Now, I would not normally comment on the Logie Awards, since for me they are less interesting than the talking clock and given the choice of watching the ceremony on television or paint dry, I would pick drying paint any day. However, this year the antics of Age Journalist, Catherine Deveny, did catch my attention.
During the ceremony, Ms Deveny tweeted constantly. While it appears many were in dubious taste, the one relating Bindi Irwin, “I do so hope Bindi gets laid“, caused the most offence. No doubt, at a dinner party, Ms Deveny’s friends would have found all her asides hilarious and they may have gone down well at a comedy festival, but was Twitter an appropriate forum for the Bindi comment?
Twitter with its own social conventions and abbreviated language is great for promoting oneself or events, products and issues, so it is hardly surprising that it has been so enthusiastically embraced by those with something or someone to sell. Tweets are good for conveying extremes of emotions; love or hate, admiration or disgust; but with 140 characters it is very hard to engender much in the way of empathy or compassion.
When Ms Deveny was later questioned about her tweeted wish for an 11 year old girl to get laid, she expressed surprise that some found the comment offensive. “I wouldn’t think you’d have to explain,” she told the ABC. “I used humour to highlight the celebrity culture, the raunch culture and the sexualisation, sexual objectification of women’s bodies.”
Well, maybe some of her 5,900 followers and the countless others to whom it was re-tweeted were cool enough ‘to get it’. But then again, maybe some of those people just saw a “celebrity” with the authority of a major newspaper promoting the notion that paedophilia is acceptable. For me, one of the most outstanding aspects of the whole saga was Ms Deveny’s total lack of awareness and apparent complete surprise when she was sacked the next day. She clearly felt that it was the fault of the old-media who just didn’t understand social networking: “I was taken out of context, the thing is Twitter is … you have got to understand social networking to get the context of it, it’s passing notes in class.”
I agree with Ms Deveny that it is a question of context, for is that not the case with all effective communication. But, I would have thought short, smart quips or the passing of notes in class are never going to be capable of providing the necessary context for anything other than mere titillation when it comes to the consideration of complex issues such as the “sexual objectification of women’s bodies” or pre-teen sexual relations.
But perhaps I have misunderstood the context. Maybe the context Ms Deveny was referring to is that of shock-jocks and celebrity vultures, those who are willing to do whatever it takes to raise their celebrity status. Only time will tell, but maybe the whole saga was a confection and we will soon see the emergence on morning radio of ‘Cat-the-Twit’ with an equally attention seeking partner.