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FARRAGO

MAY 2012

Cosmetic Surgery

The game all the kids are playing

Australian Cinema

We make films apparently Brain Food

North Korea Procrastination Dystopia

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FARRAGO.

EDITION FOUR, MAY 2012

COVER: SARAH McCOLL

THE FODDER

4 LETTERS

“Australia’s asylum seeker policy does not apply to Yetis, who can cross international borders as they please. ‘I think it’s because we’re not technically human beings,’ Garth tells me, ‘Which is ironic, because mandatory detention is so inhumane.’” SIMON FARLEY—PAGE 16

5 EDITORIAL

6 NEWS ANZAC UPHEAVAL, GENDER STUDIES & FAIR TRADE FORTNIGHT 9 OFFICE BEARER REPORTS

11-28

12-15

HOB GALLERY & A FAREWELL TO A TWOWHEELED FRIEND 16-17

YETIS, BRAIN FOOD & ORANGE-BELLIED PARRORTS 18-19

HOW TO PROCRASTINATE—A GUIDE FROM THE EXPERTS

22-23

SCREEN: INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR OF I AM ELEVEN, PLUS MOVIE, DVD & GAME REVIEWS 24-26

STAGE: TURANDOT, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE & AUSTRALIA DAY 27-28

BOOKS: WHY DO WE LOVE DYSTOPIA?

20-21

SOUND: REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

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FEATURES

29-42

FICTION

43-47

OPINION

48-51

48

34 MELBOURNE’S ZINE CULTURE

2012 GLOBAL ATHEIST CONVENTION

By Christina Lee

30 COSMETIC SURGERY: BARBIE, BOOBS & BEING YOUR BEST SELF

49

SOCIAL MEDIA & THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 44

36

PAUSE; PRODIGY; PRODIGY DEFUNCT

WHY DOES AUSSIE CINEMA GET SUCH A BAD RAP?

45 A CURRENT AFFAIR

37

46

THE LOW-DOWN ON NORTH KOREA

BALLOONS; LAYERS; MOUNTAINS

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47

IGNORED RIGHTS

THE GRUESOME OMISSION

41

50

WHAT’S UP WITH BAILLIEU? 51

BAD FOR VLAD: A POEM FOR PUTIN

THE BACK 53

FEELING A LITTLE QUEER WITH HOMO ERECTUS 54

LIFE S’PORT WITH KEVIN HAWKINS: RISKING HEAD & SHIN

NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS 42 TACKLING POVERTY farragomagazine.com

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SEND YOURS TO: FARRAGO2012@GMAIL.COM

EDITORS Max Denton, Ella Dyson, Vicky Smith and Scott Whinfield.

CONTRIBUTORS Eeva Armand, Scott Arthurson, Thom Abildgaard, Caitlin Beech, Anbdrew Beech Jones, James Burgmann, Shae Courtney, Kate Crowhurst, Daniel Czech, Natalie Diney, Ayla Erdogan, Homo Erectus, Simon Farley, Emily French, Lucas Gaudissart, Richard Gwatkin, Richard Haridy, Kevin Hawkins, Amy Haywood, Bec Jones, Monica Karpinski, Emily Keogh, Emma Koehn, Derrick Krusche, Danielle Kutchel, Christina Lee, James Madden, Julia Matthews, Duane Merchant, Alice Mikhman, Matthew Minas, Sarina Murray, Olivia Morcom, Alex OíBrien, Jess OíCallaghan, Luke Patterson, Daniella Raniti, John Ricketson, Phoebe St. John, Dave Threlfall, Christopher Weinberg, James Whitmore, Sally Whyte and Lin Yin.

SUB-EDITORS Thomas Abildgaard, Josh Arandt, Tom Clift, Kate Crowhurst, Will Druce, Christopher Fieldus, Mhairi Gador-Whyte, Richard Gwatkin, Kevin Hawkins, Amy Haywood, Zoe Hough, Bec Jones, Zoe Kingsley, Emma Koehn, Christina Lee, Damir Ljuhar, Briar Lloyd, James Madden, Clancy Moore, Sarina Murray, Alex O’Brien, Jess O’Callaghan, Luke Patterson, Matt Pierri, Michelle See-Tho, Chris Shorten, Christina Spizzica, Christine Todd, David Threllfall, Meg Watson, James Whitmore and Sally Whyte.

GRAPHICS SUB-EDITORS Puya Aflatoun, Giles Dewing, Lynley Eavis, Zoe Efron, Steve Godden, Lena Ly, Mercedes Marsh, Matthew McCarthy, Sarah McColl, Nicole Moraleda, Rachelle Moulic, Danny Phung and Tahnee Saunders.

‘High on Life’ article a missed opportunity. It is encouraging that recent developments and statements from politicians, high-level bureaucrats and police have brought the issue of decriminalisation of certain drugs into the mainstream media. It is high time for societal debate on the outdated image and understanding of drugs, and drug users, that conservative politicians and media proliferate—and we so unconsciously accept. Decriminalisation should only be one part of this debate. Julia Gillard’s refusal to take a progressive stance on this issue is a sad, missed opportunity. I also found it disappointing that Briar

Lloyd’s article ‘High on Life’, written for a (hopefully) progressive, young Uni student audience, failed to even name any drug other than marijuana, (except Ecstasy, and then only by naming the government’s ‘Face facts’ campaign). In doing so the article fell far short of actually challenging the entrenched attitudes and conceptions it discusses. ‘Hard’ drug use—be it LSD, ecstasy, a plethora of methamphetamine-based/ like substances, or anything else—is much more prevalent than the media and political leaders dare to admit, as debate on decriminalisation and the failure of the so-called

‘war on drugs’ underline. The prevalence of use within the well-educated, relatively well-off university population would likely shock many people. Unfortunately misinformation abounds for all demographics, and until cultural stereotypes and attitudes change this will remain the case. Such an article, which promises to contribute to progress in the field and fails to, serves only to further marginalise drug users and widen the mentioned ‘gulf ’ between public conception and reality even more. - David Threlfall

OUR THANKS AND SEXUAL FAVOURS GO TO MANY We send our usual special thanks to our families, friends and armies of minions for their support during the production of Edition Four. Extra special thanks to Scott’s mum and dad for feeding us before deadline, and providing Vicky and Max with probably the only nutrients they had all week. Scott’s cousins for being good sports although bewildered and confused by Cosmetic Operation. A shout out to Dirty Myrtle’s for the late-night Pictionary, and Meredith McCullough for helping Max get back into his car. And last but not least, the very special Emma Koehn and Sarah McColl, for their dedication and brilliance. Apologies to Jacob Atkins for referring to him by various other names throughout Edition Three, none of which were his own, and to Emily Keogh for calling her Emma, and to Nick Hadgelias for calling him Nick Hagdelias in Edition Two. Clearly we are drunken muppets. Farrago encourages all students to become involved. Contact the editors if you wish to contribute. Email: farrago2012@gmail.com Phone: 8344 6957 Visit our website: www.farragomagazine.com Like us on Facebook... please? Follow our inane tweets: @farragomagazine DISCLAIMER: Farrago is the student magazine of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU). Farrago is published by the Secretary of the Union, Samuel Vero. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Student Union, printers or editors. All writing and artwork remains the property of the creators. The collection is © Farrago and Farrago reserves the right to republish in any format. © 2012 University of Melbourne Student Union. All Rights Reseved.

Homo Erectus, you embarrass us. You embarrass yourself. There is a tone of cloying presumptuous in your writing, a winking assertion that this, here, is the Community, with all its boundless tolerance and fabulousness, and you can take it or get fucked. I emerged from the last instalment with my head a whirlwind of muscles and mascara, of beauties and bears, of shining celebrities and deadeyed shallowness. You speak airily of a world without a thought in its head. Your view of gay life isn’t just silly, or even wrong-headed and misleading—it’s incredibly regressive. It’s regressive to all us fairies who have worked tirelessly to shatter the illusion that we have no nothing to offer beyond body-worship and superficial interests, who

MEDIA DEPARTMENT 4

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

have tried to prove we can have wit, intelligence and dignity. The stereotype that you so artlessly tart up is older than Judy Garland herself, it is older than dirt – the boozy, cockseeking queen, always catty, always dissatisfied, always alone, the vacuous party-goer who is promiscuous and self-delusional enough to think their lives really do mirror the celebrities whose lives they devour like candy. That is what people who hate gay people think we are—dithering idiots. But we’re not; it’s a false image, a simulacrum that feeds into itself as people contort themselves hopelessly into knots to fit into the vision of gay life that is pummelled into us from childhood. And then,

incredibly, you end on a note of magnanimity: it’s apparently an “important expression” and a “way to show collective pride in being gay, lesbian, transgender”, as if weren’t really some tacky, glittery dickfest that really amounts to nothing more a three-day swooning celebration of the almighty cock. Mardis Gras has about as much relevance to contemporary gays as the VCR. The parallel is fair one: they’re ugly and outdated, they give viewer a distorted image, and both contain a gaping slot that should really be marked with a warning that reads, “Congratulations! You are my thousandth customer!” - Jon Ricketson


EDITORIAL

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THE FARRAGO EDITORS PLAY WITH SSAF MONEY, IT WAS LATER BURNT AND SPENT ON PROSTITUTES

edia beat-ups seem to be the flavour of the month here at the Student Union. President Mark Kettle (PMK) is grilled on 3AW about hating on our diggers. ‘Live and extreme sex acts’ (too graphic for the delicate sensibilities of Farrago readers) are performed on the grounds of this prestigious establishment. What’s next, SSAF-funded ‘Beer, Bands, and Burn the Flag’ Tuesdays?

Forget being under a rock; even readers of Fox News Chicago (the Windy City’s news leaders) will be aware of the controversial trouser massage that occurred during Rad Sex & Consent Week. Bumgate 2012 began with the Sunday Herald Sun and was echoed across several media outlets; comments multiplied; outraged students emerged snorting from the woodwork. Not bad for a lazy story riddled with inaccuracies. The act that the Herald Sun found too ‘extreme’ to even describe really wasn’t that extreme—or even slightly extreme. A bare arse and a bit of fleshy massage is nothing compared to the graphic content you will find in several University of Melbourne

subjects such as Sex and the Screen and perennial Hun favourite Art, Pornography, Blasphemy, Propaganda. But sex and money make a great story—especially when it’s (gasp) students’ money being used for any kind of sex play. Except that it kind of wasn’t. Yes, Union fees go towards funding Rad Sex and Consent Week as a whole, but it is a tiny portion of the overall budget, and the workshop in question cost the Union no money. Bargain! Some people might even argue that education on consent and alternative sexual expression is a service to students, but this debate is lost on the Hun—they’re too busy approving comments like this suggestion that the Union be handed over to the

Russell Street bomber: ‘This house of “Obscenity” should be given to Craig Minogue to deal with’—and that was just a fragment of their comment. Rude. Uni’s live sex act furore? We call bullshit.

* We’re officially half-way! Four down and four to go. As we write this editorial in early May, we’ve been the selfrighteous, unwashed editors of Farrago for five months. Whilst it’s been a hectic period, and we’re all eagerly awaiting our mid-year slumberfest, we’re having a lot of fun and can’t wait for Semester Two and all its unliftable excitement. We will be launching our creative farragomagazine.com

writing anthology Above Water in August, and heading to Newcastle for the National Young Writers’ Festival in September. This edition is our cosmetic surgery exposé. Emma Koehn enters an aesthetically altered world, investigating our generation’s increasing willingness to undergo procedures to enhance their appearance. Dermal fillers, anyone? Play Farrago’s own version of Operation, hand crafted by the brilliant Sarah McColl: remove cash from the hip pocket and fund your surgeries today! Plump up the trout pout and remove that potbelly! Until next semester, Max, Scott, Vicky and Ella

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UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE STUDENT UNION

NEWS.

Gender Studies: It’s a Thing

Rad Sex & Consent Makes Headlines

Gender Studies as a major will again be offered to Arts students in 2013, pending approval by the University Academic Programs Committee and the Academic Board. Gender Studies has been offered only as a minor since 2008.

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SALLY WHYTE

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arshia Lee-Stecum, the Chair of the Bachelor of Arts Course Standing Committee says the move cannot be described as a simple “reinstatement of the old Gender Studies major, as the curriculum design of the program will differ significantly from the previous version.” The new major will be a part of the School of Culture and Communication in the Arts faculty. Wom*n’s Officer Amy Jenkins said the prospect of the new major was “absolutely exciting” and it shows that the university “actually values (Gender Studies).” The motivation for the reintroduction of the Gender Studies major is not entirely clear, but Education Academic Affairs Officer Anna Morrison said “Mostly it’s been through the work of a lot of different Academic Officers in the Union through the years,” adding “the University works in mysterious ways.” Morrison, who sits on the Course Standing Committee, says that it is important students are aware that there may be “limited options” within the

BY-ELECTION: NON-EVENT

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major, as only two or three new subjects will be added as part of the introduction of the new major. The prospect of a new Gender Studies major is cold comfort for students who have completed their Arts degrees in the past four years. Lauren Sanders graduated Arts (Honours) in 2011 with a minor in Gender Studies. “The only reason I studied a Political Science major in the absence of Gender Studies was because the program offered two feminist theory subjects,” she says. Sanders is still optimistic after campaigning unsuccessfully to complete her honours year in Gender Studies­— the reinstatement of the major “certainly felt like a victory for me and my fellow students even though we won’t get to directly benefit from it.” Both Morrison and Jenkins noted, however, that the news comes as the university cuts the Australian Studies major. Both characterised funding cuts across the board in the Arts faculty as “disappointing”. The final approval of the Gender Studies major will take place at either the 21 June or 19 July meeting of the Academic Board.

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y-elections did not take place at the Parkville, Burnley and VCAM campuses on Monday 7 May, as all positions were either uncontested or did not recieve nominations. As previously reported in Farrago, a range of positions were

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

MAY 2012

he UMSU Wom*n’s and Queer departments co-hosted Rad Sex and Consent Week from 30 April - 4 May. Workshops, screenings and discussions were held throughout the week, which was designed to provide students with the “sex-ed you wish you’d had in school.” The event gave students access to sexual health information and discussions about gender diversity and healthy and alternative lifestyles. One workshop, which controversially involved a sex worker performing a risqué massage on a pre-arranged volunteer, became the focus of an article in the Sunday Herald Sun on 7 May. The article was later picked up by other news outlets, including Fox Chicago. Charley Daniel, a member of the Melbourne University Liberal Club, attended the workshop to see “what the union was spending money on and promoting.” Daniel expressed concern that such a workshop was “not something that all students would feel comfortable with.” She went on to claim that it was “an event that many students may feel excluded from” and also that at least one participant was underage. Amy Jenkins, one of the 2012 Wom*n’s Officers, responded to the matter, stating that “student interests were being represented, due to the fact that many workshops were back by popular demand from last year’s event—queer students in particular are not given sufficient sex-ed in high school. Promoting student wellbeing and preventing rape are in the interests of all students.” Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis is reportedly yet to decide whether to launch an investigation into the event. ~ Scott Whinfield & Ella Dyson

available in the Burnley Student Association Department (BSAD), the Victorian College of the Arts & Music Student Association (VCAMSA) and the Indigenous Department of the Parkville campus. The BSAD was the only department that came close to

filling all of its vacant positions, with 11 of 12 positions filled. No nominations were received for Indigenous Officer or Indigenous Student Representative at the Parkville campus. These positions have been vacant since early 2011.


Fund Our Future, Say Students ‘‘I came here to learn, so value my education’’ read the posters that were held up by students photographing one another around campus this March, in a photo-petition run by organisers of Fund Our Future. ALICE MIKHMAN

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he campaign is an initiative of the National Union of Students, and seeks to secure properly trained, permanent teaching staff, smaller class sizes, access to resources, and diversity of course options. While the Higher Education Base Funding Review, released in late 2011, has confirmed need for greater university funding, questions still loom over who will really be footing the bill if the campaign’s proposals are to be adopted. When asked how much would actually be required to see such demands realised, the National Union of Students Education Officer Rosa Sotille said “I don’t have the exact amount [...] but at least ten percent more [per government-supported student] needs to be invested.” While the University of Melbourne’s budget manager, Chris Abelskamp, agrees that extra funding is needed, he insists that the University does not have the money to fulfill this recommendation. ‘‘It’s not feasible under current funding plans. We are under a lot of pressure because international students have a lot more choices […] about where they want to attend […] and that’s going to have a big impact on university funding, and our ability to train and improve some of the staff.’’ With plans to further increase student contributions, however, there is concern that it will actually be students paying for the advised changes, and not the government. The reintroduction of the Student Services and Amenities Fee, for example, has already added $263 to full-time students’ existing costs. The Base Funding Review also recommended significant changes to HECS costs. While some courses such as science or medicine will see fees increase, others such as law, will have their tuition costs nearly halved. Overall, however, the Review recommended an increase in average tuition costs. Sotille, on the other hand, maintains that both the Federal Government and universities need to prioritise education in their budgeting. “It’s not that the government doesn’t have the money, it’s just that it’s not spending it on education,” she said.

President Grilled While Libs Bake After a tough interview on 3AW, UMSU President Mark Kettle has faced questions about the Student Union not laying a wreath for ANZAC Day. SALLY WHYTE

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he issue was publicised after Charley Daniel, a member of the Melboure University Liberal Club, spoke with Neil Mitchell on his 3AW morning program two days before ANZAC Day. Daniel said that discussion about buying a wreath was suppressed by Kettle at two Student Council meetings in December and January, with minutes showing that this issue was not voted on at the meeting on 30 January. Discussion centred on whether laying a wreath would condemn or support war and overlap with University of Melbourne events on campus. After the discussion, a second motion was made, moving that the original motion not be voted on. This subsequent motion was passed, resulting in the original motion to lay a wreath not going to vote. At the final meeting before ANZAC Day on 24 April, after the issue was publicised on 3AW, the meeting lost quorum before discussion about the wreath could be had. Kettle has written to Student Councillors and Office Bearers following the controversy. Kettle said in the letter that the Students’ Council “meeting (on 24 April) lost quorum and as a consequence, it was unable to continue to discuss or pass resolutions on this or any other issue. It was unfortunate, and it was in no way intentional that the issue was unable to be resolved by Students’ Council.” Kettle denied both to Farrago and Neil Mitchell that he said laying a wreath would “glorify war,” as had been indicated in the minutes of a Students’ Council meeting on 7 December. The Liberal Club held a bake sale over the two days before ANZAC Day to fund a wreath to be laid at the Shrine. The event raised enough money to purchase a wreath to present at the Shrine on behalf of students. A wreath donated by Federal Liberal

MP Kelly O’Dwyer was also presented on behalf of the club. Daniel said at the bake sale that it was “disappointing” that the issue had gone so far, citing the increased funds available to UMSU in light of the SSAF. Kon Moisidis, a member of the Liberal Club present at the sale said it was “regrettable that we had to take action in to our own hands.” Moisidis told Farrago that the issue shows “how out of touch the student representatives are from the student body.” Kettle has labelled the push for a wreath as “playing politics with quite a serious issue.” He maintained that “the Liberals were in the Union in 2010 and undertook no efforts to put forward a wreath when they were in control ... they have never brought forward a motion of this kind in the past.” The Student Union has never laid a wreath at the Shrine, according to Kettle, “nor has any other student union, nor could we find any record of any other trade union as well.” This issue is at the fore of the new Stop Waste Now campaign, a website and series of posters around the University attacking union spending and decisions. Stop Waste Now was contacted by Farrago and said in a statement “UMSU’s disgraceful conduct towards our fallen servicemen and women on ANZAC Day made it very clear that UMSU has no effective accountability mechanism” (sic). The people behind the campaign declined to identify themselves, saying only that they are “a group of independent students concerned with UMSU’s misappropriation of our funds.” The group’s website features photos of UMSU president Mark Kettle, Education Academic Officers Kara Hadgraft and Anna Morrison, Wom*n’s Officer Amy Jenkins, and protests gender ratios as well as workshops at the recent Radical Sex and Consent Week.

