Biggest Moments of 2011 #21 Sandilands scrapes the barrel
This all started when a bearded, talentless big mouth couldn’t handle a spot of criticism. So instead of flinging a few well-aimed barbs at his critics, he decided to shoot the messenger. What a tough guy.
Let the record show that Kyle deserved the derision. His show contained, among other mind-numbing stupidity, a segment where he felt a guest’s boobs. The ratings didn’t lie. They rarely do. An initial audience of 1.3 million shrunk to a paltry 200,000 within minutes.
Afterwards Twitter went into meltdown canning the show. Enter numerous entertainment reporters and bloggers who duly recorded the Twitter mood. One of them was news.com.au’s Alison Stephenson. Ali is capable of excellent colour writing on her day, but on this occasion, she wrote a completely straight, unremarkable account of the Twitter reaction.
What happened next
Kyle flipped. He responded on his radio show the next morning with a disgusting rant which called Ali Stephenson, among other things, “a fat slag”. He also made disparaging remarks about her breasts and her hair, and said: “Watch your mouth girl, or I will hunt you down”.
Outrage ensued, and after about two days, advertisers started pulling their accounts from his vacuous show, which by the way is listened to by Australia’s dumbest people. We don’t actually have research to back that up but we don’t need a scientist to prove the sky is blue either.
Surprisingly, Kyle is still on the air, despite a litany of pasts incidents almost as stupid and offensive as this one. Meanwhile, Alison Stephenson has maintained a dignified silence and continued to do her job under considerable duress.
What we learned
We didn’t learn that Kyle is a moron with Bolognese sauce for brains because we already knew that. We did, however, learn that advertisers will only associate themselves with scum like him for so long. One after another, several big names pulled their sponsorship, to the tune of at least $8 million.
We also learned, through a listener backlash that occasionally flared both in the reader comments section of The Punch and in our email inboxes, that Kyle’s fans are so moronically devoted to him that they’ll defend anything he does. They will also threaten anyone who dares to call Australia’s most disgusting broadcaster exactly that.
Widening the lens, this issue has taken us on a journey to the dark side of a celebrity-obsessed generation. We live in an era where it’s acceptable, nay cool, to try to achieve fame by almost any means, dignified or otherwise. Your body, your brain, your ethics – everything is up for grabs in the quest for your fleeting 15 minutes.
This whole state of affairs is kind of depressing, but it has always seemed harmless enough. Let morons be morons. Except now, apparently, you can skewer someone else’s dignity instead of your own in the quest for popularity.
The failure on the part of Kyle’s bosses to sack him sends a message that it’s OK to make hateful, misogynistic statements, and even issue violent threats, with impunity. But Kyle’s listeners are just as culpable for continuing to tune in, thereby giving an implicit thumbs up to anything he says. So too are the celebs and wannabe celebrities who come on his show.
How The Punch covered it
Safe to say we didn’t exactly hold back on this one. In a piece memorably titled A hole in his head where his brain should be, our editor-in-chief David Penberthy didn’t mince words. In the first line, he called Kyle a dead-set rolled-gold card-carrying dickhead. In the last line he said “the bloke is a piece of shit”. There are times for subtlety. This wasn’t one of them.
A few days later, Penbo celebrated the public outcry that helped convince the advertisers to ditch Kyle. As mentioned, it’s a shame the outcry hasn’t yet persuaded his employers to do likewise.
Punch editor Tory Shepherd, never one to shy away from a fight, issued an impassioned reminder that people are genuinely angry and that the Sandilands boil should be lanced. This was lovely imagery. A shame Kyle himself isn’t smart enough to understand it, or indeed know what imagery is.
Then, just as our readers told us they were sick of the issue, TV industry veteran Helen Parker freshened things up with an insider’s take on the many failings of Kyle’s on-air partner, the equally talentless Jackie O. Interesting times.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@nigelmcbain I don't see the nexus between gay marriage and gay sex education in schools. ACL does. Health issues should be taught whatever
@jennijenni a few companies are known to do that - ask for story ideas from job applicants so they can steal them later
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