September 26, 2010

Moral ambiguity of the hot and handsome

Last weekend, having played his final game of ALF, Ben Cousins took to a shopping mall to sign DVDs of his drug-fueled adventures and downfall - Such is Life.  Two thousand screaming, panting fans turned up, with one teenage boy fainting, most likely due to the unbridled pushing and shoving of the young women in attendance.

Also since retirement, Cousins has lost one girlfriend and found another, a woman sublimely glamorous and beautiful.

The Cuz documentary caused outrage and teeth-gnashing before it aired, and more of the same, only louder, once it had been seen by a suitably large audience.  

Perhaps there really is only a short snort between glorifying Cuz and his illicit drug abuse and presenting a moral lesson for impressionable teenagers, or anyone else thinking of using Bennie as an overall template for the good life.

This was never going to be a documentary of contrition or atonement. Well, not unless you can cope with a drug addict who was a wildly successful, fully functioning, sporting god, all the while -  for 12 long years - abusing the crap out of the drug of the choice for any self-respecting high achiever:  cocaine (among others, and, the cocaine side dish - copious amounts of alcohol). 

The honesty of the documentary inevitably outraged the moral arbiters and the middle class masses.  

Cuz did not weep and wail about how much he hated and battled against being a drug addict  He clearly did not wake up each morning wishing that someone would rescue him from his life of woe.  He loved drugs.  He loved his lifestyle. He was also utterly and unquestionably successful.

The moral ambiguity, the enjoyment of transgression, the insufficiency of the punishment, was too difficult - no matter that it was a true presentation of drug abuse in the real world - gave short shift to moral certainty and absolute punishment, such that the audience would inevitably, boringly predictably, be outraged and repelled. 

Cousins' fall, when it came, was neither far enough nor long enough to satisfy the social need to see our hero, our villain, win the hearts and minds via a miraculous recovery.

Had he lost everything, had his fall been absolute, had he lost his wealth, his fame, his looks, his perfect body, his health, his hair, his teeth, the beautiful girls, his friends - had he been utterly defeated by his self-indulgence - ah, yes, maybe then, only then, could he have been forgiven.  But the bottom was not low enough, the rock not nearly hard enough. 

There was no redemption, because the story of Cuz offered none.  Denied entirely a sliver of light to shine on in - salvation at last. He presented a socially and morally unbearable honesty.  He didn't even beg forgiveness, of anyone.

Cuz's last game:  strong, buffed, good looking - no other player has ever looked so hot on the ground.

A narcissist?  Sure.  But oh how fucking good he looks.

Who needs redemption anyway?  It's a cheap commodity when played out in the public sphere.


  1. It is rather strange how people like to take a moral high ground in matters such as this. Is there perhaps some jealousy that he got away with a lifestyle no-one is supposed to successfully have? Do we feel cheated when we follow the rules and live humdrum lives? I don't see much outrage over the lifestyles of certain members of the Rolling Stones, in fact the same lemmings who tut-tutted Cuz probably happily spent $100 to see their gods of sex drugs and rocknroll. I reckon Cuz gambled and got lucky, sometimes life works out that way.

  2. What a great insightful piece, Caz!

    If only we could see such honest commentary in our newspapers.

    "A narcissist? Sure. But oh how fucking good he looks"
    Even fucking better when he was 22..

    I remember saying back then (ten years ago) what a good lookin' hunk Ben was, only to be taken to task and castigated by sis- in -law for being a cradle snatcher.. Lol!

    And.. she wasn't joking either..

  3. I'd do him.

    Mind you, I'd probably have to get him off his face to do it...

    (joke joyce, he's waaaaay too young for me)

  4. Solomon11:33 PM

    Hmm, I didn't care then and I don't care now. Drugs shouldn't be illegal but if you're dumb enough to get caught..Also if you make your living kicking a ball don't expect me to pay any attention to you.

  5. Solomon – clearly you’re not the target demographic; for the rest of us, AFL – and Ben Cuz – rule! BTW – Cuz has never been “caught”. Not once, to this day, has he ever tested positive for drug use in the course of his day job. Things fell apart for a while there, but he was never nabbed.