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University Pursues Fair Trade Accreditation In a move that coincides with Fair Trade Fortnight, the University of Melbourne has decided to pursue Fairtrade accreditation. JESS O’CALLAGHAN

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he push for accreditation is a joint effort from the University of Melbourne’s Oxfam Group, Vision Generation (VGen), Student Union (UMSU) and University staff. “It’s about understanding what Fair Trade is,” says Kerrie Haria Adams, Fair Trade co-ordinator of the University of Melbourne Oxfam Group. “A lot of people have said we know it’s a good thing but we don’t know why.” To attain accreditation from the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ), both staff and students must demonstrate a commitment to Fair Trade. The University must ensure that at least 50% of its faculty department kitchens are stocked with Fairtrade certified coffee and tea. It must also agree to educate staff and students about the positive effect of using Fairtrade products. A Fair Trade steering group, made up of representatives from across the University, including Property and Campus Services, Procurement, staff and students, will ensure the FTAANZ requirements are met. Sarah Fortuna, Project Manager in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, explains this is largely about “increasing the availability of Fairtrade products in kitchenettes, cafes and shops around campus.” Provost’s Fellow Professor Philip Batterham says he found it “inspirational to work with a

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group of talented students, so focused on achieving something that will have an ongoing positive global impact.” He sees the university’s role as one with implications beyond the campus community, explaining, “Both as individuals and as a respected institution, we can set an example for others to follow, thus helping to grow the Fair Trade movement.” Macquarie University, RMIT and Monash have all become accredited through this process, FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

and La Trobe has taken accreditation to the next level, pursuing the 100% Fair Trade target. While Fair Trade certification is a recognisable way to ensure produce is ethically sourced, Haria Adams insists it is not the only option for ethical tea and coffee on campus. “There are a few places on campus that use other ethical suppliers, and we in no way want to force them to use Fairtrade coffee...we’ve got Rainforest Alliance, and Sensory Lab who pay farmers fairly and have

that enshrined in their policies.” UMSU has also supported the move towards accreditation, and have taken an active role in the promotion of Fair Trade. “It is a show of good faith,” says Ayeesha Cain, UMSU Education Public Affairs Officer, “ I‘d like to think that if we were those farmers who had little control over prices, others would help support us getting back on our feet.” Fair Trade Fortnight runs from 7 May to 18 May.


sign the online petition at union.unimelb. edu.au/president

YOU IS FOR UNION STUDENT UNION OFFICE BEARER REPORTS

PRESIDENT

MARK KETTLE

Housing Housing is one of the biggest issues facing us as students. Australia is one of the few countries where universities don’t provide housing for students. Compare this to the USA and UK, where on-campus accomodation is available (at least) to all first year students. At Princeton Univeristy, it is even compulsory! Whether it be high rent, the long travel distance from home or the cost of moving out of home, housing is a major barrier to to getting involved at uni, as well as balancing study, work and a social life. With social isolation amongst students an increasing concern, there is an urgent need that the university provide housing assistance to its students. There are plans for university-owned housing with 600-700 beds, however it will be charging rent of $250-300. While the Student Union believes that housing owned and run by the university is an important step that has been taken, and should be applauded—especially with concerns about pastoral care that is available in private providers and non-existent for a student who rents. However, this cost of rent will be extraordinarily prohibitive to most students. To demand affordable student housing,

Elected Student Representatives kicked off University Council The Presidents of the Student Union (UMSU) and the Graduate Student Association have been kicked off University Council, the university’s highest governing body. University Council acts as the board of the university, though it is more than a board as a university is a lot more than a business. There are representatives from the student body, as well as academic and professional staff. The university is founded on collegiate and semi-democratic principles, reflecting its duties to society—to educate students and pursue knowledge. The Presidents of the two organisations are in day-to-day contact with students and their concerns— a perspective which is invaluable to the university in identifying what students want from their university and preventing problems that university management doesn’t often see. The Student Union is demanding that the elected student representatives be reappointed to University Council to ensure that the student voice is heard.

Vice-Chancellors around the country to lobby for higher quality resources and facilities, reduced class sizes and overall improvement to the higher education experience. This year, we will be compiling and comparing the results—how far have we come in two years? We will also be compiling a university-specific report to give a clear picture of this campus and what steps can be taken by the university to make improvements to the quality of education we receive. So if you’re having trouble with the LMS, not being challenged academically, taking particularly inspiring courses or wish your lectures were recorded, do the Quality Survey and let us know about it. You can do it here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NUSQualitySurvey

WOM*NS

AMY JENKINS & BELINDA O-CONNOR

We hope you’ve been having fun with all the tips you learnt at Rad Sex & Consent Week ;)

EDUCATION (ACADEMIC) ANNA MORRISON & KARA HADGRAFT

This month in the Education Academic Department, we’ve been surveying students about the quality of their education. Every two years, the National Union of Students (NUS) runs a survey on experiences and perceptions of students’ quality of education. In 2010, this survey was endorsed by both the Minister for Higher Education and Universities Australia. The data was compiled into a comprehensive report that was presented to the Federal Government and university

Over the break, we’ll be heading to the NOWSA Conference at ANU from 9-13 July. Want to come? Email us womyns@union. unimelb.edu.au. We’ve been learning how to kick ass physically instead of just with empowered sass at Guardian Defence Krav Maga.

Women’s (Dept) Weekly schedule: Monday—WAC: Women’s Action Collective, where the activism happens. 1pm in the Wom*n’s Room every week. Tuesday—Stitch’n’Bitch: Crafty Tuesday mornings in the Wom*n’s Room. Wednesday—Feminist Discussion Group: 12.30 in Mary Cooke A. (odd) Thursday—GirlZone: 1pm in the Wom*n’s Room for queer and questioning

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women to chat, with tea and cake and conversation. (even) Thursday—FFFFILMS: Movies that pass the Bechdel test. For all genders. www.umsuwomyns.com

from 1-2. Thursdays, there’s the free ride to Uni breakfast from 8:30-10:00 in North Court, with bike workshops happening from 10-11. On Friday, there’s urban gardening from 12-3. Our bike co-op has started (YAY), and we will be putting a blackboard for ideas and events in the co-op. For rad sex and consent week, we will be doing a rad-pad and moon cup workshop, and are collaborating with other departments to have a ‘sleepover at Uni’. You’re interested in all this, right? Well, for more information with any of these activities whether it be cooking, gardening, bike riding or campaigning email us on environment@ union.unimelb.edu.au. Don’t wait until you have your degree to save the world—get on board and make a change today!

future! Thanks to the SSAF, we have been able to approve 25 new club applications. These clubs will be holding their first meetings from Week 9 onwards—if any tickle your fancy, feel free to go along and join a potentially awesome club.

VCA

JACOB BATTISTA

ENVIRONMENT RUTHIE HAMBLING & RACHEL DEANS

Down at the VCA, life is bustling along at all speeds.

The Easter egg and bottle hunt was a nice end to the first six weeks. We had 195 people participating, 5 pages of signatures for a bottle free campus collected and some new people excited about environment collective. The idea conference was another great opportunity for involvement and collaboration, with the department subsidising those who went. More positive news is that the garden will be ready for planting in spring—but those who can’t wait to get their hands dirty can be involved with urban gardens on Fridays. We have exciting things planned for pretty much every day of the week. Monday ‘Play With Your Food’ is still happening, on Wednesdays we have collective from 12-1 and ‘Me, my environment department and chai’ (our weekly workshop series) running

CLUBS

STEPH FIELD & QUINN OAKLEY

Hai guize! The Clubs Office has been working hard behind the scenes to bring you awesome club events for this semester, including two of our new initiatives (MegaEvents) which have already occurred. MegaBBQ, in the first week, was a showcase of engineering clubs and there were huge giveaways on campus to get everyone in the Easter spirit. Watch out for more MegaEvents in the

Productions are starting rehearsals; some are about to begin their seasons. Dancers are dancing and musicians are practicing. Filmmakers are planning their films and VCAMSA is planning lots of events ant workshops. What more could you want? After the success of the VCA’s 40th Anniversary Street Party, we are planning another huge party for later in the year…get excited! We will also be investigating how the new degree is progressing very soon, so if you have any feedback or thoughts let us know. Also remember to keep an eye out for a forum-style chance to let us know what you think. If you have anything else you want to see happen, let us know at vcam@union. unimelb.edu.au.


theFODDER.

CAMPUS * SOUND * SCREEN * STAGE * BOOKS

Parkville in Autumn. PHOTOS BY LAURA DU VE

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Vox Pop. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF: RAD SEX & CONSENT WEEK?

Misanthropology SARINA MURRAY

If you havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one There are millions of qualms Jay-Z could have used to cap off his seminal hit—human suffering does not subscribe to a metric system—but he chose “a bitch”. Why? Because human interaction isn’t only a problem when critics and police are making your life a reprobate place, but in almost every instance. There are tens* of people in this world with whom I will gladly converse. The rest of humanity can bugger off. If only our egos could be ramped to ease the need for validation of unique brilliance, we could live in almost total isolation. The influx of pope-pods and the abandonment of trams on the road would certainly climate change this shit up. But the end of the world will make solitude even more achievable. I don’t mind saying things, I don’t even mind hearing them, but I’ll pass on the constant back-and-forth of questions and answers. My mind, during most conversations, is overrun with more internal, snarky commentary than a Monday night on Twitter #morefuckingrepartee. Worse is the supposed exchange of insights and sympathy. As I’ve learned from my months with a shrink, a demi-second** something comes out of my mouth, I recognise how ridiculous it is. I prefer silent arrogance. Over the years, I’ve become a fan of “comfortable” silences. Gone is the chatty persona facading a damn about your classes and glasses. They are a very polite way of approaching the trite old “if you don’t have anything nice to say...” situation and I’m introducing them into my relationships with people sooner and sooner. Often, expressly

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after names are given. From smize to glare, I have captured a world in my squinty eyes and can go hours without checking on how croaky my throat may be. I’ve been known, of late, to completely avoid responding to a greeting. At first it was just via social media, but once people are convinced you’re awful or oblivious enough a person, it’s easy to pull off face-to-face. Try it out, there’s nothing more powerful than a stony silence. I wasn’t able to articulate this until I was given something with which to compare. For a month I spent my nights unspeaking while in rooms of people. My contribution was to laugh, and often. In my hands, laughter is a lexicon of the least mellifluous noises to be emitted from a voice box. From the titters of an anime school girl, to Lord Melchett-like hooting guffaws, I have it covered, but this form of noise-reciprocation lies far above conversation. Sitting in the dark as someone consciously amuses you, with no obligation to make eye contact or say something erudite in response. I should specify this was at the Comedy Festival. I haven’t been choking down nitrous oxide and crashing funerals. Perhaps my suffering does work to a metric system. There are 99 people I can’t stand for each one that I can tolerate. Between exercising my acerbic narcissism and apocalyptic paranoia, I have no time to work out which camp into which any individual will fall. *Literally. Tens. Not that hyperbolised and misused “literally” seen elsewhere. ** Millisecond is more hyperbolised bullshit. The only thing any of us do that fast is have our physical or metaphoric dicks flaccidise when we see our naked parents. FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

BIANCA – ARTS

MOHAMMED – ENGINEERING

If you were running RSandC week, what do you think students would like to see, or should see?

Do you think that it’s appropriate for the Union to be spending money on this kind of event?

Sex education can definitely be sort of boring and traditional and not very applicable to what’s actually going on in students’ lives, so I can see where they went with that in-your-face demonstration, but… I’m not sure what I would do, but I don’t think that I’d put on a live sex show.

Absolutely. I think it’s nice to see the perspective of everyone, regardless of what you do. Where would you draw the line when it comes to explicit content?

It depends who is the audience—people just get so sensitive because they’re still attached to old values which are really … I don’t want to say stupid …but they don’t run it by their brains, they just say, ‘Everyone thinks it’s wrong, it must be wrong’.

LACHIE – SCIENCE So do you think that it’s an inappropriate use of student funds to run a week on radical sex and consent?

Not really, I mean, if they’ve got…if they don’t have enough cash for other things…but they seem to have enough, I mean there’s free things constantly on, why not? I mean a big part of uni and all that is to teach you to question what’s normal and what you’ve learnt before, so why not about sex? So where would you draw the line then, when it comes to explicit content?/ What would you be interested in seeing?

A live orgy would be interesting to see… no, if there was something along the lines of the weirder S&M things, that would be kinda… but then, I just wouldn’t go and see that. But if people want to see that…

ALANA, MICHELLE – ARTS Would you, in fact, like to see more sex acts at the University of Melbourne?

[laughs!] Alana: Wow, what a question! Is that the actual question? Um…might be a bit awkward. I can see why people would be opposed to it… but I suppose whatever floats your boat. What’s to say that a group who does something that a few kids don’t like is doing the wrong thing? As long as there are people who want to see that, then… Michelle: If you have an audience, go for your life.


PHOTOS BY MAX DENTON

& ANSWERS

Questions

WITH BEC JONES

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here’s something going on in Budd Street, Collingwood. Gentle chatter, a wafting scent of coffee and a distant beat float down the road. The trail leads to a painting of a dragonfly with a moustache, inset on a towering brick front, and a ceramic war elephant engulfed by freddo frogs. Amongst it all are two local guys Nick and Sam, the creators of this incredible space, House of Bricks. The old warehouse, likely once a textile factory in 1930s Melbourne, now houses a public gallery and adjoining studios. “Collingwood is traditionally a very old industrial neighbourhood and so when we came here it was just one big room with carpet all through it,” explains Sam, who has just completed an Arts/Law degree at Melbourne Uni. Today it’s spacious and inviting, dotted with crates and couches, fitted with a bar and importantly, exhibition space for the creations of national and international artists. “People are still trying to work out what we’re doing here, but it’s very inclusive rather than exclusive, and we like it that way,” Sam says, rolling up the sleeves of his blue sweater. Nick, who has a theatre background, continues, nodding at his co-founder’s comment, “We’re seeing the value of having a creative space where people can just hang out.” Last month House of Bricks (HOB) hosted a screening of a local filmmaker’s exploration into Madrid’s squatting social centres. As Okupaciòn projected onto the gallery’s white walls and Spanish voices drifted out the brick front, viewers spilled onto the street. “It was

really great to see,” both Nick and Sam agree. “We really like the spot we’re in, it’s very open and welcoming to the community.” They continue with stories about locals coming through HOB each day. “There’s an older guy who likes to play chess and a younger guy who just likes to hang around,” says Sam, quietly proud of what they’ve been able to create. “People are here waiting for you at 6:55 to get their coffee before work... I actually do enjoy getting up to come here in the mornings.” This is something that has very much informed the mantra behind HOB, right from the process of finding the location to shifting and changing the space today. “Sam and I were having lunch one day around the corner and then saw the For Lease sign, so we just started talking about it,” says Nick very casually. “The space really informed the layout and it just worked naturally with the building”. HOB opened its roller door to the public in October last year, but it’s only been recently that the coffee machine has joined the gallery. “We wanted to combine the two so it would be both a creative space and somewhere to hang out,” Nick explains. “And people really like the coffee!” Sam adds, chuckling. Obviously they’re doing something right, with seven resident artists renting HOB’s studio spaces. “They all do very different work,” Nick says about their artists, before running off to make one of them a latte. Sam continues with a tour of their work spaces, of which any creative person would be envious. Canvases, paints and brushes lay strewn across benches. Scrap material and sketches cover the walls. It’s evidently

a space not just for individual inspiration, but collaboration and expression. This continues out into the public gallery space, where today a conceptual exhibition explores the artist’s family unit. From the ceiling hangs four tree logs, resembling a child’s mobile. As Sam spins them he comments that the logs never collide, no matter how many ways you tilt, turn or swirl them. HOB simply has a passion for intriguing artists. “It’s pretty much open to anyone who has a creative project or proposal,” Nick remarks. “The exhibits are always changing. We have a group show coming up in May and a Chilean artist exhibiting in June... Even people who want to run classes, performances or creative projects [are welcome]. It’s a very multi-functional space.” Others may still be figuring out what House of Bricks is all about, but Nick and Sam are clear about their vision. “It’s not an entirely profitable business,” Sam says honestly. “But that’s not the point of what we’re doing here. It’s more about creating this space for artists and the community.” House of Bricks, 40 Budd St. Collingwood info@houseofbricks.net.au Opening hours: Mon- Fri 7.30am – 4.30pm Sat 9am – 4.30pm Sun 12pm – 5pm (gallery only) If you or someome you know is a young artist who’d like to be interviewed, e-mail us at farrago2012@gmail.com, and you could be the focus of Bec’s next column.

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My Messy Bedroom. NATALIE DINEY

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ately I’ve been sleeping with a Mega Babe who makes my fingers go numb—literally. The first time she went down on me I got pins and needles in my hands until they tingled with pain. I was terrified—and excited—all at once. I didn’t mention the phenomenon to my partner until a later date, when I was giving her head, and she started clicking and waving her hands around as if shaking off water. “You ok?” I asked from between her legs, “I don’t know!” she yelped, “But my fingers have gone fucking numb!” The sensation continued to haunt our private partakings over the next couple weeks, each of us interrupting the other’s game with a series of shaking and flicking of offending body parts. Only then did I confide in her my initial strange experience, and the increasing numbness that perpetuated our saucy soirees. “What the fuck is this?” we asked each other, “what is going on?”. Weeks went on and the feeling became more pronounced, moving from Mega Babe’s fingers to her hands, and then her arms. Once it even spread as far as my lips, twitching uncontrollably as I tried to kiss her post copulation. “How do you keep doing this to me?” the question seemed to echo in the air. But I think I have the answer now. An answer that can only be fully realised after someone looks after you for a full three hours as you vomit your internal organs out after a messy night. An answer that terrifies me as much as it excites me. I love her. I love her so much that my body verges on shock when I’m around her. I started this column as a

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sex column. Pure and simple. But it would be erroneous to write a sex column without talking about passion, and love. Although I’ve been in love before, the feeling still comes slowly to me; I started seeing Mega Babe as a fling, a girl I was undeniably attracted to, but not as attracted as I was to flirting and independence. Or so I thought. But soon feelings began to creep; beginning at my fingers, working their way down to my hands, up to my collar bones, my jaw, my lips, my eyelashes. Until they encompass me, and I am afraid. I’ve always been a fan of autonomy; but I am also a big fan of love. Of being vulnerable, and genuine, and raw. Of opening yourself up to someone so wholly that you give them a little piece of yourself, a piece you will never get back, and trusting them to be kind to you, and look after that piece of you. Trying to amalgamate the two is often hard, but I guess the lesson is—with love and sex—to want someone, but never need them. I want you to love me too, that would be nice, but I don’t need you to. You could stand there, irritated – or worse – apathetic, and I will still give this piece of me to you; whether you want it or not. Because my feelings are not tied to yours. Nor are they justified by yours. They stand alone. Gosh, I’m in love! The type of love that makes you beam until your face hurts. The type of love that makes you smile until you laugh, while your lover lies next to you, grinning, asking “What? What? What?!” But there is no ‘what?. There is no ‘when?’ or ‘where?’ or ‘why?’ or ‘how?’. But there is a ‘who?’. I love you. That’s who. FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

Vicious Cycles. BY DAVE THRELFALL

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magine a sheep skull, lightning bolts and lines painted colourfully between the eye sockets and up the sides of the upper jaw. Peacock feathers extend gracefully out the back like decorations in an opulent French boudoir, and there is a crazed twinkle in the hyper-colour cellophane eyes. Got it? That’s actually something my brother made and glued onto a bike helmet. He called it Cyril. I only mention it because it reminds me of past cycling glory. My whole life as a cyclist has lately been flashing before my eyes, in an episode of cruel melancholy and heart-wrenching nostalgia brought on by the theft of my bike a few weeks ago. I remember when we first met. For a 15-year-old boy obsessed with the Tour de France and harbouring a marked penchant for rainbow Lycra, it was like a dream: carbon forks and seat stays, full 105 gearing and brakes, clipless pedals and everything finished in a streamlined shiny black. The Norco 2004 Model CRR2. It wasn’t quite the pink machine the T-Mobile Team was riding in the Tour, yet it was beautiful to me all the same— and a hell of a lot cheaper for my parents. For those of you to whom that bike description means nothing, read: an expensive road bike. Back then she was just a bike, and didn’t even have a gender—I’m not quite sure when I submitted my own bike to the gender binary that is so rife in our society. I really could have been more inventive—she never even got a name. How boring am I? Some of our most memorable experiences together are those of pain. For ex-


The Bedroom Scholar EEVA ARMAND

S ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH McCOLL

ample, the time when we were on the way to a French test together, and that car shot through from the other side of the road, through the KEEP CLEAR zone, and took us both out. That was the closest I’ve ever come to flying: slamming on the bonnet, up and over the windscreen, defying gravity for the shortest of moments, before coming down so hard that all the skin came off my back and knuckles and knees and elbows. And my nail was ripped off. She just had a few dents along the top tube. What a beast. Or the time when we chased down that orange panel van that drove the whole way along Royal Parade in the bike lane. Smashing the hell out of the passenger door of a moving vehicle has never felt so good. Except for all those other times. Or when we flipped the bird to that other guy, and he got out of the car to spear-tackle us and we just turned the corner instead and kept flipping the bird. Good times. Great times. Bike times. What’s hardest to deal with is that, in my heart, I’d already sold her. I had a new frame at home and was going to move all her parts across. At least she ended her days on a high: complete, untouched, streamlined and riding like a dream to the bitter end. Where do I think my bike is now? I like to think she’s riding around the streets of Paris, her inner bike ghost thug out for all to see, still flipping the bird, with considered yet effortless French nonchalance, listening to heavy techno. She’s probably just getting ridden by some jerk on the other side of the city. Fuck.

o, wearing makeup is all about sex, right? Isn’t that the gist of it? It’s what evolutionary theorists would have us believe. Yet, it is hard not to rebel against the notion that my daily application of mascara is a thinly veiled ploy to get laid. Anthropologists assert that applying red lipstick is a practice that is designed to remind a potential partner of labia—which become engorged and red with arousal. Foundation is used to fake young and healthy skin—to smooth out those wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes. And mascara makes the eye appear larger, a symbol of youth and innocence—and therefore ‘beauty.’ The act of beautification is seemingly inherent to the human race—it is practiced in almost every culture, and has been throughout history. These societies have all cycled through fads and prohibitions concerning makeup. Queen Victoria banned makeup during her reign, as she saw it is as an unhealthy and vulgar way to merely mask imperfections. Indeed, there is much to be said for the difference between wearing perfume and simply bathing. The former seems mildly strange and nonsensical. Deconstructing the practice of wearing makeup yields the evaluation that a species of animal puts muck on their faces in order to mask their true appearance. This behaviour seems somewhat sneaky. Furthermore the muck used is costly to obtain, usually unethically sourced and harmful to the body. The practice of wearing makeup is akin to wearing a padded bra or a codpiece. I like to imagine monkeys doing such a thing to attract a mate. farragomagazine.com

Yet sex is not the only factor that influences women to wear makeup. Some studies have found correlations between women with low self-esteem and wearing makeup. And the application of cosmetics has been found to promote feelings of not just attractiveness but self-sufficiency and poise. It’s enough to make cosmetics sound like some kind of confidenceboosting recreational drug. With some examination these studies illustrate the way society and cosmetics companies make women feel ugly and inadequate, and so create the ‘need’ for cosmetics. Throughout history women have poisoned themselves with lead, broken their feet to make them small, bled themselves and pinched their delicate cheeks­ —all in the name of beauty. Obviously, the inherent misogyny of our culture (and many others) has a lot to answer for. Women who wear makeup today are striving to adhere not just to the current idea of beauty, but to a gender norm. For example, makeup use can be compulsory in certain low paying jobs. Conversely, women can be discriminated against for looking too sexy when applying for a high paying job. Everyday, millions of people put on their manufactured face, and then walk around pretending it’s real. This isn’t always done to attract a sexual partner. It is more commonly an act of those cowed enough by the leering cosmetics companies into believing that what they’re born with is not good enough. These corporations spend millions on breeding such malicious thoughts. The question remains as to whether you want to donate your money to the cause. Maybe you don’t. Because perhaps you’re worth it. And they aren’t.

