I SSUE 6: BREAD
Week 8 begins
World Teacher’s Day
12 19 26
25 International Artist Day
HSC exams begin
Do you have an upcoming event? Let us know and we’ll do our best to include it in our calendar. Email email@example.com
ISSUE 6: BREAD
CONTENTS 5 NEWS 6 NEWSFLASHES
CRISIS 24 POP CULTURE REWIND: DOWNTOWN ABBEY
7 COVID-19: THE WRECKING BALL OF THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY
26 ILLUSTRATED: WHAT DOES YOUR BANK SAY ABOUT YOU?
10 MAKE EDUCATION FREE AGAIN
30 WRITING ON THE WALL: A WOG ON THE MONEY
28 YOU ARE HERE: LALOR PARK
12 NEXT IN FASHION 14 SCAMWATCH 16 BANDITRY AT MACQUARIE
18 REGULARS 19 OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: EASY WAYS TO MAKE CASH ONLINE (WITHOUT SELLING A KIDNEY) 20 CHALLENGE: LIVING ON $70 A WEEK 22 I DON’T GET IT: REASSESSING PRICE AND VALUE DURING COVID-19
31 FEATURES 32 “CHARCUTERIE IS JUST A SANDICH YOU ASSEMBLE IN YOUR STOMACH” 34 SPOTLIGHT ON TINY BUSINESSES 36 CAPITALISM FOR SOCIAL GOOD? THE COMPLEXITIES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURE 38 WHY DICK SMITH MATTERS 40 “YOU’SE CLOSED MATE?” REFLECTIONS OF A
NON-ESSENTIAL ESSENTIAL HOSPITALITY WORKER 42 PAYMENTS TAKING THEIR TOLL: A LOVE LETTER TO TRANSURBAN AND SYDNEY’S ROAD FETISHISM 44 FROM TIKTOK TO TRIPLE J
46 CREATIVES 47 SUBWAY SURFER 48 CHEAP
50 REPEAT OFFENDERS 51 HOUSOS 52 WHY WOMEN KILL 53 HOROSCOPES
EDITORS’ LETTER Why hello you greedy, money hungry deviants! It’s your fellow poor as shit students on the Grapeshot team here to provide you with your monthly dose of eclectic and informative journalism to help you waste away yet another hour procrastinating that assignment you’ll inevitably submit 7 days late anyway. So, without further adieu, welcome to Issue 6, BREAD! This issue we’re delving into all things money, class, capitalism and corruption. From exposing the truth about pyramid schemes to telling you what your bank says about you, we’ve got it all! Useful information! Hate pieces about capitalism! And an expose into the effects of Macquarie’s vicious budget cuts! Ooh la la! In a time where economic uncertainty is rife, particularly amongst students, we wanted to take down some of the myths surrounding ‘getting that bread’ and look into what it actually means to survive in this capitalist cutthroat culture. Cause if nothing else remains true in our ever changing society it’s that “it’s a rich man’s world” (ABBA, 1967). So, make like Jeff Bezos and accumulate mass wealth at an ethically questionable rate and make sure to never give more than 10% of your $183.8 billion net worth to charity! It’s the only way to make it my friends. Trust no one, earn that coin and try to forget about your crippling HECS debt! Until next time, Katelyn (Editor in Chief)
Cheese, bacon, dough, bread, not only an assortment of heart attack inducing breakfast foods but also synonyms for money! Moneymaking structures our lives. From birth it shapes our world view, our public/private school education, the cars/trains/buses we ride, the places we travel nationally/internationally, the luxuries we can/can’t afford, and the political parties we vote for that seek to widen/close the wealth gap. It creates opportunity/disadvantage, privilege/exclusion, freedom/constraint. We can earn it, inherit it, lose it, steal it, win it. Regardless of whether we love/hate it, the power of money is undeniable. Many people are good with money. I’m not one of them. Choosing to undertake an Arts degree proves this. There are however, a ton of brilliant, highly informed, and savvy people who do know a thing or two about money and they share their words and insights with us in this issue. Dive into Shinae Taylor’s article ‘Capitalism for Social Good?’ to see the familiar capitalist narrative of entrepreneurial success unpacked and analysed. Ever fallen into a terrifying Twitter debate about Charcuterie boards? No? Eleanor Taylor has and she reveals the embedded class hostilities present in these online feuds. For this issue our talented Creative Director Sam van Vliet has depicted currencies from around the world in our stunning section openers. Enjoy learning about everyone’s favourite starchy staple: BREAD. Best wishes, Jodie (Deputy editor)
EDITORIAL & CREATIVE PRODUCTION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Katelyn Free
DEPUTY EDITOR Jodie Ramodien CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sam van Vliet LEAD ILLUSTRATOR Kathleen Notohamiprodjo NEWS EDITOR Saliha Rehanaz REGULARS/REPEAT OFFENDERS EDITOR Harry Fraser FEATURES/CREATIVES EDITOR Sara Zarriello ONLINE EDITOR Gabby Edwards
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Rayna Bland, Rhys Cutler, Aylish Dowsett, Madison Scott, Ky Stewart, Eleanor Taylor
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Che Carrigan-Reidy, Nathan Depangher, Berna Erkan, Joel Karanikas, Navishkar Ram, Shinae Taylor, Ziyan Tejani
COVER ART Kathleen Notohamiprodjo
SECTION OPENERS Sam van Vliet
EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Sowaiba Azad, Neenah Gray, Marlene Khouzam, Jay Muir, Ateka Rajabi, Angus Webber
GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wattamatagal clan, of the Darug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceeded, 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.
NEWSFLASHES International Students Targeted as Email Scam Hits Macquarie In the midst of the panic of COVID-19, a virtual kidnapping scam has hit Macquarie, targeting the families of international students. On June 22nd a generalised email was sent out by the university to international students advising them on how to spot internet scams. This was followed by another email on July 31st alerting students about the details of the targeted virtual kidnapping email scam. The virtual kidnapping scam involves scammers convincing the students’ families at home that their son/daughter has been kidnapped in Australia. They then insist that the family transfer money to the scammer as ransom for their child’s safe release. The scams often begin with scammers calling random Australian phone numbers pretending to be authoritative figures (such as Consulate Generals, government officials, or the police). Speaking in their native language, the scammers wait until they find someone who will respond. They then trick the victim into thinking they have been implicated in a crime and may be removed from Australia or face criminal charges in court. They may also threaten their families if they refuse to cooperate. The scammers often mask their phone numbers, so if it is traced online, it will match the phone number of the authoritative figure they are impersonating. No exact statistics have been released on the number of students and families affected by the scam or whether any formal rectifications have been undertaken to remedy the victims. The university advised that any scammer calls should be reported to NSW Police. Any students affected have been encouraged to contact the Student Wellbeing Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9850 7497. by Katelyn Free
Kind to Animals, Evil to Employees The No Evil vegan food brand markets itself as a good doing, left wing, grassroots vegan good company. The branding is explicitly radical and progressive. They have even named one of their no-meat chicken products as “Comrade Cluck”. Despite these bold and heartfelt claims, earlier this year, the large food company suppressed a drive by employees to unionise and then fired the organisers. Oopsies – that’s not very Marxist of you. In late March, workers circulated a petition calling for hazard pay as COVID-19 outbreaks began appearing in food processing plants across the United States. Over half a dozen current and former employees spoke out and described a hostile union-busting campaign. Many meetings were required and labelled as “educational” sessions where management talked down unions and any organising drives. In addition to this, the company has also been accused of using “shadow write-ups” that is – writing employees up for violations without telling them, and then citing the violations in their firings. In response to these allegations, No Evil foods has refused to comment or interview. They however did release a statement saying “No Evil Foods is a small, young business, we have only been around for 6 years and everyone on our team is giving every ounce of energy to keep our company alive.” The statement isn’t exactly reassuring, under what pressure and conditions are the employees giving ‘every ounce of energy’? The pandemic has hit workers incredibly hard and it is so important that every worker feels safe in their workplace. by Rayna Bland
COVID-19: THE WRECKING BALL OF THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY Ziyan Tejani discusses the impact of the recent financial decisions made by the Australian government and how this may affect the national economy in the years to come. In spite of the dichotomy that has been drawn by many, dealing with COVID-19 is as much an economic challenge as it is a health challenge. The two dimensions are so intertwined that it would be a mistake to linearly switch from one to another - they must be dealt with simultaneously. Managing the dynamics of such a complex situation is not a familiar or comfortable experience for economists, epidemiologists, or policy-makers. This is uncharted territory for all. As such, COVID-19 presents an unprecedented and uniquely difficult balancing act going forward – to address serious public health concerns whilst minimising economic devastation. The swift and significant initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown measures have had a wrecking ball effect on the global economy. The World Bank forecasts that the global economy will shrink by 5.2% in 2020. This would put the world into the deepest recession since World War 2, despite significant efforts on the part of many governments to counter the downturn through monetary and fiscal policy support. The pandemic is also anticipated to push most countries into recession this year, with income per capita contracting in the largest fraction of countries internationally since 1870. This will tip millions into extreme poverty this year. Advanced economies are projected by the World Bank to shrink by 7%, which will spill over to developing economies which are expected to contract by 2.5%.
( The proportion of economies with an annual contraction in per capita GDP. Shaded areas refer to global recessions. Data for 2020-21 are forecasts. Source: World Bank) The hardest hit countries have been the ones with a heavy dependence on global trade, tourism, exports of commodities and externally sourced financing. In the longer term, the recessions are expected to leave lasting legacies through lower investment, an eroding of human capital through foregone work and schooling, and the fragmentation of international trade and supply linkages. Global stock markets have also seen their sharpest crashes since the Global Financial Crisis. In the global arena, Australia has withstood the COVID-19 pandemic better than almost any developed nation, and is among a small number of countries which have led the world through their quick, decisive, and proportionate response. However, Australia’s relative success at containing the coronavirus has come at a high economic cost – the first recession in 30 years.
Household incomes have taken a significant blow from job losses and less hours available for work, which will take years to recover. Meanwhile, wage growth is expected to stagnate and house prices are steeply falling. The Australian dollar has also fallen to its lowest point since the Great Depression. In addition, during the Great Depression, unemployment rose from 3.2% in 1929 to 16% in 1931. In Australia, unemployment in July already hit 7.4% and the Department of Treasury anticipates this to quickly reach 10%. In response, Treasurer Frydenberg has fronted the largest economic bailout in Australian history, with a $17.6 billion economic support package and a $2.4 billion health package among others. The $130 billion JobKeeper program, targeted at tackling unemployment, has served as an economic lifeline for over 5 million workers on the program. The JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs have also been instrumental in providing cash boosts for small to medium business, which make up 99% of the economy and employ 2 out of 3 workers. It has also provided a powerful psychological boost, with surveyed consumer confidence having its largest recorded weekly gain, rising by 10.1% in the week after the programs’ announcement in March. Resource management has also been effective in ensuring that states and territories have not reached a point where their healthcare systems have been overwhelmed. The acquisition of medical stockpiles of medicines and masks, a three-fold increase in hospital beds and the purchase of many additional respirators has put our medical sector in a strong position to manage the outbreak on a much larger scale. That being said, the imposition of lockdowns and border closures have been devastating to certain sectors of the Australian economy. The tourism industry is clinging for survival and has been described as “ground zero” for the COVID-19 induced recession. The $150 billion sector has been hit multiple times in
2020, which is the worst year for the industry in living memory. The culmination of the summer bushfires, the closure of state and national borders and the lockdowns have devastated the sector, including accommodation, restaurants and travel agents. In addition to that, the Australian Financial Review has found that the $300 billion retail sector enjoyed some short-term gains, experiencing record monthly sales growth in May as a consequence of government stimulus incentivised spending and pent-up demand, but they were only short-lived. Furthermore, the retail sector was struggling prior to the pandemic, with weak consumer confidence, weak wage growth and high household debt. And speaking of the longer-term, the pandemic has only amplified these factors. The unprecedented economic spending by our government for short-term stability will undoubtedly have negative long-term effects on the strength of our economy. As of August 2020, the Treasurer is estimating the economic costs of all of its federal stimulus and other discretionary programs at $1 billion a week. As such, instead of reaching a surplus, as anticipated at the end of this year, a PWC report estimates that this debt will remain until at least 2057. Therefore, an 18-year-old cannot expect to see a budget surplus until they are 37 years old, and will not see an economy with a net zero debt until they reach 55. This is very much in line with the findings of ANZ Senior Economist, Cherelle Murphy, who states that Australia will be in approximately $230 billion debt in 2021, which she has described as ‘the biggest deficits we have seen since WW2.’ However, even these figures greatly understate the long-term economic adversities, as they don’t account for the loss of consumer confidence and the longer-term weakening of our productive capacity and industry.
(Source: IMF, AMP Capital)
These widening debts and deficits are dangerous for our future, as future governments will have less wealth and tax revenue to address the multiplicity of economic and social problems which may arise. At the same time, the high costs of the economic stimulus programs mean that there will be less scope for discretionary fiscal policy in many years ahead, limiting the Australian government’s ability to deal with exogenous shocks, such as severe downturns in the current tumultuous area of trade for example. The more time it takes before the economy can fully reset, the weaker and more fragile the Australian economy will be. In addition, a strong and responsive health system relies on a strong economy which in turn relies on productive citizens and industry. Therefore, in prioritising short-term health concerns over fiscal responsibility, in the longer term this may have the opposite effect than intended, and might leave our healthcare system and broader economy weak and vulnerable.
