ISSUE 1 / MARCH 1ST / 2010
18 STEVEN JOYCE The Tertiary Education Minister sucked at uni (but at least he went to one).
22 CRITIC'S HALL GUIDE
A freshers guide to the halls of mass accomodation.
24 FIVE STUDENT SUMMERS
The Beehive, Bejing, Kenya, Samoa and UniCol.
R O FI LE
28 CHALLENGE Cute.
M AC K
IQ U E
42 LETTERS 55 GAMES 44 BOFS
Editor in Chief – Ben Thomson Designer in Chief – Gala Hesson Creative Director – Dreke Verkuylen Features Writers – Susan Smirk and Caitlyn O’Fallon News Editor – Gregor Whyte News Reporters – Rory MacDonald and Julia Hollingsworth
47 PREFORMANCE 44 BOOKS
Critic – Te Arohi PO Box 1436, Dunedin (03) 479 5335 email@example.com www.critic.co.nz
E B AC
AG E KP
31 SOAP BOX
52 MOOZIK 55 GAMES 57 ART 58 FILM
Sub Editor – Marie Hodgkinson Music Editor – Simon Wallace Film Editor – Max Segal Books Editor – Jonathan Jong Performance Editor – Jen Aitken And a substantial army of volunteers. Advertising –
Kate Kidson Tim Couch, and Dave Eley Advertising Designer – Daniel Alexander contact: PH: (03)4795361 E: firstname.lastname@example.org WWW. planetmedia.co.nz
Critic is a member of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA). Disclaimer: the views presented within this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor, Planet Media, or OUSA. Press Council: people with a complaint against a newspaper should first complain in writing to the Editor and then, if not satisfied with the response, complain to the Press Council. Complaints should be addressed to the Secretary, PO Box 10-879 The Terrace, Wellington.
I dont know I'll have to think about it Ben Thomson
Hey. I’m Ben. Welcome to Critic. I hope we all get on real well this year.
ou would think they would make sure you have lots of ideas before they hand over to you a magazine such as this one. Well, I’m already out. I spent print night hunkered down under my desk reading old first editorials while various staff yelled at me to hurry up (they got to make sure I speled everything right and then need to make it look pretty on the page). I hope you do think it’s pretty. I’m sure you will. I wasn’t sure whose advice to take. Holly Walker (2005) went for the new mum approach, arranging a play date between you and Critic. Real cute. John Ong (2006) went down the more perverted path of offering to pimp out Critic for your Monday-morning delight. Dave Large (2007-2008) made sure you knew Critic wasn’t OUSA’s bitch and Amy Joseph (2009) wrote hers the day after the Toga Parade. Jealous. True to form, going for the easy approach myself, I’ve cobbled them all together. You can just guess who was who. After that I will promote the columns. I think that is how it is done. “You may have noticed our efforts to spice up the relationship between you and Critic. We’ve undergone a little summer makeover, so you still feel like a bit of a fondle on Monday mornings. New regular content is designed to engage you beyond mere casual fingering.” “If you promise to ignore all of your classes before 12 on a Monday, Critic promises to bring you an edifying mix of news, reviews, features, columns, comics unrivalled by any other student
magazine on campus. Play together nicely now. Of course you and Critic might be old friends already, in which case you’ll notice that Critic had a bit of a makeover over summer…” (Notice a theme?) “Critic is part of Planet Media, which is owned by OUSA, but we have (and jealously guard) the ability and mandate to criticise the student-elected executive, should they need it.” “Ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility. Stop thinking of your time at Otago as a parentally-funded adventure in the Land of No Responsibility and start thinking of yourself as a lucky member of a vibrant community in a beautiful part of the country.” There. Four editorials in one. Lucky you. The columns are new. We’ve got a right-wing one and a left-wing one; one where people debate each other over important issues – this week: porn! (yes, I wanted to call it the Mass Debate but they wouldn’t let me); another one talks about dating in Dunedin (it ain’t quite Sex and the City), and there’s also a guide to the Albums the World Forgot. The features (the bits in the middle with all the words) will be there every week as well. But they’ll discuss different things. This week we got the new Tertiary Education Minister on the phone. This is a big deal. Plus we’ve assembled a panel of experts to critique (see what we did there?) the latest in film, music, performance, and books. Please like us. If you want to help make us better, tear out the volunteer form and bring it in. Or if you wanna just have a bitch (which I understand is a lot easier), you can send us a letter at email@example.com.
look how far we’ve come! In the year this city’s newest inhabitants were born, Jim Bolger was the Prime Minister, Bill Clinton was inaugurated, Audrey Hepburn died, The Mutton Birds was the most popular album in the country, and The Piano was up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Didn’t win, though. If you’re reading this in a 100-level lecture right now, chances are that guy you’re sitting next to is a Michael, Christopher, Matthew, or Josh, and the girl in front is quite possibly a Jessica, Ashley, Sarah, or Samantha.
Music … playing at Some Park … Somewhere: For all you fans of local musicians, Saturday March 6 would be a good day to call in sick at work. On that day from noon onwards, Bethune’s Gully plays host to the Swallow Your Words festival, featuring a line-up of Dunedin acts. Presales are $15 ($10 with RadioOne Card). A free compilation of performers is at proxymusic.com so you can decide whether it’s worth using Google Maps to find the place…
like to get it on: The Yale Daily News (like Critic, but daily, and at Yale) recently conducted a survey of student sex habits at that most prestigious of universities. The conclusion: they like to get bizay! The study found that in a class of 20 (10 boys and 10 girls), six have had sex in the past week – and the same goes for oral sex. All but two of the guys have had a beat, where as only one in four girls have taken care of business themselves.
gives men boner: Brazilian Wandering Spiders are an aggressive and venomous species located in South and Central America. Their venom, PhTx3, causes loss of muscle control and breathing problems, resulting in paralysis and eventual asphyxiation! Aside from intense pain, the venom of the spider can also cause priapism in humans. Erections resulting from the bite can last for many hours and the component of the venom that causes this is being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments. These spiders seek dark places to hide including clothes, boots, and Refuel.
it’s just like Facebook: Website Chatroulette.com is the new future of the voyeur. It pairs users with random webcam chat partners, giving them the choice of either striking up a conversation, or hitting the ‘next’ button to instantly search for another potential participant. The site is the invention of Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student from Russia. A warning: use it only if you want to see the strange, the depraved, and the downright creepy (Critic copped a lot of close-up shots of old guys masturbating). You’ve gotta be quick on that ‘next’ button. - Rob Stewart 06
Shit Band: 0 The Facebook group ‘Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback?’ reached its goal this week by topping 1.4 million members, overshadowing the band’s own Facebook fan page, which has a measly 1.38 million members. It is unclear at this point how Chad Kroeger feels about being bested by a pickle.
could well be upon us Hoyts is reportedly looking into bring the futuristic 3D cinematic experience to Dunedin. The phenomenon taking hold in far-off mega-cities like Tauranga and Nelson requires movie-goers to put on glasses specially designed to interpret the images on the screen as three dimensional. Hoyts’ Dunedin manager Darryl McLeod is being characteristically coy, telling the D Scene (freshers, if you haven’t checked out this local rag it is an absolute must) that there “are no guaruntees.”
Edge: Dr. Elena Bodnar won the esteemed Ig-Noble Public Health prize in 2009. Bodnar invented a multi-purpose bra that, in the event of an emergency, can be converted into a pair of protective facemasks, one for the bra wearer and the other for a lucky bystander.
Australian Fatties Multiplying: Australia is in the throes of an obesity epidemic, with 47 percent of women and 63 percent of men now classified as either overweight or obese. They are keeping pace with our American friends, who currently hold the record with 50 percent of American women and a whopping 67.6 percent of American men being too heavy. ‘Overweight’ is classed as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of greater than 25. Overall, 24.4 percent of Aussies are overweight, compared to 20 percent of New Zealanders.
BAINIMARAMA WOULD NEVER LET DANE RUMBLE PLAY AT HIS PARTY RORY MACDONALD
The news media are pissed off with OUSA over a form they were forced to sign before they could film inside Orientation gigs. The gag, in the form of a contract, demands that media who are filming any Orientation gig refrain from recording any material showing students drinking excess amounts of alcohol, engaging in promiscuous activity, vomiting, fighting, or acting like a Scarfie. The contract also gives OUSA final approval before any footage is broadcast. OUSA President Harriet Geoghegen said that they were concerned about biased media reporting that paints students in a bad light and relies on out-of-context footage to supplement stories that almost exclusively relay the negative aspects of Dunedin’s student drinking culture. Geoghegan also expressed concern that people were being filmed, and the footage used, without their consent. The contract was drafted in 2007 as a response to the C4 Studentville show, which Geoghegen described as “a montage of people vomiting.” She said the contract is
not an attempt to impinge on the ability of the press to report, but to protect OUSA’s members from an “unfair” media witchhunt. TVNZ refused to sign the contract, along with 3 News, whose Dunedin-based reporter Dave Goosselink likened OUSA to the Fijian regime. Geoghegan and others in the Association have expressed bemusement at the uproar the contract has caused in the media, and have raised questions about the media’s motives. It was pointed out to Critic by Geoghegan, and others independently of this story, that athletes at the Masters Games, which were held on campus in early February, behaved in a raucous manner. This was completely ignored by the national media – including by Close Up’s Mark Sainsbury, who was here filming stories. Witnesses have said they saw participants of the Games drinking heavily, being sick, causing damage, and fornicating and urinating on campus grounds. Critic understands that used condoms have been
found in the bushes around the Union Lawn. Geoghegan, whose office overlooks the area where the Athletes Village was located, said it was “worse than an average scarfie party.” When asked about the behaviour of Masters Games participants, a representative of the organising body said only that they “had received no complaints,” and that what “people did on their own time was up to them.” Geoghegen feels that this highlights the biased focus of the media on the behaviour of Dunedin students, and she pitches the media contract as an attempt to rectify this. OUSA are still unsure about any legal action they can take regarding a breach of this contract, but have said anyone with a media pass filming an Orientation Event who has not signed the contract will be asked to leave. Geoghegen, however, concedes that some of the contract’s wording may be seen as over-zealous and she is looking to rectify this in the future.
Students Arrive, Coathanger Shortage Ensues JULIA HOLLINGSWORTH
Thousands of students arrived in Dunedin last week, much to the excitement of local businesses. Over 20 000 students are enrolled at the University of Otago, many of whom have come from out of town. A large proportion of these students came into the city within a two-day period over the weekend of February 20 and 21. Air New Zealand used bigger-capacity planes and introduced more flights to cater for the masses of inbound students. Despite the increase in numbers over the last two weeks, John McCall of the Dunedin Airport said the arrivals have been problem-free. However, a Kiwi Shuttles employee described the airport as chaos. He was disgruntled that airport staff had redirected
many of the students, most of who did not have shuttle bookings, to the more expensive Super Shuttle company, with whom the Airport have a contract. Sales increased dramatically for a number of local businesses. Robyn Elliman of Butterflies op-shop said that togas (or white sheets) had sold out on Monday last week. “We’re in party mode at the moment. We save up army gear and sheets all year for parties so students are guaranteed to find what they want.” Last week was madness at Kmart, where they sold out of coat hangers, rubbish bins, clothes airers, and laundry baskets. Nigel McCleery says that Kmart sells ten times its normal volume of these items within the
Orientation Week period. “We get a double order every year, but it’s still not enough.” Bed Bath and Beyond has had a similar problem, selling out of quality duvet inners and washing baskets. “It’s up there, it’s one of the better weeks,” an employee told Critic. She noticed that lots of parents were paying for their children’s goods. Surprisingly, the influx of students hasn’t had as impressive an impact on alcohol sales. Liquor Land says that sales are up on this time last year because of their barbeque marketing, which she said brings in the first-year students. However, sales during Orientation Week are not dramatically different from sales during the rest of the year.
RELATIONSHIPS UNDER MICROSCOPE A review of the University of Otago ethics policy, which may ultimately result in tighter restrictions on student-staff relationships, is currently underway. The review originated as a result of Sophie Elliott’s murder at the hands of her tutor Clayton Weatherston. In total sixteen submissions have been made, one of which is a joint submission between the Elliotts and the University Chaplaincy. Under the current policy relationships between staff and students are not forbidden, but staff must disclose any relationship with a student to their immediate supervisor, so as to avoid any possible conflicts of interest. Weatherston had complied with the policy at the time of his relationship with Elliott. New wording has already been built into the draft policy, which now “strongly discourages intimate relationships.”
