A “flirty past” or just scraping the barrel?

Latest reporting on Craig McLachlan is now reaching new levels of absurdity.

A Courier Mail story today references an interview given to Gold Coast’s Ocean Road Magazine just before the allegations surfaced.

“Craig McLachlan interview reveals flirty past before assault allegations” the article is headlined.

In the interview, McLachlan revealed that as a “skinny teenager”, he joined a gymnastics squad to try to muscle up.

“One day, I was showing off in front of girls and did a double somersault while keeping my eyes on them and not on what I was doing,” he said.

“I landed badly and brutally broke my foot as a result. I couldn’t train for weeks.”

That’s it.

It’s a story you could rip from any gym, swimming pool or sporting field, from any generation. Yet it’s enough to qualify as a “flirty past” in the current hysterical climate.

Other reports recently have included McLachlan flirting at a suntanning salon (which does not strike me as abuse of power over a co-worker), and one item quoted an actor who chose not to audition for Rocky Horror based on rumours they had heard (thus not a co-worker, again).

The original allegations by actors Christie Whelan Brown, Erika Heynatz, and Angela Scundi were substantial and deserve appropriate investigation by employers and police.

But subsequent reporting has descended into something of a feeding frenzy around McLachlan’s marquee name, which undermines legitimate concerns and alleged workplace harassment.

In Hollywood this week actor Aziz Ansari was forced to address claims about a date last year, when a photographer claimed their sex was non-consensual. Date rape -assuming this extends to such- has been a genuine issue, especially in US campuses, for decades and remains so. It is customarily addressed via police charges or university authorities before news reportage, except in the current climate.

When the New York Times went large with Harvey Weinstein allegations they were comprehensive. Nobody is doubting the power of the pen and level of investigation in a watershed industry moment. In Australia the Don Burke allegations were similarly thorough, despite his continued denials. One solitary report on Geoffrey Rush, however, is headed for the courts.

But if a skinny teenager trying to impress girls in the ’70s and ’80s is evidence of a “flirty past” then frankly we are all doomed and all guilty.

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