(Source: RBA, Australian Treasury, AMP Capital) Clearly, the cause, scope, and magnitude of this economic downturn is unprecedented and unique from any other in living memory. The road to a steady recovery will require finding the right balance between keeping the economy running efficiently, while also minimising the spread of the virus. Now that Australia has effectively contained the health crisis at the moment, it is the immediate priority of policy-makers to hasten economic recovery. Without immunization, the ongoing virulence of COVID-19 makes returning the economy to normalcy almost impossible. Therefore, while the world waits for a vaccine, domestic policy-makers should ensure that state and territory healthcare systems remain adequately resourced to prevent any becoming overwhelmed in the future, and that safety measures remain and are enforced effectively. Sustaining domestic economic activity through stimulus programs, providing financial support for households, firms, and essential service providers are also paramount. Global coordination and cooperation should also be prioritised, to slow the spread of the pandemic internationally and provide economic relief to those who need it most. These measures will provide the greatest chance of a robust economic recovery. by Ziyan Tejani
MAKE EDUCATION FREE AGAIN Berna Erkan, member of the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts campaign, calls for action against the latest decision by Macquarie authorities to encourage staff to choose voluntary redundancies. The recent announcement by Macquarie’s Vice-Chancellor Bruce Dowton and the university management means that Macquarie intends to initiate major staff cuts and course cuts. Beginning with a process of ‘voluntary redundancies’, staff have been told that if ‘insufficient staff’ accept unemployment now, the university intends to initiate ‘major workplace change processes’ throughout the next 6 to 12 months. In other words, no matter the sacrifices of individuals who ‘voluntarily’ choose to lose their livelihoods, staff in general should anticipate mass redundancies at Macquarie University. If these cuts resemble anything like what is happening elsewhere in the higher education sector, students and staff can expect something of a neoliberal bloodbath. Across the sector, thousands of staff have been forced into redundancy. The peak industry-body representing Australian universities projected in April, a loss of 21,000 jobs within the next six months as an initial first step to deal with the loss of university revenue. At the University of New South Wales, 493 full-time staff will be sacked, Monash University will make 277 of their staff redundant, and hundreds will also be made redundant at La Trobe University. This is to name just a few of the galling examples of Australian universities leading the way in mass austerity and job cuts as a response to effects of a world-wide health pandemic. It is a response to the current economic crisis unparalleled in any other sector of Australian capitalism. This should be understood as an unprecedented attack on student education and a massive assault on staff working conditions at universities across Australia. Universities seem to prefer to prioritise the revenue streams and profits that form their bottom-line, rather than funding teaching and learning, and the livelihood of university staff.
Macquarie University is a multibillion-dollar corporation, that has $3.5 billion dollars in assets as of 2018, and millions of dollars for executive salaries, including $1.01 million for VC Bruce Dowton, alongside hundreds of thousands of dollars in executive perks, according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald. At the end of 2019, the University also chose to reward the former Executive and Associate Dean of the now defunct Faculty of Human Sciences with the Pro-Vice Chancellor position. This was after they advocated for the dissolution of the Faculty that would result in $5 million dollars in ‘savings’. Macquarie University as such, can and should be doing everything it can, to save staff and prioritise education, not implement redundancies and degrade the quality of learning received by students. As there is an ongoing crisis in the existing revenue streams of higher education in Australia, why on earth should staff and students be punished for the shortfall? Since the introduction of HECS and the end of free education in 1989, the federal government and Vice-Chancellors have worked hand in glove to reduce government funding for higher education into a pittance. Instead, the government and Vice-Chancellors’ have benefited from the transformation of Australian universities into an extremely profitable, corporate bonanza. The two key most lucrative avenues for this corporatisation being the deregulated fees procured from international students, and the further integration of business and higher education primarily through research output. Until recently, higher education was Australia’s third highest export, raking in $28 billion in 2017. Therefore, when Macquarie’s VC Dowton bemoans the costs of a budget shortfall, this is not a funding crisis in the costs of teaching and learning, but a crisis of the ongoing profitability of a corporate university.
The notion that Macquarie University is spending too much on teaching and learning is laughable. At Macquarie University, staff are overworked, widely casualised, and dealing with one of the highest staff to student ratios in the country because of consecutive rounds of staff and course cuts. Casual staff in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Macquarie are now in the process of being repaid $50,000 due to underpayment and wage theft by the University, according to an article in ABC News. This coincides with a huge assault on students in the form of major fee increases, that will see students in Arts, Business, Law and Economics degrees pay up to 93% more for their degree, coinciding with major reductions in commonwealth funding. The recent changes implemented by university management, such as the disestablishment of the Faculty of Human Sciences in 2019 and further course cuts through MQ2020, have led many students to form the view that our VC is not interested in quality education or the working conditions of university staff. It appears that Macquarie is exploiting a major health crisis to push through further cuts to our education and staff. There is a solution to this manufactured crisis of the corporate university – a fully funded and truly public higher education sector. But that requires mass student and staff mobilisation against the neoliberal university in opposition to every cut and every cash-grab.
It has never been more imperative. To find out how to get involved in the campaign at Macquarie, like the Facebook page ‘Macquarie Students Against Uni Cuts’, and follow the national campaign ‘Student Fightback: Stop Fee Hikes, Stop Cuts’. When contacted for comment about this article, the university provided the below response:
The university sector, including Macquarie University, is facing significant financial challenges in coming years due to the impacts of COVID-19. While we are taking action to address this through a combination of new revenue sources and savings in non-staff costs, regrettably there is still a significant shortfall that cannot be addressed through minor changes. Our goal is to minimise forced job losses and so we are proposing a Voluntary Redundancy Scheme as a first step to addressing these budget challenges. We have been consulting with staff and unions about the impacts of COVID-19 on the University’s financial position and the proposed VR scheme, and are currently considering their feedback. by Berna Erkan
NEXT IN FASHION As fashion trends change with every new season, the lives of those who make our clothes remain the same. Malnourished, underpaid, and tortured, the ‘new normal’ only means a downward spiral for garment workers. 2020 hasn’t exactly gone to plan. The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected all aspects of life, shutting down schools and offices, and halting our social lives and holidays. Whilst for many of us, the pandemic has left us well acquainted with our houses and the inner workings of Zoom, for countless others the ongoing effects of the pandemic have been catastrophic. While the media has continuously focused on reporting on the human toll of the pandemic, COVID-19 has had detrimental effects to all aspects of life.
Since the economic impact of the pandemic has been well reported, a great interest has been focused on the detrimental effects on the fashion labels themselves. The garment factories have been largely overlooked, and the backbone of the fashion industry has been grossly underappreciated. Whilst there is no underplaying the significant financial stress these multi-billion-dollar companies have had to endure over the past year, the immediate reaction to cancel in-production orders overseas has been largely overlooked.
Prior to the pandemic, Asian suppliers played an integral role within the garment industry, completing orders for multinational corporate labels such as Nike, ASOS and Gap. For countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan, the garment industry provided jobs for millions of people, with an estimated 3.6 million garment industry employees in Bangladesh alone. Whilst this industry has previously been plagued by low wages and the run on effects of the booming fast fashion industry, COVID-19 has provided an even harder blow.
As retail restrictions significantly slowed both profit sales and demand, numerous fashion labels cancelled or paused orders with garment factories, either refusing to pay or asking for extreme discounts. Numerous brands refused to pay for orders that had already been completed, as others changed and delayed already agreed upon terms bringing the garment industry to a complete standstill. The Centre of Global Workers’ Rights estimate brands have cancelled or paused over $3 billion worth of completed goods in Bangladesh alone, financially affecting over two million workers. Globally it has been estimated that there is currently $40 billion worth of wages owed since the start of the crisis to garment workers. In response to this unfair situation, Ayesha Barenblat, the founder of Remake – a storytelling platform committed to building a conscious consumer movement, launched the hashtag #PayUp on March 30th demanding justice and exposing the guilty brands. With the addition of a petition that has gathered over 200 000 signatures, Remake stepped up to help moderate the crisis. Brands including Zara, Nike, Ralph Lauren,
H&M and Gap were all named and shamed with the social media movement directly alleviating some of the pain. Following the social media outcry and rapidly growing petition, over thirteen brands have agreed to pay up including Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and Nike. The campaign can be directly attributed to unlocking over $22 billion globally, with around 1 billion of this directly in Bangladesh. Whilst significant change has been made, there is still a long way to go with over twenty brands still needing to #PayUp including Primark, Urban Outfitters and T.J Maxx. The fight is long from over, and while progress has been made, the future is uncertain. Not only are there still companies refusing to #PayUp, the long-term economic effects of the pandemic will be felt throughout the garment history for years to come, with smaller contracts more than likely to remain. As the pandemic becomes long term and people start to get back to their new ‘normal’, it is more than likely the garment industry will once again be overlooked and forgotten. It is integral to keep the #PayUp pressure building and keep up the momentum holding corporations accountable.
The movement is not slowing down - as of the 28th of August, Balmain, Moschino and Oscar de la Renta have all been named as brands that are unable to prove they have paid their garment workers. Although the movement has seen some progress, this latest development reveals the crisis is not just centred around fast fashion, luxury brands are guilty as well. Remake aims to outline the necessary steps needed to sustain the movement. Signing and sharing the change.org petition, donating to garment worker relief funds and most importantly asking the tough question when it comes to our favourite clothing brands. In a 30 page report by the clean clothes campaign titled “Un(der)paid in The Pandemic” a call to action was made that cannot be unheard: “The only way to reverse the catastrophic loss to workers’ livelihoods and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again is for brands to take immediate and lasting action”. Brands must do better. To support the campaign, sign the #PayUp petition at www.change.org or donate towards the cause at www. gofundme.com. by Madi Scott
So what can still be done? As Remake said themselves: “We are just getting started”.
“Would you like to work from home and become a millionaire?”
There is always that brief moment after someone you barely know reaches out through Instagram with an amazing #bossbabe work opportunity and it makes you wonder, could it work? The temptation is real, with success stories flooding social media of globe-trotting insta-savy women making cash quickly and easily, and the best part is that for just a small start-up fee, that can be your life too. But as they always say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Pyramid schemes and Multi-Level Marketing companies have been a staple part of Australian suburban life for decades, with the door knocking Avon ladies of the 1960s now taking on the form of sleek websites and social media campaigns, promising the perfect work-life balance for Australian women. These get-rich-quick schemes appeal to everyone, and through psychological marketing have reached an estimated 576 000 people this year alone, accumulating to $1.38 billion in sales annually. But, for such a successful marketing scheme an estimated 99.4% of recruits lose money. So how do they work? There’s a big difference between Pyramid schemes and Multi-level Marketing (MLMs), with pyramid schemes now illegal in most countries including Australia. Pyramid Schemes survive on recruitment, charging new members a start-up fee to join. Once you’re signed up, it is then expected for you to recruit others, starting an endless cycle of promoters at the
top of the pyramid making money on new recruits. Big up-front costs and high collapse rates leave a majority of members out of pocket with nothing to show, with horror stories often outweighing the select few successful ones. Often pyramid schemes will use overpriced, poor-quality products to disguise their true purposes, however this is almost always a way to hide their main objective of recruitment. Whilst Pyramid Schemes make money through recruitment, Multi-Level Marketing is a strategy used by direct stake companies who encourage distributors to recruit new distributors and pay a percentage of their recruits’ sales. This legal system allows representatives to earn a commission on the products they sell and for every new recruitment you employ. Whilst there are fundamental differences between pyramid schemes and MLM’s, it is often hard to distinguish the two, with many pyramid schemes hiding behind the legality of the title ‘MLMs’. Whist statistic after statistic proves the majority of people in these sales structures don’t make money, often revealing financial losses instead, why do people still join? Companies such as Tupperware, Younique, and Young Living are still seen by many Aussies as a legitimate and worthwhile way to try and make some extra cash.
But how much money can you actually make? Take an MLM like Tupperware, a company that’s long been a favourite with Australian mums. Started in 1946 in the USA, Tupperware and its unique marketing method of Tupperware parties has become a staple in Australia since the early 60s. The multi-level marketing strategy adopted by Tupperware has often been criticised, yet the company argues their consultants are well-rewarded. During their August promotion, the company advertised that after buying the ‘start me now business kit’ for $199 and successfully completing the onboarding programme, consultants can earn 20% on everything they sell. Whilst it is portrayed as an easy work-from-home opportunity, figures from2018 of the American branch reveal 94 % of Tupperware’s consultants remain on the bottom tier, with an average profit of only $653 a year. Whilst it is definitely possible to make a profit, albeit likely a small one, there is a lot at stake, with a rising disdain for people working for MLMs. The Australian Facebook Group “Sounds like MLM but ok” boasts over 180 thousand followers. With such an emphasis on recruitment, employees of these pyramid-like structures usually have to reach out to friends and family to grow their network. Although it does not sound that bad, inviting a few friends or family members to these product parties, social media parodies found on Tik Tok and heartfelt stories on Facebook reveal the awkward and common dissolvent of friendship thanks to the pushy and financially dependent marketing strategies. It is not just the strain on relationships that tarnishes the image of MLMs, with a surprisingly dark history surrounding many of the largest companies. For a marketing strategy that strongly depends on the brand image looking legitimate and as real as possible, numerous MLMs have been investigated for unlawful conduct and many others attempt to hide some not so squeaky-clean beginnings. Young Living, a popular essential oil company reliant on MLM strategies to expand their reach worldwide was founded in 1993 by Donald Gary Young. Whilst today their products are advertised as the best, most authentic essential oils in the world, promising lifechanging benefits, the company’s history is marred
by tragedy and some very questionable claims. Young Living’s Australian website currently makes no mention of Donald Gary Young’s past charges of practicing medicine without a license, and the numerous lawsuits and convictions tied to the owner’s Young Life Research clinic, which was opened in 2000. There have also been multiple claims made by Young Living, marketing their essential oils as treatments for medical conditions and viruses. In 2014, the company was also warned against marketing their products as a prevention method from Ebola. Even with a tumultuous past, Young Living is one of the largest MLMs today, with over 3 million members worldwide. Becoming a member not only gets you 24% off retail pricing, but also commissions and invitations to exclusive events. The compensation plan outlines the pyramid-like structure of the company, outlining the levels of members, stars, senior stars and executives. Despite the company boasting the chance to earn a bonus of over $2990 by achieving all four levels, a class action filed in December 2019 in California argues it is nearly impossible to make that amount of money. Young Living’s 2019 worldwide income disclosure reveals the average income for all members was $236, despite the fact that 89.6% of distributors were on the lowest tier with an average income of $3. The complaint further argues that the system is designed for a sole purpose: to recruit new members and to grow the illegal pyramid, which only benefits those at the top. But even after lawsuits and class actions, numerous cautionary tales and the toll on friendships, why are so many Australians signing up? An estimated 75% of MLM members are women and whilst this can be largely attributed to the stay-at-home nature of the work, it also highlights a growing problem in Australia; the financial literacy gap of women. Whilst women in Australia aged between 25 and 40 are the fastest growing wealth demographic, money is still the number one cause of stress. So the next time you’re invited over to the neighbours out of the blue or get a ‘dm’ from a not-so-close acquaintance, remember it is too good to be true. by Madi Scott
BANDITRY AT MACQUARIE Hands trembling and lip quivering, I had no clue where I was. Darkness surrounded me, and the rapid beating of my heart echoed through my ear drums… I had just finished my tutorial for BIOL1110 and made my way over to Macquarie Centre from 14SCO. It was a normal day, but something in the air made it all feel abnormal. I crossed my arms and pulled my bag closer to me as I walked inside through the large sliding doors, an eerie chill running down my spine and bright lights shining ahead, warning me of the uncertainty that awaited. I felt myself turning around repeatedly to check for someone, something. But every time, it was just herds of people minding their own business and going about their day. I remember telling myself constantly that I was making up things in my mind, until I finally reached the cafe where I bought my coffee every day. “Medium cappuccino with one sugar, please.” The words spilled out of my mouth, as if they were the first words I had uttered since birth. I pulled out my tattered, old wallet from my bag. As I unzipped the wallet to take out my card to pay, something in the air instantly shifted around me. It felt like a scene from a science-fiction movie or as if I had been dosed with a lethal quantity of euphoria. The world around me transformed, and as I blinked open my eyes, there was nothing but darkness. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Fear, anxiousness, and uncertainty that I would never see the sunrise, feel the first drop of the monsoon rain, or kiss the love of my life again. My body forced out a scream, but it was only met with silence. Pin drop silence. Until I heard faint footsteps.
