Love you, Rebel, but it’s too big
REBEL Wilson doesn’t deserve $4.5 million for being called a liar. I have a lot of time for Rebel. She’s exactly the right mix of funny, quick and selfdeprecating we want representing Australia on the world stage.
She’s not your “regular” successful celebrity — meaning she’s not size 6, with supermodel good looks and slapped with the dumb stick. And that’s part of what makes her so incredibly likeable. That likability and ability to present herself to the public warts and all probably helped win her defamation case against Bauer Media, which published the offending articles in Woman’s Day.
The decision I don’t object to. Even gossip rags shouldn’t be able to write plainly untrue stories about people without fear of retribution. But awarding Rebel so much puts us on a slippery slope. We don’t want to become like the US, where hard work isn’t as important as a good lawyer and a writ. The fact she was willing to settle the case before it reached court for $200,000 tells you approximately how much she thought it had really hurt her reputation. While the articles painted her in a bad light, they didn’t accuse her of a crime, other than perhaps of vanity.
She was given more than $600,000 in “normal” damages and an extraordinary $3.9 million in lost potential income. Would someone overseas really read a story in an Australian magazine and be silly enough to let it influence their opinion of her? I doubt anyone here thought about the articles for more than a second. And studios have stood by celebrities through worse scandals — just ask Mel Gibson.
The size of the payout sets a benchmark against which others can be measured. The fact she’ll donate the money to charity is admirable but doesn’t make the size of it any more palatable.
The injustice is that because Rebel won her case against someone with money, she’s probably had the richest payday of her career. Others who end up in court and actually deserve such a payout — the family of Jill Meagher, the mother of the Farquharson children, the family who lost their unborn baby in a car smash — walk away from the justice system disenchanted, grieving and penniless.
I know the cases aren’t technically the same, but there’s just something a bit unsavoury about it, don’t you think?