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Joe Hildebrand: Double standard exposed by Rebel Wilson fury

The backlash over the SMH’s coverage of Rebel Wilson’s new relationship has exposed a hypocrisy in the entertainment industry.

The funny thing about outrage is that it never seems to find the right target. You get apoplectic fury and indignation over tiny transgressions and yet when presented with the most bare-faced industrial scale bigotry on the very same issue there is not even a whimper.

I call the first phenomenon the “Outrage Tardis” — in which the sheer quantity of outrage is far too big for its vessel and yet somehow it manages to get in. I haven’t come up with a catchy name for the second phenomenon yet so I suppose in the meantime we’ll have to make do with “rank hypocrisy”.

For a perfect panoramic view of all of this you only need to consider the events of the past week alone.

Sydney Morning Herald celebrity gossip columnist Andrew Hornery had planned to write a column about Hollywood celebrity Rebel Wilson’s new relationship — pretty stock standard stuff for a gossip column I would have thought.

As it happens, Wilson’s new relationship was with another woman, which would ordinarily fail to raise an eyebrow on the faces of—I would conservatively—100 per cent of the Western population, but somehow guess became the sole focus of the outrage that followed.

Apparently Wilson didn’t want Hornery to reveal her new relationship, and so instead of responding to his questions about it she announced it herself on social media. Good for her, not so good for him.

Suddenly Hornery was a columnist without a column—that most bereft of creatures—and so wrote a grumbling piece about how she had effectively scooped him.

That was exactly one week ago and to say that all Hell broke loose would be to do a disservice to Hell. Not since a television presenter forgot to listen to Adele’s new album had one man been responsible for so much evil.

The explosion was nuclear and so was the fallout. SMH editor Bevan Shields was forced to issue an explanation and then forced to issue an apology for the explanation. Unfortunately the apology for the explanation was not accepted by many, and so there may have to be an apology for the apology.

Meanwhile Hornery was forced to write another column apologizing for the previous column, which readers were no longer able to access because the column was removed and replaced with the apology.

I am not quite sure what level of real world satire we are currently at but I am pretty sure it is uncharted.

And it gets better. Or worse. Whatever makes you happy.

The outrage was by this global stage, now driven by none other than Whoopi Goldberg. And anyone with a memory span longer than a goldfish might recall this as the moment it jumped the shark.

Just four months ago Goldberg — not her real name, incidentally — was the subject of an international storm herself just four months ago for saying that the Holocaust “isn’t about race”.

And so, to recap, a gossip columnist who wrote a column about not having a column to write about was globally shamed by a multi-millionaire megastar who told millions of people on her TV show in February that the Holocaust wasn’t racist.


But again, it gets better, or worse, or whatever.

Because TheDailyMail then got an exclusive with actor Hugh, a friend of Wilson’s who uses they/them pronouns, accused Hornery of outing them in a similar way years ago. Naturally they splashed on it with all the bells and whistles.

I am certainly not disputing the merits of the yarn. I would simply suggest we all take a moment to mark the day that TheDailyMail criticized the Sydney Morning Herald for being too trashy.

Oh, and amid all the breathless accusations of homophobia, it’s perhaps worth noting that both Andrew Hornery and Bevan Shields are themselves gay.

Still, that’s hardly a get out of jail free card. I’m incredibly handsome and there are countless other hot people I regularly oppress. Just ask my wife.

But my love life wasn’t the only same-sex scandal to visit us this week. No less than the Walt Disney Corporation came under fire for both cutting and then reinstating a kiss between two women in the toy story spin off Lightyear. Sure, they were both cartoon characters, but that hasn’t stopped people having a go at Bluey.

According to Hollywood bible Variety, the kiss was restored following “staff uproar” and good for them. But it was not so good for audiences in 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the UAE and the Palestinian territories, whose governments banned the film for having such content.

Naturally I assumed that such wholesale national prejudice would spark international outrage and so I consulted the international headquarters of outrage, Twitter.

sure enough, Lightyear was trending globally. But imagine my surprise when I discovered this was fury at a tweet by Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton, who had dared to suggest that Buzz Lightyear should have continued to be voiced by conservative comedian Tim Allen.

Naturally I immediately checked my privilege and considered my learnings.

No matter how bad the situation in Saudi Arabia — which last year gave a man 500 lashes for being gay and this week launched government raids seizing rainbow-coloured toys — it could never compete with the rampant homophobia at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Very personal note: I am trying to raise money for the homeless at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. If you can help in any way I will gratefully match every cent. Please donate at Thank you!

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