As if a strobe light had magically appeared from thin air, I could vaguely make out the figure of a human being. I squinted my eyes to help my pupils adjust to the sudden lighting and it all started making sense. I recognised the black leather boots, black trousers, and black shirt. A utility belt filled with cards and letters snaked around the figure’s waist. The jester’s hat sitting on top of the figure’s turbid face confirmed my suspicion. It was the notorious Bill Bandit. A smile spread across my face, and the knot of worry and discomfort disentangled in my stomach. “We have stolen and paid for your bill!” The figure chirped excitedly, their face unrecognizable. I realised I had become the victim of kindness. The Bill Bandit had already paid for my coffee, just as they have been doing for so many other individuals. And it did not only stop at coffee, there were tales of meals and drinks already paid for from people near and far. They had no name, no identity, and no indication of who they were, and where they came from. All they wanted was to do something kind for someone else. Equipped with happiness, I noticed the Bill Bandit walk away and heard them sing in a melodious voice. It was as if I had been transported to Hamilton, and the Pied Piper was strutting along, as all the children followed.
“All, Down the road, Running away with Endless gold. “Come, and listen close, To-o the greatest Tale ever told. “Don’t hold them back, They cannot take it anymore And there they go. Into the lonely night. “Don’t let them win; They cannot ever settle in And so they go, Into the lonely night. “They go down the road; Where no one, No one knows.” As the words of the song ended, I blinked my eyes open back to where I started. The familiar barista passed me the cappuccino I had ordered and handed me a crimson card. It was the only sign that remained of the Bill Bandit’s kindness, and it held instructions to continue the idea of paying it forward to anonymously do something kind for someone else.
I took my coffee, my crimson card, and my heart overwhelmed with how beautiful humanity can be and walked to the sushi store next door. It was time for me to be the Bill Bandit for someone else.
No one knows who the Bill Bandits are, and neither do they want people to find out who they are. If you have been lucky to have your bill stolen (and paid for) by a Bill Bandit, we hope you keep the momentum going to anonymously do something kind for someone else. If you have picked up an issue, with a Bill Bandit card attached to it, we want you to start your own Bill Bandit journey. So, we hope you got out and do something kind, because happiness is so powerful, it does not have to be yours. Surprises are fun, right? (Try) to figure out more about the @billbandits on Instagram! by Saliha Rehanaz
OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
EASY WAYS TO MAKE CASH ONLINE (Without selling a kidney)
In the midst of an economic crisis, with some of the highest unemployment rates Australia has seen, making money has never felt more important. Do I have a longterm solution to any of these problems? Of course not. Instead, I’ve sat back and observed as many of my friends adopt random, sometimes questionable, methods to make a quick buck. Being the selfless person I am, I’ve collated some of the dumb, semi-reliable ways you can supposedly make a few dollars online for you to try out for yourself. I, of course, hold myself NOT legally responsible for any excess time or energy you spend on any of these endeavours. But by all means, please give them a shot xx Depop This is definitely one of the most common ways to gain back at least a little of the money you spent on all those unused items in your wardrobe. Selling your unwanted clothes and accessories via a vendor such as Depop is so easy, pretty much all of your Instagram followers are doing it. Additionally, the popularisation of this form of online thrifting has been deemed as a step away from fast fashion. So, the next time you want to feel a little more ethically sound AND get some money, here’s the perfect solution. Online Surveys Bear with me here, I was skeptical too. But turns out this method may actually yield some results. Don’t get me wrong, secondhand reports tell me the process can be lengthy and for minimal pay. Not to mention the website you’re using might not be legitimate at all, meaning you could come away with nothing. But regardless, if you’re a lowkey questionnaire fiend like me, this is a task you might actually enjoy! And hey, maybe one day it can be you in that suspicious pop-up ad boasting about making $500 a day from home. And isn’t that just what the American dream is all about.
Sell Stock Photos Ever taken such a quality photo that you’ve sat back and thought, “Wow, wouldn’t this look good with a watermark!” Well, here’s your chance. Selling your photos to a stock photo agency for a profit has become an increasingly common tool used by professional and amateur photographers. It might take a bit of research to find the best agency, but isn’t it worth it to one day have your photo used in a high school student’s PowerPoint? Starting an Etsy Store Oh, I thought I saw you panic buying at Spotlight the other day. Do you also want to put all that excess wool and thread you bought during iso to good use? Look no further than starting your own Etsy store, where you can sell your quality, hand-crafted goods for (hopefully) a profit. While starting your own side-hustle may not be the easiest way to quickly earn money, at least you’ll have fun doing it! Selling Feet Pics Next time someone slides into your DMs with the ageold question, name a price and then bam you’re set. I mean, isn’t it everyone’s dream to be #1 on Wikifeet one day? You gotta get out there to be discovered! And there you have it! My precarious list on how to quickly make some money online for minimal effort. Please follow along at your own risk and have fun as you begin your journey to self-made billionaire in no time. Enjoy! by Gabby Edwards
Online Transcribing This is definitely one of the more involved methods, as depending on what website you find, you might have to go through trial and approval stages. And of course, there’s actually work involved. Gross, I know. Though, once you’re set, this is definitely one of the more reliable options out there for you to try and maintain. Sorry for the lack of jokes for this one, I’m just desperate for someone to try it out and get back to me. Please!
LIVING ON $70 A WEEK
Howdy readers, this is Harry Fraser, the Regulars Editor for Grapeshot. Welcome to the challenge, the part where I do something that challenges me for your edification. This issue, I undergo a selfindulgent exercise of (relatively) hardcore grocery budgeting. On a strict limit of $10 a day for food, I must survive an entire week. I began with some planning. I decided to pool my money and do two $35 shops throughout the week. This way I could buy in bulk and avoid going to the supermarket more than I had to. I was trying to push my socio-economic limits, not catch COVID-19. Mask on, I made my way to the supermarket. This is the basic menu I devised for myself. Breakfast consisted of porridge with almond milk (with a little sugar from the pantry). For lunch and dinner, I bought some chicken thighs in bulk, freezing some for later in the week. I also got some white rice and green beans so I could do some stir fries, although I couldn’t use the beans in every meal otherwise I would have definitely run out. For lunch I would often have chicken salad, getting myself a big bag of mixed salad leaves relatively cheaply. With some dressing, salt and pepper I could easily add some flavour to the meal. It may be obvious by now, but this is what I normally eat. There were a few concessions when it came to the choice and variety of veggies and nice marinades and the like. No beef, but I was trying to cut down on that anyway, or lamb, which I did miss, I make a mean Greek lamb.
As I’m sure is the case for many, I am still at home a fair bit, which essentially removed the temptation of eating out. The days I went to work, I made a big dinner the night before and took the leftovers for lunch. Surprisingly, I felt quite organised. I didn’t feel deprived or denied. However, by mid-week, I felt the absence of snacks. One thing about being at home was the constant access to delicious snackies. I know for me it makes watching lectures and reading more user friendly when chocolate or biscuits are involved. Too bad they are so darn expensive. I had to get innovative. I found some corn-wafercracker things that were like $1 a pack on sale which became my go-to snack for that week. I found that drinking tea (again, something I already had in the cupboard) helped when I was feeling hungry but didn’t have any more snacks or it was some time before my next meal. Ultimately, I ended up spending around $70 ($72.90, but that’s not the point). This is the part where I say how humbling and life changing the experience was, and how I recommend everyone do it for themselves. But this isn’t that channel hun, so if that’s what you were hoping for, keep scrolling babe. In all honesty, throughout that week, I felt selfindulgent and utterly privileged. A thought that dogged me the whole time was, ‘I am spending all this
CHALLENGE time pretending to go through economic hardship. Who do I think I am?’
system, it’s them. That’s the narrative capitalism has selected.
At the end I asked myself, you did this for what? Cute TikTok reference there. There are an abundance of programs out there that are aimed at replicating the conditions of economic strain or poverty. I came to the conclusion that they were attempts to make those of us who don’t experience such hardship empathise with those who do.
But that narrative is never perfect. It’s not a complete solution. The people want to help their fellow human. Capitalism accepts this, as it cannot deny a brute fact. We are partial to guilt and charity.
One thing you need to know about me is that I overthink. I think a lot. And while I was trying to sleep one night recently, it was almost as though I was visited by the ghost of Karl Marx. Stick with me here, we’re going somewhere. In all seriousness, I am lucky enough to have been taught about Marx’s critique of capitalism at uni by someone who did their best to genuinely present the ideas as they are, not what people think they are. We stan Professor Azeez big time over here. I grew up in the Hills, a relatively upper-middle class area. To some, the Hills is known as the Bible Belt. I think it’s quite obvious as to why. When I was in high school, we routinely raised immense sums of money by doing these charitable ‘famines’ as our way of giving back. We channelled our empathy and our Christian spirit into what is a very good cause. But in the same spaces we also fell back into a damaging and pervasive mentality, that poverty is a punishment, and rather than revealing the limitations of our economic system, poverty simply demonstrates the failure of that individual to make it in our society. Jobs and growth. Have a go, get a go. These axioms and the ideas they represented permeated our psyches. What manifested was a duality of Freudian proportions. We raised money for the less fortunate, made visceral by a self-effacing act like fasting while simultaneously subscribing to an ideology that placed the blame for poverty on the person, not the system. Back to me trying to sleep. I wondered what the point of raising all that money was? The reality had been materialising at the edges of my mind as I progressed through my Challenge. It was a distraction. Humans are social creatures, prone to empathy, much to the chagrin of capitalism. If I can convey one thing about capitalism to you today readers, it is that it corrupts. It infects. It taints. This is a touch dramatic, but its more for effect than anything else.