Although the change is minimal, and arguably merely cosmetic, University Chaplain Greg Hughson says that the words send a message to staff and students of the general inappropriateness of such relationships. “The changes are a sincere attempt to reduce likelihood of [such a tragedy] happening again.” Hughson says that relationships between staff and students can’t realistically be prohibited, as from time to time people in such relationships may be genuinely in love. “However, overall such relationships are to be strongly discouraged due to power imbalances and other ethical dilemmas.” In contrast, Lesley Elliott advocates for the University to take a far tougher stance on such relationships. “It would be nice to see them make a bold stand. No one would think any worse of them,” she told
Critic. Elliott suggests that a ban on staffstudent relationships should be written into contracts. If such a relationship does develop, Elliott says that perhaps the staff member concerned should consider leaving, although such decisions would be taken on a case-bycase basis. In addition, Elliott wants mandatory counselling for students who are in a relationship with staff. The counselling would continue until either the relationship dissolves, or the staff member resigns. Other major universities in New Zealand currently have similar policies on studentstaff relationships, with no university prohibiting them outright. According to a University of Otago spokesperson, completion of the review, and an announcement of any changes, are a few months away.
COMPUTER SAYS NO For when you realise that all 1800 of you aren’t getting into Med … For all those students who know they want to be at university, but aren’t quite sure what they should be studying, comes an innovative and award-winning piece of software developed at the University of Otago. Otago Choice asks users to answer questions on their interests and then ranks the 103 major subjects offered at Otago according to how closely they accord with those identified interests. The software was inspired, says creator Associate Professor Paul Hansen, by a survey of Otago graduates that found 41 percent would have chosen a different degree or major if given the opportunity to ‘re-do’ their time at university. Hansen recommends the software to all students at the University,
but adds that it will be particularly useful for those who wish to study a subject tailored to “their own personal preferences” especially given “you can’t get the three or four years back, or the fees.” The software has been used over 45000 times since its launch in July 2008, and has received positive feedback from surveyed users. A neat feature of the site is that it provides instant information on the ranked subjects. The software was completely updated at the end of 2009 and is easily accessible from the University homepage. Alternatively there is a link on Critic’s Facebook page. So, now you can’t complain you’ve got no idea what to do with your life after that Med School rejection letter.
SCIENCE EXEC OFF TO CAMBRIDGE JULIA HOLLINGSWORTH
Last year’s Science Representative on the OUSA Executive has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher scholarship to support her postgraduate study at Cambridge University. Nathalie Saurat is one of three students nationwide to be awarded the scholarship, which is selected by a panel of trustees of the Woolf Fisher Trust. The scholarship enables Saurat to study towards a biochemistry doctorate at the Gurdon Institute. At Cambridge, Saurat intends to continue her research on how microRNAs (strands of molecules that regulate gene expression) evolve in the neo-cortex of the
brain. This research will help scientists to better understand how the brain is formed during early stages of its development. In addition, advances in this area may have implications for the future development of cancer therapies. Saurat says she is pretty excited about the opportunity. “I’ve been on cloud nine ever since.” The scholarship is awarded to three applicants from New Zealand annually, and covers course fees, college fees, a living allowance, and flights back to New Zealand each year for three years. Saurat says the scholarship is worth around $100 000 per year.
The Proctor is the University official charged with discipline on campus. Behind his genial boys-will-be-boys demeanour and splendid moustache is a very practical and unsentimental man who, for the duration of your enrolment, has more statutory authority over you than any public employee this side of the SIS. Having said that, his job is basically to keep you safe, and when I interviewed him this week he had just finished arranging Campus Watch patrols to escort kids from Aquinas, Salmond, and Knox through the student quarter to the Toga Party. Given that disruption last year led to a riot that put one poor girl in hospital, that’s something you might want to thank him for. The rubbish skips scattered around the quarter last Friday were his idea as well. Unfortunately, the Proctor also spends a lot of his time dealing with problems. To whit: •
He’s already been called upon to deal with a few known local career burglars who’ve managed to bullshit their way into flatwarming parties for the purposes of free beer and free, you know, other stuff. If someone you’re not sure about turns up at your party, feel free to call Campus Security on 479 5000 and get Campus Watch to come and check them out. Alternatively, if you spot someone nicking stuff at your flatwarming, you could take your cues from a couple
The trust was established in 1960 by Sir Woolf Fisher, co-founder of the company Fisher and Pykel, and foundation member of New Zealand Steel. Successful applicants can choose to study at either Cambridge or Oxford University for three or four years. Candidates are selected for their outstanding academic ability, along with other qualities that Sir Woolf Fisher admired, including integrity, kindness, generosity, leadership, boldness of vision, and exceptional zeal. After completing her PhD, Saurat hopes to continue her research with a postdoctoral scholarship.
of students who chanced upon a burglar one evening and proceeded to knock him over and sit upon him “frequently and with gusto.” By all accounts this guy, another wellknown local ratbag, was “quite pleased to see the police.” Sadly, some other students have been sitting on their roofs throwing water balloons and “other material” at passersby. There’s nothing wrong with backyard water-fights or whatever, but it’s worth keeping them among people you know. That probably means calling a cease-fire after dark rather than taking potshots at randoms. Urban myths to the contrary notwithstanding, this is not part of the ‘Otago Student Experience,’ and the Proctor takes a dim view of it.
Dumb idea of the week: Being consistently loud or obnoxious neighbours. What generally happens if there are complaints about this, is that the Proctor gives a formal warning. If it happens again, everyone in the flat gets fined about $100. If it happens again, there’s another fine of about $200 each. And if it happens again, the disruptive parties are “referred to the Provost.” The Provost is the shadowy and sinister university official responsible for supervising the roll, and if disciplinary action gets as far as that office, it usually means that someone’s going to get expelled. It’s probably worth bearing this in mind, especially as there are already several flats this year that are on their last warnings for 2010. 13
Secrets of Pea Aphid Unlocked Malaysian Students Arrive Polytech Stalemate Speed Flatting A Quick Success Scientists from the University of Otago were part of an international group of researchers that published the full and complete genome of the Pea Aphid last Tuesday. The Pea Aphid is an agricultural pest, and the mapping of its genome has implications for combating the adverse effect it has on New Zealand’s agriculture. The researchers were mostly based in the US and Europe, and the six-year project involved over 200 researchers from 15 different countries. Associate Professor Peter Dearden led the University of Otago’s contribution. FIFTY-SIX Malay teacher trainees in their early twenties have arrived in Dunedin to study at the University of Otago College of Education. Their two-year stint is part of a plan to teach English as an official second language throughout Malaysia, a country of 24 million inhabitants. The students are among 600 Malays who secured government scholarships to study in universities throughout New Zealand and Australia. Once they have completed their two years in New Zealand, they will return to Malaysia to become specialist English teachers. They are to be joined by another group of 60 students who will remain here until 2012.
Tertiary Education Union (TEU) members at the six polytechnics, which have been locked in negotiations for nearly a whole year, have again rejected their employers’ latest employment offer. Instead they are now seeking facilitation, a process set out in the Employment Relations Act that enables parties to employment bargaining who are having serious and sustained difficulties in concluding a collective agreement to seek the assistance of the Employment Relations Authority. TEU is requesting that during this next stage in the bargaining process, and post March 1, polytechnics continue to honour the existing collective agreement for all existing and new employees. If this happens, TEU members will not take any industrial action over the coming weeks while the Authority considers its recommendation. The University Accommodation office and OUSA consulted a speed-dating agency to help implement its latest student support initiative. Speed Flatting is a process where students are matched up with strangers in a non-committal environment, to discuss the possibility of flatting with one another. Speed Flatting closely resembles speed dating, with each group being given a number and moving around to meet each other. Both parties hope it will help students enter into a tenancy situation with greater ease. Students looking to join a flat and flats looking for flat mates registered at the accommodation office to join the sessions.
Ido Drent Georgie fenwicke
Love it or loathe it, Shortland Street is a New Zealand institution. The longest-running soap in this great nation of ours, it not only employs New Zealand’s acting talent but provides a platform from which they can build stellar careers. Just think of Martin Henderson and Temuera Morrison. In this, the first in a year-long series of interviews featuring notable New Zealand and International personalities, Georgie Fenwicke quizzed one of the youngest members of the cast, Ido Drent a.k.a. Daniel Potts about peanut butter, method acting, and the Big Day Out.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? A pilot, a pro tennis player, and later years an actor – and sometimes a lion. You have worked as both a model and in the property development industry, but what is the worst job you have ever been employed to do? I was a hawker (door-to-door salesman). Most hideous time of my life. You have studied acting at the Meisner acting school, in the shadow of other such big names as Gregory Peck, James Caan, Christopher Lloyd, and Sandra Bullock, who went through similar training. How did the course prepare you for the acting part on Shortland Street? Well, it’s such an amazing technique and it gave me a great foundation for ‘momentto-moment’ acting well beyond this role. I am actually planning to do a trip to the neighbourhood playhouse (where all the greats went). Going to be great to develop further in the same place those guys have. The character of Daniel Potts seems to change from week to week, bad to good and back again, do you enjoy playing him? Yeah, it has been fun. He’s a bit different to me and it allows me to explore places and emotions that I wouldn’t normally … and it’s never boring with the things he needs to deal with ... especially stuff coming up later this year!
Quickfire: Twitter or Facebook? Facebook. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Crunchy. Live at home or in a flat? Flat. How did you crash your car, Betsey? No comment. And how you found that she was named Betsey, I have NO idea ... ha.
Due to the frequency with which Shortland Street is aired, actors are given a limited number of takes with which to work. Do you find this constricting? Well, there’s actually no ‘limit’ as such. But it is quick and it is very result-oriented, so it doesn’t always allow for the acting ‘process’ to take place which can sometimes be frustrating … But it’s never boring, I can tell you that! Soaps like Shortland Street and Home and Away are often platforms local actors build upon. Do you have any hopes of pursuing acting opportunities overseas? Abso-flippin-lutely. I am naturally a big thinker and nothing has changed with this. Definitely aiming to take on bigger projects in the future. You attended Big Day Out this year, what were your favourite acts? Would have to be Groove Armada – 25 000 people in a tent, all dancing, was awesome! Besides tennis, cricket, rugby, playing the drums, coffee, hanging out with friends, and reading, what are your other interests? I like training at the gym. Still involved with the property game. What did you get up to for New Year’s? Went to Whitianga. My mates, Late 80’s Mercedes, were playing at a pub. Was AWESOME! Had such a great night with old friends!
A new Minister. But will students ReJoyce? A self-made millionaire and the key architect behind Nationalâ€™s rise to power has been named the Governmentâ€™s top man for the tertiary sector. In his first interview with student media since taking over from Anne Tolley earlier this year, Steven Joyce talks to Caitlyn Oâ€™Fallon about his road to politics and his plans for, well, all of us.
Like many students,
university career didn’t
go according to plan.
e had dreams of becoming a vet but didn’t make the cut for second year. Instead, he successfully completed a Zoology degree, but it was his education on the sidelines of his course that really set him up for the future. While at Massey University, Joyce got involved with the student radio station – and it was this that led to his actual career. While at Radio Massey, he and some mates formulated a plan to break into commercial radio. They weren’t interested in Radio New Zealand, where “you had to go to announcer’s school and then you got posted to Greymouth or something,” so they set up one of the first private FM radio stations in New Plymouth. This effort by a few uni students grew into a multi-million dollar business with 22 radio stations and over 650 staff. “We basically went from university to running our own radio station” says Joyce. “It was very cool fun, very cool.” In 2001, the cool fun ended when CanWest bought their company, RadioWorks, on the share market. Joyce was suddenly six million dollars richer, and not sure what to do. He got a gym membership, started running again … and joined the National Party. “That was something I’d always been interested in but never had any time to do anything about,” says Joyce. Joyce decided not to stand in the 2002 elections, although he points out that it made no difference anyway, as National got a cringe-worthily low 21 percent of the vote. “After the election some of the people I’d met from the party thought it was such a bad result, they asked me if I would do a review of the National Party and reorganise it.” And so he did, and went on to run the election campaign for Don Brash in 2005. Of course, this was the infamous ‘Hollow Men’ election. Joyce was one of the party members accused of dodgy dealing with the Exclusive Brethren – something he has always denied. Nicky Hager, the author of The Hollow Men, claims Joyce met with the Brethren during the run-up to the election and helped organise for them to volunteer on the campaign. Joyce quit the party immediately after this election, although he claims this was always his plan. Joyce didn’t return to politics until John Key became National leader and asked him back, first for consultancy work, then to run the 2008 campaign, and finally to stand in the election himself. Since entering Parliament as a list MP, Joyce has held the roles of Minister of Transport and Minister for Communications and Information Technology. But the reason we’re interested in him is, of course, that he recently replaced Anne Tolley as Minister for Tertiary Education.
