MasterChef winner roasts the media


Julie Goodwin addresses members of the Australasian Catholic Press AssociationJulie Goodwin, inaugural winner of the cooking/reality TV program MasterChef Australia, couldn't believe the reaction she received upon leaving the MasterChef house. In fact, until she stepped out of the house and tripped face-first into a buzz of post-show hype and media obligations, she didn't know the program had been popular at all.

Speaking last week to a roomful of religious media professionals at the 2009 Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) Awards, Goodwin, a transcendent 'home cook', practising Catholic, wife and mother of three, said that from within the confines of the house, the contestants had no inkling of the runaway popularity of MasterChef Australia.

'On the surface of it, it shouldn't have worked,' she said. 'Not too many of us were your usual glamorous TV types. All the drama that is built around people sniping at each other was absent. The scathing remarks that reality TV judges usually deliver, didn't happen.

'It was a show not about the glamorous world of showbiz or fashion, but about the seemingly mundane, decidedly unglamorous and messy task of cooking. On paper, it shouldn't have worked at all. And yet, it did.'

Goodwin was humbled to later hear 'stories of children eating foods they have never tried before, teenagers exploring new career options, retired chefs returning to the game, and one three-year-old who carefully plated up the dog's food in its bowl'. But she also  quickly discovered that there is a dark side of exposure to the public eye.

She 'made the mistake once' of reading one of the online discussion forums associated with the show. She 'didn't go back for seconds'.

'It seemed to me that in the middle of the night, in the privacy of their homes and with the protection of anonymity, certain people would vent their spleen about everyone and everything to do with the show. On the internet, opinions were stated as facts and the viciousness and the personal nature of some of the posts was staggering.'

More affronting was that some of these comments seemed to filter through into mainstream media. 'Certain journalists, and I am using the term loosely, drew on the forums for their material. Completely one-sided, non-verifiable and anonymous web posts were hauled off the internet and printed as newspaper articles.

'It disturbed me to think that this material could be presented to the newspaper reading public without the source being identifiable. I have always believed that if you are willing to say something in a public arena, you should have the guts to put your name to it.'

Perhaps the ordinary domestic context from which Goodwin comes has provided a grounding influence. Certainly during the course of the MasterChef contest she presented as a model of 'sportswomanship', refusing to become embroiled in snide personality wars. Whatever the reason, it is to her great credit that she has been able to regard unfounded criticism objectively, and put it in its proper context. 

'I have learned valuable lessons about the nature of celebrity and being in the public consciousness,' she said. 'I have learned to grow a tougher hide. I have learned when I read or see things that are hurtful or untrue, to develop the attitude, those who know me, know better — and those who don't, don't matter.'

Tim KroenertTim Kroenert is Assistant Editor of Eureka Street. His articles and reviews have been published by The Age, Inside Film, the Brisbane Courier-Mail and The Big Issue. He was Chair of the Interfaith Jury at the 2009 St George Brisbane International Film Festival. Photo by David Tang

Topic tags: Julie Goodwin, Australasian Catholic Press Association, ACPA, MasterChef Australia



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Existing comments

A great lesson for our educationists to illustrate the fallacy of believing all we see and hear. Why do journalists have the freedom to denigrate and slander all and sundry.
Ray O'Donoghue | 17 September 2009

Atta girl/woman Julie. Well said and a deserved winner too! Good luck for the future to her.

Good article Tim. Thanks.
Rosemary Keenan | 17 September 2009

But surely journalists don't 'have the freedom to denigrate and slander all and sundry'. There's a law against slander, isn't there?
Gavan | 17 September 2009

Experiences such as those of Julie Goodwin just help me to understand that the internet cannot be the 'new frontier' of media where 'anything goes'.

Along with the filtering system which the Australian electorate gave a mandate for at the 2007 Commonwealth election, there is the need for other checks and balances, to deal, for example, with issues that Julie has spoken of.

Promoters and supporters of an 'anything goes' internet must demonstrate, the soundness of such an approach and how it will offer objective respect for everyone's dignity.

That Tim Kroenert seems to be using Julie's personal reflection of how she has personally dealt with the issue of being hurt by an 'anything goes' internet, as a way for some of those supporters to offer such proof is really on very shaky ground.

It's akin to saying that because some people have recovered from child sexual assault, then there needs to be no laws against such things.
Fr Mick Mac Andrew Bombala-Delegate NSW | 17 September 2009

The lack of filtering of opinions, not content is rapidly emerging as the problem of the internet. The capacity to 'broadcast' views anonymously which would previously been shouted at the television or radio and have them activate 'debate' is too tempting for many. When they are then turned into 'journalism' or used by newspapers as indicative views of the electorate, you are in la-la land.
Jeff Mueller | 18 September 2009


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