Authentic male role models are hard to find on Aussie TV.
When I sat down six weeks ago to watch I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here it never occurred to me that I’d end up wishing every Australian teenage boy was watching it along with me five nights a week.
But I did.
I did because for six weeks our TV screens have been filled with real men. And by ‘real men’ I mean, men who are authentic, vulnerable, complex, and sure, at times bloody irritating. Men who were prepared to be seen crying on national television. Men who were prepared to be vulnerable: to look stupid or scared or out-of-their-depth as they spent six weeks away from their loved ones and in an isolated environment that pushed them to their physical and emotional limits.
And that – all of that – is rare. On telly, we like our men to be one dimensional. ‘Vulnerable’ never enters the equation. We find ‘vulnerable men’ well, a bit awkward to watch.
I’m grateful to the wonderful Andrew Daddo, the meditating, craft club captain of the camp who took on the stereotypically female role of being the calming Zen force at that South African campsite. How wonderful it was to see such an authentic man on TV who was calm and gentle and friendly and clucked around the group to ensure everyone was happy. Was there anyone he didn’t hug? I think not.
And the camp loved him for stepping up into that role of unofficial camp leader. He set a tone in the camp of fairness, of togetherness, of no judgement. It was Andrew who warmly welcomed each set of intruders – leading the way for the others to follow.
I never thought I’d say this but I’m thankful to Barry Hall, the notorious AFL hard man who openly cried several times during the show and referred to himself as a big softie who wells up at the drop of a hat. When do we ever get to see our major sporting stars cry unless it’s related to an ‘emotional’ sporting event or, er, drugs charges? NEVER.
I’m not for a moment saying Barry Hall is the new poster boy for sensitivity but it was fascinating to watch him open himself up to an unexpected and genuine friendship with comedian Joel Creasy (who happens to be gay).
I’ve sat back and marvelled at Freddie Flintoff, the English cricketing legend who has been as mesmerising as he’s been hilarious. The larrikin and father of three ended up speaking candidly on camera about his battle with depression and his decision to stop drinking because of it.