Key burn. Clearly down with the kids. Joyce was responsible for the divisive but wildly successful ‘Tax/ Cut’ and ‘Iwi/Kiwi’ billboard campaign. Reportedly, he also coined the “mainstream” phrase used by Brash to describe National in 2005. The evidence: an email dated May 24, 2005 to Brash and then finance spokesman John Key from Brethren member Ron Hickmott that asks for followup meetings with the leaders and mentions another with Joyce.
The Prime Minister has explained the reduction of Tolley’s workload as giving her the maximum opportunity to concentrate on the implementation of national standards in schools. The Opposition and the media have both charged that Tolley herself was simply not up to standard. Whatever the reason for his appointment, Joyce seems to be relishing the role. In his first three weeks, he says, “I’ve been learning a huge amount; I’m just really looking forward to getting into it.” There is no doubt that he is busy. Like any Cabinet Minister his schedule is jam-packed. This interview had to be rebooked after a scheduling snafu – instead of the planned face-to-face meeting in the Beehive, it ended up being a two-part phone conversation as he travelled back to the capital from the West Coast where he was visiting his first polytech. As well as stuff like visiting polytechs, Joyce has a lot of hard work ahead of him. He says that the key things he needs to do are make sure that taxpayers’ money is well spent, and to make sure that students get “real value” out of their tertiary education. He emphasises the value of such an education – “the reason that taxpayers and the government support students is that there’s a real public benefit out of their education” – but also points out that a huge amount of money is spent on students, and that that amount is growing. One of the main problems Joyce sees is low completion rates in part-time courses. “It’s not all just about enrolments” he says. “I think we’re putting a lot of extra money in the system but the number of graduates, of universities for example, hasn’t gone up that much.” Joyce was unwilling to offer any solutions to the problem at this point, or for several other issues, stressing that three weeks is not long enough for him to be able to give all the answers. He certainly didn’t rule out the possibility of changing the fee maxima policy, the policy that stops our fees from increasing by more than five percent each year. He says it’s too early for him to comment: “I haven’t formed any ideas on what’s appropriate in terms of the way it’s being run currently.” While critics of the policy, brought in under Labour, say that it effectively guarantees that fees rise five percent every year, no one is suggesting National will improve things for students. Changes could potentially have alarming consequences for the price of a university education. In Critic’s interview with Joyce, he was also reserved on the matter of changes to the student loan policy. He did confirm several times that he has absolutely no intention of reintroducing interest on student loans. He’s been more talkative
“I’m just really
to getting into it.”
John Hartevelt, a Critic alumnus, revealed in the Dominion Post that while Tolley was in talks with the PM over the reshuffle she was publicly declaring polytechnic reform in the tertiary sector would be a priority for her this year. Her explanation: “I thoroughly enjoyed the work ... of course, you want to be on that implementation side … But it was going to be a very big year. That in itself had caused me concerns anyway, and the Prime Minister.” Tolley said the decision was “mutual.” According to a 2008 report, on average across 23 OECD countries for which data are available, some 29 percent of students in traditional degrees fail to successfully complete the programmes they undertake. Survival rates differ widely among OECD countries. In New Zealand and the United States only just over 50 percent of students go on to successfully complete their programmes in contrast to our counterparts in Ireland and Korea where the survival rates are 83 percent and in Japan where the rate is 91 percent. Cue relief from students nationwide.
since, however, with reports saying that he is looking into tightening the scheme and stating that some people are making poor use of their loans. Joyce reportedly admitted that backing the interest-free scheme was a political ploy in the 2008 election. Prime Minister John Key has also told Parliament that the Government is working to “ensure that taxpayers’ generosity is not being exploited.” This is clearly an issue for Joyce, as he pointed out to Critic that the policy is expensive, as “48 cents for every dollar of loan is written off effectively by the Government.” However, he does encourage people to take advantage of the fruits on offer. “We actually have one of the most generous taxpayer-supported schemes in the OECD, so people should make the most of it, [and] make sure they get the tertiary education they need in their lives.” One concern for the Government is how those student loans are being used. Joyce says they want to be sure that “people are using it properly to advance their academic careers.” He told Critic that on the whole he believes people don’t abuse the system. Roger Douglas’ Voluntary Student Membership (VSM) bill is another issue Joyce isn’t willing to say anything solid about. The bill is before select committee at the moment, and in its current form would make membership of all student associations like OUSA voluntary. At the moment, student associations have two options. They may require all students at the university to be a member, like OUSA does, with exceptions able to be made for those with ideological objections. Or they may be voluntary, and people can choose whether or not they want to join. Student associations can change from one to the other by petitioning for a referendum and voting. Joyce is unwilling to comment on the bill yet. “We’ve all heard the arguments before but I’d like to hear what the select committee have to say before I’ll offer an opinion.” Perhaps mindful of his involvement with student associations while he was studying, Joyce says that there are “benefits that students get from their associations which they may or may not immediately recognise, like the student media for example.” Of course, Joyce is alluding to one of the strongest arguments against the bill: a lot of us aren’t aware of how much the students’ associations do, so if membership were voluntary we might miss out on important benefits. No doubt you will hear this argument and similar ones repeated ad nauseam in these very pages by our own student politicians as the March 31 deadline for submissions to the select committee approaches. For those student politicians it will heartening to know that the Minister is, at least, entertaining their argument. Critic will have extensive coverage of the VSM debate as it progresses. Next week, we’ll look at the potential impact the proposed legislation could have on OUSA.
Hey freshers! Great to have you here. Aren’t you, like, so over school and glad you’ve left all the petty schoolyard politics behind? As you settle into your new home you’ll soon realise that, well, you haven’t. Sorry. Critic has been analysing the previous occupants of your beds and there are definite trends. We’ve presented them to you here in a handy table. Have a great year!
“Our healthy events calendar has everything from sports … to the downright wacky.”
“Our thriving College spirit is the stuff of legends.”
“Carrington’s heritage is built around diversity, collegiality, service, and lifelong friendship”. Cute.
“We accept students
“It’s the spirit of the place.” Shit, Cumby has ghosts…?
Great, eggheads and
(See what we did there?)
“A glorious history as the former home of many of the University of Otago’s leading scholars.”
Population: 152 en route to Timaru What they say
Your first choice?
Why it’s good
Why it’s shit
Population: 366 110 Clyde St
(Translation: full of beer-swilling lads)
Population: 224 57 Heriot Row
Population: 211 911 Cumberland St
from … (the Uni and Polytech) in
Population: 326 250 Castle St
(Translation: cock up own ass).
They’ve built an empire on this claim.
It depends: illinformed unfortunates vs. eager wieners.
Maybe for the aforementioned dummies.
You really wanted Arana but this will suffice.
Of course, Daddy went there.
Picturesque location nestled into the hill amongst the trees.
Walking past we saw vending machines.
Harry Potter enthusiasts will love the Hogwartsesque grounds.
Tragic like-minded ‘ex’ geeks turned ‘boozehounds.’
Quick to enforce hallwide alcohol bans.
Full of wankers.
(i.e. someone you’ve picked up) are not
This can prove to be a
allowed to stay.
real hindrance on young
Became the first co-educational student residence in Australasia in 1945.
None to speak of – only 10 years old.
Established in 1989. Steeped in the Which makes it motherfucker – older than the new 101 years old. crop of residents. Which is scary.
Honest, hardworking, middleclass.
Old-money private school kids.
Free shuttle service.
Gus and Tom
(But the fact that they have
one makes you wonder).
Check their website.
Michael Laws went there.
Standard: Catholic males, founded 1954, et cetera, et cetera.
The name Arana is actually the Maori translation for Allen (the site is the former home of Sir James Allen – a University stalwart in the early 1900s).
Well-balanced mixture of young academics.
Over-achievers / try-hards.
Residents resemble Dumber. Clearasil ‘before’ shots.
What the boys will like
It’s pretty easy to piss out the windows.
A plethora of Excellent wi-fi ‘scarfie’ Arana connection. chants to bellow on the walk to town.
It’s a stone’s throw to the takeaway district.
Get to “sink piss and shit.”
The fact that they have cash.
The view … erm, fuck, I dunno?
Toning those buns on the walk up the hill.
Porn-infatuated boys providing an incentive to seek satisfaction elsewhere.
It’s a stone’s throw to
Post-spew boys make for easy work.
The fact that the boys have cash.
No one famous has ever come from here, nor will they ever.
Vice Chancellor Sir Professor David Skegg.
What the girls will like
The Governor General.
Michael Laws … duh.
the second-year district, providing an abundance of more experienced lotharios.
CRITIC'S GUIDE TO THE HALLS Salmond
“Silly games night, ice skating – and that’s just what happens at Salmond College during O-week!”
“Its smallness makes Selwyn an intimate place: residents know each other’s business!”
“Living at Studholme has its own benefits; whether it’s the dash for toast every evening …”
“Friendly, fun, “Fuck Arana, fuck multi-cultural, Arana, hey hey hey, adventurous, supportive!” fuck Arana …”
Potential Selwynites will be tossing up between this and Knox.
On the whole, no; however, sheltered sooks may be enticed by the lower numbers.
Juste pour le vagin et le penis.
Yes, for Aucklanders too scared to ‘integrate’ into the rest of society. Otherwise, no.
Wow … this is awkward.
Noah’s Ark-like range of wildlife on their crest.
A section on the website dedicated to “remembering” Selwyn in your will. Dead serious.
The Head Warden is nicknamed Ziggy.
Named after an albatross.
Killing time looking at the
Gets bullied by mean Knoxies.
“Scarfie-as” second-year fuckwits too scared to go flatting return each year, enforcing zany hall-wide events.
Potential for haunting Trainspotting-esque cot scenes.
An abundance of cargo pants.
The RAs suck.
Cold, hungry, and hookey.
Established as a female-only cumdumpster for its brother hall Knox.
Long and uneventful.
It moved around heaps.
Not a whole bunch – but way more exciting than Selwyn’s.
Was commissioned by the University as a centenary project.
Something you failed in school.
Salt-of-the-earth Kiwi types.
Rambunctious party animals.
Quiet and studious.
Diverse – all the suburbs of Auckland are represented.
Southland bogans, possibly fat.
Nerds who use going to university to mould their image into “big-drinking crazy cats.”
Foreign, possibly fat.
From Auckland, possibly a slut.
Plain old ugly. Definitely fat.
Girls are probably still pumped on the fact that it’s now coeducational.
They can live out their feminine side through the ballet.
High percentage of Polynesians makes for a good touch team.
Horny exchange students.
Sluts bay-bay. Mother-fucking sluts.
No drinking bans, yeah boizz!!
The fact that it’s now co-educational.
They get to carry a bath tub for the
The disposal facilities are first-rate.
Closeness to the 24.
At least you’re not in Aquinas.
That dead baby.
Did someone say Marc Ellis?
Population: 192 19 Knox Street
Population: 170 560 Castle St
Population: 173 127 Clyde St
Population: 137 8 Regent Rd
Population: 518 315 Leith St
Flatting in first year
(We copied that out verbatim).
first leg of the Leith Run
world map in the lobby with everyone’s picture and home town.
(a Selwyn tradition involving, you guessed it, running through the Leith). Not quite sure how this is a good point, but it sounds fucking stupid.
Critic brings you five salacious summer tales. The following stories broach the Beehive, ascend to Beijing, touch down in the slums of Kenya, wash up on the beaches of Samoa, and even dip into the murky waters of Christchurch. Susan Smirk talks to five Otago students about how they spent their summer.