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NOT-SO-ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN SIMON FARLEY

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY RACHELLE MOULIC

or decades, Melbourne has touted its whole-hearted embrace of multiculturalism. However, our institutions and individual Melbournians do not always live up to this ideal. Certain ethnic groups, particularly those that make up a relatively small section of the population, are marginalised in our community. Such is the plight of Melbourne’s Yetis. Over one hundred of these large, shaggy creatures have made a home for themselves in the outer eastern suburbs, forced to flee their Himalayan homeland by political strife, the effects of global warming and a steady decline in lost mountaineers, their primary food source. I spoke to Garth*, an articulate young Yeti eager to raise awareness of his people and their tribulations. “I adore Melbourne!” he exclaims, breaking into a great, toothy smile, “It’s a fantastic city, and most of the humans around here are so friendly. It really makes me think twice before trying to bite their legs off.” Australia’s asylum seeker policy does not apply to Yetis, who can cross international borders as they please. “I think it’s because we’re not technically human beings,” Garth tells me, “Which is ironic, because mandatory detention is so inhumane.” This proves to be more of a curse than a blessing. Yes, a Yeti may settle here without imprisonment or undue scrutiny of his past, but he is not allowed to own property and does not qualify for government benefits. The few Yetis employed in local businesses—most commonly as nightclub bouncers—are paid cash-in-hand and kept strictly off the books. Young Yetis have been

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refused entry into local schools, who cite ‘gargantuan size’, ‘problems related to moulting fur’ and ‘horrifying, soulless eyes’ as legitimate reasons for this denial of a basic ‘human’ right. These limitations are a major factor in the apparent ghettoisation of the Yeti community, but the xenophobic attitudes of locals also play a large part. Yetis seen in public are frequently harassed, barraged with slurs such as ‘snowmen’, ‘monsters’ and ‘dickheads’, due to their folkloric depiction as fearsome man-eaters. A senior member of Melbourne’s Yeti community, who asked not to be named, said, “Sure, I tear a guy limb-from-limb every once in a while—who doesn’t?—but I’d never eat a person. I’m not evil!” In many cases, it is simply the result of a clash of cultures. He goes on to say, “A human mother putting her baby in the freezer would be a horrifying act of abuse. For Yetis, it’s simply how we get through the summer.” Though the government may ignore them—“It’s like we don’t exist!” Garth laments—local churches are taking a special interest in these migrants. Yetis often boast that they have slaughtered believers of all creeds: Jews to Jains, Buddhists to Baha’is. Yet in Australia, where such atrocities are generally discouraged, Yetis are seen as something of a final frontier for faith. “This is the ultimate test of my mad conversion skills,” says Andrew Jenkingson, an enthusiastic Bro of Christ (pastor) of the evangelical Christian sect GodLyf, “If I can persuade a vicious ice beast to follow Jesus, my only remaining obstacles are Satan and Richard Dawkins.” But why the outer east? It’s about more than cheap land and the plethora of tasty

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

kangaroos, the Yetis say. The mountainous landscape and a chilly climate help with homesickness. “The Dandenongs aren’t quite the Himalayas, but they’ll do.” * ‘Garth’ is an adopted Western name. His birth name cannot be vocalised by the human larynx.

~ RUPERT WEAVER


BRAIN FOOD JULIA MATTHEWS MD

James Whitmore Other Animals

ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH MCCOLL

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adies and gentlemen, the time has come… IT’S EXAM TIME! Time to dust off your desk, top up the coffee pot, and bunker down for a period of intense studying. In between revisiting lecture slides and furiously churning out revision notes, you might not think food is entirely necessary. Some of you might forgo meals in place of studying, others might resort to that chocolate bar at the bottom of your pen drawer for a brain boost at a critical revision point. I mean, your brain just needs food, right? It’s not important what you eat, it’s just important that you get enough of it to keep studying. WRONG. SWOTVAC is the time your brain needs food the most! If you want to make the most out of your break, you have to make the most of your body, and to do that you need to eat the right foods to keep the grey matter running. How do you expect your body to cope with such arduous mental exercise on minimal sustenance when you can barely go a day at uni without your afternoon sandwich? SWOTVAC is all about making the most of it. Here are some strategies to make the most out of your noms too: 1. Don’t eat while studying: No matter how good your multitasking skills are, you are still more likely to be distracted by food when you should be studying. Likewise, you might be more focused on studying when you should be focusing on what you eat…you open a bag of chips vowing to eat only a few, then half an hour and one essay later the entire packet is empty. Be mindful of keeping your studies AND your eating separate. 2. Avoid junk food and go easy on the caffeine: Although both of these give us a quick release of energy that can be useful, they also cause us to crash soon after, which is obviously not helpful for concentration. Not only that, but if you do it often enough your

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JAMES WHITMORE

brain will begin to associate studying with this energy high, meaning you won’t be able to study without a ‘fix’, which can leave you with a short attention span and a snacking habit. Better to include lots of low GI, slow energy release foods such as starchy vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin and potatoes) and high protein foods (lean meat, low-fat dairy, legumes and fish). If you are picking up the chewing gum habit, keep it sugar free. 3. Get plenty of omega-3: Countless studies have shown that this particular fatty acid increases brain matter. The best way to get this is to eat fish like salmon, tuna, trout or sardines. If you don’t like eating fish, consider fish oil tablets. You can also find this in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and garlic. 4. Eat lots of berries: They are choc-a-bloc with antioxidants and are considered the ultimate study food. Blueberries are particularly good for you, and recently goji berries and cranberries have taken a close second. Chuck a handful in your cereal every morning or just snack on a handful at lunch. 5. Drink wine! ‘Huh?’ you might be saying. Well, it has long been debated that red wine in particular, is high in antioxidants and is therefore good for you in moderation. But research has shown that alcohol also aids consolidation of information retained immediately prior to drinking it? So if you feel like relaxing after a hard day’s study with a glass of red, go right away. The key words here are moderation. Obviously drinking WHILE studying is not a good idea, and getting hammered after working is just going to give you a hangover, not super brain powers.

ORANGE-BELLIED PARROT

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n the outskirts of Melbourne, where city sewage goes to be treated, lives a bird embroiled in political activism and intrigue. It is a bird with no respect for rules and borders, a migrant and a vagabond with feathers much too colourful. This bird is a conservative’s worst nightmare. Orange-bellied parrots are in fact small parrots with an orange belly. They are green on top and yellow underneath, with a piercing blaze of blue above their beak and on their wings. Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett once called the orangebellied parrot, in a masterpiece of allusion, a political insult of genius and subtlety, a ‘trumped-up corella’ as a way of saying, “Why should I spend gazillions of dollars on a fucking cockatoo?” It was a clever way of suggesting that these extremely rare birds are as common as cockatoos, and its comic genius lies in the fact that the parrots are in fact nothing like corellas. There is even a clever subversion of racial stereotyping, as corellas are white and the parrots are green. They eat seeds and berries of salt marsh plants. One of the best examples of their habitat is at the Werribee Sewage Farm, which explains why twitchers (bird watchers) can be found wading around in god knows what, counting the birds. They are counting because the orange-bellied parrot is one of the most desperately endangered animals on the planet. Through a combination of habitat loss, bird trading and Jeff Kennett, the wild population is now under fifty and will become extinct within the next five years. There is a captive breeding program, but because only six birds founded the population, they are

farragomagazine.com

suffering from inbreeding. Orange-bellied parrots cannot, however, be accused of any yellowbellied behaviour. They have staged a guerilla war to make any sensible Liberal see red. These ecological warriors have been credited and implicated in, among others, the destruction of wind farms in Bald Hill and Tasmania, steeple chase lawns, desalination plants, the economy, democracy, Greece, the Arab Spring, the future of Australia’s children and, rumour has it, a certain marina development in Westernport Bay. It would all be so much more convenient if they would just drop off the perch. Certain factions believe that the root cause of this disruption lies in the rogue state of Tasmania, an island notorious for its insidious environmentalism and ugly green movement. Every summer the entire population of parrots migrates to the most inaccessible regions of southwest Tasmania, where they bonk and raise kids with gay abandon. It must be something in the water. The female cleans out a tree hollow where she lays her eggs, and is then waited on beak and wing by her male partner while the eggs are incubating. Later when the young fly the nest, they form gangs of teens, presumably filling their tender young bird brains with all sorts of dangerous ideas. A further argument in favour of forcing the state’s alignment with Victoria, or nuking the place. In winter, Tasmania becomes an inhospitable place, and only the most foolhardy natives remain. The parrots flee the cold and make the six-hundred kilometre return to Melbourne for its more gentile climes. There, in the sewerage ponds and marginal lands, they spread their radical ideas and probably spy on us too, plotting their next stunt in league with Greenpeace.

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Procrastinate TODAY!

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY RACHELLE MOULIC

Driven to Distraction BY EMILY KEOGH

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y bag is a generic crimson. The sort of colour that the naïve traveller thinks will be easy to spot on a baggage carousel. As I packed for my flight, a television episode played, ignored, behind me. Icons on my laptop screen bounced merrily to announce the arrival of messages in multiple social media platforms. I listened for the distant whirl of the washing machine, waiting for the end of the cycle. When it became apparent that the bag was not going to hold all that I required it to carry, I blamed the bag. I then realised I was blaming a bag. My irrationality, the multitude of activities raging around me, and my urge to fill the bag with so many distractions for the flight, led me to a poignant moment. I stopped and asked the one question for which I did not have an answer: why do I feel the need to do more than one thing at once? I confronted this question again in a university study hall. I value the room for its airy high ceilings, uncluttered feel and quiet, not silent, atmosphere. In a display of wild contrary, my actions counter everything I like about the space. I drown out the quiet with loud music in headphones. I clutter the digital desk space with file after open file in different programs. I crowd the room with characters from podcasts, Youtube and television. All while trying to glean important information from class readings, review lecture slides, and write essays. I switch and flick, back and forth, driven by the mantra: I must multitask to be productive. A.J Jacobs chronicled his attempts to become “the unitasker” in My Life as an Experiment. This led him to the realisation that “multi-tasking isn’t just a minor problem, it’s the Eleventh plague.” Jacobs coined the term “brain whine”: his mind complaining when he removed multiple stimulations and forced it to concentrate. This whining, according to Jacobs, was strongest when his brain lacked occupation during “mindless” or motor-tasks. Dr Katherine Johnson is a senior lecturer and researcher in the School of Psychological Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her knowledge of my subject of inquiry is vast. Her ability to patiently explain such complicated topics enviable. Her talent for working at the paediatric end of psychological research becomes apparent. The psychology that underpins the study of attention and distraction, she says, looks at “focus” as “another way of saying attention, and distraction [as] the failure to hold focus to a task or on an object.” “They’re two sides of the same coin. And I’m interested in studying attention—

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from my perspective, attention is the ability to maintain focus on a single task or an object despite distraction and boredom.” I ask her about “brain whine.” Is it the result of conditioning through continued use of split-focus? “You’ve overextended the brain [through multi-tasking] and now it’s superchampion at inhibiting things [working with distraction].” Distraction is a literal handicap. Like placing more weights on a thoroughbred you want to win the Melbourne Cup, she says. “I don’t know why people [would] do that!” Johnson advises me that the study of multi-tasking within academic psychology can be a contentious one. One point of view contends that it’s virtually impossible to do things at the same time. Other theorists have proposed that we do have the cognitive capability and capacity to do two things at the same time, but, as Johnson notes, the two things must be practiced at once. If they flip “from being learnt, to part of procedural knowledge, then according to the theory, we’ll be able to do them in parallel”. Johnson finds some of the pop psychology on the topic of distraction “pretty horrifying”, especially when it starts to confuse those with a diagnosed clinical condition and those who are simply experiencing “brain-whine.” “They [the patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) involved in her studies] have a disorder of the brain—most likely involving a couple of different neurotransmitters. They are struggling to do these tasks because of the functions of their brains.” She concedes that there is nothing wrong with people of typical brain function whining about stuff, but urges that people avoid using clinical terms for recognised conditions, such as ADHD, to describe the easily distracted, whose ‘problems’ are selfinflicted, and usually, easily rectified. Easily rectified… how? Johnson has a suggestion. “Psychology has been interested in understanding the idea of mindfulness … bringing your consciousness down to one

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

point. There’s been a lot of research using mindfulness therapy, to help a variety of psychological illnesses.” Mindfulness, Johnson says, is being studied in relation to clinical disorders because it is understood to have an impact on those with typical brain function. It’s almost like psychology has met meditation. “Psychology has met meditation,” Johnson confirms, “and they’re getting on pretty well.” Much like the generic-crimson bag, my brain has been good to me and I have often been unkind it to it. I have encouraged it—trained it—to be driven by distraction. Then I have the audacity to blame it when it seems incapable of singular focus. The bag isn’t too small for my things. and my brain isn’t separate from my mind. Nor is it incapable of focus. There’s a lot to be said for being mindful of both your luggage and your brain.


Three riddles for your distraction Productive procrastination BY LIN YIN

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nless you have unlocked the secret to superhuman efficiency most of your ‘study’ time will be spent streaming stuff online and eating questionable foods, or in paralysis (can’t do assignment because it’s too hard, can’t do anything else because you’ll feel guilty, stare blankly into distance instead), and only a fraction will go towards deciphering those tedious readings at 3am. We can’t tell you how to smash out all your assignments right now and end procrastination forever, because lets face it— we are but humble students, and that kind of efficiency is alien to us. We can, however, become better procrastinators. Finding productive ways to procrastinate can help you save time, get loads of things done, and even facilitate study. Keeping yourself busy with a variety of commitments also helps to stimulate productivity and can lead to success both inside and outside the classroom. Here are some tried and tested ways to get started: Clean your room. There is nothing worse

than trying to study next to an old banana peel, and losing your notes the minute you put them down. You’re going to have to study eventually, and you’ll find it a lot easier to get started when you’re not in a horrible, cluttered space.

You are in the Baillieu Library, desperate for coffee. You are standing in front of two doors: one leads to Kere Kere and the other an eternity wrangling a malfunctioning print station. In front of the doors are two librarians, one who always lies and one who always tells the truth. You do not know which door is which, nor which librarian is which. You only get to ask one question to determine which door will lead you to sweet sweet caffeine. What question do you ask?

There are three Young Libs and three Mark Kettles standing on the side of the Yarra, trying to get to the Shrine. You only have one boat to get everyone across the river; only two people can use the boat at one time. The problem is that if you ever have a majority of Young Libs, they will EAT the Mark Kettles. How do you get everyone across the river safely?

Research graduate opportunities, gap year options overseas and post-graduate information. Looking at options for the

future is often a low priority, which is how many students miss deadlines and end up chastising themselves later in the year. Run your errands. Everyone

has them: phone bills to pay, emails to send, so-and-so to harass: it helps to study when you’ve got your life in order. It’s not particularly fun, but it’s easier than your assignment. Go for a short run or walk. Not

only has exercise been found to improve memory and learning and focus, will you feel energised and refreshed afterwards. Look for a part-time job, volunteering experience or ways to get involved in the community. Doing extra-curricular activities

During SWOTVAC, five groups of students from different faculties are living in different buildings, doing different activities and drinking different beverages. Oh, and they have their pets with them. See if you can figure out who is doing what where: 1. There are five buildings. 2. The Med students live in the Brownless Library. 3. The Comm students own the dog. 4. Gin is drunk in the Raymond Priestly. 5. The Arts students drink tea. 6. Raymond Priestly is immediately to the right of Redmond Barry. 7. The students writing themselves prescriptions own snails. 8. Penis jokes are made in the Baillieu Library. 9. Water is drunk in the middle building. 10. The Eng students live in the first building. 11. The students who like to namedrop live in the building next to the man with the fox. 12. Penis jokes are made in the building next to the building where the horse is kept. 13. The students who are sleeping drink coffee. 14. The Law students are sabotaging each other’s clerkships. 15. The Eng students live next to the John Medley building. Now, who drinks beer? Who owns the zebra?

outside uni not only looks great on your resume, but helps you get on with work by keeping you active and taking up that time you’ve been procrastinating away.

farragomagazine.com

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Children Collide KATE CROWHURST TALKS TO JOHNNY MACKAY OF CHILDREN COLLIDE

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elbourne is notorious for producing an endless stream of indie-rock bands, but Children Collide—the Melbournian grungepunk two-piece outfit—are no flash in the pan. Following the popularity of their 2008 debut release, The Long Now, they look set to continue this trend with their new release Monument, which hit stores on April 20. Frontman Johnny Mackay sat down with Kate Crowhurst to talk new music, live shows and Brunswick winters. Your new album, Monument, is set for release this month. Does it feel like you’re three albums deep in your career?

JM: We recorded it recently but it was probably easier this time round than other albums we recorded, since we knew what to expect out of the process—and each other. What was the inspiration behind this record?

JM: There wasn’t really one singular theme, but certainly lyrically it was more philosophical than stuff we’ve done in the past. It was all written around the same time in Brunswick winter, since we all lived in Brunswick. It’s also more reflective of stuff we listen to now when compared to past albums we’ve done, which have had a mix of songs— from those written ages ago to songs written five minutes before we started recording. I’m picturing a grungy coffee-powered Brunswick winter…

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JM: Definitely a more Turkish coffeefuelled winter.

When can we catch you playing live in Melbourne?

You’re an established Melbourne band with the backing of Triple J. Does that kind of support take the pressure off you as a band?

JM: We’re just finishing up our current tour and will do an album tour in a few months’ time. We played The Corner Hotel on 13 April as the last show of the current tour.

JM: That support is lucky and nice, but it’s always weird doing anything like music that is self-indulgent and having people listen and play it. When we play a show and there’s a few hundred people singing words that I wrote in my bedroom it is strange because you don’t consider the fact that people will listen to the lyrics and sing them back at you. It’s weird when your music affects other people—but that’s why you do it. What have been the biggest markers of your success as a band so far?

JM: The other day we got to program Rage, that was a big signifier of success. The best moment for me was when I could just walk off stage without having to pack up my own stuff—instead I could just go and grab a beer, which was great. Melbourne bands have started dominating the national music scene more in recent years…

JM: It is really cool to watch people we’ve been friends with since all of us were playing to ten people be successful. Moments like watching Cut Copy get nominated for a Grammy or watching Midnight Juggernauts play to huge crowds have been great.

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

It is one of the best live music venues…

JM: The acoustics at The Corner are great and I’ve heard bands like Total Control play there and sound amazing. Melbourne’s got a couple of great venues, I love The Forum and you can’t beat playing Pony at three in the morning. How else can fans get involved in your music?

JM: For the video to promote the new single, “Cherries (I’m On Your Side)” we’re getting fans to take photos and videos of our live shows. Being a live band is something we’re best at as a band so we thought it would be good to get something from the angle of the crowd. Finally, in your fifth year as a band, what’s been the secret to your success?

JM: It all started for us basically through drunken jams in the lounge room of a share house. Being in a band isn’t easy as you’re often sleeping on floors for years, getting paid in beer and unpacking your own kit. You have to love doing it and work in the reality of the tough times that lead up to success.


NEW RELEASES WITH THOMAS ABILDGAARD

REVIEWS

JACK WHITE

M. WARD

A Wasteland Companion

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REVIEW BY JAMES BURGMANN

t is impossible to dislike M. Ward. He possesses stunning tonal ability and an intuition for sculpting songs to perfection. The tunes on A Wasteland Companion are hardly original, but with his cornucopia of musical knowledge, Mr. Ward chisels a truly memorable record. Moreover, there is a deep investment in musical history, evidenced from the opening acoustic notes of “Clean Slate (For Alex & El Goodo)”—remembering the great and late Alex Chilton. Aside from the occasional annoyance of She & Him companion, Zooey Deschanel, on “Me & My Shadow” and “ Sweetheart”, A Wasteland Companion is of the highest musical standard. “I Get Ideas” continues the historic pop formula of regular cadences, upbeat tempos and occasional lead guitar breaks—Chuck Berry, Elvis and The Beatles combined. Hereafter, Ward’s genuine voice begins to surface. “The First Time I Ran Away” atmospherically lifts you up into the sky on an acoustic guitar; the all-too-short title-track where delta blues crashes into a Spanish guitar serenade, slides perfectly into the gritty, nocturnal “Watch the Show”. The final portion best displays Ward’s broken, but tender voice. The ‘choo choo’ train feel of “There’s a Key” and “Wild Goose” recycles his stronger work with supergroup, Monsters of Folk. “Crawl After You” is a lovely piano ballad, which somehow achieves an intersection of Vivaldi seasonal strings and 80s glam soloing. Closing optimistically with “Pure Joy”, Ward ends the album optimistically, singing ‘It’s joy honey, pure joy just to see you again’ on “Pure Joy”. This life-affirming song borders, as does the entire album, on trite clichés, foiled only by Ward’s delicate nuance. Consequently, A Wasteland Companion is rich in emotion, highlighting that clichés so often hold weight because they are inherently true, particularly given the right artistic treatment.

