Perth dad says he was just 'taking the P155' with son's white-nosed Ben Cousins

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West Coast on fire ahead of finals, Joe Daniher will be a superstar, Swans win minor flag with Buddy in career best form, Stevie J is recruit of the year and Hawthorn again pull a Houdini act to finish third on the ladder.

A Perth dad who dressed his son as Ben Cousins - complete with white flour on his nose - says the social media reaction to his photograph raises questions about why society might laugh at drug problems but react differently to racial issues like last week's Nic Naitanui "blackface" controversy.

Daniel Johnstone says he has not received any backlash since posting images on Facebook of his son in an Eagles jumper, with a dazed look on his face and a powdered nose.

The reaction, he says, contrasted with the experience of a Perth mother who last week became the centre of a furore after painting her son's face and arms black to attend a school Book Week event as West Coast superstar Naitanui.

Daniel Johnstone says reaction to this photo highlights how people are prepared to laugh at one issue - drugs - but get ...
Daniel Johnstone says reaction to this photo highlights how people are prepared to laugh at one issue - drugs - but get wound up by children dressed in "blackface." Photo: Facebook/Daniel Johnstone

"He didn't attend school like that and I need to make it clear to everyone," Mr Johnstone told Radio 6PR of his son's Cousins impersonation.

"He had his guernsey on [at home], we're mad Eagles supporters, my wife's doing a bit of cooking, talking about the whole Nic Nat thing, I'm known for having quite a warped and dark sense of humour and it just popped into my head out of nowhere and that's where it came from.

"It was just shared internally amongst own friends at the start and then I saw on a Ben Cousins parody page [on Facebook] people getting up in arms about the Nic Nat thing and I thought to myself 'this poor kid is dressed up like his hero and vilified for it, I'll give you something to whinge about.'

"I think it's quite damning to Australians that 20,000 people thought it [the Cousins photo] was funny and everyone was jumping on the Nic Nat kid. I think there is a bit of double-standard in society with political correctness.

"Anything to do with drug use is hilarious but everyone is quick to jump on a kid painting himself black, which was quite innocent."

Mr Johnstone said his son was oblivious to the online reaction to the photo and the gravity of Cousins' off-field issues and did not believe he would be targeted at school over the prank. 


Cousins has fought a long-standing battle with drug addiction that derailed his glittering AFL career and was back in the headlines in June after being hospitalised following a bizarre incident in which he was found directing traffic on Canning Highway.

"Being a West Coast supporter and we've had our hard times with certain things and I thought I'd take the general 'P155' out of everyone," Mr Johnstone told Mornings host Gary Adshead.

"All he [the son] knows is Ben Cousins is a guy you played footy, got unhealthy and doesn't play footy any more. He doesn't know anything about the Facebook furore. We are good parents, we love our kids and I wouldn't expose him to things like that.

"I've got - like I'm sure everybody has - pictures of the kids when they were younger pretending to drink a bottle of Jim Beam and those kinds of things. It's not a new thing, it's today's society [that reacts].

"Just like his dad, he likes to be a bit of a tool. All the ingredients came together a little too easy to be honest."

Mr Johnstone said he did not regret taking the photo but was sorry if he had caused any harm to Cousins.

He was also surprised by how quickly his photo had become a media issue.

"You don't post things like that without expecting some sort of reaction. I think it's quite amusing how quickly media outlets have run with it despite not knowing what's behind it," he said.

"The Daily Mail decided to help themselves to a few of my Facebook photos and make up a little story and that's how it got legs."