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International Coffee Day



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World Teacher Day



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22 I DON’T GET IT: LOCKDOWN PROTESTORS 24 YOU ARE HERE: WINSTON HILLS 26 MOB: YARNING CIRCLE Views expressed by the authors are not those of the publisher.

EDITORS’ LETTERS Footnote: An event, subject, or detail that is not important. This issue is all about giving rightly earned attention to that niche topic of interest that you might know a bit too much about. That area of expertise that friends don’t find quite as interesting… that topic that is so intriguing and fascinating you’re confused why no one else is quite as excited. Everyone has had that moment. When you realise that the person you’re chatting to just isn’t matching your enthusiasm about a very important subject. Maybe it’s the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, or an old cold case from the ‘70s. Maybe it’s the very in detail account of the current YouTube drama or a very niche tik tok trend. Whatever it is, Grapeshot is here to listen. No judgement, no rolling of the eyes, 100% undivided attention. This issue really delivered on that front with a very diverse range of topics. From a deep dive into the terrifying audio drama Darkest Night to the exploration of just how amazing Schitt’s Creek really is, Issue #6 of Grapeshot was ready to listen. As we go into another month of living in lockdown, it’s a perfect time to discover a new interest and who knows? Maybe one of these articles will unearth your new found obsessions with Furby’s, Nora Ephron movies or even the power of poetry. So please enjoy our latest issue of Grapeshot, it’s not like you have much else to do whilst stuck at home… Madi, Editor-in-Chief

As an editor I fixate on the minutiae of writing and grammar. I write, and rewrite, and agonise over capital letters, en rules, em rules, hyphens, and semicolons. When New York City rock band Vampire Weekend sing “​​Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” The answer is me, I give a fuck about an Oxford comma. If I didn’t have a deadline, I would compulsively recheck Grapeshot articles and play hockey with commas on the page until driving myself insane. There’s an old Latin verb and printer’s term used to describe when an editor has initially marked down a change, and then changed their mind again, and marked instead not to make any change at all. The term for this is stet, which translates to “let it stand,” as sometimes deciding what to edit is just as hard as deciding what not to edit. The theme for this issue, Footnote, is all about honing in on the details of your niche obsessions, and mine is editing. Peruse this issue if you want to learn about the quirky, idiosyncratic, and varied interests held by Macquarie University students. Shannon Desa gives us a comprehensive and insightful look into the interplay between writers, praise, and accreditation in her article ‘The Writers Behind the People we Remember.’ In ‘Pikachu, Use Monetisation!’ Nathaniel Lawson unpacks the concept of pay-to-win games and monetisation schemes in Pokèmon Unite, and what this might mean for the future of gaming. Final year student Ella Scott reflects back on how matters of consent were taught during her time at university. She consults both a spokesperson from Macquarie Uni and Respect Now Always, and interviews co-presidents of Macquarie’s Women’s Collective (WoCo), Libby Payne and Amanda Matthews, in order to address what action has and hasn’t been taken. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had it right when he said “the devil is in the details,” so delight in the specificity of this issue of Grapeshot. Jodie Ramodien, Deputy Editor

EDITORIAL & CREATIVE PRODUCTION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Madison Scott DEPUTY EDITOR: Jodie Ramodien CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Sam van Vliet CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Kathleen Notohamiprodjo NEWS EDITOR: Saliha Rehanaz CAMPUS NEWS EDITOR: Rayna Bland REGULARS/REPEAT OFFENDERS EDITOR: Eleanor Taylor FEATURES/CREATIVES EDITOR: Rhys Sage ONLINE EDITORS: Jaime Hendrie, Unnati Tayal EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS: Nikita Byrnes, Olivia Chan, Nicholas Chang, Nam Do, Lachlan Hodson, Jennifer Le, Grace Pham, Ky Stewart, John Taylor-Booth DESIGN ASSISTANTS: Rhys Sage, Neil Quisumbing SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT: Nam Do

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alex Coverdale, Shannon Desa, Tiffany Fong, Sofia Ihsan, Nathaniel Lawson, Tessa Marsden, Ashlee Pasfield, Swagatalakshmi Roychowdhury, Ella Scott, Jade Van Dartel

COVER ART Sam van Vliet

SECTION OPENERS Kathleen Notohamiprodjo

EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Allastassia Carter, Marlene Khouzam, Amanda Mathews, Jay Muir, Amanda O’Neill, Ateka Rajabi, Eryna Tash



Mariella Herberstein

Melroy Rodrigues

GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wallumattagal clan of the Dharug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present, and emerging. We would like to extend those respects to all First Nations people reading. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.





ELITE ATHLETES: MENTAL HEALTH Simone Biles, world-renowned American artistic gymnast, shocked the world when she withdrew from the gymnastics team competition finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Biles took a single vault with an unfinished landing which did not stick in the team competition finals before returning to the sidelines to cheer on her teammates. This appeared uncharacteristic of her, considering her top-tier skills as a gymnast, which have awarded her 32 Olympic and World Championship medals in the past. “It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind and body in sync,” Biles stated on her Instagram account. At the time, Biles said that she had the “twisties,” a mental block whilst performing. In addition to the “twisties,” Simone also revealed after winning bronze on the beam that her aunt unexpectedly died while she was in Tokyo representing the USA in the Olympics. In the same vein, Naomi Osaka, the Japanese four-time Grand Slam singles champion, also left a message about the mental health of professional athletes. After being defeated by Markéta Vondroušová in the third round at the Tokyo Olympics, she noted that she was under immense pressure for being the face of the Games. Osaka had been transparent about her mental health issues in the past; she did not attend the French Open in May 2021 in consideration of her mental health, and also did not participate in Wimbledon due to her battle with depression and anxiety. Biles’ withdrawal and Osaka’s defeat consequently opened up discussion about the mental health of elite athletes. Biles herself commented that mental health “should be talked about more, especially with athletes,” and left with an important message: “We’re not just entertainment, we’re humans and there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports.” by Olivia Chan


Olympic Recap With 80% of Japan’s population in doubt that Japan could safely host the Tokyo 2020 Games this year during a pandemic, it felt pretty surreal to watch the Games go ahead. When over 320 cases of COVID-19 were linked to the Olympics, it was a reminder of the human cost involved. Outside of Japan, opinions were mixed which is to be expected when international viewers are not the ones who have their health at stake. NBC expected to make more than 1.2 billion dollars off their coverage of the Olympics, surpassing the Rio 2016 Olympics. It’s been a bad past couple of months for those of us stuck at home, but the companies who broadcast the shows we watch to escape reality have had a good run. Over 2 million people in Australia watched the Channel 7 Olympic coverage and the opening ceremony was the most watched TV event this year with 3.69 million viewers. From that, we can assume that Seven Network made a buttload of money from the Olympics. The main factor for this large viewership was 60% of Australians being in lockdown. The Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky rivalry captured a lot of attention. On track where we don’t do as well, Nicola Mcdermett got silver for high jump and set a new Australian record, while Rohan Browning ran the fastest 100m ever by an Australian at the Olympic Games. Before the games, we saw the absolute worst opening ceremony ever, with very bad, oftentimes racist commentary from the 2 white Channel 7 presenters. There was also a bizarre note that it was amazing Israel showed up to the Olympics given various “Iraq-related Wars” and the commentators both felt it was appropriate to bring up the Munich 1972 Massacre. When Mali entered, one of them said that a woman in Mali had 9 children, and described the US purchase of the Virgin Islands from Denmark as “a pretty good buy.” The UAE was described as “lots of tall buildings and camels that run fast,” and Palestine as “people who’ve known many troubled times.” For the most part, the Games went smoothly, Australia did amazingly well and Emma Mckeon usurped Ian Thorpe as the most decorated Australian Olympian. An Italian man, Lamont Jacobs, was crowned the world’s fastest man, winning the men’s 100m sprint. He is now being investigated for doping because he was not tested before competing. He was not tested because testing officials target high performing athletes, Jacobs is not normally good at this event so was ignored. On the topic of doping, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) debuted after Russia was banned for their state sponsored doping regime. It was a big slap in the face to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because it showed that Russia will use any technicality to keep competing. It is interesting that the IOC banned Russia but has done nothing about China’s identical program, highlighting that athletic integrity at the Olympics is probably heavily influenced by internal politics. And so after a disease ridden, controversial Olympic Games, we now only have 3 more years until the next. Hopefully the world will be less hellish by then. by Eleanor Taylor



Welcome to The Campus Lowdown! This news section of Grapeshot is your place to find campus related information, society news and the relevant programs Macquarie University offers. Obviously this section has taken a hit given that the campus is in lockdown and we are stuck home. Despite this, there are still plenty of Macquarie Uni related activities and groups to discover! It is times like these when I am really grateful for the internet and even Zoom. I think it is amazing we can still remain so connected to each other despite the ever increasing stay-at-home orders. Reader, I hope you are well and coping okay. This lockdown is mentally gruelling and definitely a bit boring. It is okay to rest and it is okay to be sad. If you feel like you need help you can reach out to Student Wellbeing. You can also read all the back issues of Grapeshot. We have plenty of spirit lifting material.

As we have been in lockdown for so long in Sydney, there is really nothing happening on campus so this will be an online rendition of the Lowdown! If you have any campus news or info about your student group or society you want to share, send your submissions to We would love to hear from you.

Student Representative Committee (SRC) Passes Motion Against Staff Cuts Over the past year or so, Macquarie Students Against the Cuts have been tirelessly campaigning against the severe budget changes dished out by the Macquarie University board. On the 8th of July, the SRC passed a motion opposing academic staff redundancies. On their Instagram @mq_src the council highlighted how the cuts are “reflective of Macquarie Uni prioritisation of profits over student education.” The motion was presented by Amy Lamont, a staunch left wing activist and SRC Undergraduate Representative, who has been involved in many campaigns such as fighting for climate justice since her time at Macquarie. This action is highly significant. In the past, the Macquarie SRC has been reluctant to appear too political or too controversial to the executive board so in my opinion it is awesome to see some change coming about. If you would like to raise any concerns or have any questions about the SRC, you can send your inquiries to:

Writers@MQ Like to write? Find your people with the student group Writers@MQ. This is a space to connect with likeminded people who can provide feedback, support, and company while you achieve your writing goals. The group offers fortnightly seminars on writing techniques covering many mediums such as poetry, screenwriting, short story, and genre fiction. Writers@MQ also run social events during the breaks and have held power-writing sessions, group writing projects, and feedback sessions in the past. You can find them on Facebook at Writes@MQ or on the Macquarie University Club and Societies webpage.


CAMPUS NEWS Humans of MQ In October 2018, the wonderfully beautiful Instagram account @humansofmq was created by Sam Chahine. The page shares the stories and portraits of humans: staff and students from Macquarie University. The page also features people from all around the Macquarie area too. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam, a creative and kind soul who has a passion for sharing these stories of Macquarie humans. Sam explained the account started lightheartedly with him photographing his friends and sharing their stories but it quickly grew from there. He started capturing people from different societies, staff, and even business owners from Macquarie Centre. Diversity is important for Sam and you can see that value all throughout the page. Sam has also been working on a musical called King Meer: The Musical, it is a story of Gods. Unfortunately lockdown has slowed the process down as it was meant to be showing in November but keep an eye out! You do not want to miss the creative work of Sam Chahine. You can follow the Instagram account @humansofmq to keep up with interesting stories about people, and thought-provoking polls that Sam shares on the accounts’ stories.

MQ Careers Week Online From August 9th to August 13th, the MQ Careers Week ran online. Seminars ran everyday and included coverage on topics such as PACE, ePortfolios, and why you should volunteer. There are recordings available of all of these events. Check out the Career and Employment Centre or MQ CareerHub for more information. Find the recordings here:

MQ Study Buddy Program The SRC has brought back the MQ Study Buddy Program. This program connects you with another MQ student undertaking similar units and with similar interests. Isolation can be very lonely and this can deeply affect your studies. By using this program you can connect with others and be productive too. It is a win/ win. To participate in this program head to the MQ Uni website, hit ‘Support,’ then ‘Peer Support,’ and you should see the Study Buddy Program. Alternatively, here is the link: Once you have found the website you just need to fill out a brief form identifying your interests and within 1-2 weeks in your student inbox you will receive an email notifying you of your new study buddy! How cute.

The Thief Vending Machine This is a warning to you all. The new vending machine in the Central Campus building by the pool tables (the chips and drink one) is A THIEF. Not once but TWICE that machine ate my $5 notes. I was hungry, I was devastated, and I was hurt. The vending machine company’s customer service was crap and I never heard anything back when I complained. So yeah, I thought this was worthy to include here because I don’t tolerate robot thieves and I do not want the same thing to happen to you. I never thought my university nemesis would be a vending machine but here we are. Save your pennies and bring snacks from home otherwise you might end up $10 poorer and chipless like me.


Drug reform is a touchy political subject.


