Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box – Corby can’t profit but the media can profit from her


In the next six weeks three of my daughters will be heading overseas for around six months each. It’s a nerve-wracking time for a parent and so far I’ve only had one major piece of advice to give them. Don’t be a drug mule. Don’t strap drugs to your stomach, put them in your luggage or up your bum. No matter how tempting it is.

When someone offers you $10k to swallow 50 sets of headphones to take back for their niece in London, remind yourself it’s just not worth it. Have you ever tried to shit out a Dr Dre? That’s some serious evacuation. And you will get caught, you silly little white girl. That’s why you are referred to as a ‘drug mule’ and not a ‘drug thoroughbred’  – you are basically of little value to those seeking your assistance, so if caught you’ll have to languish in some shitty jail while the rest of the world decides whether you were (a) a sweet little filly or (b) a slutty old brood mare.

Somehow what side of the moral ledger the public decides you fall on makes a difference in establishing the perception of your story and whether the public chooses to either (a) support you or (b) persecute you. Schapelle knows that only too well. Australia has been trying to decide whether they’re pro Corby or anti Corby for well over a decade. Like it’s any of our business to decide someone’s guilt or innocence based on a few tabloid photographs, an obsessional retelling of the boogie board story and eventually a book that alleged she had a drug lord for a dad. (There was no firm evidence of that and there was a substantial payout to the family for defamation.)

The Corby case has afforded the general public something of a contemporary version of Silvania Waters with all the thrill of a good old witch-burning, except this is no reality TV, this is reality. A reality played out in a family that initially didn’t have the skills or social savvy to protect themselves against the ire of middle-class media.

Everyone had a good old laugh at what bogans the Corbys were, and we’ve cruelly watched their suffering without even a hint of compassion. It’s exactly the kind of primetime drama the media love. She was the Lindy Chamberlain of the her time. Another stern-faced brunette that we chose to hate. Because she didn’t look like a victim. And if you are a woman and you don’t look like a victim, then you’re guilty.

I guess I don’t care if she was guilty or innocent. I think if she’s done her time, she’s met the criteria of her three-year parole in Bali, then the media need to leave her alone. Freedom mustn’t feel like freedom when you have a press pack baying for your blood. Waiting for you to snap. To push a camera man. To tell them to go fuck themselves. I mean wouldn’t you? How free can you can be when the whole country is watching your every move and judging you?.

Most of us struggle with our self-esteem over imagined insults. This girl gets it in spades. And why her? Why has she been the catalyst for so much public scrutiny? I guess we enjoy judging Schapelle because even the most politically correct amongst us gets to throw a rock. Is she pregnant? Is she fat? Is she angry? Is she drinking vodka? Where did she get the money? Honestly, Who fucking cares? Can’t we just leave the poor girl alone? WE still can’t get enough of this thin-eyebrowed beautician from the Goldie.

So with her prison sentence  finally over, her real sentence begins: and this time it’s for Life. It’s called try and fit back into society when everyone has already made up their mind about you. Where people who don’t know you talk about your motives, your personality, your inherent deviance. Give her a break. She survived 10 years in an Indonesian jail. If she was innocent then she achieved the unthinkable: she stayed sane. If she was guilty she did her time, and didn’t give anyone up. She’s one tough cookie. Strong women scare people, and Corby’s relentless will and the fact that the media couldn’t break her has meant they won’t stop until they do.

The media are a pack of bullies desperate for her blood. She’s not allowed to profit from crime by selling stories, so they  just harangue her. It’s not news. It’s over.  Maybe she could start lecturing to school kids on resilience, because if Corby didn’t have a fair whack of that stuff we bleat on about to our kids she’d have been dead long ago. I’m not saying she’s a hero. She’s not. She’s just a girl who went to Bali and got convicted for being a drug mule. There’s nothing noble in that. But there’s nothing inherently evil either.

She’s got the curse of Ned Kelly. They’ll shoot her dead and then she’ll become folklore. What we admired about Kelly and perhaps what I admire about Corby is a simple disregard for authority. The long, quiet standoff. They didn’t get her. And I don’t think they ever will. Beaten by a bogan. Suck that, Murdoch.

3 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box – Corby can’t profit but the media can profit from her”

  1. Jon says:

    It’s naive to think that Corby won’t benefit from her experiences. It’s her family who’ll get all the money for interviews, Schappelle will get her share in roundabout ways. She’ll obviously have to appear to earn a living at some stage, as a beautician or some such. People will hire her for her notoriety if nothing else. Has she to be stopped from doing that just to make the law against profiting from crime appear to work?
    Don’t worry, Schappelle’s going to be a very rich old lady.

  2. Prue Mitchell says:

    Hear, hear, Mandy Nolan. I was riled by the tedious incremental coverage on the commercial channels of her deportation. Who cares? You are right in saying ‘it is not news’, well not to that hideous degree. And I feel a teensy bit wrong in commenting here in fear of keeping the Corby conversation going but will consider this the last of it.

  3. Ron Barnes says:

    Well im sick of how a drug runner has become a media celebrity now its over please shut up about her and then watch closely for police reports of her next mistake if any im not so sure she has learnt from her experience from the way she now carries on

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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