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Mia Freedman, Red Symons and the cult of the individual

I wish I’d made a retirement plan, for the conquest of my industry is close. And, yes, we in the traditional media can certainly blame faster technology, diminishing revenues and—far less credibly—the slowing minds of consumers for this imminent death. But, geez, at some point, we gotta take a look at ourselves. Certainly, we must do this before anybody else scans us too closely and concludes that the only way out of the electronic hell we have made is our professional euthanasia.

Of course, I secretly suspect—as do all humans—that I am the clean exception to the filthy rule. I truly believe that independent local outlets like this one, or this one or this one, provide much-needed reply to questions posed but so rarely explored by corporate press. I will even recommend your financial support of non-mainstream media organisations. Still. After last week’s display of Australian media hubris, I’m inclined to say, “throw this dirty Helen baby out with all the tainted bathwater!”

Two incidents last week prompted me to develop some self-harming policy proposals I could offer to the state. When the women’s website Mamamia and radio station ABC Melbourne managed to outrun both good manners and good sense, I thought about deposing all media workers who are white, over forty and/or find themselves in the highest twenty percent of income distribution. Possibly any individual who has publicly written or uttered the phrases “start the conversation” or “political correctness gone mad!” or “I’m entitled to my opinion”.

If you are employed to have an opinion, you might want to think about not also being an arsehole.

The sense of “entitlement” to opinion, or to “free speech”, is something I particularly want to problematise after a week in which the journalist Mia Freedman felt at ease in declaring one of her interview subjects “super morbidly obese” and humourist Red Symons thought to ask his colleague Beverly Wang, a broadcaster, with Taiwanese heritage, “are you yellow?”

Look. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a bit of a free speech extremist who scorns our national tradition of quarantining vice. I do not think views should be quashed, websites filtered or art declared unsafe; nor do I believe that publicly shaming individuals who hold views, or manners, I find repugnant achieves anything but the opportunity for others to uphold “free speech” arguments with which I largely agree. This is not to “shame” Symons or Freedman, but it is to answer the popular defence that they are as “entitled” to an opinion—or, in Symons’ case, entitled to a comic style that predates Kevin Bloody Wilson—as anybody else.

Yes, opinions are a right. They are, like arseholes, a virtual human certainty. Have one and use it to emit all the dreadful fumes you wish. But if you are employed to have an opinion, you might want to think about not also being an arsehole.

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If you are a media worker, you are, in fact, trained not to be an arsehole. Or, at least, you were. These days, kids who work in media are instructed to churn out profitable content, with ethics, or even legal responsibility, covered in barely seen pages of the company intranet. I have been myself treated to a few corporate editorial policy tutorials in recent years, and I can tell you that they are a point-and-click exercise in obfuscating bullshit. You’re expected to read a digital form as long, often as impenetrable, as the Apple Terms of Service in no time flat. This covers the employer’s obligation to train its employees. It, of course, does not actually train its employees.

A striking individual opinion or style not only stands out in a media landscape cluttered with unsurprising opinions and styles, it is a whole lot more cost-effective to produce.

Freedman and Symons, however, joined the media class ‘round the same time I did. They would know very well that their special entitlement to an opinion also comes with special responsibility. Of course, they may have forgotten or may even be excused, just a little, for forgetting their commitment to their hundreds-of-thousands of consumers. When no one much else in media seems to give a toss about engaging with a mass audience within the parameters of mass acceptability—come on, don’t tell me that calling a fat person or an Asian person names is broadly acceptable—why should they?

The “brave” individual opinion has been elevated in the past decade, along with the idea of the exceptional individual. This is not, as most things are not, simply the result of a moral shortcoming. It is produced by market forces. A striking individual opinion or style not only stands out in a media landscape cluttered with unsurprising opinions and styles, it is a whole lot more cost-effective to produce. There is no financial reason to pay for a journalist’s investigative labour when you can hire a “big” personality. Perhaps one who can be occasionally relied upon to make many in a particular category feel small.

