Opinion

Three ways we learned to be better this week

Thinkerbell's Adam Ferrier details how Triple M, Hannah Gadsby, Our Watch and Meshel Laurie have all, in their own way, helped to set the bar just a little higher for all of us.

So, three amazing things have happened in the space of a week.

Firstly, last week my wife suggested we watch Nanette on telly. Nanette is, if you haven’t watched it yet, a piece of stand-up comedy by comedian Hannah Gadsby.

Hannah, according to the stand-up routine, gets described as ‘the lesbian comedian’, despite the fact that she loves to cook and never gets described as ‘a cooking comedian’.

Nanette is Hannah’s story told raw, as in blood pumping through the veins raw. In it she mixes harrowing stories of pain, interspersed with piercing comedic moments, leaving the viewer exposed and open to accepting her principle message: “Being different should not be dangerous.”

The routine outlines her personal experience of growing up different, and how others chose to – well basically beat the shit out of her for being just that.

Within this story are undercurrents of misogyny, sexism and a prevailing fundamental belief that still exists in society by many that women are in some way inferior to men.

(OK, so I didn’t want to tell you right up front that this article deals with issues such as gender, power indifference, and sexism for fear of a) turning men off reading it, or b) being accused of mansplaining. I’m a bloke, but still get the opportunity to have an opinion).

Then two days later, the second amazing thing happened – but not in a good way. I hear a conversation on Triple M between three blokes on air. The conversation was rude, crude, and potentially harmful. The exact conversation and what happened can be seen and heard here.

At best the men had no right to be talking about something so invasive, offensive and personal on air. At worst they were telling rape jokes to a prime-time audience who hadn’t asked to be exposed to such degrading and base commentary.

At the time of said comments, none of these guys seemed to know the impact and harm of what they were saying. Nonetheless, their comments were still exactly that: harmful.

Which brings me to the third amazing thing.

On Monday morning Triple M spent approximately half an hour discussing the whole thing on its prime-time breakfast show.

The breakfast panel discussed the incident with both Meshel Laurie, who advocated hard on Saturday to have the issue discussed, and the CEO of Our Watch, Patty Kinnersly.

Our Watch is a government organisation established to help prevent violence against women and their children. Full disclosure: they are also a client of Thinkerbell.

Triple M devoted around 10 minutes to each interview.

This 20-plus minute conversation wasn’t just a press ad saying sorry for running out of chicken, nor was it a news outlet suspending the office junior for posting offensive screen grabs.

This was a media brand taking sincere steps in addressing a wrong, or even for some questioning if a wrong had been committed. Meshel Laurie has since described it as the “most satisfying radio segment of my career”.

I love it.

Ferris Bueller (or someone else) once said the unexamined life is not worth living. Discussing why these comments are so not only offensive, but ultimately dangerous is wonderful.

It stops the two camps – harmful comments vs. you’re just a PC dick – mentality of right and wrong and provides a forum for introspection and examining the issue in more detail.

Not bad for a station built on non-stop blocks of rock.

I applaud any brand willing to use its own media space to examine where it went wrong, and what it can do to make things better.

Discussions like this result in more understanding and respect for each others point of view, and ultimately help create a culture where it’s no longer dangerous for people to be different.

Great to see Triple M, Hannah Gadsby, Our Watch and Meshel Laurie all in their own way helping to set the bar just a little higher for all of us.

Adam Ferrier is a consumer psychologist, and co-founder of Thinkerbell.

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