All Dogs Go to Seven.

This article was originally published on TheVine on 9th July, 2012.

As Australia’s Got Talent nears its grand final, I find myself wondering why the hell the scandalous Kyle Sandilands is still hosting the family show.

You’d have to be oblivious to the Aussie media scene for the past few years not to remember the lie detector-sexual assault incident, the Magda Szubanski-concentration camp comments and the on-air berating of a journalist for her appearance after she expressed concern over the integrity of Sandilands’ and Jackie O’s radio show.

Despite this, Channel Seven still seems to deem him a valuable talent and, perhaps because of this, a host that draws in the ratings. I can understand his presence on a show like Ten’s Can of Worms or The Footy Show on Nine, which aim to shock, but what does Sandilands really bring to the judging panel on a talent show that airs in the kiddie timeslot of 7:30pm? The straight-talking, older white male talent show host trope in the vein of Simon Cowell and Ian “Dicko” Dickson is a tired one. Sandilands may not be causing any trouble at the moment, but you can bet another controversy is right around the corner…  

But Sandilands’ prominence is by no means a standalone occurrence in Seven’s lineup: After it was revealed that former NRL player Matthew Johns was involved in group sex with his fellow Cronulla Sharks teammates and a teenager whose consent was questionable at best, he received his own Channel Seven footy program, the creatively titled Matty Johns Show. And, staying with sportsmen, what about the Ben Cousins doco, Such is Life, which at once tragically and glamorously profiled his life as an addict? What about former Home & Away actor, Lincoln Lewis, whose sex tape with a co-star went public the same day he was announced as a contestant on the dancing show in 2009? Convenient, hey? Did you know fellow H&A alum Dan Ewing was charged with assault against his fiancé at the end of 2011, the same year he was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, a show that loves its bad boys? Speaking of assault, it was only after Matthew Newton beat girlfriend Rachael Taylor in a Rome hotel room in 2010 that he was axed as host of—you guessed it, another family-geared talent show—The X-Factor. I suppose his history of trashing hotel rooms and violence with previous intimate partner Brooke Satchwell was written off as a onetime thing. Remember Axle Whitehead’s public act of indecency at the 2006 ARIA’s was all but forgotten when he moved to Summer Bay and received a gig as host of the network’s World’s Strictest Parents in 2009. And who could forget Brendan Fevola’s illustrious career of AFL tradeoffs, drug- and alcohol-fuelled benders, gambling problems, infidelity, inappropriate picture-taking of Lara Bingle and, just last week, his grammatically-incorrect Twitter tirade against a country footy umpire? Apparently, Channel Seven: Fev was signed up for this years’ season of DWTS as its lovable larrikin.

Television commentator Andrew Mercado put it best two years ago in the wake of the Newton incident when he wrote:

“… [T]he station is chock a block full of bad boys on big pay packets who are being rewarded for their unsavourity [sic] indiscretions with higher profile jobs during the family hour… So let me get this straight—gang bangers, bullies and bashers are in but closeted gay men (like NSW Transport Minister David Campbell) are to be outed on the 6pm News.”

But why? It’s not like any of the abovementioned men—bar perhaps Sandilands, who the general public pretty much abhor—are huge drawcards for the station like Charlie Sheen was for CBS (and, by extension, Channel Nine). Johns is but a blip on the radar of sports programming, Newton and Cousins have descended into the cycle of mental illness, and I challenge any non-H&A fan to identify Ewing by name.

A quick look at the Seven corporate website indicates the male chauvinist pig syndrome transfers from in front of the camera to behind it, with an all-male board of directors and management team. While I’m in no way insinuating that the male bosses at Seven get up to the same kind of extra-curriculars their talent does, could it be a contributing factor to the swept-under-the-rug mentality the commercial channels seem to subscribe to?

If so, could, at the very least, a lone female on the board be the voice of reason? I doubt it. The boys club zeitgeist of most traditional forms of media (nay, most industries in general) is not going to be permeated by one woman alone, despite their best intentions: just look at Mia Freedman’s foray into television at Channel Nine. And why should it be a woman’s job to make sure over-privileged, under-accountable man-children behave in their personal lives? Wouldn’t a better solution be to not reward verbal insults, physical violence, drug use, lewd behavior and sexual assault with free-to-air-time in the first place, regardless of who’s performing it and who’s in charge?

On the other channels, while Channel Ten is debuting Australia’s version of Jersey Shore, The Shire, in a couple of weeks and Sheen’s new vehicle, Anger Management, is sure to be a ratings hit, ABC and SBS push forward with groundbreaking shows that don’t reward the dominant, bad boy bogan culture, like Go Back to Where You Came From (celebrity version coming soon!) and Joe Hildebrand’s Dumb, Drunk & Racist. Unfortunately, the latter two programs appeal to what all-too-often happens to be the minority, while many of the shows listed throughout this piece are geared towards the lowest common denominator: those who are perfectly happy with the status quo or don’t notice what’s wrong with it.