SPIRITUALIZED

Blunderbuss

Sweet Heart Sweet Light

While Jack White may occasionally sound like a demented chicken, he sounds like a damn fine demented old chooken. Fittingly as this his first true solo album, it drips with the Jack Whiteisms—what some may call clichés—we have come to know and love through his assorted other projects. While his schtick may be wearing a little thin, like a sad old man who only eats the paper from around hamburgers, the songs are rich and complete, much like the cheese on the unattended remains of those forgotten hamburgers abandoned to the winds of time. A good effort from Mr White, but he needs to take a leaf out of Coldplay’s book and do something radically different. Or am I getting Coldplay mixed up with one of those good bands? Yeah, I think that’s it.

Jason Pierce wrote what is possibly my favourite song of all time in “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”— admittedly, he stole whole swathes of it from that obese, talentless, be-quiffed thief called the ‘King.’ This album gives me a whole new collection of moody, spacey, gospel influenced loveliness. Thankfully, he doesn’t go on about Jesus too much, just enough to know he likes gospel music. He’s not reinventing candy g-strings here, just making them really tasty and pairing them with beautiful vocal counterpoints. Sweet Heart Sweet Light is touching and light in comparison to some of his other works, and certainly nowhere near as harrowing as the tragic Songs from A&E, but a return to form nonetheless. Freedom from pneumonia brought on by too much in the way of drugs must be treating him well.

THE DANDY WARHOLS

BATTLES

This Machine

Dross Glop

The Dandy Warhols have always been a kind of nothing band for losers and middlemen. My compatriot, the Silver Hammer, likened this dross to being “like bad Beck” and he really cut to the point. The Dandy Warhols don’t really sound like the Dandy Warhols at all, they sound like a bad mid ’90s photo-collage made by a girl with bangs. A bit of Blur, a bit of shittier Beck, the crust from stale white bread etc. They even rip off the Damned, of all people! I feel sickened and betrayed by these dried salt cods masquerading as human beings in a band. Anton Newcombe should have bashed their heads in with one of his microphones stands while he had the chance; the least you can do is not listen to this shit. Hopefully, if we all pull together, and scream with one voice, “NO!”, they will stop.

Remix albums are tricky beasts, much like buffalo, but fortunately Gloss Drop provides rich source material. I’m sure it helps that it didn’t have much in the way of vocal parts to get in the way, like the pope at a dakimakura pillow party. For those who don’t know, dakimakura is a trend in Japan wherein men have sex with “hugging pillows” with anime girls on them—yes, the world is darker than you could ever imagine. And so is this album, especially when you compare it to Gloss Drop, which was the bubbliest affair Battles have ever put down on tape. I have no idea who most of the remixers are since I’m not too up on the remix scene, but Gang Gang Dance are there, and that is always a good thing, even when they are in your kitchen making spicy enchiladas at 3am on a Wednesday night.

farragomagazine.com

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TV * FILM * GAMES 1

4

SAFE

REVIEW BY ANDREW BEECH JONES

ason Statham is currently the undisputed king of the “Jason Statham beats up and shoots lots of baddies” genre. Often, such as in the Transporter series and The Expendables, Statham is also tasked with defending a buxom woman while he does it. In Safe, however, his character Luke Wright, a homeless former assassin, cop, mixed martial artist and garbage man instead finds himself protecting a 12-year old Chinese maths genius from the scum of the New York City underworld. The Big Apple’s array of criminal waste includes the Russian mob, a Chinese triad and a corrupt contingent of NYPD’s finest. High-powered shootouts soon ensue in the middle of the city’s best hotels and restaurants— prompting a lax, minimal police response that seems really out of step with New York’s post9/11 high security. Although Safe contains barely passable dialogue that never strays from action movie cliché, there are certainly enough ‘big hits’—kicking, punching and shooting—for fans of Statham’s B-movie style. Other cinemagoers may be less impressed that the film never really reaches the kinetic depravity of Crank. Safe is in cinemas now. 2

GET THE GRINGO REVIEW BY RICHARD HARIDY

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rom Mad Max to Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson has cultivated some super cool, hard-ass screen personas yet his controversial private life put him on the sidelines in recent years. His latest film, Get the Gringo, seems custom-made to appease those fans missing the Gibson of old. Opening with a wonderfully kinetic carchase, Gibson’s nameless character ends up in a bizarre Mexican prison that resembles a postapocalyptic squat—actually based on a real Tijuana prison called “El Pueblito” which closed in 2002—filled with ‘smack shacks’, corrupt cops and a Hefner-style gangster who runs the entire show. Get the Gringo hits a conventional stride in its final act with the familiar redemptive hero arc that Gibson loves—he did co-write the film. However, along the way it trips into some admirably hard-boiled places. This ain’t ground-breaking stuff but it certainly is a fun, pulpy, fat-free genre ride with some uncompromisingly hard edges. Visually the film is amazing (shot by Gaspar Noe’s cinematographer, Benoit Debie), the production design creates a glorious hyper-real prison/town. Fans of old-school Gibson films will have a lot of fun with this super-violent piece of action noir. Get the Gringo is in cinemas 31 May.

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TOP FIVE GAMES NOT ABOUT KILLING THINGS BY CAITLIN BEECH 5. Professor Layton

This series of games for the DS could not be less threatening if it tried. The player assists archaeologist Layton in a series of puzzles with the aim of solving a mystery. The graphics are adorable and each instalment features mini-games such as making tea for townspeople and helping a hamster lose weight. 4. Catherine

This one is not so much for the kids. Catherine blends interactive anime scenes in the day and then terrifying nightmare sequences at night in which the player must manipulate blocks in order to progress up a shifting tower. The game explores the complex sexual relationships of the main character Vincent and asks the player to examine their own ideas about personal freedom. 3. Braid

Braid is an indie puzzle game for PC in which the player traces a tale of regret through beautifully hand rendered platform levels. In each level time must be manipulated in order to progress. The soundtrack is spectacular, and though the game is often very challenging it is also extremely rewarding. 2. Portal

A modern classic, Portal is a first person puzzler featuring some genuinely hilarious dialogue and original game mechanics. You play as the voiceless “Chell,” a scientific test subject who, with the help of a portal gun, must outwit a sadistic AI to escape Aperture Laboratories. 1. Journey

Thatgamecompany’s newest and best instalment, Journey is an abstract excursion over sparkling sand dunes and mysterious caverns. The music and visuals are beautiful and are used to cinematic effect right through to the climactic closing sequence. I can admit I got a little weepy towards the end, and I think this one might just be my favourite game of 2012 so far.

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

I AM ELEVEN REVIEW BY JAMES MADDEN

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hildlike innocence is often cast as ephemeral. Youthful naivety drastically transforms into rebellious angst ridden teenage years. Spanning over fifteen countries and speaking to more than twenty interviewees, Genevieve Bailey’s documentary I Am Eleven proves that we can all learn something from eleven-year-olds. Topics as varied as bullying, friendship, education, war, poverty, religion, love and growing up are all covered with a variety of responses from the subjects. The most impoverished children have some of the greatest insights concerning financial wellbeing—or lack thereof. While other elements seem universal, this offers discernable differences in perception. Bailey’s camera is focused, direct and allows the kids to shine. Nick Huggins’ playful music adds exuberance to the already lively and oftentimes surprising words of the children, best evidenced with Remi from France: “I love snakes and I don’t like racist people at all.” I Am Eleven concludes with images demonstrating unity among difference where the interviewees share importantly similar traits: they like to dance, and they like to have fun. As the film begins, Bailey states that she wanted to make something energetic, optimistic, universal and real. I Am Eleven is all that and much, much more.


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2

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MICRO-REVIEWS

COLLAGE BY NICOLE MORALEDA

4 The Avengers (25 April)

Fun, funny and exciting, Marvel’s long awaited superhero team-up movie is blockbuster filmmaking at its dazzling finest. Hulk smashes. TC

SHE WAS ELEVEN

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (25 April) Rob Heydon’s adaptation of Welsh’s (Trainspotting) drug-fueled short story The Undefeated is enjoyable though quite light and lacking the gritty punch-inthe-guts it intends. JM

BEC JONES SPEAKS WITH GENEVIEVE BAILEY

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fter working in a newsroom, Australian documentarian Genevieve Bailey wanted to make a film that would be more hopeful and optimistic than the dire headlines that surrounded her. To do so, she thought back to her favourite age, 11, a time when she was “full of ideas, personality and opinions.” In 2005 she set off around the world, challenging herself to find 11 year-olds in every country that she visited who could take audiences back to their childhood. Kids like Remi from France, who likes snakes and hates racists, and Luca, in Berlin, who thinks in 2222 aliens may have captured the world. Two weeks into the trip she met coproducer Henrik Nordstorm, who “fell in love with the film and then me,” Genevieve jokes. With a small team including Melbournian animators and composers, the result was her first feature documentary I Am Eleven. How did you find the children?

GB: More often than not I would land somewhere and not know anyone. We’d hit the streets and walk around asking people if they knew anyone who was 11… We had luck in different places. In France a friend of a friend had a little sister, who had a crush on a boy called Remi down the street, who was 11. My three rules were that they were 11, that they wanted to be in it and that their parent or guardian gave permission. Other than that I was really open to meeting any sort of kid. I’m really happy with the diversity we managed to include in the finished film. How difficult was it to form a connection with kids you’d never met before?

GB: If the people in front of the camera weren’t comfortable it was never going to be as intimate a portrayal of that generation. So that’s something I put a lot of focus and energy into. It was my job to make sure they were able to articulate themselves and be com-

fortable, and I’m really happy that they were able to do that. That’s what’s great about 11 year olds, they just tell it how it is. What did you learn from these children and from the experience in general?

GB: They’re extremely resilient kids. You know that expression ‘don’t sweat the small stuff,’ I think that’s something that a lot of the kids taught us… they also have a great sense of energy and a really dynamic understanding of who they are, and where they want to be. I think that’s something adults can learn a lot from. Do you plan to take a new direction with the documentary in the future?

GB: I had so much more footage that I could ever fit into the feature version… So we’re looking forward to expanding the website to include even more snippets of gold. The other thing that we’re excited about is featuring kids who weren’t in the documentary… and developing the site to invite kids to submit their own stories, so that the map of the world on iameleven.com can expand and include many, many more voices.

Cafe De Flore (26 April) This French-Canadian drama isn’t consistently brilliant, but is worth seeing for great acting, magnificent direction and the interesting ways that it plays with time and structure. TC Act of Valor (3 May) A full blown propaganda film for the video game generation, that it stars real life Navy SEALs gives you a pretty good idea of the acting quality. The action is decent but the script is woeful. TC King of Devil’s Island (3 May) Brooding prison drama, set on Norway’s infamous Bastøy island colony for delinquent youth. Brutal but moving, as a new inmate disturbs the facility’s established order. JZ

What do you want your audiences to walk away feeling after seeing it?

GB: One girl, 11, put her hand up in the Q&A session after the Cleveland screening and she said, ‘that was very interesting. You decided, as documentary filmmaker to do something different. Lots of filmmakers choose to show what’s wrong with the world, and focus on the negative. But you decided to show us something positive. As kids, we want to know what’s going right with the world.’ I was so emotional and just amazed… All the things I’d hoped people would walk away with seem to be happening. It’s encouraging people to revisit their own 11-year-old self and think about their attitudes towards the world. I Am Eleven will be screening at Cinema Nova in July. farragomagazine.com

~ Tom Clift, James Madden & James Zarucky

DVD OF THE MONTH

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YOUNG ADULT

After successfully teaming together on Juno, writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman return with another winner, albeit it in a very different style. Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a young fiction writer, whose perceptions on her own reality are somewhat distorted. Returning to her hometown, Mavis is set on reclaiming her high school beau, despite his new happy life with a wife and baby. Theron does not shy away from the compulsive darkness that embodies Mavis, whose nonchalance is acutely disturbing. Bleak yet witty, Young Adult highlights one woman’s descent without victimising her struggle. ~ James Madden

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THEATRE

OPERA

The Heretic Melbourne Theatre Company

The Merry Widow Opera Australia

Everyone’s favourite playschool presenter, Noni Hazelhurst, stars in this award winning black comedy. When Dr Diane Caddell ‘s research contradicts mainstream climate change theory, she finds herself in very hot water. British playwright Richard Bean charts the dangerous waters of climate change in this witty and irreverent production. Directed by Matt Schotten. The Heretic is at the Sumner Theatre until 23 June.

Franz Lehár’s glamorous operetta comes to Melbourne in a whirlwind of exuberant song and dance. Amelia Farrugia stars as the rich and beautiful Hanna Glawari, who must decide whether to marry for money, or to lift her principality out of bankruptcy. Directed by Andrew Greene. The Merry Widow is at the State Theatre from 16—26 May. Midnight Son Victorian Opera

The Weather and Your Health Nominated for two Green Room Awards and inspired by life in rural Australia, The Weather and Your Health is the story of a small town girl growing up in Gilgandra. Charming and minimalist, it stars Bethany Simons and Daniel Mottau. Directed by David Wicks. The Weather and Your Health is at La Mama until 27 May. DANCE

STUDENT

Terrain Bangarra Dance Theatre

VCA Shakespeare Season

Acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre presents the wonder of Lake Eyre in a fusion of dance and storytelling. Award winning Indigenous choreographer Frances Rings and composer David Page create an evocative hymn to Australia’s natural beauty. Terrain is at the Playhouse Theatre from 29 June—7 July. Let’s Dance Australian Ballet Bringing together leading Australian dancers to celebrate our rich dance culture, this production is a showcase of home-grown talent and ballet stars. The programme includes world premieres and classics from Australia’s leading ballet companies. Let’s Dance is at the State Theatre from 7 June—15 June.

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A modern tragedy, Midnight Son charts the story of Ray Clark, a grieving widower whose life is quickly spiralling out of control. With the libretto by acclaimed Australian playwright, Louis Nowra and composition by Gordon Kerry, this new Australian work explores the effects of passion and obsession on the lives of ordinary people. Midnight Son is at the Merlyn Theatre from 16­—23 May.

Acting Company 2012 and VCA Production students present Shakespeare’s classics, As You Like It and The Merchant of Venice. Directed by Melanie Beddie and Richard Murphet. The VCA Shakespeare Season is at the Grant St Theatre from 5—9 June. The Fury Union House Theatre Written by Melbourne University students, The Fury explores the paradoxes inherent in modern culture. With the arrival of Claire, a conservative society is thrown into disarray. Directed by Tom Gutteridge, this production should be racy and rockin’. The Fury is at the Guild Theatre until 19 June.

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

PHOTO: SARAH WALKER

CHRISTINA LEE OUTLIINES UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS

BEC JONES SPEAKS WITH BRIENNA MACNISH

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n last edition, Brienna Macnish, a student and theatre director, told Farrago about her upcoming show Tuesday. This intriguing piece of work will be staged in June— just in time for exam procrastination! Set in a supermarket, the play follows the stories of four characters and focuses on the concept of being alone in a crowd. “I want audiences to hear the words and look at an actor’s face, that’s where the story is,” says Macinish, who has directed the play in collaboration with independent company MKA. ���It explores the idea that the more suburbia becomes built up, the more people are around you, the more high-rise apartments go in, the more people are crammed into space, the more desperately, desperately alone some individuals find themselves.” Whilst quite a confronting piece, but Macnish thinks audience members find themselves laughing by the end of the night. “When people see themselves echoed by characters on stage, often they find it to be a funny experience,” she says. “Sometimes you just have to laugh so you don’t cry.” Tuesday is playing at MKA from 6-23 June.


REVIEWS PRODUCTION: PRODUCTION:

Australia AustraliaDay Day

REVIEW REVIEWBY: BY:

Richard RichardGwatkin Gwatkin

W

hat is it to be Australian? Any conversation about Australia Day inherently raises this question, and MTC’s production of Jonathon Biggins’s Australia Day does just that. We follow the story of six Australians from a country town who form an Australia Day committee. Geoff Morrell leads a stellar Australian cast in a funny and smart production. However, it doesn’t quite deliver a coherent message in its exploration of what it means to be Australian. The play is situated in Coriole, populated predominantly by an older, white generation. This immediately raises issues of representation. While it is a demographic that Australians relate to, it is by no means the average. These days Australia is an urbanised country, with most of the population living in or around the major cities. The location does have its merits though; symbolically, it represents an older Australia, which struggles to keep up with the new. The potential arrival of a Bunnings in Coriole is a fantastic metaphor. The main character, Brian (Morrell), has built a small hardware business from the ground up and now his livelihood is threatened by the new, cheaper store. It mirrors the prevailing fear of the new, the fear of multiculturalism and the fear that immigrants will take Australian jobs. Even the character of Chester (Kaeng Chan), the token ‘immigrant’ is young and in touch with technology. This metaphor could have been emphasised more effectively. Throughout the play, there is a desire for everything to remain exactly how it is. In the show’s conclusion this is reinforced through a stirring speech from Robert (David James). This rejection of change is obviously futile in the world in which we inhabit, and could have made for a rather poignant end. Unfortunately though, the

messages aren’t clear, and the effect is lost. Racism and political correctness are two other major themes, and through them we see that even the most morally righteous characters are still racist at heart, they just try to do and say the right things. This is a rather problematic representation, as not all Australians are inherently racist. Politics and its ability to corrupt was another facet of the story. However the play delved too much into this and the focus was split between too many different issues, not adequately answering the main one—what it is to be Australian. Another subplot was the conflict between Wally (Peter Kowitz) and Helen (Alison Whyte) over the issue of special needs children. While this was the source of great dramatic tension and some of the most poignant moments in the play, it didn’t fit with the rest of the play thematically. The quality of acting is the finest Australia has to offer. Special mentions go to Peter Kowitz for his fantastic portrayal of Wally, the quintessential “Aussie bloke.” Newcomer Kaeng Chan was the weakest of the cast, but that was merely due to being outshone by the rest. The sets, lighting and props all worked well. They showed the naivety of the characters, being situated in a school in the first act and misusing technology with disastrous consequences. The use of video displays at the start of each act helped situate the audience, as did background noises. Overall, the play was very funny, and explored what it is to be Australian. The story was strong, though it digressed at certain points. The play showed us an Australia that wasn’t ready to move forward, that was fundamentally afraid of multiculturalism and change. Whilst this is an unrealistic portrayal of all Australians, somewhere in there lies a grain of truth. Australia Day is showing at the Playhouse Theatre until 26 May.

PRODUCTION:

Australia Turandot Day REVIEW BY:

Dan iel Czech PHOTO: JEFF BUSBY

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urandot is one of Puccini’s most famous operas. It recounts the epic Chinese fable of a Prince falling in love with the tyrannical but beautiful princess Turandot, who declares that any man who wishes to marry her must first submit himself to three perplexing riddles. Should he fail to answer any one of these correctly, his pain is death. Graeme Murphy’s production is a thoroughly riveting experience and worthy of Opera Australia’s restaging. Incorporating elements of dance reflects the majesty, vibrancy and high emotion of Puccini’s music. Susan Foster’s vocal power as Turandot is stunning. She has vocal chords of steel and at one point completely overpowered the orchestra and chorus together. Hyeseoung Kwon as Liu, the slave girl in love with Prince Calaf, gives a heart-wrenching performance full of tragedy and beauty. Ping, Pang and Pong, (Andrew Moran, David Corcoran and farragomagazine.com

Graeme Macfarlane), the three men of the court, are a wonderfully cheeky ensemble. The let down of the show is Rosario La Spina as Calaf. Though in possession of a beautiful voice, he lacks the musicality and emotional intensity to mount the heights of the role and fails to convince. From villager, to Emperor, the variety of old-world Chinese costumes is mesmerising. With abstract design, the versatile set moves fluidly through the story’s action. This offers the play a sense of motion. With massive chorus scenes, some powerful duets and the Aria Pavarotti made so famous, Nessun Dorma, Murphy crafts the singers, dancers and actors into fluid murals that are highly sensitive to the score and give potency to every moment. He creates beautiful, bleeding pathos, striking grandeur, intimate romance and moving arias that, together, make for a thrilling operatic experience. Turandot has now closed.