Personally, I am so privileged in all aspects of my life that I have never had to think much about it; my parents, like many their age, experienced the arbitrary and elusive “War on Drugs” of the seventies, and as such have dubbed all drugs and drug-like associated experiences with an obscure sense of evil. No one shall mention the hypocrisy in their keen affiliation with and use of alcohol and cigarettes. Unquestioningly, this was the view I ascribed to from a young age, as children often do. Recently, a new Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) was proposed for Melbourne’s CBD. There is already a room for medically supervised injecting in Melbourne, and there’s also one in Sydney which opened twenty years ago in Kings Cross. A second Melbourne MSIC has been proposed and the proposal of this new public facility has endured great backlash. What are MSICs? They are “facilities where drug users can use legally prescribed injectable drugs under medical supervision without risk of arrest and prosecution” as described in a research paper about the Kings Cross facility. Are these facilities actually helpful, or positive? Or, is the backlash that this announcement has received warranted? The Guardian’s podcast, The Full Story, recently interviewed a woman called Lisa Townsend, as a case study for the point in question. Townsend had been addicted to heroin, on and off, for twenty-five years. At her “lowest point” a few years ago, she was forced to give up her children, she was penniless, and she was homeless. She describes the experience of withdrawal – excruciating – and wanting to get clean, but not knowing how – equally as excruciating. However, now, at forty-years-old and clean, Townsend credits Melbourne’s first safe-injecting room in North Richmond, which opened as a trial facility in 2018, with her current state of life. Her experience with the non-judgemental staff, she says, was the turning point for her recovery. The facility isn’t “just there to make drug use an easy thing,” she says. Following a growing concern about increasing heroin-related deaths in Melbourne, the trial for North Richmond’s medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond’s Community Health Centre was announced in October 2017. The operation was li-



censed to begin 30 June 2018, and was licensed to run for two years. After the first eighteen months of the licensed trial, the panel from the Community Health Centre found that a successful implementation of the room had been achieved (albeit noting that implementation remained a work in progress). In that time, there were no overdose deaths (despite two-hundred and seventy-one extremely serious overdoses) out of the one-hundred and nineteen thousand visits to the centre in that first eighteen months. The panel found a reduction in ambulance attendances due to overdoses and a reduction in reports of public injecting. As a result, the panel called for the license to run for a further three years. The new Melbourne injection site is likely to be located opposite Flinders Street station. However, the move has been opposed by Melbourne city councillors and businesses. The Victorian government, however, has made no official decision regarding the final location for the site. Is the backlash and concern about MSICs legitimate or warranted? Many critics fear a so-called “honey-pot effect,” which purports that such facilities attract drug users and dealers to an area who would otherwise not be there, and concentrate them in that area. The worry is that areas like North Richmond would become known, colloquially, as the spot to find heroin and other drugs. But, as the report from the panel of North Richmond’s Community Health Centre indicates, that culture was already prevalent there, and growing, before the trial had begun. Furthermore, their report indicated no such “effect.” Research into the impact of Sydney’s MSIC on crime found that there was no increase of drug use or drug supply in the Kings Cross area, where the facility is based, that could be attributed to the MSIC. What was interesting in the discussion section of that research paper, was how the positive reductions in drug use could not completely be addressed by the introduction of the MSIC, but into “the cooperative approach Kings Cross police took to the establishment of an MSIC.”

to me: “Addiction is something everybody deals with in their lives, and some addictions are worse than others. However, if someone can go to the pub and drink for hours on end, why can’t people have a safe space to do drugs?” Here, I noticed an anomaly. For all our talk of empathising with addictions, the phrase “doing drugs” must be seen as misrepresentative; the verb is in the wrong place. People don’t do drugs, drugs do people. Addiction disguises itself under the mask of control. From my perspective, it seems that MSICs are providing socioeconomically disadvantaged persons with basic hygiene and medical services. They are providing access to help if necessary. It is providing a safe space for those who so desperately need it – and offering a path to recovery if they wish for it. Lisa Townsend stated, in regards to the opposition of the new injection facility: “The majority of the population don’t understand addiction. Of course there are going to be naysayers and there’s going to be that judgement.” Who are we to question the experiences of someone who lived through the positive possibilities of recovery, using the resources provided to her by the safe-injection room? It seems to me that people inherit views about right and wrong – about life and death, as drugs so often are associated – at a young age from the people around them and find it incredibly difficult to investigate or scrutinise those views as they get older. But how you understand what the difference is between right and wrong – between life and death – changes as you get older and depends upon your ability to empathise and learn compassion. I don’t think that we, as a society, can align illicit drugs against a good/bad graph. People are going to “do drugs” for as long as they are available – which is to say, into the far future. Why should we, as a society, be opposed to helping them with something which is so often so far out of their control?

Like I said earlier, I had never really thought much about this issue (if the introduction of a new MSIC can be called an issue at all) – I would have called myself quite ambivalent. But, after a conversation with my boyfriend, I realised that, for better or worse, drug addiction is part of Australian culture. He said



THE WORLD’S ON FIRE, DUDE With global temperatures rising, droughts getting worse, and nobody doing shit about it, let’s take a depressing look at how many places around the world are on fire this month. It seems that with every year comes a new heat record, a new horrific wave of environmental disasters, and a new day baptised by the prefix ‘Black.’ In the case of the Australian wildfires last year, the entire season was christened the ‘Black Summer.’ The world watched in horror as our country scorched, and vowed that this nightmarish event would never be repeated anywhere. Yet, in the year we prayed would be kinder than its predecessor, the Northern Hemisphere is currently plagued by wildfires. A cruel call-back from the writers of 2020. As of August 2021, fires are blazing across Europe and the Americas leaving paths of destruction in their wake. The most infamous hotspot being Greece, who has been battling wildfires for over a fortnight now, with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis describing the fires as “the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades.” With hundreds of fires causing destruction across the country, Greece has sought aid from overseas in battling the blazes. These fires come after Greece was struck by its worst heat wave since 1987, with Prime Minister Mitsotakis stating he believes climate change to be a key player in the cause of the fires. Turkey also faces searing temperatures and wildfires across the country, which has resulted in the deaths of 8 people so far. Citizens across Turkey are being forced to evacuate and abandon their homes, with this wave of wildfires also being dubbed “the worst in history” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Though Turkey is not unfamiliar with wildfires this time of year, estimates say that 175,000 hectares have been destroyed by the recent fires – 8 times more than the yearly average. Italy is amongst the countries most devastated by wildfires, again as the result of record-breaking heat, with Sicily’s measurement of 48.8°C on August 12th believed to be the highest temperature in European history. Harrowing footage shows firefighters battling flames for over 12-hours, with the fires having lasted for several weeks and causing 5 deaths. Meanwhile in Southern America, the Amazon Rainforest continues to run ablaze, which last year reported 375,000 hectares engulfed by flames. However, this year the fires are less ruinous, August through to September typically is fire-season for the rainforest, with experts asserting that due to droughts and extended heatwaves, the duration of fire season is increasing. Simultaneously in Northern America, the state of California is currently facing the largest individual fire the state has ever seen, with less and less resources to fight the fire due to increasing droughts. To evoke Bill Nye; the planet’s on fucking fire, and it’s no secret why. As we observe the cataclysmic fiery catastrophes happening all around the world now, and with the emotional scar of Australia’s Black Summer still tender, the Greek Prime Minister’s words ring in our ears: The “reality of climate change” is upon us. by Lachlan Hodson



STUCK OFFSHORE Nadia Khan, an international student from South Africa, speaks about the overwhelming situation and desperately calls for action to be able to return to Australia to finish her studies.

Being an offshore international student during a pandemic is difficult, but being an offshore international student from South Africa became a whole lot worse. As if the COVID-19 pandemic, daily power outages, and a massive time difference is not enough, the country is literally burning to the ground and is on the brink of a civil war. July has been a tough month for South Africa, specifically the province of KwaZulu-Natal. After former president Jacob Zuma was sent to prison, his supporters began looting. It got out of control extremely fast. To give you a glimpse of what has been happening in the month of July: •

• •

Almost every major shopping center and store in KwaZulu-Natal has been looted beyond repair or burnt to the ground. There is a severe food shortage. The port of Durban, one of the most critical economic hubs on the African continent, was looted as well as the surrounding warehouses. Massmart, Makro, and other big wholesalers have been looted continuously and burnt to the ground. The damage and theft caused by the looters are already in the billions. Chemical plants were burnt down releasing toxins into the air and into our oceans causing fish and crayfish to wash up dead on shore, and surrounding neighborhoods unable to breathe. Race-fuelled violence has escalated dramatically and Indian communities have been described as a war zone. There are dead bodies lining the streets and vigilantism has taken over.

The police were delayed in their response which made citizens take matters into their own hands. People began setting up patrols all through the night and the firearms that came out of an average person’s home was shocking, who would have thought that the family you lived next door to had such a large array of firearms. Many people lost their lives as some people looted and others were forced to protect their communities. Although things have eased up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the violent protests and looting that broke out has cost the South African economy well over R20bn, which is equivalent to approximately 1.8 billion Australian dollars. This looting has caused a ripple effect. In Cape Town, there are taxi riots with average citizens being killed in the crossfire. People cannot get to and from work as minibus taxis are their only mode of transport from their areas, which are usually rural areas. As things begin to ease in South Africa, we are still facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people and countries have it hard at the moment, but as an international student in South Africa it weirdly seems harder. There is an abundance of international students trapped offshore, but regardless of where we come from, whether it is a Red List country or a Green List country, we all deserve to be onshore to complete our studies and not feel as if we are not capable of doing well in our studies due to circumstances we did not ask to be a part off in our home country. We should not be punished for the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other issues taking place in our country. South African students studying offshore have had it tough, please pray for South Africa. by Nadia Khan



POLITICAL PINS (AND OTHER GESTURES) AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS Two Chinese gold medal cyclists, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, were given a warning by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after an investigation. The cyclists wore pins on the Olympic podium embellished with outlines of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China. This was deemed as political propaganda, which is banned by rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, stating that no “political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Subsequently, China has assured that they will prevent future gold medallists from wearing Mao Zedong pins on the podium. Enforceability of Rule 50 For the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC has relaxed the enforcement of rule 50. Thus, on July 26, Costa Rican gymnast, Luciana Alvarado, incorporated a fist pump into the air at the end of her floor routine to signify her recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement. This was deemed a ‘loophole’ to the rule as gymnasts had freedom of expression during their routine. However, the rule remains strict on the podium. This is demonstrated by Raven Saunders, US shot-putter, who almost faced a sanction as she crossed her arms into an ‘X’ above her head on the podium, representing “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.” However, the investigation was suspended by the IOC due to the death of Saunders’ mother. Yet, has the IOC always been so attentive in enforcing rule 50? In 2008, Lin Dan wore a small golden Mao pin during the men’s singles badminton final, who himself was inspired by Kong Linghui, another Chinese badminton player who won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. In 2008, Lin stated that “Kong wore a badge featuring Chairman Mao as he claimed gold. So I hope Chairman Mao can also bring me some power this time.” At the time, no action was taken by the IOC. Why the attentiveness now? The IOC revised rule 50 in light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 following George Floyd’s killing. This aimed to prevent the Olympics from becoming a political spectacle. However, this may be futile as Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, predicts a “triumphal Chinese communist spectacle” at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 due to China’s recent crackdown on human rights. This prompts the question: Is rule 50 still relevant and effective? by Olivia Chan





CREATING MY ATHOME WORKOUT ROUTINE WRITTEN BY ELEANOR TAYLOR Greetings! As some of you are likely aware, NSW is currently in lockdown. Consequently, gyms are closed. At the start of this year, I got into running (which I wrote about in an earlier Challenge and I still do this religiously). However, I have found myself seeing a physiotherapist because I have not been doing any strength training since gyms closed and it messed me up. Running is a fantastic workout, I often find myself running 40km a week and it is now the only outing I get to do regularly. What people often don’t realise however, is that the key to improving your running is incorporating strength training. Strength training strengthens your joints; which makes running easier on your body, limits injuries and also makes you faster since you don’t have to put in as much effort. Strong legs are obviously important because running uses your legs – crazy, right? Core strength is also integral as your abdominal muscles are what keep you standing up and stabilize you when you run. Long story short; my knees clock out of their shift early when I run whilst my hip and quad muscles are fully out of whack. I have this dream about training for a half marathon which is about 23 km and I need my body to actually work correctly to do that. For some reason, this lockdown has hit me much harder than last year and I have felt unmotivated, gross, and I am struggling with doing university online. As a result, I have decided it’s time to create some routines in order to give my life structure. First, I went and found my mum’s old dumbbell set. Unfortunately, these weights range from 1-5kg which is enough for me to do some endurance upper body exercises, but


not enough to actually strengthen my glutes or hamstrings. However, I cannot bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on heavy weights and can certainly not afford a machine. I was complaining about how hard my life is because my parents will not buy me a home gym set up (first world problems, I know) to my physio, who recommended getting resistance bands instead. I have always associated resistance bands with ‘booty bands’ and exercises promoted by ‘fit-tea’ influencers who claim they will give you that Brazilian Butt lift effect. In these viral videos, they normally do 500 donkey kickbacks, squats and lunges. Because I think that’s ridiculous and don’t trust fitstagram, I had overlooked resistance bands as a whole. But let me tell you, they are absolutely a lockdown workout essential. Within two days of getting these bands, they had proven their worth to me. You can get them cheap from Kmart or spend more at Rebel and there is so much variety. I have found them really useful for lower body strength work. My first week of workouts sucked. I wanted strength but I found it really difficult to motivate myself in the quiet calm environment at home. The area I claimed to exercise in was next to my bedroom, so I often felt the call of my bed and wanted to lie down and watch tiktok instead of doing my squats. After two weeks I felt kind of stupid and didn’t think I was achieving much. I went for my runs and then came back and did my silly little strength routine which reminded me how much I had lost from two months of lockdown. The tape my physio recommended for taping my kneecaps in place was from Chemist Warehouse, so naturally I chose to get the fluoro pink colour to make myself feel better. This made me feel marginally better about my life and state of current affairs. Unfortunately, I am allergic to most adhesives so I was very itchy all the time and now have the world’s bumpiest knees. I also tried rainbow tape which was a real game

CHALLENGE changer and definitely got attention when I was out and about. I didn’t do my physio stretches at one point because the lockdown sads were so intense for me. I definitely did my fair share of moping around being miserable and unwilling to do anything to fix it.

Alas, my physio appointment was now in a week. I get along with her like a house on fire, she is unknowingly my accountability partner. Solely to avoid disappointing her, I began doing my physio exercises again, putting in the werk!

My pro gamer move is actually to slow down strength exercises such as bicep and hamstring curls because often the weights are too light to be super effective. By using more control on the movement it will make it harder.