FIVE STUDENT SUMMERS
Selini Pua: returned home to tsunami-ravaged Samoa
ike many people, Commerce student Selini Pua made his way to the beach this summer. But Selini’s beaches are not the same as they once were – not since his home, Samoa, was hit by the tragic tsunami last September. Although Selini had already returned home since then, it was not easy to spend five weeks living alongside the devastation left by the disaster. He describes the worst part of the trip as “the fear of looking around – getting there and looking around at the affected areas. I cried when I went there.” When news of the tsunami first came through, Selini just wanted to go home. With all the telecommunications systems down, he had an anxious wait to hear from his family. He says, “It was shocking, because it was the first time we heard such a thing, and no one expected it.” Now, he explains, people take tsunami warnings much more seriously than they did before: “Now everyone is just on their feet, once the warning comes out. Everyone is just packed and gone, straight away.” Selini’s family is lucky to live in the town on the main island, which largely escaped the brute force of the wave. “It was pretty sad to see other areas … to see all the houses torn apart,” he says. The low point of his summer was “seeing all the little kids, without homes, and they were just staying under tarpaulins.” Nevertheless, Selini believes that Samoan communities are feeling fairly hopeful. He describes some of the progress being made: “Right now when I came back, there were some constructions happening out there … but the rate things are going now, it’s just really slow.” After a long low in numbers, even the tourists are returning – although they have fewer beaches to frequent than before since “most of the really cool beaches were affected by the tsunami.” There are still a lot of international aid workers there, Selini notes. In fact, over summer he personally travelled to some of the most badly-affected areas to help tsunami victims. He says, “We had to give out some clothes and stuff, and help out all of the Red Cross people as much as we can, distributing those overseas donations.” Selini is quick to commend the amount of overseas aid Samoa received, particularly from New Zealand, but based on his recent visit he suggests that “they don’t really need that much clothes and stuff right now. It’s more the money to make things happen – all the developments and stuff, rebuilding houses.” Marie Jenson: an anxious fresher
ike so many wide-eyed freshers, Marie Jenson is about to enter the big, scary world of tertiary education. Having finally cast off the shackles of secondary school, Marie’s summer was split neatly between working as a cashier, socialising, and making the mental and practical preparations needed to step up to tertiary study. “I felt like time has passed by too fast! It’s pretty scary, knowing that the next year, I won’t be able to go walk through the gates of my high school, that I would have to move away and live in another city!” Marie lives with her family in Christchurch, but has now moved into UniCol for the year. She notes rather resentfully that her family has “yet to reveal any signs of sadness,” but maintains that they will miss her nonetheless. With little idea of where she wants to take her studies, Marie chose to take the road most travelled and enroll in First Year Health Science. While she hopes her grades will be enough to get her into one of the “five professions,” she is confident that she has plenty of other options if things don’t go to plan. As she looks forward to the epic educational odyssey that is Otago, Marie is more worried about getting lost than of anything else. “My sense of direction is really bad, so I’m really scared that I won’t be able to find my way around and I’ll be later or even miss out on my lectures.” She also seems sincerely sobered by the weighty reality of university study, noting “I think in uni, you have to be very self-motivated to study in order to do well.” In general, Marie feels “anxious and nervous – possibly excited” about beginning life at Otago, since she has heard that “it can get pretty crazy down there.” 25
Charlotte Greenfield: cuddled Kenyan kids
t was the long-cherished imagery of The Lion King that drew Charlotte Greenfield from Wellington to the sprawling slums of Nairobi, Kenya – but life is not all Hakuna Matata there. When she decided to commit three months to volunteer work, the New Zealand-based Global Volunteer Network organised her placement in an orphanage to simply “do what is needed.” This turned out to be everything from teaching and running games, to dispensing vitamin liquid at lunch, feeding babies, and arranging doctor’s visits. The simple concrete buildings of the Nairobi Children’s Home house 80 children from the ages of newborn to seven years. “I was shocked by the utter disregard by the government for Kenya’s most important asset: their children … there is little more than the basic resources to keep the children alive here,” she says. Charlotte describes the children there as “resilient” and “very independent, but also desperate for love. Most of them, I don’t know their specific backgrounds, even the management don’t know for most of them because they are often found wandering alone. But the burn marks, bruises, and tough eyes speak for themselves.” One of the hardest things is the lack of structure or activities for the children – they are left to their own devices. The saving grace is a teacher named Esther, who despite having very little money herself, works for free on weekdays to run two classes for the children a day. They do singing, drawing, reading, and practice the alphabet and numbers. “There are so many children and it easily descends into chaos,” she says. “The children can be utterly hilarious ... But a lot of things become funny here, because everything is so difficult, so the only thing you can do is laugh most of the time.” A Law and English student, Charlotte has hopes of breaking into journalism and continuing her humanitarian interests. “Of course it’s clichéd, but it makes you realise how lucky you are and it has taught me that my limits are so much furtherer than I ever thought they were.” She is also thinking bigger than the day-to-day chaos of the children’s home – she wants to arrange sponsorship for two of the girls, Maria and Cherotich, to get out of the orphanage and go to school. There is a link on Critic’s Facebook page if you are keen to contribute. Matt Booth: rubbed important shoulders in the capital city
att headed to the windy city in a state of saintly submission, quite prepared to humbly fetch coffee, file paperwork, and sit quietly in a corner as an intern to Minister John Carter. But he says “I was thrown in the deep end from the start. The office was slightly under-staffed, so had to help out with speech writing.” Bowen House, where Matt worked, is attached by an underground tunnel to the Beehive. “I got lost a lot,” he admits. “It’s a run run in the Beehive, with little signposting, so that took a little getting used to.” He was quickly introduced to the work of writing speeches, briefings, and opinion pieces around the Minister’s electorate of Northland, and his ample portfolio included such stimulating topics as Racing, Civil Defense, and Senior Citizens. Matt’s worst day on the job came about when another office neglected to inform his office of an important development in a portfolio that their Minister was making a speech on. He learnt that day, as he rushed around changing the speech and trying to get it to a then-absent Minister, that “a major part of the job is managing political risk.” While he didn’t get a chance to swap drinking stories with the Prime Minister, he did get to hobnob with a few important figures, such as Gerry Brownlee and David Carter, mostly while ‘his’ Minister was en route to the House. Matt found his summer hijinks in the Beehive both “enjoyable and rewarding,” with one of those rewards being that he got to travel in Crown cars a few times, which he deems to be “super.” He was admittedly “a bit sad” to leave the productive hum of the 26
Beehive, explaining that “You can’t get that experience anywhere and you certainly don’t learn it at uni.” He returns to the relentless slog of study in Law and Politics, which he is “eager to finish.” Matt has no immediate plans to use his newfound knowledge of speech writing, Crown cars, and not-so-secret tunnels to return and conquer the Beehive, but he does have long-term goals of getting into politics, after “acquiring some worldly experience.” Luxi Nie: a high-flyer in Beijing
eijing, Luxi Nie explains, is a city where snow turns to ice and the ice never melts. She left a lukewarm southern summer to spend six weeks in sub-zero Chinese winter. Luckily, Luxi had a spot on the 36th floor of a Beijing high-rise to warm her toes. Having just finished second-year Law, Luxi walked into China’s third most prestigious law firm as a “terrified” intern. Although bilingual, she spent a lot of the first few weeks flipping madly through her Mandarin-English dictionary, trying to relearn all the legal terms she had only just mastered, in yet another language. After that she drowned in a tonne of legal paperwork, floundered through some research, and sat meekly through meetings and conferences. She says “the most technical thing I did was to work with the English translation team.” The law firm she interned with specialises in international company law, so has numerous clients from Western nations. Luxi explains that “What the companies mostly wanted was to set up business within China, so the law firm generally was the go-between – between Chinese officials and the Chinese system, and that of the company who wanted to set up their business.” China’s dubious-at-best corporate ethics record would suggest that this would be a scandalous area of work indeed, but Luxi says “Something quite fascinating that one partner said, is that he got into corporate law because it was the ‘cleaner’ area of law … systems in China can be quite corrupt – Judges can be bribed and such.” She says that corporate law, by comparison, is more removed from the corruption of courtrooms, and more grounded in bureaucratic systems. Nevertheless, she hints that there were one or two juicy cases she is not at liberty to discuss. Luxi’s 6am till 6pm daily commute and work routine left her few hours to spare, but, ever the shopaholic, she managed to find some time to explore the markets and mega-malls of the frozen city in hopes of finding the perfect high heels to fit her high-powered surroundings. While her Law lecturers may not mark her up for her shoes, or her ability to discuss legal material in Mandarin, she is glad to have gained something of an insight into her future career, which she intends to carry out somewhere slightly warmer than Beijing in winter. Check out www.critic.co.nz to read Luxi’s web-column “Brave New Beijing” for more insight and intrigue into life, law, and fashion in China’s capital city.
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N CS P R I STA O T I P POLOTT SC
1-2-3 Transfer Taylor Harrington
studied at Otago for four years: met cool people, went skiing every year, achieved first-name-basis status at Blue Sky. But after four years, it got old. So, I decided that instead of returning to the deep south, I’d finish off my Commerce degree at home in Auckland. I’d heard it was hard to transfer, but people are sooks, with complicated requests – and shit marks. I was better than that. How naïve I was. What I encountered was a clusterfuck of bureaucracy and frustration that has seen my downward spiral into a daytime television addict and nervous eater. Foolishly confident, I ignored the early warning signs: the girl crying in the transfer office clutching a Canterbury University transcript; the laughter that greeted the word ‘transfer’. After all, the receptionist at the department was friendly. Mindy, we’ll call her. Way nice. She gave me a brochure. It was going to be easy. All I had to do was send a bunch of emails around. But, Mindy, I hate emailing people - I’ll just call them instead. “Sorry, that is not possible.” But why? “We’ve done away with the phone system for staff. It’s more efficient this way.” Apparently, phoning someone is so 2009. When it came to organising the required papers and credits, nobody appeared to know anything. Mindy didn’t. The lecturers didn’t. Friends didn’t. I tried everywhere. Everyone. It took a whole month. I spent the first month of 2010 tanning in the effervescent glow of my computer screen. My favourite month, gone. Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day (January 22) found me sleeping outside a lecturer’s office, only to miss his arrival – and departure. My yearly celebration of International Scrapbooking Week (January 11-18) went unmarked. Transferring had turned into a full-time job, underpaid, with no chance of promotion. I have newfound respect for the simplicity of the Otago University website. At least you can find paper listings! But look. It wasn’t all that bad. There have been positives. I’ve expanded my mind. I discovered the exciting sequel to the cult Magic Bullet infomercial - the ‘Magic Bullet To Go’. The most exciting part, for fans of the original colourful cast, is that not only are Berman and Hazel the chain-smoking sceptic back, but... brace yourself... they hook up! The scripted dialogue sees the characters camping in the woods, with Hazel’s unexpected and uninvited morning emergence from Berman’s tent shocking everyone. So why wasn’t Hazel invited in the first place and how did she appear? Personally, I suspect that Mick and Mimi got sick of Hazel ruining their parties with her cigarette smoke and uncomfortable non-sequiturs. Maybe they took Hazel with them on the drive to the forest, but as soon as she passed out from those Magic Bullet margaritas (very quickly) they dumped her body in some remote ditch and set up camp several miles away - kind of like abandoning a family dog in the woods. Classic. But like any good canine, Hazel the hooch-hound was able to track them down to later emerge hungover from the tent. Mick and Mimi, seeing their scheme foiled, make her banana and pecan pancakes with the Magic Bullet To Go. In 1-2-3 seconds. Can you now appreciate what this process has done to me? This is the memory of my summer. Look at what I have become! For those new to Otago this year and those returning – enjoy yourselves. Be kind to one another. Talk to your lecturers. Call them, even. Embrace the website. Wallow in the natural light. Because if you ever decide you’ve had enough – it’s the little things you’ll miss. No idea what Taylor is talking about? Watch the Magic Bullet to Go infomercial on our Facebook page, which you can find by searching ‘Critic – Te Arohi’.
t’s a truth that has stood the test of time: our lives are structured by a bunch of people who love to jerk themselves off with the invisible hand. Hence the appropriateness of the phrase ‘trickle down.’ We now know that trickle down is myth, as is trickle sideways. Those with capital like to throw trickle parties sometimes, but what’s the point of a fridge full of Moët if the bastard nanny state won’t let you drive home after a few glasses? These wankers (probably nice people, just staying true to the metaphor) have their eyes trained on the consumer whore. Nothing pleases them more than when she puts out. Now whoever/ whatever you want to do is fine with me. What’s not fine is when economic horndogs get drunk on beautiful mathematic formulas and we all have to wear the same beer goggles. Nation states are fixated on measuring Gross Domestic Product as if it were the primary indicator of a country’s health. Focusing on GDP encourages us to pay attention to spending. And some transactions are great: $50 spent at ReFuel can be a beautiful thing. But replacing that $50 side-mirror you broke on the way home is not so hot. If you burn down a school, causing a flurry of economic activity on goods and services, it’s good for GDP so long as the balance is greater than the usual cost of running the school. Burn down the same school while kids are in it: also good for GDP. GDP doesn’t measure human cost. Burn down a forest: not measured. GDP doesn’t measure environmental cost. If you build an electrified fence around your house and pay for armed security guards because you’re on top of an economic pyramid in which everyone else is dirt-poor and desperate … figure it out. Some countries distinguish GDP from what the average person actually cares about. Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness. European Quality of Life studies measure life satisfaction. Check out “Genuine Progress Indicator” on Wikipedia for some guilt-free procrastination. In contrast, our media’s head is up the arse of any politician who increases ‘growth’. As the Guardian’s George Monbiot put it: “governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose ... the madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.”
ohn Key has recently been getting flack for suggesting that some students are taking advantage of the generosity of the taxpayer. The reaction has been a little over-the-top, and his statements framed as an attack on students. Most students do work hard, and some deserve more support than they get. But there are also those who see tertiary education as a way to mess around on someone else’s chequebook. Masses of students are about to arrive at university this week, many away from home for the first time. Are they all here to study and better themselves, their education, and their job prospects, or have some have come to escape home, avoid responsibility, and run riot? Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but it does become a problem when you call on the generosity of the wider public, via the government, to fund it. Some of the less focused will pick up their act after the first year; however, some will drop out, continue to fail, and waste space and money. Seeing the student living allowance as a subsistence benefit is problematic. Supporting a student costs the Government a lot. They are also paying for tuition costs (more than the amount loaned, as there is already a significant subsidy for NZ students). That is money that could be used to fund tertiary education in other ways than paying the course costs of failures. Targeting money to students who want to learn and will increase the intellectual capital of New Zealand should be the aim of supporting students. Providing funding for research and education will increase our national knowledge and create a ‘smart economy’. Throwing it down a black hole to allow anyone to scrape through for as long as they want is a waste. Before anyone calls for substantial living allowance for all, those who would get it need to be seriously reconsidered. Many deserve it, but some are draining the universities, the taxpayers and our reputations as students. There should be no concern at cutting off those who are unwilling to make the most of what they get and put in some effort themselves. True open entry to tertiary education does not require funding those who will not try. Giving everyone a chance to have a go is important. But letting the lazy few borrow indefinitely is not going to help anyone.