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PRODUCTION:

A Clockwork Orange REVIEW BY:

Jon Ricketson

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our Letter Word Theatre’s A Clockwork Orange opens with cacophonous noise and figures shifting in darkness. Thick white smoke floods the theatre upon the entrance of the Droogs, a youth gang that terrorise the streets of a dystopian future society with their nightly sprees of ‘ultra-violence.’ The central gang member Alex is played by the diminutive Steven Fleiner, who has a child’s

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body and loose, long tendrils of dark blonde hair. Orange is Alex’s story—his descent into violence and mayhem, his arrest and imprisonment, his mental reprogramming, and his final return to (in)sanity. Anthony Burgess’ stage adaptation hews closely to his own novel, and, as directed by Sara Tabitha Catchpole, it’s a near triumph. The set is a marvel; consisting of a series of interlocking mesh fences, with a raised platform at the back, it is both spare and suggestive, and often used ingeniously. When Alex undergoes the fearsome Ludovico Technique in prison, the fences swing together at his back, with the two doctors hanging on behind them, screaming. Catchpole also creates some arresting visual images: four women (named Elegance, Love, Mystery and Sensuality) form a coquettish Greek chorus, and comment in a singsong unison about the action whilst draped over fences or in motionless silhouette on the raised platform. The pacing is quick and the staging is mostly elegantly conceived. Catchpole is also well served by her actors. The Droogs, clothed in schoolboy shirts and ties that are reminiscent of ‘60s Mods (a partial inspiration), are

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appropriately rough and vile, and Fleiner as Alex is a compelling figure to watch. Though perhaps lacking in the twisted humour of Malcolm MacDowell’s performance, Fleiner is passionate and demonstrates an assured command of the strange Nadsat slang. Also worthy of praise is John Malone, who lisps his way through a delightfully mincing portrayal of Mr. Deltoid, and Shoumendu Ganguly as the writer destroyed by Alex’s rampage, who sings in a heartbreaking tenor about his lost wife. Max Patterson, a last minute addition to the cast as the Doctor, has a powerful charisma, and towers in his brief stage time, screaming his lines with urgent, ebullient lunacy. Oddly, one woman plays all of the many female roles (the terrific Alex Keefe); this has the effect of dehumanizing and depersonalizing them, Burgess has no interest in the suffering of Alex’s victims; they are vile, and quickly discarded, while Alex’s torments are dwelled upon at exhaustive length. For its merits, however, A Clockwork Orange is a rather clumsy and confused moral fable. The ending differs wildly from Kubrick’s film, which drew from the lobotomised American edition to create a hymn to the animalistic human spirit, a celebration of what

A.D Hope refers to as the “savage and scarlet” that springs from the parasitic robber-state of an imagined future. Far better, in Kubrick’ thinking, to be free and wild than it is to be a clockwork orange—the roboticised Alex is rendered incapable of moral choice, and this is mourned as a greater tragedy that the horrific behaviour inspired by the availability of such choice in the first place. Kubrick’s reasoning is wrong-headed— freedom that harms the freedoms of others is clearly undesirable—but at least it is clear. Burgess’s stage production restores the nonsensical final chapter, in which Alex chooses to renounce his ultra-violent ways in favour of bourgeois stability. It simply makes no sense that a deprogrammed Alex wouldn’t seek the kinky porno-thrills that he did in the past—the leap from visions of orgiastic violence to the nuclear family is mind-boggling. The play itself is a sadly missed opportunity—the problem of governmental reaction to youthful aggression is as relevant as ever in light of the London riots. But Burgess doesn’t have the vision, or the wit, to suggest a persuasive solution to this problem, and the play ends on a bung note. A Clockwork Orange has now closed.


REVIEW

Granta 119: Britain

Books.

BY ALEX O’BRIEN

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Englishlolkthxbai BY MONICA KARPINSKI

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he English language is deteriorating—it’s a violin concerto we’ve all heard before. Snobs and intellectuals whine about misuse of grammar; of the doomsday wrought by uncultured Generation Y and our hideous inability to spell. With social media introducing radical linguistic changes (ahem; lolspeak) it would seem that Armageddon is inching ever closer. Language needs to change in order to stay alive. Words can expire from lack of use. Entire languages can become extinct—Latin anyone? ‘Thou’ used to be the English counterpart of the formal ‘you,’ but now is just a cultural stain on the yellowing pages of King Lear. Before the 20th century the word ‘roentgenogram’ was used most commonly in place of ‘x-ray.’ If language remained static dictionaries wouldn’t print new editions. Concise Collins dictionaries no longer feature the words ‘supererogate’ or ‘younker’. Do you miss them? I’m not suggesting we nonsensically throw syllables around in the name of sweet linguistic revolution. Rules are important, and you need grammar as a reference in order to use language in the first place. For us to incite and understand change there needs to be a common standard. It is knowledge of this standard that makes transfer of meaning successful—otherwise known as communication. We’re all connected by our understanding of linguistic rules. As uncool as it is to admit, it’s these rules that keep us in communicational check: register, context, avenues of linguistic leeway. Try writing an essay on the ideological origins of insertsocial-theorist-here-ism without the formal application of grammar. Not to mention spelling the pretty big words you’ll need to cover those pretty big concepts you’re talking about. Whilst language use doesn’t need to be completely contained within these rules, there’s only so far you can stray before your words become an incoherent tangle. You could abbreviate a text message meaning “What time is your bus?” to “What tym ur bus?” but not

‘Wh tm u bz?’—unless there’s a very unique dynamic between you! There are degrees to which you can manipulate language whilst retaining meaning, but to bend the rules, you need to understand them. One cannot simply ask someone to open a jar of lmao-nnaise without knowledge of the word ‘mayonnaise’ and it’s phonetic structure—just as both parties need to understand what ‘lmao’ means. For the luddites amongst you, it means ‘laughing my ass off’. Curiously, so long as the word is phonetically the same, meaning can still be transferred successfully in social contexts if one misspells it. For example ‘u sound juzt lyk hym!’. The issue here is why you would feel the need to do this. Unless you’re trying to be ironic or particularly witty, you’re really just breaking the rules for the sake of it. But like all expressions of counter culture this rebellion carries social meaning in itself, and so is just as valid. Lol now shines proudly from the pages of the Oxford English dictionary. And why not? It’s commonly used, people understand it, and it conveys tone in context. How then is this illegitimate communication? Just because I change ‘you’ to ‘u’ in a text message doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of the correct spelling or hell-bent on removing the word ‘you’ from the English lexicon. The only thing that matters is the existence of an wholanguage community that understands, which, I’m sorry to inform you language snobs, is very much alive and kicking. As social needs change so do linguistic ones. Social technology may be responsible for the English language’s new look, but there would inevitably be some other force of change to alter the way we communicate, whether or not Facebook existed. For us to communicate in new ever-changing contexts language needs to have some room to move. So my friends, feel free to drop lols without judgement from those snobs leering over at you from dusty volumes. Just remember that without the rules created and enforced by those volumes you wouldn’t have lols to drop in the first place.

ith the London Olympics fast approaching, Great Britain is doing all it can to emphasise the ‘Great’ half of its title. After the metropolis was divided by riots, Visit London’s marketing campaign courteously reminded us that, “Shopping is Great”. And as the inquiry into phone hacking in the British media revealed just how little Rupert Murdoch was privy to, certainly we could take comfort in the fact that Knowledge too is apparently Great. The 119th edition of quarterly writing journal Granta, edited by John Freeman, is a motley assortment of short stories, memoir and poetry, that take up the question, “Is Britain still Great?” The answer, it seems, depends more on what each writer means by Britain than any notion of its grandeur. Displacement is the pervading theme throughout the edition. In Gary Younge’s portrait of his childhood, ‘Stevenage’, he writes movingly of a “geographic ambivalence” that inheres in children born of British immigrants wherein ‘home’ is a notion that is displaced between continents and generations. John Burnside, in his introduction to the edition’s photo essay—which features the makeshift art that bloomed around the city in the wake of the Peckham riots—argues that “home, or identity, can be found in cultural ruins”. It is through these artistic acts of renewal and celebration that the city transforms itself into something inclusive—something more akin to home. Despite notable short stories from Mark Haddon (another reflection on childhood) and a rather amusing extract from Sam Byers forthcoming comic novel, Idiopathy, many of the stories lack any sense of energy. It is almost as if the characters’ tedium needs to find its expression in the author’s prose style. If this journal represents the best writing about Great Britain then one is inclined to insert a comma between the appellation: “Great, Britain,” it suggests with a listless sigh.

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Dreaming of Dystopia BY SCOTT ARTHURSON

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ontemporary culture is awash with dystopian fiction. The popular imagination is captured by nightmarish visions of the future: from the police state of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, to the robot-ruled wasteland of the Terminator series. Yet there are comparatively few visions of an ideal society—of utopia. Those that do exist tend either to quickly degenerate into dystopia, or occur in political and philosophical treatises that few people actually read. Are people just too damned pessimistic, or are there other reasons for our dark fixation? Perhaps the most obvious explanation is that utopias are fucking boring. A good story usually requires tension and conflict. As utopias are worlds in which societal tensions and conflicts have been resolved, they make great places to live in, but dull places to write about. One of the Controllers in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World points out that “... you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.” Most of us are more interested in seeing how believable characters negotiate life’s challenges (or fail to), than in sickly sweet portraits of perpetual happiness. It is in struggle and not stasis that we find our humanity confirmed. The most likely explanation is that our intellects evolved to help our ancestors anticipate threats and to avoid them. This critical role of the intellect is entwined with the socio-political function of dystopian fiction. Through imagining dystopia, we’re better able to avoid it—Orwell wrote: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.” Dystopian fiction is also likely to prevail because utopia is, by definition, perfect. As such, any coherent idea of perfection can lead only to one kind of utopia. More importantly though, there’s probably no such thing as perfection—making utopia impossible. There is no clear set of ideals that everyone holds. People have different values and want different things: one person’s utopia is another’s nightmare. It is clear that even individuals contain many contradictory values. However, there are potential outcomes that most people will agree we don’t want, making

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dystopia quite plausible. While not everyone agrees on what’s most important in life, or in politics, most people would shy away from a world ruled by a tiny elite who not only harvest the rest of us for organs, but make Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged compulsory reading. Yet there is a less intuitive reason for us to imagine the future to be filled with horrors. It’s not merely that the future might be ‘evil’. It’s that the future is certain to be a place that we cannot comprehend; in which we could not function; and in which many of our values will be obsolete. Even our present selves might be viewed in a negative light by the people we once were. Yet this doesn’t usually bother us. Change is inevitable; with it, come new sets of values. These values threaten our own, and so we perceive new worlds as dystopian, even when they’re not all bad. Brave New World’s society is spoken of as a dystopia, though most of the characters inhabiting it are happy. It is dystopian because it is repugnant on our terms, not on its own. Our present world would likely be considered dystopian by the standards of many former civilisations. While many have valid concerns, this does not mean that we should try and turn back. The dreams of conservatives and primitivists are hopelessly utopian,

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR TWO 2012

ILLUSTRATION BY LYNLEY EAVIS

desiring nothing less than to hold on to a world that no longer exists. Even when they are able to force their old ideals on present institutions, new contexts will transform them to the point they are scarcely cognate with their advocates’ intentions. Humanist progressives are not spared either, for if they should succeed in their noble goals, those that inherit these benefits will be reshaped as well. Human nature is fairly malleable, after all. So in the future, the common humanity that progressives seek to serve may no longer exist in the form they now understand it. In this view, dystopia does not spring from pessimism as such. It’s just that the future is a place where we don’t belong. Shedding the comfort of our old morals and pleasures is understandably frightening. It’s a dangerous option because we cannot know where it will lead, nor if its nature runs counter to much we presently care about. Yet if we are determined to clutch on to a few threads of our flimsy moral garments we had best heed the warnings that dystopian fiction provides.


PHOTO BY EMILY KEOGH

FEATURES

“Coiffed Amazons in stilettos stalk amongst groups of suits artlessly negotiating lap-dances. In the midst of this Bacchanalian revelry, renowned astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking reclines in his wheelchair as scantily clad ladies writhe above him.” CHRISTINA LEE—PAGE 39

“Kim Il-sung took the cult of personality to a new level. After closing churches and banning the Bible, he appropriated Christian imagery and dogma to elevate his own status amongst the Korean people. The media reported supernatural phenomenon, such as stormy seas calmed by songs of the “Dear Leader”, as Kim Il-sung came to be known.”

“If you’re a fan of Margaret Pomeranz, you might agree with her that if lazy Australian audiences don’t like challenging films that show bleak and grim content, they can go and get stuffed.” DUANE MERCHANT—PAGE 36

EMILY FRENCH—PAGE 37

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“Why not?” Barbie, Boob Jobs & Being Your Best Self

BY EMMA KOEHN

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FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012


arbie exploded the internet in April. When Ukrainian model Valeria Lukynova emerged on YouTube, dressed head to toe in pink and with close to the actual measurements of the Mattel doll, news websites went on a scavenger hunt to determine what cosmetic surgery she’d received. Everyone wanted to weigh in on how this woman had achieved her bulging chest and miniature waist, and her motivations for becoming a human toy. But not everyone who considers going under the knife wants to be a living doll, and closer to home, there’s a group in their twenties who are defining their own appearances through cosmetic medicine.

BOARDGAME BY SARAH McCOLL

Forget being the first generation to approach the internet without fear—Generation Y is the first to have spent adolescence with the company of mainstream and affordable cosmetic surgery. A 21 year old of the 2010s has spent his or her formative years with the constant presence of ‘makeover’ television. They’ve watched weight being shed and noses reshaped from the very beginning of teenagerdom. While official rates of cosmetic surgery procedures aren’t tracked in Australia, surgeons and commentators alike see one broad trend: patients are getting younger, and are no wimps when it comes to approaching nips and tucks. “I was at the consultation of a young girl in Thailand recently, and she was being fitted up for breast implants,” recounts Dr. Meredith Jones, academic expert in cosmetic medicine and Senior Lecturer in Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. “She was asked, ‘What are you unhappy with?’ And she said, ‘Nothing. Oh, I like my breasts, I’m happy with them; I’m just thinking maybe I’ll go a little bigger.’ There was no bad body image there. It’s not about boyfriends or husbands. The most common thing I hear these patients say is ‘Why not?’” Those who begin cosmetic treatments at a young age echo this sentiment. Lou was 19 when she first received dermal fillers to enhance her lips, and says that the ease of the procedure encouraged her to do the research. “I had an issue I suppose, I had a concern with

my lips,” she explains. “I just kind of thought that it’s such a simple thing; why not? It’s as natural a procedure as you can get in this area, it’s not a heavy procedure, it’s not permanent, it’s just so easy to get done.” Whereas Generations X and earlier turned to cosmetic medicine as a remedy for the ills of embarrassing appearances, generation Y’s approach appears to be framed more by notions of self-renovation. Jones published Skintight, a seminal work on cultural attitudes towards cosmetic surgery, in 2008. She is currently undertaking a wide scale study into cosmetic surgery tourism, and says that case studies like the ones above are not uncommon. “I’ve been travelling to Thailand to look at people’s experiences,” she tells Farrago, “and one thing I’ve noticed is that patients are a lot younger. I think 80% of the people going to Thailand are those in their 20s, to have breast augmentations and the like.” The Society of Cosmetic Physicians Australasia puts our spending on cosmetic medicine at $644.7 million annually, with Botox and ‘minimally invasive’ treatments like lip enhancements exploding in popularity. Yet in real terms it’s hard to estimate just how quickly the field is growing in Australia. “Any kind of view that people have on the increased incidence really can’t be backed up, in that Australia doesn’t have a centralised collection point for cosmetic procedures, since they lost the Medicare rebate in the 1980s,” explains Roberta Honigman, a social worker and researcher who’s spent 15 years counselling

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patients before and after cosmetic procedures. control over our appearances. and they want to do something about changing “But advertising in the medical field has “Seriously, grow up. Weight loss, makethat so that they feel less embarrassed. But also, meant that it’s become a lot more accessible to up and cosmetic surgery are not for people doctors really can say what they like; they can all, a lot more mainstream. It’s really opened it who loathe themselves,” one patient defends say they’re a cosmetic surgeon, when in reality up for customers.” herself in the Tumblr universe, where several there is no speciality that a doctor can train in, As the age of patients decreases, the tempyoung women chronicle their surgeries with which would make them one.” tation to travel abroad to get work done at a photographs, updates and info on pain. “It’s While potential customers may be in more affordable price is growing—and there’s like changing your wallpaper, tearing down a perfect mental health, experts say that many no shortage of options for travel. Robynne, wall to make a new room.” jump in too quickly. The Australian Society the national sales manager for surgery tourism A young woman who underwent a breast for Plastic Surgeons estimates that 40% of company Gorgeous Getaways, says young enhancement agrees, claiming that even the those who receive cosmetic procedures regret women are jumping at the chance to get most invasive procedures don’t require too long not doing more homework. “If anyone wants work done cheaply, though they rarely want a recovery. “It was one of my best decisions; I work done tomorrow, that’s a red flag, that’s a the extremes. “There are tonnes and tonnes of just should have done it sooner. I didn’t have real concern,” Honigman says. people in their 20s who are interested—usuany problems with recovery, or that is, anything Many also don’t know just how unally for the girls, they just want to balance out out of the ordinary,” she writes online. “As regulated the cosmetic surgery industry is in their figures, nothing more,” she tells Farrago. for discomfort, yes you are in a LOT of pain Australia. Legislation on who can undergo While a breast augmentation can cost upwards the first 3 days after surgery—It feels like an procedures varies slightly from state to state, of $12,000 in Australia, the affordability of lo- elephant sitting on your chest, it is difficult to but overall there is no extra training that a cations like Thailand draws countless tourists breathe. But seriously, after the first 3-5 days I doctor can do to become a qualified ‘cosinto Asia. “A breast augmentation in Phuket is had a quick turnaround.” metic surgeon.’ What has emerged is a large currently around $3,600,” she explains. “That’s Honigman is quick to point out the variation in the expertise of those practising a massive saving, and means surgery can be internet can be full of misinformation, and cosmetic medicine, and often people dive in done affordably.” that everyone must put thought into why they without knowing what they’re going to get. It can be cheap, but what’s behind the want something done. This brings up the real“[Doctors] don’t need to have any qualifidrive to improve our bodies? Jones says that ity that concepts of mental health, vanity and cations, [they] might have attended a weekend Generation Y and those born workshop, [they] might even later have probably been influhave just written away and enced by ‘makeover culture’, got a DVD, and that qualian environment that has seen fies you for cosmetic medicine “I had a 25 year old in one of my classes us grow up with countless [procedures],”Jones explains. a few years ago and she was having Botox ways to renovate and reinvent While there are industry bodies our lives. “You know that such as the Australian Society injections, and it was a really strange thing— phrase ‘digital natives’? Well for Plastic Surgeons which they made her look about 40. And it was we can also talk about coscan direct patients to certibecause people associated that immovable metic surgery natives. They’ve fied doctors, as it stands the grown up with Extreme Makeindustry lets professionals give face with someone who was 40.” over like they’ve grown up themselves the title of ‘cosmetic with the Harry Potter books. physician.’ And it doesn’t seem very draAt Gorgeous Getaways, matic to them,” she says. patients who want work redone Desensitisation does not for this reason are not uncomautomatically translate to easy conversations cosmetic medicine remain interlocked. mon. “I had one woman who had received a about the issue. In researching this piece Far“I think it’s really insulting to women breast augmentation in Australia—but one of rago chatted to several people in their 20s who especially, and I think it’s a very much the implants had moved, and dropped, and had looked at embarking on cosmetic procegendered thing—this logic that says people, she really needed that redone,” sales manager dures. While they were generally comfortable women, who want cosmetic surgery automati- Robynne explains. “But the guy who’d done with the idea of others doing what they liked cally need psychological help,” Jones says, the work couldn’t go back in and fix it; he to their bodies, few were willing to speak out having interviewed dozens of people on their really didn’t have the qualifications or expeon exactly what they’d ‘had done.’ motivations for having work done over the rience. She ended up going to Thailand to Lou says that context determines how years. “Notions of mental health are always rectify the situation.” much she talks about her own situation. “For contingent on time and place,” she adds. The process of research can be a long one, some people it’s such a taboo topic to talk With the accessibility and affordability of involving investigating several potential practiabout, like ‘don’t go there.’ I have some friends procedures being at an all time high, perhaps tioners, but for many patients it stops problems that I would never admit to having anything we are more informed than ever to make from emerging later. “Some doctors are very done to. I’d never bring it up in front of them choices about how we alter appearances. good at minimising the risks and overstating because it just makes them uncomfortable,” Lou agrees that young patients can have a the benefits and this happens because it’s a busishe explains. “But then I have other groups of hard time explaining their reasoning: “I think ness,” notes Honigman. “But you’ve got to refriends and they’re all getting things done too, people are somewhat embarrassed to admit ally know that you like this guy or this woman; and it’s an open subject, something to giggle they’ve had something done, especially young that they’re going to be as nice to you if there’s about.” people, because you kind of come off as an a problem after they’ve taken your $20,000 as Those who embark on research for proidiot, people say ‘Oh, why would you have they were before.” cedures often claim not to be looking for rethat done to yourself?’” Lou says that in her case, research could pairs, but enhancements. “You actually might Honigman is cautious on this issue, saying have saved her from a bad experience. “It’s see someone explaining the purchase of a that while procedures may be more mainhard when you don’t know anybody who’s breast augmentation like they would a really, stream: professionals need to ask the right ques- had work done before, because you just really expensive handbag,” Jones observes. tions to see if there are underlying psychologigo on the internet and find anywhere or “It’s something to buy.” Not only do some cal concerns driving the desire for work. “You anyone, and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll go there’,” she ask ‘Why not?’, they’re quick to shoot down have to unpack why it is that we think these explains. “I did that at first, and I had a accusations of low self-esteem. In a world things will make appearance better,” she says. really painful, negative experience with my where image can so easily be altered, they “I think people still often do feel embarrassed lips. The woman was a bit rough, and very point out that we are all guilty of exercising or ashamed of an aspect of their appearance, inexperienced. So you have to do research.”