After that week, there was absolutely a decrease in the amount of knee pain I had when running. When I went to my next physio appointment, she was stunned. My knee caps which are famous for moving around were staying in place, my hip muscles were balanced and my running stride was excellent. It will take about 6 more weeks to fully build up the strength I am looking for, but this was a very exciting milestone and helped me stay motivated. I now no longer have to tape up my knees before running and think I am actually getting faster. Realising the impact these exercises and strengthening had on my legs definitely motivated me to keep going.

My current routine is: • Bicep curls • Lat raises • This weird crab walk with a heavy resistance band around my legs which absolutely shreks my abductors and adductors • Planks which I have a love/hate relationship with • Clamshell, which is where you lie on your side with your knees bent and lift one knee up and out idk it’s hard to explain • Hamstring curls with the leg weights • Leg extensions, which I do by sitting on a stool, wrapping a resistance band around its legs and then extending my legs out straight

I will not lie, I still feel lazy when I do my lil strength thing but I think that the broader setting of living through a pandemic has definitely made me feel pretty hopeless and forcing myself to do things sometimes pays off really nicely. The perk of doing this at home is that I don’t have to get dressed, so if I do it in the evening I can just wear my pyjamas which is fantastic for me. Here are the things I have purchased to assist me in becoming the strongest bitch ever. • • •

Yoga block: This is a great thing to hold when squatting and keeps your posture good Resistance bands: These girls put in the work and add resistance to your workouts Yoga mat: I am very precious and fragile so need a padded surface to lie on

5kg dumbbells: These are actually pretty good for my pathetic little biceps Ankle weights: Not only do these make hamstring curls harder, but they also mean if you are stretching in a weird position your feet will be more anchored which is nice

I am aware that my humble set up is not hardcore, or very impressive but I cannot bring myself to invest in something that I won’t use long term. If we are still locked down by Christmas, maybe then it will be time to reconsider that choice.



NORA EPHRON WRITTEN BY MADISON SCOTT I have never been embarrassed about my love of rom-coms. From as early as I can remember, I have enjoyed watching the cliché true love story. From Bridget Jones to Notting Hill, romantic comedies are the one genre I can rewatch again and again and again. But I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t always quite hit the mark, especially the newer Netflix attempts. Whilst I’ll still watch them, they are always just that bit too cringey. And whilst I am not one to judge people who genuinely enjoy The Kissing Booth or The Perfect Date (okay maybe just a bit), I find myself always going back to the same few movies. Three in particular actually: Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail. Whilst these movies are in no way under the radar or unheard of, I still believe they don’t get quite as much credit as they deserve. Especially considering all three came from the brain of one person—Nora Ephron. Nora Ephron was a woman of many skills, she was a journalist, writer, and filmmaker who was nominated for three Oscars throughout her career. After graduating college, she was an intern at the White House during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. She was part of a classaction lawsuit against the Newsweek magazine for sexual discrimination after they refused to hire women writers (she was offered the position of mail girl instead). Ephron wrote a novel about her deteriorating marriage which she then adapted into a screenplay for the movie Heartburn (1986) in which Meryl Streep played her – because who wouldn’t want Meryl Streep to play them in a movie? And was even entwined with the infamous Watergate scandal after correctly identifying the anonymous informer ‘Deep Throat’ for articles written by her journalist ex-husband. Whilst Ephron worked on a number of films and screenplays throughout the ‘80s, her script for When Harry Met Sally was the real standout. Released in 1989, the film follows the decadelong relationship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan). Starting with a chance encounter as recent graduates, the film follows Harry and Sally after they accidentally reunite years later. When Harry Met Sally tackles the big question – can women and men be friends, or does sex get in the way? I like to believe that


this is the start of what I call the holy trinity of Nora Ephron movies – sure she had other films that were great and notable, but these three in particular just work. The second of this trinity is Sleepless in Seattle, of which Ephron both wrote the script and directed. Released in 1993, the film follows Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) who becomes infatuated with recently widowed father Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) after his son calls into a radio talk show to help his father find love. As I try to explain the plot I know it sounds kind of creepy, but trust me, it is romantic – it even includes a cliché will-they-or-won’t-they meet at the top of the Empire State Building scene which is very An Affair To Remember. Sam and his very cute son Jonah also live on a houseboat, which means that after watching this film you too will want to live on the water. Rounding out this rom-com holy trinity is You’ve Got Mail, which follows Kathleen Kelly (yes, Meg Ryan again), the owner of a small children’s bookshop – ‘The Shop Around the Corner.’ Throughout the film, Kathleen’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of a Barnes & Noble-esque bookstore chain ‘Fox Books.’ But don’t fear, to distract her, she has an anonymous email pal ‘NY152’ who she met in an over-30’s chat room. Opposite to Kathleen in this 1998 film is Joe Fox (and Tom Hanks again!) and whilst the storyline is definitely outdated (independent book shops? Emails? Dial-up internet?), this written and directed by Ephron film is surprisingly relevant in today’s online dating world. You’ve Got Mail again utilises the cliché yet perfect backdrop of NYC, and includes a cute dog named Brinkley. Yes, they are old. And yes, they are slightly outdated, but these movies really do have it all, in my very biased opinion. They have the envious wardrobes, cliché New York City backdrops, and funny sidekicks every good rom-com needs. They don’t necessarily have the hottest or best good-looking male leads that tend to dominate the genre, but they do have real chemistry between characters, which not a lot of rom-coms always manage to capture. Ephron’s dialogue is genuine and authentic; the movies are, for the most part, not dependent on looks or physical attraction, and love is never a sudden blinding spectacle. The characters slowly fall in love after meaningful connections which is slightly more realistic than some other films and if you don’t believe me just see what Harry says to Sally:

POP CULTURE REWIND “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Meg Ryan’s characters in these films are not the annoyingly-desperate-and-alone type of heroine either. Ephron created strong female lead characters who were independent and successful in their own right – they have jobs, and friends, and most of the time are in relationships already. They aren’t looking for love, it just happens. The female characters are independent and not afraid to say what they think, nor are they damsels in distress. Ephron once stated that she tried to “write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are,” and I think that’s why her movies resonate with so many. Sure her movies always end with love conquering all, but Ephron created stories where couples who were clearly meant for each other, but just don’t know it yet, reconcile in a happy ending. Surprisingly, these picture-perfect endings never seem overly manufactured or foolish. Journalist Jessie Wright-Mendoza summed it up perfectly, explaining that “Ephron plays into our (women’s, at least) fantasies about romance and finding ‘the one,’ and magic and sparks and all that other sappy shit, but she doesn’t make fun of us for believing in or wanting said fantasies.” Whilst Ephron is in essence the blueprint of the quintessential chick flick, she manages to challenge the genre at the same time. Throughout Sleepless in Seattle, the two protagonists spend most of the film apart, and their fate is ambiguous thanks to the rolling of the credits just as they meet. When Harry Met Sally’s memorable fake orgasm scene in the middle of a deli was ground-breaking at the time, with people still quoting the diner’s response, “I’ll have what she’s having,” almost 32 years later.

essayist whose quotes are still impactful today. Her collection of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, was listed at #1 on The New York Times NonFiction Best Seller list, revealed her comedic style and rambling yet intimate inner thoughts. Whilst her witty commencement address to Wellesley College in 1996 is still surprisingly relevant – “Understand: Every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you.” Nora Ephron’s far-reaching impacts are evident throughout the countless references to her and her work in pop culture today. In The Bold Type, Sutton yells “I’m Nora Ephron, Bitch,” after successfully negotiating a new job position. Mindy Lahiri’s favourite movie When Harry Met Sally is repeatedly mentioned throughout The Mindy Project, and even shapes the friends to more-than-friends relationship between Mindy and Danny (her obsession with the Empire State Building is also strongly shaped by her love of Sleepless in Seattle). Waiting for Tom Hanks, a book by Kerry Winfrey follows Annie Cassidy who dreams of being the next Nora Ephron and is filled with countless nods towards Ephron’s work. Ephron’s movies were not without their faults though, and there are valid critiques about the very narrow perspectives that dominate her movies. However, the impact she had on female journalism and the film industry is undeniable. With so many writers highlighting her impact on their own work after her death in 2011. Yet the importance of her work is still frequently overlooked thanks to the chick flick label that many judge, but when looking past the problems of the rom-com genre it is evident just how smart, relatable, and authentic Ephron’s work was.

And it wasn’t just the films that made Nora Ephron a pioneer for women in the film industry, she herself was a feminist and profound



RANKING LIMITED EDITION FURBYS WRITTEN BY ELEANOR TAYLOR (GRAPESHOT’S RESIDENT FURBY EXPERT) ILLUSTRATED BY SAM VAN VLIET Released by Tiger Electronics in 1998, which were bought that same year by Hasbro, Furbys took the world by storm. You might be thinking Furbys look an awful lot like Mogwai from Gremlins. Warner Bros actually noticed this to and threatened to sue Hasbro for it which resulted in Furbys being changed to look more different. The legal threat wasn’t too damaging though because, in 1999, both companies partnered to release a Furby which was based on Gizmo the Gremlin. In 1999, the NSA banned Furbys from their bases due to concerns that they were secretly monitoring conversations. Like the grown adult that I am, I love Furbys. I am not sure why I am obsessed with these tiny guys, but they are just so absurd and dumb looking. This is my ranking of limited edition Furbys and most of these were made between 1998-2002. That was the Furby golden age and all Furbys to come after 2002 suck, are boring, and lame. 1. Jester Furby (1999) Number released: 72 000 I actually have an acrylic painting of this Furby which I made ages ago and it is fantastic. A fun fact about these guys is that they were made by a different manufacturer to normal Furbys, so they are actually thinner. This is also the factor that made them such a bad job; most of these Jester Furbys have missing pieces and don’t work correctly. For all his mechanical flaws, this guy is my fave.

2. Little Bo Peep Furby (2001) Number released: 0 Little Bo Peep Furby is actually an unreleased Furby. This devastates me because as you can see, the homegirl looks good. The crook, the hat, the sheep and the pink colour. I LOVE IT. Little Bo Peep Furby is coming for Jester Furby’s crown. Literally, the only reason she isn’t there is because she is unreleased. Withholding Little Bo Peep Furby from us is a criminal offence.

3. Wizard Furby (1999) Number released: 90 000 Wizard Furby is what Autumn Furby wanted to be. Autumn Furby walked, so Wizard Furby could run. This man is giving me everything, he is absolutely owning his outfit and I love him SO MUCH. The starry cloak and the hat tell me that he is a wizard; he is not too detailed but it’s just enough to inform you about his role and tell you that he is special.

4. Blue Moon Shelby (2001) Number released: Unknown Shelby is an icon. To this day, I am unsure of what prompted his design. The least Furby-like Furby on this list, but he is a Furby in mollusk form! Shelby is actually technically not a Furby, he is a Furby Friend. This was a weird line of toys that could communicate with Furbys. Shelby speaks both Shelbish and Furby. Shelby weirds me out, on account of the whole mollusk thing, but he is the most creative thing Hasbro has ever made.


ILLUSTRATED 5. Valentine’s Day Furby (2000) Number released: 150 000 Valentine’s Day Furby understood the assignment. She is not as weird as some other limited editions (I’m looking at you, Shelby) but her colour scheme and necklace are so dang cute. She is fun, fresh and fierce.

6. Bejeweled Furby (1999) Number released: 5 Only two Bejeweled Furbys were ever sold at $100,000 each. This is the rarest Furby and I want to love her. I really do. It’s actually unknown if Bejeweled Furby was an official release. This is because she was sold at FAO Schwartz Toy Store in New York. This store was infamous for bedazzling kids toys at the time. I suspect that they genuinely took Snowball Furby and put expensive jewellery on her. This is because Bejeweled Furby has the same body. The jewellery is made of 18k gold, 63 diamonds, 44 rubies, blue sapphires, emeralds and 157 Swarovski crystals.

7. President Furby (2000) Number released: 36 000 President Furby has a unique dialogue and sings ‘hail to the chief.’ I do not like America or fascist governments. But I included this man because he looks kinda like President Trump and that amuses me. I also respect his unique sounds.

8. Royal Furby (2001) Number released: 135 000 I want to love this guy, but I cannot. He looks cheap, like garbage. His fur is a weird overly saturated blue, and also I am an anarchist so I don’t support authoritarian governments. Yes, that extends to a hypothetical Furby King. I really love the concept of the Furby King tbh, but I hate how he looks, the execution sucks for this one.

9. Spam Furby (1998) Number released: 0 There are many unreleased Furbys you can find online. I want to take a moment to appreciate the simplicity of Spam Furby. Here, we have a Snowball Furby wearing a shirt with ‘spam’ on it. I have questions about this Furby. Was it made as part of a collaboration with Spam? Did children in 1998 like Spam? Why did this happen? I want one though.

10. Furbish (1999) Number released: Unknown Furbish is a Furby Knockoff. I wanted to include him because I kind of dig him. Look at his strong arms! He speaks Furdish (the knockoff Furbish language). Furbish was actually sued by Hasbro, and the Japanese authorities then seized as many of these as they could get their hands on. In late 1999, it is known that Japanese police shredded 20,000 fake Furbys and I think Furbish was probably destroyed with them. It’s okay, he lives on in my heart.



LOCKDOWN PROTESTORS WRITTEN BY ELEANOR TAYLOR It was a nice sunny day on the weekend and I was walking the dog with my parents in Pyrmont and around the Harbour. It should have been calm, eezy breezy and quiet; the new norm in the CBD when most people work from home. But I heard the sirens and I saw the riot squad vans and police cars, all racing across the Harbour Bridge past us. There were even a few individuals who were running away from Broadway, past us which I thought was odd. So I stopped and opened up Twitter, my favourite breaking news source.