The debate as to whether or not pornography conflicts with feminist ideals is hotly contested. Will Cheyne takes the view that it does, as pornography alters the way women are perceived by society and the expectations placed upon them. Louis Chambers disagrees, arguing that feminism is about choice, and that includes a woman’s right to choose her own lifestyle preferences.
Interested in getting involved in debating yourself? The Otago University Debating Society meets in Commerce 2.20 every Tuesday 34 night at 7pm.
Louis: To say that pornography is an affront to feminism is to completely ignore the rights of participants and viewers to make free choices. Indeed, fifty or so years ago arguments like Will’s were used to justify banning pornography altogether. There were good reasons some women campaigned for the legalisation of pornography then, and those good reasons remain today. Firstly, if feminism is all about choice, then what about the rights of women to choose their occupation? Pornography is a lifestyle choice that many women enjoy. Women who choose to do Playboy covers, or spend their lives filming hardcore porn movies, are not forced into this decision. If we really believe in feminism and the freedom of women to choose, then we should respect women who decide, for whatever reason, that a life working in pornography is for them. But more importantly, what about the viewers of pornography? It is commonly thought that all pornography is sleazy old men sitting at their computer screens watching dirty videos of men dominating women. The reality is far different (not speaking from personal experience, of course). Porn today is diverse, and is watched by men and women. Again, if feminism is about choice, then a woman’s decision to watch it should be recognised and respected. Even when the viewers are male, it is wrong to assume the pornography is oppressive to women. Much pornography shows loving couples together, and if anything this teaches men to show more respect, not less, in the bedroom. Of course, there is porn that is incredibly degrading to women, and I agree with Will’s opposition to this. However, this does not mean that pornography as a whole is degrading to women. The industry is diverse. Many women choose to take part in the production of pornography, and many women take pleasure in watching it. And it is an industry that, on balance, empowers rather than undermines women.
Is po rnog affro raph y an nt to femin ism?
Will: In today’s increasingly diverse and modern culture, I think the most apt definition of feminism must be one of freedom: freedom from both judgment and prejudice. Feminism is about women being free to choose how they are perceived by society. The liberalminded amongst us may argue that we should be free to express ourselves; free to act as we wish without any control on our behaviour. They may argue that pornography is a method of self-expression. But the reality is that in order to have freedom of expression we must be free from prejudice, and free from societal pressures and constraints. In this case, the reality is that pornography affects the way that women are viewed within society and thus is at conflict with feminism itself. It is perfectly natural that men and women are sexually curious. However, what the porn industry seeks to do is to shape this sexual curiosity. It is a perfectly logical, economic step for porn producers to capture pure, young, intense sexual desire and shape it into something somewhat distant and fictional; to shape desire into something difficult to find in the real world. By doing this, the producers of porn protect their market. However, what they also do is create an expectation surrounding the nature of sex that does not align with what reality may deliver. I am not attempting to stereotype porn, say that it is all degrading to women, or to deny that some women may find it liberating to appear in pornography or fulfill the expectation it has created. I am simply saying that by its very nature, porn creates an expectation. It is this expectation that is an affront to the notion that women should be free to determine how society perceives them; it is this expectation that is an affront to feminism.
Scott Stapp The Great Divide 2005, Wind-up records
istory, they say, is written by the winners, and this is no less true in the world of popular music. Albums by million-selling artists like Michael Jackson and U2 stick in the popular consciousness like thorns, while those that aren't so lucky are tossed away like yesterday's newspaper. But why are some albums idolised while others are relegated to clearance bins and second-hand record sales, or abandoned in the street? Why are some truly pioneering, meaningful records forgotten, while the Radioheads of this world are heaped with undeserved critical praise? I have taken it upon myself to undo this great injustice and take a look at these ignored gems: the albums the world forgot. No album embodies the fickle nature of public taste more than Scott Stapp's lone solo album The Great Divide, a daring work from a much-loved artist that was perhaps too complex for its own good. The title alone has multiple interpretations: is it a reference to the shocking break-up of Stapp’s former band (seminal hard-rock act Creed), or the divide between this earthly world and the next? Could it even be alluding to the metaphorical distance between the performer and his audience? Clearly, this is a multi-layered work. Freed from the constraints of his former band, Stapp found the perfect medium for his undeniably charismatic vocal style in The Great Divide. He is in fine form throughout, his powerful delivery perfecting the uneven angst of early grunge artist Kurt Cobain. "This is my fight song!" he declares in aggressive rocker ‘Fight Song’, and you can’t help but believe that it’s true. There are lighter moments to be found on the album too: "Keep hoping and dreaming and you … will soar!" he sings on moving ballad ‘You Will Soar’. One could almost imagine that Stapp is singing to himself, convincing himself that yes, he can make it without his talented former band-mates. Ultimately, though, it seems that ‘the great divide’ was one between Stapp's unconventional vision and the public's expectations. Creed fans were not prepared for Stapp's confrontational style and The Great Divide was left to languish in The Warehouse's bargain bin, “priced to clear” at $2.97. "Do you know what it feels like to be broken and used?" Stapp sings in album closer ‘Broken’. No, Scott, but I imagine that it doesn’t feel so great. Stuart Dangerfield is a music critic who has been writing for various publications since 1974.
ou can tell the ODT is salivating now that the students are back. They handed over a whole page to yoof reporter Ellie Constantine every day last week, where she could report the latest from the frontlines of Orientation. “Maybe if we cover them, they’ll read our paper,” is obviously the group-think in the upper echelons of Allied Press. They are, of course, wrong. Constantine starts off the week by interviewing a very stern-looking policeman. Makes sense. Students are a-coming. This is scary. How will the city defend itself? Totally legitimate question. The police will be working with “other agencies” to target anti-social student behaviour. “Engage the brain or experience the pain,” the angry policeman says. If you fuck up we will fuck up your future career, is the general gist of what they’re trying to say here. The local liquor licensing officer will be keeping an eye out to make sure local businesses are observing the liquor laws. I guess it is nice to know that he is doing his job. Thanks, Ellie! Also on day one: a flat in Dundas Street was “confident they’ll have a good time” during O-Week. And to top it all off – we got to see down the Events team’s tops! Day two was no better, though festivities did make the front page! Well, mainly thanks to some jock with his arse out. “What a cheek!” Indeed. Included in the coverage were the pros and cons of living in a Hall or going flatting. Constantine’s first mistake: she interviewed a couple of sooks from St Margaret’s. The big revelation: “Flatting offered ‘slightly cheaper’ accommodation and ‘more independence’.” No shit. In a fascinating ‘slice-of-life’ interview with the Salvation Army, it was discovered that you can buy cheaper shit there than if you were to buy something new. Drawers which cost $299 new are only $15-$80. Key. Then she went round town talking to other people who sell second-hand furniture. Turns out – students like to buy furniture when they arrive at the start of the year. On day three, things got really bad. Advice started to be dolled out. “Make meals a social occasion,” one headline suggested, taking all the wind out of the sails of the article below by covering the whole thing in a sentence. Also, if you drink lots of beer and gorge on Hall food, you will get fat. Five kilograms fatter, to be exact. This is bad. Don’t let this happen. Then they chucked in a few recipes, a photo of freshers at sports day, and some poor guy they had obviously sprung drinking from a water fountain – “keeping his fluids up.” Oh and there was a big photo of freshers from Studholme walking peacefully to the Toga Party. Boring. But there were “isolated reports” of people throwing eggs! Rebels. We stopped reading after that.
irst point of the year, and hopefully a fairly obvious one: media can be pretty dangerous when abused. Read Orwell’s 1984? That’s the worst of it. Will copious helpings of Project Runway, Desperate Housewives, and According to Jim get us there? I hope not, but maybe we do need to think about what we’re watching a little bit. Does Brad want Jen back? (I hear those two might get bi-zay ‘according to a close friend’.) Probably not, but why, at the pit of our brains, do we care in the least? And more importantly what do we forget about because of these stories? (Think of 3 News’ relentless coverage of America’s Next Top Model, for instance – transparent shilling for a show broadcast on their network, sure, but what actual news was cast aside to make room for it?) Hmm – that sounds boring, you say? First of all ... ouch. Second: I’m not exactly a professor sipping conservatively from a brandy glass, wearing a tweed jacket and surreptitiously hitting on undergraduates. I promise I’m not going to include pages of tables analysing media saturation, I won’t quote Oliver Boyd Barrett, and I won’t bash Rupert Murdoch every chance I get just because I don’t have anything to talk about, although I would consider hurling an urchin or echidna if I saw his demagogic mouthpiece Bill O’Reilly in the street (If you haven’t seen him losing it during the lead-up to Inside Edition yet, please refer to YouTube). These are things that I’ll leave for academia, because in reality I’m just sick of sitting in front of the television wondering why the hell I have to choose between three channels on a Monday night – all of which are broadcasting poorly-written crime-drama programmes with squinting, sunglass-wearing, Bono-style jackasses tracking down murderous rich-kids, goths, or other un-tapped subcultures (*exhale*). So, over the coming months, I’m basically going to pay out all the wonderful things that television and the news brings us: Extreme Makeover Home Edition’s trend of exploiting sick people for ratings; the ‘War on Drugs’ in the 21st Century; and the way in which international and local new systems report everything from Destiny’s Church and atheists to Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. So, if you’re ever concerned about what we don’t get told; if you love laughing at vacuous pundits when they swear on television; and if you ever wonder why we always have a ‘squirrel waterskiing story’ at the end of the news, keep reading.
Girl: A kind friend recently told me “you make being single look enviable.” I was suitably flattered, but while I do enjoy the self-indulgence that single life affords, there are always those balmy afternoons when I get the classic tune ‘Afternoon Delight’ stuck in my head. And then I feel wistful, and melancholic. Annoying traits no one wants around, least of all when they’re mixed with ‘horny.’ My problem isn’t a lack of beautiful, smart young men – my life is full to overflowing with them – rather, the problem is that these men are close friends’ exes and exes’ close friends, making them unavailable. I don’t mean ethically unavailable (in a town this small you can’t be too precious), I just have the ‘problem’ that once a friend has been seeing someone for a while, telling me about the good and bad times and going through the lengthy break-up, the guy – no matter how dishy he might have seemed before – now holds the sex appeal of a Wiggle. In other words, he has been castrated. Freud was right all along. Boy: So, what’s a boy to do? After months of embracing the sort of debauched lifestyle usually confined to one’s late teens, my single life hit a wall when I found myself actually sober in Metro, dancing by myself to Cyndi Lauper’s pop hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. And like a girl, I had heaps of fun. Innocent fun. A week later, word was out on the street that I’d hooked up with my little sister’s best friend from primary school; an incredibly guiltless night took a turn for the worse as the rumour mill went into fantasyland. Newsflash: This is Dunedin. There is no Exit. We thought we’d kick off the column early with a night between Mou bar, Bath St, Metro, 10 Bar, Pop and Copa. Why? Because Boy wanted to get laid and Girl needed to finish this column for the deadline. What did we find? A barren wasteland that even our finelytuned sense of irony couldn’t fuck. Though there were some stand-outs: the guy with the busted eyebrow who had been in a fight with – and we quote – a “fuckin’ nigger” reeked of multicultural sensibility, a junior Edward Cullen wannabe who gave Girl a lewd wink and then shuffled awkwardly to Robbie Williams Rock DJ – Ladies, where were you? Oh that’s right, you were sprawled out, legs in the air, halfway down Bath St. Thursday must be your night off. Where do these people come from? University. Coming up … Orientation!
Fun Things to Do While at a Hall of Residence The start of your first year at uni can be a little scary, so here are some fun things you can do while settling into your new home. They will also help you prepare for life as a Scarfie.
