sunday in August…

“It’s a fascinating instance of a celebrity hiding in plain sight—and getting away with it—that stands virtually alone in Hollywood’s PR playbook.

“What’s the statute of limitations on personal issues in Hollywood?”

Baby bullying in the Bonds Baby Search competition. Seriously?! Baby bullying?!

What would it be like to sleep with a women’s magazine?:

“Vogue: You’re really flattered. They’re probably the hottest person you’ve ever slept with. Neither of you gets off.”

US political commentator Rush Limbaugh feels that Michelle Obama doesn’t have the right body type to be an advocate for beating childhood obesity:

“I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you. I mean, women are under constant pressure to look lithe, and Michelle My Belle is out there saying if you eat the roots and tree bark and the berries and all this cardboard stuff you will live longer, be healthier and you won’t be obese. Okay, fine, show us.”

Racist, sexist and sizeist on so many levels.

On that, “Beauty is Not a Spectrum” at Eat The Damn Cake.

The secret lives of sex store workers.

“Charlie Sheen’s ‘Porn Family’, Explained.”

Images via Squa.re, Everyday Facts.

 

Minus Two & a Half Men.

 

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.