[20 January 2008]
By Rowena Robertson
It’s only just over a week since it happened, but it seems as if Corey Delaney (aka Corey Worthington) has always been there. For the remaining few who don’t know who he is, Corey is the yellow sunglasses-sporting, Melbourne (Australia) teenager who hosted a MySpace-enabled party at his parents’ outer suburbs home last weekend while they were away on holiday. The party was apparently attended by over 500 people, neighbours’ property was supposedly trashed and the police were called in (dog squad, helicopters included). Local and international press leapt on the story.
The media’s response to Corey’s hijinks neatly highlights much that is rotten about the fourth estate – its inordinate focus on the lowest of ‘lowest common denominator’ stories (in a week that saw financial markets take huge tumbles, this was the main story in just about every newspaper in Australia - priorities, anyone?) and its piranha-like desire to devour the (in this case, relatively) innocent.
And indeed, it didn’t take long for the demonization of Corey to start. A Current Affair’s effort stood out, with host Leila McKinnon dripping moral superiority and outrage in an interview with the teenager. Corey, as would any 16-year-old who cares about the judgement of his peers and no-one else, refused to take the blame for the party getting out of hand, and went on to utter the now-famous response to McKinnon’s asking what he would say to other kids thinking of doing the same thing – “get me to do it for you.”
(And some took him at his word. One Sydney promoter offered to pay the teenager up to $10,000 to stage parties, and Corey has apparently also fielded a $2000 offer from a promoter in Queensland.)
Corey’s unabating cockiness fuelled further media coverage and anger. Mid-week, Victoria Police charged him with creating a public nuisance and producing child pornography, which only served to make them look pathetic and desperate, and, with regard to the child pornography charge, just a little bit evil. That charge supposedly stems from some mobile phone footage of semi-clad teenage girls playing Twister at the party. Good luck making that one stick.
The media created ‘Corey Delaney’, and they are to blame for his defiance, the job offers and the trumped up police charges. The best thing Corey can do in the face of his vilification is to continue to milk his fame for all it’s worth.
While the media’s treatment of the teenager has been largely contemptible, it’s almost impossible not to delight in the pop cultural ramifications of his notoriety. The power of the internet to turn an unknown into a cult celebrity in the blink of an eye can be seen in the Corey-related websites and products that have sprung up in the last week. At coreydelaney.com you can buy t-shirts featuring his famous yellow sunglasses; at slapcorey.com you can wallop the boy into next week.
You just know Corey would love it.
About the writer – Rowena Robertson is a freelance writer and the editor of Poster magazine (Australia).