Before Kurt Cobain made painful self-reflection, shyness and cardigans sexy, rock’n’roll bands were expected to operate in a sphere outside the realm of normal, everyday morality. Along with offensively tight pants, power ballads and make-up, a prerequisite for any ’80s hair band was the regular exploitation of groupie adoration. While some may still look on the free-love sexual politics of the ’60s movement with romanticism – case in point is the horrendously nostalgic The Boat that Rocked – by the time the ’80s rolled around it was all starting to feel tired.
Free-love had evolved into its embarrassingly logical and destructive extreme; boastful accounts of conquests in dressing rooms seemed so pointless, as though the more make-up bands wore the more they had to prove they were men. The likes of Motley Crue and Poison were the mutant spawn of the rock’n’roll dream, selfish, lazy and dumb. We can thank Spinal Tap for making that abundantly clear.
No wonder then that the masses turned to the least threatening music figures they could find. With the exception of an ill-considered nu-metal phase, the biggest ‘rock’ bands of the last few decades have practiced pilates, eaten organic food and named their children after fruit. Hell, even Kanye has stopped swearing on his records. Now, only two groups can consistently be expected to act in a manner befitting the days of Poison – reality TV contestants and NRL players.
The latest controversy to hit the NRL illustrates once and for all that league is the land of the last neanderthal , full of players who have inherited their moral compasses directly from hair metal bands. For those who haven’t caught the story, seven years ago several Cronulla players, including Matthew Johns, had group sex with a 19-year-old girl in a Christchurch hotel.
It’s now been revealed she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since. The players claim it was consensual, she claims it wasn’t. But at this point, the debate over consent almost seems besides the point. What they did was wrong even if she had given verbal consent. The accused player’s actions were an abuse of power and disregard for the dignity of another human being.
Of course, there’s been other cases of NRL debauchery, the Gasnier transcript below is a prime example of the idiotic mentality of some league players. It’d be funny if it didn’t point to a larger and more dangerous problem lurking in the NRL:
AUTOMATED MESSAGE: At 3:41 am:
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Melanie.
MARK GASNIER: —- where the —- are ya? There’s four toey humans in a cab. Twenty to four outside —- (inaudible) —- ready to spurt sauce. And you’re in bed. —- me, fire up you sad —-.”
This got Gasnier fired from the State of Origin team and regrettably happened directly after the NRL initiated a forum to introduce respect for women. Gasnier had attended the night before, obviously taking its message to heart.
If you think these are isolated incidents, well, you’re completely wrong. There’s been an allegation of sexual assault every year since 2004 in the NRL. That is mental. I haven’t run the figures, but I’m pretty sure you’re more likely to be sexually assaulted by a league player than be victim of an airplane crash.
Fortunately, like the early ’90s, the tide of public opinion might finally be turning against this form of idiotic hedonism. Unfortunately, there’s probably no quick fix solution here, no “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to annihilate this crop of NRL idiots.
We’ll keep watching the games too, no matter how poorly the players behave off the field. Enjoyed any Lakers games lately? Yeah, me too. I don’t really think that makes us complicit in any of this ugliness, but I do think it means we should quit trying to suggest sports players should be role models. The ever-wise Charles Barkley was right:
I’m not suggesting every player in the NRL is a rapist, nor even a bad person. I am suggesting that when you give an individual power, money and a great deal of praise on a weekly basis, it’s going to be hard to expect them to act like a normal human being. I can’t say that I’d act normal if I had 20,000 fans screaming my praises each week. I get big headed when someone compliments my haircut. Which is why it never surprises me when things like this happen. It’s reasonable to expect these players to abide by the common laws of society and this should be the immediate goal of the NRL. But to expect them to be role models requires perhaps a too bigger jump in logic. What can a sports person teach us that a parent or teacher can’t?
And if you’re in any doubt that we’re a long way off with the NRL, check out the following quote by under 20s player Simon Williams:
Under 20s player Simon Williams, during filming by the ABC at one of the NRL programs run at his club, said it was important to treat a female well after group sex to avoid any potential dramas.
“It’s not during the act, it’s the way you treat them after it,” said Williams.
“Most of them could have been avoided if they had put them in a cab and said thanks or that sort of thing, not just kicked her out and called her a dirty whatever.
“It’s how you treat them afterwards that can cover a lot of that sort of stuff up.”