Defending the King of Spin

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
December 16, 2010 /

Click here to view original /

My grandma is a bit Catholic, fairly Italian and significantly superstitious. Amidst her no-new-shoes-on-the-table and the black-handled-knives-wrapped-in-foil rules, is a firm belief in the power of three.

One relative, one neighbour and Frank Sinatra might die in the same week/month/year: three. All about three. I’ve recently defended KFC and pondered defending Kanye. My grandmother would insist I defend a third.

It was a toss-up between Oprah and Warnie – two identities I’ve long maligned. As it turned out, the decision was easy: too much positivity and I feel a bit pukey. It’s time to defend the King of Spin.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the appeal. Of course, I don’t get the Brad Pitt thing or the George Clooney thing or the Tom Cruise thing either. I’ve only had the one celebrity crush. I was seven, it was 1987, and it was Boy George. As an adult, I need to speak to a person before I swoon.

I don’t want to write about the appeal of the bad boy. I say this primarily because two years ago – as I watched him check the moisture levels of his humidor – my then partner speculated, “You like bad boys, don’t you?”

As subjective a word as “bad” is, I’m pretty sure it’s a moniker unsuited to a Northern European interior decorator. Bad can mean anything and it can be nothing. Often it’s just a bloke’s wishful thinking.

My boredom with the bad boy concept is largely centred on all of the many ologies surrounding it. Biological explanations based on testosterone and pheromones. Psychological explanations about women with poor self-esteem and penchants for masochism.

Call me naïve, but I’d prefer to think that I fall for a guy for reasons more interesting than his smell or my neurosis.

Today I’m defending Warnie on a principle dating back to the marketplace of yore: caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.

I’m going to defend him on the basis that first suspicions about people, about partners, are often right; defend him on the grounds that still waters very rarely run any deeper and defend him because for blokes like Warnie, the techie principle of WYSIWYG is proved time and time again.

Like the billion women before me and the billion women to follow, once upon a time I did a longish stint of work experience in the fooling-around-with-the-taken-man department.

Like the billion women before me and the billion women after, I knew exactly what I was buying in to. It might have become significantly worse than I expected, but I could never claim any babe-in-the-woods status. As potent as wishful thinking is, it reaps few rewards.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not endorsing Warne’s behaviour. The hair-yeah-yeahing, swallowing mum’s diuretics, the hotel room incident with the two “ladies of the night”, the sexting.

Caddish, laddish, ho-hum. But he’s an adult, he wasn’t breaking any laws and I’m not his keeper.

I’m only interested in defending him as a package. His reputation precedes him. Like him or loathe him, take him or leave him. He’s a character and one we know well.

Two And A Half Men is a dreadful show. Dreadful. I hate it. Perhaps even more so than Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. The protagonist, Charlie, is a womaniser; treatin’ em’ mean and keepin’ em’ keen and playin’ a little piano.

Tens of thousands of people – women included – watch the reruns. Evidently, some women even find him likeable. Even though they know exactly how it ends. Every episode.

The head scientists and the social scientists concoct innumerable reasons for why some men act this way. For the purposes of this article I really don’t care about Mick Hucknall’s absent mother, Warnie’s battle with the bottle or Charlie Sheen’s cocaine calamities.

Good reasons, sketchy reasons, rubbish reasons: each of us are the way we are for innumerable reasons.

Like the peacock, plumage on show, these men, in their hedonistic, self-indulgent stupors are presenting themselves to women. And like padded bras for children or KFC gift cards, nobody is forcing us to partake.

My relationship rules are simple: if I’m with you it’s because I like you and I accept you; I don’t want to change you and I expect the same courtesy. To expect reform, repentance and remodelling in a partner is revolting. So much more so than anything Shane Warne has ever done.

If you fall for a Warnie-esque package, you need to fall for it in all of its hair-pluggy, baked bean eatin’, hotel-room rompin’ glory.

No complaining when he’s texting someone else during copulation.

No aghast expressions when he’s caught on CCTV nuzzling the neck of a neighbour.

No delusions that it’s going to be oh so different this time.

Buyer beware. Yeah yeah.

© Lauren Rosewarne