“Thousands protest in Sydney’s CBD, against lockdown.” My feed was full of righteous indignation and rage. One person said there were 15,000 protestors, how could so many people be so stupid? So selfish and reckless as to endanger the population? How dare they, when their actions could potentially undo the preventative measures taken against covid? Everyone was furious. When I got home after taking a detour to avoid the protests and police, I checked Instagram and my stories were mostly the same thing; screen caps of Twitter threads and infographics explaining why the protests were wrong. The thing about social media is that it gives us our own echo chambers. Spaces where the algorithm knows exactly what content you like the most and continually spoon feed it to you. Validating your beliefs and reaffirming what you already know; you are in the right. And I fell straight into it. It wasn’t until I was lying in bed that night that I really thought about it and unpacked my own thoughts. I have no doubt that the anti-lockdown protests we saw in July were dangerous and had the potential to spread covid. I think it’s worth noting that we did not see a covid spike as a result, likely because it was outdoors, but it was an unnecessary risk. And I have no doubt that there was a heavy extremist presence with anti-vaxers, neo-nazi’s and other shitheads taking advantage of a difficult time to spread their agendas. But I do want you, if you haven’t already, to stop and consider what drives regular people — most of whom are not extremists, to do what we saw. Vaccine Hesitancy Nationals MP George Christiansen stands


out, outspoken against lockdowns, masks and vaccines. Prominent Liberal MPs have banded together against mask mandates and NSW’s treasurer Dominic Perrotet as well as our Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce have both expressed their belief in the ‘let it rip’ method of dealing with Covid. That is the idea of simply letting covid rip through the population, killing the vulnerable, the elderly and anyone else who is simply unlucky. This is the strategy we saw and widely condemned in the US as it killed hundreds of thousands of people. I want to call out these politicians, these figures of authority who people trust and who we validate by giving them political office. We cannot criticize lockdown protestors without talking about the role our own government has played in creating them and in radicalising its own population against vaccines, masks and lockdowns. “Why won’t anyone get vaccinated?” says the government which told young people for months this year that AstraZeneca would kill them. Says the government which will not hold its own members accountable. Vaccine hesitancy has been encouraged all year, subtly with Scomo saying people could wait for Pfizer over Astrazeneca, and obviously, with George Christiansen giving a speech in parliament about lockdown, masks and vaccines not working. Our health minister Greg Hunt said that people could simply wait if concerned about AstraZeneca. The problem with this is that if people are waiting, they are not getting vaccinated and the government is validating this attitude and encouraging vaccine hesitancy. At the time he said this, one woman died from AZ, but she had other serious health conditions which impacted her. The risk of clotting is incredibly small and does not kill healthy people who have access to effective healthcare. In other words, unless you have been specifically advised not to get AZ, you should get it. Economic Conditions In times of crisis, our most vulnerable populations are the ones who will be hit the hardest. Over one million Australians were excluded from covid disaster relief payments due to being on government allowance. Despite the fact that 600,000 people on welfare have jobs and have lost that income, they are still not eligible for this assistance. When protests happened, these payments were also insanely low, not fully supplementing the incomes of people without work. Staying home for your community and the greater good is a nice thing to do, but when you can feel yourself slipping below the poverty line because of sheer government inaction, what else can you do other than protest?

I DON’T GET IT Commonwealth Bank is predicting that soon 1 in 10 people in Greater Sydney will be unemployed. Businesses close every day and people are predictably becoming desperate. Yes, lockdowns work and they protect the population from covid, but they simultaneously have ruined people’s lives. It is easy for me, an unemployed university student who has been relatively unaffected to characterise protestors as being selfish conspiracy theorists, without considering why people do things to begin with. I would also contend that this dismissal of people’s genuine fears and concerns further alienates them from their society and if they are engaging with conspiracy content, likely pushes them further right. To brand every lockdown protester as a selfish “covidiot” only polarises us more and stokes radical ideas. The Media Sky News and Fox feed off of the paranoia they create in their audiences. Marketing themselves as honest people who don’t care about the ‘woke folk’ and are anti-establishment, our media is dominated by figures such as Peta Credlin and literally everyone on the Outsiders. You cannot overstate the role that the Murdoch media has played in the rise of conspiracy theories, the propagation of anti-government sentiment, and fuelling the anger and hate of protesters. Branding Dan Andrews “Dictator Dan” because of lockdowns in Victoria, Murdoch media outlets have consistently expressed the view that lockdowns are akin to living in an authoritarian police state and that this is our future. In the Australian Financial Review, our former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer wrote a column named “democracy eliminated by leaving restrictions to health experts.” George Christiansen responded to the protests occurring with this “looks like thousands upon thousands of Sydneysiders are protesting against the removal of freedoms under the guise of the pandemic.” And Scott Morrison condemned the protests as selfish but defended Christiansen (who also participated in a protest in QLD) as utilising his right to free speech. Alan Jones finally lost his Daily Telegraph Column after publishing anti-vaccine and antilockdown comments but it took years. Our news platforms provide anti-science sentiment with a platform, legitimising harmful and factually inaccurate ideas. A Foreign Influence Globally, we have seen ‘Freedom Rallies’ in places like the UK, France and Melbourne. These are undoubtedly influenced by prominent conspiracy theories which are fuelled by racism, antisemitism and the weird obsession

which members of the Alt-Right have with Bill Gates. People who have those beliefs genuinely disgust me, but they market themselves as being pro-freedom and anti-lockdown. This is where conspiracies collide with and take advantage of desperate people. But Australia is not the only country to be negatively impacted by covid. The UK, France and the US are all regions where people have suffered enormously, experiencing health and economic crises. Globally, there is general dissatisfaction with how our governments have handled the pandemic which has resulted in general social upheaval. So, what makes a Lockdown protestor? Considering the economic, social and political conditions, protests were inevitable. In a society where people are lied to by their trusted MP’s and their supposedly unbiased press, without any censure from our Prime Minister or media outlets, it should come as no surprise that people will believe what they see as credible information. In a society where people are neglected by that same government and locked up indefinitely with no financial support, it should come as no surprise that people are desperate. People need an income to live, if their essential needs are not being met, it is guaranteed that they will express their dissatisfaction regardless of lockdown. People do not break the law easily, they don’t risk thousands of dollars in fines easily or risk police brutality and condemnation from their wider community. It is easy to dismiss people as one-dimensional idiots spreading covid because it is simpler than actually investigating the society which has created them. When people are disaffected and unheard, they will find an outlet for their anger regardless of if social media condemns them or not. Every day our politicians and our media publications give speeches and publish headlines expressing the same views as protestors. I think this is incredibly telling and a sign that the real blame for this clusterfuck we find ourselves in does not lie with average working-class Australians, but with the predatory institutions taking advantage of their fear and uncertainty.




Winston Hills: the suburb you’ve never heard of, but most people from Sydney’s inner-West have driven through it on their way to somewhere else, or driven into it for the purpose of wolfing down some Chook A Licious. That should definitely be our catchphrase. I have been wanting to write about my suburb for ages. I was so excited when our editor asked: “Who hasn’t written about their suburb yet?” I eagerly raised my hand. And then, I sat down to write about my suburb. But what to write? My usual protocol for when I don’t know what to do: Google it. Something. Anything. Google anything, and you’re sure to arrive at an answer, even if it’s not the answer to the question you were asking in the first place. Here’s what I found on a real estate website: “Winston Hills is a beautiful suburb, where homes and gardens are kept pristine and outstyle neighbourhood values are still evident. It is a very short journey into the heart of Parramatta.” My first thought is, “are we really rating people on how they keep their gardens in 2021?” My second thought is, “What does ‘outstyle’ mean?” Here’s the thing. We are just inside Parramatta. Just. This was confusing when “LGAs” became a popular term towards the middle of 2020. We learned that we were part of the Parramatta Council. This may not sound strange. It probably isn’t. But I had lived most of my life thinking that I lived in what is known as the Hills Shire Council. And here’s the thing: I still do. Winston Hills is a 5-square-kilometre suburb, originally inhabited by the First Nations Toongagal clan of the Dharug peoples. This is because Winston Hills was part of the Old Toongabbie area when the area began being developed in the 1960s (note: Toongabbie is part of Blacktown City Council). The development division of the L. J. Hooker realty company named the development ‘Winston Hills Estate’ after the infamous British Prime


Minister, Winston Churchill. Before that, it was known as ‘Model Farms’ — and that namesake legacy lives on, with one street in Winston Hills called Model Farms Road and the local high school called Model Farms High School — but that’s in Baulkham Hills, which is part of the Hills Shire Council. It turns out that as recently as May 2016, Winston Hills became shared between the City of Parramatta and the Hills Shire Council. So that’s why we get the Hills Shire and Parramatta flyers in the mail. In 2018, it was found that Winston Hills had an estimated residential population of 12,811 people. I can’t tell whether that is a lot for a 5km radius, or very little. Either way, I seem to see the same people every day, but I also see people I’ve never seen before on a regular basis. We are both a small town and part of a greater city. I asked on my Instagram what my fellow Winston Hills residents thought about the suburb: what were their favourite things, and what were their least favourite things? Many people mentioned the Chisholm Centre, a space of five shops in a row: a bakery (I used to work at!), a Vietnamese cuisine restaurant, a chemist, Chook A Licious (renowned for its chicken and chips) and a real estate agency. Growing up, I — and many others, surprisingly — called it Piggly Wiggly. Why? I’ve done some investigation, and I could not tell you why. One person wrote that it’s ‘endearing’ that it’s both a suburb which people outside of the Hills area have never heard of, but also has three primary schools, a main shopping centre with many of the main chain supermarket stores and two small market-areas, including the Chisholm Centre (the one on the other side of Winston Hills that has gourmet pizza, called Pizza on Lomond and it can best be described as great). Another person wrote that while the memories attached to Winston Hills are great because the high school is essentially next to the shopping centre (and yet, the shopping centre is part of Baulkham Hills and the Hills Shire Council), bumping into people from high school that you’d rather not bump into maybe the thing that makes Winston Hills lose its charm. That’s something that I live with every day — I turn a corner on one of my infamous lockdown walks to see someone I used to know, and immediately need to calculate a different path in order to not have to engage in conversation.

YOU ARE HERE Overwhelmingly, my fellow Winston Hillions detested that the suburb is mainly populated by conservative old white people. One person mentioned a ‘microaggressions culture,’ and I completely agree. It’s the only thing that’s ever made me feel like I want to escape the smallness of my area. It’s something I don’t know how to contribute to change, especially as prices rise exponentially ($2 mil should not be the average price for a house, and yet it is in Winston Hills) and young people are mostly driven out. Even so, many called it ‘wholesome’ or somewhere they felt safe in public, compared to other suburbs. One of my friends said that growing up right on the border of Winston Hills, they felt safe, and like they were part of that community, even if they didn’t technically belong to my side of the border. When I was younger, I used to detest where we lived. My parents forced me to walk to school every day, and I jealously envied those whose parents drove them to school. “But MUM!” I would yell. “It’s called WINSTON HILLS. There are hills! I can’t walk up hills!” And it’s true; it’s an incredibly hilly suburb. Sometimes it’s a

pain in the ass. But as I’ve grown older, I have realised that I am so lucky to live where I live. I live a five-to-ten-minute walk away from a bus stop that could take me anywhere — further out west to Blacktown, or closer to the city, to Macquarie or the CBD, or into the heart of Parramatta itself. I really love this suburb that I grew up in. If I ever get the opportunity to live here on my own property, I will seize that chance with grasping hands and open eyes. The reality is that I will probably never be able to afford it — and it’s something that keeps me up at night — but can’t a girl dream? I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to grow up where I grew up, and be part of the schools that I went to (regardless of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they were), and to have had the experiences that I’ve had in Winston Hills. You should stop by sometime.



MOB: YARNING CIRCLE Footnotes are supposed to lead people to places for further information and reading. I have compiled a list of ways Indigenous Students and people can reconnect to land, culture and community. I believe it is beneficial to discuss ways that people can start reintegrating themselves into their culture. I like to think of it as an offer for people to start walking that journey — or at least a space where people revisit to find out where to start.

Sit on the riverbank and fish or listen to the wind.

Watch some documentaries about Indigenous History and life.

Sit with an elder and listen to their story.



Attend a community event e.g. NAIDOC

Sit with another Indigenous person and share stories

Research your own family history to investigate and learn about the policies and how they were affected.

Join an Indigenous sporting team (Knockouts).

Additionally, you can reach out to Walanga Muru staff members: • Cultural and Wellbeing Officer: Alison Salt • Aboriginal Academic Engagement Coordinator: Tamika Worrell by Rhys Sage




CONSENT MATTERS MACQUARIE Trigger warning: article discusses sexual assault.

education and training.”

In my fourth and final year at Macquarie University, I am yet to complete the consent matters module. Not for a lack of interest in the subject, or out of pure laziness, but for the very reason that I might one day write this article. Almost like an experiment, I had hoped, that as my years at Macquarie progressed, that the teaching of consent would become prioritised for students. However, here I am, four years later, writing this to you.

While the consent matters module is available for all students at Macquarie University, it still remains an option for students to complete. There is no academic penalty for noncompletion.

Consent is an agreement. It is both a verbal and nonverbal way of communicating with another person. However, regrettably, when it comes to university students, consent can have much deeper consequences. Consent in a sexual context is one of the largest threats that we uni students face. A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2017 noted that 1 in 5 students had been sexually assaulted, with 14% of incidents occurring on university grounds. Not only does consent need to be taught by our universities and schools, but it needs to be implemented, recognised, and performed. Consent is not as simple as a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Macquarie University’s current policies on consent education state that: “The university will implement education and training for students, which may include mandatory

Similarly, Macquarie has a mandatory academic integrity module. In my first year as a student at Macquarie, I received an email stating that in order to access all of the learning material on iLearn, I must first complete this module. It was here that I realised that Macquarie was more focused on the academic integrity of their students than they were their actual integrity. Consent education needs to be implemented as a priority, as students continue to face the daunting reality of rape culture on campus. Here, it is important to note that certain measures need to remain in place for anyone triggered by the topics covered in consent matters. These students should not be made to complete it. In an interview with co-presidents of Macquarie’s Women’s Collective (WoCo), Libby Payne and Amanda Matthews, we discussed the importance of consent education. “It’s not standardised in school. Not everyone is getting it from school or their parents. So at every step of the way where we can give education, I think it’s so important to do so,” Libby states.