If it cannot be eliminated, then redirect it. Show the people footage of faraway lands where water is contaminated and food is scarce, where there are no schools or sewage. Evoke empathy for these innocents who are suffering. And they are suffering, I don’t deny that. The money we raise does help. And I’m grateful for that. But it’s interesting that we would rather fast for a weekend and raise $200 than consider our support of a system that thinks those experiencing poverty, whether at home or abroad, are undeserving of dignity. What if we voted for a government that doesn’t torture refugees? Or cuts foreign aid? What if we stood up for those victimised by the system, rather than defend the system? I was taught in HSC economics that the natural rate of unemployment was 5%. That means, for the system to function properly, 5% of the workforce must be out of work. Notwithstanding classical economics characterisation of itself as ‘natural’, economists cannot deny that some people must be out of work. So why is it a reflection on them, and not on the market? To bring it home, I don’t want you to think I hate charity or empathy. You can simultaneously do and be those things and also be aware of the dangerous, subliminal narratives around poverty that pervade our society. While this may have slid off track from my Challenge, it really hasn’t. I was confronted by the fact that $10 a day is highly generous. I also have a roof over my head, and a pantry full of condiments to spice up my bland, budget meals. I could not kick the feeling that whole week that I was privileged enough to impose such a challenge on myself. I learned that it’s far easier to do what I have done this week than to challenge (get it) existing conceptions of poverty, which ultimately are the real barriers to combatting systemic wealth disparity. by Harry Fraser
The powers that be (that’s another conversation) don’t want us to feel sorry for poor people. It’s their fault after all, right? They didn’t have a go, they can’t make it in this world and the problem is not the
I DON’T GET IT
REASSESSING PRICE AND VALUE DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS As of June we have an unemployment rate of 7.4% that could be as high as 13% if it wasn’t for government intervention through programs like JobKeeper. By comparison, the United States has had an unemployment rate of 14.7% as of May. Both of these governments had a similar plan, why don’t we just print money and give it to the people who need it? Welcome to the recent trend of the progressive economist, espousing a 50-year-old theory with snazzy ‘Modern’ rebranding. It’s called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), following this radical idea has led to the creation and expansion of unemployment benefits such as subsidies provided to Youth Allowance and $600 checks mailed out in the States. But who pays for all this? Are our tax dollars going to fund these lazy bums, I mean unfortunate souls? The answer is yes, but also strongly no. For years we’ve been told that there is no magic money tree, that governments tax citizens to create the funds required for capital expenditure. Instead here is where MMT comes in, a term coined by Bill Mitchell, a professor of economics at the University of Newcastle. This theory suggests that countries in possession of their own sovereign currency – AKA one they can issue themselves - can theoretically print as much as is required to service their own debts, covering the cost of all social welfare and infrastructure programs. This is possible because the central bank, in our case the RBA, cannot ever default because it possesses infinite potential wealth. This policy indicates that taxes are then not used for funding programs but management of inflation, drawing money out of the economy rather than redirecting its use. So here we are, with major governments printing money like it’s the latest in Vogue fashion, whilst in the background we have people screaming about the potential for a V-shaped recovery, where our country returns to a
Pre-Covid level of economic prosperity. Hi everyone, I’m a final year economics student who has been reading and writing about financial systems and the political responses to them for the past few years. I wanted to start discussing a concept you interact with daily but likely never really take the time to think about: VALUE and PRICE. Why should we talk about this? Because in the midst of this pandemic we’re seeing these operate in really weird ways, largely due to how our savings and retirement funds work. We’re also watching with bated breath as every major government with a fiat currency – a currency that is produced by governments and backed by the government rather than a commodity – is rapidly pumping their economies with enough digital currency to sink several Titanics. Starting with Price, what is it? Simply put, it is how much people are willing to pay for stuff. It’s the number you see on your HECS that goes up every year due to failed second language courses and inflation. Inflation is the amount we all agree to increase prices by because there’s more money to spend on stuff. When under control it increases by 2-3% and when out of control (hyperinflation) you use a wheelbarrow to carry enough cash for your morning milk run. It is separate from Value since the intrinsic value of a thing doesn’t change with the price, a loaf of bread is the same if you spend $5 on it as if you spent $50, a shift in price does not change the inherent value of the thing you are buying. Hyperinflation is scary, it leads to mass currency devaluation and a downward spiral where you end up in a similar situation to WWII Germany or (God forbid) Venezuela. Venezuela is important because at the core of every money-printing debate they are held up as the unlucky poster child of how not to run a government welfare scheme. Printing
I DON’T GET IT in excess of 150% of their available currency in a single year is considered the grand taboo that led to the downfall of one of the wealthiest nations per capita. Of course you need to disregard the sudden plummet in oil prices for a country that is entirely reliant on a single good during a time of extreme social and economic fragility; but that’s the thing about economists, you’ll find they consistently ignore what doesn’t fit so that their models can work. Models are important, they allow economists to explain the movements of markets and reactions to catastrophic events, unfortunately models are rarely true predictive tools and the actions they recommend should be considered more as a guideline than an actual rule. The models state that an oversupply of government funding leads to unwanted levels of inflation, but the reality is that if there is equitable demand for the currency that doesn’t occur. Now that we’ve covered all the keywords, let’s get into the zesty economics intrigue that we’re going to start experiencing. The price of goods and general inflation has barely gone up above desired levels (2.2%), and that is largely driven by specific items (toilet paper, veggies from places hit hardest by the bushfires) and if we don’t include the outliers (as we need to do to make our models work), it’s actually below the stable rate of inflation. This is despite the pumping of money through: wage subsidies, Job Seeker, Job Keeper, interest rate freezes on loans; there has been a huge push to not only create money for us to spend but also trying to find a means for us to spend it. Why, despite all of this activity, are prices not moving in a consistent direction but differing per sector? Well the answer is clear, prices are going up across the board, but it can be hard to measure because a lot of it is hidden in debt. Debt is more than just a loan from Westpac or an overcharged credit card, it’s a type of currency, it is potential future dollars that can be fully traded as currency at a price lower than its value because it doesn’t exist until someone pays for it. You can only benefit from debt in the future and as we all know the future is risky business, despite a debt being worth $100 say, you would only pay cents on the dollar such as $80 to acquire it. Australia’s household debt is immense, sitting at around 120% of GDP – about 2.4 trillion Australian dollars precovid. Post-Covid with non-interest loans and a general loss of income we will see this become worse. Much, much worse. Debt puts restraints on income reducing consumption spends and generally gives everyone a bad time. Yet during
all of this, people with the largest singular debt like mortgage owners aren’t selling their properties to finance, with only a 7% drop in prices to only have a 7.1% increase over the year. As I’ve harped on about, banks aren’t making people pay interest rates, so there is no immediate requirement to sell, supply is constrained despite the absolute mangling of the rental and property markets by the end of tourism and AirBnB. This is not the free market that people preach about, this is a market that disadvantages buyers because sellers are capable of holding their capital until it becomes profitable, agents here face dissimilar constraints leading to artificially high prices. Whilst not necessarily a good thing it’s also not bad for this to occur. Our retirement is based on asset accumulation, possessing property and shares in a portfolio that you can expect to grow at a consistent rate if you want a stress-free retirement. Instigating wealth redistribution by having these assets lose value and become cheaper to buy doesn’t solve the problem so much as creating a new one. What does this mean for you, the reader? You’re a university student at the forefront of the greatest national debt crisis the world has ever seen, caused by the worst pandemic in a century that came on the heels of an extreme ecological disaster. What we face is worse than the great depression because the fundamental nature of money is different – it’s backed by faith rather than gold – and in a world that is swiftly losing faith, there is no clear and simple choice to make that avoids significant repercussions. The point of this article is to discuss the value of things in the wake of a public health and major economic crisis. During one of the highest unemployment periods in its history, the American stock market has experienced one of its largest bull markets, during the sudden supply-side shock of the housing market we’ve seen property increase in price. According to every basic model you’ll encounter, these experiences are meant to cause a drop in price, the question is where do we derive real value? And what will the price of these assets be when the dust settles? All we can do as we look at the extremes that approach us is to vote for the decisions that promote long-term sustainability, social and environmental welfare. In the process of blindly following Neoliberalist doctrine we have created a debt-ridden monstrosity that threatens every participant, because we have been too focused on increasing the price of the assets we hold and not spent enough time on reflecting the truth of what value we have. by Nathan Depangher
POP CULTURE REWIND
DOWNTON ABBEY As a British person, I often feel it’s my silent duty to love our film and television industry. Whether it’s a cosy drink in the pub, a crowd of quirky accents, or how tea seems to solve any disaster, our screens are always bursting with drama and antics. But who am I kidding? I absolutely adore British TV – and damn, we’re good at it. Downton Abbey has become a new obsession of mine and now holds its own spot as one of my favourite shows. But with 12 million viewers watching its first season, it really is no surprise that I would join their ranks. If you haven’t seen the show and intend to watch it, I’d stop reading now, or do so at your own peril; the Dowager Countess does not think kindly of rule breakers. Filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, Downton Abbey aired from 2010-2015, with a 2+ hour feature film gracing our screens in 2019. We follow the Crawley family and their servants over a 15-year period, encountering no less drama than you’d see on a Christmas special of EastEnders. Tragic deaths aside (Sybil and Matthew, boo!), Downtown Abbey is a brilliant show, revealing the lives of the aristocrats and, most importantly, their working-class heroes. “Don’t be defeatist, dear. It is very middle class.” The struggles of the wealthy can seldom be compared to those of the poor, yet Downton does just that. Even with money, the Crawley’s are faced with similar social restraints as their servants. The class ladder can rarely be climbed, but you can also fall from it.
was sure to circulate, Sibyl stayed with Branson (yes!) and even after her death, the family grew to love him. This, of course, caused quite the disruption downstairs. A chauffeur dining with the Earl? Unthinkable. Jealousy does do strange things to people (grumpy Thomas Barrow, snide butlers and fake pregnancies – yikes). But whilst Branson struggled up the class ladder, there were others who were tossed from it. Women in Downton do have positions of power, but they never quite match up to their male counterparts. Mary is set to inherit Downton, yet in the first episode of the series, it’s made abundantly clear by lady’s maid O’brien that “she’s a girl, girls can’t inherit.” As well as having no claim on their inheritance, women had (and still have, sadly), no control over their own bodies. Mary cannot have sex before she is married; Edith does have sex but must hide her illegitimate child for fear of scandal; and poor housemaid Ethel falls pregnant, gives the baby up and turns to sex work so she does not starve. Money and connections save Mary and Edith, whilst Ethel is left to fall out of society, as many characters like to remind her (I’m looking at you, Mrs Bird). “I’m not foul, Mr Carson. I’m not the same as you, but I am not foul.” As one of Downton’s resident villains, Thomas Barrow is usually seen lurking in hallways, plotting schemes and getting into trouble, all whilst smoking an awful lot. But what lies beneath his cruel exterior is rarely seen by the other characters: Thomas is gay. And being gay in the early 20th century was illegal.
Sibyl and Tom Branson’s relationship sent shockwaves through the house. As the family chauffeur, it was considered a scandal for this to happen; even some of the servants were shaken (Mr Carson pulls the best faces).
According to the UK National Archives, sodomy (plus bestiality) was first criminalised in 1553. Known as the ‘Buggery Act,’ the law stated that crimes were punishable by “pains of death and losses,” as well as penalties against their “goods and tenements.” It took until 1861 for the law to be abolished, but you could still face a minimum of 10 years in prison, public ridicule and crippling hard labour. It was only in 1967, that same-sex acts were (partially) legalised.
The 1911 census recorded that 1.27 million people were employed as domestic servants in the UK, and Downton has tonnes of them. Being the chauffeur meant Branson had to ferry his employers around everywhere, often working exhausting 14-hour days. But regardless of the gossip that
Understandably, Thomas struggled with his sexuality during the show. And who wouldn’t? No one wants to be punished for something they cannot change. After miss-placed feelings for fellow footmen Jimmy and near arrest, Thomas attempts to ‘cure’ his homosexuality through an advertisement labelled as ‘Choose your Own Path.’ Methods of curing were not uncommon during these times and, along with drug use, also involved electrotherapy and covert ‘assisted’
POP CULTURE REWIND
sensitisation; in other words, homosexual thoughts would result in pain.
won’t save you – though it might make your deathbed a bit comfier.
Aside from Mr Carson describing Thomas’s nature as “something foul,” other characters on Downton attempted to help him. Along with Anna, Mr Bates, Mrs Hughes and Baxter, Robert Crawley also saved Thomas from harm. When Robert discovers Thomas is gay, he admits, hilariously, that if he “shouted blue murder every time someone tried to kiss [him] at Eton” he would have “gone hoarse in the mouth.”
“I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.”
Thomas is a great character and I’m so glad he was included in the show. Even with all his schemes and attempts to destroy my favourite couple (Bates), he earns his place within the Downton family. Plus, he meets a cute guy in the film. Now my inner romantic can finally be happy. “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” Britain changed dramatically during the 20th century and the Dowager Countess did not approve. With the introduction of electricity, telephones, radio and refrigerators, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Dowager faint – or complain even more. Only the rich, like the Crawley’s, had this new technology. In 1948, only 2% of households had refrigerators, whilst the rest of the 98% had to salt, smoke, pickle, ice and dry their food before it turned bad. Mrs Patmore, head cook at Downton, is the most nervous of this new development. When Cora suggests they replace the iceboxes with refrigerators, Mrs Patmore deflects her questions, so she asks, “Is there any aspect of the present that you will accept without resistance?” to which she replies, “Well m’lady, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of my corset.”
Downton Abbey is a truly marvellous show full of drama, comedy, and all matter of tomfoolery. Without its amazing cast of characters, Downton wouldn’t be the same. Every story is unique and significant, regardless of its circumstance. For too long, film and TV have focused on the lives of the wealthy. To have money, it seems, is to be somebody. And this is why shows like Downton are so essential. The aristocrats may have been important people, but so were the cooks, the butlers, the lady’s maids, the footmen, the housemaids and all of working-class society. There would be no upper class if they were not supported by the strong souls beneath them. I’ve watched many period dramas and each one has enriched my understanding of my past, present and future. We tell stories to survive and remember; after all, stories are fundamentally human. And, with the advice of the Dowager close at hand, we may as well have fun as “life is a game, where [we] must appear ridiculous.” by Aylish Dowsett
Brilliant, Mrs Patmore. I would’ve hated corsets too. Amidst all these technological developments, however, an even bigger catastrophe changed the lives of everyone forever: World War One. From 1914-1918, the National Archives recorded that 886,000 military personnel were killed, along with many thousands of British civilians. And if war wasn’t awful enough, the world was hit with the ‘Influenza Pandemic,’ or more commonly known today as ‘The Spanish Flu.’ The pandemic killed 30 million people worldwide and the characters on Downton certainly felt its effects. After becoming a convalescent home for officers (much to the dismay of Carson), Matthew’s fiancé was killed by the flu. As with our current pandemic, this highlights, simply, that the flu can affect anyone. Money and status
WHAT DOES YOUR BANK SAY ABOUT YOU? by Katelyn Free
Commonwealth Bank • No morals • Prefers convenience over high ethical standards • Has a soft spot for terrorists • Here for a long time, not a good time.
Westpac • The deviant older sibling • Something’s wrong, but no one’s really sure what • A favourite at dinner parties involving a 45+ demographic • Great taste in wine
ANZ • All about the money • Loves a corrupt power structure • Won’t even fully commit to you or Australia • Exclusively drinks cheap vodka
ILLUSTRATED NAB • Deceptive fuckboy • Tells you he loves you, but won’t be there in the morning • Has tried to fuck your mum • Has also tried to fuck your sister
St George • Life of the party • Unproblematic but emotionally unstable • Always late • Grandparents love them • Won’t snitch on their criminal older siblings
Suncorp • Has no fucking idea what’s going on • Owns a random term deposit that they don’t know anything about and will never learn how to access
YOU ARE HERE
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and its custodians, the Darug tribe who have cared for Country for millennium and continue to care for Country today.
