I saw this episode of the 7PM Project back in September. It shocked me so much that I wanted to write about it and I wanted to include a video of the segment ‘Tall Poppies” but that particular episode was never put online. I ordered a copy of the episode from my universities library, through Informit, in the hopes that I could edit the episode, cut out the “Tall Poppies” segment and upload it here. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do that and it’s taken me forever to figure out how to get Video_TS files into WMV and grab the segments I want. Combine that with a 4 year old overheating laptop and you have one very long afternoon, hence, it’s taken me months to get around to it but,YAY me, I finally figured it out. I also got a $20 fine for returning the DVD to the library late. Yahoo!.
I’ve had a hard time figuring out what the segment is actually about. In light of the opening excerpt, which focuses on the acquittal of Brett Stewart, it seems as though the segment is about footballers being the victims of an overwhelming spate of false rape claims. During this segment there is a lot of talk about the ‘traps’ and the ‘trouble’, the ‘pitfalls’, the ‘female mind’* and ‘girls’. Russel Robertson speaks about the ‘dangers’ of attracting attention from women and close to the end of the segment Carrie speaks about women who are on an “aggressive mission” to bed a footballer and argues that ‘you know what girls can be like”. When Carrie asks “How do our great players negotiate the highs and lows of being a star without falling victim to the dark side of fame?”, what is it that she is actually asking?
Carrie at desk: “While the fame and glory of being a footballer in Australia might be most boy’s dream, the unwanted attention it can create can become their worst nightmare”.
Montage of images with Carrie doing voiceover: “When news broke last year that NRL star Brett Stewart had been accused of the sexual assault of a neighbour, it sent shockwaves through the sporting community”.
Replay of a news segment – newsreader speaks: “Brett Stewart has been ordered to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old girl”.
Montage of images: Brett Stewart in suit entering court – walking around in a suit, Manly fans celebrating his freedom
Carrie’s voice over: “Yesterday in a Sydney court Stewart was found not guilty of all charges. After a nightmare 18 months, his life savings spent on legal fees to clear his name, the cost of fame for Stewart, had been great”.
Clip of Solicitor Ian Byrne: “This was a case of a girl with hallucinations and delusions”
Carrie’s voice over: “While there are no shortage of bad boys across Australia’s football codes experts say, that the fame that comes as part and parcel of being an elite footballer can leave our stars vulnerable to unwanted attention. So how do our great players negotiate the highs and low of being a star without falling victim to the dark side of fame?”
Back to the studio panel:
Carrie says: “To answer that question please welcome former AFL star and commentator Russell Robertson. Russell welcome to the program Russell”.
(Split screen of Carrie and Russell Robertson)
Carrie: “Now, we often hear about these footie bad boys but just how hard is it for players to stay out of trouble off the field?”
Russell Robertson: “Well it is quite challenging to stay out of trouble playing AFL football because there are, by and large, so many media outlets these days, and people watching your every move. I think it’s challenging for young kids to come into the AFL; you’re starting off as an amateur, you’re big amongst your mates and then all of a sudden you’re big in the world, you know, you’re getting attention from friends and you’re also getting attention from girls and that for some guys can be a real pitfall”.
Carrie: “Russell, you’re not exactly struggling in the looks dept; what about you personally, did you find it quite hard dealing with that unwanted attention from women?”
Russell: “Thanks you – I’ll pay you for that comment later on”.
Russell: “No, No. Look when I was a young man, I must admit when I first came to Melbourne and I was playing under the banner of AFL I did find it quite easy to get that attention from females and it’s hard enough for a young man at the best of times to realize what’s going on in the females mind but you have to realise pretty quick, what’s going on in this situation – you have to be smart and you have to be switched on and then you throw alcohol into the mix. Now look, I’ve had a lot of attention from girls and it wasn’t you know, unwanted. I always liked it, but I had to be smart enough to realise what was going on and what could be the possible pitfalls, but like I said, once alcohol gets thrown into the mix that’s when problems start happening”.
Hughsey: “Mate you’re getting attention off the girls on this panel tonight, believe me”.
Carrie interrupting: “And the boys I might add”.
Jennifer Byrne laughs.
Hughes: “Now Russell, you did play a long time in the AFL, I mean, as you became a more senior player were you able to counsel some of the more younger players about the, you know, traps out there?”
Russel: “Yes Dave. I think it’s really important that the senior guys out there in a football club take control in that area because potential problems and hazardous situations can be so damaging to an organisation, to football clubs, so as an older guy and as you realize, you’ve been through, you’ve gone around, you’ve been round the traps for awhile, and you know the pitfalls – you have to start teaching your young kids – if you want to be successful in this AFL thing – you have to teach young kids what the possible dangers are out there, so that they can stay out of trouble. I mean, that’s a responsibility for an older person – not just in football clubs but around the world, I mean, It’s hard enough going out these days, not just being a footballer… As a man you know, you have to be quite smart. So I took it upon myself to teach some of the young kids at my football club “look, this has happened before, you need to be smart, you need to realize that you could get yourself into real trouble and the game has changed so much – there’s so many more pitfalls because of the media”.
Jennifer Byrne: “Russell, you mentioned alcohol before, it’s a big problem. Let’s be honest, it’s the biggest problem. It’s the common element. In all these nightclub brawls, in these pub brawls, even Brett, I mean, he was on the way home from a season launch so, more clearly has to be done, I mean, that whole alcohol culture is a massive problem”.
Russell: “It is a massive problem. It’s probably a massive problem in our Australian culture ummm especially football, because football is, you know. It’s a social place, it used to be probably 20-30 years ago, a place that you went to have a drink with the boys after the game. It was a male – dominated industry, but now it’s changed completely, it’s got a lot of females around football clubs. So I think it’s a culture that has to change and it has to start with the players at those football clubs. They have to stand up and say “Right, you can have such an influence on people, especially on younger kids, so, once you come into the AFL – yes, you are getting paid big dollars, but you need to realize straight away, how important you are to the rest of Australia”
Carrie: “Well, that’s great advice for the young guys Russell. Thanks so much for joining us tonight”.
Back to studio and Carrie says – “You know, I actually do kind of feel for those guys. I used to go out night clubbing a lot. I’d be standing next to girls whose one goal for the night was to bed a footballer. Like, they were on an aggressive mission to do that, they would’ve done anything”.
Hughsey: “Yep yep. That’s hard for the guys”.
Carrie: “No.You know what I mean. You know what girls can be like and I just think that sometimes…” [Carrie nods, shrugs and looks at camera].
Jennifer Byrne: (to Hughsey) “Once more with sincerity…”
Carrie: “It must be hard, it must be hard”.
Robertson states that “It’s hard enough for a young man at the best of times to realize what’s going on in the female’s mind” and the whole segment relies on the idea of some devious ‘female mind’ and slutty mcslutteries out to fuck footballers and accuse them of rape. I don’t see how attracting sexual attention from women is inherently bad, so what the fuck is this guy talking about when he says “you have to realise pretty quick what’s going on, in this situation”. Well what is it that is going on? They don’t directly say.
I guess what was most revealing to me though, is that in a world where very few sexual assaults are actually reported, where very few offenders are actually charged, where juries pay more attention to ‘character’ than to “substantive evidence of rape” where victims/survivors aren’t believed by police, and some women are considered unrapeable, in a culture where only 2% of those reported rapes are found to be false, we can have a fucking segment on television implying that the devious female mind is hell bent on fucking footballers and accusing them of rape.
* I don’t know why but ‘the female mind’, for some reason, makes me feel like a platypus.