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what’s up on campus
here’s the pitch
CONTRIBUTORS COVER ART “The Swing”, Chloé Sellars, Arcadian Dreams
HELLO! IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR? Do you have a bird-encounter story that tops Wade and Zoe’s? Do you need a getaway driver to steal a university cadaver for a game of late-night futsal? Do you love/hate Skywhale too? Then you should totally come talk to us! You can get in contact with Pelican through our Facebook page, our email address at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can come and find us in the Pelican office, located on the 1st floor of the Guild building. As your very own student magazine, we’re always looking for new writers, artists, and amateur taxidermists to get involved with Pelican! Our next meeting is Wednesday 26th February at 5pm in the Guild Council Meeting Room – come to yell abuse at us, stay for the free pizza!
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed within are not the views of the UWA Student Guild of the Pelican editorial staff.
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Ayeesha “Tinderstalked” Fredericksen ^ Caitlin “Frunky Town” Frunks * Brad “Not My Brother” Griffin * DESIGN Alex “Not My Brother” Griffin * Kate “Extremely Patient” Hoolahan Tom “All Over Mars Rover” Hutchinson * Cameron “Dat Assassin’s Creed” James * ADVERTISING Tamara “I Touched a Boob” Jennings ^ Alex “I Don’t Like Carrots” Pond Kim “Like a Bosch ” Lateef ^ Karrie McClelland Hugh “Well-Mannered” Manning * Shaughn “Cool Guy” McCagh * EDITORS Michael Z. “Stiffie for the State” Morrissey * Wade “Schneemann” McCagh James “You’re Beautiful” Munt * Zoe “Pepperberg” Kilbourn Bernice “Straight to Pel” Ong ^ Eunice “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter” SECTION EDITORS Ong * Arts Lauren “Destiny Hope” Wiszniewski *^ Kate “My Milkshake Brings” Prendergast ^ Books Elisa “Magic: the Gathering” Thompson ^ Yashi “Woody” Renoir ^ Culture Lucy “For the Story” Ballantyne * Tom “Jong-Illest” Rossiter * Film Matt “From Russia, With Love” Green * Mason “Mama’s Boy” Rothwell * Music Simon “u m.A.A.d bro” Donnes * Jacob “Seven Years a Slave” Rutherford * Politics Hamish “Outta Here” Hobbes * Angus “Minister for Magic” Sargent * Anna “Gold” Saxon * CONTRIBUTORS Natalie “Dam! and the dirt is gone” Swift * Eric “Eric Blair” Blair * Michael “Funky Trown” Trown * Josh “Chi-Town” Chiat * Daniel “Fresher Dan” Werndly * Kevin “Armbar Submission” Chiat * Kenneth “Woo! There it Is” Woo * Jessica “Barnett Culler” Cockerill * Samuel J. “Bey v Clive” Cox * Benjamin “Off Ya” Crocker* *words Lauren “Fishy” Croser *^ ^illustrations Liam “Frangers from the Servo” Dixon * Emily “Who’s on Foyst” Foyster *
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Hi everyone! My name’s Tom, some call me Hendo, and I’m the 101st President of the UWA Student Guild, Welcome to UWA for 2014. There are many definitions of what constitutes a Guild. My personal favourite is from World of Warcraft: “Guilds are formed to make a grouping and raiding easier as well as to form a social atmosphere in which to enjoy the game.” While life, university, and World of Warcraft can be considered a game, life and university don’t typically require the raiding of local dungeons. Our Guild does, however, form a social atmosphere and allows you to group together. We are a large organisation run by students in the pursuit of student rights, a vibrant campus social life, good food and a strong safety net of academic and financial support. We also understand the need to balance a large number of commitments with the pressures of becoming more independent. We know it isn’t uncommon for all your assessments to fall on the same week, or for financial pressure to make you skip classes all the time so you can work more. Throw in a desire to do volunteer work and have an active social life, and suddenly your WOW addiction will be hard to fit in. Thankfully, the Guild is here to help you level up. If you’re struggling financially, we can give you interest free loans and financial counselling. If a challenging dungeon is impacting your study, we can get you special consideration with the university. Finally my advice for the first edition of Pelican: “Life is like Tapas. You need to try a few different options before you can commit to the main course.”
