IT IS dishonest to pretend the uproar over US rapper Macklemore playing at today’s NRL grand final is about trying to ban him or his five-year-old song, Same Love.
The song is fine, even though it has the usual bash against the church, “right wing conservatives” and “poisoned” holy water.
The problem is the timing. The National Rugby League has deliberately inserted itself into a divisive political debate by inviting Macklemore to play a song he wrote specifically in 2012 to sway a same-sex marriage campaign in the US state of Washington.
The song became the anthem for legalising same-sex marriage in the US.
It is overtly political, and NRL boss Todd Greenberg last week boasted that inviting Macklemore to sing was “one of the bravest decisions we’ve made”.
It was “brave” precisely because Same Love comes in the middle of the postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
What Greenberg has done is co-opt 80,000 fans in ANZ stadium unwittingly to participate in a massive propaganda exercise for the Yes campaign that will be televised to almost four million viewers.
That’s the equivalent of a $1.5m free TV ad for the Yes campaign, paid for by the ticket-buying public, more than 40 per cent of whom are not Yes voters.
What makes the NRL’s politicisation of the grand final even more egregious is the fact that an advertisement made by the No campaign to play during the game tonight has been banned by Free TV, the same mob who banned a Father’s Day commercial earlier this month for being “too political”.
Free TV has given the ad an “M” rating, thus sneakily rendering it ineligible for broadcast.
If that doesn’t prove that this whole campaign is a stitch up, nothing will.
Greenberg mixed up his messages last week, claiming that his choice of Macklemore was “zero to do” with politics, while at the same time saying: “It’d be a little hypocritical of us to have inclusiveness as one of our values and not actually deliver it.”
What’s inclusive about disenfranchising almost half your audience?
The NRL has taken a Yes position and then rammed it down the fans’ throats.
No wonder crowd sizes have been dwindling with such an arrogant attitude.
The change.org petition launched last week by former Wests player Tony Wall to Greenberg to “take LGBTIQ politics out of the NRL”, gives an indication of the depth of feeling from fans, some 17,000 of whom had signed by yesterday.
“Divisive social issue debates are not part of grand finals.”
“We watch footy to relax and take our minds off bullshit.”
“Sport should be uniting Australians — not dividing.”
Wall, a No voter and father of five from Junee, said yesterday the grand final has been “ruined for our family…
“Now the NRL is in my lounge room telling me I’m wrong and I’m trying to tell my kids it’s OK to say No.”
How disingenuous of the Prime Minister to dismiss the concerns of all those angry fans by ridiculing Tony Abbott’s criticism of the NRL, and by saying the gay-friendly Village People performed at the 1991 grand final.
There wasn’t a postal survey looking to redefine marriage in 1991, as he well knows.
Malcolm Turnbull would have been smarter to distance himself from a rapper who peddles conspiracy theories about 9/11 (he claims George W. Bush did it) and infamously dressed as an anti-Semitic Jewish caricature at a concert, with prosthetic hooked nose, dark beard and bowl-cut wig.
Greenberg was so desperate to virtue-signal, he didn’t do his due diligence on the talent. If the NRL wants to campaign, why doesn’t it treat its rookies with respect, instead of dangling carrots and snatching them away at the slightest injury or poor form, leaving vulnerable young men suicidal.
Of course the NRL deserves censure for bringing cultural division to a game which is supposed to be a joyous escape from the troubles of the world. Taxpayers subsidise sport because it is seen as a civic good, a unifying activity that creates social capital.
But if sport becomes yet another agent of division, questions should be asked about the next government-subsidised sports stadium.Share