These are the conditions that give us a Freedman or a Symons snafu. These are the terms in which the “moving personal narrative” replaces the factual feature, the celebrity sorrow stands in-in for the mass experience, the hardship of the well-to-do feminist is seen as that of everywoman. This is a time where a well-remunerated right-wing commentator can declare, on the front page of dozens of newspapers and digital properties, that he is being “silenced” and actually be believed.

Of course, there’s a lot less scrutiny in an era of push-button publishing. But, we must never confuse everyday speech with the professional sort.

Again, I have no wish to personally malign Symons or Freedman, however unpleasant I found their recent eruptions. First, and less crucially, I have worked with them both, and they’re not demons. Second, this sort of censure does nothing at all to remind both consumers and producers of media of an important truth: it’s not personal.

When Mia or Red speak to us, they are not doing so as individuals. When an outlet’s content has been prepared—live or leaked screw-ups are a different matter—it is subject to scrutiny. Of course, there’s a lot less scrutiny in an era of push-button publishing. But, we must never confuse everyday speech with the professional sort. I mean, my goodness. Especially when it’s been pre-recorded.

Andrew Bolt is not an everyday guy subject to the same frustrations faced by a white blue-collar bloke. Clementine Ford is not one of the girls whose brutal and systematised experience of harassment (vile as it is) can be meaningfully compared to your own. Chris Kenny is not a Schmo without a voice and worn down by life. Even dirty baby Helen Razer doesn’t know your pain.

When we claim that we are “relatable” or that our experience of anxiety, oppression or job dissatisfaction is comparable with your own, don’t believe us. When we apologise for our individual flaws, do not forget that what we are truly apologising for is a media business that elevates the importance of our opinions beyond reason. 

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When we report on ourselves, demand that we look back to the world. And if you’re tempted to feel bad for us, don’t. We got ourselves into this mess of individualism. Perhaps your open contempt for it can help bring us out. 

50 responses to “Mia Freedman, Red Symons and the cult of the individual

  1. Sigh …

    I’d like to say I was surprised about the real motivation behind the isolation of Qatar, but alas I’m not.

    Close down al-Jazeera. Anyone doubting the influence of Mr Murdoch ???

  2. His Employer should have thought about the “Arsehole” bit before they engaged that raging curmudgeon Red Symonds. I mean really, whats to discover there?

  3. Helen I agree with you too many opinions not enough facts and it is not just happening in the media.

    Opinion is the sword of the cult of the individual. It cuts through reason and logic rendering them impotent. In my opinion it is not a problem that everyone has an opinion or even shares an opinion. It is that many people with an opinion believe their opinion to be fact and so facts are just another opinion. Plus all opinions are equally valid. Facts, expertise and specific knowledge count for nothing.

    People in all walks of life make their careers around giving opinion taken as fact. It could be a work colleague who relies on opinion and force of will alone to determine an outcome. It could be someone who only sees a simple solution to a complex problem. It is hard to challenge someone who has belief on their side.

    Media ‘personalities’ opinions are rarely seriously challenged. One reason is because it is officially an opinion not a fact. Really the best of both worlds they have the opportunity to pontificate but no responsibility. Even better an opinion can be taken by a third party to be fact when facts and opinion are seen as synonymous.

    A right to have an opinion is being confused with an opinion being right. Facts are not always easy to convey, not always clear but a position or decision based on real information must be held higher than opinion. Not sure how to get there though.

  4. Daily Review, Crikey, The Saturday Paper, and I would add The Monthly. Pretty much sums up my serious journalism reading.

    I also buy the SMH, mainly for the TV guide and the puzzles, but I don’t include them under the heading of serious journalism any more, so they self-select out.

    I too am more interested in why this happens, and what culture/institutions can be created to allow people to behave better. Certainly we are living in times where it is much more lucrative to be a pschopath/tosser/arsehole, but there is a price in dignity and self respect that ends up being paid, even if there aren’t dollar signs in front of it.

