Alan Jones, one of Australia's most influential radio announcers just found out he has prostate cancer and the way he's reacted to it is so completely astonishing but not surprising at all. He held a press conference and vowed to continue working.
Jones completely fits the bill as a right wing radio commentator a la Rush Limbaugh (which serves to illustrate just how interchangable American culture and Australian culture are) but its almost as though he's not even a real person anymore. He's the embodiment of everything an Australian right wing radio announcer has to be. Aggressively insistent that he is on the side of the struggling poor despite the fact that he's insanely wealthy and in constant denial of things that resonate too personally as emotionally dark, chaotic or complex.
“We don't do dying here. We just try and make the most of living," he said.
Asked if his career was over, the 67-year-old - who is one of Australia's highest-paid media stars - responded by saying: "Of course I'll be returning to air, I've got to make a quid. I've got to keep myself off Struggle Street."
Alan Jones is about as far away from “struggle street” as one could hope to be, actually, and yet, his demographic grant him the power he has because he insists he is just like one of them.
But it's important to say that it's hideous that he's been diagnosed with cancer and it goes without say that I hope he recovers fully because cancer is hateful – but at what point do you drop the schtick and just take it as a human. He basically just condensed his entire self marketing angle into one succinct statement to keep the self promotion going. He used prostate cancer to market himself and in doing so indicated nothing about the actual human process he would go through to deal with pending death – thus denying that human response to his listeners and he did it because that's the kind of thing that keeps him endeared to them.
To be fair, he has come out and said:
"In volunteering this information I might be able to encourage other people to be much more sensible and less frightened about doing something about themselves," Jones said on Thursday as he revealed he has mid-range cancer that requires surgery.
"People are frightened of doctors, I'm not.
"I hope that speaking as I am today it might encourage others to be a bit more urgent and active in what they do than is currently the case."
While saying that is admirable and helpful, I would suggest that it would be even more beneficial for him to show some kind of evidence that he is aware of and confronting the emotional complexity that goes with being diagnosed with cancer. But then, I don't know, maybe he's incapable of that. I suspect he's choosing not to though because it would wreck his professional profile.
Australians sometimes do that actually. When something is confronting they give it a tagline. There was this moment once that I remember where, Shona, a contestant on Big Brother a couple of years ago, had somewhat of an outburst after the pressure of living in an environment that was quite stressful because it was designed specifically to be that way, became too much and she immediately went into damage control and started referring to it as a quarantined moment where she “spat the dummy”. And she said “spat the dummy” in this fast good natured way so she could minimise the impact remembering it would have on her standing in the house.
Conversely, in Italy, people were declaring love for each other minutes after moving into the house and they were crying and screaming and yelling at each other and that was considered normal.
I just find the whole thing creepy.