Once I was working in a charity tele-marketing centre. It was pretty awful. The managers were sociopaths and anyone who had been working there for more than six months had a twisted dead expression in their eyes. The one thing that brought me joy in that role was the little conversations I would have with ordinary people. One conversation was particularly striking for me. This older lady named Sharice was nursing a minor bird in her lap, as her other 10 birds squawked in the backroom. We spoke of Paganism and the rain. As we spoke we realised we both lived in Lalor Park. She exclaimed to me that “Lalor Park is the best place in the world!”. I am glad Sharice thinks so. I am not sure if I think that but I can definitely tell you it is a pretty interesting place to be for sure. Lalor Park (LP for short) is a small suburb that was born after World War II and is located in Blacktown, out in Sydney’s Greater West. We have a skate park, some local shops, a few footy ovals, a bit of history and definitely some kooky characters. Wikipedia tells me that there is a population of 7,667 and that the Home and Away actor Brett Carroll is a LP resident. Our postcode is 2147 and has been infamously graffitied here and there around the area. The standard dwelling in Lalor Park is a single story, square, fibro house. I live in one of those standard
houses. We have a little red roof and some pink daisies out the front. Every single house in the cul-de-sac basically has the same fibro structure. Although, of course there are different colours, trees and people for each house that all contribute to the cute sense of community that has been cultivated in our cul-de-sac. There are a gang of after-school children who chalk up cute messages for their neighbours, two beautiful small dogs that are always out and about looking for pats and some lovely mothers who I frequently bump into for a bit of chitter chatter. It is a lovely pocket of the world that I enjoy being a part of. My street is friendly, communal and quaint. I love it. All of these fibro cottages in Lalor Park popped up after World War II. After the war there was high demand for rental properties yet a severe lack of traditional resources such as timber. A solution to this was fibro. Fibro is a plastic material that lasts for a very long time. It is quite weather durable and a little bit elastic but let me tell you… it is cold. Houses built with fibro need good insulation otherwise it is freezing. In Winter catch me wearing double socks, uggs and the thickest flanny I can find. I call it the Winter Westie uniform. Anyways… because of this whiz bang Fibro invention suburbs like Lalor Park were born all over Western Sydney. These suburbs were flooded by young adults who had suffered through World War II.
YOU ARE HERE The two ladies I live next to were a part of the first Lalor Parkians to arrive during the fibro boom. They have been neighbours and friends for over 60 years. Each Friday they go to bingo together. One is called Maureen and the other Shirley. Maureen once baked our family a thank you bread and cinnamon cake after my Dad had given her a lift to the shops. It was a recipe from the war era. Simple and cheap but pretty dang delicious. Over this year’s Easter the cake came out again as our cul-desac community all played Bingo together while we kept our 1.5 metres away from each other. Shirley told me how there used to be no bus routes that ran through Lalor Park. Naturally, Shirley and Maureen walked everywhere. Although Shirley said she did not mind all the walking; Shirley’s occupation was a housewife back then and she did not mind leaving her four fibro walls for a bit of fresh air. The young would walk to Blacktown Main Street. The nearest hotspot for entertainment. In the 50s it was just the pictures on Blacktown’s main street. However, as it stands today Main Street in Blacktown is a very diverse place popping with delicious Middle-Eastern, African and Indian food. It also has awful parking. It is a pretty modern place now that offers a lot of diversity. Anyways… we have lots of lovely seniors in Lalor Park. In fact, I would say seniors and pensioners are the most popular kind of resident in Lalor Park. I once met a senior called John who cared for 10 Pomeranians, he gave me advice about real estate and sent me home with some nasturtiums to put in my salad. (By the way Nasturtiums are edible flowers, I did not know this at the time and was very dubious as to what this man was giving me. They were a bit peppery – it was nice!). I haven’t seen him since but I did run past his house the other day and unfortunately he removed the nasturtiums from his lawn and the Pomeranians were nowhere to be seen. I hope they are all okay! While a lot of my experiences with people in Lalor Park go swimmingly I have also had some pretty scary experiences. Once I was walking home from the bus when a blue car started to follow me home. I ran down a set of pathways to my house thinking he would not know where it led to, but he did… It was really scary. He followed me all the way home and he only left once I walked out of my house with a knife and very loudly pretended to talk to the police. Every now and then I think I see the same blue car and it really frightens me. Other bad things have happened in Lalor Park. My friend’s Dad’s car has been broken into – twice. Our house has had an attempted break in. There are bongs, rubbish and shopping carts often left in the creek ways. There is glass left smashed in the footy oval car parks
and at night it is not uncommon to hear random yelling. Recently, someone has been hooting around on their motorbike on the oval behind our house at ungodly hours. It is super annoying. There is one woman that I see quite often walking the streets, chewing her lip, eyes wide and bloodshot, skin pale and scabbed and thin to the bone. She looks really sad and lost. I feel for her. I do not know her story personally but I think she might be a victim of drug abuse. I remember at the local Lalor Park Thai there was a meth bust. My Dad is a firefighter and was on duty at the scene. I was super into Breaking Bad at the time so my Dad invited me down to see some meth. I was 14 at the time and definitely told everyone at school. I thought it was really cool but in hindsight it is definitely disturbing. There is bad in every suburb. That is the way it works. Nobody, and no suburb is perfect. It is important to seek, see and create the good in places and people. There is a lot of this goodness in Lalor Park. This goodness can be found around the heart of LP. The Lalor Park shops. In these shops you will find the best kebab. Pizza and Kebabs at Lalor Park, check it out! Great service and food. There is also a community garden next door where monthly sustainability workshops are held. Lalor Park was also a part of an initiative to invite art in public spaces. As a result, the suburb has been gifted with beautiful murals featuring cockatoos and rainbows. Often, markets are also held near the community hall where locals buy, swap and sell their treasured items. Lalor Park has an accessible recycling initiative and there are many organised Bushcare clean ups where valuable volunteers clean up local parks. Lastly, one of my old high school acquaintances wrote to the council requesting a skate park and he got it! It is named in his honour and has definitely become a major spot in Lalor Park, used by all ages alike. Another person I went to school with who lives in LP can be found all throughout Lalor Park pumping sick beats from his mobile scooter wheelchair. He wears a snapback accompanied by a rats tail and topped off with a cheery attitude and smile as you pass by. I see him literally every week without fail. It is amazing. Lalor Park is a good place full of good people. LP has been a place where people have been able to find home in hard times. War veterans, migrants, pensioners, young families and differently abled people. It is culturally diverse and ever-changing in the modern world. LP is a beautiful community and I am proud to live in such a unique place. Is it the best place in the world? To most people in Lalor Park such as Sharice, I would say yes. Yes it is. by Rayna Bland
WRITING ON THE WALL
A WOG ON MONEY It is fair to say that in wog culture, money makes our world go round. You’ve heard the term “money can’t buy happiness”. Well that doesn’t apply to my communities hard earned bills stuffed into couch chairs and hidden behind mysterious bookcases. Just kidding. The truth is, we value what can bring us the ability to strengthen the prosperity of our families. We want to enable our future generations to grow in a world that has already been set up for them – a better one than we’ve known. If you don’t know already, a ‘wog’ is defined by one thing: angry white Anglo-Saxon Australians during the immigration boom in the 1950’s and 60’s. Any Mediterranean person who travelled months via an overcrowded hygienically poor ship from the region to Australia in search of a better life were derogatorily termed a ‘wog’. The term was supposed to refer to some kind of lack in intelligence because… we came from a different place? Truth is that white Anglo-Saxon Australians were so incredibly frightened by the idea of foreign competition on ‘their’ own land. Which, let’s remember, was never theirs to begin with! Sorry to say, but we came, we saw, and we conquered – hard. Now everyone is into our culture, from food (for obvious reasons – don’t give us none of that bullshit boiled dinners) to our fashion sense to our die-hard appreciation for the finer things in life, aka wine and deli meats. Now, wog is a genuinely good thing to be called. That’s not to say that wog’s have dealt with such horrific immigration experiences that we now trust no one. We trust a few, and usually those within our own community. See the thing is, when someone tells you, your culture is worthless, your faith is broken, and your experiences are nothing – that equates to a pretty fractured identity. One that brings with it guilt and shame through generations. Having to learn a new language with no assistance while maintaining a homelife, a family, a business and countless jobs is no small feat. The depth of sadness and equal joy in having faced abuse of all kinds and working your ass off everyday of your life in a land of opportunity, that’s not equal, but has offered you a home, is mind altering. To this day, my grandparents do not talk about the negative experiences of their early decades here in Australia. When you bring only a suitcase and the clothes on your back with you to a new country, where you don’t have a place to go or a community to reach, you are truly alone. It’s this baseness, of being stripped back to nothing and starting a whole new life to the one you’ve known – that is extremely humbling. That is why we are so tied to our money. It is the thing that has stood in our way and at the same time carried us from that nothingness into a world of opportunity. It’s not a secret that wogs tend to be quite selective with their purchases. That’s why most of the property market is dominated by us. Hey, we value stability. That’s why you probably won’t see many wog’s high rolling at the casino, or taking on the stock market. That is a game of chance we don’t play. Yet, we do spend up big on those around us, friends and family alike. The value we place on experiences is immense. Knowledge is power and a wog always likes to be in control of it. So we research… and research… and research some more. We don’t make split second decisions on things that matter. If history has taught us anything it is to keep your mouth shut until you know you’re right. Then let the haters try to fight back. Yeah it’s not what you get told in school, but it’s what we’ve been taught our entire lives! For anyone who has had the experience of being an immigrant as a wog or not, I am in awe of you. For me, unpacking my culture and history will always be moulded by the experiences of immigration, of loss and gain, of strength and power. The only way to know you’ve made it is to look back. Hold on to la dolce vita (the good life) and as Sophia Loren says, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti”.
“CHARCUTERIE IS JUST A SANDWICH YOU ASSEMBLE IN YOUR STOMACH.” For the blessedly uninitiated, a charcuterie board is an assemblage of cheeses, cured meats, bread and other small finger foods served on a wooden board as snacks (often for guests). Recently on Twitter, a user posted an image of their charcuterie board, and the following interaction took place:
Unlike what normally happens on the Twittersphere; people insult each other and then forget about whatever they were fighting about instantly - this response sparked an online debate over the privilege of the users involved and the cost of the charcuterie board. It quickly evolved into a discussion of class identity and workers solidarity. Twitter is in many ways a great way to witness class interaction and discourse; the home of every extreme viewpoint imaginable, people duke it, and their complete lack of shame and empathy creates a spectacle for the ages. The rest of us common folk are then left to decode messages, to try to understand what it all means. At the same time, Twitter is a vapid forum for any discourse. Tweets are sorted by popularity, not by their merit and the hot topic being discussed changes daily.
Charcuterie boards take advantage of food preservation methods traditionally used by the working class to make food last longer. For example, people without access to ice created cheese to preserve dairy just as curing meat was done for the same reason. Bread is a staple in baking and the human diet. This makes charcuterie boards being viewed as “rich people” food very odd. So how did we end up in a situation where working class people eating tiny deconstructed sandwiches makes them class traitors? “Low-calorie meals are what rich people eat.” We constantly take in information about what we see when we interact with the people around us. This can be seen in racial bias, sexism, slut-shaming; people are always absorbing signi-
fiers to make deductions about their surroundings. This applies to class; when we see visually dirty individuals we may assume they are experiencing homelessness, people in high visibility gear might be tradies, school uniforms indicate school students. How this impacts our treatment of others depends on what internalised ideas we have about them. The idea of being able to guess people’s incomes, their careers or lack thereof and overall quality of life is intrinsically appealing to us. This makes sense because of how we have evolved to deal with continually processing visual stimuli. However, the issue with visible class signifiers is that they don’t tell us anything about how someone has obtained something, why they look the way they do or provide us with any meaningful information we can rely on. For example, if someone has a thousand dollar handbag, we cannot determine the circumstances where they obtained it. It makes us feel smug and self-righteous to imagine they bought it with their copious amounts of wealth (which they “must” have through exploiting others). Still, it is just as likely that they bought it second hand, purchased it after saving up for months, or received it as a present to mark some sort of accomplishment. Lots of people who aren’t filthy rich still possess luxury goods. Class signifiers change depending on differing contexts. For example, in European countries like Germany, a charcuterie board is often considered breakfast or lunch and therefore not associated with any sort of elite social class. An extreme class signifier would be an Hermès Birkin bag, which ranges in price from twelve to two hundred thousand dollars. These bags are notoriously difficult to access even if you can afford one, with Hermès inviting their desired clientele to purchase them. This shows that not only do you require copious amounts of wealth, but you also need a level of prestige. Because of this, celebrities such as the entire Kardashian-Jenner family are the group most often seen with Birkins. “Y’all just hate poor people having nice things and treating themselves” Even if charcuterie boards are obscenely expensive, what right do individuals have to judge people for having them? There is nothing objectively wrong with someone from the working class deciding to treat themselves to something nice. The idea that people from lower socioeconomic status’ should subsist solely on unseasoned porridge, and wear literal rags for clothes stems from capitalist propaganda. Capitalism has given us the metric we use to determine our self-worth and value; our incomes. People who have smaller incomes are perceived as not “grinding” hard enough, and as a result, their relaxation is seen as laziness, their purchases become self-indulgences.
