Chrissie Swan is a minor Australian television and radio celebrity who recently caused a short but intense outcry in our community. Chrissie is pregnant and a smoker. You can check it out for yourself but in a nutshell, Chrissie got snapped dining on a cig; the agent who represents Chrissie offered money to the paparazzi but a woman’s magazine offered more.
In Chrissie Swan’s defence, I believe her when she says she was ashamed that she couldn’t stop smoking, I believe her when she says that she tried to stop this time as she did for her last child. I even believe that she was ashamed even before she was caught out. Chrissie was addicted not heartless. But I’d like to point out to smokers and non-smokers alike something that everyone knows and the media purposely did not pick up on. Chrissie Swan says that her family did not know she smoked but when you smoke the smell follows you around like, well, like a bad smell. It’s in your hair, on your skin, your clothes reek of it and your breath is foul.
Smoking when pregnant is a crime against an unborn child. There shouldn’t be any other way to look at it. But we underestimate the spin doctors who are finally getting their act together. Barring rare exceptions, the Media community isn’t generally used to criticising its own. And this situation hadn’t quite fallen into any category that they are familiar with so it’s taken a while but it is finally on track. Chrissie isn’t an axe murderer after all, let’s give her a break. Of course she’s not an axe murderer, just a woman who is damaging her child’s lungs. And Chrissie can’t help it, the spin doctors say, she’s hooked on the cigs. Of course she’s hooked and all of us, who have at one time smoked, know how darned near impossible it is to give up those cancer sticks. She has my compassion, but so has her child. What I don’t like to see is a community closing ranks and protecting its own as it often does. Media sees itself as the hunters it can’t allow itself to be the prey.
Then again when it’s a matter of money, nothing should get in the way. There is a sort of hypocrisy that justifies exposing somebody else’s misery when it’s really about increasing circulation. The magazine that is about to print Chrissie Swan inhaling and other women’s magazines wouldn’t stop publishing Princess Diana photos for months after she died. Her photo on the front page always increased sales as will Chrissie’s photos in the next magazine edition. The magazine’s editor defends the decision by saying that Chrissie (who was originally devastated) was pleased now because the photos would ‘bring to light the seriousness of smoking during pregnancy.’ What the magazine would have done if Chrissie hadn’t been pleased about it is going to have to remain a mystery.
The trouble is the reading public. It’s all laid out for us because we want it and we buy it. There’s nothing we like better than a good humiliation to set up our day. And gossip; human beings have always enjoyed a nice chat over the back fence with the neighbour. We ate up those magazines that told us how the rich and famous lived and we have social media now (and blogs) so we can have more and more of what we now crave every minute of the day and we can even have our say. Before, space being at a premium, only the best letters were allowed in print, now all of us have a say on every issue. There’s no escaping the opinionated. Those of us living in glass houses had better watch out.