Amanda continued, “while it’s not the university’s responsibility to fill in gaps, they can’t ignore the lived experience of students.” While universities are beginning to acknowledge the importance of consent education, it often dismisses the culture that surrounds consent. “It’s important because a lot of consent education isn’t nuanced to how we actually experience relationships,” states Libby. Amanda expanded on this idea stating that consent education “doesn’t talk about the fact that people know the difference between yes or no. What isn’t discussed, is that when people are interested in someone, they are encouraged by social media, movies, and music, to keep trying until they change that person’s mind. And it’s romanticised.” “It signals that if it’s not yes – keep trying.” When discussing what needs to be included in modules such as consent matters, a few ideas were proposed by the pair. “It’s about execution and delivery, as much as it’s about what’s actually in the course… My suggestion would be that you get course credit for it. If you made it feel as though people were actually getting rewarded, and it was recognisable, then I think it would go a long way,” stated Amanda. Penny Huisman, Macquarie University’s Senior Manager (Interim) of Student Wellbeing, Equity and Inclusion outlined the current online consent training at Macquarie University. “Online consent training is mandatory for all Macquarie University students. While completion rates are high — over 7000 students have completed the training this year — our major concern is always on how to improve students’ engagement with the content, as engagement is crucial to behaviour change. At the start of every session we reach out to students through multiple online learning channels, lecture slides, newsletters and emails to maximise awareness of the training and the opportunities we offer to understand more about consent. The Respect Now Always team is always looking for ways we can improve what we do at Macquarie, including finding effective ways to deliver training, and developing education that is engaging and relevant to students, such as running peer education programs on gender violence. Where possible, we also work with stakeholders to build completion into some processes, such as some accommodation providers make it a condition of residency, or student leadership programs make it a condition of participation.” Both Libby and Amanda are also a part of the student advisory group for Respect Now Always at Macquarie.


In a discussion on what changes need to be made by Macquarie in their consent education, they reiterated that “it’s not for a lack of trying.” The RNA team are currently in discussion about making changes to the consent matters module, however the current climate has impacted its rollout. One idea proposed by the team was to prevent students from accessing grades without completing a module on consent. This demonstrates an approach that wouldn’t necessarily impact a student’s ability to access iLearn and assessments, but rather encourages them to take part in the module and furthermore, the discussion that surrounds it. “It can’t just be a ticked box,” states Amanda. While there are currently discussions about changing the urgency of the consent matters module at Macquarie, universities around Australia have already been implementing such changes. Both Newcastle and Sydney University have a mandatory consent module that brings forth real consequences with its incompletion. In conversation with Newcastle University, I was told that: “Students who fail to complete this module can be sanctioned with a negative service indicator on their account which prevents access to enrolment… view their final grades, and access their transcript.” In saying this, Macquarie has an abundance of online material relating to consent and sexual violence. The MQ website offers information on consent, external support services, how to respond and report sexual violence, as well as how to prevent such incidents. Even so, these are features that I did not know existed until I began my research on this topic. Libby agreed, “Before I had to do certain training for MQWC (Macquarie University’s Women’s Collective) I was not aware (of such resources). Often people still come to us and they don’t know about it.” Macquarie University has the platform and the opportunity to be a leader in this discussion. As students, this statistic directly affects us, so we need to recognise the importance of consent education and how it is approached. “Consent is important in encouraging people to be brave, have courage, to step up, and respond, because if we don’t respond then silence is violence,” states Amanda. So it is time to take action, Macquarie. by Ella Scott

#POETRY Excerpt from ‘Poetry’ from Others (1919) by Marianne Moore I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle. Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine. Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise… …if you demand on one hand, in defiance of their opinion— the raw material of poetry in all its rawness, and that which is on the other hand, genuine, then you are interested in poetry. Ben Lerner writes in his 2016 examination of the craft, The Hatred of Poetry: “When somebody tells me, as so many people have told me, that they don’t get poetry in general or my poetry in particular and/or believe that poetry is dead [I tell them]: I, too, dislike it.” Reading this reminds me of what Ella Risbridger wrote in her 2019 anthology, Set Me On Fire: A Poem For Every Feeling, saying in a very matter-of-fact way: “Most people, you know, hate poetry. This is a terrible thing to admit, if you’re a person who loves poetry.” And it is. It is a terrible thing for me to admit, because I love poetry. I mean, I love books and reading of all kinds, yes, but I devour poetry. I had this idea to do an exposé on why people hate poetry and why I love it. But when I sat down to write this sharp, witty, and very controversial exposé, I didn’t know where to start. Google search: Why do people hate poetry? It’s the poets’ fault. Why do I love it? What drew me in? I couldn’t even remember. What I do know, however, is that I am a

voracious poetry consumer. I love poetry. My earliest memories stretch back to the first time I saw Sarah Kay’s 2011 TED talk in which she performs her poem ‘B.’ She opens: “(If I should have a daughter…) Instead of Mum, she’s going to call me Point B. / Because that way she knows that no matter what happens, / At least she can always find her way to me.” I was in love with this future love. I didn’t know you could be nostalgic for the future! Now, I see that inexpressible love ride in tandem with Matthew Olzmann’s ‘Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem’: “So here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage / might work: because you wear pink but write poems / about bullets and gravestones.” Poets have so much love to give, even if they write poems about bullets and gravestones. So yeah, I guess you could say poetry is about love. But poetry also isn’t about love. Sylvia Plath writes about, amongst other things, her desire to die. She writes about tulips in wintertime, about “learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly.” Mary Oliver, admittedly, does write about love – she wrote a whole collection of poems about her love for her dog – but she writes mostly about hope. In her poem, ‘Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness’ from her 2012 collection, A Thousand Mornings, she says: “So let us go on, cheerfully enough / this and every crisping day, / though the sun be swinging east… and the sweets of the year be doomed.” Savannah Brown writes about the apocalypse. She writes in her poem, ‘The Universe May Stop Expanding in Five Billion Years’: “at which point time will cease / to exist and i can finally stop / complaining.” I sigh in relief and in exasperation when I read this, me too. Even Savannah Brown, who gained her following


online, follows in the footsteps of Lord Byron in his 1816 poem ‘Darkness,’ in which he predicts the apocalypse: “I had a dream, which was not all a dream. / The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars / Did wander darkling into the eternal space.” Risbridger writes: “A poem, you see, is a kind of collaboration. It is partly what the writer wrote and partly what the reader reads. You bring your own life with you when you read. How I read a poem might not be how you read a poem, and how I read a poem now might not be how I read it next year. Poems change: the same words on the same page can be different because you are different.” I don’t think it is this eternal unchangeability of the poem that scares people; I think it is the history of poetry that scares people. Like, yes, I know what a sonnet is (do I, though?). I’m pretty sure I could define a haiku for you. I’ve definitely dabbled in the acrostic. But a limerick? An Ode? An elegy? I laugh. I’ve got absolutely no idea. The thing is, though, I’m not sure the ‘experts’ could explain it to you in a single sentence either. The history of poetry is uneven and paradoxical and political. It spans continents and goes back to the times before we even started writing stories down. But what is interesting is that the stuff we think is ‘stuffy’ – I’m thinking about, say, the Romantics (approx. 1780s-1820s) and anyone else before the 1980s – is that compared to what came before them, they weren’t ‘stuffy’ at all. What we class as Romantic poetry was rebelling against an incredibly strict period in the 17th and 18th centuries where what you wanted to write a poem about, dictated the form you would write it in. The Romantics were essentially the Insta-poets of the 19th century. I think most people simply misunderstand the fundamental emotional basis of poetry. Ben Lerner writes that we feel an anger towards the self when we don’t understand a poem. We are taught that poetry exclusively uses language no longer in the modern layman’s vocabulary. “Why don’t I understand this?” we ask of ourselves. “Probably because it’s a bit shite,” I would answer. “Or, maybe you should expand your vocabulary.” I see poems like friends; you have to get to know the ones you don’t like in order to know which ones that you do. William Sieghart writes in the introduction to his 2017 anthology, The Poetry Pharmacy, “You don’t need to be a poet to find solace in poetry.” Sometimes, even if you are a poet, like the brilliant Danez Smith, you just need to write a poem called ‘trees!’ – yes, it is about trees, but


it is also about death, and red-hot violent anger. Poems are often about one thing, but also really about another. Emily Berry’s poem, ‘Winter,’ is about an escape-route, but also about a mother who is so sad that “she could not hold up her head.” These things are not mutually exclusive. Poems are often poems-in-disguise. However, they can also be as limited or as exponential in meaning as you want them to be. In one of her footnotes in Set Me On Fire, Risbridger importantly writes: “A poem that doesn’t work for you is not a poem that you need. It’s not your failing. It’s not you at all; it’s them. It’s fine. Scrap it. Ignore it. Turn the page.” This is what I cannot seem to point out or emphasise enough. Please, I plead. It’s not you; it’s them. Please continue reading. Look, we may never know what Billy Collins means when he writes about taking off Emily Dickinson’s clothes (yes, this is a poem; no, I couldn’t tell you what it’s about, except that it’s probably about sex, but then again, a lot of poems are; yes, you may want to look it up). Maybe this intended exposé evolved into an amalgamation of my favourite poems. To be real with you – as the kids say – I don’t mind that at all. And, to be more real with you, I will admit it; I kinda hate poetry, too. I see why you don’t like poetry. I don’t like most of the poetry that I see and read. But the poems that I do like light a spark within me. Good poems help me understand the world, and help the world understand me. I desire rawness and that which is genuine; this is why I am interested in poetry. By Nikita Byrnes If you like poetry already, or are new to poetry and want to dive deeper, I suggest: • A Thousand Mornings (2012) by Mary Oliver • Date & Time (2018) by Phil Kaye • Mezzanines (2013) by Matthew Olzmann • No Matter the Wreckage (2014) by Sarah Kay • Set Me On Fire: A Poem For Every Feeling (2019) by Ella Risbridger

THE RED PILL: INSIDE THE MINDS OF THE ALT-RIGHT When I first started on this article, I thought it would be easy and fun. It’s just memes and fascism, what could be so hard? However as I would soon find out, the altright cannot be written in isolation. Writing about the alt-right means writing about 4chan, the 2008 Global Recession, the Church of Scientology, Wikileaks, the Occupy Wall St protests, Gamergate, The Fappening, the 2016 American elections and inevitably, Capitol Hill. Then there’s everything in between as well, the radicalisation of ‘normies,’ fake news, red pilling, satire and irony. The alt-right is purposely confusing and hard to pin down, making it tempting to dismiss and ignore them. However, if the last five years have indicated anything — it’s that the alt-right has spilled over from the internet and into the real world. For over a decade, the alt-right has grown quietly in unregulated areas of the internet. Originally created as an anime imageboard, 4chan continues to be the centre of youth counterculture and is the home ground of the alt-right community. Prior to 2006, it had no content regulation and even when restrictions were introduced, it was a sitewide ban on child pornography due to a fear of legal liability. Besides that, you are free to post whatever you want. Homophobic, racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic content proliferated on the site, further exacerbated by the fact that 4chan allowed its users to participate anonymously, leading to many within the community referring to themselves as ‘Anons.’ On 4chan, threads with interactions and replies were bumped to the top while old threads were automatically deleted as new ones were posted. Today, we often think of the Internet as an archive or a way to hold people responsible for their actions. 4chan is the antithesis of this, providing anonymity and impermanence — as

Hari Kunzru sums up in his article for The New York Review “no archive, no memory,” and as I would add, no accountability. Dale Beran observes in his book, It Came from Something Awful, that both the far-left and far-right have origins on 4chan. The site has always been a place for disenfranchised young men to congregate. In the early advent of the internet — even without social media algorithms, echo chambers were already beginning to form. So when the 2008 global recession hit, 4chan saw a proliferation of political memes and the emergence of the leftist hacker collective, Anonymous. In a post-modern, nihilistic world where trust in traditional institutions has crumbled and corruption appears to be rife, Anonymous fought back by advocating for freedom of information. Using software to flood the Church of Scientology’s servers and crashing them, this same technology would later be used by WikiLeaks to gain access to highly classified information regarding public matters. Having reached peak notoriety by leaking the Iraq War Documents, Anonymous faced the wrath of the American government and in turn began targeting Wall Street. Addressing social and economic inequality, the Occupy Wall Street protest’s slogan was “We are the 99%” referring to the vast wealth inequality in the US between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. The protest’s goals were admirable, from reducing the influence of corporations on politics, bank reform and a call to forgive student loan debts — it carried a lot of ideology that is traditionally associated with the left. However, politics is never as clear cut as we imagine and hope for it to be. The Occupy Wall Street protests


were criticised for being overwhelmingly White, failing to address the concerns of lower classes and ethnic minorities. Additionally, notes of anti-Semitism that underpinned the protests were prevalent with many protestors referring to Wall Street as being controlled by Jews. The Washington Post reported a protestor stating “almost all of the hedge fund managers and bankers are on Wall St. They are all Jewish… They have pulled their money together in order to take control of America.” More explicitly, a protestor held a sign reading “Hitler’s Bankers - Wall St,” echoing Hitler’s anti-Semitic propaganda used to justify the persecution of Jews during WWII. History is bound to repeat. Thus, it is not hard at all to see how 4chan cultivated two extremist groups that the public would view as having competing ideologies. However, if the Cold War’s McCarthyism and the Red Scare are anything to go by, you’ll find that Communism and Capitalism are different means to the same ends — both produce a divided class where the powerful get more powerful and the poor get poorer. While it may seem that Anonymous (the farleft movement group) and anons (the far-right using a lower case to distinguish themselves) have competing ideologies, fundamentally both are built on the same fears and anxieties that plague our contemporary zeitgeist. In a postmodernist, nihilistic world where the populace has lost faith and trust in traditional institutions and state powers, the alt-right capitalised on collective anxieties to drive the idea that there is no reality in our world anymore. It is important to remember that politics — wherever we are located — often boils down to choosing between the lesser of two evils. Several events happened in quick succession following Occupy Wall Street, leading to the rise and prevalence of the alt-right. In August 2014, Gamergate saw incels harassing female game developers with death and rape threats. Driven by their victim mentality, the incels blamed women for their perceived grievances with the world. This led to the Fappening at the end of August, where almost 500 private nude pictures of celebrities (mostly women) were posted to 4chan — undoubtedly, a move that was perceived to be justified by the overt misogyny present in Gamergate. Almost immediately, lawsuits were leveraged against 4chan’s founder Christopher Poole. In response, discussions of Gamergate and The Fappening were deleted site-wide. Once revered by his users, Poole quickly found himself criticised by his users for being a Social Justice Warrior concerned with political correctness. Evidently, the attempt at regulation and control was far too little and had arrived far too late. Events like Gamergate and The Fappening don’t occur out of nowhere. For years, 4chan had cultivated an echo chamber that was misogynistic, bitter and violent. In May of 2014, three months before Gamergate, Elliot Rodger drove around UC Santa Barbara shooting at