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FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012


FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

COSMETIC OPERATION! This doesn’t just apply to ‘under the knife’ the knife in an act of rebellion? procedures. Skin treatments like Botox are beThose in the industry are keen to hype coming the domain of the young and famous. up our interest in procedures. But as conIn the USA, several ‘celebrity dermatologists’ sumers get savvier with their wallets and the have come out in support of ‘preventative potential results of altering their bodies, we Botox’, claiming that the only way guys and could even see a shift from cosmetic surgery girls can stop creases and lines for good is by to surgery as body art. “We’ve already got a hitting them before they begin to form. move at the moment that sees breast imWhile only one student who spoke to Farplants looking like implants. Women in their rago had considered the procedure, Jones warns early 20s can afford to have this done, having that we should establish why we think someone them sit up very high on their chests. They looks old before fixing our faces in place. “I had want you to notice them as implants, that’s a 25 year old in one of my classes a few years the whole point,” Jones suggests. ago and she was having Botox injections, and it was a really strange thing—they made her “I just kind of thought that it’s such a look about 40,”Jones explains. simple thing; why not? It’s as natural a “And it was because people procedure as you can get in this area, it’s associated that immovable face not a heavy procedure, it’s not permanent, with someone who was 40.” As it’s just so easy to get done.” 20-somethings begin to take control of their ageing processes in new ways, surgeons say that we should consider what the signs of ageing “And you might even see people playing actually are before we try to fix them. around with implants where they wouldn’t As Generation Y moves into adulthood, normally be, moving body parts around and they leave space for a group of teenagers bethings like that.” hind them, those who some claim have been At Gorgeous Getaways, Robynne and born into the cult of celebrity. Programs like her team see countless young people, mainly Toddlers and Tiaras have the media clawing to women, and most don’t want the extremes. establish what the kids of tomorrow might be “But some girls do want that fake look. They doing with their looks. Will our affection for call it the ‘Victoria Beckham.’ You know, cosmetic medicine intensify before it drops obviously round implants there. And I think off, or will ‘Generation I’ refuse to go under with very young women, that has a lot to do

with fashion. I believe they think they can change the look of them later. It’s possible, but not something to do over and over.” Meanwhile, young patients like Lou intend to keep investing in minor procedures and think we should look at how we view the cosmetic procedures of others. “In all honesty I think I’ll keep getting my lips done out of habit. But really, if you’re unhappy with something on your face or your body, and it’s genuinely making your feel unhappy or not confident, then get it fixed! People should be open minded about others who get things done.” While many still want work that blends in naturally, some are open enough to address the curiosity of others. “People comment about my lips all the time, it’s a bit ridiculous. But I’m happy to say ‘That’s cool, I’ve had them done!’” Perhaps the likes of the ‘Human Barbie’ serve as reminders of the extremes of appearance, limiting our desire for surgery to minimal changes. Maybe they inspire the looks of many. But for now, there is no shortage of young people exercising the control available to them to play with how they appear to the world. As one proud surgery recipient tells the world on a Q & A page about her own procedures: “Your body, your vessel; YOU decide how it is supposed to look.” This decade allows us to do so with an ease like never before.

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Invisible Art Melbourne’s Zine Culture

BY CHRISTINA LEE

W

ILLUSTRATION BY PUYA AFLATOUN

hatever happened to the fringe? Che Guevara’s face is on everything from t-shirts to packs of cigarettes; graffiti art is emblazoned on tampon packaging and is actually encouraged (albeit inconsistently) by the state government, while almost everyone I know joined Occupy Melbourne to shout anti-authoritarian slogans and sing “Kumbaya” with the dreadlocked vegans and the hippies. Hip hop, once a revolutionary underground scene, has evolved into a highly marketable industry, churning out oversized neon track pants for suburban wiggas. The most underground of art scenes are not immune. Even grandma knows who guerrilla street artist Banksy is, and the Melbourne City Council has made efforts to preserve various pieces of the doggedly anonymous artist’s work. But against this backdrop of corporate

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appropriation of fringe culture, independent zine publications have evolved into a vibrant and chaotic culture of outsider art. For the unenlightened, the word ‘zine’ generally describes any original publication, usually sold at a loss and in small circulation. That definition is probably as precise as you can get. All formats and niche genres are represented—hand drawn comics, booklets of intricate inked sketches, niche interest magazines, recipe books, counter-cultural pamphlets, poetry and fiction. The selfdriven nature of zine culture, where artists generally make, bind and print their zines by hand, allows for the kind of individualism and proliferation largely absent from mainstream art and media. Unlike blogs and webzines, which are similarly niche, cheap and offer the same ease of access, zines represent a cosy return to the home made. Zines circumvent popular taste and

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commercial appeal—a low-cost, DIY alternative to mainstream tastes. That’s not to say that all zines are underground masterpieces. You might have to sift through stacks of lunatic political ramblings and uninspired poetry until you find something worth holding onto, but when you do find it, the effect is sometimes startling. A fleeting glimpse into someone’s inner life, like rifling through a stranger’s drawers or reading their diary, sometimes literally. Library archives in London, Tokyo, New York and Vancouver burst with hand-stapled paper—this seems almost counter-intuitive in an art culture that is throw-away by design. Closer to home, the State Library contains one of the biggest zine collections in the world. Ferreted away within the rare books collection are boxes of handmade pamphlets sourced worldwide. The collection also contains a copy of every zine stocked at Melbourne’s ‘Sticky Institute’.


Some of the Best Zines from the Sticky Institute:

Located under Flinders Street in the Degraves St. underpass, Sticky is Melbourne’s own hub of zine culture. Entirely volunteerrun, Sticky accepts submissions from anyone and takes a small commission on all the work sold. At its core, zine culture is anti-commercial and staunchly unique. So it seems only right that the genre has found such a fitting home in Melbourne, where we’d rather sip coffee in dingy alleyways than set foot in a Starbucks. Unlike digital art, zines are often stapled, photocopied and cheap enough to throw away. Popular zines often go out of circulation—the artist will move on from that project, or get tired of printing it. Besides, paper doesn’t last forever. The vibrancy of the zine scene exists in its constant regeneration—charting the transient nature of that elusive beast, ‘youth culture’ in its most organic form. “It’s fucking hard work making comics. You have to be a little fucked in the head”, says Simon Hanselmann, a laureate of the school of “obsessive 100 hour stretches of sitting and staring”. His most recent work, a magazine-sized “witch erotica experiment”, Lingerie Witches, was launched last month, and he was recently involved in “Inherent Vice”, a project that saw eight Melbourne cartoonists and zine artists collaborate at the NGV Studio. Hanselmann offers excited recommendations, DAILIES, edited by Michael Fikaris, is “top class stuff ”. Katie Parrish Gandrabur’s Cautionary Comics about Bleeding Hearts is “a drugged out bad dream of a book that made me feel super nice”. This kind of praise seems typical of a close-knit art community prone to collaboration. But Hanselmann is quick to point out the pitfalls in working in a media that allows such freedom. “Most of the promising artists at the moment are quite young and like travelling and partying … I’m getting older. I need money for food and rent and medical bills. [I’m] sick of stapling things together for zero profit”. Northcote-based artist Michael Hawkins agrees, but points out that the lack of pay-off allows the genre to stay “cheap, quick and accessible. I think it has immediacy, functionality and other virtues to serve as an end in itself ”. “If I was after fame and riches I guess I would have to use a different format!” comments Wangaratta-based Matthew Harris. “I suppose … the most appealing part [is] that basically any one can afford to have a small collection of my very own scribbles”.

MOTE. $2 Issue six in this eclectic zine by Cameron Baker includes stories, memories, witty little drawings and a hilarious guest article by Hannah Richards. If you email the author, he’ll send you a rap on a topic of your choice (mine was about Vikings).

AUDREY & AUDREY $5 A beautiful 28-page booklet, written and illustrated by Ayano Takekuchi. Sparse, spooky and beautifully conceived.

YOU Free

ALL YOU CAN EAT $6

Anonymous letters, addressed to you, sealed in small paper bags and circulated across the world. Like scavenger hunts set up by your quirky new friend. There’s something really appealing about ripping open the bag to read a strangers intimate thoughts or mundane experiences. I won’t spoil this issue for the avid collector.

A colour-it-in-or-leaveit-blank! booklet full of pictures of fat women on donkeys, old people and blow-up dolls from Matthew Harris, “hold it, maybe colour it in, show some people and talk. Even if that talking seems a little nonsensical”.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO FROSNALL GRAAF $5 The first issue of the Frosnall Graaf comic series by Mike Hawkins. This surreal series is intricately illustrated and inhabited by a series of haunted characters. Definitely worth collecting.

MACARONS ARE NOT MACAROONS $4 A guide to baking macarons (the correct spelling, I’m assured) without ruining your life. Includes a selection of recipes, plus a pro-tips guide to baking perfect macarons for anyone who’s ever stared morosely at burnt, flat macaron shells. Written by Sticky’s own Bec Vinci.

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Love me, I’m Australian BY DUANE MERCHANT

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ILLUSTRATION BY LENA LY

ustralians spent over one billion dollars at the box office in 2011? Out of 437 films, 44 were Australian. How many Australian films did you pay to see? As film student and wannabe screenwriter, I see many films and my thinking is that film output should be looked at as a pyramid, with the base consisting of mostly average to bad films and with the tip being the apex of success, however measured. It’s the nature of the industry. Anywhere. Period. According to Screen Australia, the Australian share was $43 million or 4% of the total box office in 2011, trending down 5% from 2009 and 4.5% in 2010. Australia has only seen national shares of ticket sales of at least 10% in only ten years since 1977, with most of the glory years in the 80s when private funding was at its highest level. Local market share percentages over time for France, England and America can range from 7 to 12 times higher than our results in recent years. So what’s wrong with this picture? Do we suck? If you’re a fan of Margaret Pomeranz, you might agree that if lazy Australian audiences don’t like challenging films that show bleak and grim content, they can go and get stuffed. If you’re Jim Schembri, a critic who is about as popular with local filmmakers as a fart on packed tram, too many Australian films stink. It seems that cultural cringe is very much still alive and well. According to the commercially minded Anthony Ginnane, President of The Screen Producers of Australia, local filmmakers’ complete disregard and contempt for audiences’

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wants and expectations. This has resulted in too many dark and miserable social realist films that don’t connect with cinema goers year after year. Ginnane is joined in thought by Ruth Harley, President of Screen Australia – the government funding body whose financial aim is to lose money as slowly as possible. Ginnane says local filmmakers should take note of the great Alfred Hitchcock’s theory that film should be about life with the boring bits cut out; but we don’t cut the boring bits out. This sentiment is also widely shared among the paying public and the media. Shaun Miller, media and entertainment lawyer behind innumerable contracts for local projects, says that the majority of scripts that he’s read are not worthy of turning into films. Troy Lum of Hopscotch Films concurs. At the 2009 Metroscreen Oz Film vs. Oz Audience Forum, Lum iterated the lack of great ideas and scripts as a central problem; but limited funding and budgets also pose a big problem in that filmmakers can only make what they can afford. Ginnane countered by saying that it’s time filmmakers think bigger and write more sizeable, dynamic and popular concepts with larger budgets that can be obtained from international players and agencies. Natalie Miller, co-founder of Cinema Nova, says she tries to show most Aussie films, but ultimately the public will vote with their feet, regardless of where films are made. So why such a low turn out for local films? She says it’s a combination of stiff competition from Hollywood and lack of marketing and advertising dollars. Most independent films here run out of money by the time they’re ready for release so marketing is practi-

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

cally impossible which leads to painfully low screenings; quick death is therefore inevitable, and expected. Most indie films from overseas do far better because they’ve had a good run in other markets and strong public awareness before being released here, an advantage that most local productions don’t enjoy. Like the large numbers of Australians who love cinema, I do rely on aggregate review sites to find gems to see, without discriminating against country of origin. But as a wannabe screenwriter, I also seek out local films to watch to learn from, sometimes regardless of press reviews. Two recent films that I thoroughly enjoyed are The Social Network and A Separation. However, the last Australian film of lasting impact for me is Samson and Delilah, one out of 13 locally produced films that I’ve seen since 2009. Despite this, I have faith in Australian films because we have produced many awesome and iconic films so it can happen again. It is too easy to use comparable hit and miss ratios to explain ups and downs but the fact is imagination and hard work supported by flexible funding and informed development policies will get us there. Although a good dose of luck in this fickle industry wouldn’t go astray either. As the Producer Offset receives more applications than it funds, there is also merit in introducing more tax concessions, particularly during this incredibly tough economic climate, to promote more private sources of finance. Policies also need to be reviewed to give more support to deserving filmmakers whose talent we do not want to lose to other markets. And Paul Hogan, we need you to come home and make Crocodile Dundee vs. Aliens.


North Korea: ORWELL LIVES BY EMILY FRENCH

PHOTO: JOSEPH A FERRIS III

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orth Korea has been hitting headlines frequently in recent months. Since the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2010, the international community has keenly observed the progress of his son, Kim Jong-un, and attempted to gauge his plans for the nation. Despite agreeing to suspend longrange missile tests in order to receive US food aid in February 2012, the country’s ongoing commitment to its nuclear ambitions prompted an attempt to launch a long-range rocket on the morning of Friday 13 April. Despite its recent prominence in Western media, North Korea has been one of the world’s most secretive societies for decades. Media rights body Reporters Without Borders has named it the worst violator of press freedom in the world. Newspaper outlets and media broadcasters are under direct state control and do not report any realities of North Korean life, such as the country’s ongoing economic hardships and famine. This tight control of the media allows North Korea’s totalitarian regime to both keep its people in a state of ignorance and maintain its stranglehold on power. Citizens caught listening to foreign broadcasts risk harsh punishments, such as forced labour in one of the country’s notorious camps, or even execution. North Korea emerged in 1948 amid the chaos following WWII. With neither of the world’s superpowers, America and Russia, prepared to cede ground to allow for an independent Korea, the country splintered. As each side proclaimed to be the legitimate government of Korea, war broke out in June 1950 and lasted for over three years. To this day, these countries officially remain at war, as a ceasefire or armistice has never been declared. North Korea’s first leader Kim Il-sung was an extreme advocate of Korean nationalism. He instructed his citizens in his own philosophical system, juche, which translates as “self-reliance”; North Koreans were a special people who did not depend on assistance from their more powerful neighbours. This was intended to contrast sharply with South Korea, which was declared a disgrace for its heavy reliance on US aid. farragomagazine.com

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PHOTOS: JOSEPH A FERRIS III

dire. After the fall of the Soviet Union in arms. This gives this tiny country the fourthKim Il-sung went even further in 1991, which had propped up the country largest military in the world. compelling North Koreans to loyalty with an with provisions of cheap fuel oil, the economy The failed rocket launch of Friday 13 extremely powerful caste system, with each of North Korea collapsed. Power stations April this year is estimated to have cost $US person having their own rating, or songbun. ceased to operate and rusted into ruin. The 850 million ($AUD 818 million). It received An individual’s songbun was determined hours of electricity and running water became international condemnation from the United through a range of background checks that increasingly sporadic. Even more crucially, Nations Security Council, which included tested their loyalty. These loyalty surveys the rations given out at the food distribution North Korea’s sole ally, China. The US has masqueraded under inspiring names such as suspended plans to ship 240,000 tonnes “Intensive Guidance by the Central Party” and centres were growing smaller and smaller. As food shortages became commonplace, of food aid to the country China has also the “Understanding People Project”. Loyalty North Korea’s propaganda machine churned demonstrated its displeasure by suspending was also monitored within communities by an out the message that enduring hunger was part its longstanding policy of returning North elected leader, whose job it was to report any of an individual’s patriotic duty. Billboards Koreans who are caught crossing the border to misdeed to the authorities. Anyone reported touted slogans such as “Let’s Eat Two Meals a face harsh punishment by the regime. would face being transported, often along North Korea has responded to the with their entire extended family, to one of the Day”. With many left jobless after the collapse of the economy, finding food became their international community’s condemnation country’s notorious labour camps. new daily objective. City dwellers headed on with defiance. In a recent statement the Dictatorial regimes throughout the countryside excursions to forage for food. regime warned of dire consequences after world largely demonstrate the same trappings Cafeterias in schools and offices closed for lack Washington’s suspension of a planned delivery when it comes to their leaders; from the of food aid, declaring: portraits hung in “The US will be held every building, to the wholly accountable statues rising above for all the ensuing every town square, “Kim Jong-il’s birth was said to have been heralded by a consequences.” the ruler’s presence However, this permeates the daily star in the sky and the appearance of a double rainbow.” aggressive rhetoric lives of their citizens. typical of the regime However, Kim Ilcomes in the face of sung took the cult increasing isolation on of personality to a of food. Minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds the world stage as China, its only ally, appears new level. After closing churches and banning or diarrhoea, became fatal. Emaciated corpses to have tired of its neighbour’s behaviour. the Bible, he appropriated Christian imagery on the streets, particular in poorer cities such as Kim Jong-un has inherited an and dogma to elevate his own status amongst northern Chongjin, became a common sight. archaic, totalitarian regime that secures the Korean people. The media reported By 1998, an estimated 600,000 to 2 the obedience and loyalty of its citizens supernatural phenomenon, such as stormy seas million North Koreans had died as a result through indoctrination, surveillance and calmed by songs of the “Dear Leader”, as Kim of the famine – as much as 10% of the control. The country lies in economic Il-sung came to be known. Kim Jong-il’s birth population. Exact figures are impossible to ruin and finding food remains an everyday was said to have been heralded by a star in the tally as hospitals could not report starvation struggle for citizens. The international sky and the appearance of a double rainbow. as a cause of death and bodies on the street community has keenly observed Kim Harnessing the power of religion enabled the were frequently buried, uncounted and Jong-un’s succession and early days of rule North Korean dictatorship to inspire love and unidentified, in mass graves. This period of to watch for any changes to North Korea’s awe in its citizens on top of obedience. severe famine during the 1990s came to be policies. However, after the failure of their While this seeming gullibility invites known as the Arduous March, a term that fit rocket launch, Kim Jong-un swore to the mockery and parody, it is important to well with the message of endurance churned assembled throngs in Pyongyang to persist remember that the country was hermetically out by the country’s propaganda machine. with the policies of his father “to ensure that sealed to keep out any information not To this day, North Korea remains reliant on the people…enjoy the riches and affluence produced by the state. Furthermore, foreign aid to feed its people. of socialism to their heart’s content”. indoctrination begins at infancy, with children While its citizens starved during the Satellite images of North Korea at taught tales and songs of the divinity and famine, the North Korean regime continued night show nothing but a large dark abyss benevolence of their leader. The death of Kim to squander what resources it had on funding surrounded by the brightness of the thriving Il-sung prompted genuine shock and disbelief economies of neighbouring China, South amongst people who could barely comprehend its military. Despite no conflict having taken place since the end of the Korean War in Korea and Japan. Kim Jong-un’s ludicrous the idea of his mortality. 1953, North Korea spends 25% of its gross assertion suggests that the lights won’t be Before Kim Il-sung died on 8 July 1994, national budget keeping one million men in turning on any time soon. the situation for North Koreans was already

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FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012


Ignored Rights BY CHRISTINA LEE

PHOTO: REVREV

I

t’s Saturday night and the music is loud. Lurid red lights, thoughtfully tinted to disguise stretchmarks and cellulite, flood the stage where a slim-hipped teenager snaps bubblegum and shimmies. Coiffed Amazons in stilettos stalk amongst groups of suits, artlessly negotiating lap-dances. In the midst of this Bacchanalian revelry, renowned astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking reclines in his wheelchair as scantily clad ladies writhe above him. The 70-year-old, who is almost paralysed due to a motor neurone disease, was outed this month by Radaronline.com as a regular client of a Californian strip club. Jokes about g-string theory aside, the media seemed to be wholly tickled by the news. But what was so funny? That an astrophysicist would go to a titty bar? Or, that a man in a wheelchair would frequent a strip club, just like one of the guys? One charming source found the image of Hawking “paying naked women to grind all over his genius crippled body” particularly amusing. Hawking, it seems, is just another example in a long line of negative media portrayals of the disabled. US hit TV show Glee came under fire in 2009 for hiring an able bodied actor to play Artie Abrams, a paraplegic character. In an exceptionally enlightened episode, lucky Artie gets to lose his virginity to pretty blonde Brittany. Obviously, there’s no danger of Brittany falling for Artie—it’s all a ploy to make another girl jealous. The implication is clear: damaged goods don’t date cheerleaders. Clearly, portraying the sexual experiences of people with disabilities is a minefield. The prevailing cliché of pitiful, wheelchair-bound souls pining for a ‘normal’ life is almost cheesy. And if they do manage to get some, it’s usually out of pity or under very particular circumstances. Perhaps audiences are just more comfortable with this image. But what’s so discomforting about the disabled getting it on ‘just like the rest of us’? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 20% of the population has a disability of some kind. Dr. Patsie Frawley’s project, Living Safer Sexual Lives, illuminates the challenges facing the intellectually disabled in relationships. Stories collected from people

with intellectual disabilities helped inform her research. She points to the high risk of sexual and physical abuse among these individuals and to the way in which the sexuality of disabled people is often marginalised: “For many people with severe and profound disabilities, I would say, the major concerns for them would be that it’s just not an area of their life that people engage with them about.” “They’re a group that primarily are still seen as ‘not able’ much more so than other groups because of the nature of their disability,” says Frawley. “It’s much harder to prove you’re able when you have an intellectual disability and you mightn’t be able to communicate terribly well, or you may be dependant on understanding the world through other people. Certainly, there’s a lack of recognition that people with an intellectual disability can have positive sexual experiences and can and want to have relationships.” “For young women with an intellectual disability, particularly, those with a mild intellectual disability, a massive issue is parenting,” Frawley notes. “In fact, it’s still a huge experience of people having that right to be a parent questioned and there being interventions around that.” Vicky*, an intellectually disabled participant in Living Safer Sexual Lives, shared her own experience with Frawley’s team. “I had two children”, she writes, “The Welfare took ’em. I haven’t seen them... I miss them.” A 2001 report from Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) highlighted the prevalence of unlawful sterilisation protected under Australian law. Underreporting is rife, and WWDA has championed the banning of the invasive and irreversible practice.

It’s not just parenting that is off-limits. Sydney blogger and disability rights activist, Chally Kacelnik believes that “people with disabilities are routinely seen as bad catches.” Kacelnik, who is chronically ill, points out the challenges facing disabled women when it comes to sex and relationships. “There is actually some kind of societal effort to understand disabled men as having sexualities, which we see with, for instance, various sex work programs designed for them. If you’re not a bloke, however, your sexual desire and pleasure don’t seem to matter a whole lot to society. Disabled women are often not seen as gendered, sexual, or visible”. NSW advocacy group Touching Base works with sex workers in order to create a safe and supportive environment for clients, but as Kacelnik points out, like most sex work, these services are marketed primarily towards men. “People with physical disabilities are often asked whether they can have sex, or how they have sex, which are really rather personal questions,” Kacelnik notes. “Personally, I reckon that if you can’t figure out how to have sex with someone with a disability of a kind that makes conventional sex difficult, you’re the one who’s going to be the bad lay as you’re clearly lacking in imagination.” * This name has been changed.

