Being bitchy to Lara Bingle

The reality TV show Being Lara Bingle kicks off on Channel Ten tonight and, if there's one thing more certain than her saying "like" a kajillion times, it's the putrid waterfall of bile, spite and, let's face it - plain old jealousy - that will be directed at Bingle on both mainstream and social media ...

I don't know Lara, I've never met her, though I did yell "BINGLE!" at her when she passed my local cafe a while back.

Objectively, she's a 24-year-old model, who shot to fame six years ago because she was chosen to front an advertising campaign for Tourism Australia, then rooted a few famous sportsmen and had a semi-nude picture of her published by a magazine.

What's always puzzled me is the accusation Bingle is "famous for being famous", when she's actually famous for the simple fact she was chosen by Tourism Australia to front an enormously high-profile, $180 million international advertising campaign. And looked smokin' in a bikini.

This was then blown into typically trivial/epic proportions by sections of the media who seemed to conjoin Bingle, a then teenager, with the lameness of the campaign's "Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya" tagline, just because she uttered it to camera.

Still, she looked good in pictures, so male newspaper editors and news producers all over the country jumped at the chance to use her image because they liked staring at her.

Some time later, Bingle dated Brendan Fevola - a married, Melbourne-based AFL player - for five weeks, subsequently claiming she only discovered his marital status after she heard his baby crying over the telephone.

I could run into last year's Brownlow medallist and not know who he is, let alone if he was married, gay, or into donkeys. I'm from Sydney. Like Bingle. AFL is not on my radar, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Next up, Bingle fell in love with the then-dauphin of Australian Cricket, Michael Clarke. Not surprisingly, she drew scrutiny for this - but far more than Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh's partners ever did because she's younger and hotter and looked better in a bikini.


The old formula of "women wanted to be her and men wanted to be with her" was well in play. And sure, some men didn't want to be with her, and some women didn't want to be her - but more than enough did, so that every time a story appeared about her in a magazine, newspaper or on TV - it rated or sold.

This is what particularly bugs me about anonymous tweeters and mainstream journos, who roll their eyes about the "Bingle phenomenon" and condescendingly question the "mystery" of her appeal.

There is no mystery - she rates - and nothing sticks in the craw of a middling, semi-successful journo, radio announcer, comedian or talking head than a guileless, good-looking young woman who's earning stacks more cash than they are simply because she's guileless, good-looking and young.

Bingle did not create this game - she just won it, at least for a few years, because she received a few more of god's gifts than most of the resentful twitterati who believe they should have a "profile" in the media because they have a broadband connection and seethe biliously in their inner-city rentals that a young blonde woman has what they don't.

I'm particularly enjoying pieces such as Ben Pobjie's recent "In Defence of Lara Bingle", which was anything but, and seemingly just another excuse for a writer to mock a young woman because she's not as smart as he is.

"It seems a bizarrely purposeless show: nobody was clamouring to know what Lara Bingle's lifestyle was like," writes Pobjie, ignoring the above-mentioned fact that hundreds of thousands of Aussies - who are obviously not Pobjie nor his friends - do indeed clamour for snippets about Bingle's life.

Has Bingle made some false steps, compared with another beautiful somebody such as Jennifer Hawkins? Yes, she has.

Has she got bad advice from managers and agents? Yes again.

Is she "fair game" now that she's invited television cameras into her life for three months? I say no. At least no more than any other person who chooses to make their living from TV.

However, Bingle is a soft target, which is why the sulphurously envious go after her instead of a hundred other TV personalities better equipped to defend themselves.

Simply put, the vast majority of the criticism directed at this woman has nothing to do with "criticism" - it's straight up bullying, and should be recognised as such.

Now, can you please follow me on Twitter, Lara?

You can follow Sam de Brito on Twitter here. His email address is here.