Just before I sat down to watch Channel 7’s “non-interview” with Schapelle Corby, I got out my phone and composed a snarky tweet. It read:
“Q: How does this Schapelle Corby Sunday Night tele-saga resemble Princess Diana’s death?
A: Both are car-crash stories involving a Mercedes…”
It was cruel, but I went ahead and posted it anyway. It was favourably recieved and re-tweeted. And that response got me thinking: When did we start getting so nasty?
In the past week there’s been a lot of talk about Twitter trolls and the part they played in the death of Charlotte Dawson, but the callousness is happening outside of the cyber sphere too. One only need to look at the national discourse surrounding asylum seekers. Right now, on the web and in the street, Australia is characterised by a mean streak.
I’m too young to remember, but apparently in this country we used to “cut down the tall poppies”. Now it seems, no one is immune from a new vein of vitriol. Bogans- once an endearing Australian archetype, depicted with affection in comedies such as The Castle and Kath & Kim- have suddenly become maligned. In the weeks since her release, much of the Australian public have slammed Schapelle and the Corby clan by attacking their bogan tendencies. This is ironic because the things most popular in this country- reality TV shows, every code of football, Karl Stefanovic- are incredibly bogan. And to those bemoaning that Schapelle is a criminal who doesn’t deserve a second chance, may I suggest you do your history homework. Seriously, what White Australia needs right now is a subscription to Ancestry.com.
As the notorious Channel 7 interview screened, many on social media went further by making deprecating comments about the physical attributes of both Schapelle and her sister Mercedes. “I hope Mercedes spends her money on elocution lessons and good plastic surgery” tweeted one user. Of Schapelle, another wrote, “10 years in hell? She looks pretty well-fed to me”. It was an unsavoury jibe at her weight. Such thinly-veiled misogyny reminded me of our treatment of another polarising Australian “bogan” woman- Julia Gillard. Comparing a convicted drug smuggler and the first female Prime Minister is like comparing apples and oranges, but it goes to show that making fun of someone’s background, accent or appearance is a sport in this nation right now. We’re all scrambling to out-wit each other and make the cleverest and cruelest punchline.
In all of this, Schapelle has now become an abstract idea, as opposed to an actual human being- a product of our social networks and 24-hour news cycle. She’s the bad telemovie, the Woman’s Day exclusive, the opinion columns and the Facebook meme pages.
I’m hoping that when Schapelle Corby finally does get a chance to speak, we manage to find our sensitivity. In the days since the non-interview screened we’ve learned that Schapelle has tried to kill herself. Charlotte Dawson did the same two years ago. What more do we have to know before we start treating her with some degree of dignity? Innocent or guilty, any reasonable person can concede that she has been through enough. And this realisation- that thoughtfulness is more rewarding than a judgemental comment or the shallow thrill of creating a popular meme- was cause enough to delete my nasty tweet.
Hilary Swank- “toothy athleticism”
Ryan Gosling- “sad-eyed intensity”
Matthew McConaughey- “a profile that belongs on a coin”
Jason Segel- “America’s lumbering puppy-dog heartthrob”
Jennifer Lawrence- “America’s blanket-wrapped, eternal Sunday morning girlfriend”
Last night, waiting to be let into the cinema to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, I noticed a dude there by himself. He was in his early twenties and wearing a singlet that showed off bulging biceps and a tattoo of his surname. If he was embarrassed to be at a busy screening alone then he didn’t show it. If it were me buying a ticket for one I’d be apologetic and keep my eyes on my shoes, but he stood with his chest puffed outwards, sort of like an intimidating animal you might see on a David Attenborough documentary. The sheer volume of snacks that he had procured -a large Coke, a large popcorn, a box of Maltesers and a bottle of water- also seemed to be overtly masculine. They were a psych-up for the film’s three hour running time; a metaphorical war cry before a football match. But halfway through the movie I noticed the guy leaving the cinema. As he lumbered across the row of seats, his stocky silhouette came up against a pair of tits that were being projected on the gigantic screen at the time. He never returned, and I began to concentrate more on him than the movie. This was just like me- I go to the cinema and end up more interested in another patron than the film’s plot. Where do they live? What car do they drive? Are they the type of person who drinks full cream or skim milk? I figured the macho guy left to go and jack off over Margot Robbie because he just couldn’t wait until the end. At least, in my mind, that seemed to be the most plausible reason.
Hi my name’s Andrew and I’m looking for a new sharehouse.
I can’t cook or play an instrument, can’t speak another language and am EXTREMELY poorly travelled. I am also apolitical, making me a poor fit for any Inner West household. I will not enjoy talking about your backpacking trip to Peru or your protests for gender neutral bathrooms.