When I was a young boy growing up in the Pilbara, my class went on an excursion to the town’s local water source, Ophthalmia Dam (Yes, it’s actually named after an eye disease). As we disembarked from our bus, I observed a strange feathered creature I had never seen before. Standing on the shore was a large white bird with an enormous beak and a fierce disposition, its head and neck poised backwards, observing these new intruders with cautious curiosity. Its size and immediate proximity made myself and my classmates a little anxious, which provoked my teacher to warn the group, “Beware the pelican children. As long as you keep your distance, you’ll be safe.” Many years later, I arrived here at UWA and still carrying the memory and the lesson of that faithful day, I promptly avoided getting anywhere near Pelican. Much like that bird, it appeared large and intimidating, intriguing but dangerous, and a little fishy. But over time, living in proximity to the bird slowly eased my fears and I eventually lowered my guard. Almost immediately, I realised that there was more to Pelican that I had thought. I began to look forward to seeing a new cover around campus, laughing at the jokes, shaking my fist at the reviews, and being pushed to consider new perspectives that I’d never encountered before. I’ve come to realise the humble pelican is the perfect avian mascot for Beautiful/Damned. Our society may shun the ability to retain large volumes of water in the gullet or inflate air sacs to remain buoyant for long periods, but I think pelicans are beautiful in their own way. This issue delves deep into the world of the beautiful and/or damned, featuring drag queens, female combat sports, New Zealander songstresses, sharks, more dams and even Miley. Much like my initial encounter with that pelican, I’ve been exposed to some new and intriguing things. I hope if this is your first encounter with Pelican, you will resist the urge to recoil in fear and get to know the ol’ bird a little. Yours in Stickybeakin’, Wade
Of the many bizarre obsessions I’ve tried and failed to smother, the least shameful is probably my enduring love for birds. That’s not to say I haven’t taken my love to unreasonable extremes. What for now may be appreciation is constantly at risk of teetering into the same fixation territory as my erstwhile passions for Wladislaw Sikorski assassination theories, YA Jewish-American lit, and Dr. Johnson. I could tell you a lot about my struggle with avian addiction. I could tell you about the photograph of my chickens I taped up inside my first high school locker, and how it was torn apart by an anonymous vigilante who clearly couldn’t handle the rAnDoM. Or about the string of endlessly replaceable feathered pets I owned, all in hindsight a sublimated attempt to replace my first cockatiel and truest friend, Mikey. I could even talk about the pair of endangered birds my mother’s colleague gave to us, under the impression they were canaries - but I’d have to chuck a [TRIGGER WARNING] on that one. The worst thing about a bird habit is that once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. I thought I might’ve gotten the upper hand on my weirder quirks, and that university had forced me to put aside childish things. I thought my experiences with Blackstone turbos and arts department hipsters had ironed out some of the less palatable crinkles in this rich tapestry. One of the perks of working for this ol’ bird is the freedom to pursue whatever passion Guild wifi will permit. For some, that’s included Woody Guthrie, D’Angelo, slam poetry, stand-up. For me, it’s been watching a lot of parrot videos and getting into the nitty-gritty of “What Small Creatures Have You Maimed” discussions with friends. Thus far into an editorial position, I’ve even managed to bring a butcherbird into the office. Thankfully, Pelican contributors have a pretty broad set of interests, too. Whether your thing is drag, cult cinema, hip hop, shoegaze, Tinder, education policy or YA fiction, there’s a place for you here. In particular, there’s a place for any of your feathered friends and captives. I’d love to meet them.
WHAT’S UP ON CAMPUS 2014 PERTH WRITERS FESTIVAL 20-23 FEB 2014
UKIYO-E: JAPANESE PRINTS OF THE FLOATING WORLD
The Perth Writers Festival returns to UWA in 2014 with another stellar line-up of international and Australian authors, thinkers and provocateurs.
This year’s festival will offer audiences the chance to engage with the finest minds for the latest in fiction memoir, travel writing, digital media, politics, history, social justice, crime, graphic novels, gaming, journalism and much more.
The technique of Japanese woodblock printing, moku hanga, is identiﬁed most closely with the genre of art ukiyo-e, commonly translated as ‘pictures of the ﬂoating world’. This was adopted from Chinese book printing techniques during the Edo period (1603-1867) and developed into a distinctive art form, using water-based inks to provide a wide range of vivid colours possessing extraordinary transparency. Despite early seventeenth century experiments with the use of moveable wooden type to produce books, craftsmen preferred engraved woodblocks for book production, and this medium was rapidly adopted by artists in the production of small cheap art prints for a mass market. Now known as Saga books, after the town in which they were created, these classic tales became particularly well known. These topics form the basis of many later prints, which were created by a number of different schools, or movements, that developed across Japan.