women who resembled those who rejected him, killing six people and injuring 14 others. A ‘manifesto’ was uploaded online where Rodger stated that the purpose behind his act of terrorism was to “punish” women for rejecting him. Undoubtedly, 4chan’s environment gave Rodger, and others like him, the perception that their extremely misogynistic and violent views towards women are justfied, giving the alt-right the confidence to commit extreme acts of terrorism in the real world. Shitposting by the alt-right makes it incredibly difficult for authorities to distinguish between real threats and ironic jokes made in bad taste. The Christchurch shooter, Brenton Tarrant, posted a full ‘manifesto’ online before shooting down two mosques during Friday prayers. This means that countless anons on 8chan were aware of Tarrant’s intentions and many had posted comments supporting his plans. When the shootings occurred and live-streamed on Facebook, any concerns expressed by the anons were only in regards to the possibility that 8chan’s /pol/ board may be taken down. Incels are perfect for radicalisation — our contemporary equivalent of cult indoctrination. As a group already insecure and furious at the world, 4chan enabled a faceless mass to congregate and fuel each other’s insecurities. It created echo chambers that enable misogynistic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, racist and violent speech to proliferate. Yet, despite its cult-like characteristics, the alt-right’s ideology and vision is notoriously hard to summarise — but one thing is clear — white supremacist and fascist ideology underpins much of it. So how do the alt-right share their ideology and convince people of their legitimacy when their views are so extreme? Red pilling, memes and trolling. Red pilling is a reference to the famous line in The Matrix — you know the one I’m talking about — “take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake in bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbithole goes. Remember - all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.” Conveniently, matching the colours of the Democratic and Republican parties, the symbolism of the red pill was incredibly easy for the alt-right to appropriate. The term red pill was first circulated among men’s rights activists to refer to an epiphany of the supposed gender inequality against men or that contemporary values benefit women more than men. Thus, red pilling was first used to describe turning people against feminism before gradually escalating into conspiracies like one that posits that the Sandy Hook shooting never occurred and Holocaust denial. Many alt-right believers are self-proclaimed losers and loners, they often feel socially isolated and the alt-right preys upon these insecurities while welcoming them into the community. It does two things simultaneously, they prey on the vulnerabilities and their insecurities which make them susceptible to influence and then provide them with a sense of superiority over ‘normies.’ “Come,” they say, “we will

show you the truth that everyone else is blind to. Only you can see it because you have been chosen. You are special.”

out strongly from traditional far-right visual language: it combines pop culture, infantile humour, neo-Nazi allusions and blatant contempt for humanity.”

The alt-right is funny. They are inappropriate, toeing boundaries and then transgressing them — the alt-right is often dismissed as being comprised of losers and rednecks, but people forget that they are made up of digital natives. They know the workings of the internet and how to gain traction on it. Make enough borderline inappropriate and harmful jokes and soon people will fail to realise when they have been taken over the line and standing in a cesspool of fascism and white supremacy.

Furthermore, its roots in pop culture mean it is more readily adopted by ‘normies’ who may not be aware of the alt-right roots of an image or the implicit meanings it contains. The alt-right made the aesthetics and ideological content accessible and appealing to a younger generation.

The alt-right uses memes to disseminate meaning and communicate ideas, taking the form of textual, visual or auditory items that hold cultural meaning for an audience. It dresses extremist ideologies in fun popcultural references with a distinct visual aesthetic. The alt-right doesn’t hit you with Swastikas or KKK symbols immediately. They show you Pepe the Frog or NPC Wojak first while disseminating slang with origins in the alt-right community like ‘normies,’ ‘snowflake,’ or ‘social justice warrior’ so that they pervade mainstream discourse. Savvas Zannetou et al conducted a scientific study of memes to examine their influence in manipulating and swaying public opinion. Through a dataset of over 160 million images gathered from Twitter, Reddit, 4chan’s / pol/ and Gab, they grouped the images posted on fringe web communities and mapped them against images in mainstream communities. In their study, they found an increasing range of politics-related memes from the altright communities making their way into mainstream communities, even finding their way into traditional media reports. Rather than simply perpetuating racist memes like Jewish caricatures or Nazi symbols, Zannetou and the team found that fringe communities had an amazing ability to twist the meaning of specific memes by changing their context and making them go viral. She uses the NPC Wojak meme, which 4chan and Reddit users used to mock liberals as NPCs, implying they lacked critical thinking and would accept messages provided by mainstream media, who are in turn controlled by the government. By encoding white supremacist messages in memes, only those who are part of the alt-right community are able to decipher their true meanings. It enables them to communicate with each other secretly, providing a sense of superiority and community while hiding in plain view of ‘normies.’ This niche humour reinforces the ingroup identity of the alt-right. The emergence and strength of any community is based on how easily identifiable they are by appearance or aesthetics, and fascism is no different. The alt-right has created a culture that combines white supremacist ideology with memes, game culture and hacker culture, creating an easily recognisable image in a digital environment that can then be disseminated. The Peace Research Institute Frankfurt describes the alt-right’s visual culture as “eclectic and playful, stands

We are unknowingly micro-dosing on red pills. Through irony and satire, the alt-right escaped serious scrutiny and analysis for years. It enables them to dismiss progressives who pull them up on their hate speech by claiming a meme was a joke to prove how sensitive the left is and the “ridicule” of political correctness. By reacting to the joke, you proved that liberals only care about trivial issues making you more likely to dismiss the next offensive meme. Yet, the underlying purpose of the meme was to spread and normalise ideologies rooted in fascism. By constantly dancing on the line between irony and sincerity, the alt-right is able to disperse their propaganda through memes while escaping accountability — after all, how embarrassing to fall for a joke created by a troll! As Vox’s article points out “it can be extremely difficult for the average person to parse alt-right trolling from ‘sincere’ alt-right messaging. If you fall for it, you’re catering to the movement’s ostensible perception of leftleaning citizens (or even moderate citizens) as being histrionic.” Yet to “dismiss it as trolling or simply ignoring it altogether, you risk glossing over actual dangerous messages: racist, misogynistic, bigoted and violent symbolism and language.” The alt-right capitalises on this idea, for decades the wisdom on the internet is to ignore trolls, however, can we really afford to ignore trolls when they are so effective at disseminating altright ideology? Trolling effectively enables the alt-right to avoid analysis while ensuring ‘normies’ either get sidetracked or choose to ignore their trolling (doesn’t matter, they don’t have to recruit you, there are others who will do). All while other literate alt-right members are able to contextualise and make sense of the meaning behind the memes. From fear-mongering, trolling and doxxing — the alt-right has a litany of methods to intimidate those who challenge them whilst spreading their ideology and false information. Through memes, the alt-right has successfully pushed misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist ideologies. Their use of ironic hyperbole is intentionally confusing, while the injection of humour and vulgarity aids them in appealing to the younger generation. Where satire has traditionally been used to criticise conservatives, the alt-right have utilised it to radicalise and indoctrinate individuals to further their agenda of white supremacy.


Pepe the Frog was adopted by the alt-right in 2010, featuring Nazi symbols or transformed into Trump, to challenge and criticise ‘political c o r re c t n e s s . ’ In 2015, Trump posted an image on Twitter of himself represented as Pepe, legitimising the politically visual language of the alt-right and validating their beliefs. It was a move that the general public at the time failed to understand the true meaning and significance of, but sent a clear message to the alt-right. Whether as a means of legitimising their ideology or incentivising them to vote for Trump at the elections as a joke — it would set the groundwork for what would eventually cumulate into the events of Capitol Hill. To the cynics and self-identified losers of 4chan, Trump embodied how the world works as a series of lies. Hari Kunzru describes Trump’s relationship to anons as “he was a loser’s bitter caricature of a winner, a boorish, brash serial liar, a holder of grudges, proof that you could run for the most powerful political office in the world and still be a small man.” It’s impossible to look at the recent events of Capitol Hill and not recognise the culture that has been festering on the internet for years. Incidents like this don’t happen overnight, they are an accumulation of history and festering wounds, they are systematic and institutional problems. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election was shocking, with many confident that surely there was no way a man like that could be elected into office and hold one of the most, if not the most, powerful positions in the world. For the alt-right, it was an equally shocking victory, like maybe finally, their world had stepped off the digital arena and into reality. Furthermore, it was proof that they were right all along and the world was finally opening their eyes to the true reality and more people would take the red pill. In early 2018, we saw the Cambridge Analytica scandal break, where the company used the data of millions of Facebook users to target voters with misinformation. Trump’s 2016 campaign utilised harvested data to target Trump supporters and possible swing voters. This, coupled with Wikileaks releasing emails which suggested that the Clinton Campaign may have tilted the primary in her favour (despite no evidence) would have aided Trump in gaining more voters. Despite Trump’s sexual assault allegations alongside the release of the Access Hollywood tape where he was recorded saying “grab ‘em by the pussy” and the Republican party’s opposition to him, Trump gained wide media coverage and public interest through his controversial remarks and lack of political correctness. Trump gained the presidential seat by appealing to racism and sexism, gaining the favour of both the farright and alt-right.


As the 2020 elections rolled around, the world watched with bated breath. Despite two impeachment trials, it did not seem unlikely that Trump would stay in power. Whether he retained the presidency through democratic means or a coup, America seemed to be on the brink of fascism. When Trump told the Proud Boys, a farright organisation to “stand back and stand by,” a strong message was sent to both far and alt-right — they had a leader in a position of power and massive amounts of wealth who was willing to support them and shared their ideologies. Even now, I think about how much language and slang of the internet originated from alt-right spaces. By obscuring the truth and questioning reality and using satire to mask propaganda, the alt-right has created a highly effective way to radicalise individuals. The effectiveness of their ideological dissemination is reflected in its supporters who come from a crosssection of American life. Members of the alt-right come from different classes, demographics and localities who view the White race as being threatened by the Other, resulting in violence and neo-Nazism. When trolling leads to very real consequences like the results of the 2016 elections, mass shootings around the world and the undeniable rise of fascism and far-right ideology, we can no longer live in blissful unawareness. Mayhaps it is time to start reclaiming certain phrases that have been decontextualized by the alt-right, starting with red pilling. The Matrix’s directors, the Wachowski sisters, have spoken against the alt-right’s appropriation of the film to support their beliefs. The events of the past decade have indicated that willful ignorance does not stop the alt-right from growing — instead, they were allowed to fester and wreak havoc. It is easy to dismiss the alt-right as delusional conspiracy theorists, buying into alternate versions of truths and lacking critical thinking skills. However, to do that dismisses the real danger of the alt-right; it’s not that they do not know the truth, it is that they do not care. By Tiffany Fong

THE WRITERS BEHIND THE PEOPLE WE REMEMBER “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” When we hear these words, one person comes to mind. J-F-K. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy sparked the hearts of millions of Americans, patriots, leaders, and spectators from around the world at a critical time in history in an unforgettable inaugural speech. What doesn’t come to mind, however, is the man who wrote it. Ted Sorenson was the original speechwriter and the creator of the infamous quote. But decades later, we still know them as JFK’s words. This same kind of idea is frequent among the wide tension between credit given to directors versus screenwriters. A director becomes the face of a movie, and is often remembered over the writer. Partly, this is because there is one director and sometimes multiple writers. Others may feel that directors use their skill to turn scripts into good movies. Yet, some cases show that good scripts can become bad movies. For example, Quentin Tarantino is a revered writer. Yet in his earlier days, when making Natural Born Killers, his original script for the film was rewritten by Oliver Stone and

others, resulting in a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tarantino even denied any affiliation with the film claiming that they changed his writing so much he didn’t want any credit. As a writer, our words are an extension of us. They can be a weapon. They can heal. They can teach. Writers make them what they want. There’s the power of language, and there’s the language of power. The way words are construed and put together is a defining aspect of who we are. Words can make all the difference in the world. So, when our words are known by the voice of others, albeit at times when this is the intention, it can still feel like some kind of moral and creative robbery. In some instances, it makes sense. It’s the job of many writers to serve the purpose of others. Speechwriters, and ghost-writers, have an objective beyond their own creative processes. But it seems like a silent tragedy that they are not seen for work that is so incredible it makes history. And part of the issue is that we not only lack awarding glory, but we label others as ‘brilliant’ and ‘genius’ when the true masterminds are behind closed doors.


