Monday, 12 March 2012

We need to talk about Yumigate

We need to talk about Yumi Stynes…. It’s been a fascinating few weeks (from her point-of-view hellish is probably a more accurate word)

The simple fact is Yumi made an error of judgment – and dare I suggest, one that isn’t really serious in the scheme of things.

It wasn’t coming from a place of malice and it certainly doesn’t mean she is not supportive of those serving our country in the armed forces.

Yumi went for a cheap gag - one that takes aim at a stereotype: hot men (granted, it was ill informed as she didn’t know the mans background but as the face of 15 hours of live TV every week - a grueling schedule, surely this can be forgiven)

A very buff looking man was shirtless in the pool and Yumi suggested with a body like that he must be dumb – it was all pretty harmless (actually a back-handed compliment if you think about it – he was so hot he must be flawed - intellectually perhaps?)

Her co-host took the gag to the next level saying he could also be a “dud root”

The theme of this gag is nothing new – fit muscly men must be dumb or a bad lay.

It’s a gag in the same ilk as the one that says men who drive expensive cars must have small penises [insert RTA TV commercials and women wiggling their flaccid pinky finger at cars speeding past, here]

It’s from the same joke book that says pretty blondes are dumb and Irishmen always come last after the Englishmen and the American.

You get the picture right?

The fact that conservative media across the country have fuelled their sensationalist agenda to twist this into Yumi not appreciating people in our armed services is wildly inappropriate and downright irresponsible.

It’s deliberately confusing two very separate issues at the expense of a competent TV personality.

Well I am team Yumi. She shouldn’t be sacked and really, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Instead we should take a look at what this situation has highlighted:

1.     the sheer hypocrisy of many Australians. Those who, on one hand say they’re “offended” and “outraged” by Yumi’s insensitive comments, while on the other hand are calling her a “whore”, “talentless”, threatening her children, judging her on her single mother status, and telling her to “go home” (one of many offensive social media postings, a reference to her Asian heritage)… um what the hell? Double standards are a bitch.

2.     the important role of social media here, and how people have a responsibility to understand the situation before jumping on the band-wagon. It’s easy to click “like” to promote hate. All the hysteria and misguided comments lead me to believe few of those leaving this vitriolic commentary stream even saw the segment in question, I’m certain there can’t be that many Australians who are that irrational sensitive.

3.     the double standards in Australian media. The fact is many talk-back radio announcers say things that are much worse and potentially far more damaging – EVERY DAY. Why is Yumi such a target.. could be because of her gender or race it was on TV rather than the radio? Ironically with The Circle’s audience at around 60,000 viewers a day, talkback radio has a substantially larger audience, yet perhaps with less accountability and certainly less scrutiny.

When the right-wing Andrew Bolt is coming to your defense you know things are bad, but I feel the hysteria subsiding…

For an intelligent, progressive society it’s such a disheartening state of affairs.

It reminds me of when Mia Freedman was almost burned at the stake for saying cyclist Cadel Evans wasn’t a national hero…

And you know what – she was right. Nelson Mandela, hero. Fred Hollows, hero. Cadel Evans, talented and an inspirational athlete but not a hero (but that’s another story altogether)


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