It should also be noted that I have fantasised about killing previous people I have lived with. I had a mental breakdown brought on by a roommate putting her mug down too aggressively on her desk and I once tried to cut the wires on a roommate’s sound system with a pair of pliers because I found the music too loud.
Generally I do not have many hobbies, but I am interested in taking long showers, leaving all the lights on and putting recyclables into the wrong bin.
Please contact if you feel I am suitable..
I just heard all the kids in the primary school next door to my apartment cheering as school finished for the year. It sounded so joyous. When I was younger, the last day of school was a monumental event- stacked desks, awards ceremonies and Christmas decorations signified the start of excited holidays. As a child each year seemed definable- fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade and so on. Now the years just blur into one with nothing to punctuate or distinguish them. Yesterday I was 19 and now suddenly I’m 23. And excitement levels seem to have plateaued- tinsel is everywhere, holiday music is playing in all the department stores and I’m buying presents almost mindlessly, but I just can’t get hyped for Christmas.
I generally don’t have much to do with the three Obnoxious College Girls I call my neighbours. My most memorable encounter with them didn’t even occur in our apartment block, but rather in a restaurant on the other side of our suburb. I was having dinner with my Mum, and they came in and were seated at the table next to us. Having already downed numerous bottles of wine they continued to drink at a fervid pace common amongst girls of their age (19? 20? Possibly 21?). It’s a general rule that drinking leads to an increase in a conversation’s volume and a simultaneous decrease in its quality, and this conversation was deteriorating fast. Before they were even done with their entrees the girls were playing “Never Have I Ever”.
"NEVER HAVE I EVER DONE ANAL!!" bellowed one of them.
Another girl took a guilty sip from her wine glass. The table erupted into howls of laughter.
"Did it hurt?" enquired Girl #3, displaying curiosity— a trait not usually associated with the Obnoxious College Girl.
Yes, yes it did. And on the game went. “Never Have I Ever fucked my best friend’s brother”(two girls drank), “Never Have I Ever had sex on my parent’s bed” (two girls drank). The meek waitress hovered tentatively and in uncertainty, a family with two toddlers looked mortified, and my mum- not conservative by any means, but pretty classy and confused by the gaudy over-sharing of young people (“But why put that on Facebook? Who cares what you did?”)- pushed her plate forward as if to say “It’s time to go”.
Last night, just after 11pm, my neighbours resurfaced. They gathered on the patio outside their apartment, and whilst my vantage point from one floor up was obscured by leafy trees, I could hear everything— there is no hiding from or mistaking the distinct high-pitched tone of the drunk Obnoxious College Girl. Their male counterparts (I imagined them clad in loose-fitting singlets and short acid-wash board shorts) had just arrived and were all pre-drinking, getting ready for their Monday night jaunt to Side Bar. The music was then turned up to pulsating level and I could no longer concentrate on what I was doing (watching Love Actually- I lead a busy and exciting life). I was kind of annoyed, but I realised that there might be some vague comedic potential at hand. So the following is what proceeded: A playlist of cliche music curated by young, drunk white people, moderated by the loudest Obnoxious College Girl.
11.20pm: “Bound II” by Kanye West (the Obnoxious College Girl’s favourite song of the moment, but when she’s been drinking the OCG generally prefers more “classic” songs by her favourite African-American artists).
11.24pm: “Confessions Pt. II” by Usher
Excited College Boy: Let’s put on “Burn” next, or “Yeah!”. How good is Usher? Let’s just play the whole fucken album!
11.28pm: “Ignition” by R. Kelly
The group in unison: Can I get a toot-toot!! Can I get a beep-beep!!
Obnoxious College Girl: CAN YOU PLAY “SUGA SUGA HOW YOU GET SO FLYYYYYYY”?!!
11.31pm:”Suga Suga” by Baby Bash ft. Frankie J.
Obnoxious College Girl: Okay, seriously ,who keeps fucking farting?!!
11.38pm: “Buttons” by Pussycat Dolls
11.41pm: “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley
11.43pm: “21Questions” by 50 Cent
11.45pm: “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent
By ten to twelve, the Obnoxious College Girl is protesting for the remixed version of “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne, a song that I haven’t even heard of. Her request is never met, though, as she notices her friend is straddling one of the boys. “You’re such a slut!” she screams, unsure if she’s giving an insult or a compliment. “OKAY GUYS, SCULL YOUR DRINKS, WE’RE GOING NOW! WE’RE LEAVING THESE TWO HERE TO HAVE SEX!” The music abruptly stops, there’s the clamour of drunk girls in high-heels departing for Sidebar accompanied by their horny chaperones, presumably leaving behind two of their group to copulate on the patio.
It’s said the Obnoxious College Girl lives a fairytale life and fairytales, like Never Have I Ever stories, always have a “Happy Ending”.