The flaming hatred people showed towards the charcuterie board is a reflection of their feelings towards the rich. It is clear from this debacle that in some contexts, charcuterie boards have been gentrified, having become associated with the wealthy. Your average Twitter Leftie hates rich people for hoarding the world’s wealth, so by extension, the charcuterie board. This rage is amplified by the idea of someone who isn’t rich attempting to appear rich through taking on a symbol of the rich such as the charcuterie board. This is the point where we conclude that the original Tweeter is a class traitor. “This whole discourse is insane! It’s just a distraction from the people that hoard insane wealth that they piss away on things that cost 10000x a meal like this without a thought.” The charcuterie board fight is an example of how capitalist attitudes of self-worth have been internalised by middle and working-class people, leading to infighting and ultimately distracting everyone from any meaningful discussion. Jeff Bezos has enough money to end world hunger, yet denies his workers dignity and has built his fortune off of the exploitation and degradation of the working class. A real “classy” guy. Class traitorship has been manufactured by social elites as a tool to create internal divisions. It should be obvious to us that a member of the middle class showing their lunch isn’t an attack on people experiencing food insecurity. Continually trying to one-up each other by talking about the “real poor” doesn’t help marginalised people. It just shows that the hate thrown at left-wing communities by the right has nothing on the constant infighting and self-loathing exhibited by left-wingers themselves. As a raging anticapitalist, it drives me insane to hear people on the left constantly cannibalising themselves for not eating leftist meals (whatever that means), for buying something pricey and being overall bad leftists. It’s a bizarre form of online virtual signalling. Instead of being caught up in ideological purity, we should be dismantling the system that put us here in the first place, the system destroying our self-worth. Jeff Bezos represents the people we should be targeting, not some poor girl who was just sharing her lunch on Twitter. by Eleanor Taylor
SPOTLIGHT ON TINY BUSINESSES In our current predicament, we’ve been forced the opportunity [if you will] of getting to know ourselves better. Where and how we stand in our labour economies is determined by numerous variables. The relationship between employers and workers have become for many, restrictive. At least pre-pandemic we had some sort of illusionary safety net holding the actions of ourselves and our employers accountable. Now the workforce has turned into a warzone. No one is secure when a literal worldwide epidemic rips through the hierarchal structures of our working society. Everyone is scared. Now is our collective fight or flight response. Some of the worst affected have been small businesses. I don’t have to remind you of the numerous store closures, not to mention the consistent jerking around; opening up when the case numbers are low and shutting up shop when they rise. Hit hard by wage cuts, workers are seeking other means of income outside their average shift work or 9-5. They are doing so through commodifying their hobbies. In conversation with tiny [for now] business owners and sisters, Hale and Ayla Yuyucuoglu, they tell me how they took their leisure activities and turned them into profitable side hustles.
Hale began creating her embroidery art pieces after a co-worker had asked her about what she did for fun during her free time, “I had to stop and think about it for a while, and that made me so upset.” In a buzzing world full of distractions she realised that investing time in herself through art was what brought her joy. “So I went to Spotlight… [bought] myself an [embroidery] starter pack... I taught myself.” Cut to the creation of Milk The Art, an Etsy shop where she was first able to showcase and sell her pieces. It is clear to see that even though we weren’t prepared for a pandemic, social media was. Owner of Art by Ayla, Ayla explains the benefits of using Instagram as a platform to sell her earrings. “It’s been really easy… there’s so much communication. If you post something, people will share what they think…” The interactions she has had over Instagram have worked in her favour. Through likes and comments, a pattern of what her audience wants to see more of leads to the creation of sought after pieces, “… you can see [what’s] visually pleasing to them.” The advantage is obvious when you produce visually stimulating creations on a platform that runs on visual stimulation. Using the power of the eye and pairing that with a passion for your work on an interactive platform online, during a pandemic is the recipe for tiny business success. A portfolio career, that which a resume spans multiple roles within varied fields, sometimes opposite fields, taking on “a bit of this and that” in its stride. A dedicated, passionate person usually undertakes this style of labour, a person who does not fear a certain level of instability. The constant swapping between polar opposite
work, juggling multiple jobs at a single time is, to say the least, impressive. It needs to be stressed that anyone from any walk of life can pursue this type of work. Obviously, a person’s individual socioeconomic stance factors into this decision, and if it is one made out of necessity or choice. Covid has decommissioned many out of choice. The advantage of this career type is the freedom given to those who risk it for the biscuit. The freedom to chase a lifelong passion or dream, or simply the freedom to choose how you wish to spend your time. “It started as a hobby and it’s turned into a small business,” Ayla states. Yet even with a smoothly running side hustle, both sisters started and continue to run their businesses with the same motto – do it for the love of it. Ayla continues, “The process of making… art… it’s a time for me. The fact that I can just post it and people liking that – it’s like a bonus on top of that. It’s a bonus to sell.” Hale adds, “I’m a massive people pleaser. So for me, making it and knowing its going to someone who’s going to hang it on their wall and think of my business – that’s amazing.” At the end of the day, if Covid has taught us anything yet, it’s that now is the time to do whatever you’ve been wanting to do. No holding back. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in a moment when we thought time wasn’t a luxury. by Sara Zarriello
CAPITALISM FOR SOCIAL GOOD? THE COMPLEXITIES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURE Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have noticed the recent trend celebrating entrepreneurs and startups. From the infamous Elon Musk, to the establishment of the MQU Incubator, entrepreneurship culture is all around. If the popularity of the Barefoot Investor can tell us anything, it’s that the general public have a burgeoning love for entrepreneurs. When most of us think of entrepreneurs, we probably think of someone like Elon Musk - a creative, somewhat unconventional workaholic with a deep passion for their business idea. Research shows that despite this ‘hero image’ of entrepreneurs, there’s no evidence to indicate that entrepreneurs succeed based on the merit of their personality traits. In fact, a large part of their success is due to following “processes and patterns of developing and testing ideas, building support networks and developing certain communication and business skills”. This is quite a contrast to the depiction of entrepreneurs as savvy saviours of humanity, as seen in the common media depiction of Virgin founder Richard Branson. Converse to the myth of the underdog entrepreneur, in their 2014 research into entrepreneurship, Logue and Boersma found that the majority of entrepreneurs had a solid financial background, a successful career in their own industry and access to a highly developed professional network. While the entrepreneurs in the study were “determined, resilient and passionate” and “open to risk”, the success of their business idea was largely based on their ability to acquire and develop new skills relating to the market. In other words, entrepreneurs aren’t born, but created through particular social and economic circumstances. Even people within the movement point out the difficulty in defining what it means to be an entrepreneur. After the failure of his startup, Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley software engineer, published a book
in which he argued that the industry was full of “myth-making”. In The Lean Startup, Ries writes: “The grim reality is that most startups fail. Most new products are not successful. Most new ventures do not live up to their potential”. Contrary to the mainstream emphasis on “quirky maverick personalities and entrepreneurial charisma”, Ries argues that entrepreneurship is about management, discipline and acquiring vital business skills. This point is an important step in uncovering the way in which entrepreneurship is depicted in the media. Working for a cause Recently, new kinds of entrepreneurship have emerged. Social entrepreneurship uses commercial processes in solving contemporary issues. Social entrepreneurs therefore start businesses with the intent of producing social good. These are different from Not-for-Profits because social entrepreneurs turn a profit in the process of addressing social problems. In Sydney alone, a number of social entrepreneurship initiatives have sprung up. Digital matching platform Digital Talent is one such example. It was founded by Nirary Dacho, who, after arriving on a humanitarian visa, struggled to find meaningful employment despite his extensive education and experience. The platform assists refugees to find jobs, thereby helping them to circumnavigate the systemic and cultural bias endemic within Australian hiring and work cultures. The trend of refugee entrepreneurship programs is not limited to Australia, with similar initiatives and programs having sprung up in Europe and other parts of the world.
Art for sale
expertise in a particular sector.
There’s also such a thing as cultural entrepreneurship, which brings together the concepts of entrepreneurship and the arts and creative services. This type of entrepreneurship links the previously unrelated spheres of business and art in an attempt to bridge two very different and contradictory realms, for profit, of course. There seems to be a glaring ambiguity around what exactly constitutes cultural entrepreneurship. Some researchers link the term to those who work towards social change using public art forms, a.k.a. social activism. Other researchers employ the term as a label for any business working with arts and creative services. This ambiguity reveals a vague and undeveloped sector struggling to reconcile the polar worlds of art and business. After reading a number of articles published on this topic, it’s clear that cultural entrepreneurship, much like its predecessor, garden variety entrepreneurship, suffers from the “myth-making” Ries described in his book.
The second ethical issue refers to the fact that selling pro-entrepreneurship propaganda to children and parents is a weird kind of ‘Inception’-style, intra or meta-exploitation of entrepreneurship culture. It reveals an insidious side to the entrepreneurship sector, which increasingly seems to be rife with entrepreneurs whose sole business is just to sell the idea of entrepreneurship. This strikes me as being a bit like a pyramid scheme, with industry members, seeing that the most profitable move for them is to recruit others, profit from aspiring entrepreneurs.
How young is too young? Kidpreneurs is a book that encourages “a child’s desire to get involved in business early by fueling their curiosity in simple, engaging, creative, and safe ways”. Written by brothers and passionate entrepreneurs Matthew and Adam Torrens, the book introduces children to the “basic principles and infinite rewards” of entrepreneurship. The Kidpreneurs website is littered with brazen promotions (“Get 30% off the book!”) and an overwhelming number of attempts to spruik the book, with the ‘About’ section boldly claiming “it’s never too early” to become an entrepreneur. The Torrens’ expedition into the world of child entrepreneurship poses serious questions about the pervasiveness of pro-capitalist ideology. Should children really be pressured by their parents into becoming entrepreneurs? There are also ethical issues with targeting children. Firstly, as entrepreneur Eric Ries acknowledges himself, most startups result in failure. Of course, fear of failing should not prevent people from pursuing their dreams, but it should be acknowledged that entrepreneurship requires an extensive professional network, management and networking skills, and a financial safety net that most adults don’t have. Again, this is an instance of the industry’s “myth-making”, where entrepreneurs are depicted as underdog heroes emerging from the ashes to shake up the industry. In fact, as research demonstrates, most people become entrepreneurs later in life when they have skills, knowledge and
Similarly, Ries’ critique of the industry, which evidently resonated with many trying to make it in the industry, gave him the success and recognition he was working towards in the first place. His book on “myth-making” in the sector soon became a “global movement”, and he was even offered a position as an ‘entrepreneur in residence’ at Harvard Business School, whatever that means. Ries’ ability to profit from writing about entrepreneurship culture, which itself exploits the inequalities produced under the capitalist system, reveals an ugly truth about the true purpose of the industry. Examining the cult of entrepreneurship holds a mirror to the ugly face of our economic and social system. Looking at the “myth-making” around entrepreneurs points to an agenda whereby the responsibility of the state to fund social programs is transferred to individual social entrepreneurs and small businesses, placing additional strain on an economic system that’s already struggling to stay afloat. The idea of cultural entrepreneurship poses important questions about the relation between art and economics, and whether immaterial and symbolic forms of creativity should be tied to a profit-making agenda. Multifaceted issues such as poverty, wealth inequality and discrimination are too big for one individual or business to tackle. While social entrepreneurship provides helpful short term solutions, promoting this business-centric culture deflects meaningful discussions about systemic inequalities and long term solutions. If we want a happier and healthier society, we need to start by critiquing the current system, and working towards a future where our wellbeing does not revolve around profit making, whether it be someone else’s or our own. by Shinae Taylor
WHY DICK SMITH MATTERS There are many reasons we should be talking about Dick Smith. For any true Australian he is an icon, a warm, nationally unifying, vigorously Aussie now 76-year old entrepreneur whose many ventures – including founding Australian Geographic - embody the best possible qualities of patriotism, intelligence, and philanthropic service. Though it might sound futile, the memory of having Dick Smith branding stuck on food products in your fridge is instructive. If you remember, not too long ago Aldi, supported by low overseas labour costs, pushed Dick Smith Foods under, and the iconic entrepreneur waxed emotional over the victory of a corporate logo hatched in Germany. His “OzEmite,” an alternative to the then foreign-owned Vegemite sold
to us with false Australiana, seemed irrelevant after Vegemite was bought by Bega Cheese in 2017. There were those who dismissed him as a ‘one trick pony’ blaming competitors and customers for his own failures even as Australian companies returned to the market, and yet their optimism didn’t age too well. In order to compete with foreign companies, Australian ones had to imitate them. This, Dick Smith said, leads to abandonment of product diversity, staff and the old Australian culture of profit sharing – the idea that once any “young Australian could begin their working lives stacking shelves.” But despite being a multimillionaire, 1986 Australian of the Year, legendary aviator and popular choice for Australian President during the 1995 referendum debate, Dick Smith’s more recent political activism – centred around
sustainability – has left him in a quite lonely corner. He seemed perhaps too important to attack directly, so the media and political class sort of politely ignored him, after a rare and brief population debate in the Gillard years. The tragedy of Dick Smith Foods is part of a familiar story known as globalisation. In the 1980s, “extreme capitalism,” as Dick Smith calls it, expanded over the world, fuelled by deregulation, debt, the rush for low prices and lower labor costs, and most importantly, the intensive plundering of the planet. This could not have happened at a worse time, because at some point in the 1970s, humanity exceeded its share of natural capital. In other words, we reached ecological overshoot, as our demand for Earth’s assets, like forests and fisheries (called
ecological footprint), outstripped the supply that could be renewed in a year (called biocapacity). Since 2006, Global Overshoot Day has commemorated the bankruptcy of a civilisation that runs an ecological deficit of around 60% - we would need 1.75 earths to sustainably meet our demands. Frighteningly, the overshoot calculation vastly underestimates our real damage on planet earth, as it doesn’t even address the way in which we satisfy those incredible ecological demands, like degrading soil and overusing water. This is why the neoliberal expansion of the 1980s was arguably the worst thing ever to occur. It was the decade of Ronald Reagan and Wall Street’s ‘Greed is good’ ethos. As environmental writer Bill McKibben says, because of Reagan’s worldview, “we repudiated the idea of limits altogether; we laughed at the idea that there are limits to growth.” It’s not like we weren’t warned either. The Limits to Growth report by the Club of Rome of 1972 found that at then current levels of growth, humanity would likely reach the limits to growth in the 2020s and therefore collapse within 100 years. It was not an obscure report; in fact it sold 30 million copies, inspired China’s one child policy, and led to energy conservation efforts in the US. This raises a profound question. Can humans – once given the magic of fossil fuel energy - resist the temptation to use up the Earth? Or are we too greedy? Was the 1980s a real-life Garden of Eden? This is where Dick Smith comes in. His message of a stabilised population, growth in quality of life and a more sustainable, Australian-based industry is undoubtedly a popular, albeit rarely articulated, sentiment. But we might also ponder the fact that Dick Smith Foods went under ultimately because 99% of Australians chose cheaper, foreign brands. We aren’t doing much to stop small Australian businesses from collapsing, with retailers going down by one a month in 2019 due to foreign competition, while the dairy industry has shrunk and struggled as imported products dominate the shelves.