    1. Snap! With regard to the SMH, Monday only for the TV guide, although I generally shy away from the puzzles these days.
      The Monthly & Quarterly Essay pretty well round out my serious journalism intake. And of course, I mustn’t forget First Dog on the Moon to impart some sanity to current event reporting.

    2. Dog’s Breakfast.

      Apart from Ms Razer, all your preferred publications are left wing propaganda outlets.
      Like the YourABC, they soley work as the media arms of Green-left ideology.

      One interesting fact you may not have noticed: When confronted with a truth based in science or lived experience which does not concur with their narrow ideology, they become:
      (Step 1) Very vague, then
      (Step 2) Deflective.
      If pressed they resort to (Step 3) Personal attack
      If pressed further they return to Step 1.

      Comrade guardian of all that is ideologically left, YourABC Radio National presenter Fran Kelly stated that cyclones had increased in both number and intensity. This is false; the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states there has been a 40% plus reduction in the number of cyclones and that their intensity has decreased significantly. Unsurprisingly, there has been no correction from the YourABC and no harranging of her for this…….mistake?
      Had the individual been a conservative commentator, the dogs would have been barking.

      I am no major fan of Mr. D. Trump but the hysterical, frenzied and pathological attack on the man over the last twelve months has demonstrated how ideogically warped most mainstream media is.
      They thought they had him on tax evasion and crowed that they had the proof. They were wrong. He paid his taxes.
      They thought they had him on ‘The Russia Connection’ but despite all manic efforts not one piece of evidence has surfaced.
      They thought they had him when he visited the Middle East. The region did not catastrophically explode when he spoke.
      They thought they had him when he promised to respond to Basher’s chemical weapon attack on civillians. He authorised the tomahawk missile response on military targets and taught Assad and his thug mates an overdue lesson. No use of WMDs since.
      I could go on.

      …..but according to the world’s leftie media, he IS the anti-christ.

      No wonder he prefers Twitter.

  5. Neither Symonds nor the Friedman have any right to denigrate or vilify others

    Roxanae Gay was interviewed recently at The Wheeler. Centre and I found her to be so interesting engaging and thoughtful. . I won’t offer my opinion on Symonds and Friedman….best left in the, If you can’t say something nice, best to say nothing at all although I could be tempted to say if pressed, what total richard craniums

    1. Does Helen Razer have the right to do this? The right to “denigrate and vilify others” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
      Being a red-knecked remote Queenslander I tend to ignore much of the debate for self-preservation reasons, but while I do find Helen quite readable, I abhor the liberal, frequent and seemingly compulsory use of the “f” word, which I find highly offensive, and much of her opinion “up” herself. God save us from the consequences of her “masterclasses” – we can all look forward to more liberal sprinkling of the “f” word and the “c” . Won’t that elevate the level of debate – just like the universal compulsory tattoos do. Yuk!!!

  6. I listened to the tape of Red Symons. When he asked the questions “are you yellow” and “are they all the same? ” they were rhetorical questions, and he answered them himself when he followed up the questions with “see you’re not” and “no, obviously not”. In my mind he was clearly pointing to the ridiculous nature of these stereotypes. Does nobody understand rhetorical questions? Or did everybody stop listening to Red as soon as he had asked the questions? Led a storm in a teacup, and more a storm in a thimble.

