We all know the Tall Poppy Syndrome -“ that national pastime by which all big shots are told to get their head out of their arse -“ but Alan Jones has just become the victim of something else: Tall Pansy Syndrome.
With the publication of Chris Masters’s biography Jonestown this week, the Australian media are reporting the hitherto-never-discussed details of Jones’s sex life with palpable glee.
You can just tell they’ve wanted a crack at this yarn for ages, and perhaps because Jones presents himself as a holier-than-thou figure, they’re serving it up with relish.
Masters has been accused of homophobia from some quarters (notably in Tuesday’s Australian), with some very 20th-century bleating about the right of public figures to a private life, etc., but Masters has defended his reporting by saying that understanding Jones’s sexuality is intrinsic to understanding Jones the man: it is a crucial part of who he is.
I can buy that argument, but there does seem to be an unusual sort of exultation in the mucky details exposed this week -“ whether it be the re-telling of the story of Jones’s arrest in a London toilet in 1988, or the descriptions of him resplendent in flared trousers and an orange cravat singing a musical number in front of a school audience.
The effect is clearly one of ridicule. Other parts of the book, detailing Jones’s interactions with schoolboys and football players in his charge, make even darker hints.
But here’s the interesting thing. Unlike the Tall Poppy Syndrome, which can indiscriminately afflict any famous Australian, the Tall Pansy Syndrome is highly discriminating, and only seems to work on people who aren’t openly gay.
Think about the famous Aussies who have ‘fessed up about being same-sex attracted -¦ Ian Roberts, Raelene Boyle, Bob Brown, Kerryn Phelps -¦ none of them seems to have lost status after coming out. Ironically, by remarking upon their sexuality, they have made the subject unremarkable.
But by refusing to be open about his homosexuality all these years, Jones has turned this subject into his Achilles heel -“ a matter of sniggering innuendo in the gossip columns before Masters’s book came out, and now, probably the one fact that everybody in Australia knows about him.
In this day and age, it’s hard to feel sorry for him.