TV: Domestic Violence, Sex Work, Abortion, Women Proposing to Men, Marriage Equality, Euthanasia… Who Knew Winners & Losers Would Be So Progressive?!

winners & losers

The season finale of Winners & Losers aired little more than a week ago on Channel Seven, and the issues of domestic violence, sex work, co-parenting, abortion, women proposing to men, marriage equality and euthanasia got me thinking about just how progressive the show is.

What started out as an entertaining little serial about four high school friends who decide to enter the lotto—and win!—after a particularly traumatic ten-year high school reunion has proved to be one of the only Aussie soaps tackling the hard issues.

While the first season was more about the romantic ups and downs of four Melbourne girls and how they dealt with their lotto win, whispers of what was to come in season two were heard in the finale, when Bec married Matt only to discover that she was pregnant with Doug’s, who’d finally gotten it together with med school bestie Sophie, baby! Phew!

With Bec being entangled in such a messy love square of course the “tender issue”, as Ann Romney would put it, of abortion would be brought up. It was disappointing that the non-existent abortion only received a one-episode story arc, but I was proud of the series for showing the nuanced ways different people deal with terminating a pregnancy, namely Sophie, who last episode found herself embroiled in an unwanted pregnancy situation of her own.

But it goes to show that as many views on abortion as there are IRL, there are in Winners & Losers. So far we’ve only seen the reactions of Bec (staunchly pro-life when it comes to herself, but supportive of the choices of other women), Doug (who expresses disbelief that his virile sperm has resulted in two unplanned but ultimately wanted pregnancies in the past year!), and Sophie (who chose her choice of abortion and underwent the procedure the same day in last fortnight’s episode. Oh, if only abortion were that easy to obtain for so many women…), but judging from the alternative lifestyle of Frances and the tumult of Jenny’s existence recently, they’ll see beyond the political mess that abortion has become and empathise with their friend first and foremost.

The irony of bringing a “bandaid” baby into the world to heal the wounds between the two doctors is not lost on Doug. Sophie reasons that she’s “taken the morning after pill before; it’s not that different” (except that the morning after pill prevents implantation while an abortion is literally terminating an already implanted pregnancy. So, not entirely accurate W&L writing team.) and Doug retorts that he’s “not some one night stand”, insinuating that pregnancies that result from casual sex can only be and are the only unwanted ones.

Season two has been jammed packed with human rights matters like there’s no tomorrow. Flirty Cat came on the scene only to die a medically-assisted suicide a few episodes later. It was revealed that not only was high school mean girl Tiffany suffering physical abuse at the hands of her rich, Brighton-dwelling partner, but she was receiving money from him in return for her sexual services. Unfortunately, only on television could this come to light in a custody hearing and the mother still be able to see her children. On a not-so-well-though-out whim Sophie decided to propose to Doug because she knew how much marriage meant to him, only to break off the engagement two weeks later. While that storyline might not have turned out for the best, at least the show gave the notion of a woman proposing to a man without stigma a go.

Winners & Losers is certainly not faultless, and it has a long way to go when it comes to racial diversity and tackling stereotypes of non-straight people (Cat kissed women in a slightly male-gazey way, while Jonathan is a walking gay man trope), but it has to be given props for at least attempting to unpack the issues that many Australians face every day, but are so seldom seen on our screens.

Image source unknown.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Kate Upton is fat, apparently. Well, she does like phallic-shaped sugary treats… [SkinnyGossip Warning: This is a pro-ana website and may be triggering for some people]

I write about Channel 7’s bad boys at TheVine.

Sexist video gamers prove just how sexist they really are in response to a critique of sexism in video games. [Jezebel]

Menstruation and MasterChef. [The Conversation]

What an abortion at six weeks really looks like. Completely safe for work and not graphic at all. [This is My Abortion]

Stella Young on how disabled people doing normal things being touted as “inspirational” is a crock. [ABC Ramp Up]

Who knew morning sickness was so fascinating?! [Jezebel]

In the wake of another 13-year-old winning the Dolly Model Comp, Mia Freedman tells why she axed it when she was editor-in-chief. [MamaMia]

I went to the Jersey Shore and all I got was this t-shirt… [Jezebel]

Boys will now receive the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. Yay! [The Conversation]

The Katie Holmes obsession has begun: here, a countdown of her top ten Dawson’s Creek quotes that could double as life lessons for her marriage to Tom Cruise. [Refinery29]

Taiwanese photographer, Tou Chih-Kang, captures dogs in their final moments before euthanasia. Be warned: you will shed tears. [HuffPo]

Images via Por Homme, MamaMia.