    Kae – too young for me too, but one really shouldn’t be rigid about these things, one should make the occasional exception, just for fun. :-D

    Kath – nah, didn’t think much of him at 22years, He’s only now hitting his peak in terms of looks. Men and women, I think, look about as good as they’re ever going to around the age of 30 to 32. Men, in particular, still have that young-lad look about them in their early twenties; takes them a while longer to start looking like a grown man.

    Dan – should have had you looking over my shoulder as I typed that post. Such an apt comparison.

    The Stones (who were butt ugly when young, still butt ugly – only more so) are touted as legends for having survived and thrived on a perpetual diet of drugs and drink (well, some of them: I suspect Mick has always been a little uptight, too busy counting his money to let loose for long or frequently). They are heroes for having not killed themselves on drugs, heroes for still being alive. The admiration is overt; no one is coy about it. And yes, people pay huge dollars to watch these shrivelled up fossils, who have never fallen from grace, no matter how much they drank or how many drugs they took. The power of holding a guitar or microphone.

    There must be a PhD in there somewhere. Ditto on why men can be drunks or drug addicts and still be socially accepted, all too often admired, but not so women.

  6. Solomon4:11 PM

    I still admire Courtney.

  7. I suppose someone should Sol.

    Talented woman who pissed it all away, for no obvious reason - just 'because'.

  8. Solomon7:35 PM

    I can think of a few obvious reasons (how about "My husband shot himself in the head") but she hasn't pissed it ALL away. She's still alive and making music and Frances seems fine, considering.

  9. I meant she's pissed away opportunities to really shine, and she could have. Perhaps she prefers tarnished.

    I think Frances Bean has survived and thrived despite her mother, alas. A young lass mature and smart beyond her years.

  10. Solomon7:49 PM

    What opportunities? Playing Linda Lovelace instead of Lindsay Lohan? (Try saying that ten times fast.)

    And yeah, Frances Bean is an orgasm.

  11. "Playing Linda Lovelace instead of Lindsay Lohan? (Try saying that ten times fast.)"

    Hee hee, hee hee.

    Love would do a better job of it than Lohan, I have no doubt of that.

    Many talented people come to nothing, or make little or no use of their talents. No reason why Courtney Love should make use of hers, other than that I think she would have been happier had she taken that path.

  12. Solomon9:37 PM

    Yea instead of wasting her talent on those two Milos Forman films and that grammy-nominated record. I'm still at a loss to know what you're talking about.

    I guess she's no Lydia Lunch.

    A remake of Gore Vidal's "Caligula" starring Courtney Love. I laughed. They should've made this for real.

  13. Musically, she's derivative. Blah.

    So only grammy nominated music is good?

    Guess that explains Gaga. (Blaaaahhhh - A pastiche! Endlessly derivative! Not an original bone in her being!)

    She hasn't exactly made a fortune from that beaut career that you so admire; 'though money isn't all, not the only measure of success.

  14. Solomon9:56 PM

    The album was "Celebrity Skin" and I like it a lot, especially "Northern star". It's a good pop-rock record. There's a place for it.

    Money? What?

  15. Have never liked her music Sol. Not suggesting that you shouldn't. Music is always a personal taste.

  16. Solomon10:43 PM

    Then why are we lamenting her wasted talent?

    I'm pretty sure Justin Bieber's music has no redeeming value, except possibly as a laxative. He stands like Buzz Lightyear and he dances like R2D2.

  17. Lamenting?

    Let me clarify: I. Do. Not. Give. A. Rat’s. Arse.

    Justin Bieber has the world’s dumbest hair.

  18. "Justin Bieber has the world’s dumbest hair."

    I second that!

  19. I know I'm not the target demographic Kath, but the point of Justin Bieber is lost on me.

    Not good looking or cute, average kid, would vanish in a sea of three 16 year olds hanging out at the shopping mall.

    And the hair! The fucking hair! It's ludicrous! It's the embarrassing hair cut that every kid prays their mother will never inflict on them.

    He's writing his life story, which must surely contain several chapters on the emotional and psychological torment of carrying around such a dumb-arsed hair style - in public.