Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
May 18, 2015 /
It was mere days ago that we were all enthralled by William’s recipe for stuffed pigeon. Complete with Italian herbs. Struggle Street, for all its ethical quandaries, shared with us a fascinating insight into the dining practices of society’s outliers.
In recent days the media has continued its job in plugging the gaps in our anthropological education. This time they’ve treated us to Part Two in our course on Dining with the Different. This time our subjects are millionaires in a fancy-pants Woolloomooloo steakhouse. A case study I also find myself (not so) quietly dubbing “When the Rich go Feral”.
For Ash in Struggle Street, lunch was at the local servo with his mate Tony, aka “The Wog”. Salad and sangas paid for with the proceeds of a day of hard-rubbish scavenging.
For John Singleton – the advertising executive remembered fondly for his vociferous comments about “feminazis” back in the 1990s – lunch was in the “vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere” of Kingsley’s. With millionaire mate Jack Cowin, aka The Burger King.
Sure, there’s an infinite supply of compare and contrast points I could make here. About, say, the $139.90 Wagyu rib on the bone versus a slingshot-slain sparrow. But I’ll resist. My real interest is the after-meal entertainment. For Singo and The King sure, but for we hoi polloi rubberneckers alike.
The idea of enjoying a spot of violence as recreation is nothing new. The Romans with their gladiatorial battles. The public tortures of the Middle Ages. Those riotous town square executions in Victorian England. And let’s not forget the Capitol’s penchant for children battlin’ to their deaths. To quote the title character (Tony Curtis) from Houdini: “People fall asleep at the opera, but they stay awake at a bullfight.”
The Singleton/Cowin stoush is interesting because it’s a reminder that even in 2015 violence is apparently still interesting to watch and, hey, sometimes even a joy to participate in. It’s a reminder that you’re never too old, too rich, or too drunk to break a glass and hold a shard to a good pal’s jugular.
More so, the bout is an excellent reminder that gender is so much better a predicator of violence than socioeconomic status.
The Don Draper/Hungry Jack crabshack showdown let us in on a fascinating and too-often ignored secret. A secret that was let out of the bag last year when the track-suited duel transpired between James Packer and David Gyngell. A secret that was also spoken the year prior when Charles Saatchi showed us just how to treat a lady with a little post-lunch strangulation.
Rich people can be dickheads too.
A diet of popular media misinforms us that brawling is what battlers do. Seemingly only poor people are so uncouth as to do their feuding publicly. The American show Cops, along with Australian incarnations like The Force paint the same picture: booze-filled punch-ons are the carry-on of the down and out, of society’s discarded, of bogans, of yobbos, of ferals. That rich people have, supposedly, more class.
Singleton and Cowin’s wee tiff provide a timely reminder that shock horror, rich people – rich men – have impulse control problems akin to their less cashed-up brothers. That sometimes they leave their minders at home. That occasionally they take their dirty laundry and drunkenness out on the town. That acting like a fool and finding hilarity in a glassing aren’t shenanigans confined to King Street or the Cross.
If we’re compelled to read – and write – about the carry-on of our poorly behaved financial-betters, then hell, at least let them serve as a teachable moment.
© Lauren Rosewarne