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Experiences that mean the world

Hold court with the Melbourne JD Law degree. www.law.unimelb.edu.au/jd


Is Your Voice Heard? BY AMY HAYWOOD

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ou’ve probably filled out or been asked to fill out a student survey before. Ever wonder what happens to the results you give? How does your University respond to your feedback? And what are the key issues that these surveys bring up? There’s a new survey out on the Parkville campus, the National Union of Students (NUS) Quality Education Survey. It seems timely to investigate what these kind of survey results show and how they are used in the staff rooms and boardrooms of our University. Melbourne University has a series of committees that deal with the kinds of issues these surveys raise. The Academic Board, headed by Professor Ron Slocombe, hosts several subcommittees, all of which have their own acronym. The Teaching and Learning Development Committee (TALDEC) aims to encourage innovation in order to enhance standards of teaching and learning. The Teaching and Learning Quality Assurance Committee (TALQAC), on the other hand, gives voice to different stakeholders in the University and aims to review the quality of the teaching and learning systems that we currently have in place. As well as these specialised committees, each faculty must create their own strategic performance plan, reviewed annually by the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellors of UoM together with senior university management. This involves detailed goal-setting and ensuring accountability measures for the realisation of teaching and learning objectives. Communication between these committees is, of course, vital. Originally hoping to investigate the results of and reaction to the last and first NUS Quality Survey taken in 2010, Farrago found that it had not been officially tabled or presented to any of the aforementioned committees. This was because the students who ran the last NUS Quality Survey at Melbourne University were not Office Bearers within the Student Union. But when brought to Professor Pip Nicholson, the Chair of TAL-

DEC, it served as a basis for investigating what student issues these committees should work on. The 2010 NUS Quality Survey was a nation-wide survey, which scrutinised aspects of Universities from air-conditioning to class size and educational support. It concluded that there were several “Priority Areas For Investigation and Reform” in all Australian Universities. Farrago discussed with Nicholson some of these key priorities in relation to Melbourne University.

Train staff in new technologies The survey emphasised that all teaching staff should be “trained to effectively use the contemporary teaching aids used for that course”. Nicholson informed Farrago that the new role of Director of e-Learning was recently established. Working with the e-Learning Advisory Committee (eLAG, a subsidiary of TALDEC) and the Provost’s office, The Director of e-Learning has developed a strategic plan which includes strategies better to integrate e-Learning into University courses. This involves working closely with staff, implementing training in how to use resources, and encouraging the harnessing technological capabilities.

Easy online access to internal University Quality Reports This recommendation highlighted that students should be able to see the results of student feedback surveys. Currently results to Course, Melbourne and Subject Experience surveys are made available to staff, but cannot be accessed by students. Under TALQAC there sits a Student Experience Survey Advisory Group (SESAG). This group oversees the Student Experience Survey and is currently investigating the issue of student access. Kara Hadgraft, one of the Student Union Education Academic Officers and SESAG member, explains that giving students access to results is a “process in consultation”. She says: “It is widely recognised that there needs to be a feedback mechanism for students so that we feel like our voices are being heard and that any

action taken on these survey results … is clearly communicated”.

Funding for student activities The survey found that “student engagement with campus life is not dead, just under-resourced”. With the recent Student Support and Amenities Fee (SSAF) Bill passed, and the consequential repeal of the Howard government’s Voluntary Student Unionism legislation, this point of action reveals the environment that the survey was undertaken in. The situation has changed significantly as the Student Union and Melbourne University have negotiated and injected more funding into running sports, clubs and societies and student representation. Hadgraft is quick to note that Melbourne University is “one of the luckiest Universities in the country, a lot of other Student Unions are facing really hostile negotiations to get students’ money going to student representative organisations”. The 2012 NUS Quality Survey is out now and awaiting your feedback. It will stand as the second installment in longitudinal data that will help to track the University’s progress. This next chapter, however, will not only have a nation-wide report, but also a report specific to Melbourne University. Importantly, this survey is student run, which means all data will be released. Farrago has been assured it will be tabled at the relevant committee meetings. Hadgraft reinforces its significance: “it enables us to compare results from Universities across the country. It’s important for big-picture lobbying of government, but because it’s student run will have a focus on feedback and student perspective”. The NUS Quality Education Survey is open till the end of May. To complete it online go here: http://union.unimelb.edu.au/ ed-academic/nus-quality-survey For any queries please contact Kara Hadgraft: educationacademic@union. unimelb.edu.au

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S

ince the Global Financial Crisis, worldwide poverty levels have shifted. Today, more than double the population of Australia live in poverty in the United States. A similar picture of growing inequality has been mirrored in the United Kingdom, where income inequality has risen faster than any other developed nation since the mid-1970s. In April 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Jonathan Sentamu, expressed concerns that Britain has a “vision of poverty.” Consequently, it has never been more pressing to protect, rather than cut, education budgets. Economic prosperity cannot come from an underfunded education system, which is the risk that both the U.S. and Britain are entertaining. Whilst maintaining a wellfunded education system, developed nations must not, in a challenging economic climate, lose sight of their commitment to education in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) via the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). One need only look to LEDCs where poverty is endemic and comprehend the magnitude of ensuring comprehensive primary education by 2015; education budgeting in the West is offensive by comparison. UNICEF contend, in their report The Global Financial Crisis: poverty and social protection that the GFC will only “exacerbate poverty and inequality and undermine progress towards the Millennium Development Goals [of which MDG Target 2.A is to ensure universal primary education]”. Whilst this may appear alarming, the World Bank’s latest data suggest a decline in poverty in the developing world and a fulfilment of the MDG of halving world poverty ahead of schedule. Moreover, MDG Target 7.c—to halve the proportion of those without access to safe drinking water—has been met in advance of the 2015 deadline. Whilst this is welcome news and testament to partial commitment to the MDGs, approximately twenty-two per cent of the world still lives on less than $1.25 per day. Furthermore, hope is waning for the education target to be met by 2015. Most do not dispute the goal of increasing median incomes in developing countries as a vehicle to remove individuals from poverty. All too often, however, educa-

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Educating the Poverty Away BY SHAE COURTNEY ILLUSTRATION BY MATT McCARTHY

tion is undervalued or sidelined as a key element in this process. It would seem that the global economic model is innately inept at dealing with both domestic and international poverty. Hans Baer, Senior Lecturer of Population Health at the University of Melbourne, told Farrago: “the capitalist world economy is full of so many contradictions that it is imperative … the world move onto an alternative world system, one based upon social parity and environmental sustainability … for me, a critical anthropology of the future calls for moving onto something better for humanity and the planet.” An alternative system could place greater emphasis on education as the vehicle of social equality and as a platform for environmentally sustainability. An alternative world system is little more than an aspiration at present. Crucially, developed nations have the fundamental pricinple of universal primary education right. The current world system can be used to achieve greater justice through a universal education system. And it can be achieved by 2015. Working towards MDG Target 2.A should be intensified and developing nations should look to education as a more serious contender in fighting poverty. Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the UK, has been a longstanding proponent of universal education. Brown’s campaign, Education Without Borders, harks back to Labour 1997 election manifesto in which education was a cornerstone. “Education, education, education”, Tony Blair espoused for Britain’s rickety state education system. Blair’s alter ego is now campaigning for primary education in all countries, irrespective of the barriers created by armed conflict, a feat far harder to achieve than patching up a leaky roof in a

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

Leeds comprehensive. Education, however, is fundamental not only to the future prosperity of a nation, but to divert children away from crime and violence. Less than two per cent of humanitarian aid is given to education and it is time for the international community to take education more seriously. In the Congo, where civil war rages and the education system is in disarray, over one million children are out of school, representing a serious impediment to the future of the volatile, landlocked nation. As a University of Melbourne law tutor recently told Farrago: “I think education is an incredibly important vehicle for helping a country develop. In … the Congo, a stronger education system is one element (amongst many) that would help the country develop. The difficulty lies in how to achieve a better education system during … conflict.” It is clear that the global economic system is not naturally adept to solving poverty, but an alternative model is unlikely to establish itself overnight. This is why education requires greater attention from UN members. A disregard for the role of education fundamentally breaches the rights of the individual, stymies the economic future of a country and resigns millions to a life of economic and social disadvantage. Developed nations should use their representation at the UN and other supranational assemblies to further encourage education in LEDCs as part of a piecemeal solution to weaken the hold of poverty. Education allows the full development of the human mind and is key in fostering respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Few could deny a child their formative years and that is why this important issue must be fought as a key method for tackling poverty.


ART BY SHELLEY KING

FICTION

“The body is stiff. The body comes apart like a jigsaw piece held together with pegs and gut.” LUKE PATTERSON,—PAGE 44

“Beyond the annihilation of excavators there are clouds made of stone sifting upward towards an unlikely heaven.” NICK HADGELIAS—PAGE 46

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY DANNY PHUNG

Pause BY LUCAS GAUDISSART

this is the decade of clicking Earth is covered in lights, hertzian waves, gigabits a chocolate coated pebble crisscrossing clicks, kicks in the race to sustain the fast melting Me, the runners are frantic boot camps, bonfires, lethal rapid‐fire chats the click of a rifle clip, the click of a video clip what is going on?

– and I am trying very hard to remain a smiling Buddha.

Prodigy

Prodigy Defunct

BY LUKE PATTERSON

BY LUKE PATTERSON

Passion as much as persuasion has yet to leave its smudge and tempered grooves on the keys of the old family piano. Time has plucked every second string clean as the tick of the metronome. Silent so long, even the creak of its weight would wait for her to sit at the stool and play the theme from Ghostbusters.

Unordinary, if ever true, aligned in parallel shifts across forests of pernambuco, of maple, spruce and the lull of four white walls. The stars are too much to bear even for the young, ears piqued to the tune of burning virtuosity. The accolades decayed in remembrance of a dulcet hum. And so an elegy lapses in anticipation of the upbeat– how many days in those windowless rooms ghost hours gnoming the endless echo of Hebrew praise in a piece of string? Not even noticing. The body is stiff. The body comes apart like a jigsaw piece held together with pegs and gut.

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FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012


A Current Affair BY OLIVIA MORCOM Her first funeral, a surreal affair, was viewed over the television. Faces she didn’t recognise littered with the familiarity of family contorted, masked by grief and years gone by. It was a beautiful send off, they said on the news as if to make sense of what lay before them. And in her numbed silence she thought of senselessness, of nothing, as painted faces sung his praise. For when faced with the void of our insignificance, our lack of control, we adorn it with flowers just to prove that we still can. ‘Look!’ we say, ‘Look what I can do!’ In a family of heathens, without a God to explain his death, they saw no karma nor justice nor fate at play only bad luck. The push that stole his balance and the angle he hit the ground. Caught in the middle of an absurd territory war Wrong place, wrong time, and all too soon. And the world moved on with its tides and oblivious sun as another life ebbed, faded whilst so far South she knew nothing. Felt nothing. Plastic flowers at the school gates. A shrine built by adolescent hands in the courtyard that once harboured happy souls. And when it finally hit her, and she stood in front of the void for the first time she looked down at the beautiful chaos beneath her and shuddered. Sitting on the couch, so far from everything they watched for the last time, a face suspended in optimistic youth, as a thousand coloured balloons were set free into endless blue. A community rocked by tragedy they said.

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Layers BY DANIELLA RANITI They take me up to the mountain and they take off my clothes. I stand motionless. Their eyes peel away my layers of skin, and my hair falls out like a shower of petals, and my eyes melt onto my lips, and my lips drip onto the ground, and my muscles sever themselves from bone, and my bones rattle and then detach, and my insides squelch and it all rolls down the ravine. In the valley the perfume of flesh is now a stench.

Balloons

it.

BY JAMES BURGMANN

I am an eye never into was that

who pried what seen day by the lake

On a ch ild le ss str ing, li fe is a W a k e ; ; ;

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FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

On top of the mountain a heart is hovering at eyesight. They are watching it, but they don’t touch

It will never grace the ground. It will only throb, and so they watch it throb. If they stop thinking, they can hear it. They always think too much.

Mountains BY NICK HADGELIAS Beyond the annihilation of excavators there are clouds made of stone sifting upward towards an unlikely heaven. Mountains gray as slate purged from stripped and wounded coal black lungs ailed by a tectonic consumption. Those strange, broken mountains sailed down as a laughing avalanche and wrecked themselves on the eaves of our feeble houses.


The Gruesome Omission BY AYLA ERDOGAN It had been an unseasonably warm spring day in Cologne, when an odd reek began to creep up through the university’s normally stoic brown brick Institute of Anatomy. As the sun rose higher the stench became stronger, seeping from every orifice of the noble edifice, assaulting the nostrils and stomachs of all who resided in the rooms and laboratories within; studying, observing, and preparing for the day ahead. The unanticipated suicide of the respected Professor Koebke the previous week had already stifled the feeling of productivity and scholarship that usually filled the Institute. The mysterious and unwavering stench seemed to embody the deep funk that had already figuratively blanketed the inhabitants. To a hygienist in the Institute, the stench was the unmistakable foetor of decomposing flesh, amplified to a disturbing degree. He knew something had gone wrong. The building’s cooling system had failed

some time in the night and the air that hung stale within the building’s brick walls had slowly begun to heat – that was clear. Fire safety experts who had been called in to investigate began to assemble. The hygienist hoisted himself from his place in the entrance hall, where he and his colleagues had waited to meet with the investigators, and approached the open fire door leading to the cellar level of the building on the ground floor. The smell was stronger in the stone chamber of the stairwell, wafting past their bare hands and faces in waves of warm air as they stepped down each flight of stairs. The stench intensified to a stomach draining level as they edged down. With a clinical desensitivity to the noxious miasma, they approached a door of a long since forgotten room, illuminated by a single, deadinsect-filled fluorescent light. Kadaver Archivieren. Someone cursed under

their breath as a fire safety expert worked the door open. The door swung wide open with force, jolting on its rusted hinges, stopping with a resounding crack as it hit the wall, horizontal to the door frame. Frighteningly still silhouettes cast by the weak fluorescent light formed a harrowing tableau. A recoil of revulsion ran like a shockwave through the search party as the stench came to a crescendo. Cadaver Archive. The dank room was filled with the putrefied remains of whole corpses, animal carcasses, and hundreds of partial body parts. Buckets labelled Newborns and Noses. Koebke had left a warning of irregularities of his institute in his final note, but the odour emanating from the spectacle was beyond forewarning. Hands clasped to faces. Eyes watered. Faces ashen. Stomach contents curdling. The stench deeply ingrained in memories. The gruesome omission.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY SARAH McCOLL

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47


OPINION Atheism: A Cause for Some Optimism MATTHEW MINAS

T

oday’s world is one of ‘beliebers’ and Rick Santorum. It is one in which various Twitter users are unaware that the sinking of the Titanic was a real historical event, and Arizonian politicians proposed that human life begins two weeks before conception. It is like a social experiment for the amusement of some higher-beings—how else can the Renaissance be reconciled with Rebecca Black? Surely humanity is one self-engineered disaster away from the greatest Darwin-Award in history. Thus, pessimism is warranted. However, an event that recently took place in Melbourne produced a glimmer of hope, to add to scant others, that maybe we aren’t headed for an untimely demise. The measured mosaic architecture, in the tessellated style typical of today, envelops the surrounds. The lighting is sombre yet atmospheric. In five minutes the proceedings will begin and everyone eagerly waits, spirits undeterred. The place is dotted with smiling faces of anticipation and a sense of community. A community in which intolerance for irrationality and lazy thinking is universal, but so is respect for reason and evidence. The heroes here are Carl Sagan and Stephen Fry, and it is accepted that the best method of uncovering the truth is science. The setting is not the Starship Enterprise but the Melbourne Convention Centre, and the event is the 2012 Global Atheist Convention. Passions and emotions are undoubtedly boiling over the mention of the word, ‘atheist’—it is hard to imagine a term in the contemporary age that provokes such reactions. Descriptives range from ‘out-spoken’ and ‘strident’ to ‘evangelical’, even ‘militant’— obviously a reference to the innumerable Saturday morning atheist doorknockers and guerrilla atheist militias wreaking havoc across the world. Nonetheless, the crux of this kind of opposition is that atheists are too vocal in their opinions; that they are too loud, critical and well, just mean. The

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“At the core of atheism is the Socratic acceptance of one’s own ignorance, and the subsequent attempt to learn about reality in the way that makes the most sense.” reason is that, for many religious people, belief is intimately personal and to even address it is interpreted as insulting. These myths have warped reality and given atheists an undeservedly bad reputation. Any contribution to the social dialogue is either disparaged or, at best, ignored. The basic principle of a secular democracy, though, is that no one religious or non-religious group dictate the social discourse. Hence, regardless of their unpopularity, atheists deserve to have their say just as much as anyone else. Equally, non-atheists also deserve to hear from atheists. About a year ago I won a student grant in a writing competition run by the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) to attend the convention. At the time, I was mainly excited that I was going to see the people whom I admired most in the world. These included Richard Dawkins the evolutionary biologist, Christopher Hitchens the prolific writer, orator and investigative journalist, Sam Harris the cool-headed neuroscientist, Daniel Dennett the philosopher in free-will and consciousness, Lawrence Krauss the physicist, cosmologist and FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

author of a recent book that detailed how a universe could arise from nothing, Ayaan Hirsi Ali the ex-Muslim fugitive and critic of Islam who is permanently flanked by bodyguards for her own safety, and various others. Unfortunately, Hitchens lost his battle with oesophageal cancer on the day my year twelve results were released, and I was more emotionally affected by his death than a few cold numbers flickering on a computer screen. The ATAR was something trivial, with minimal bearing on the future. Hitchens, on the other hand, was someone deeply stirring and important. One of the great writers, orators and free thinkers of the last century, he awed with his ability to swiftly deal with ignoramuses—an action that was deemed the “Hitch-slap”. An extraordinary, irreplaceable figure, the polemicist was honoured at the convention in a rousing tribute. Despite Hitch’s death and my disappointment, the most important thing for me going in to the Convention was still the line-up of speakers. It was only until well after all the talks, individual photo opportunities, brief conversations with the presenters,

PHOTOS BY MATTHEW MINAS

and the new relationships with atheists from around the world, that its true essence began to dawn on me. The theme of this year’s convention was ‘A Celebration of Reason’ and it hints at a more important idea. It is one in which atheism is simply the starting point of a grander path with farreaching consequences. To this day, there hasn’t been a clear consensus as to the specific applications of atheism. The divisive effects of religion have been well documented and to be free from these harms would clearly be a step forward. Beyond this, atheism appears ill equipped to deal with the more fundamental questions of how society should act—for after all, how can it? It is simply a statement, albeit reasonable, of the irrationality of belief. In the words of the AFA, atheism is “the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural”. This may upset fellow freethinkers but it is true—atheism is the start, not the end. The pertinent question that should be answered after the debates, speeches, books and conventions is: what is the role of


Tweeting to the White House CHRISTOPHER WEINBERG atheism in modern society? The answer lies within the roots of what sparked atheism in the first place. Regardless of which atheist you speak to, a common passion is the truth. The source of this overwhelming desire to learn the truth comes from the basic human instinct of curiosity. Every freethinker respects perceptible proof and shuns spurious speculation. This contemporary view of reality, and the process by which it is uncovered, is remarkably powerful. The universe is unfathomably immense and there are many things we do not know. At the core of atheism is the Socratic acceptance of one’s own ignorance, and the subsequent attempt to learn about reality in the way that makes the most sense. That is the place and contribution of atheism in today’s world—it is not atheism itself, but the way of thinking behind it. There are few things in the world today that exude overwhelming optimism. Some of them include people like astrophysicist and space activist Neil deGrasse Tyson, futurist inventor Ray Kurzweil, “rock-star” physicist Brian Cox and all-round linguistic legend Stephen Fry. They also include achievements such as the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, the Hubble Telescope, TED Talks and the Internet. Unfortunately, the forces of ignorance, creationism, alternative medicine and Justin Bieber often drown them out. The only way to combat these dangers that threaten our civilisation and propel ourselves forward into the future, is to employ the underpinnings of atheism: curiosity, a respect for evidence and an utter disregard for nonsense. The takeaway message from the convention was of the power of such an approach, and the potential it has to improve humanity. As the Christian and Muslim protesters outside the convention reminded us as they damned us to the fires of hell, a few hundred years ago we would have all been burnt at the stake for being athiests. Let alone be permitted to hold a convention. Now that’s progress. I wonder how we achieved it…

W

e often hear of how social media is changing the world, but will it decide who occupies the White House come November 6 this year? With the expectation this election will be close, could the candidates’ use of social media and web tools be the difference? Since President Obama defied expectation and won the Presidency in 2008—heavily employing social media and online tools to raise millions and motivate usually disaffected young voters—it’s become a requirement for those seeking political office to have an extensive online presence. A recent study by MDG Advertising found that 62% of voters expect candidates to be present on social media and that 51% will use social media to learn more about the candidates. And with Obama’s ascendancy came the assumption that his army of online supporters—the campaign boasted a list of 13 million emails (23 million today) and millions of passionate Facebookers and Twitter-ers—would help him implement his sweeping agenda. But three and a half years later we see the President fighting for his political life, seeking to reenergise the sweeping coalition of demographic groups that elected him in 2008 as he prepares to take on Governor Mitt Romney, the inevitable Republican nominee. This isn’t to discredit Obama’s extensive efforts to engage with those online. He and his team have succeeded in cultivating the image of a tech-savvy, 21st century President—one who can pal around with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs, discussing matters of import to the American experience. He has found innovative ways to utilise new networks like Instagram and Pinterest to further cultivate his brand. It’s clear that his competition respect how the Obama team have utilised social media. Look at how Mitt Romney has used the web to secure the Republican nomination and begin to take on the President. Comparing their respective email campaigns for political donations, both of them offer prospective donors the chance to join them for dinner or for a trip on the

