Friday, November 18, 2011

Silence on Peter Roebuck reminiscent of Hey Dad! scandal

The scandalous Andrew Landeryou is wasting no time in getting stuck into the ABC and Fairfax over the life and crimes of Peter Roebuck. He says management must have known about the commentator's creepy and destructive behaviour for a long time yet they did nothing about it.

Landeryou is well known for, er, going in hard on issues. Pointing the finger at Roebuck's employers, he says

The public ought expect that they hold to the same standards they demand of others in this situation, that they conduct an urgent inquiry into the extent of their employee’s wrongdoing and immediately offer help, compassion and compensation to victims of Peter Roebuck’s sexual and physical attacks and while they’re at it offer a belated apology and end to the stonewalling that has so far characterised their shameful behaviour.

Maybe things aren't as cut and dried as he makes out. Still, I think he's got a point.

And the sad, sordid situation reminds me of another high profile media scandal. This one involved actor Robert Hughes of Hey Dad! fame. Last year Sarah Monahan, who played the daughter Jenny in the hugely popular eighties sitcom, claimed that Hughes molested her. Similar allegations were made by others, and actor Ben Oxenbould claimed he witnessed a disturbing incident that he reported to the show's executive producer. Yet at the time nothing was done about it.

To my knowledge the story hasn't gone much further than that. It's still at the "he said, they said" stage, and may well be the last we've heard of it. Since the issue hasn't gone to trial Hughes is entitled to a presumption of innocence, of course.

Still, if the accusations are dinkum, many powerful people who knew of them must have turned a blind eye. That's unedifying, to say the least. 

And I am certain there are a helluva lot of powerful who did know about these claims. That's because when I was a lowly actor and comic in Melbourne in the early nineties I heard such rumours myself!

I didn't believe them, though. I thought the whole story was a sick joke; just the kind of baseless suttlebutt that would arise from a petty, bitchy culture like Melbourne's performing arts scene.

But as we've now learned they may well have been true after all. The lack of any serious investigation into the claims at the time says a lot about arts world culture, none of it good.

1 comment:

  1. "Landeryou is well known for, er, going in hard on issues. Fingering Roebuck's employers..."

    That's what you meant, isn't it Matt?

    On the Hey Dad! issue, when Sarah Monahan took her story to the media she was dismissed as just chasing dollars. Maybe she'd hit a brick wall with the authorities declining to pursue the case but that wasn't the impression I got.