Growing up in the 1970s, just about every red-blooded Aussie male teenager thought Olivia Newton-John was the ants pants.

Watching her in those black leather pants with John Travolta doing their thing in the movie Grease amplified the admiration and then the rather risqué film clip to the hit song, Let's Get Physical, was the icing on the cake.

It was good, clean fun and Newton-John was following in the footsteps of Helen Reddy as our most successful global songstress, a bona fide national treasure. But more than 40 years on, our Princess of Pop has had to defend her role in the 1978 film Grease after it recently aired on the BBC, attracting some pretty venomous complaints.

 

Newton-John quickly swatted away the criticism as "silly'' but in today's world of "wokism'', the nibble, nibble syndrome around our liberties, freedom and our ability to not take life too seriously are fast being eroded. And we're letting these zealots get away with it.

In Grease, Olivia plays Sandy who falls in love with Travolta's character. It's a good, old-fashioned love story. Nothing more, nothing less. In the UK, there were complaints of anti-LGBTQ prejudice which stemmed from the dance competition scene, which proclaimed that same sex couples were not allowed to enter. Others claimed the movie was "misogynistic'' in its portrayal of Rizzo, a character who is shamed for sleeping with many men.

Newton-John said: "I think in this particular instance, I think it's kind of silly because the movie was made in the 70s about the 50s. It's a musical. It's fun. We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are.''

This is nonsense but big corporations are giving the complainants extraordinary power by acquiescing to their crazy demands. The ANZ bank says it will not loan money for coal ports because coal hurts the climate. Midwives are being told to use terms such as chestfeeding and human milk.

The charity Barnados is not running its Mother of the Year competition because it wants greater diversity in its policy suite. Sponsors and companies told the St George NRL club that if it signed Israel Folau it would withdraw support. Folau has strong anti gay-marriage views. The message here is that the "woke'' brigade are winning. Why stop at changing the name of a cheese? Toxic masculinity? Ask Gillette, the best a man can get.

There's a breathtaking irony attached to the Folau issue that Queenslanders, in particular, will understand. If sponsors and corporate Australia are prepared to walk away from an NRL franchise because of the controversial beliefs of one of their players, where do they stand on domestic violence, assault, sexual assault and drug trafficking and usage?

Are these companies prepared to support teams where players have demonstrated appalling behaviour off the field, yet if a player exercises his right to express a firmly held opinion, they will abandon the franchise? Every club in the AFL and NRL has skeletons in their closet. They are young men, with massive public profiles and money to burn. What could possibly go wrong?

So the reality is that of course Broncos player Payne Haas is going to be big news when he launches into an expletive laden tirade against a female police officer. Of course another Bronco Matt Lodge is going to be big news if he wrecks an apartment in New York and gives an American couple post traumatic stress disorder. Both Lodge and Haas have been spoken about as club captains - WTF! Am I missing something here?

Of course, players are going to be in the papers after being charged with sexual assault, the outcome of both those trials yet to be determined. We've seen footy players caught up in cocaine stings, nasty brawls, social media sex tapes.

Bronco Ben Barba has appeared in court on domestic violence related charges. The list goes on . and on . and on. and on and the AFL is just as culpable.

My argument here is that corporations, scared of the public backlash of not pandering to the woke brigade, are showing extraordinary double standards.

It's time to call this hypocrisy out. Grease may well be the word, but cancel culture and wokism is the phenomenon sweeping the planet in the 21st century.

And we're standing by, allowing them to dictate terms.

Originally published as Folau, mums, now Grease? Woke brigade is ruining the world