This is why any return to the local and the small requires a rethinking of our whole economic system. To do this, we might, following Dick Smith, distinguish ‘growth’ from ‘capitalism.’ The religion of growth is not unique to capitalism, holding as much sway over 20th century communist regimes. Today’s socialists, too, seem to ignore the ecological perils of population and resource use growth, believing that material abundance is the bedrock of a socialist society. “It’s the obvious but forbidden truth: on a finite and already swollen planet, we can’t expand indefinitely,” Dick Smith wrote in The Age in 2011. The growth mania is a near-hermetic wall of silence; in 2010, Smith published the $1 million ‘Wilberforce Award’ for any young Australian who gained media attention for advocating against endless growth. The lucrative prize, destined for a modern ‘Gandhi,’ was never picked up. The media, with its hegemonic power over public discourse, hardly lets these heresies seep in. At bottom, Dick Smith’s limits-to-growth message is about repudiating the greed driving our suicidal growth and caring about all life, human and otherwise. While he advocates lowering our immigration take, he also wants a larger and more humanitarian refugee settlement program. There’s a quality about Dick Smith that is admittedly old-fashioned yet undeniably anodyne. Not just his unique, iconic self-branding, but even more the desire to see Australia as a family again, a small, stable, diverse and cohesive community in which human quality of life and love of nature take hold and rebuff the empty consumerist promises of a planet-plundering growth-based capitalism. by Joel Karanikas
On the other hand, even those advocating ‘buy Australian’ probably don’t want to think about the impact of tariffs; for example, trade means our clothes are 14% cheaper.
“YOU’SE CLOSED MATE?” REFLECTIONS OF A NON-ESSENTIAL ESSENTIAL HOSPITALITY WORKER The shutter doors were mostly closed, and the lights were just about to be switched off. I stood by the counter, finishing off the paperwork for the days takings, slowly but methodically working my way through the receipts. There was a crack in the shutter door, only about half a metre wide. A group of three suddenly appeared by the gap in the door. “Sorry we’re closed for the day”, says I, now looking up and focusing my attention squarely on the trio. Defiant, as though they didn’t hear a word, they took two steps in. “Sorry mate, we are closed up”, I responded once more, this time a little louder. Obstinate to my evidently ‘impossible to understand’ second try they stepped further into the café, now standing before me on the other side of the counter. “Sorry, we…are…closed…” I said once more, only now speaking loudly and slowly. “Oh ok then”, the man leading the group responds, and walks out with a curious look still plastered on his face. A look that suggested confusion at the fact that a café with most of the lights turned off and the roller doors nearly shut could ever be closed. Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you are the type who is so supremely ignorant of another person’s attempt to communicate, that you can quite literally stare that person in the face, have them mouth a phrase three times, and experience them focus the entirety of their attention on you, and still wilfully ignore them.
This is the reality of many hospitality workers in Australia. From Karen’s who are more invested in their phone conversation rather than ordering, to Dave’s who threaten to stab you for failing to refund them 70c for an extra coffee shot “you didn’t give them”, the experience of hospitality workers across this great land is filled with examples of encounters with morally repugnant human beings. Humans have a tendency to remember threatening or personally negative events. Our habit of internalising negativity may stem from an evolutionary adaptation designed to help us remember and learn from these experiences, and respond to these situations should they arise again. But in saying that, the good and honest folk who make up the bulk of café clientele are overlooked all too often. Often in hospitality, young and inexperienced individuals are thrown into the deep end and expected to absorb bad customer behaviour naturally and without complaint. This often does not end well – mostly for the worker. Supportive cafes and management are needed My experience, in a supportive, stable café environment, has helped me personally stave off the worst side-effects of continued customer abuse. Part of this has come from recurrently good experiences with my regular clientele – who it should be said, are some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
The mental health ramifications of customer abuse, and the mental wellbeing of hospitality workers is a conversation that is desperately needed right now. It’s a dialogue that has remained under the surface for too long. Anyone who has ever worked in a customer facing role knows all too well that the customer is often wrong. That does not mean to say workers should provide poor service, indeed it amplifies the need for more effective communication and tailored service provision. Yet what most customers fail to appreciate is that workers in hospitality (often poorly paid, overworked, stressed and physically exhausted) experience abuse frequently. Sydney is notorious for its fast-paced lifestyle, this same lifestyle has fuelled a ‘rush-economy’ which prioritises speed above all else. This includes our daily interactions with baristas, waiters and other hospitality professionals. We expect fast service, low prices and good food and drinks. Only, quality takes time. The only options available to you, from our POV are: 1. Good food, service and quality = expensive and time consuming, expect to wait a little while, and you will get service with a smile. 2. Bad food, service and shite quality = cheap, and quick, expect at least three hairs and a used Band-Aid as an added extra, absolutely free! 3. Atrocious food, non-existent service, infinitesimally bad quality = very, very cheap, lots of abuse hurled AT you by staff, long wait times, a couple of pubes in your soup, and coffee that literally tastes like ground dirt.
A discussion that is sorely needed COVID-19 has refreshed our national conversation about mental health. It is likely that the state of mental health will deteriorate further for hospitality workers given the uncertainties regarding their employment. Our customers too, face uncertain times as jobs are shed by the cart-load, and hundreds of thousands of Australians face the very real threat of unemployment. Personally, I have noticed an upsurge in positive customer behaviour over the past two months; people have gone above and beyond to help their local businesses. Small, yet meaningful exchanges, that extra smile, that little tip, the “how have you guys been” all makes a change in our lives as workers in this field. I hope, perhaps naively, that this dramatic change in behaviour will be sustained long enough to affect permanent relational change between workers and customers. Maybe then some bad eggs will learn to listen to the narratives of the people they consider ‘beneath them’- you know, the very same people sustaining the economy right now. The non-important, underappreciated non-essential, essential hospitality workers. by Navishkar Ram
Realistically of course, cafes will do their absolute best to provide you with a memorable experience.
PAYMENTS TAKING THEIR TOLL: A LOVE LETTER TO TRANSURBAN AND SYDNEY’S ROAD FETISHISM Our unique complication Western Sydney has been hard-done by. It’s a vast region that covers more than half of Greater Sydney’s total area, and houses approximately the same proportion of the city’s population. Yet, in all its vastness, one would likely expect the region would benefit from a robust and well-rounded road infrastructure, linking the suburbs to the job hubs of the east, the CBD and the northern business districts. Current infrastructure linkages exist in the form of motorways; motorways that it should be noted were partially paid for with public funds. The vast majority of linking infrastructure that connects the regions of the west to the east and north are anchored by these motorways; namely the M7, the M4, the M5 and other arterial roads which are often clogged on the best of days. What’s with tolls? Tolls aren’t a new phenomenon. They have been in regular use for at least a century and the prevailing logic behind their use remains largely unchanged. That commuters pay a toll for the passage of a road which enables them fast and unhindered travel to their destination. This logic is sound when applied to the majority of cases. But in Sydney there is an exception. Most Sydneysiders wouldn’t have a problem
paying tolls, if only the roads they’re applied to actually improved travel times. Sadly, using toll roads only increases travel time by a measly five minutes on average according to the ABC. What often goes unheard of however is the impact of toll roads on the residents of Western Sydney. Western Sydney misses out. Again. Toll roads remain the primary mode of transport for Western Sydney commuters around the metropolitan region. Ideally, if you’re a ‘westie’ you have four choices to get to the city for work: 1. The M4: which is a parking lot on the best of days. No toll as yet west of Church Street, Parramatta. A toll is incoming however, and billions of public dollars have gone into expanding the existing network 2. The M7: which eventually leads onto the M2, with a combined toll charge of over $15 for a trip 3. The M5: the cheapest option, and with a cashback scheme. 4. Public roads; Parramatta Road or the Great Western Highway: all roads notorious for their congestion, inaccessibility and which are difficult to navigate for new drivers. The overarching theme here is that if you reside in Western Sydney, your only option for getting into the city are through toll roads, or you risk sitting in traffic for hours on end just to reach your destination using public roads. You can use the train or bus network, but any Sydneysider can tell you just how unreliable they are.
Sydney’s toll-road fetish Sydney has the dubious distinction of being the most tolled city on the planet, and for a city with barely over 5 million people, this isn’t exactly something we should be proud of. Transurban, the operator for the majority of Sydney’s tolled roads, generated more than $2 billion in profit in the last financial year, and expects, despite a downturn in commuter activity due to COVID-19, roughly similar profits to its 2019 figures. In all fairness, Transurban is a company and companies largely seek profit. By having tolled roads we are at least alleviating some of the pressure from public arteries. However one could, and indeed will argue, that where majority public funds were spent on any infrastructure works, the majority of those works should remain in public hands.
This is unfair and unethical and slaps yet another barrier to engagement with higher paid jobs and opportunities afforded to residents who reside closer to the same opportunities. Transurban is perhaps the one company most capitalists and socialists alike wouldn’t mind seeing hit in the pocket, nor would they mind it so much if Transurban cries poor each time commuters turn away from ‘their’ toll roads. It’s time to re-think the way infrastructure is developed in Sydney. Movement is a right for people, and impositions in the form of unfair, unreasonable and malignant tolls shouldn’t impede participation. Especially not when our taxes already contributed to motorway construction. by Navishkar Ram
Transurban gets away with their set up – they use public enforcement in the form of police to monitor road safety on the motorways, the state revenue service which enforce penalties and attack the public purse by hiking toll fees every quarter. Time for change Western Sydney residents are tired of this. In order to sustain fulfilling lives and gain meaningful employment in hubs closer to the CBD, most ‘westies’ spend a greater share of their disposable income on travel than residents in the North, South and East of the metropolitan region.
FROM TIKTOK TO TRIPLE J In the reality that is 2020, the world is pretty darn fucked. As a society, we’ve had to re-evaluate how we do things, creating new alternatives that hadn’t really been done before. As referenced a lot in this magazine, Tik Tok has been one of these things. Exploring various different styles and trends, the app has allowed musicians, artists, and dancers to get their work out there in a COVID-safe way.
style videos, showing different outfits and trends that were circulating TikTok at the time. With his quirky style and cheeky mannerisms, the account immediately gained attraction, now reaching over 80k followers, with 1.2 million likes.
While each individual ‘For You’ page differs, I have to admit I’ve noticed a lot of indie surf rock music being circulated on the app, and a lot of it seems to be coming from us Aussies. Now maybe Tik Tok has just been watching me and knows that I am ‘one of those people’ who listens to Triple J on the regular and loves a good festival. However, it seems that I am not the only one.
In March this year, Noah posted his first TikTok with the band. Harley, rhythm guitarist explains, “Right before we posted anything we had just reached 1,000 followers (on Instagram) after three and half years of having the account. Then right as he posted the video, it started shooting up by the thousands.
The Rions, a local Australian band from the Northern Beaches composed of Noah Blockley, Harley Wilson, Asher Mclean, and Tom Partington, are one of these bands circulating TikTok. With a very distinct indie surf rock sound, I loved their music from the get-go. Sneaking bluesy guitar solos into each song gives the band a new dimension beyond its easy grooves. Flavoured with funk, rock, and reggae rhythms, their distinct sound is catchy and sophisticated, with a strong bass line holding each track. You can hear influences of early Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, or more locally, similarities to bands such as Spacey Jane and Ocean Alley.
With the release of their first two songs ‘Sadie’ and ‘Halfway Out’ in early March, the band had already formed a new fan base on TikTok.
Since forming the band in 2016 for a school talent show, the boys have played around with various different styles and genres. Being best friends, they each have a strong passion for music, recognised through their impressive first two original releases. With guidance from their music teacher, Mr. John Stone (Indie pop siblings Angus & Julia Stone’s father), they have now formed the basis for what looks to be a very promising career. It was back in December 2019, that lead singer, Noah Blockley decided to start his TikTok account (@noahblockleyy). Originally created as an avenue for amusement, he began to post
Noah states, “I didn’t want anyone to see it at the time...but it was a blessing in disguise because now we’re promoting the band on it”
“The Friday morning that our songs were meant to come out I posted a TikTok about it, and it got about 70k views. Everyone was freaking out and asking where they could find them, but they weren’t actually out yet...They came out later that night and are now about to hit 100k (on Spotify)” Noah continues, “It might be the algorithm or something, but I’m definitely seeing a lot more bands pop up on my TikTok, and I’m like yeah alright, this is cool”. The band also has a segment on YouTube called ‘The Rions Show’. “We didn’t want to call it a vlog, so we decided to call it a show”, states Harley. Giving insight into what they’re actually like as young blokes, each video shows their goofy friendship, reminding us that they are a bunch of true blue Aussie teens. Noah further explains, “it was a way to sort of show our personality” Other Australian artists have also jumped at the opportunity to create this relationship with their
audience. Local boys Louis and Oli from Lime Cordiale have a similar segment on YouTube called, “LIME TV”, which shows the behind the scenes of their surprisingly quite normal lives. As viewers, and listeners, I think it can become quite easy to get detached from what you’re listening to. Sometimes you forget that a voice belongs to an actual person, or a drummer gets lost in the background of a track. This way forward allows the listener to develop a deeper appreciation for what they are actually listening to, and more so the meaning behind it all. Talking to the boys from The Rions really allowed me to get an understanding of who they are as a band. They’re just a bunch of young blokes doing what they love. TikTok and Youtube haven’t just
allowed them to get their name out there but has given them the opportunity to explore and play around with it. “We’re only 16, we’re not adults yet, you’ve got to get to know us”. I really do see big things for these boys’ future, so I’d keep an eye out on Triple J Unearthed, as I am sure you will be hearing them there soon. They have also just started a new TikTok account @therionsband, so give it a follow if like me, you’re ‘one of those people’ and love and support all things Australian music. by Ella Scott
CHEAP by Rhys Smith
I guess I’ve always wondered about how much a human life is worth. Maybe it’s the sum of the physical (a quick google search bringing up $45 mil), or maybe the soul, that shitty little light in our eyes, makes us worth more.