MAX DENTON

campaign trail, all for the princely sum of a $5 donation. These email campaigns also offer the respective candidates the chance to garner vast tracts of information on their potential supporters, learning how to best appeal to them for their money, and ultimately their votes. Using the Facebook Connect feature on their website, the Obama campaign seeks to attain the information of millions of committed or potential supporters. With this information they utilise the basic constructs of social networks (thought leaders, influencers, followers) to micro-target their campaigns and make Facebook friends; ready-made political activists and campaigners. Think about it, would you rather get a message asking you to support a political candidate from someone in campaign headquarters, or from a friend of yours on Facebook using your own lingo? Whilst this is all very impressive, if we take a closer look at the campaigns are using social media currently, we find a disappointing rehash of the trivialised media on the cable news networks. Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve had momentary firestorms over Hilary Rosen’s (a CNN Democratic pundit) belittling Ann Romney for being a stay at home mum, revelations that Obama once ate dog meat as a child in Indonesia, and the continuing story of how Mitt Romney strapped his dog Seamus on top of the family sedan on a family holiday. Each was accorded their own Twitter hashtags, enabling sarcastic commentary between Democratic and farragomagazine.com

Republican activists. This period of the campaign is known as the Silly Season—as the primaries ends and the campaigns get ready for the fight to November, the need to be visible in the minds of voters seemingly translates to banal tweeting. Once Romney and Obama really get into the swing of things, one hopes the quality of content online will improve. Considering, though, that this is shaping up to be one of the bitterest elections in years, that’s unlikely. As the general election campaign begins, it’s safe to conclude the President has a clear advantage in terms of online presence: 26 million Facebook fans and 14.5 million Twitter followers compared to Romney’s 1.6 million Facebook fans and 450,000 Twitter followers. But in the midst of a sluggish economic recovery and a resurgent Republican party determined to defeat the incumbent, will social media be the difference for Obama? There are plenty of cases of online campaigns failing to translate their significant online buzz into practical action (did you see any KONY 2012 material in your neighbourhood after Cover the Night? No?) and many others that have worked (just look at Egypt and Tunisia who are now on the slow road to democracy). I guess we’ll just have to Like and Retweet and +1 (for anyone actually on Google+) our way through the next six and a half months to find out. CHRISTOPHER IS ON TWITTER: @CRJWeinberg

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Evaluating Baillieu DERRICK KRUSCHE

I

was interstate when Liberal leader Ted Baillieu went into the November 2010 Victorian state election. Voting by mail, I returned home to learn that Labor’s John Brumby had been defeated. Eighteen months have passed, so let’s examine some of Baillieu’s major reforms. The first policy shift I noticed came in May 2011, when Baillieu decided to scrap mandatory acknowledgement of Indigenous Australian custodianship by ministers at official events. Baillieu argued the practice focused overly on political correctness and was not given with emotion. Aside from already causing offence to Victorian Aborigines, this decision will work to the detriment of Victoria in the long-term. By acknowledging traditional landownership, politicians act as responsible leaders by conveying to the wider community how intrinsic Aborigines are in understanding the history of our land. Going through primary and secondary school I was attuned to hearing to effect: “first of all, I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the traditional owners of this land”. Admittedly, at first this didn’t register for me. However, as I matured and became more historically aware I understood the sheer significance of this protocol. Today’s generation of young Victorians won’t hear this come out of politicians’ mouths as much as people my age did due to this decision by Baillieu. Without a sense of history, multiculturalism faces an arduous future. Baillieu’s conservatism rears its ugly head by his use of the term “political correctness”. Obviously he views the term as something other than limiting offence and upholding harmony. In July the Baillieu government passed the Victorian Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill. The amendments watered down anti-discrimination laws, allowing religious organisations and schools to lawfully discriminate against individuals wishing to be employed if it is in accordance with the organisation or school’s beliefs. This means that certain people can be refused as staff applicants based on sexuality, marital status or spiritual beliefs. On first glance this seems backward and prejudiced. Really though, it can be argued that religious groups have the right to employ those who advocate what they preach. Baillieu has said that the reform is in the name of freedom of religion. But is this a true separation of church and state, when both the state and federal government support religious schools with taxpayer funds? The Australian Council for the Defence of Government Schools would have an opinion on this one.

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ILLUSTRATION BY ELLA DYSON

Next, in August, Baillieu announced new wind-farm reforms. Planning laws banned wind farms at tourist sites like the Great Ocean Road and gave households a right of veto over turbines within two kilometres of their home. At a young age my parents took me on holidays to Cape Bridgewater in the state’s west. Home to a large seal colony and the highest coastal cliff in Victoria, the once stunning landscape is now the site of a wind farm as part of the Portland Wind Project. Orwellian in stature, wind turbines can be ugly constructs, which in this case eroded Bridgewater’s pristine quality. We’ve stopped going. Baillieu’s restrictions ensure this will not happen in other areas. The Clean Energy Council blasted Baillieu, arguing the change would cost hundreds of new jobs in regional areas and billions of dollars in investment. However, this is a double standard. What about considering the cost in a loss of tourism revenue if Victoria’s scenic sites were littered with unsightly turbines? Future construction of these turbines needs to be directed to unpopulated, nonheritage and non-environmentally significant regions. Regional Victorians have the right to veto wind farms over the complaining of some self-righteous suburban greenies. Perhaps it would be different if wind farms were put up in hipster territories like Brunswick or Fitzroy. There are unresolved health concerns associated with the turbines. Even though it’s clean energy that does not mean it’s flawless. Finally, Baillieu went to the election running a tough-on-crime agenda. He pledged to deploy two Victoria Police Protective Services Officers (PSOs) to each Melbourne railway station from 6pm until the last train every night to safeguard commuters. Since being elected, the government has had trouble finding applicants. Some PSOs are recruited

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

from the bottom of a waiting list of candidates wishing to join Victoria Police. Worryingly, they will be armed with semi-automatic firearms after only eight weeks of training. In comparison police undertake 23 weeks of training in the academy, plus an additional 10 weeks of training on the beat. In March 2012 the government deployed their first 18 PSOs, with a target of another 75 by July. Officers armed with deadly weapons after insufficient training is a vice that dogs police authorities constantly. In March this year 21-year-old Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti was tasered to death by Police in Sydney for allegedly stealing a packet of biscuits from a store—a packet of biscuits. This tragedy resonated with me and I’m sure a lot of other young people who have made splitsecond mistakes. Train stations are filled with intoxicated people on weekend nights. Surely party-goers will sometimes act out of character. Who knows what the PSOs will do with their guns, capsicum spray and batons. Considering the police who tasered Curti to death were more trained than PSOs, it really makes you wonder. This is compounded by practical issues, like the absence of toilet facilities for them at stations. These reforms collectively paint a picture of Baillieu as a moderate conservative. His decision to scrap the recognition of Australia’s first inhabitants, paired with the easing of anti-discrimination laws, will have many worried from a humanistic standpoint. The wind farm restrictions could have serious economic and environmental implications, while the hardline stance on crime with the PSOs has experts wondering if it will be effective. It is too early to judge Baillieu; however, if more reforms of such a conservative nature are on the way then Labor stands a fairer chance in the 2014 state election.


Issues Cheat Sheet: Labor’s Scandals WITH DANIELLE KUTCHEL

Federal Labor under Julia Gillard is in the precarious position of being a minority government—that is, Labor did not hold enough seats in the House of Representatives after the 2010 election to have an outright majority, and therefore had to negotiate with the four independents and the Greens to gain their support so that she could form government. There is no room for misbehaviour; all Labor MPs must be on deck for Labor to pass laws.

Got it Bad for Vlad. PHOEBE ST JOHN

Unfortunately, misbehaviour seems to be rife in parliament at the moment, with two scandals currently engulfing our lawmakers: the Craig Thomson headache and the sudden resignation of Speaker Peter Slipper. Each issue has the potential to ruin the Gillard government.

ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE GODDEN I’ve something to confess which may not impress, It’s horrific and senseless and mad. When Putin dons a suit and does an army salute… Boy! I’ve got it bad for Vlad. Sarkozy’s got sass; Obama flaunts a nice ass, And we all root for Aung San Suu Kyi. But how Merkel still speaks after kissing Vlad’s cheek is more impressive than any decree. No wonder Clinton compromises with Russia’s advisors When Vlad sports his favourite tuxedo. She knows there’s nothing greater than a balding dictator Doing wonders for a woman’s libido. The day Yeltsin resigned, I knew Putin was mine, Though perhaps not all did agree. North Korea would have to disarm if Vlad worked his charm, Nothing screams ‘sex’ like the KGB. I don’t deny Putin’s rule is a little uncoolHe lies and he censors and jails. No military action can mask public dissatisfaction, Moscow clearly feels it’s time to derail. The media’s purged and corruption’s submerged, Taxes higher than Fidel Castro’s pants. Not to mention the Lenin’s inside of the Kremlin… Ah, the joys of left-wing Russian romance. That pesky recent election did strain our affection, So much outrage from Petersburg crowds! A girl cannot applaud accusations of fraud As a feature of her future spouse. But biking in leather? Shirtless in hot weather? Ah, Vlad’s clearly a hot-blooded man! Despite what they implore, I’m 100% sure This iron fist just wants to hold hands. Yes, I check out Vlad’s exterior when he talks with Syria, God- don’t get me started on summits! I’m not trying to be critical- baby, let’s get political, My opinion polls of you cannot plummet. For what woman can resist a former Communist When he’s armed with a tie and cologne? New laws might oppress, but Mother, do not stressIt’s not like I’ll ever bring him home. There may no longer be a Tsar, or a USSR, And in six years Vlad too may depart. But don’t worry, honey bun, you’ll stay number one In the Duma of my beating heart.

Actions... Craig Thomson is the current Federal Member for Dobell and one of the 72 Labor MPs in the House of Representatives. He worked for the Health Services Union until 2007, and was elected its National Secretary in 2002. This position included a union-issued credit card. Thomson is accused of misusing $100,000 on this credit card for various purchases, including paying for prostitutes. It is also alleged that the Labor Party paid around $150,000 in loans and legal bills for Thomson. The misdeeds have been under investigation by Fair Work Australia for three years but only publicly caught up with Thomson in late 2011. Like a bad headache, the issue has refused to disappear. More recently, a scandal has engulfed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Slipper. Slipper was elected to the post in November last year and resigned from the Liberal Party to do so, effectively increasing the margin between the Labor and Liberal Parties in the House by decreasing the number of seats held by the Liberals. Though it wasn’t a huge gap, it gave Gillard an extra safety net in the event that she lost the support of an Independent—which she did, when she reneged on the pokies reform deal she made with Andrew Wilkie in 2010 to win his support. On April 22, Peter Slipper resigned as Speaker amid claims that he sexually harassed a former male aide. He is also suspected of misusing taxpayer-funded Cabcharge vouchers on personal transport and in 2010 was accused

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of overusing his parliamentary travel entitlements. He has said that he will return to his post as Speaker once he is cleared of all charges.

Reactions... Julia Gillard has stated that she has “complete confidence” in Thomson, and has ignored calls from the opposition to dismiss him. The Liberals have repeatedly asked Thomson to resign, to no avail. Similarly, Labor has said that Peter Slipper should be presumed innocent until found guilty, while the Liberals requested that Gillard intervene to ‘persuade’ him to resign—until he did so of his own accord. The consequences in each case could be dire. If Craig Thomson is found guilty of the charges against him and is sentenced to jail, under Constitutional law he will have to resign, forcing a by-election in the seat of Dobell. It seems likely that the Liberals would win control of the seat and therefore gain another vote, inching closer to wresting power from Labor. If Slipper also resigns permanently the position would likely be filled by Labor MP and Deputy Speaker Anna Burke, meaning that Labor would have lose another vote in the House. Given the precariousness of a minority government based on negotiations and independents, Federal Labor cannot afford to lose any more MPs lest they lose their majority and their hold on government. Unfortunately for Labor, these latest scandals seem to indicate that it is only a matter of time before they lose power.

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Carlton Family Medical Bulkbilling services are available for students & staff *

Dr Michael Lum, Dr Meridee Flower, Dr Austin Chow, and Dr Brooke Anderson (formerly of Metropolitan Medical Centres in Lygon Court) have opened a brand new practice in Carlton

Location:

88 Rathdowne St. Carlton 3053 VIC (next door to BP garage on Elgin St) 600 metres/2 mins walk from Swanston St/ Elgin St intersection

Phone:

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03 8330 3900 * Please check details of which doctors provide bulkbilling and direct billing services when phoning reception. Direct billing of full-time tertiary students who hold valid Worldcare, Medibank (after July 2012), AHM and Bupa is also available

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FEELING A LITTLE QUEER WITH HOMO ERECTUS Re: The Dangers of Heteronormativity and Sexual Hierarchy Dear sexual beings, If there’s one thing that I find incredibly annoying, not to mention offensive, it’s the superiority that is often projected by (supposedly) monogamous couples. Lamented by Singletons the world over, this superiority unjustly pits monogamy against other forms of relationships. Recently, my bitch *insert non-gender specific expletive* ex-housemate told me that I sleep around too much and can’t have people stay over in my room. I pointed out that her boyfriend stayed over four or five nights out of seven, to which she replied, tellingly, that if I had a partner it “would be different”. Apart from being offensive, this was yet another example of how society has dictated that the best thing a person can do is find a monogamous long-term partner. We live in a world where we are conditioned to prize monogamy, especially heterosexual monogamy, and to use it as the reference point by which we adjudicate the validity of other relationships/ sexualities/lifestyles. A monogamous relationship acts as a measure of personal achievement along with career, house and family. This is not only reflected in our law, which benefits couples over single people, but also in social attitudes. I am constantly quizzed on why I don’t want children, because having children is the norm. I must justify my wish to remain childless to the grim nods of others, who take it on themselves to feel sorry for me, as if I’ll be somehow missing out on something. To the same end, I am constantly asked when I’m going to find a boyfriend, as if being single and sleeping around is not a valid life choice. I wouldn’t say no to a monogamous relationship if the right person came along, but I’m not go-

ing to get into a relationship with just anyone because society dictates that I should desire monogamy. Our society is based on a sexual hierarchy, which places heterosexual, monogamous relationships at the top, with each subsequent sexuality or relationship form following lower and lower on the scale. Monogamous heterosexual de factos come next, followed by monogamous homosexual couples, who are attaining borderline legitimacy. Following this are single people, including single mothers, promiscuous ‘bar dykes’ and gay men, with deviants and fetishists scraping the bottom. The product of this hierarchy is that our society demarcates between legitimate and illegitimate relationships and sexualities. It is argued, for example, that same-sex marriage will legitimise monogamous, homosexual couples who emulate heterosexual monogamy, while still excluding others who do not fit the heteronormative mould. My very lovely and gay-friendly sister asked me recently why I didn’t want a monogamous relationship like she has with her gorgeous live-in Frenchman. I never said I didn’t want a monogamous relationship, but I also said that I believe a relationship and polyamory are not mutually exclusive concepts. Despite being very liberal and progressive, her throwaway comment demonstrated that she believes that everyone should aspire to monogamy and that the only way to be close to a Significant Other is to be sexually exclusive to them. This is also something I’ve discussed at length with one of my best friends. On this issue we are at polar opposites – he believes that, given we share our lives with everyone around

us, you should have one monogamous partner who is the only person you should conduct a sexual relationship with. In his words, one’s ‘body is sacred’ and should be, as it were, worshipped (my word) by one other person, to the exclusion of all others (to borrow from s 88A, Marriage Act (Cth) 1961). Whilst I respect his opinion, I can’t help but feel that perhaps his stance is coloured by the pervasiveness of the sexual hierarchy in modern society, where monogamy is upheld as the golden chalice by which all other relationships are ranked. I’m not saying that people who aspire to monogamy are wrong. Quite the contrary in fact; I support everyone’s sexual autonomy. However, I question people who view monogamy as the only legitimate relationship form and discount all others, particularly when I’ve witnessed time and time again how monogamy has become a poisoned chalice and left a bitterness in those it has affected. That ex-housemate who felt it acceptable to pass judgement on my sexual autonomy has herself committed infidelity, something I’ve never done. I am not going to allow a heteronormative standard to dictate my life, and neither should you. I have a great sex life – I sleep around, I use Grindr for hookups, I enjoy threesomes with couples, I have a great fuckbuddy. That’s my prerogative and I am comfortable with it. If I get together with someone and decide to have a monogamous relationship, or an open relationship, or if we play around together, or if I sleep with a woman, well that will be my prerogative too. Please tell me your thoughts. Send a letter to the Eds or let me know on my blog at www. thehomoerectus.blogspot.com.

Lovingly, Homo Erectus

farragomagazine.com

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Life S’port: “Tennis, a self-serving sport” (optional title if you need one) By Kevin Hawkins

RISKING HEAD AND SHIN WITH KEVIN HAWKINS My Mum never let me play Aussie Rules. Even during primary school, while all my friends were spending their weekends in Auskick clinics, I was slaving away at Chinese school. At the time, I considered this child abuse—how was I supposed to be drafted into the AFL without being taught the basics? Who was going to foster my natural ability and turn me into a football legend? Certainly not my Chinese teacher, that was for sure. These days, I’m more appreciative of her protective motherly instincts. While she might admonish me for my dismal Mandarin vocabulary, at least my body is still in working condition. My brain is functional, my liver is healthy and I still have a full collection of ribs. Had I pursued a life of violent contact sport, it might well have been a different tale. A daredevil trapped in a choirboy’s body, contact sports have unfortunately never been my scene. My physiological capacities have left me with nothing more than a metaphorical thick skin; all those years of being picked last in PE class were as predictable as they were painful. Most people would have considered such experiences a deterrent, and would have duly switched hobbies from contact sport to theatre sports. Yet I didn’t seem to take the hint. It didn’t matter to me that I was lanky and uncoordinated; I still adored the nature of competition with unreserved passion. My weak frame might have denied me the chance to turn professional, but it would take more than that for me to lose my appetite for mankind’s most daring pursuit. Boxing is one such pursuit. Given how much we know about brain damage, few of us would ever take that bold step into the ring.

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But boxing is schadenfreude at its best—we consider the notion of two men beating each other to death strangely attractive. Likewise, we revere history’s most brutal fighters. Parkinson’s Disease might have crippled Muhammad Ali, but pundits still consider him the greatest ever sportsman. Sadistic and dangerous boxing might be, but is there a more masculine pastime? The sport seems to encapsulate every Western virtue: self-sacrifice, valour, recklessness and gratuitous violence. We might not realise it, but we Aussies place huge value on physicality in the face of adversity, even when the results are nasty. Off the sporting field, Australia’s greatest heroes are the ANZACs, who at Gallipoli put their bodies on the line in an incomprehensible act of courage. Another of our national icons, Kevin Rudd, recently overcame 18 months of chronic back-pain to put up a brave fight. In the sporting sphere, we marvel at cyclists who hustle their way to the front of a peloton; we celebrate footballers who dispose of their opponents with forceful hip-andshoulder hits; we cheer fast bowlers who rip into bastmen’s skulls with ominous bouncers. There is, however, a conflict of interest for fans. We cannot bear it when our soldiers go into battle half-heartedly. We condemn anything less than 110% animal effort, which—despite what commentators might claim—is a mathematical impossibility. The flipside is that we have little patience for injuries. We cannot stand it when our favourite son is not fit enough to play. Indeed, we lament individuals for being weak if they can’t overcome their cartilage damage in time for the big game.

FARRAGO — EDITION FOUR 2012

This paradox causes practical problems whenever concussed footballers are carted off the playing field in a neck brace, half the crowd stands to applaud the unconscious vegetable. The other half is left shell-shocked, fearful they might have just witnessed manslaughter. Some footballers flirt with danger so often that they probably own a personalised x-ray machine. Brisbane’s Jonathan Brown is a notable visitor to the causality ward—his never-say-die attitude has, ironically, almost killed him on numerous occasions. Former Demon Daniel Bell is another example. While he never had the physical presence of Brown, he nevertheless built a reputation for head-butting the limbs of opponents. Last year he publicly revealed that this brand of football had left him with a souvenir. Brain damage. While I’d only ever say this to their faces if they were in a coma, there’s a very fine line between bravery and stupidity. More often than not, the label depends on the outcome; sportsmen who succeed in their boldness are never mocked, while amateurs who vainly attempt the impossible are never glorified. Arguably, both bravery and stupidity are unselfish acts. It’s just that foolishness is tainted by a shade of delusion or a lack of skill. Perhaps we’re just playing with semantics here. Whichever way you look at it, individuals who risk everything, all in the name of competition, are unique. It could be gallantry. It could be idiocy. It could even be some anomalous chemical, hidden in the depths of their DNA. Whatever it is, lay folk like myself just don’t have it. And I guess I should thank my mum for identifying this before I died finding out.


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ABOVE WATER

Above Water is the creative writing anthology put together each year in an unholy union between the University of Melbourne Student Union Arts Department and the Media Department. We are looking for talented designers and artists to create the cover artwork and internal illustrations, as well as submissions from creative writers. Submission guidelines and entry forms are available on our website: www.union. unimelb.edu.au/farrago. For more information email abovewater12@gmail.com, or visit the Arts or Media Departments, First Floor, Union House.

Submissions close 5pm Friday 25 May 2012.

ART (2011 COVER) BY SARAH JANE HAYWOOD


Farrago Edition 4 2012