    1. Yes, Red was attempting to be hilarious. Make a fine mockery of all those people who actually thought that way. ha ha ha. Wang was clearly uncomfortable with his insistence on talking about those other people, ha ha ha, who may think that way. I have been uncomfortable when colleagues have made, ha ha ha, hilarious jokes about my, ha ha, sexuality, ha.
      What do you do when you are confronted with this sort of, ha ha, sophisticated mockery? I mean, of course, I know it’s hilarious to be derided in a public space and these men with their refined wit are just trying to make fun of the dreadful people who would say such things, and even though they called you a “tribade” or a pervert in the office, you know they don’t actually mean it. No. They are just making fun of the terrible people who would say such a thing.
      This happened to me at a media organisation. I was also ridiculed (ha ha) for needing my program schedules in large type, as I am legally blind. Ha ha. It’s all good fun. It was good fun when my line manager said “wear a bikini to the Christmas party” and told me had “sexual dreams” about me”. Ha. It was “rhetorical”. You know. Taking the mickey out of the plebs who would say such things. Diffusing the tension. All the time, diffusing the tension. Every day. Hilarious.
      It was also hilarious when the person with whom I worked was greeted with “Hey wheels. Don’t go too fast” in the foyer. She used a wheelchair. Hilarious. It was hilarious when my producer was referred to as “the terrorist”. Her parents were from the Middle East. Ha. All good fun here in the media.
      You can call HR and get nowhere, or you can try to join in and be a good sport about it. Which I think Wang did. But she was hurt, I am sure, as were many Asian people who hear this palaver all the time. All the time being told that they’re spoilsports if they don’t just laugh along.
      Think about a particular vulnerability that you or someone you love has. Imagine if that vulnerability was pointed out either in a workplace or in a very public forum. Or even if that vulnerability was pointed out, in a bit of a clumsy fashion, in another person. If you love someone with serious depression, for example, would it be funny to hear on the radio a hilarious host ask another person with depression “Are you just malingering?” or “I want to do a show called what’s the deal with sad sacks”.
      Yes, we can absolutely approach these differences with humour. But there was no evidence of that on display. The man sounded cruel. The interview subject sounded used to cruelty, which was the saddest thing about it.
      Really. This “he was only joking” defence is wearing a bit thin.
      If he is only joking, and is joking for six figures a year, he might want to write better jokes. Jokes that bring something to the conversation and don’t just make people wince.
      It was bad. It was old-fashioned. These are not qualities we want in a well-paid broadcaster.

      1. I’m not a public figure but do have a disability and find myself in the position of both having been inflicted upon by the type of ‘humour’ you describe as well as, unfortunately, having been on occasion the perpetrator of this sort of ‘witty repartee’. It has been unhesitatingly pointed out to me by my children (who thankfully and miraculously know better) and I can see now that it is not particularly hilarious or witty to make lame ironical commentary on sensitive matters – it always hurts, or at best is mindless and old-fashioned! Thanks for the eloquent extrapolation. We don’t want crappy talk from media people or to be guilty of it ourselves.

      2. I don’t really have any appreciation of Mia Freedmans work simply because I have not seen her work, but the Phrase she used was unkind so maybe I don’t want to see her work? As for Red Symons? Well in my opinion we have here a second rate guitar player who became known for wearing funny costumes in a successful POP BAND and went on Hey Hey Saturday still holding that guitar looking like he could play it, he can’t just strums it , Sarcasm is his forte, not funny in any way known , so saying what he said is typical of an arsehole premium grade! As you might have guessed I think he is a no-talent “BUM” how he gets work ?? Probably knows the right people, certainly not because of his talents !!

      3. As long as we’re sharing… I was once told I dressed like a girl… so… didn’t offend me though cause girls dress wicked.

        Ya, he was being a bit of a dick, but I don’t think he deserves this sort of insane character annihilation. There are lots of people in power who say way more messed up stuff, and nobody tells them that they are shit at guitar.

        And I kind of think it would be funny to ask a depressed person “Are you just malingering?”…. and I’ve had serious depression and known many seriously depressed people…… maybe it would make for a better skit. Maybe it could be mocking Red! Maybe go one more ironic over him.

    2. Most of the people commenting on social media, not here, have obviously not listened to the broadcast and live in Sydney. Sometimes Red goes off in directions which could annoy or confuse people trying to promote themselves or a show. I think there were elements of this here. I think most people are warned. Someone who works for the ABC we could assume would know Reds style of show.

