Friday, August 31, 2007

Beware false idols like Andrew Johns (and Brad Goodman)

I used to get a bit pissy seeing various footy blockheads from the codes (no, soccer doesn't count, thanks for asking) arrested for various physical assaults, especially against women, indecent public displays and other bogantastic behaviour.

Then it dawned on me - the footballers aren't entirely the problem.

If Ben Cousins wants to have a Tina addiction, let him (shame though, given how delish he is when he's, you know, upright and conscious).

If Andrew Joey Joe Johns Junior Shabidoo wants to feel ecstatic, Kath Day Knight style, power to him.

No, I'm not encouraging life-threatening substance abuse. But I am pointing out that self-harm, as opposed to getting into a punch-up with pubgoers post-match or forcing yourself onto female flight attendants, is just that - self-harm. Nobody else suffers.

The only reason why these particular men's substance problems is news is because they play top-grade football - which, in Australia, is akin to walking on water. Many blokes with absolutely no otherwise discernible talents, brains or social skills are elevated to role models because of our country's obsession with sport. Those who do have a brain somewhere inside their pummeled skulls usually know better than to get involved with the fights, drugs, sexual harassment and other shenanigans of their less evolved peers.

But when they are caught out, the meeja seems to treat it as a personal betrayal. It's like they've arrived home one evening and caught their husband Andrew Johns in bed with another man. For what? Popping pills.

It sounds (or the Newcastle Knights doctors are spinning it) as though his arrest in London is symptomatic of a long-term battle with depression in which drugs play an unhealthy part, in which case he has my sympathies and best wishes to get past it. But who said he had to be such a massively significant role model? The guy plays football. He's not publicly elected, he's not responsible for public funding, he's not working on a cure for cancer and far as I know he hasn't made an extra-curricular career campaigning against drugs. He's just unfortunately subject to an insanely disproportionate level of media scrutiny because some consider him to be the greatest living League player.

Front-page news if the captain of the Opals (Oz women's basketball team) happened to be caught with an ecky pill somewhere in Europe? Doubt it. Front-page news if Andrew Johns broke wind in church? Hell yeah.

Until such time as we get past our obsession with idolising football players, we'll continue to mould false masculine role models out of many blokes who'd most likely be in prison if they didn't happen to be good at footy. I know I'm a big pansy for saying this, but I really wish more young guys would look up to actors, writers, judges, artists, editors (heh, yeah I know that's optimistic), doctors, human rights campaigners - men who actually contribute positively to making the world a smarter place.

It's not that footy doesn't have its place. The world does need hot, mostly straight guys in microscopic tops and shorts getting homoerotic with one another before thousands of screaming fans - that's just a given. And seriously, if football is an outlet for some young boys to get away from their impoverished lives, as is sometimes the case with indigenous guys (who may not have the luxury of knowing about artists, writers etc), then it's playing a vitally important role.

But ffs people - Andrew Johns is not your husband, father or brother. He hasn't assaulted anybody or commited any crime that directly and adversely affects anybody else other than himself (and of course, his *actual* family and *real*, not vicarious friends). Let the bloke have some privacy to work on his issues and please keep in perspective what he does in the context of the planet's continued operation. It ain't that big.

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At 31/8/07 2:25 pm, Blogger Dawei said...

I'm pleased you wrote on this. I was going to too, as I am sick of the "bogantastic" behaviour of football players as much as the next person. I thought Johns was going to go the same way, what with his original "story". However, I'm really pleased that he seems to have opened up and been honest. I'm sure it's because his publicist was all "uhm, look, a lot of shit will get out now, so lying won't help" (and being retired doesn't hurt). But I think that because he is talking about things like recreational drug use, depression, etc., will help a lot in the long run. I know it's sad, but football guys are role models for lots of those wacky heterosexual folk. I think that seeing that they are not infallible--and hopefully getting help, etc.--can only be a good thing.

But yes. I know that taking e at the Church is hardly symptomatic behaviour of a depressed person, but we will ignore that. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But if this spurs on lots of odious ads for Australia Blue, singing hideous duets with Shannon Noll, I will not be so forgiving.

At 31/8/07 3:48 pm, Blogger Jacob said...

I hate how my house goes all hushed when a report comes on the news about some footballer who got arrested for making a twat of himself one night. Moments like that I hate the whole lot of 'em.

Oh, and THIS: The world does need hot, mostly straight guys in microscopic tops and shorts getting homoerotic with one another before thousands of screaming fans - that's just a given.

... needs to be on a placard somewhere.

At 31/8/07 7:10 pm, Blogger Peter Pan said...

Its what I call the 'Heat Magazine' mentality. I'd hate to be a celeb these days. You cant fart without getting an article on it.
Then again .. they get paid a silly amount of money for doing shit all in some cases... not your hard working sports/music/actor types.. but these reality tv people who end up infeasibly famous for doing bugger all.
Still, nice work if you can get it, I guess.

At 2/9/07 4:23 pm, Anonymous John K said...

Well said. The only quality footballers should held as a role model for is their footballing skills.

At 3/9/07 5:18 pm, Anonymous steve said...

it's a cop out to say that 'self-harm' only affects your self. Some commentary pointed out that the problem with Andrew Johns is that he admits to being a crackhead and looks fine.
Some dickwits will put 2 and 2 together and say "It didn't do him any harm"
At the very least even if you did you think self-harm was limited to self what sort of society would that create where no one need give a stuff about what idiots do to themselves.

At 3/9/07 7:42 pm, Blogger TimT said...

I had to listen to Johns' Footy Show interview the other day at work. A publicist probably did have something to do with how Johns presented himself in the interview, but it still didn't look good.

Johns basically said 'I'm giving it all up now!' after fessing up to his 10 years of drug use, but there was a sense in which this was all part of his act of contrition for the studio audience.

After the interview was over, the response from the studio audience was unequivocal - applause and cheers. I'm not sure whether they were applauding Johns for having given them some juicy gossip, or whether they applauded him because his confessions were seen as being 'brave' (this was the word the interviewer used).

A more appropriate response, I would have thought, would have been a thoughtful silence, maybe even some boos. I got the sense that the studio audience had been conditioned to respond this way - maybe it's an effect of the entertainment industry. Maybe they just thought it was polite.

I think you're quite right in stating that there's no reason that football stars should be any better than any ordinary person, but I couldn't help but react to Johns' rather unconvincing claims of contrition (verging on hypocrisy in some places), and the uncritical adulation delivered to him by the studio audience and the interviewers, with a feeling of disbelief.

At 3/9/07 11:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depression my arse!Brave? you have to be kidding! He dropped a pill @ the church woopee doo!he's a football player typical boganism. Athletes as Role Models c'mon retarded,homophobic misogynists gimme a break.

At 6/9/07 8:19 am, Blogger Wamut said...

unrelated comment...

does anyone feel like making an intelligently argued comment on this guys blog:

he drives me nuts, but he's not a complete idiot either...

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