Former Australian cricketing legend Merv Hughes has made a savagely violent and threatening remark towards a fellow contestant on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Why was our community so quick to excuse it?
On Monday night, cricketer-turned-commentator Merv Hughes made a threatening remark in which he alluded to decapitating lawyer and former The Bachelor contestant, Anna Heinrich.
The 53-year-old sporting legend was filming reality television show I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here when the incident happened. Contestants were discussing who would prepare dinner that evening, when Merv lashed out at 26-year-old barrister, Anna.
What could possibly have provoked it? Anna suggested that one of the men at camp might cook dinner that night.
Anna mentioned in passing that some of the male contestants on the show had offered to make a meal that night and was hoping to spur them into action. Merv was napping nearby but stirred to grumble: “Sit down and relax, woman.”
When Anna did not obey, Merv said: “Shut up or I’ll chop your head off with this machete”… the knife beside him on his camp bed.
The contestants present seemed too taken aback to challenge Merv directly for his strange, violent remark.
Former Hi-5 band member Lauren Brant, who was evicted from the jungle on Monday night, says that Merv spoke to her like this “all the time” on the show.
“What happened with Anna… For me, it was just another thing Merv said. He said so many of those things to me that never aired,” Laura tells me on the phone from South Africa.
Lauren continues: “Sometimes it was too much for me to even deal with, but I just did. I would stand up for myself when it happened — which it did, all the time.”
To me, Merv just sounds like a brutish misogynist exercising his lifelong right as a famous sport hero to say whatever the hell he wants to and about women. But Lauren has a far more forgiving take on the whole matter.
“I give Merv props for being himself on this show,” Lauren tells me.
“It’s really hard to do, with the cameras on 24-7 and you don’t know which bits they’re going to show. Merv’s just stuck in a time when women and men aren’t equal. He knows he’s a serial pest, he just comes from an environment where men and women get a different kind of respect.”