Some media personalities build their entire career on just needing to be talked about, any publicity is good publicity is their modus operandi. They often build an on-air persona to pander to an audience segment they believe will bring them success, and who will defend them in the media wars they create.
This is career strategy of Yumi Stynes whose career has seen her circle through VJ hosting, breakfast radio and morning TV. She has been at the center of a number of media controversies, which after the dust had settled have still not hindered her career.
Yumi is an adherent of third wave post modern feminism, that men need to be in touch with their feelings, tame their toxic masculinity, and be more in tune to feminine needs. She is a feminist media personality in the same vein as Mia Freedman and Em Rusciano.
Of course she also believes that there is still entrenched discrimination against women in Australian society and the workforce, even though her own media career disproves such a theory.
For those who don’t remember Yumi Stynes was the presenter of the SBS documentary ‘Is Australia Sexist?‘ late last year. The documentary to gain publicity and eyeballs employed a number of provocative social experiments which invited men to cat call attractive women in public, and used children to express their dismay at the alleged gender pay gap. These were designed to generate shock and outrage and get the viewer to agree with Stynes’ hypothesis.
But the documentary’s most notorious stunt was Stynes going on a dating app to see what type of messages she revived from men. She cried on camera over a sexually suggestive message she received, despairing for the future awaiting her daughter. Stynes was so outraged about this she decided to confront the man in real life and shame him on national television to solidify her feminist credentials.
Stynes was also a speaker at the recent 2019 Sydney Women’s March which was held a few days after Aiia Maasarwe’s tragic rape and murder in Melbourne. Though it should be remembered it is a march which grew from the belief that Donald Trump was a misogynist, so it is a partisan political event.
Stynes followed other feminists exploitation of Maasarwe’s murder demanding “We have the right to be safe, to claim our space, to be respected and have our voices heard — so I want to hear your voice right now!” which the crowd cheered and ate up her speech.
Stynes although she rages against the objectification and disrespect of women, she does treat men the way she would like to be treated.
In 2012 she was co-host of the Network 10 morning show The Circle. Host Gorgi Coghlan showed a poolside photo of one of Australia’s most decorated military serviceman Victoria Cross and Medal for Gallantry recipient, Corporal Ben Roberts Smith.
Stynes believing that a man who was that fit and attractive couldn’t possibly be intelligent said “He’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there.” Guest panelist George Negus joined in on the disrespect of Ben Roberts Smith asking if he was “up to it in the sack”.
Understandably there was much public anger about Stynes and Negus crass comments with the RSL voicing its dismay, as well as then Defense Minister Stephen Smith. Multiple corporations dropped their advertising from the Circle.
But Stynes herself couldn’t understand what the fuss was about and that her comments had been mischaracterized. So she issued a sorry not sorry apology “So I made a joke, because how could anybody possibly be so perfect?” and “What I didn’t estimate was how much my joke was not appreciated. I sort of intimated that maybe he wasn’t very smart, because how could you be that buff and spend that much time in a gym and be smart as well?”
The resulting advertiser withdrawal thanks to Stynes comments was the death blow for the Circle at it was axed later in 2012.
The Circle has been replaced in the Network 10 morning slot by Studio 10 since 2013. But despite how the Circle ended Stynes has been invited on Studio 10 this year to be a fill in panelist, and to no surprise has created another media rage after clashing with permanent panelist and Logie Hall of Fame recipient Kerri-Anne Kennerley.
During Studio 10’s hot topic segment Kennerley was making a valid point about Invasion Day protestors selective campaigning on Aboriginal disadvantage “OK, the 5000 people who went through the streets making their points known, saying how inappropriate the day is. Has any single one of those people been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped? Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done?’
Stynes immediately cried racism and responded “That is not even faintly true Kerri-Anne and you’re sounding quite racist now”. The studio audience was aghast that Stynes had decided to throw a racism accusation into the discussion, Kennerley herself was quite taken aback by this slur responding “I’m offended by that, Yumi”.
Stynes doubled down on her racism claim “Well, keep going then, because every time you open your mouth, you’re sounding racist” but Kennelly stood by her opinion and told Stynes she shouldn’t throw the racism accusation around so loosely “because that sort of headline you and I both know being in the media we will see that again and again, and as soon as you Google something Kerri-Anne’s a racist”.
By accusing Kennerley of racism Stynes was parroting the standard regressive leftist argument that to mention the fact that Aboriginal women are 34-80 times more likely to experience domestic and family violence is racist because you are implying that Aboriginals are bad people.
The reason conservatives raise this statistic is not because they are wanting to denigrate Aboriginal people, but are making the point if you want to solve Aboriginal disadvantage that is the issue you should be focusing on and deserves attention from our policy makers, instead of the symbolic change the date campaign.
Despite the clear fact she was virtue signalling her own moral virtue to her media following, Stynes was still praised by the typical leftist commentators such as Clementine Ford and Jonathan Green for standing up against racism. In fact they even said that those criticizing Stynes were attacking her for being a women of colour, due to the fact she is half Japanese.
A more sobering analysis about Stynes’ latest play for media attention comes from Robert McKnight who was the Executive Producer of Studio 10 from 2013-2017. He has written for TV Blackbox an op-ed titled ‘Today is exactly why I never let Yumi Stynes on Studio 10“.
Although he begins by describing Stynes as a “kind, gentle soul who cares deeply for those around her” but “her onscreen persona does not portray her in that light”. McKnight calls Stynes decision to claim Kennerley was being racist as “very damaging, especially when they don’t represent the point she was trying to make. Essentially, she has been thrown under a bus by a co-host and that’s not cool”.
Although McKnight being a television producer understands the need for shows to have heated debates which generate publicity for the show, he has always maintained in his time in charge “they were always done with respect and never ended up in name-calling with labels like ‘racist’ being thrown about. Labels like that have the ability to damage a career and it looked like Yumi just didn’t care”.
McKnight also comments on Stynes role in the demise of the Circle “I always had a bad feeling about a personality like Yumi’s being on morning television, especially after the whole Ben Roberts-Smith controversy” and is of the belief “If Yumi and the producers had handled that whole situation differently the show could still be on air today”.
It’s a sad reflection on our society, and the media consuming public that a trashy personality who thrives on controversy, moral posturing and general disrespect towards others such as Yumi Stynes has been able to have a successful media career. But a lot of that has to do with the group think of the media industry that believes she is righteous person. One can only hope that the next generation of media personalities show better character and less attention seeking tactics than Stynes and her ilk.