The insatiable appetite of Anglophone cultures for the prurient is of a different order to others. But it is an appetite tinged by horror, squeamishness and concern. Added to that such traditional markers, not to mention such markers as marriage, family and conservative values, and the whole thing becomes indigestible.
Australian politics is awash with only one story at the moment. There are no grand schemes and visions, only the prospect of whether the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce did wrong by his family in impregnating a political staffer. (That now former staffer, Vikki Campion, is afforded various names in the relationship argot: partner, girlfriend, assistant, bun-in-oven carrier.)
The nature of this explosive interest, repeatedly advertised as a lack of interest (“we don’t have an interest in his private life”) has a tinny quality to it, largely given the general awareness amongst government members, staffers and the Canberra press gallery about Mr. Joyce’s extra-marital pursuits. The Daily Telegraph, needing copy to fill certain, generally vapid columns, decided to break the tacit consensus. Where there is sex, there is hypocrisy.
Any “sex scandal” immediately triggers a discussion about how the political figure operates in public, and the world of private endeavour. Aristotle famously suggested a division between political pursuit and household matters. The French continue to maintain a somewhat artificial distinction…