Good-Time Girls.

 

From “Party & Punishment”, published in The New York Times Magazine, 22nd October, by Virginia Heffernan.

“Right after 9/11, Muslim regimes were depicted as tyrannical in part because they demonised Western fun-loving culture in the name of a misogynistic ideology. Slowly but surely we’ve been doing the same thing with our most visible good-time girls, making villains of women who are dangerous almost exclusively to themselves. We point cameras into their darkened cars and literally up their skirts to find cellulite or evidence of immodesty that wouldn’t exist without the cameras. When they start drinking and doing drugs, just as many celebrities before them have done, we become incensed, agitating for them to go to jail.”

Heffernan’s contention rings true when it comes to Lindsay Lohan, who has been to jail four times (two in quick succession in recent months), rehab on five (or is that six?) occasions, and demonised in the media countless more. But do we demand the same of drug-addled famous men who are a danger to others, ie Charlie Sheen? For what he’s done to the women in his life, not to mention himself, perhaps it is time for Sheen to see the inside of a prison cell. Or at the very least, be taken off the show on which he earns the highest salary on television until he gets his shit together.

Related: Poor Little Rich Girl: Lindsay Lohan in Who.

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

Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show.

Lindsay Lohan: Marilyn, Eat Your Heart Out.

Ex-Factor: Matthew Newton.

Elsewhere: [The New York Times Magazine] Party & Punishment.

Ex-Factor: Matthew Newton.

 

Earlier in the year, I wrote about (male) celebrities like Matthew Newton and Matthew Johns becoming hosts of television shows, despite their questionable behaviour in their private lives, which became very public.

It is no secret that I feel very strongly about the issue of famous men being rewarded for their indiscretions because “he’s such a nice guy” or “he plays that sport we like”, despite the fact that they are a known wife-beater and drug-addict (Newton) or have been implicated in a group sex scandal with their team-mates, which the woman involved later alleged wasn’t consensual (Johns).

I expressed my disdain for the situation at my workplace yesterday: “what does this guy have that makes beautiful, talented, successful women go after him when he is a known abuser?” One colleague replied that it’s not Rachael Taylor (his most recent ex-girlfriend who filed the claims) nor Brooke Satchwell’s (the first ex to cry assault) faults, which she thought I was insinuating, but let me make myself very clear, if I haven’t already: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT THE VICTIM’S FAULT. But seriously, I will ask the above question again: What does Newton have that makes beautiful, talented, successful women go after a known abuser? And what’s more, why would Seven hire him to host The X Factor, due to debut in less than a week, when he has expressed unreliability in the past.

I personally don’t think celebrities with addictions should be thrust back into work straight after attending rehab, or in the case of Lindsay Lohan, jail to boot. Addicts need time away from the stressors of everyday life and the entertainment industry, if that is their chosen field, in order to fully recuperate and overcome their demons.

Mia Freedman also commented on the incident, asking “what should Channel 7 do” with The X Factor’s already-filmed footage, which Newton is “all over”? “When will we stop enabling celebrities to behave in utterly unacceptableand possibly criminalways? And rewarding them if we think they’ll bring ratings?” Freedman asks.

But is The X Factor really aimed at a family audience? With Newton, who was given the hosting gig around the time he was admitted to rehab earlier this year, Kyle Sandilands, a shock-jock who is constantly in hot-water for putting his foot in his mouth, and Ronan Keating, who was recently embroiled in a cheating scandal, the show’s stars aren’t exactly family friendly.

Related: Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show.

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

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Reblogged: No Words For What Hurts.

[Tiger Beatdown] I HATE I Love the Way You Lie.

Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show.

Mia Freedman shares my sentiments about famous men getting a slap on the wrist for their indiscretions.

News emerged recently that Matthew Newtonhe of the Brooke Satchwell incident and recent rehab stintis set to host Channel 7’s The X Factor

Allegedly, “his audition was so good that he beat more established TV hosts including Sonia Kruger and Axle Whitehead.” So the guy may be talented, but should he really be hosting a family show?

Then again, the judging panel does include shock-jock Kyle Sandilands and cheater Ronan Keating (both of whom I legitimately like, FYI), along with the angelic and virginal Guy Sebastian. Three out of four ain’t bad, I guess… if you’re in to tuning into a “station [that] is chock a block full of bad boys on big pay packets who are being rewarded for their unsavoury indiscretions with higher profile jobs during the family hour,” as television commentator Andrew Mercado puts it.

Come on down, The Matty Johns Show.