  7. Perhaps I’ve gotten the wrong end of the stick with your “When Mia or Red speak to us, they are not doing so as individuals. ” bit, but I believe we definitely should be looking on their comments as personal statements – especially given we actually hear them say these things (via podcast and radio, yes?). If we blame the media as a whole for their broadcasters’ fuckups then how can we hold ourselves or anybody accountable for anything we say or do? Personally I’m glad people are seeing Mia Freedman in a new light – totally deserving given what her “media empire”‘s been based on (the untruths and hypocrisy of the womens’ mags) – bet she’ll keep her innermost thoughts to herself next time…

    1. I totally agree. I’ve always found Mia Freedman to be vacuous. Now she’s been ‘outed’ as nothing short of a rude, self-serving and quite archaic reporter whether it be her blogs or editorials. As I stated close to the time of her recent gaff, I very much doubt she would have made similar commentary if she had had the good fortune to interview Orson Wells or Marlon Brando. The emperors new clothes are revealed for what they are: just plain borish, egotistical, vacuous commentary with very little – if any at all – value to our society.

    2. I am sure all media organisations will be very happy to let themselves off the hook with just this defence.
      They are responsible.
      A pre-recorded item has to go through several processes. A broadcaster has a manager to answer to. There is often an entire department for editorial policy.
      If you want to overlook the work of these people and just imagine it was all up to one guy or one girl, fine. As I said, media organisations will back you all the way.

  8. TL:DR. Hundreds of words of waffle.
    Summary: ‘play nice kids’. According to the sensibilities that prevail among moderately progressive opinion column writers, that is.

    1. You read another article. There were no injunctions to be nice, here. Just an explanation of how media has gone to the kennel in an economic sense.

  9. Great writing. The only thing you forgot to mention, I suspect because you’ve been brought up nicely, is the most obvious one: talent. It’s a busy, noisy, insatiably rapacious modern mass media, but human talent with words and for original thinking remains as spread as thinly as it always was. Inevitably 90-95% of professional content/opinion making – both Symons and Freedman included – just aren’t talented enough to be interesting enough to be worth paying money for. This is what will ultimately kill off the media pap – there are endless free versions of most current media professionals now available.

    Happily for the talented few, talent will always find a way to menetise itself. It’ll just be on a small lean scale, like those sites you linked to. The music industry is likewise returning to its gigging/minstrel business model roots, as the leviathan that was the Music Business clones/bloats itself to termination.

    As long as talented, original thinkers write stuff like yours, we will pay you to do it. You’ll probably never be rich, alas. But we won’t let you starve. As for drugs and loose living, if you promise to limit yourself to the cheaper end of the market I’m sure we can strike a commercially viable balance.

  10. What a lot of infantile nonsense – and the fascination with arseholes. I wonder why?
    It reminds me of the reaction I receive when I point out that in Götterdämmerung’s ending Brünnhilde jumps into the fire to be with her Siegfried. The conventional interpretation is that she is so heartbroken and in love with Siegfried and cannot live without him.
    I point out that she is the one who reveals to Hagen the vulnerable spot on Siegfried’s back, and had she really been capable of loving a man, then she would not have betrayed Siegfried to Hagen.
    The response is always: But Siegfried was unfaithful to Brünnhilde and betrayed her, etc.
    My response is: If you really love someone, then you do not betray their trust – no matter what. For Brünnhilde it was more elementary lust- a primeval drive – but certainly not love that motivated her.
    And here we have an illustration of one of the fundamental Wagnerian messages that are in The Ring: the battle between POWER and LOVE.
    What has this to do with the above comment? The crudeness of one expressed comment should not be countered with the crudeness of another comment.
    That’s only my opinion!

    1. Would that I could pepper my works with reference to the great psychodrama of Opera.
      We can’t all be as refined as you, love.
      Some of us are forever caught in the anal stage.

    2. “… The crudeness of one expressed comment should not be countered with the crudeness of another comment …”

      Nah, fuck it !

      Don’t shit into a propeller and expect to escape some splashback !

    3. Why the deviation into the realms of the TV show Inspector Morse?

      As for love and betrayal, surely love can be at its most candescent when accepting the betrayal of a loved one. It’s called masochism. That’s only my opinion!