Minefield: This game requires you (and some friends) to sit in the corner of your room facing the wall, but opposite to the door. Get stuck into a 12- pack and, as you finish the bottles, toss them backwards over your head as hard as you can. When you’ve all finished, turn around and try to leave. You’ll then see why it’s call Minefield! Fucking Scarfie as bro! Bonus points: no footwear allowed.
Room Reverse: While not the most original thing to do, this remains a classic prank. Choose your target, get your hands on their bed, drawers, wardrobe, and everything touching the floor, and tie it all to the ceiling. The recipient of this prank will come home (ideally after a night out) to find their room empty until they look up to find their belongings entangled in an intricate web on the ceiling. It’s like walking into the lair of that spider from Lord of the Rings, except that instead of Frodo dangling from the ceiling – it’s all your shit. Bonus points: put a shitload of glitter on everything you hang up.
Room Swap: Another oldie, but a goodie, and it’s as simple as it sounds. Swap one person’s room with another. And by swap I don’t just mean grab everything out of one room and throw it in the other. That’s not funny. I mean meticulously recreate each person’s room in the other’s space, with every item arranged just as it was originally. This is a winner because when both people arrive home (assuming you’ve only been staying at the Hall for a short amount of time) their extreme confusion will be hilarious. Bonus points: cover every single item in newspaper.
Hermits: This game requires a 12-pack and a bucket. No electronic devices are allowed. Participants get in their wardrobe, and don’t come out until they’ve finished the 12-pack. Bonus points: do it in someone else’s wardrobe. Naked.
Sand Castles: Nothing says “Welcome home!” like a quartertonne of sand piled in your room. If you’re going to do this, don’t be a fuckwit, and make sure you put some plastic down first. Other than that, everything is free game. Chuck a bit of sand in their drawers just for the hell of it. Bonus points: sand storm – close the door and use a leaf blower for five minutes.
fine by me
ine dining isn’t really something students get to experience all that often. However, due to generous dinner offers from other parties – parents, in-laws and the Japanese Government (really) – I’ve recently found myself eating some pretty flashy meals. It turns out that the south of the South Island has its fair share of top-shelf eateries. So, if your folks are visiting and feeling generous, here’s a rundown of places you might like to suggest. Starting locally, Plato (2 Birch St, Dunedin) is the seafood hotspot in town, serving everything from Goan fish curry to whitebait fritters. Have your fish fillets pan-fried in kelp or citrus crust, or maybe with capsicum chilli jam. Fish not your thing? Then how about chargrilled eye fillet in a red wine jus, or pork medallions on bean purée with mustard cream sauce? Vegetarians, so often overlooked, can enjoy Portobello mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta stacked on polenta. All this plus the best collection of teapots you’ll ever see! Further up the coast, Fleurs Place (The Old Jetty, Moeraki) has been causing a stir ever since celebrity fish-meister Rick Stein graced its doors. It’s pretty busy so book way ahead, and be prepared to vacate your table after two hours to make way for the next booking. This place is all about rustic charm and good seafood, including what two members of our party rated as the best chowder they’d ever tasted. Caution – the huge mains mean you may not need that entrée you were eyeballing. Warning should also go out to vegetarians, as the meat/fish-free option they suggested was a bit of a mess (there’s roasting vegetables and then there’s cremating them). If you’re up for a road trip to Central, then Arrowtown’s Saffron (18 Buckingham St, Arrowtown) is probably the swankiest place you can stop for dinner. The prices are indicative of a place that is a four-time finalist for Cuisine’s Restaurant of the Year award, but then so is the menu – soft-shell crab on kumara and fennel remoulade, anyone? Again, book ahead. I think the most impressive thing about this place was being served an amusebouche (basically a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre – in our case a Bloody Mary shot encased in jelly). I’d never had an amuse-bouche before, and for a minute there I felt like a judge on Masterchef. Definitely the least impressive thing was finding a hair in my pasta. Kudos for the variety of veggie options, though. Also in Central, special mention has to go out to Wanaka’s White House (33 Dunmore St, Wanaka). This art deco hideaway is purposefully kept low-key, and doesn’t have (or crave, probably) any of the exposure associated with other restaurants mentioned above. For all this, the food here impressed me more than anywhere else on this list. Highlights included a halloumi and beetroot salad, and some incredibly tender venison on a bed of puréed vegetables. Pretty much all diets are catered for, and the intimate setting makes for a near-perfect evening out.
ello and welcome to Dunedin for the 2010 academic year. For those of you returning, it is good to have you back! Dunedin has been pretty quiet without you. For those here for the first time, I really hope you are enjoying yourselves and getting amongst everything Dunedin has to offer. So far, OUSA Orientation 2010 has been a great success. With a trouble-free Toga Party and a whole host of great events on, O-Week has been a great way to cut loose and have fun before settling in to University life. As the voice of Otago students to the University and the public, what has been a bit of a challenge is media coverage of Dunedin students. It is a continual frustration of mine that we are constantly under the microscope. Every time there is one little incident, 2007 Undie footage is shown once again. Where are the cameras at graduation parades? Where were the cameras at the Master’s Games, where a huge amount of senior cits were getting rowdy to rival those on Hyde St on our Union Lawn? Being the link between students and the wider community, in the short time I have been in office I have found myself in an interesting position on numerous occasions. It is proving quite difficult to find the balance between representing students who like to drink, and being urged to be a leader in social change by the wider community. None of us are proud of the attention we have received around Undie 500 over the years, and we are all aware that drinking can lead to anti-social and harmful behavior. But just ask any of my friends – I’m hardly one to advocate for abstaining from alcohol. Just as I have to juggle trying to minimise the harm caused by drinking to excess without being just like your parents, students (particularly in their first year) quickly learn that finding a balance between having a good time drinking and spending a night with your head in the toilet bowl can be a challenge. Finding that balance is a big part of Otago University life, and I love the ‘work hard play hard’ attitude many of us successfully embody. For those having trouble, the OUSA Student Support Centre is a great place to start if you want some advice. As for me, I am YOUR representative and I would love to hear what you think on how I can best represent your views. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come and chat to me any time.
gã mihi mahana kia koutou, Nau mai haere mai, hoki mai rãnei ki Otepoti, ki to mãtou Whare Wãnanga papai rawãtu, ã, Te Whare Wãnaga o Otãkou. Kia koutou ngã tauira hou, nau mai haere mai ki tõ turanga hou, tõ kainga. Nei te timatanga o tetahi wãhanga hou o tõ huarahi koiora, ko te hiahia he timatanga pai. Ko wai mãtou TRM, ã, Te Roopu Mãori rãnei? Ko mãtou tetahi whãnau tauira i roto i te whare wãnanga. Nõ konei, no kora tãtou koutou engari ki konei he whãnau kotahi tãtou i raro i te Mana Mãori, te Mãoritanga me te mãtauranga Mãori. Na koutou, ka tu tãtou Te Roopu Mãori. Hey guys, Welcome to The University of Otago and your new home – the coastal paradise of Dunedin, Otago. For many of you, this is the beginning of a new chapter in your lives and may it be as pleasant as possible. Hopefully you guys had a safe O-Week and are ready to get into your first official week of lectures. Who are we, TRM, Te Roopu Mãori? We are the Mãori Students Association, run by Mãori students for Mãori Students to form your student body whãnau (family) right here on campus. Our main aims are to support Mãori students in their transition from secondary school into tertiary education, to represent Mãori students’ interests within the University, and to promote whãnaungatanga on campus both culturally and socially. Currently there are four active Te Rito (Mãori student executive) members. Over the next four weeks, they will introduce themselves to you guys through Critic and no doubt in person. They are: Fallyn Flavell (Flynn) - Tumuaki / President Jared Mathieson (J’rad) - Kai Tiaki Putea / Treasurer Heramaahina Eketone (Heramaa) - Kai Tuhi / Secretary Rimutere Wharakura (Teme) - Kaiwhakahaere / General Exec Member We hold various events throughout the year, such as: Māori O-Week (which I hope you all participated in); social sports teams; Te Hokai the Mãori Ball, with a kai not finger foods; Te Huinga Tauira – four days spent with other Mãori student associations from Whangarei to Invercargill; Kapa Haka; and much more. However, if you have any suggestions for other events, please contact us or even better come in to the whare and see us. Weíre located at the St David end of Castle St, 527 to be exact, and can be identified by the big tree outside and a red door. I'm looking forward to a huge 2010, meeting many new faces and making new memories. Ma te atua me tãtou Te Roopu Mãori e manaaki e tiaki i a tãtou katoa.
Haven’t heard this before… Dear Critic, I just went for lunch in the link and all the outlets has put EVERYTHING up by 50 cents. (like with a marker pen they’ve crossed out all the prices and changed them in a really indiscreet way). It’s just getting ridiculous! How much more can they charge!? Squelchy bean
Or this… Dear First Year, Firstly, no I never looked/acted/behaved like you do now. You make me sick. Secondly, you were clearly lost last weekend. I can almost undersand that. Stupid - but I almost understand. For future reference your area is clearly marked out as being Cook, South and (shudder) Monkey Bar. You have absolutely no business venturing south of there. If I see you in the Octagon this weekend I will be less than impressed. How the fuck di you find it anyway?
infinity?” DJ: “sorry, we don’t play anything with words.” Umm first of all wtf, second if you knew anything about music you would know that the Klaus non-vocal remix has no words tosser!
people who aren’t middle aged but probably should be. A little known fact about Ceroc: it was originally invented in Bangladesh in order to help monkeys gain motor-neuron skills. It’s not even a real dance.
No hate mails please, Sir Rock
Sorry. Don’t see it. Dear Ben, I hope you are gearing up for a really critical (yes, I know you saw what I did there) year, with no more of the Mr Nice-Guy crap. I wan to read about about scandals inflated above and beyond their initial scope, and cruel, heartless jokes about anyone I don’t like. I want feature articles that offend, and reviews of music, film and art that are snarky for no reason other than the reviewer was in a bad mood when he or she wrote the piece. Oh, and when it comes to proof-reading, I’d like apostrophes sprinkled to taste. I hope my eyes bleed next week, Scandalmonger
Or this… Hi, I heard this is the place to write if you’re pissed off. WTF is up with the food at UniCol. So fucking gross. It is fucking disgusting and is NOT what it was like when my brother was here. Can you please write a story about it or something? Isn’t that what you guys do? My brother said to get in touch, anyway. Thanks, Picky Eater
This, however is new… Why are town DJs so shit at playing music requests? They act like muso snobs all the time half of them don’t even mix their own stuff, they play pre-prepared mixes so that when someone comes up with a totally legit request like Black Box or Telephone they look at you all unimpressed as if you’re a twat fresher but really it’s because they can’t slot it in between their crappy ITunes playlist. Have considered even taking USB to town, the situation is getting critical. Me last year: “can you play 42
Hahaha, So true man. that is funny. Dear Palmy: Hahhahahhahahaahahahahahahahhaa. You suck so much.
PFFT YOU SOUND LIKE HEART Dear OUSA, Props on the bag of loot this year! Two edibles, one drinkable, and only half a rubbish bag of glossy advertising crap. Look, I get that advertising=money=cool stuff for us, but most of them weren’t even coupons! Captain Planet disapproves, and even I am caught between my stereotypical student scroogishness and tidy-Kiwi background. Yours, Greenbean
yeah, do shut up Dear Mr Critic Editor, Why was there Ceroc at the tent city? I hate Ceroc. I hate it so much. I hate it even more when it’s put to a gratuitously loud techno hip hop soundtrack and performed by
agreed it is outrageous Dear Critic, I had intended to write a letter lampooning the lackadaisical Westpac marketing campaign, but it’s hard to ridicule something that has surrendered so much of its dignity willingly. They have seemingly taken a three pronged approach to disaster, firstly employing the use of ‘txt lnguge’, a laughable attempt to connect with the ‘youth of today’. Secondly the inexplicable ‘westie pac’ angle, as though once someone thought of the wordplay, it simply had to be used. Finally there is the crossing out and re-writing the same sentence, but in a trendier way. Come on. Just get it right the first time. Of course, despite their repeated attempts to drive me away, I won’t be bothered shifting to another bank. I’ve already got all my numbers memorized. It would be nice, however, if they showed some self respect and changed things up. Maybe get a majestic animal as a mascot or a lovable but inept chap to introduce us to their banking through his various professional gaffs. Sincerely, Valued Westpac Customer
this better not start a trend... Dear editor, Young Labour has grave concerns about the future for youth in New Zealand following today’s news that ACT MP Roger Douglas’ members bill to reintroduce youth rates has been drawn and will be debated in Parliament. Quite frankly, young people are going to get Rogered! The deceitfully titled Minimum Wage (Mitigation of Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill will seek to put in place discriminatory wages for young people, changing the minimum wage for young people under 18, which will see youth being paid less for the same work as their
older colleagues. Young Labour takes a different stance to Douglas’ outdated and disproved far-right rhetoric and thinks that lowering wages is not an acceptable way of dealing with an unemployment crisis. What young kiwis need is a solid plan to grow the economy and more to opportunities to up-skill, not a far-right bill that aims to see young people doing work of the same value, but getting paid less purely because of their age. The current Government was elected with a stated aim of closing the wage gap with Australia, where the minimum wage is over NZ$17. Supporting Douglas’ bill will do the exact opposite of that, and will only serve to create further inequalities and social problems which disproportionately affect youth in this country. Yours, Patrick Leyland President Young Labour Awww, you guuys! Dear Critic, Production nights are tough. The long hours in the office, with only your designer and a bottle of whiskey to keep you company. Having a good playlist certainly helps deal with the stresses and strains of making a magazine. Salient recommends you add this fine song by Eve to your production night playlist, preferably on high rotate. Seriously. I Got What You Need So tell me what you need I Got What You Need So tell me what you need Tell me what you need I Got What You Need Tell me what you need I Got What You Need Now - ladies, ladies, ladies, ladies Ladies, ladies, ladies Ladies, ladies, ladies Thanks Eve. We even know the words off by heart. No, we don’t get it either. Love, Salient.
