Adios Kyle

I cannot really understand how such a talentless and unlikable person as Kyle Sandilands ends up earning m$4 per year. But then, I am not part of the Idol or 2dayfm demographic. I would rather listen to the ABC or watch the SciFi channel.

I am also the kind of person who likes to question the source of public outrage, especially when there is the kind of one-sided moralistic media frenzy that we have seen over the past week.

Just in case you have been on holidays in Antarctica, Kyle and Jackie had a 14 year old on their show, ostensibly to talk about drugs and sex, with her mothers presence and consent. Drugs are illegal and so is sex for a 14 year old. Yet, one assumes that the hosts were hoping and expecting that the girl would admit to, at least knowledge of, such illegal activities for the titillation of their teenage listeners. It is hard for me to see how this is entertaining, but if you look at some girly magazines it apparently is. And, lets face it, some 14 years olds do experiment with drugs and sex.

If I were running the radio station, I would not have approved the segment. It is not only tacky but could lead to some bad consequences for the girl depending on what she admits to. But then, if I were running the radio station their ratings would be somewhere near Malcolm Turnbulls. The MSM is full of tacky trash where the welfare of the participants is not given a thought.

But mostly, stunts of this kind go unnoticed.

As would have been the case, I suspect, had the girl “only” said that she had smoked dope. It probably would not have made the news.  How about if she had admitted to oral sex with her 15 year old boyfriend? Full sex with her 15 year old boyfriend? Not front page news I suspect, even though she is admitting to a crime. Though perhaps child welfare may have taken an interest.

Instead she unexpectedly revealed a more serious crime, that she had been raped two years previously. Inexplicably the mother, who went on the show to get a free Pink concert ticket, is supposed to have smirked.

Let’s look at why Kyle got thrown to the wolves. He has now lost his Australian Idol gig. According to Ten programmer David Mott

Australian Idol is very much a family program and its appeal is across the board. Wed like to think that all families can enjoy the program in front of the TV. It has become increasingly clear that as Idol has remained a family focused show … his radio persona has taken on a more controversial position.

Well David, it was very clear that his radio persona was very different to his Idol persona long ago. If you had looked at the 2dayfm website last week, you would have found lots of good clean family fun:  Kyle searching for the smallest penis in Sydney, having a race with mates to see who could make the fastest sperm donation.

But 2DayFM have now taken down content on their website showing these past stunts. The remaining stuff is pretty tame, though you can see Kyle’s scantilly clad wife in some sexy poses with other women. It seems that Kyle is one of those blokes that like to watch.

So the conclusion is that Network Tens decision had nothing to do with Kyle having been a tacky, sensationalist jerk over the past few years. The mums and dads who watch Idol probably had no idea what he did on radio – but they do now. His sacking was due to the media driven public outcry of outraged moralists, feminist zealots and people who understandibly just dont like Kyle.

And the networks have to cave. There is nothing more poisonous to a corporate public image than even being mentioned in the same paragraph as child abuse. Recall the hysterical furore over the Chasers very unfunny sketch about kids with cancer and how they were immediately pulled off air for two weeks. We are living in a world where once the public spot a target and the media smell blood, the only response is total capitulation. Network 10 are three degrees of separation from the rapist, but they just can’t risk it. Anything to get the spotlight of attention pointed somewhere else.

The girl admitted she was raped, that she was the victim of a crime. Let’s look at the upside (of the admission, not the rape!)  The police will now investigate, so perhaps something good will come out of it, apart from the end of Kyle’s media career. The girl may receive some justice and some counselling if required, though it has been reported that she does not want to press charges. There may be a deeper story here yet.

So, let’s look at the public reaction, which focused more on Kyle than on the mother or Jackie O. The lie-detector she was strapped to was just a silly stunt lie detectors dont work though some commentators seem to imply that the girl was somehow strapped down against her will.  Another sub-plot concerns Kyle bizarrely asking the girl if she had had any “other experiences”. This has led to a strident discussion about how rape is not a (sexual)  experience. Biologists and dictionaries would disagree. It is a bad sexual experience.  

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that, stripped of the sordid details and character flaws of Kyle, the underlying gripe is that you have Kyle, a man, putting himself in a position of power over a young girl who has already been raped by another man. But he didn’t know she had been raped, her mother did, and she consented to appearing on the show. I know who I would blame if blame is to be attached.

Another source of angst for some commentators, I suspect, is that the girl was confident enough to say publicly what had happened to her. She received little support from her mother and yet still did not act sufficiently traumatized. This does not fit with the standard narrative at all. 

Openly admitting to being raped is nothing to be ashamed of. To say so further punishes the victim. Are women or girls who are raped not to mention it in public, or have  their faces and voices digitally disguised? Apparently our prime minister thinks she should feel humiliated. I beg to differ. She should feel angry at the perpetrator. Nor has she been “exposed to ridicule” by the stunt. Who has ridiculed her? Who is making this unattributed claim that she has been exposed to ridicule? What does exposed to ridicule actually mean anyway? These are media generated claims, emotive and unattributed allegations whose only purpose is to excite further outrage.

Rape is rape I hear you cry and mere men can never understand the trauma it causes, even when the victim may appear strong. Yet, this principle is applied selectively..

On January 6 this year, there was a story about a drink driving teenage idiot called Cody Heap. In handing down a suspended sentence, Magistrate Brian Maloney made it clear that a re-offence would mean jail time for young Cody. Just to clarify to Cody what this might entail he further explained:

Have you got any idea what it’s like in there? Any idea at all? You wouldn’t last a night. You will find big, ugly, hairy, strong men who’ve got faces only a mother could love that will pay a lot of attention to you – and your anatomy. Scary, isn’t it? But that’s what will happen.

