The worst thing about Shannon Noll’s on-stage rant at a punter who threw a can at him wasn’t his call for some pub-justice, it was his appalling sledge about sexual violence against women.
The rant - which you can watch in the player above - was one of the more theatrical and entertaining things the singer has done on stage for a while. Until he went full moron. It went a bit like this:
“Whoever threw that, come up here. Have the balls to come up here and I’ll meet you over there…
“I’ll give someone $100 to punch that f--k for me.”
“Have some f--king balls to come up here instead of throwing something from there.”
“I’ll punch your f--king teeth down your throat out the back, you dog-arse pr--.”
“Then I’ll f--k your missus and your mum.”
Fit Twintip Jeans Skinny Denim Blue Dark That last line ended with Noll laughing and crowd cheering. Charming, eh?
So while many of his fans have a laugh about a rough-and-tumble bloke calling on the crowd to mete out some front-bar comeuppance, let’s consider what his comments really say about all of us.
To suggest that a way of punishing a bloke who threw a can of beer at you is to rape his girlfriend and his mother is appalling in the extreme.
And make no mistake, rape is what we’re talking about.
(Unless Noll thinks he is so damn appealing that two women would have sex with him despite the fact he had attacked one of their nearest and dearest just because they find him sexually irresistible.) It’s not consensual. It’s rape.
Of course, it’s not a literal threat. Nobody seriously believes Noll would commit such a crime.
For all the drama in his life, Noll is certainly not a rapist and apologised profusely on Facebook for his on-stage comments.
Now, just a warning. Some of the social media posts in this article contain some crude language. But that’s what this is all about, right?
Take a look at his Facebook page. It’s a rabbit warren of expletives, but it helps explain some of his popularity.
You see, Noll occupies a rare space in the Australian entertainment landscape. He’s no longer just a singer, you know, that bloke who lost Australian Idol.
Thanks to the internet, Noll has somehow morphed into a caricature who is part meme, part troll target.
His online fans and followers respond every time he posts on his Facebook page. It’s become sport to play along with Noll as his career takes him gig to gig and town to town.
It’s probably because Aussies love a bit of irony. Taking the piss. Singing along, of course, but taking the piss at the same time.
“Mate, be like Nollsie! He’s a good bloke and takes the piss, ay!”
Noll has, thanks to the uncontrollable nature of the internet, become an archetypal Aussie, a caricature endearing himself to the masses.
So why did this ironic Aussie bloke say something so appalling and suggest sex be used as an act of revenge?
Is it just a hollow threat, a throwaway line, and a bit of tough-guy bravado and banter? Yep. As hollow as the heads of the blokes who say it.
But that doesn’t mean we should accept it. The fact it’s thrown around so willingly and defended so strongly by some of his supporters suggests it’s indicative of a bigger problem.
Let’s start with the fact that women haven’t been the property of their husbands for hundreds of years. Yes, men once had the legal power to control their wives, who had limited rights to exercise financial or property transactions. But that’s long-gone, fellas.
Traditions still linger, of course. Think of how letters used to be addressed: Mrs John Smith. That is, the wife of Mr John Smith, devoid, as she was, of her own name as an identifier, the undertone being that she is her husband’s possession.
Then there’s the use of sex as an act of brutality. Interspersed with calls for someone in the crowd to punch the can-thrower, Noll’s rant alluded to the darkest acts of the battlefield.
Rape has been used as a tool in war and conflict for centuries as a way to brutalise the enemy. In this case, sex is an act of power and violence. It’s not an act confined to the dark ages - it still goes on in modern battles. It belittles the victim. It’s nasty, it’s brutal, it’s evil.
Finally, there’s the animalistic overtones. The sledge suggests that the sexual conquests of a man’s “missus” and mum are a way to show that someone is a bigger, more powerful male.
That might be so among some animal species, when an alpha male fights for the right to mate with a group of females, while other males skulk off in the shadows for fear of more violence.
But we are talking about humans. In Australia. In 2018.
And language is important. How we use it is important.
Saying something is not as bad as doing it, right? Sure. But it perpetuates attitudes. That someone even thinks that it’s OK to say something gives it some glimmer of approval as an idea or concept.
And it fails to recognise the appalling pain of those who have suffered.
Why is the N word so verboten? Because times have changed and the word perpetuates the final throes of an attitude long ago outlawed.
So, too, should “throwaway lines” about rape. Words have power - good and bad.
Of course, a now-repentant Noll didn’t stop to think about this in the heat of his rant.
As for the other blokes - and it is mostly blokes - who have passionately and angrily defended Noll’s right to say what he wants, here’s some advice in language you might understand:
Stop being a d--khead. Have a think about what you’re actually saying. And what it really means.
Twintip Dark Jeans Blue Fit Denim Skinny And be more like Nollsie. The good-bloke, ironic-meme version. Not the moron on stage.
Material & care
Outer fabric material: 71% cotton, 28% polyester, 1% elastane
Care instructions: Do not tumble dry, machine wash at 30°C, Machine wash on gentle cycle
Fastening: Concealed fly
Pockets: Back pocket, side pockets
Article number: TW421N000-K11