When Rod Stewart rocked Adelaide last month, he dedicated Rhythm of My Heart to the servicemen and women of Australia and Britain. I remember it distinctly for two reasons: 1) in Australia, we might ‘well up’ once a year as veterans march on ANZAC Day, but we most definitely don’t fawn over serving troops; and 2) someone shouted “THANKYOU” in a way that implied “FINALLY, some bloody recognition”.
I’ve been musing on the incident this week in the wake of those inane comments uttered on Channel Ten’s morning chat show The Circle.
In the unlikely event you missed the subsequent outpouring of wrath, hosts Yumi Stynes and George Negus ‘joked’ about the intelligence and sexual prowess of Australia’s newest Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith. Tacky at best, disgusting at worst, and the social networks went into meltdown.
Latest 2 of 125 commentsView all comments
We all know what the Victoria Cross is, but do we really know what it means and what it represents? Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned but I truly believe that Australians do understand and appreciate the significance of this award. That is, until I heard the comments made on Channel 10’s The Circle program this week, comments the network has since apologised for, faced with national outrage.
Whatever the story behind how each of us learned about the Victoria Cross, whether it was from a school excursion to the War Memorial or from a family member who served ‘back in the day’, we forever remember that it is the highest award presented to a member of the Australian Defence Force for acts of bravery in wartime.
We all know that the acts of those who have been awarded the Victoria Cross are nothing short of heroic. In the case of Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, VC, MG, he was involved in a hunt for a senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan when during an engagement with a fortified enemy he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his mates. He then stormed two enemy machine gun posts, quickly dispatching the enemy.
Latest 2 of 120 commentsView all comments
Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit, a regular Punch column that looks at crap and calumny, fibs, fictions and forgeries. This week we’re looking at humour, and whether The Circle panel’s jokes about Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith were, in fact, jokes.
Australians are born with a bile-duct whose juices are triggered by any real or perceived slights on past or present members of the armed forces. We also have an overdeveloped part of the brain that tells us we are ‘larrikins’, that we are all proud owners of a knockabout, irreverent sense of humour.
This is why brains explode when jokes about soldiers – particularly soldiers who have received awards for bravery – bring these two parts of our national character clashing up against each other. We want to both protect the idea that we can laugh at everything, and simultaneously exempt sacred subjects.
Latest 2 of 415 commentsView all comments
Here’s a tip for Yumi Stynes and George Negus. When you stuff up by calling a Victoria Cross winner a brainless dud root - it’s best to say “I’m terribly sorry.” Then stop. Right there.
Don’t crap on about the reaction to your lighthearted slur making you “feel sick”. Don’t use the old “If I’ve offended anyone…” caveat, and never, ever pull the “you should know us all better to think we would ever deliberately try to hurt people” cop out. Because here’s the thing - it’s not about how you feel.
We all get things wrong sometimes. We all need to apologise sometimes. But people seem to have forgotten how to do it.
Latest 2 of 300 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…