These parallels had the adorable side effect of demolishing our self-worth. I guess it’s hard to find value in yourself when the world seems hellbent on telling you you’re not enough. Alas, this isn’t a depressing tale – rather the opposite actually.
Yes I know it’s macabre. Can’t help it though.
You see it didn’t matter what happened at home or what happened with the money, we were always out in the parks running about and playing childish games. Come rain, hail or shine we saw each other.
You see, I think it’s entirely possible to place a price tag on a life, albeit unadvised. We’ve got to have some value right? I wonder who gets to decide. And what if I measure myself differently to the man half a block down the street. If me and my neighbour can’t come to an agreement maybe we could average out the values. I suppose it’s stupid unless I suddenly start buying and selling body parts for a living – with the way uni’s going it’s entirely a possibility. Money is just such a boring concept to me – other than the strict dogma of capitalism, I rarely get involved in fiscal matters. The economy clearly wasn’t built with my family in mind (suspiciously it seems to only favour the rich). I’ve never been rich – haven’t been homeless either. The luck of the draw. I had a friend growing up – he lived down the street, across the alley and down the hill. We were inseparable when we were young. Let’s just say there were numerous parallels in our home lives that made us thick as thieves.
We weren’t perfect, I mean he tried strangling in his cubbyhouse once – that was fun. He had what the teachers liked to call anger issues and I was what one would call a golden child. Most of our teachers must have found us an odd duo – a fighter and a charmer. Fucked if I ever liked being the golden child – I mean perfection is boring but the perks and the ability to push the lines was fun, and lying had always been a forte of mine. I utilised my silver tongue to its full potential just for the fuck of it. My friend wasn’t afforded such luxury instead being called out for all the tiny imperfections and mistakes he made. Life is cruel to people who don’t know how to manipulate people. We grew older, money was a bore and our thoughts were always turned to cute girls, cheap vodka and pretty boys. We were brothers of a sorts, built on understanding and mutual pessimistic views of the world. Funnily enough our personalities stayed the same. I was a liar and he was a softie running around pretending to be a brute. I guess some of my lying had rubbed off on him.
Let’s just say that school wasn’t an environment made to facilitate him – we still savoured every moment we could outside those walls. He’d throw peoples pencils out windows and I’d achieve good marks – then we’d go to his place and watch tv, or play soccer in his yard or play whatever game we were into at that moment. Money didn’t come into it. By that I mean we had money problems (maybe more so our families did), but regardless of whatever came up, we lived in that world. I mean it was easy to, money couldn’t touch our friendship anymore than the rest of the world. Even after we both got jobs money just existed - he’d dropped out because the schooling system had failed him just like it failed so many others. Screw who owed who and how much everything cost. As long as we could afford a drink we were set. We used to buy the cheapest bottle of vodka, imagine dish soap style burn but with no flavour, and get hammered. He got a girlfriend, I started a fling with a guy and we were at that age of partying, drinking our livers dead. I remember sitting out the front of my house smoking the least expensive cigarettes we could buy – my friend threw up in my backyard that night.
We got even older and he started driving us places because he knows I hate fucking driving – we never went too far, only to the servo or the bottle store. He laughed as he filled up his car with e10, “only the cheapest shit for us!” he laughed. Maybe this has been our entire life, thinking we’re living outside the world of money but really being squashed by it. Bottom-shelf booze for idiots like us. At least we were happy. I fucking hate money, but at least I had food to eat and vodka to drink. Maybe me and my friend are cheap. Cheap as in stingy. Cheap as in shitty quality. Cheap as in worthless. I don’t think we’ll ever give a fuck. We didn’t have everything, but we didn’t have nothing and that made all the difference. Have we ever really needed to feel rich? No. Cheap vodka and cigarettes have always enough for us.
Housos had me conflicted. The show is both a tad problematic and quite entertaining. If you’re not aware, Housos follows the lives of a group of rebellious, loud and at times vulgar group of friends. They all live in the fictitious Sunnydale where they get up no good antics and party hard. It is pretty fun. However, Housos depiction of people on the pension further contributes to a negative stereotype that people receiving the disability and payments alike are no good ‘dole bludgers’. There is also heavy drug, alcohol and gambling use depicted. The narrator of the show is always found at the pokies or the horse track. Oh and don’t forget the many explicit sex-scenes. Housos is definitely not for your underaged or uptight audience. Despite the weird and vaguely offensive social overtones of the show, I can grant that the cast has amazing physical comedy. The slapstick humour is well timed and the caricatures the ensemble each play will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. There is Shazza and Dazza. Shazza wears a patriotic Australia Day shirt, with her jeggings, grown out roots and uggs – oh and don’t forget the durry hanging out of her mouth! Her husband, Dazza wears a flanny vest, socks and thongs and bears the iconic Southern Cross tattoo. Dazza at one point hallucinates and receives guidance from Ned Kelly. These characters are founded in some truth. Some of my distant relatives dress and act a bit like Shazza and Dazza. However, the problematic representation occurs when Dazza deliberately tries to get the disability by inhaling some sort of household chemical up his nose. While the happenings of these shenanigans are entertaining to watch because it is ridiculous these narratives like this perpetuate the myth of the ‘dole bludgers’. Politicians capitalise on the public’s belief of this myth and use it in discourse to validate welfare underfunding and to justify letting Australian’s live in poverty. Totally not cool. Frankie, a member of the Housos’ clan, finds himself in a massive police chase. The action and comedic value of the scene is great. The chase starts with Frankie revving his hot rodded and spray painted 90s car through the Sunnydale streets being chased by the coppers. The chase then shifts to on foot as Frankie begins to climb buildings and jump roof to roof. The slow and dim-witted cop following him then also had to clumsily jump roof to roof. It was awesome watch-
ing this, the production was very good and the scene was engaging. Oh and by the way, Frankie got away from the cops all the while wearing his footy shorts and thongs. Anti-police rhetoric is evident through the show. Frankie’s line in the show is “I don’t like authority!”. In one scene there is a riot in Sunnydale. A police car is shown burning as the angry residents throw bricks and yell at the officers. It is interesting watching this scene in 2020 in light of all of the riots in the United States. I stand with the Sunnydale residents because in all of the interactions seen in the show, the cops are dicks. I think it is really nice that these Sydney actors had the opportunity to work locally on a fun show. One of the actresses, Kyla-Leigh was cast just at Penrith Plaza! One of the producers heard her talking to her friends and she was hired. You have to hear her voice. It is so high pitched. The cast overall works really well together and because of the success of this show some of them have gone on to continue to produce more Australian television which is great. If I was a Sydney actress I would have been thrilled to be on Housos. Overall, Housos is alright. It isn’t for everyone. Some people will find it hilarious and others will take great offence. I am just glad we get to see a bit of Western Sydney on screen and I am glad it provides an opportunity for employment for Australian actors. The show is entertaining through the physical comedy and wacky scenarios the characters find themselves in. However, it is important to note that the caricatures the actors portray are just that - caricatures. They should not be reflective of what people on the pension are actually like. Overall, I am glad the show exists because it does highlight the social problems communities like Sunnydale face, it is entertaining and it provides an opportunity for local Sydney actors to work. By Rayna Bland
BUT DOES SHE GET AWAY WITH IT? A Review of CBS’ New Drama Why Women Kill
Do you have an annoying man in your life? Don’t know what to do with him? This is the show for you.
Why Women Kill has finally hit the shores of Australia, and my, was it worth the wait. Made by the creator of Desperate Housewives, Marc Cherry, the show weaves together sex, adultery and death to create this dark comedic drama. Aside from giving me murderous ideas, Why Women Kill hooked me straight away. The show follows three women across three different decades (1963, 1984, 2019), all living in the same house. (A huge house, I might add. It’s pretty much a mansion.) Add to that a cheating husband or two, and your best friend’s hot son, and there’s bound to be some action. And I loved it. But what actually goes on behind closed doors? Should these secrets really be revealed? Of course they should. Give me that drama. One of the first things that struck me about the show is its design and production. Why Women Kill opens with a bright and colourful title sequence reminiscent of the Pop Art movement. In an interview with IndieWire, Cherry says this did influence him, as well as his love for comic books. “I grew up in the ’60s, so what I was really trying was to get them to capture that particular era,” he says. “There was something about that old-fashioned style that I was going for, mixing that comedic look with the dire circumstances of various murders.” Alongside these quirky killings plays a remix of the classic 60’s song ‘L-O-V-E’ by Nat King Cole. This song is the perfect fit for the show, and I adore it. With cheesy lyrics like “Love was made for me and you,” whilst a woman sets her husband on fire, what’s not to love? Cherry is amazing. After bopping along to the title sequence, I then fell in love with the show’s transitions and breaking of the fourth wall. As husband Eli says “I’ll order pizza” in 2019, we are then smoothly transitioned to a new scene where 1963 Beth Anne walks past a stack of pizzas in a supermarket. Then after all the drama, the episodes usually end with the fourth wall being broken (think flashy dance routines and dark confessionals). This technique is a particular favourite of mine and adds to the show’s brilliant ironic atmosphere.
But of course, Why Women Kill wouldn’t exist without its strong female characters. I love them all, but my two favourites (as well as my fave time periods), are Beth Anne and 80’s socialite Simone. In episode one, Karl describes when he first saw Simone in a “designer gown dripping in diamonds” and goes on to say, with a smile, “you could tell by the way she walked that she thought she was fabulous.” Beth Anne’s modest yet colourful dresses are also exquisite and often “relate to her emotional state,” says Janie Bryant, costume designer for the show. “All three of these women are putting up different facades, so they definitely have that in common,” she continues. “It comes through in the costume design in the sense that we’re creating a character, and then that character is creating a character for herself. They’re all putting up a fashion front.” Paired with the beautiful costumes is a diverse cast which, predominantly, features people of colour. “It was something that was brought up early, which is, I think for a lot of people, white characters are the default,” says Cherry. It was important for Cherry to create “equal opportunity murder” in the show with race and sexual orientation reflecting real society. “I want people to see themselves reflected in my work,” he continues, “and why should only white women be killing their husbands? I’m sure there’s women of many different creeds and colours who would love to take out the man they married. So I want to honour that.” Diverse representation is clearly important in the show, but it doesn’t just stop with race and sexuality. Issues like the 1980’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, polyamory, domestic abuse, the changing roles of women and drug addiction, are just some of the struggles the characters are faced with. Being a 90’s baby has meant that I know little about some of these issues, in particular, the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The show allowed me to experience, if only a fraction, the fear people would have felt at the time. I also definitely cried. You’ll see why.
Why Women Kill is such a great show and I hope you’ve added it to your watch list. And if, by some strange reason, you’re not entertained, at least you’ll learn some fun ways to dispose of the ungrateful man in your life. But heed the character’s words for the only “question [that] really matters [is]…does she get away with it?” We hope so. by Aylish Dowsett
horoscopes by Harry Fraser
Slow down and catch your breath. Remember that the harder you push and the stronger you come off, the more resistant people will be. Like a toxic ex, let capitalism ruin itself. It’s high key doing a great job tbh.
Your anxiety has reached the stage of Meryl Streep on that Greek Island, climbing up the cliff toward your daughter’s wedding. Screaming into the wind. And you need to sit with it.
You think you’re all that with your scales, but the court system is one of the key pillars holding up an oppressive capitalist structure. But y’all aren’t ready for that conversation.
Previously uncovered desires are surfacing Scorpio and it shows. There’s a fine line between demanding and assertive. Fuck that line. Why stop at alienating just one person in your inner circle when you can alienate them all?
You’ll find yourself craving intimacy this month, and your emotional state will be heightened. Try to avoid things like watching the news, fighting with family members and planning orgies.
Mars is heading into retrograde again Capricorn and you know what that means. Hot sex. My advice: use protection. That syphilis needle was really big last time and we don’t need that for you in 2020.
Apparently you’re the most revolutionary inclined of all the star signs Aquarius. Although it may seem you’ve spent your time fighting injustice in all its forms you can’t lie to me. I know you’ve been at home learning the WAP dance. Trash.
Finances are on your mind and who could blame you? The increasing economic inequality and abhorrent accumulation of wealth by the capitalist elite is putting you on edge. Don’t worry boo, the guillotine is being dusted off as we speak.
Remember to take care of you for once Aries. After all, you can’t body slam a cop if you’re running on a mere 2 hours of sleep and the Communist Manifesto alone.
You’re feeling stuck in the past and unable to move forward. This year has been challenging for us all, but maybe try some orthotics. Those arches need work hun.
Bottled up anger can manifest in many ways. Now I’m all for a quick vid of a Karen popping off at a servo in America to start off the day right, but there comes a point where it’s unhealthy. You’re at that point. I don’t know how to be more blunt.
You’ve been struggling romantically and it’s time to trade those boxing gloves for massage oil Cancer. There’s a fine line between a fight and a forceful rubdown and its time you took advantage of it.