    4. “If you really love someone, then you do not betray their trust – no matter what.”

      Oh Fredrick, what a naive life you live. There has never been a love that existed that didn’t involve the occasional betrayal of trust. Your Wagnerian utopia is just that – no place!

  11. Helen, it’s not rudeness but laziness that most frustrates me about column-writers. I don’t believe the expression of any opinion is of most value, because charming and funny are cheap. It’s the *formulation* of the opinion that’s either worth something, or its not. Behind unnecessary rudeness is the same malaise that’s behind prejudice, systematic inaccuracy and alt-facts — a cynical, self-important intellectual laziness negligent of its influence and insouciant of its impacts.

    My question isn’t ‘how better ought people to behave’, because I think the answer is always the same: we ought to behave as well as compassion, respect and due diligence demand — which always begins with learning as best we can, what is needed, and how we mean to find out if we’re falling short.

    My question is ‘by what social mechanisms are the laziness, disrespect and cruelty of opinion-makers best censured, and by whom.’

    You didn’t comment on that, and I think it’s the ‘so what’ of your whole complaint.

    Would you care to do so?

    1. No. I don’t think it is laziness. I think it is what the market creates. Mia does this sort of thing because it gets results. She calls her podcast “no filter” and makes a point out of being a wide-eyed, occasionally controversial person. She has built a brand on it. SO has Red.
      If either of them were working within institutions and in a market that permitted more time and internal audits of content, then they would do it.
      I am not interested either in making people behave better. A fool’s errand. I am interested in creating institutions where people are able to behave better.
      When you have ten minutes to write or prepare, you can’t really be accused of laziness. When you have an ABC that has elected to put much of its trust into an expanded management rather than good content, you can’t say the broadcasters are bad. You have to say the institution is bad.
      Again. I am not interested in moralising. I am interested in describing how media got this bad. There are reasons. I have outlined some of them. Constantly chiding individuals, even those with whom you disagree, for being naughty is pointless. Asking how they got that way is far more interesting.

      1. Helen, thank you for replying. You wrote:
        > I don’t think it is laziness. I think it is what the market creates.

        As you’ve acknowledged, it’s a market of which you too are part: where it’s acceptable to react to an opinion you don’t like, but there’s no obligation to offer a single constructive and testable suggestion before publishing.

        Of Mia you’ve written:
        > She calls her podcast “no filter” and makes a point out of being a wide-eyed, occasionally controversial person.

        Yet what you described has another name. It’s called ‘being a reader’. Readers *already* post like contentious ignoramuses — such posts are cheap as chips. Why pay a columnist for the same?

        But if that criticism applies to Mia’s work (and let’s assume it does, since I don’t read her), how does it not also apply to this article of yours, which (however eloquently and entertainingly expressed), seems to lack a single constructive suggestion, prediction or question, and therefore seems little different from reader reaction anyway?

        > I am interested in creating institutions where people are able to behave better.

        I strongly support that, but it leads to a rephrase of the question I asked earlier: by what change in social policy can institutions ensure their communicators will behave better? That’s your interest and mine. I’m reading you because I hope to see you add value to that conversation. So could you please point out the ‘so what’ in this article?

        Even a bad suggestion here could help advance the fundamental ethical question — now acutely felt in our globalised, multicultural communities — of how to reconcile respect as a right with respect as an obligation.

        In this regard, you’ve balked in principle at the idea of using shame to enforce it — presumably because you’re aware of how cruelly and unjustly it can be wielded. Yet a counter-argument is that shame works across every culture — it’s wired into our species. So although it’s a two-edged weapon, it’s nevertheless effective.

        And moreover, as I think this Youtube post by former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada illustrates [https://youtu.be/sWlrauHGAbY], shame is not always inflicted *down* the power gradient. It can be effectively directed *up* it too — especially when communications are democratised. (That has always been part of the power of art.)

