A Current Affair affair

September 3, 2008

Hi there. Guess what? I was on A Current Affair last Thursday! Yep. How weird is that!

Kat and I had been shopping for fresh fruit and a juicer. We couldn’t find juicers sold anywhere and were making our way back to the market to buy the fruit, when we noticed a crew of three standing near a pedestrian cross road. The camera and the big fluffy mike gave them away as a film crew, but my initial assumption was that they were perhaps students. I expected to pass by them without much fuss, but was interested in trying to gauge their purpose.

The three of them were in a huddle and were obviously not filming as we approached. Because of this Kat and I felt no need to deviate from our straight path. However, before we were upon them, they approached us. It was sudden and we were taken aback. “Hi, you’re exactly what we’re looking for. Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?”. The fluffy mike was hovering, and the camera was rolling. The young female reporter was smiling expectantly. We were what they were looking for (supposedly). How could we say no?  

They ascertained that Kat was my daughter and explained the issue they were interested in discussing. A school nurse had prescribed the pill for a fourteen year-old girl in Geelong without consulting or informing her parents. The mother had subsequently found out and expressed outrage. It was this point of view that appeared as an article in the Geelong Advertiser. Kat and I were asked to express our opinions on this, starting with me.

I spoke for what felt like a long time. I expressed my belief that it is important for young people to have adults other than their parents whom they can trust and go to for support. I also expressed my openness that should my daughters feel they could not discuss something with me, I hoped they would be supported by other adults like this girl had been. The reporter challenged me many times, continually trying to position me as the “irate, controlling parent” and I continued to restate and elaborate my position. I can’t remember all that she asked me, but her questions were along the line of “So if you were doing the washing and found the pill in your daughter’s pocket, you wouldn’t be upset?”. 

I was acutely aware that my daughter was present. Her presence did not affect my responses. However, in the back of my mind I thought that it was possibly a good thing for her to hear that I was calm and supportive of the young girl. (And secretly, I was incredibly relieved that only two weeks prior, I had opened up discussion with Kat about the topic of safe sex and contraception).

When they interviewed Kat, I felt extremely proud. She spoke clearly with confidence and expressed her views succinctly. I had felt quite nervous and slightly emotional, but I did not detect any nerves in her. If they were a TV crew, I suspected that they would use the footage of Kat. Towards the end of her interview they asked her to paraphrase her views using their words, which were, “I think its good that she was looking after herself”. After our interview, they thanked us and we walked away.  We didn’t ask who they were, and they didn’t tell us. It remained a lingering curiosity as we drove home and discussed the experience.

That evening around 7pm the phone rang and I picked it up. It was one of Kat’s girlfriends in an excited state. “Jenne, mum and I just saw you on A Current Affair!”. “Oh my god!”. “Its still on. Quick turn on your TV”. I handed the phone to Kat and ran into the TV room. There are so many blinking remotes in that room now that I couldn’t find which one turned on the regular telly. I gave up in frustration when our caller friend announced via Kat that the story was over. 

At work yesterday, I was filming in a science classroom for a research project. We had set up and were waiting for the class to arrive. In this little space of waiting time, I mentioned the experience to my colleagues. Their reactions were great. They were in awe. (What is it about being on telly that is such a big deal? Funny eh?). Anyway, when I told them I didn’t see it, but was curious which parts of my interview were selected for the report, they believed the TV station would supply me with the footage. “Did you sign a release form?” one of our technical guys, Ron, asked.

“No, we didn’t sign anything. They didn’t even tell us who they were!”.

“Gee, how did they get away with that? You own your digital likeness you know! They need your permission to use it”, he informed me. Ron works with us during the day, but he is also heavily involved in the music industry. “Robby Williams just sold his digital likeness to EMI in the first deal of this kind. They paid him 19 million for it!”.

“Wow!”, I joked, “how much do you think I should have got for mine?”.


8 Responses to “A Current Affair affair”

  1. mennogirl said

    I just want to say hi! I finally found your new blog and it is good to hear about your life again. And while I don’t know “Current Affair” it does indeed sound like a fun experience for Kat.

  2. Catie said

    Cool! And it’s great that you can speak your mind in front of your kids.

  3. trousers said

    I found myself nodding in agreement with what you said, and I’m so pleased you were able to be calm and measured about it rather than taking the bait. Sounds like your daughter has a wise head on her shoulders too. Hope you can get some footage of it and find out how you came across (cheeky buggers though, not getting you to sign a release form – are you going to contact them?)

  4. ejenne said

    hi mennogirl, nice of you to drop by! It was indeed an exciting event. Unfortunately they didn’t use footage of Kat at all. As we suspected they already had their take on the story, and edited our contributions to fit in.

  5. ejenne said

    Hi Catie. As it turned out, I think you’ve hit upon the most positive outcome of the experience. It has happened gradually, but my eldest daughter is becoming an adult and its good for her to hear me discussing my views on things that will be important for her to make decisions on one day. I hope its helped to open up the space for conversations in the future.

  6. ejenne said

    Hi trousers. Interesting that you share my views, because the story that they presented takes the opposite line! I found it online after phoning the TV station and here is the link. (Its title is ‘School Contraception Pill’, and you may have to scroll to the second page, or further, because the story is a week old now).

  7. trousers said

    I presume that was you early on? Marvellous! It’s quite predictable that they took the overall line that they did…what annoyed me the most was that they were talking about this as though it was a new thing that people were sexually active at that age! It’s hardly just a recent phenomenon, is it…

  8. ejenne said

    yes, that was me with the unintentional pun and looking for some other word than ‘foolish’. lol.

    (Wish I’d bothered to put some makeup on that day).

    But I agree with you. Back in 1987 when I started teaching we found used condoms in our dark room, and the year eights were responsible (thirteen year-olds). They’ve trumped the whole thing up with the help from that bossy psychologist, who seems to have an idealized and inflexible view of family.

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