Now that is just too cute Dear Editor, Last week I was crossing George Street and was nearly bowled right over by this monstrously large truck. But a strapping young chap came running over and pulled me back right in the nick of time. I would just like to publicly say thank you again to the young man, who I am quite sure saved my life. I would also like to bake him a cake for his flat. The man, who one can assume is a student, did not give me his name, however. He strolled along on his merry way. If perhaps, he could contact this publication and then get my details, which I ask not to be published. Thank you sir, Mary
You make a good point Dear Ed, So is Hurricane Katrina officially over now that the Saints have won the Superbowl? Carles
Ew. Dear Editor, Can you please publish the following: That babe from Monkey Bar last Saturday. Yeah, I noticed you, noticing me noticing you. This Saturday I’ll be out front at exactly 1am. Look forward to getting your number Big D
LETTERS POLICY Letters should be 200 words or less. The deadline is Tuesday at 5pm. Get them to us by putting them in the mailbox under the Union stairs, emailing us at critic@critic. co.nz, or posting them to us at PO Box 1436, Dunedin. All letters must include full contact details (name, street address and phone number), even if you don’t want these details printed. Letters of a serious nature addressing a specific group or individual will not be published under a pseudonym, except in extraordinary circumstances as negotiated with the Editor. Critic reserves the right to edit, abridge, or decline letters without explanation. We don’t fix the spelling or grammar in letters. If the letter writer looks stupid, it’s because they are.
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AHT? LTT? WTF? Allen Hall Theatre (AHT) is a working theatre located right in the centre of campus, opposite the entrance to UniCol. It has long been a place where students and lecturers alike can create and perform any kind of theatre imaginable. It is recognised as an all-year Fringe venue and it is the most active theatre in town. AHT is the place you to go to see Lunchtime Thatre (LTT). Every Thursday and Friday there is a different lunchtime performance, and student tickets cost only $3. For 40 minutes of theatre that is only 0.125 cents a second! Total bargain. For your weekly dose of culture, catch the LTT at AHT and then read Criticâ€™s review the following Monday. My Name is Rachel Corrie Directed by Stuart Young Starring Nadya Shaw Bennett Allen Hall Theatre March 3 â€“ 6 at 7.30pm, Sunday March 7 at 4pm
Play Written by Samuel Beckett Directed by Benjamin Blakely Allen Hall Lunchtime Theatre March 4 and 5, 1pm
Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie and edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, this piece of documentary theatre, directed by the head of the Theatre Studies department and starring a recent graduate of the Theatre Studies Honours programme, puts on stage the true story of a political activist working for the International Solidarity Movement in support of the Palestinian people. This young woman was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while fighting for the rights of others. Her name was Rachel Corrie. My Name is Rachel Corrie is going to be one incredible piece of theatre; I give you my personal guarantee.
A man, a wife, and his mistress individually reflect on their love triangle from the confines of three urns. They are interrogated in a never-ending cycle until they are shadows of their former selves. How much longer they can relive the experience? Like a train ride through the ashen underground, Play is Beckett at his best.
T The Wasp Factory Author: Iain Banks Publisher: Abacus
he Wasp Factory is the kind of book that publishers love. It’s weird enough to be lumped into that bracket of ‘Modern Classics’, along with books like The Crying of Lot 49, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, and other oblique, semi-mysterious titles from the ‘80s, but it is simpler than both of them. The author has gone on to write lots of simpler, more bookstore-friendly works, and all of them, in one way or another, hark back to this first, iconic work. Basically, The Wasp Factory is strange and violent – there was a booming market for such books in 1984, when the novel appeared – a story about a young boy living somewhere in rural Britain, torturing animals and wondering whether he isn’t, in fact, a woman. It was Banks’ first fictional outing and inspired a gamut of responses, ranging from the “This guy is a fucking genius,” angle to “This guy is a sick fucking genius,” to “This guy is just plain weird.” Reading it now, I vacillate between “This guy is just trying to shock me,” and “This guy never wrote anything so good again.” In fact, Banks’ science fiction is better than this; at least his early stuff is. I can see where the sci-fi comes from, though: Banks’ imagination is second to none. There is a sense of ease to his writing, even effortlessness, that turns in his later work to laziness. But here, in his first novel, Banks is trying to impress. The scene with the dead baby is perhaps one of the most horrific in modern literature, and although Banks tries, he never quite outdoes himself in the terror stakes in any subsequent work. In short, The Wasp Factory is a good place to start and finish with Iain Banks. That said, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games are some of the best science fiction novels written in the last 30 years.
T The Death of a Mafia Don Author: Michele Giuttari Translator: Howard Curtis Publisher: Abacus
he Death of a Mafia Don centres on the investigation of a series of attacks and murders for which the Mafia appear to be responsible. As the investigation unravels, with every new lead or suspect, a corresponding Mafioso corpse is found. Despite the evidence, a Muslim reporter, Ahmad Farah, relentlessly pursues his own suspicions that the Taliban is somehow involved. As it turns out, an elusive new mastermind dubbed the Lion may be planning more than just a takeover of the Sicilian Mafia. I cannot decide whether to blame the insipidity of this book on the author or the translator. That said, something was definitely lost in translation. The writing was often awkward and plain, but what struck me immediately was how poorly and directly the dialogue had been translated. I simply could not get the sound of heavily-Italian-accented English from every Mafia movie I have ever watched out of my head. While I love listening to Italians speaking Italian (so much passion!), on paper, in English, it’s just jarring and annoying. Still, the translator could only work with what he was given. The story line is convoluted and uninteresting and I had to force myself to finish it. There were far too many superfluous characters and distracting, intertwining plots, which made for messy storytelling. So many that by the end of the novel, I had forgotten how the story evolved as there was no clear connection to the main plot. The idea of the Mafia doing business with the Taliban with government agencies puppeteering the dealings, however, was intriguing. If Giutarri had developed the back story of that plot a little more and focused a little less on the mood swings of his protagonist Ferrara, perhaps this book would have been a more worthwhile read.
I The BIBLE Author: Various Publisher: Abacus Part 1 of 2 Stay tuned for the rating next week
t’s been translated into 438 languages, including Cockney Rhyming Slang and Klingon. In contrast, the Harry Potter books have been translated into 67, and neither Cockney Rhyming Slang nor Klingon is on that list. No one knows how many copies of it have been sold, but estimates exceed six billion. Harry Potter has a long way to go, with only 400 million copies; then again, the Bible did have a 1 600 year head start. At any rate, you get the picture: the Bible’s everywhere. With this in mind, is a review really necessary? I think so, for two reasons: (a) biblical literacy is alarmingly poor, even among Christians; and (b) it’s a really important book (or more accurately, like Harry Potter – last Potter reference, I promise – collection of books). The Bible is important for several reasons, not least because almost a third of world considers it to be authoritative in some way. We’ll get back to that. Its influence goes far beyond the bounds of organised religion. Biblical allusions pervade our everyday speech and cherished artistic works. And it’s not just the neat aphorisms like “love thy neighbour” and “the love of money is the root of all evil.” We draw from the Bible every time we say that something is just “a drop in a bucket,” or that we’re at “our wits’ end.” And if we said, “Ah, how the mighty have fallen! I escaped by the skin of my teeth, but the powers that be have given up the ghost!” we will have quoted the Bible four times! But our tendency to unwittingly quote the Bible doesn’t compel us to read it, unless we’re particularly curious about that sort of thing. A better reason is that biblical literacy heightens our appreciation of art, both historical and contemporary. From Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion to The Mountain Goats’ The Life of the World to Come; Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to Chagall’s Bible Illustrations; Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience to Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings to Heller’s God Knows, biblical texts and themes are used in various ways, sometimes clearly but often subtly. Over the years (and many conversations), I’ve come to realise how much we miss because we lack familiarity with the Bible. Indeed, UK Poet Laureate Andrew Motion (an atheist himself) has famously lamented society’s biblical illiteracy and the challenges that engenders in teaching English Literature. Regardless of our own personal religious affiliations, we cannot escape the influence the Bible continues to have on large portions of our population. Even if we don’t, everyone else seems to care what the Bible has to say about gay marriage, or the anti-smacking bill, or evolutionary biology, or the war on terror. Those of us interested in engaging with others on these issues are ill equipped if we don’t understand the biblical underpinnings of their positions. It is especially unrealistic to think that we can ignore conservative Christianity, given its current popularity and outspokenness. Liberals would do well to be familiar, for example, with the details of Romans 1 on homosexuality or Genesis 1 and 2 on creation. As far as I know, despite its claim to the contrary, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi has not made anyone believe in God. The Bible, on the other hand, has. Far from being just a repository of tropes for art and architecture, the Bible has inspired thousands to lives of religious devotion and social action. But in the West, we’ve neglected the Bible as a rich source of spirituality. We want to be “spiritual, but not religious,” and we think that the Bhagavad Gita or the I Ching serves this purpose better. I’m not convinced that this sentiment is anything but prejudice or the over-romanticisation of the Orient. Whichever, it smells like old-school imperial colonialism. Jonathan will wrap up this review next week.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre Who killed Sgt Pepper? A Records
Who killed Sgt. Pepper? by The Brian Jonestown Massacre is a breathtaking album, and despite what may have been said of Anton Newcombe in the past, he has undeniable talent. The album is a step forward from their previous work, as shown by the opening track ‘Tempo 116.7 (Reaching for dangerous levels of Sobriety)’. It shows that The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s sound has developed since My Bloody Underground while still retaining their original neo-psychedelic sound after over a decade of recording. This early song is more ambient than the later tracks and is a definitive step forward from previous, drugfuelled, work. The album feels far more layered than other BJM albums and contains an array of instruments throughout the thirteen songs. Although requiring a few listens, ‘The One’ is an interesting track with an upbeat start. However the songs that really standout are ‘This Is The One Thing We Did Not Want To Have Happen’ and ‘Someplace Else Unknown’. The first is a far more rock-orientated song with repetitive yet catchy drums while the latter is a loud song with very heavy bass – excellent to stomp to. Despite unremarkable lyrics, “I’m not asking ‘bout Jesus, not asking for hugs” and a focus on getting high, instrumentally, it is fantastic. With Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? Anton Newcombe shows his talent and BJM show their growth. If you are a fan, you will enjoy this.
Various Artists Womad New Zealand: Sounds Of the Planet 2010 Shock Records
If WOMAD were a person, it would probably be a pot-smoking, prayer-chanting, bongoplaying hermaphrodite with knee-length dreads and no shoes. It’s no surprise, then, that this year’s WOMAD compilation is about as eclectic as it’s possible to be, encompassing all reaches of that most eclectic genre of them all: world music. WOMAD – World of Music and Dance – makes its sixth appearance in New Zealand this year, an event once again being held in charming New Plymouth over three days in March. This record’s middle name is certainly diversity. Our very own sultry songstress Ladi6 does us proud with her upbeat dub/soul mixture ‘Walk Right Up’. The laid-back bop of the ska giants the Skatalites rubs shoulders with an intriguing latin-rap hybrid by The Public Afro Orchestra. And there is, of course, the obligatory piano accordion appearance care of Lepistö & Lehti’s track ‘Helsinki’. Another highlight is ‘Mi Swing es Tropical’ from Nickodemus, a DJ who poaches the best from all corners of world music. Predictably, this album is a whirlwind tour of WOMAD’s 2010 artists. Perhaps unfortunately, many of the tracks are instrumental and not really sing-along material. This music is definitely made to be enjoyed in the sun among hundreds of swaying hippies, not in your car on the way to work. But if you can’t make it up to Taranaki for the real deal, this is definitely the next best thing.