Like in film, many Hollywood movies follow the “A film by…” sequence which explicitly credits a movie to a director, despite its common creation by someone else. In some cases, directors don’t even let writers on set because they want ownership of the story. They are the ones in control. That’s why it’s easy to name directors like Spielberg, Scorsese, and Christopher Nolan. Still, it’s not about stealing credit. It is possible for writers to make big names for themselves. And surely, they are recognised in their own worlds. But there’s still some kind of barrier that has to be broken for this to occur. It’s much harder to name scriptwriters unless they are also distinguished directors, for example Aaron Sorkin, Wes Anderson, and Greta Gerwig. Simply put, it’s not a natural thing to credit the writer behind the thing we love. We like what we can see. It’s easier to remember the faces we see, and credit the names we already know. This brings forward lots of questions. Is there only so much acclaim we can give? As if like a child that looks for someone to blame when things go wrong, is there some innate human need to praise someone when things go right? If so, does it matter if it was really them, so long as we don’t know better? When highlighting the work of writers, there is no reason to unnecessarily dis-credit the ones who we do remember. JFK was JFK. He was THE President. He gave Sorenson’s words a certain weight in a way that no one else could have delivered had they not been in JFK’s shoes. The same goes for filmmakers. There’s no denying that they hold an important realm of control that creates the hype for the world the writers had created in the first place. And there’s no denying the talent and skill in directing and cinematography. Plus, ghost-writers, screenwriters, and speechwriters generally have their names on their work, and are known to those in the industry. But here, we make the distinction that being acknowledged for and being remembered for are two separate things. As many go unphased by this seemingly cataclysmic flaw in human history and social nature, the blissful ignorance is bothersome to me. It feels like when you tell a really funny joke and no one hears, then someone repeats it louder and everyone laughs. Now multiply the effect of that on a global stage, with huge impacts on society and history. It feels like we now have lost moments in time. It makes me feel like second-guessing key events of the past. To ignore this leaves us as slaves to human tendency. And our society is built this way. Most elite politicians are made to have speechwriters. Many directors use other people’s scripts.


That’s just how it goes. But is it time to start praising these writers for their contributions to society and history? Praise is good, and it’s important. But when it’s not distributed correctly there are consequences. Besides the obvious personal detriment and amorality served to the writers, I feel there is some inherent wrongness to this. The only upside I can see is that those people also take the heat when words go wrong. To me, writers are being swindled left, right, and centre. It’s tricky in that these situations allow for the adding of value to people and things where they should be somewhere else. We applaud the voice that speaks and not the mind that feels, the mind that creates. And sometimes this leads us to praise puppets over pioneers. And beyond clout and fame, this injustice is also reflected in pay gaps and career inequity as well. It’s the same when you associate a character, or an actor with a one-liner, or a quote. It’s natural to associate visuals, atmosphere, and people to the things we like. But while it’s ordinary to think that a character or actor is hilarious or intelligent, it’s easy to forget that someone in real life had to be that funny and that smart in order to be able to write the people we see. Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” When a quote goes down in history, or when a film reaches unprecedented bounds, magic is being made. In these cases, writers are part of the process that creates a piece of genius, or an act of timeless brilliance. But as time goes on it’s easy to forget and mis-source their origins. Now with the rise and accessibility of technology, the increase in authorship, and the push for political and moral correctness, the issue, one would think, would not be as big. And this can be true in some circumstances. Because information, at the very least, is fairly accessible. But while historians, or fanatics, will remember facts and specifics, there is still great difficulty and inequity in allowing the writers behind great things to become household names, and become celebrated. There’s much to ponder on the other hand also. If we shared this credit, would we then have double the people to praise or would it be harder to receive praise at all? Ultimately while this is just life as we know it, and does not (shockingly) seem to upset the status quo or the average person, these unnoticed footnotes leave a feeling of realisation; maybe history leaves some geniuses behind. By Shannon Desa

PIKACHU, USE MONETISATION! Nathaniel Lawson unpacks the dark underworld of monetisation schemes in Pokèmon Unite, and it’s SUPER effective! Video games have taken colossal steps forward since the simple game of pong in the ‘70s, however recently there’s been a glaring issue within the industry making equally substantial developments. Anyone into gaming is more than familiar with the big bad boss battle of pay-to-win. Nintendo’s most recent title, Pokémon Unite, shamelessly displays all the sins of monetisation in free games, despite being marketed towards children. Ticking all the wrong boxes, Pokémon Unite is the epitome of what’s wrong with the video game industry. The most concerning issue is the concept of pay-to-win. It’s how it sounds – essentially if you sink enough money into a pay-to-win game, you have the advantage over other players. This game model is present in Pokémon Unite in two ways – upgradeable items and a locked roster. Upgradeable items is the main issue that

worries me for the future of games in this realm. Each Pokémon can equip 3 items to take into battle with them to give them bonus stats and small beneficial passive abilities (abilities that are always active). There is a form of currency in the game that allows you to upgrade those items called ‘item enhancers’ to improve both the base stats and passive ability. Currently, through my 15-20 hours of playing this game in my first week and a bit, I have acquired 807 of those tokens. To simply upgrade one item to the maximum level it takes 2587 item enhancers. That means a whole set is 7761 and to upgrade all the current 16 items in the game to max level would take 41,392. Of course you are able to purchase this currency with real money. At the cheapest conversion rate of real money to in-game item enhancers it would cost you a total of $932.77 to fully upgrade all items. While surprisingly, this isn’t the worst amount of money to max out a game, Pokémon Unite is in its infancy with a long time to get far worse. Of course they shower new players in these currencies, resulting in them spending


them quickly as they do not know their vitality or scarcity yet, which makes the temptation to spend real dollars even worse. In terms of actual statistical advantage at level 1 for a Pokémon, a max level item would give approximately a 5-10% increase in one or two different stats. While this doesn’t seem impactful, in a game like Pokémon Unite, any advantage over your opposition is invaluable. In games with ranked modes, pay-to-win systems sully the skill-based applications of that mode in a shameful and greedy way. If this becomes an industry standard, the growing market of esports could quickly stagnate. Not due to unbalanced stats, but a dwindling audience for new games. The large and growing roster of playable Pokémon leads to a whole new issue regarding pay-to-win, power creep, and a locked roster. ‘Power creep’ is essentially the natural progression games take, where the longer a game lives, the more complicated characters have to get to bring something fresh to the game. While this is a large issue in most games, it’s only in conjunction with my second point when concern is warranted. Currently, as most new games are, Pokémon Unite is wildly unbalanced. On top of that, the Pokémon that are the most powerful are constantly changing. However, another very limited resource is used to unlock these Pokémon. So limited in fact, that the amount you can earn per week is capped. If you want to unlock all the current characters that aren’t given to you for free, it will take you playing every day for about 30 weeks. This number will only increase, with rumours of several characters in development. However, as you may be able to predict, you can purchase these characters, which would set you back another $136.69. But why would anyone be so fiscally irresponsible? For the significant advantage over other players, which companies know their customers are desperate for. Loot boxes are probably one of the widest spread and most normalised profit schemes in modern games. From League of Legends to FIFA, a large portion of modern multiplayer games use these as a monetisation method. My gripe with Pokémon Unite is different though. While the loot boxes are earnable through game play, they are also limited in the amount you can receive per week – but of course you can spend real money to circumnavigate that issue! On the other hand, I quite enjoy the cosmetic system in the game. The ability to customise your Pokémon and your trainer is a nice addition I really enjoy. If only they spent all their energy on making cosmetics instead of destroying the game’s integrity with pay-towin. However, I think their pricing system for these skins are a little ridiculous with them ranging from $7.88 to $27.00, with the total price of all the currently available skins coming


to $99.16 (with some of the skins also being obtainable with a special currency from the loot boxes). While these aren’t that absurd for games in the MOBA genre, at the $27 price point in games like League of Legends you would get completely new animations, sound effects, and so much more; while in Pokémon Unite, Mr. Mime just wears a magician outfit and that’s pretty much it. As well as that, there is no way to acquire these skins other than purchase, not even from the aforementioned loot boxes. There is however an exclusive loot box skin that you can’t buy normally, meaning your only option to get it is to keep purchasing that item that I mentioned earlier, in the vain hope that you might get it soon. While the cosmetic and loot box systems aren’t anywhere near as atrocious as some games have dared to leap, the sly restrictions in combination with the other issues make it just a small part of this game’s massive problem. Finally, the ‘battle pass’ – the newest cancer gracing the video game industry. It seems every new multiplayer game that comes out nowadays shares the gluttonous desire to take money from the consumer with a battle pass. At face value it seems like a good deal, but the problems arise when the battle pass model is used along with other monetisation methods. I think the perfect example of battle passes done well is Fortnite, the originator of this trend. While I haven’t played the game in a while I remember that every battle pass had enough premium currency as a reward that you could purchase the next battle pass with some left to spare. That hasn’t seemed to reach the industry standard however, as it simply doesn’t result in a new stream of income every few months or so, when you release the next battle pass. The battle pass comes out to be $11.04, which in comparison to other games is certainly on the cheaper side. It does seem to be a very last minute slap on, as if they wanted to make the list of monetisation methods just that little bit longer. You get 54% of the currency in the battle pass for free, meaning it’s definitely not something that is necessary to purchase to garner its benefits. However, the simple presence of it only adds to the greedy, moneygobbling maw of this game. Pokémon Unite, a game heavily marketed towards children, would cost a whopping total of $1179.66 to max out. While alone the above issues aren’t ground-breakingly horrific, the cooperation of the many monetisation methods in a single game seems to be a terrifying omen for the potential future of games as a whole. If business models like this are left unchecked it won’t be long until the entire industry is tarnished by a sense of greed, rather than creativity. All thanks to these abhorrent methods of conning players out of their money, with the faint promise of a chance at winning. by Nathaniel Lawson



corn thins a dry crack like the cork on the wall a shy snack is enough for the night. they came monthly through the letterbox “Sarah’s Success Story” but each month piled on like the wrappers of an obsession. the monthly couldn’t come a bit of an embarrassment felt like a shame. just a slice repeatedly drilled in the mind fixated yet undesired wishing to leave it behind. by Olivia Chan


(i lied in seventh grade)

FEET I remember your feet, Grazing past mine Under the table. We were young And we felt it fresh; We took steps: More together than apart, Over city streets and softened cliffs, Over dewy backyards to see the blue lizard, Over sandy coasts past blue bottles. At twilight, My tired feet came back To graze past yours, Under the grey blanket, In a world Where July is but winter. My feet were still Young and ripple, Without heels cracked, Yet to break into A new pair of shoes That I got. I was yet to go on bush-walks, And traverse the woodlands, And see the shrubs and ferns and eucalyptus. I was yet to loosen the shoe strings, And carelessly toss my shoes aside, And dive into creeks, And swim into lagoons, And see lands of the Dharawal. But you were in my shoes More than I was in them: To the extent of wearing them out, To the extent of giving yourself blisters. The shoes weren’t mine Anymore. The shoes were torn, The strings frayed, And your feet had calluses. It did not feel Just as soothing To place my feet Next to yours. For it was stuffy Under the blanket, And July was but gone. by Swagatalakshmi Roychowdhury


NO NEED TO SAY GOODBYE — A THOUGHT PROCESS, A MEMORY, A NOSTALGIA. It came to me in waves; the unwinded vacations, yawns and packets of chips and chocolates littered across the couches. The insides of my ears ached and I removed the plug-in earphones. The whirring of the plane engine sounded opposite to the faint melody coming out of my earphones, loud and disturbing. I plugged them back in. I closed my eyes. The high notes stung my ears and like the sharp joys of summer 10’s karaoke, I felt my heart beating a little faster. The chorus, the plane ascending into the air, my heart pulsing, and my suppressed tears no longer contained.

I covered my mouth. The sinking melody, the instrumental bridge and my own whimpering — the monsoon melancholy felt like a happier time. The poignant instrumental descended into gentle, soothing lyrics that felt both like the winter sun and the north wind chills. My whimpering had stopped. Hopelessness lingered in the atmosphere. The sweet melody somehow felt bitter. I wiped my tears and opened my eyes, staring at the buildings that turned into dots as the plane ascended higher. The end chorus finished and yet kept ringing in my ears; “No need to say goodbye…” by Sofia Ihsan




1 A footnote in another’s story

Is a title in my own. The power of poetry Is something we’ve never truly known. For a second in time my life and theirs will collide Their past in front of me, My future open wide. Just another human Drowning in a world of demands. Now your pages are on my shelf, And my heart is in your hands. Anguish felt decades ago Written into a cold and careless age, Now I find comfort in between the lines of a page. The power of poetry is that it reaches everybody. Those who come and those who go. It will sit there waiting for whoever finds it, A flame that continues to glow. We lived our own lives Reading your words as I’ve grown, You showed me that our separate histories Are never really our own. Instead we’ve shared this life Within art that lives indefinitely. A fragment of you lives in me forever, And that is the power of poetry. by Alex Coverdale





DARKEST NIGHT Providing a sensory experience of murder and mystery

Podcasts are the hottest new form of media that, with the lack of censorship laws and the need to appeal to all audiences for monetary security, has created a hub for niche interests and stories to be explored. The easy accessibility in creating and producing podcasts has allowed for anyone, regardless of skills, monetary support or experience, to finalise their ideas for anyone to hear. I think about the success of Inkwyrm, a series following the antics around the titular ‘intergalactic fashion publication,’ that was written, voiced and produced by a small group of college and high school students. While this certainly proves that anyone with enough enthusiasm, ideas and time can produce an amazing podcast, that does not mean that podcasts have not entered the sights of those with a history of talent in the media industry.

