opinion

Stop pretending you don't care about Schapelle Corby.

I have no idea what it would be like to be locked up in an Indonesian jail for 10 years.

Look, I’ve heard it’s not very nice. I imagine there are rats. And drugs. And dirt. And some terrifying people. And no Netflix whatsoever.

House arrest in tropical Bali? That sounds better. But throw in paparazzi crouched behind every palm tree and braided Aussie tourists asking for selfies every two minutes? The cocktails would have to be amazing.

I have no clue how it would feel to have your family members sell stories to the tabloids about you. Or what it’s like to appear on every magazine cover without ever having done a photoshoot.

And I’m downright delighted that I can’t begin to imagine how it feels to be standing in a customs hall in a foreign land and have a uniformed man unzip my boogie board bag to find a 4.2kg bag of marijuana sitting on top of my shark biscuit. Even if I put there myself.

These experiences are all terrifying and ridiculous.

Corby behind bars in 2006. (Source: Getty Images.)
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What about if I had got myself into all of those situations, by making  a deeply stupid decision when I was young? Well, I can't know how that feels either. Mortifying, I imagine.

These are the things we want Schapelle Corby to tell us.

We want her to tell us because it's interesting. Because what she has just lived through for 12 years is something that hopefully none of us will ever experience.

We want her to tell us as fuel for a cautionary tale.

We want her to tell us because, thanks to her, we all went through a phase of glad-wrapping our suitcases.

We want her to tell us because we're nosey.

And I'm absolutely fine with that.

Corby being escorted by guards in 2005. (Source: Getty Images.)

Today there's been a lot of finger-wagging about how interested we should or shouldn't be in Schapelle Corby, the 39-year-old Queenslander who was arrested for trying to import marijuana into Bali back in 2004.

Karl Stefanovic has been at it, delivering a monologue this morning about how the media made "gooses" of themselves yesterday, and that there are many more important things going on in the world right now (if, as rumoured, Today's stablemate 60 Minutes turns out to be the show that paid for Corby's business class flights back to Australia, things could get awkward over in the Channel Nine Green Room).

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There have been pleas from "serious" news outlets not to click on stories about Corby, not to reward the salacious coverage with your attention.

And yet we click. And we watch. And we read.

Because Schapelle Corby's story is interesting. People are curious creatures. We love to tell stories and hear stories and yes, pass judgement on other people's stories. We do it person, over the bar or across the back fence. We do it on social media. Talking and sharing and listening and judging is what humans do. Practically all the time.

There is no question that the media scrum around the Corby family is embarrassing for almost everyone involved. The disguises and the handbags with the messages, the vodka and the insane dash to get a seat near to Schapelle on the plane that carried her back to Australia... you couldn't write it if it were fiction.

Is Cassandra Sainsbury following in Corby's footsteps? We discuss in this special podcast episode. 

But the reason the journos are clawing at each other for the opportunity to sit next to a 39-year-old Gold Coast beautician is because there is enormous public interest.

Last night Channel Nine and Seven's news bulletins led by the Corby saga blitzed its competition in the ratings, pulling in almost three million viewers between them.

It's an old-fashioned Good Story. And Good Stories still rule the media.

It's a yarn that has everything. It has a young white woman banged up abroad. It has a family falling over themselves to save her, implicate her, punch someone in the face. It has drugs and legal drama, and a whodunnit. It has baggage handlers in a donkey costume, for god's sake.

And now it has a woman who has lost 12 years of her life to the inside of a miserable Indonesian prison, only to be spat back out and sent home with a huge yawning chasm where her 30s should be - spat back out with no job, no money, just an enormous amount of ill-gotten fame, a crash-course in Instagram and a hot surfer boyfriend back in Bali called Ben.

In the last 12 years Corby has reportedly been close to a complete breakdown more than once. She has appealed her sentence, she has had fellow Australians executed around her, she learned how to survive in a deeply hostile environment and she  has become the least-enviable kind of celebrity there is.

And I, for one, want to hear all about it.

The first images of Schapelle Corby having a Breezer at a backyard family barbecue are not going to bring peace to the Middle East.

But the world feels like a terrifying place at the moment. If taking a murky dip in the mess of the Corby family drama distracts you from that for even a few minutes, don't feel guilty about that.

Tell Karl it's therapy.

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