So here we have a public magistrate, a servant of justice, stating publicly that young males who are sent to Her Majesty’s prisons can expect to be anally raped as part of their punishment. This is common knowledge but it is amazing that a public official would admit to such. But even more disgracfully, he is using the fact of illegal rape in prison as a deterrent for Cody and other would be young criminals.

Public outcry? There was none afaik. My letters to the papers were not published. Apparently, rape of a 15 year old boy isnt rape. You can’t expect consistency from the mindless mob I guess.

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14 years ago

Kyle unwittingly committed the worst of all media crimes. The one crime that can never be forgiven. He allowed the truth to be spoken.

Top marks for pointing out the blatant hypocrisy when Magistrate Brian Maloney also speaks the truth within public hearing. If we can’t trust a magistrate to obey the law of the media then what do we have left to believe in?

Joshua Gans
14 years ago

An interesting post, Chris. But are you really saying that interviewing a 14-year-old about her sexual experiences, under circumstances where she would have felt exploited and scorned rather than supported and respected — isn’t worse than Kyle and Jackie’s other tacky stunts? And skipping over the rape to ask about ‘other experiences’ wasn’t just a ‘bizarre’ ‘sub-plot’: it’s part of the central plot. Sandilands shouldn’t be a broadcaster. He’s gone, thanks to the public outrage you’re so sceptical about.

Of course you’re right that the Magistrate should also be condemned, and good on you for trying to draw attention to it.

Joshua Gans
14 years ago

In case you did not know James, having mums asks their kids questions on air with a lie detector is long standing Kyle and Jackie stunt, that has apparently been going on for years.

If you mean questions about their sex lives, no I didn’t, and I’m appalled. As for the ‘other experiences’ thing, I agree that we should think twice about condemning someone for not reacting perfectly in a confusing and unexpected situation; however, someone so lacking empathy shouldn’t be allowed to interview people on sensitive topics.

Nicholas Gruen
14 years ago

One point of clarification – Australian Idol has always had humiliation as an integral part of its schtick. It’s just humiliation on G rated themes – the kind of humiliation you find in the school ground “X is really uncool. S/he’s such a dag/nerd. Let’s tell him how crappy he is, what a loser he is for having the temerity to come on our show and join the cool people. Let’s make fun of him. Publicly. It will be such fun. Ha ha ha.”

paul walter
paul walter
14 years ago

I’d largely concur with the article, except in emphasis, because I think the transcript amply demostrates that the mother is at least as deranged and culpable as Sandiland and his vile offsider.
A wonder no one has yet queried a possible role for “chequebook journalism” at the bottom of all of this virtual protitution of a fourteen year old, BTW.
Secondly, the real villains of the peice; Austereo, seem to have avoided adequate reprimand- Sandiland and O are only their (illiterate? suitably pathological?) attack-dogs, doing the job they were instructed and paid to peform.
The one component that really baffles me is the attack involving an unrelated issue involving a magistrate trying to do the job of a (non-existant?) social worker in verbally correcting a spectacular example of of dumb-down corporatist socialisation/individuation.
I mean it: utterly baffled!
The magistrate’s words were apt ,compassionately intended and helped avoid the media attention seeking result of media dumbing down and psychoticisation from a far worse fate. If you see someone in a state of temporary insanity you seek to help, same as you would if you saw someone physically injured in the gutter.
The magistrate deserves kudos, not approbation, for Pete’s sake!
I’d be indeed worried about the role of the magistrate, but for a different reason.
This magistrate is ALL that society can provide in the deprogramming of victims of mass culture, after the processes represented in O and Sandilands have done their work?

14 years ago

But are you really saying that interviewing a 14-year-old about her sexual experiences, under circumstances where she would have felt exploited and scorned rather than supported and respected isnt worse than Kyle and Jackies other tacky stunts?

The young woman is more than welcome to use all those other avenues that society offers for discussion of any unfortunate experiences that polite people prefer to pretend never happen.

I just can’t seem to think of any right now.

14 years ago

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that, stripped of the sordid details and character flaws of Kyle, the underlying gripe is that you have Kyle, a man, putting himself in a position of power over a young girl who has already been raped by another man.

Well, okay, I think you are wrong. That was certainly not my thinking, anyway. I agree, though, that the people who hate Sandilands do seem to have lunged at this excuse to stick the boot in like a drowning man grasps for a paddlepop stick in a shipwreck.

I am one of those who went into a “moralistic frenzy” but I’d rather not have my (ahem) thoughtful analysis conflated with the mindless, simplistic tabloid response. I am inclined to agree with your assessment of that.

I am far from comfortable that the incident was not set up in some way by the mother and possibly the girl as well. If it was not set up the mother is the real villain and what she did was abuse.

My experience of Sandilands is limited to MediaWatch and that is enough for me to despise him. This episode is just added evidence of his boorishness but would, I think, be insufficient for the outcry except for the real reason he ought to have been cancelled and not just “recessed”. Set-up or not, it was his response to the girl’s “revelation” that was his sin – his failure, through egotism, immaturity, insensitivity and unprofessionalism, to react appropriately. What he said trivialised rape and sexual abuse as merely grist to the mill of his daily game of humiliation. What he did wrong was failing to see what was clearly in front of him, his failure to handle it with the skill he is presumably paid the $4M/year for.

What Austereo and Idol, Optus and the other sponsors have done wrong is that they have made their decisions on a commercial basis and not on social or moral grounds. Or, to put it another way, would rape be okay with them if it didn’t affect their bottom line?