        So if you’re advocating against shaming bad behaviour in general (and not just exempting friends and former workmates) as a democratic response, then by what more benign, accessible and effective measure can an institution produce better behaviour — and the institutions themselves held to account?

        Are you really advocating that columnists should be as exempt from shaming as ordinary citizens?

        *Really?*

        That’s the question I think you buried under the reader-reaction and postmodern self-scrutiny here. It’s the one I wished you’d dug up and picked over, and I hope you’ll do so in another article in future.

        > Constantly chiding individuals, even those with whom you disagree, for being naughty is pointless.

        (Please forgive my pedantry, but assuming ‘constantly’ also assumes your conclusion.)

        Yet we know that when a market demands constructive, honest, respectful behaviour from its communicators, the shame of a publicised, well-documented failure diminishes their platform. That has happened in journalism in the past; it happens today in the sciences and also in jurisprudence. So our society hasn’t shifted in its needs or fundamental values — it’s just that the economy has obscured them.

        Some commentators (I have no expertise in this) trace the slide to communications deregulation in the Reagan era, which opened the way for entertainment companies (i.e. attention-grabbing rent-seekers) to take ownership of news media (i.e. truth-driven information-seekers.) After decades of slide, and with the rise of aggregators today, could that policy be reversed?

        I have no idea. I just wonder why journalists who work in this field and have a vested interest in promoting an appetite for facts and reason over attention-seeking, are not having this conversation more often (or as it seems, at all.)

        > Asking how they got that way is far more interesting.

        That depends on whether you mean philosophically or sociologically. Philosophy can declare anything interesting, but sociology requires testable predictions.

        You might feel you’re not a trained sociologist, Helen, but along with observing and thinking, testing things is every human’s birthright.

        With kind regards,

        Ruv.

    2. Are you inferring there should be some official or unofficial arbiters of good taste I opinion column writing? Surely there are enough government and non government regulator something already, as well as courts for cases of discrimination or defamation. We don’t need more protectors of hurt feelings.

  12. I have no sympathy or liking whatsoever for Mia Freedman. But just on a minor point of accuracy: in using the phrase “super morbidly obese”, wasn’t she just citing a standard medical term for Roxane Gay’s condition?

    1. A medicalised term she uses despite the interview subject’s request to be called fat.
      Yes. I think it’s pretty rude. (Not the only rude thing she did. The worst was actually making a big deal about agreeing to access, as though this wasn’t something any sane person should do. Imagine if she did a song-and-dance about someone in a wheelchair who had confidentially requested a ramp.)
      I have a medical condition. I would be damn shitty if someone, without my request, decided to print it in this cold way.

      1. Red is well known for his quirky sense of humour and sharp intellect – I didn’t hear his comment but I suspect context plays a part as always;as for Mia whom I dislike generally,her description of the gay Gay was accurate if unpalatable to the politically correct crowd,which ironically,Mia is part of.

    2. Even if we accept that it is a’standard medical term’, that doesn’t make it either acceptable or appropriate.
      Firstly, as Helen pointed out, it was in direct contradiction to the words her subject asked her to use.
      Secondly, standard medical terms pathologise everyday experience when used like this, and are divisive. They’re also open for debate – you don’t hear of many diagnoses of hysteria in 2017.

  13. On the other hand, there is a perverse fascination to be had in watching the decline of our species happen in real time.

    Whether that inspires despair, amusement, bemusement, or homicidal rage is another story (which we also appear to be watching unfold in real time)

    1. That is not to overlook the obvious contradiction that Red Symons gets to keep his job with the ABC while Yassmin Abdel-Magied lost hers … but then one does not expect any better these days.

      Such is the low, low bar we have set ourselves as a society.

  14. So True. Mamamia claims to represent what women are talking about , but really it just represents what Mia Freedman thinks, which represents a very skinny slither of the demographic pie. The website has degenerated into the ‘mean girls ‘ of the 21st century ‘mean mummies’. just slap together some opinions or a podcast with my mean mummy mates and call it journalism. Minorities are not represented on mamamia any more and the content is becoming wafer thin.

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