Is This the End of Real News?

When I stumbled across the following article, which was posited as a news story by none other the Sky News – a so-called news provider in the context of a world in which our definition of newsworthiness is being watered down on a daily basis – I couldn’t help but ask myself “what the?”

If the headline of the story wasn’t enough to have you questioning the relevance of this as a piece of ‘news’, the article itself sets new standards in the dumbing down of our society, particularly the values/attributes that we celebrate as meritorious.

Sky News

Rihanna streaker wins Big Brother
Updated: 23:17, Wednesday November 6, 2013

Rihanna’s infamous tour flight streaker Tim Dormer was wearing clothes when he finally made headlines for all the right reasons.

Dormer collected $250,000 for winning the Nine Network reality series Big Brother on Wednesday night. He stepped out of the house, situated at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast, after 101 days, just moments after former Italia’s Next Top Model contestant Jade Pietrantonio departed in second place with $10,000. Model Tahan Lew-Fatt collected $5,000 for finishing third.

The winner was decided by the viewers and Dormer received 36 per cent of the votes, while Pietrantonio had 34 per cent and Lew-Fatt collected 30 per cent.

Dormer, who hosted the now-defunct television chart show Hit List TV, made world headlines almost a year ago when he streaked on pop star Rihanna’s tour plane during a promotional flight. London’s The Daily Mail wrote What a rude boy! Rihanna’s 777 tour flight descends into chaos as Australian journalist streaks through the cabin’ as news of the then-radio DJ’s nude dash went global.

Dormer can at least buy himself a fancy set of threads and a first class ticket around the world after winning a quarter of a million dollars.
‘I don’t what to do with the cash,’ he told Big Brother host Sonia Kruger during a very hasty post-eviction interview. Kruger fired off just a few questions to Dormer before closing the telecast which went for three hours and ran half an hour overtime. ‘I am going to need a bigger wallet,’ he said.

Earlier Kruger spent a good five minutes chatting with third place-getter Lew-Fatt who was the first to leave the house during Wednesday night’s finale. However, Pietrantonio got relatively no air time.

Of the 20 housemates who appeared on the series, Lew-Fatt was the most nominated contestant. ‘I was up for eight evictions so to be here is a big achievement for me,’ Lew-Fatt told Kruger during her post-eviction interview. She said was honest with everyone in the house and conceded she did create friction with some of the girls in the house. But it also taught her one important lesson in life. ‘I learnt you have to pick your battles,’ Lew-Fatt said.

Kruger announced that Big Brother would be returning in 2014 for its 11th Australian season and its third on Nine. The network revived the series last year after it was dumped by Network Ten in 2008.

Big Brother

If the headline hadn’t already given away the vacuousness of this story and those in it, the first line – ‘Rihanna’s infamous tour flight streaker Tim Dormer was wearing clothes when he finally made headlines for all the right reasons’ – might lead you to believe that this is a story of redemption, a story about somebody who, having once achieved notoriety for the wrong reasons, has undertaken a profound change to make a positive contribution to the community in some way. As it turns out, the article is declaring that winning Big Brother – the most inane of television programs ever to be broadcast on Australian television – is somehow more worthy of our admiration than streaking through an aeroplane.

Firstly, it is impossible to fathom why somebody streaking in a plane is newsworthy in the first place. I mean, we have all had those moments where we have let our inhibitions loose and undertaken a nudie run, some skinny dipping or some other activity sans clothes. We certainly don’t expect our antics to be deemed newsworthy enough to attract the attention of the world’s media. I’m not sure the fact that this person is supposedly a radio DJ makes their antics any more interesting. If every nude dash and streak staged over the course of every weekend in Australia was covered by our print or electronic media, there wouldn’t be any room for real news.

Secondly, the irony, of course, is that Dormer’s streak took place on a plane being used to transport Rihanna and her entourage on a promotional tour. Yes, the same Rihanna who seems to find it very difficult to keep her clothes on at any time – be it in a plane, a limousine a nightclub or a concert stage. I would have thought the idea of getting nude on a Rihanna tour plane would simply be about trying to fit in. After all, as the saying goes, ‘when in Rome…”

However, the most disturbing thing to emerge from this vapid piece of writing is the assertion that winning Big Brother is somehow a more significant achievement than this ‘streak’. Whilst we can hope that the unnamed person who wrote this had tongue firmly planted in cheek, there is nothing to suggest that this might be the case. After all, Big Brother is nothing more than a group of desperate wannabes willing to sacrifice anything in their quest for fame, including their dignity. I find it hard to believe that anybody can seriously suggest that one bogan simply outlasting a group of fellow bogans on the whim of votes lodged by other bogans is an achievement of any kind. There were no skills required to ‘win’ and none of the people taking part seemed to possess a modicum of intelligence or self-respect, so what has Tim Dormer achieved exactly?

To suggest that winning Big Brother means that Dormer has ‘made headlines for all the right reasons’ is ridiculous in the extreme. Why is this so-called victory worthy of any column space in any form of media? He didn’t do anything other than sit around in a tacky pseudo-house, engage in banal conversation and occasionally undertake a series of debasing ‘challenges’ that made his plane shenanigans seem the pinnacle of sophistication and social etiquette. So, what moments of insight did Dormer have to offer when interviewed following his ‘eviction’? Well, apparently his most pressing concern is that he would ‘need a bigger wallet.’ If this was an attempt at humour, comedy is clearly one of the many talents that this person does not possess. It is more likely that Dormer actually believed that empty-headed host Sonia Krueger was going to whip out $250 000 cash right there and then, enabling him to race to his nearest Westfield and indulge in a spree of epic proportions on flannelette shirts in every colour, the entire AC/DC back catalogue, anything Ed Hardy and the full gamut of bogan necessities. To co-opt a phrase from the Australian political playbook, it seems that the mere existence of the Big Brother program itself, along with the earnestness attached to the media coverage of this so-called competition, is nothing more than a ‘race to the bottom’ for Australian television production and a sad indictment on the state of Australia’s media industry.

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