Sacha Vee EP Independent
Dutch/West Indian neo-soul artist Sacha Vee is a distinctive vocalist who is making waves in the New Zealand music scene. Alongside soulful collaborations with Pacific Heights, Oval Office, and P-Bass Expressway, she has been focusing on her own original sound. 2009 saw the release of her debut single ‘Patience’ and now I have in my hot little hands her new, self-titled EP Sacha Vee. On first listen, the gutsy sound that emerges from this 24-year-old blonde bombshell is that of the classic black soul divas of the day. I would liken her sound to Billie Holiday, with a more modern comparison being Jill Scott or Alice Russell from seminal label Tru Thoughts. The EP is co-produced by Sacha herself and Oakley Grenell (O.G.); the album is deep, soulful, and full of catchy choruses that are just asking for hip hop styled remixes. While the essence of her neo-soul style stays the same, the tracks range from the deep sassy ‘Trouble’ through to the (very) mellow grooves of ‘Honey Bee’ and some upfront feminist attitude in ‘Wanna Rely’. Sacha Vee’s recent show in Dunedin really showcased what a seasoned performer she is, and I, for one was mightily impressed.
HOMEGROWN February 20, 2010 Wellington Glazed eyes, smiles, and high-fives all round. Midway through their bone-jarring set, Laughtan Kora stops and asks the Homegrown crowd, “How good it is to live in this beautiful country called Aotearoa?” And he’s right, our little nation in the middle of the South Pacific put on a festival that could rival any other. All you had to do was look at the line up: Kora, Katchafire, The Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub, The Upbeats, Minuit, Shihad, Liam Finn, Pluto, The Mint Chicks ... It was hard not to be a little bit patriotic. The third annual Homegrown Music festival was held on five stages and encompassed 35 premier locally-born bands and DJs, as well as New Zealand’s best break-dancing talent over 12 hours. New Zealand’s music lovers turned out in full force: 14 000 fans from around the country descended upon the Wellington waterfront on this beautiful summer’s day for an extremely well run event. There were glazed eyes, smiles, and high-fives all day long as revellers soaked up the sun and the tunes. Every facet of the festival was run in impressive fashion, with food and drink lines to a minimum, and security almost ninja-like in work and appearances. Perhaps the best aspect over the day was festival-goers having no problem gaining access to any band, no matter how popular or how large the crowd. The festival, as usual, was split into two zones covering Frank Kitts Park, TSB Arena, and Waitangi Park. Shihad and the Datsuns headlined the Jim Beam Rock Stage, The Mint Chicks headlined the Nokia Indie Stage, Kora and The Black Seeds were on the Dub and Roots Stage and Minuit and The Upbeats rounded out the line-up on the Smokefree Electro Stage. The only criticism that can be tagged to the festival is that there is too much variety on at one time. Although cliché, it makes the worst part of your day choosing between seeing Shihad, The Upbeats, Kora, or The Mint Chicks. My highlight had to be how electro veterans Minuit’s heavy pulsating beats had the crowd going wild on the electro stage. 53
Ashes Cricket 2009 PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (reviewed on PS3) Transmission Games
faced something of a dilemma when choosing a team in Ashes Cricket 2009. On the one hand, I discovered an otherwise unknown moral opposition to playing as the Australian test cricket team; on the other, I actually wanted to win. It could have been lucky for me, then, that England proved the stronger team recently in the real world; unfortunately, the fine folks at Transmission had already favoured the green-and-golds with a slight stats boost. (All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I didn’t pay enough attention to the tutorial my first time through, and was promptly bowled out for less than a hundred. Over a five-day game.) After that defeat – made all the more painful by the game’s colourful commentary on my shortcomings – I put the time aside to spend an hour or two practising just how to adjust my batsmen to the short and long balls, the spinners and the pace bowlers, and the odd bouncer. Batting, incidentally, is where Ashes really shines: a quick flick of the right analogue stick will change your aim, left and right bumper buttons alter stance and foot position, and a choice of three face buttons lets you decide whether to play an attacking or defending shot, or to loft the ball. After facing several different bowlers over a dozen overs or so, it’s relatively easy to pick the short ball, step onto the back foot, and let loose with a well-timed shot. Bowling is a completely different story, even though it works
on the same principle – shot choice and a timed button press on the face buttons – as consistently hitting the mark is much harder than batting. Ashes uses a confidence metric to reflect consistent performance: bowlers and batters alike will benefit from solid performance by increasing the ‘perfect’ segment on their timed button presses. There’s certainly no sledging in the game, but knocking back a batter’s confidence with a bouncer aimed at the head feels almost as good as questioning his mother’s virtue. Fielding is simply a question of placement, relative to your bowling choices, although I found that I relied almost exclusively on spinners and altogether too many fielders in the off-side slips. A note for fans of the Black Caps or other international teams: despite the title, they are actually in the game, along with one-day and Twenty20 options – although, lacking a licence, you’ll find yourself playing as J. Oran or D. Vetare. It’s about as much of a sop as the unlicensed basketball games that let you pick Jordy Michaels or Larry Fowl for your team, but I’ll take it, along with the twenty-over format. Transforming the five-day game into, well, a five-day game is no small task; cricket fans and onlookers alike will appreciate the time and effort that’s gone into Ashes Cricket 2009. Virtual pitch has never looked this good in picture-in-picture high def, and with the exception of a slight difficulty spike as soon as you hit the ‘normal’ difficulty mode, I have nary a skerrick of criticism for the game. How’s that?
An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar Taryn Simon DPAG Until May 9
merican photographer Taryn Simon aims to reveal the guarded secrets that lie beneath the surface of American identity and the daily functioning of American life. This exhibition showcases a selection of photographs from Simon’s four-year project in which she plays detective, gaining access to sites normally off-limits to the public eye. The exhibition exposes information through image and text, confronting and undermining that which is known and accessible to the private American citizen. An American Index covers a diversity of subjects, from science to entertainment and religion. Simon’s large-scale photographs are direct and unsentimental, while her sharp seductive colours and unsettling use of light draw you in. Simon’s images interact with their accompanying texts, revealing each image to be more than it seems and inviting closer inspection. Kenny the White Tiger appears poised and powerful, though in reality he is mentally and physically impaired. The text reveals that all living White Tigers in the United States are victims of selective inbreeding, and that
Kenny is the only White Tiger of ‘quality’ in his litter. Simon’s matter-of-fact delivery of information contrasts with the mysterious beauty of her images, underscoring the complex relationship between image and text. The realisation that an abstract, geometric light show is actually barrels of glowing nuclear waste forces the viewer to look again and see an image loaded with moral complexities. Some photographs begin with a thinly veiled morbid truth, such as the image of a twiggy woodland bush obscuring the body of a young boy. The text reveals the body to be one of the many cadavers donated to the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, also known as ‘The Body Farm,’ where recreated crime scenes are studied to improve crime investigation. This coupling of image and text complicates the viewing experience. Conflict is created between visual delight in Simon’s provocative style and the disturbance created by the morbid or immoral facts. This project shows not only how much is hidden under the surface of American life, but also how easily these secrets can be exposed. Bringing such revelations into the gallery space, Simon uses her camera to unmask several stark truths while also exposing the boundaries of information within the public sphere.
INVICTUS Director: Clint Eastwood
First things first – there is no Susie the waitress in this movie. Actually, Invictus doesn’t really focus on the 1995 Rugby World Cup in and of itself; instead, the Springboks’ RWC victory symbolises Nelson Mandela’s successful attempt to pull a racially divided South Africa together in the first years of his presidency. This means that Invictus is really two stories in one: part Mandela biopic, part classic underdog sports movie. The problem is, neither story has much real impact. The acting is good: Freeman’s Mandela is understated but convincing, and Damon does an amazingly good South African accent and is pretty believable as Pienaar (too bad Damon’s a midget compared to the real thing). The cinematography and direction are all solid, and Eastwood’s intentions were clearly benign. But ultimately, it all still left me a bit cold. I think Invictus is problematic because it is ostensibly two stories in one, but it never lives up to the potential of either. For one thing, you should feel like cheering when the Springboks win, but I was too irritated by the slightly unconvincing rugby choreography to bother. And you should feel satisfied when Mandela achieves his goal of national unity, but by the time the Boks win, Mandela has weirdly faded into the background. Or maybe it’s just the naïveté of the idea that sport can completely erase generations of racial distrust and segregation. The movie’s whole ethos can basically be summed up by the lyrics of the movie’s horribly corny original song: “It’s not just a game … I’m colourblind.” Excuse me while I vomit very slightly in my mouth. Overall, Invictus is competent but flawed. But hey, at least they got an actual Polynesian to play Jonah. That’s something.
Balibo Director: Robert Connolly
Robert Connolly moulds this political, fact-based thriller around the heart-strings of justice, which by the end are playing tunes of explosive revenge. This life and death drama draws us into the action with real characters, real events, real emotions, and real fears for the forces of aggression that exist beyond our borders. The shooting of five Australian journalists (one supposedly a Kiwi but stolen in typical Australian fashion) by invading Indonesian forces was perpetrated three decades ago in the tiny nation of East Timor, yet the event still holds relevance to modern day issues. This high-paced drama should appeal to the New Zealand audience both for its ‘down under’ spirit and for its well-crafted narrative. Balibo is gripping from the start, with the superb Cuban-American actor Oscar Isaac as Jose Ramos-Horta, the assertive young East Timorese politico who travels to Australia to convince old-timer international journalist Roger East (Anthony LaPaglia) to run the country’s news agency. East has doubts from the start, but his resistance to involve himself in the struggle changes when he hears that five Aussies have gone missing while chasing the story of an imminent incursion by the Indonesian army in the border village of Balibo. Soon he’s following the so-called Balibo Five: young, super-ambitious television journalists whom we come to know and care about through an interlacing storyline tracing their final days attempting to film the illegal invasion by the Indonesian army so the world will know what is happening. The real story in this film, though, is East’s journey from disinterested outsider to impassioned idealist willing to risk his life to make public the Timorese plight. This film is well crafted and is a must-see.
SHUTTER ISLAND Director: Martin Scorsese
We expect big things when Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up (The Aviator, The Departed). In Shutter Island Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is a US Marshall who visits an island mental hospital off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954. It’s drilled into you that this is no ordinary asylum, but a maximum-security institution for the most dangerous, criminally insane patients. Daniels has been assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a woman patient. He is accompanied by a new partner (Mark Ruffalo). It doesn’t take long to realise that there are some suspicious things happening on the island. Daniels grills the institution staff and some patients only to conclude that everyone appears to be lying or hiding something. And the head doctor (Ben Kingsley) comes off as creepy and patronising to the investigators. Then it’s revealed that Daniels himself is there under false pretenses: he is hoping to blow the lid off a secret government psychological testing conspiracy, and is looking for the arsonist that murdered his wife. His disdain for human medical experiment arises from his violent memories of liberating a Nazi concentration camp while serving in WWII. The plot thickens! There is a lot to like about Shutter Island. Scorsese’s thoroughly well constructed island is pleasant to look at, and the film packs in the beautiful sequences that you would expect from such an accomplished director. He hits you over the head with signpost after signpost complete with a soundtrack that is ramped up in paranoid strings. However, as we’re dragged past the two-hour mark, the screenplay makes an unfortunate mistake by lowering the stakes rather than raising them. The result is mild disappointment, both with the second half of the film and, retroactively, the rest of it as well.
VALENTINES DAY Director: Garry Marshall
Valentines Day (from the director of Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries) takes a winding journey of love through Los Angeles on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day. Through multiple interweaving plot lines we meet lovers, haters, and everything in between – the cheating doctor (McDreamy himself), the love-scorned, hard-working career girl, the high school infatuation, the student-teacher crush. The film’s cast is its main feature. You name them, they’re in it: Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, the list goes on. There’s even a really weird cameo from Flight of the Conchords’ Kristen Schaal (Mel), whom it seems Garry Marshall threw in for 20 seconds for good measure. That’s the problem with this film – there’s so much going on, so many characters and situations, that it’s all a bit blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. A bland script and stereotyped plots don’t help either – ‘special’ moments between characters are forced and awkward (watch out for a great ‘romantic’ cutaway to ducklings swimming amongst rose petals). Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace put in some good performances as a couple negotiating the first awkward weeks of a new relationship, but in a cast of so many, their moments are thinly spread. Julia Roberts, as an army officer on leave, and the always-stellar Kathy Bates, as a TV producer, might have also been great, but again, due to the ten or so plot lines, there’s not enough screen time to find out. It’s basically an American Love Actually, even copying some of the plot lines and situations. But without the bumbling sweetness of British humour to carry it along, Valentine’s Day is a bit of a bland mess. Go see it if you’re using the movies as a make-out venue.