Darkest Night, produced by The Paragon Collective Network — the same network that hosts the multiaward-winning horror anthology The NoSleep Podcast, cannot only proclaim fantastic reviews on Apple Podcast but also a star-studded cast. Already starting out strong with narration from Lee Pace (yes, the man famous for his portrayal as Ronan the Accusor in the MCU, as well as Thranduil in The Hobbit trilogy, that Lee Pace) the series features other acting talents like Missi Pyle, Denis O-Hare, Maynard James Keenan, and Jeffery Bowyer-Chapman. Much to my shock, having never gotten into the habit of reading the credits for episodes before listening, RuPaul and close friend Michelle Visage also flex their frankly fantastic voice talents multiple times throughout the series; I did not know I need Michelle Visage playing an unhinged limo driver in my life, but I was fundamentally changed after her episode. The three-season audio drama follows intern Katie Reed at her new job aiding Project Cyclops, and is self-described as an exploration into ‘the last memories of the recently deceased, slowly revealing a horrifying master plan.’ However, this simple description fails to prepare you for the horrifying gorefest that is to follow. Each deceased individuals’ memory reveals more dramatic and bone-chilling ways that a person can be murdered and/or tortured, all before the final blow that sends their heads to the sinister Roth Lobdow Center, after which their memories are viewed through the aforementioned Project Cyclops. Horror and slasher-focused media have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but visual-based thrills always prove to be too much for my overactive imagination — I could barely handle Sinister’s silent found-footage massacres, let alone sleep that night or the next. While horror writers like Stephen King have never failed to entrance me, the intimate nature of podcasting’s auditory horror, wherein the narrator or characters themselves can provide real emotion to the scares happening in the script, has me completely hooked. It is just hard to be enthusiastic about such interests when most people find your fascination with listening to surrealistic and bodily horror to be incredibly off-putting or worrying (but hey, where better to rant about such a thing than in this article focused on niche interests?). The likes of The Magnus Archives, Archive 81 and Alice Isn’t Dead have helped revolutionise podcasting and its combination of genres like horror, thriller, and drama. Each has a unique sound designed to bring the story to your ear, creating very different but enthralling experiences. Still, Darkest Night stands out in its unflinching goal to have the audience experience every grisly second of people being dismembered, skinned, gutted and even eaten in intimate detail. When headphones are used, the sound design of the podcast performed suitably on a binaural microphone (which looks like a human head- What the hell?) makes it so you feel like you are right in the middle of the scene, with characters’ voices coming from every direction, and the gore sounding like it is happening right in front of you. I have jumped more than once whilst in the middle of grocery shopping from a sudden door slam, realistic creak of floorboards,


PODCAST REVIEW or a comment whispered directly into my inner ear. Despite the different deaths afforded to each episode, the way every character and motive feeds into each other, creating a complex web around the Roth Lobdow Center makes it so you are craving for the next clue in the mystery. The opening episode feels like what could have happened if the movie Knives Out had encouraged the family to kill for the inheritance, but it suitably hooks you while laying the trail to the season final. The deaths can absolutely be defined as gratuitous, but the plot makes it so each death has motive packed into every blow; a particularly strong example being the supposedly date-drugged woman switching it up on her attacker and revealing herself to be a hired assassin, who then takes her time in killing him as a form of revenge. This podcast absolutely is not for everyone. Definitely not for the faint of heart, nor for those adverse to graphic descriptions and sounds of violence and body mutilation. It also does not flinch away from nor censor uncomfortable subjects: the aforementioned attempted date-rape, coerced suicide, cults, bad Grindr dates with the kind of head you would never want (I swear that this comment is funny after episode 18), you name it. It definitely should be mentioned that none of the episodes lists the possible triggers, which is an obvious flaw but I mention it now, so people interested in the podcast know what they are getting into. Regardless of its controversial content, for a secret gore-enthusiast like myself, this podcast is a gem that you can be equally repulsed and intrigued by in turn. The all-star cast and production quality make it a shining example of how the podcast industry is becoming a formidable alternative to television or film and I can only hope that Director/Producers Alex Aldea and Victor Figueroa take on another project together in the future. by Jade Van Dartel



SAVING GRACE - SCHITT’S CREEK AND THE POWER OF POSITIVE MEDIA “This town might just be your saving grace...”

At the end of March 2020, I found myself in a rut. I was in my third year of my law degree studying online, living with my parents, and upset with my current circumstances. I wished for a life a little bigger than it was. As much as I understood that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown was something the whole world was going through, I couldn’t help the bitter message in my heart that I was being ‘robbed’ of all the fun, the ‘twenty-something’ experiences I had so craved. My outlook on life, usually sunny and

positive, had dipped hugely. I was lonely and scared. I felt disconnected from my friends, unfulfilled in my work, unsuccessful in my love life — with no end to the hum-drum in sight. I felt like my life was on ‘pause.’ As I scrolled through Netflix looking for something other than my Business Organisations lectures to watch, I stumbled across a weird show with a crude name — Schitt’s Creek. This was the antidote to my negativity. Following the life of the formerly wealthy Rose family,


FILM REVIEW Schitt’s Creek is a fish-out-of-water story of love, joy, family, and accepting the cards which you’ve been dealt. After their business manager embezzles all their money, the Rose family relocates to Schitt’s Creek — a small town they purchased many years ago as a joke. Johnny and Moira (played by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) and their adult children David (played by Eugene’s son — Dan), and Alexis (played by Annie Murphy), need to adapt to the life they have found themselves in. Ultimately, the show sings a strong message of love, acceptance and goodness. When money, parties, alcohol and fame are stripped away, what do we have left but love for one another? Through the show’s six seasons, the family grow and develop from wretched, unlikeable villains to a foursome who have taken what they’ve been dealt and worked with it. As co-creator of the show Dan Levy has discussed, Schitt’s Creek shows how the love, acceptance and happiness we invite in is often the catalyst for external change. Johnny’s purchase of the motel in which the family live shows audiences how the skills we learn in our lives are adaptable and malleable to our circumstances. Moira’s history in soap opera television and the offBroadway stage provide her with an avenue in which to find joy in music and theatrics for herself, rather than the enjoyment of others who may exploit her. David’s cold and reserved mannerisms begin to melt away as he finds true love in the form of his mid-range denim wearing business partner and his true passion and purpose in the creation of his own business. University drop-outs find solace in Alexis, whose ideas about what others may perceive her as are stopped when she gains the strength to (finally and in her mid-thirties) graduate high school and pursue a career in public relations. The four Rose family members, along with a cast of loveable townies, show the audiences that love is the key ingredient in our lives. In order to find joy and comfort in our personal circumstances and accept our lives for what they are, we must be accepting of the changes, trials and tribulations that come our way. A fan-favourite plotline in the later seasons is the romance between David Rose and his new clean-cut business partner, Patrick. Seemingly straight and cute as a button, Patrick enters Schitt’s Creek, having the same perspective of the town as the viewer — an average guy witnessing the dramatic and over-the-top antics of the Rose family within this small country town. The pair’s relationship holds all the hallmarks of a good on-screen romance; the initial courting and the ‘will-they-won’tthey’ stages, matching serenades to Tina Turner bops, a tear-jerking proposal, and ending with the wedding that makes up the finale of the show. For queer viewers, consuming queer media often comes with a sense of anxiety. With the stories of our peers so often ending in disaster, it can be difficult to stomach our favourite characters going through horrific scenarios. Will


Patrick’s parents be angry that their son didn’t come out to them for 30 years? Will David become the victim of a hate crime walking the streets of Schitt’s Creek? Dan Levy has expressly discussed the absence of homophobia in the series, showing only love and tolerance; ‘We’ve watched the growth and comfort of people who outwardly live their lives and aren’t being feared of being targeted. And it has a ripple effect into people’s homes and lives.” It can be difficult as a queer person to absorb media that can be so destructive and disheartening to my community. Schitt’s Creek has been heralded as a ‘celebration of inclusivity, a castigation of homophobia, and a declaration of the power of love.’ The series has been celebrated as a beacon of queer joy and light in a world where gay stories are so often tragic, dark and upsetting for viewers. Schitt’s Creek shows how being queer and in love can be an experience filled with joy and happiness. Many see the show’s broadcasting of happy queer stories as an invitation to do better. Why battle homophobia in the media when we can live in a world where it simply does not exist? Media that is happy, positive and funny is surprisingly difficult to come by. I think the reason the audiences connect so much with shows like Schitt’s Creek is that we are all desperate for a little more light in our lives. Whilst some of us may enjoy consuming media that is gritty and dark, full of twists and turns, and blood and gore, I personally rarely see the appeal. In a world that has not been terribly kind as of late, and when our screens are filled with bad news, a twenty-twominute episode about character growth, love and selfacceptance fills the gaps in my heart left by negativity. Recent studies in media psychology have shown that uplifting and happy media can affect our outlook on life. Rather than simply seeing media as a negative influence to rein in, we’re beginning to understand its potential to spread goodness on a wide scale.

Schitt’s Creek’s first episode of the first season is titled ‘Our Cup Runneth Over,’ a quotation from the Hebrew Bible that means ‘we have more than enough for our needs.’ This quote sums up the whole series for me. It’s a beacon of hope in media; it’s paving the way for more positive queer representation, eliminating homophobia, and softening the hearts of those who aren’t informed. As it highlights the transformational effects of love and acceptance, Schitt’s Creek has taught me that no matter what is thrown my way, the love I have for my family and friends, and for myself, is more than enough for my needs. by Tessa Marsden



Days is a fitting title. It’s simple and straight to the point. It’ll make viewers feel like they’ve been watching Days for that amount of time, but it reflects the characters’ experiences and ultimately, their lack of journeys in the mundanities of Taiwan. And there is something profoundly moving about Tsai Ming-liang’s lyrical direction if you let yourself get absorbed into the images. Days focuses on two individuals: Kang (Lee Kangsheng) and Non (Anong Houngheuangsy). In the first scene and for five minutes, Kang sits in his living room, sheltered in his large house and watches the rain patter in the backyard. Nothing else happens in that shot. Then, Days cuts to Kang bathing — his eyes closed to let himself daydream. The audience is positioned as an outsider, shut off from his internal thoughts in another long take. He goes out in public and Days signals a plot might begin, only to show


FILM REVIEW Kang at an acupuncture session. He senses pain in his head and neck, but he isn’t sure why. Meanwhile, we learn about Non’s daily routine in a virtually undecorated and almost empty apartment. He starts the day with religious worship at an altar, then completes a series of chores such as washing vegetables and methodically preparing traditional dishes from his native village, unless he works at his local parlour. It is not until after a full hour that Kang and Non finally cross paths. Before that, there has been no sign of a plot. Maximising its minimalistic tendencies, Days consists of extremely long takes, where viewers might say nothing happens. The dialogue is limited, and whenever we hear it, there are intentionally no English subtitles. All this suggests something of importance in the character reactions and mise-en-scène and we are there to observe their monotonous routines. Is there any meaning we can create or interpret from their actions, or is there none after all? Days makes it clear that it is defying the conventions of traditional and even arthouse cinema, bound to polarise any viewer. Halfway through Days, I believed the film wasn’t working for me. It relentlessly tested my patience and I was close to checking out until Kang and Non meet. I do not want to reveal the details of what happens, but it leads to one of my favourite scenes of the year. For more than fifteen minutes, I was glued to the complete sensuality and humanity captured in such static yet engaging takes. Something about it made me tear up. It is difficult to explain, but only then did I see that the absence of a plot was purposeful, where the lack of substance is the actual substance. That scene recontextualises the entirety of the first half, where the character actions seem unimportant and irrelevant but now create a subtly emotional impact in the second half.

Days lingers between the feeling states of boredom and emotional hypnotism, but Tsai Ming-Liang carefully calculates its beats and rhythms. The excruciatingly detailed portrayal of the minutiae


of Taiwanese life creates a feeling of emptiness and it offers us an achingly bleak look into human loneliness and longing for connection. As Days introduces me to Ming-Liang, I don’t know if this film was a good foray into his filmography. But as I hear that the lack of plot and dialogue is characteristic of his works, it’s clear that MingLiang knows how to create structure and rhythm. As the long takes let us focus on the performances, Lee Kang-Sheng’s acting is full of genuine sorrow and pain, both physically and emotionally. There’s an emptiness in Kang we can detect, something he wants filled and he finds that when seeing Non, but through the methodical nature of MingLiang’s direction, we know that any relief is shortlived. There is something aggressively mundane yet relaxing about how Non handles his chores, which leads to a great performance by Anong Houngheuangsy that is grounded in realism. Through subtle performances, movement, action, and routine quietly build character. It is not easy to notice but ultimately, actions speak louder than words which makes Days unexpectedly effective. However, Days can only get trying for too long. Some takes are too lengthy and risk losing audience immersion, which makes Days exhausting to watch. Trim thirty minutes, and it would not remove Days’ overall impacts, but it is clear MingLiang wanted the film at its length, a filmmaker in complete creative control of his craft. Make of that what you will. Days establishes its minimalist nature from the start and lets us know that it will not be for everyone. It may not be the film for you after all. But if you’re willing to embrace the vibes, it’s ultimately a dreamy, reflective and crushing meditation of life. Difficult to shake off. Score: 7/10 by Nicholas Chang

horoscopes by Grace Pham




This is your season lions! Don’t just let anyone pull your tail and call you kitty!

I know, I know. You guys are most likely to become billionaires thanks to your relentless determination, but that doesn’t mean you can steal the lions’ thunder this season! You know how competitive this can get, so stand aside Aries; your season has passed!

Patience is a virtue, Sags. It’s time for you to realise your normal daily lifestyle is now called ‘quarantine,’ so be responsible and set your ass up for some routines!




Are you seriously still rehearsing that revenge in your head, hoping that one day you’ll meet that person ‘face-toface’ for it? Well, that ain’t gonna happen soon, Scorpios! The lockdown’s just been extended.

Pisces are positive species but are most often called ‘delusional’ — why is that?

When God created Cancer: ‘Alright. There’s a pinch of artistic ability, a gallon of loyalty and let’s make it a little emotional *oops... too much.’




Aquarius is the least common sign, yet they are the most rebellious among the twelve zodiac signs. Mmm, were any of you in the protests?!

What would a Libra say? — ‘I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.’

Cancers are the most frequently arrested sign, but Geminis are the most frequently busted….and that’s why you two shouldn’t do ‘business’ together!




Taurus claim that they are very ‘selective’ with their time and energy. Yup, by sleeping through the day. Can you sleep the lockdown away? Yes? Show us how!

Virgos in quarantine be like: ‘But I’ve already cleaned my house three times.’

Capricorn: ‘I need to become more social.’ Also Capricorn: ‘I HAVE TO GET OFF THIS PLANET!’