The Roar
The Roar


Scandal sells - until it doesn't

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20th September, 2018
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The Sam Burgess thing? Please. What is doing? Why do we care? Do we care? Who cares? Who is it that cares? Pop quiz: hands up if you care.

Why is this malarkey up for public consumption?

Who is consuming it? Who is buying the papers, clicking on the links, turning on the telly to find out what happened in this latest Scandal Engulfing The Code in Crisis?

Someone must be. It’s rating and selling, and those that sell news know what we’re buying.

Just nobody’s owning up to it.

It’s like all the people who were at the 1970 grand final who weren’t, but in reverse. No-one’s admitting to buying the newspaper with the malarkey on the front, but they’re flying off the shelves.

There was a yarn in these e-pages the other day about people turning on Buzz Rothfield. And maybe it’s true.

But here’s a fun fact – Buzz Rothfield in the star of the News Ltd newsroom and the greater organisation because his yarns sell more subscriptions than anyone else’s.

And it’s by quite a lot. That’s how they’re measuring reach – power – how many people click on a yarn, and want to know enough about to finally say, stuff it, and buy a subscription to break through the paywall.


Buzz’s stuff beats everyone’s.

And Buzz does not miss ‘em.

And as Buzz says, he does write ‘positive’ stories, and nobody reads ‘em.

So… it’s all our fault. It’s everyone’s fault. It’s man bites dog stuff. Being nice in the world is normal. To be ‘newsy’ you’ve got to be bad.

Same reason people liked Dynasty and Country Practice and Prisoner.

Prisoner was an absolute pile of garbage. Lizzie Birdsworth and Bea Smith the Top Dog threatening to put scrags’ heads in the clothes-flattening steam machines… and people watched it. Loved it.

They love that Bachelor rubbish today for the same reason – conflict. People behaving badly. And we can sit back and watch through splayed fingers, and moralise about it, and we can enjoy that delicious feeling of schadenfreude and safety that it’s not happening to us.

As in, that’s terrible – sucks to be that guy – how good that it’s not me.


And that’s why we love rugby league scandals: because of Bea Smith, Top Dog of Cell Block H.

And as long as we like it and consume it, the papers will continue to sell it to us. The illegal drug trade works like this, as does gambling and prostitution.

Supply, demand. Build, come.

So to speak.

However! Sometimes you wonder if they’ve jumped the shark, scandal-wise, the papers. And you wonder that they’re dishing up so much scandal we’ve become inured. That it’s become dross. That it’s not even news.

That it’s normal.

Exhibit A: The Bulldogs in the nude thing on Mad Monday. That was a beauty wasn’t it? Because nobody really cared.

Nobody in the public complained to the police or rugby league, or even tipped off media. It wasn’t a viral Facebook thingy. It was nothing – until the papers made it something.


The papers were there already, getting happy snaps, scoping the pub. And then they took the pics of the nude players and virtue-signalled their own politically correct morality that it’s wrong to be nude. That it’s a disgrace to… be nude.

Adam Elliott

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

But no-one cared until the newspaper said, oh look, there’s these people getting nude! Footballers! Nude!

People didn’t care until the newspaper made it news. And even then, did anyone care?

We moralised, some of us. And others amongst us said, oh! When will they learn!

The answer is never. Because 22-year-old men will always be 22-year-old men. The male brain doesn’t fully form until its 28 years old, or so it says so on Google.

The same brain action allows a man to storm at full speed into the path of a phalanx of very large men and to block out or mute or not even consider the danger of concussive injury or worse.

And when those 22-year-old brains are lathered in alcohol they do not consider the consequences of getting nude in a pub on Mad Monday.


Indeed that brain thinks it’s funny.

And here’s the thing: that brain is right! Because it is funny! Nudity is funny. Men who don’t score tries do nude runs end of season, and the newspapers and commentators remark, ho ho.

Streaker does a hot dash across Allianz – funny! Wati Holmwood’s thundering greased-up jello butt blubbering across ANZ launched more memes than Barack Obama with a bald eagle.

But get nude on the drink in a pub, just you and your pals, visible only to professional peeping toms with telephoto lenses, then you’re… what? A disgrace? To the community?


How can people be so pious? Who are we as a community? Who are the members of our community who actually give a stuff that 22-year-old footballers are getting nude in pubs?

This stuff used to be funny. It is funny. Nudity is funny.

And if you’re a newspaper person, and you think it’s offensive, then don’t put it on the front page of your blinking bloody newspaper, and then tut-tut like nasty nuns.


Someone think of the children?

You think of the children!

I dunno.

It sells papers, so. I suppose it’s just how it is.

But then there’s exhibit b) that was on the telly a couple nights after the Bulldogs in the nude one.

It was the commercial news network declaring a “bombshell” that two Wests Tigers had been in a pub when it was raided by drug dogs.

This happens. We have an unwinnable war on drugs, another story.

But two footy players were in a pub when it happened.


Afterwards the cop dogs left, and these guys stayed in the pub. On the way home, possibly, I don’t know, I wasn’t there, they ate a kebab.

And then they went to bed.

And that – and it’s still frankly freakin’ unbelievable that the commercial station would actually run this is as news – is all that happened.

That was the bombshell. That was the news: footballers were somewhere when a thing happened.

Peak dross. Shark jumped. Fonz on waterskis. Pass the delicious beer nuts.