Bleats

I Watched The Denton Interview With Daniel Johns And Now I'm Worried About "Him Out Of Silverchair" Too

This wasn't an interview so much as very gentle televised therapy

Andrew Denton is one of the nation’s best interviewers. He’s a master at the underrated skill of segueing so gently and politely into controversial territory that his subjects don’t realise that they’re revealing their innermost secrets on television until it’s far too late.

And that didn’t quite happen tonight on his new Channel 7 show, accurately called Interview, because his subject, Daniel “Him Out Of Silverchair” Johns, has the air of someone who has done more therapy than they’re comfortable with and will never say anything unguarded again.

He was fidgety, he was visibly nervous, and every answer was preceded by a long, thoughtful pause. And as the interview progressed, we understood why.

So if you’re reading this hoping to get the goss on the end of Silverchair (or the Dissociatives, his project with Paul Mac) or his shortlived marriage to Natalie Imbruglia, then you might need to look elsewhere.

In fact, Johns was giving a masterclass in what someone with crippling anxiety looks like when they’re successfully holding it together in public. And to his considerable credit, he made that point himself – and used it to explain something which doesn’t get talked about often enough.

When Denton asked about Johns’ DUI and public intoxication events in 2015 and 2016 and whether it indicated an addiction problem, Johns’ response was impressively candid.

“I wasn’t well, but it wasn’t what people thought it was,” he explained in the interview’s most telling moment. “I have had a pretty serious anxiety disorder for 15 years and it got really bad at a point, I was not coping and I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

This, but all the time.

And yes, there was an alcohol problem, but that it was a symptom: “I was medicating my anxiety with alcohol, a lot, and I didn’t know what it was. I was misdiagnosed a lot of things,” he said.

And there’s a happy ending, of sorts: a diagnosis, treatment, “…and now I am a perfect specimen.”

In short, this was an interview that probably didn’t tick all the boxes for the EMI publicists working on his new Dreams project with Sleepy Jackson/Empire of the Sun mainstay Luke Steele – but as a public acknowledgement of what it’s like to live with a mental disorder, this was a powerful piece of television.

And if you’re feeling it too, get yourself to Beyond Blue as your first step. 

Australia Has Just Deported A Suicidal Teen Back To Nauru And Honestly What Have We Become?

Not only is this a disgusting example of how our government treat human lives, it's a timely reminder that they don't think mental illness is a real thing.

Just in case you thought that maybe, just maybe, the government were about to take mental health seriously – or if you thought that perhaps we weren’t utter monsters – then be advised that our Home Office has just returned a suicidal 17 year old to Nauru against medical advice.

His name hasn’t been released because of his age, but the teen has been reported to have had deteriorating mental health for five years, including suicide attempts.

 

His mother, Fatemah, has been awaiting life-saving heart surgery for 18 months but has refused to leave her son lest he kill himself in her absence. So both were removed to Taiwan for treatment – which seems to have not happened, since they were each removed seperately by four guards apiece into a charter jet back to the island prison.

They’d reportedly been told there was a possibility of US resettlement, but since the travel ban on people from Iran – as these two refugees were, until they fled – that’s no longer on the table.

So, to recap: two critically ill people desperately in need of medical attention which is not available on Nauru are being sent back there to… what, thrive? Start a positive new life? Pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

But you know, it’s all about stopping deaths at sea – or have we updated the excuse we’re using now? Because it better be a convincing one to justify sentencing a mother and her son to death.

 

Reports Of A New Government Butt-Squad Are Tragically Nowhere Near As Interesting As You’d Hope

But oh, what a magnificent phrase it has bequeathed our culture!

Clickbait has a bad name, frankly, because there is a genuine art to an eye-catching headline.

In these go-go frantic days of mobile reading and 24 hour news cycles, when every news organisation is frantically competing for eyeballs, being able to draw the jaded reader into one’s site even for a second is battle of gladiatorial proportions.

And if you’re a newspaper reporting a reasonably dry story about a reasonably dull topic – that the government are cracking down on the illegal tobacco trade, which is apparently a thing – then you need to do something more snazzy than “People Are Cheating The Tobacco Industry Out Of Poison Dollars”. Which is what I would have gone with while deploying all the insufferable smugness of an asthmatic lifetime non-smoker.

And thus I would like to applaud the unknown Fairfax subeditor who worked clickrate magic on journalist Mark Kenny’s piece on Sunday, “Government ‘butt-squad’ to chase billions in criminal tobacco fraud”.

I want this on a t-shirt, or possibly a back tatt.

Government Butt Squad.

Just roll that around your mouth for a second. It’s just an enjoyable thing to say out loud, as well as being an amazing name for your next punk band.

It’s such a pleasure that it doesn’t even immediately register that “butts” are the things that cigarettes burn down to and are not a synonym for cigarettes themselves and that therefore the headlines doesn’t really make sense in context, unless these criminal syndicates were smoking their own supply first.

But enough of such infernal nitpickery! We say excelsior, SMH: the culture is the richer for your exemplary headlinesmanship.

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