The feud between Bill Brownless and Garry Lyon did not need to be fuelled with a “tell-all” interview, writes Marie Kelly.
Last night Channel 9‘s AFL panel program, The Footy Show started off really weird. It was the first show of the footy season and it opened with three chairs in front of the panel desks and there was not a Lyon in sight.
“Here we go,” my mum whispered next to me.
There have been a lot of rumours circulating two of the panelists from the show, Billy Brownless and Garry Lyon. One of them that the affair between Brownless’ ex-wife and Lyon has been going on for years and years. The other that the affair was actually between Brownless’ daughter and Lyon, not the ex-wife. Strangely enough.
It became clear last night that the interview-esque opening, with questions rolling from other panelists Sam Newman and James Brayshaw, that the point of the exercise was to dispel the rumours about Brownless’ daughter. More to the point, after revealing a first world problem – not being able to buy his sixteen year old son a birthday present or throw a party for him due to media surrounding his house – the exercise was an attempt to stop the harassment of all of Brownless’ children by media and others.
There were many things that troubled me about the opening of the show last night, particularly Brownless comparing “a man’s wallet” to “a man’s wife” *intense shudder*.
Another was as if this exercise would indeed dispel any rumours at all or if it was a strange media strategy. The other one was whether this issue is of public interest at all.
Bless my poor upbringing, I am a mad Carlton supporter and have been following the AFL since I understood the difference between a goal and a behind. However I fail to see how airing dirty laundry on national television, without both parties present, is of interest to footballers, football fans or even the general public.
Last I saw, every party involved, specifically the two men and their ex-partners, are consenting adults over the age of twenty-one and separated from their partners, there was no need to bring in mediators on national television. So why air it? Why conduct it at all?
If the point of the exercise was indeed to the dispel the rumours surrounding his daughter and to protect his family from being harassed; did Brownless consider that even mentioning the rumours or talking about his children on national television may add more fuel to the fire? Did they consider that perhaps Lyon’s mental health may also be at risk after airing the interview? Lyon was so unwell that he was not able to attend the show last night, and apparently will no longer be a member of the panel, though it is unsure whether or not that decision is due to his mental state or working with a disgruntled friend and colleague.
As social media opened up last night and continues to pour into this morning, articles such as “How The Footy World Reacted To Billy’s Footy Show Interview” have popped up. Everyone has an opinion from “it’s a cover up” to “Garry should be shot” to “who cares?” to this particular piece of poop for comedy:
— jaymz (@hell4u02) March 10, 2016
Social media is on its own little witch hunt and is hashtagging #AFLFootyShow every step of the way. So was this a promotional exercise disguised as a “tell-all”?
No one can deny that The Footy Show and its many personalities are often display double standards. Not too long ago, Brownless was accused of calling a mother and her underage daughter “strippers” at a junior football function. Let’s not forget that when Wayne Carey was at the centre of an “affair scandal”, Lyon slammed Carey’s actions and now his actions are deemed similar, if not the same.
The Footy Show promoted LifeLine for viewers, yet respect for Lyon’s mental health and wellbeing was clearly not at the forefront of many people’s minds last night and this morning. Hundreds are calling for Lyon’s head, others don’t care about his mental situation and above all, having a public conversation which involves two distressed parties with only one party present is careless.
Where to from here? These rumours will be circulating for days on end, and of course Lyon will be hunted for a response to Brownless’ tell-all last night. Nicky Brownless, the ex-wife, will be slammed for her actions even though she was well within her rights as a consenting adult to do whatever she pleased.
The more and more we look over the situation at hand and the conduct of the interview last night, it’s unclear to see if there was any point to the interview at all. The rumours have gained momentum rather than been dispelled, a troubled man is being persecuted for doing something within his right as a single man, and three or more children of these media personalities have had their lives brought to the limelight once more without having a say in it.
When did this go from doing good to doing damage?
Where’s the line?
Why does it feel like we’ve crossed it and never considered stopping?
If you are struggling and need help, please contact Beyond Blue on 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au.
Header image via Channel 9/The Footy Show