TALKING TUTORIALS ANTHONY NOCERA WANTS TO HEAR YOUR OPINONS. AND A SNICKERS ART: KATIE HAMILTON
Coming to university, I was promised two things by my high school teachers: that year twelve was the hardest work I’ d ever have to do and that university would be a beacon of intelligent and unrestricted discussion. Neither of these things have turned out to be true. I read a lot, I stress eat and cry a lot because of all the reading (which may, now that I think about it, be a bonus. Because Snickers), and I’ve sat through more idiotic discussions then I thought possible. For those of you who are (un)lucky enough to have avoided the general idiocy of my class mates, here are a couple of my favourite examples: The Soil Feminist: A particularly enthusiastic female law student who tried to argue a straightforward nuisance case about moving soil from a feminist perspective. I wholeheartedly support feminism and find it an interesting discussion topic. But do you know who doesn’t find it interesting? Soil. The Dickens-Baptist: A drug addled arts student with a blue beard who gave a sermon about how Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations was actually just a re-telling of the story of Jesus. Don’t worry; ‘fuck off’ was my reaction too. But as frustrating as both of those experiences were, they were nothing compared to an English tutorial I had a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The conversation turned to the depiction of women in the film and how Kubrick manipulates the viewer into (temporarily) justifying the domestic abuse of a female character before condemning it entirely. After the point was made a girl turned around and said ‘Wow. You just made excuses for a wife-beater!
SUPPOSED to do. It may not be politically correct but neither is art a lot of the time. That type of thinking and behaviour at university is the antithesis of what we’re here for. Not every history student is a Nazi, but they’ve talked about Hitler. Not every psychology student is obsessed with their anus (hopefully), but they’ve talked about Freud. When we study something subversive, which is everything in English, you need to expect to sometimes talk about things that are immoral and wrong. Because, often, such discussion fosters the understanding that helps combat those wrongs. Or at least makes for an enlightening tutorial. Now, I need to clarify something. I don’t think I’m more intelligent than anyone else. Or intelligent at all, for that matter. I cut myself on a muesli bar wrapper the other day and have spent the last week recovering from a neck injury that I sustained as a result of ‘Bangarang-ing’ too hard and, up until writing this column, I thought ‘muesli’ was spelt ‘museli’. I’m a dick. But I think that, as university students, we are all mutually intelligent enough to get past tossing accusations at each other. Maybe I’m intolerant and just need to calm down by eating a Snickers or maybe (definitely) I needed to not trust my High School teachers so much, but I feel a bit shortchanged. The Soil-Feminist and the DickensBaptist were ridiculous and wrong, but at least they had developed thoughts. And if I can sit through that, then I should be allowed to hear what someone with a valid critical opinion has to say, even if it’s controversial. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Now I know, it’s a difficult and incredibly sensitive topic to discuss. I understand that the discussion may have hit a sore spot for that person. However, abuse exists. It exists both in the context of the film and in the real world. It’s the point of university (and art, for that matter) to foster discussion so that we can gain perspective and understanding. Just because we discuss something (especially in the context of a fictional work and in the sensitive way that it was discussed this instance) that doesn’t mean we support it. It means that we’re talking about it. We were doing what students do. What students are
Anthony Nocera has had to sneeze for three weeks. Brace yourselves.
Inside the final edition of 2013: the inside word on exchanges, bookshops, and nursing degrees, and more.