Why it was wrong for Magda Szubanski to target Jenny Morrison

HYPOCRISY: There's been little backlash to comedian Magda Szubanski's attack on Jenny Morrison. Picture: Canberra Times
HYPOCRISY: There's been little backlash to comedian Magda Szubanski's attack on Jenny Morrison. Picture: Canberra Times

After discovering that someone has been sharing insults about them, or perhaps even just mild criticism with others (constructive, of course), nobody believes it when they say: "Oh, I've only said this to a couple of people."

Now, if we were to criticise someone who we don't like to three people, would it be three times as bad as only saying it to one?

What if we badmouthed someone to a thousand?

What about if it was to some 152,300 people?

This is what happened last week when Australian comedian Magda Szubanski thought that it was a good idea to share a picture of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with his wife Jenny in the background behind him, telling her 152,300 Twitter followers that she thought it was a meme from the dystopian HBO series The Handmaid's Tale.

The Handmaid's Tale is, of course, a story about women who are reduced to slavery for the purpose of reproduction only.

Was this an attempt at comedy, or was Szubanski being serious?

Either way, what a disgraceful thing to reference the prime minister and his wife in such a way - to reference anyone's wife in such a way.

I have often grimaced when reading people say things like "as this world gets more kind".

Certainly this should be the goal, however is the world really getting more kind? Not everyone's.

And certainly not if you take a look on social media.

As Anthony Carmona, a former judge on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, pointed out: "Social media websites are no longer performing an envisaged function of creating a positive communication link among friends, family and professionals.

"It is a veritable battleground, where insults fly from the human quiver, damaging lives, destroying self-esteem and a person's sense of self-worth."

Through the powerful medium of television, Channel 9 was, via A Current Affair with Tracy Grimshaw, able to bend reality to its advantage by presenting Szubanski as the victim of a Twitter backlash.

So, what on earth does Channel 9 get out of all this?

Well, Channel 9 is airing a return of the hit gameshow Weakest Link early next month - to be hosted by Magda Szubanski.

The interview on A Current Affair neglected completely any mention of another tasteless tweet by Szubanski.

This one featured a photo of Jenny Morrison and family with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

In this tweet, Szubanski tried to imply that Jenny Morrison was making a white supremacist hand gesture on her young daughter's arm.

There was no significant public backlash to either of these tasteless comments from Szubanski about Jenny Morrison, a woman who the late Australian fashion designer, Carla Zampatti, described as "a wonderful Australian fashion ambassador".

But there should have. That the comedian used the prime minister's daughter as a prop for this tasteless stunt makes it even more reprehensible.

Sadly, the ironies here will in no time be forgotten.

It's the age of cancel culture, yet this comedian will not be cancelled.

In a time of increased condemnation of bullying women, it seems bullying conservative women - even the prime minister's wife - is still permitted.

In a time of acute sensitivity towards the exploitation of children, the PM's child is fair game.

In recent years, Magda Szubanski has been held up by many as a champion of diversity.

Until, it seems, she is talking about someone who chooses to live their life differently to the comedian's world view.

Twitter: @frbrendanelee

This story Midweek Musings | Why it was wrong for Magda Szubanski to target Jenny Morrison first appeared on The Canberra Times.