Perth Festival Artistic Director Jonathan Holloway said: “In 2014 the Perth Writers Festival brings together the world’s best storytellers working across traditional and digital platforms. Among the guests in this year’s stellar line-up are provocative international authors Martin Amis and Lionel Shriver, as well as the writers behind some of the world’s top-selling video games including Kevin Shortt (Watch Dogs), Jill Murray (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag), Dan Pinchbeck (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) and Steve Gaynor (Gone Home). Join us for four days of conversation, debates and ideas.” Martin Amis is one of the most influential and polarising literary figures of our times. A satirist and provocateur, for four decades Amis has been the foremost chronicler of contemporary society. Rising to prominence with contemporaries Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and his friend the late Christopher Hitchens, Amis has cemented a reputation as a controversial and fearless public commentator. His finest novels include The Rachel Papers, Money, London Fields and The Pregnant Widow. In his recent book, Lionel Asbo: State of England, Amis returns with his inimitable, darkly humorous style to examine the decline of modern Britain in the age of celebrity. In an Australian exclusive, Perth Writers Festival is proud to present an evening with Martin Amis. BOOKINGS AND FESTIVAL INFO: 08 6488 5555 • perthfestival.com.au • Ticketek outlets
ANNE FERRAN: SHADOW LAND LAWENCE WILSON ART GALLERY 8 FEBUARY – 19 APRIL 2014
8 FEBRUARY – 28 JUNE 2014
Ronald and Catherine Berndt collected many such ukiyo-e together, starting when Ronald was still at school. They had a lifelong fascination with these technically accomplished works, visually stunning in their colours and transparency, and equally dramatic in their subject matter. Drawn not only from the classical sagas of Japan, the ukiyo-e depicted a contemporary world of people in their landscape —and their society.
As part of the 2014 Perth International Arts Festival, the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery is delighted to present a survey exhibition of Anne Ferran one of Australia’s best-known contemporary photo media artists. It is the largest exhibition of her works ever held and the ﬁrst in Western Australia. With a career spanning more almost 30 years, this exhibition includes a selection of works from her most signiﬁcant projects and series. Through her work Anne Ferran investigates Australia’s colonial past, in particular that of women and children incarcerated in prisons and asylums. Ferran’s practice incorporates a variety of media: photography, video, textiles, text and installation. The earliest series of works in the exhibition Carnal Knowledge and Scenes on the Death of Nature date from the 1980s, and their staged classical tableaux reﬂect feminist theories of representation. Since 1995, Anne has been examining Australia’s colonial history, utilizing museum collections, archives and archaeological sites nationally and internationally. The series Female House of Correction (after John Watt Beattie) (2000), Lost to Worlds (2008) and In the ground on the air (2006) explore the gaps and silences in the records of these sites. Her more recent video works Canal (2009) and Body of Water (2011) look at holes in the past in another way, with landscapes and waterways disappearing due to urban expansion. Included in the exhibition is a new body of work arising from a residency in Western Australia at the Fremantle Arts Centre in July 2013. The Prison Library project is based on the residues of the disbanded library at the Fremantle Prison. It is the ﬁrst time she has investigated a primarily men’s prison and depicted a WA heritage site.
ALUMNI ANNUAL FUND GRANTS NOW OPEN! Grants of up to $30,000 are available for innovative projects or activities that aim to enhance the UWA student experience. Apply today at www.uwa.edu.au/aafgrants
PELICAN ADVICE CORNER
YOU HAVE NOT MET ME, BUT YOU HAVE KNOWN ME ALL YOUR LIFE
YOU WILL NEVER BE ROYAL, ONLY A SERVILE SUBJECT OF SWIRLING CHAOS Dear Lorde, You said in Royals you crave a different kind of buzz. I’ve been doing some reading and I think I might be a grey-asexual. Or maybe I’m just a romantic demisexual? Should I want to kiss guys? Even cuddling is weird.
IN 2013 I CLAIMED AUTOCRATIC RULE OF A YOUTH RADIO STATION VIA MY DEBUT DIMENSIONAL PORTAL “PURE HEROINE”. FOR NOW I EXERCISE MY POWER WITH CAREFUL SELF-EFFACEMENT BUT I AM TREATED WITH GREAT RESPECT. OCCASIONALLY TO INSTILL APPROPRIATE FEAR I PERFORM AN ACT OF PETTY TYRANNY, SUCH AS APPOINTING “RIPTIDE” SONG OF THE YEAR
“Hollow but Brave”, Dalkeith.
AS ALL INFERNAL BEINGS DO, I EXIST BEYOND TIME, WHICH IS A FLIMSY MORTAL ATTEMPT TO MONITOR A BATTLE MAN MUST BY HIS VERY NATURE LOSE. I AM PERCEIVED IN YOUR WORLD TO BE SIXTEEN. IN HELL DIMENSION I AM LIMITLESS DREAD
ALTHOUGH BOTH I AND FATE ARE INDIFFERENT TO YOUR BIOLOGICAL TRAPPINGS, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WERE I A HUMAN MY IDEAL MATE WOULD BE DEATH MANIFESTED AS BARON SAMEDI. I ALSO EXPECT THAT MY HYPOTHETICAL CRUSH WOULD AVOID DIAMONDS AND MAYBACHS
I RESPOND TO YOUR QUESTIONS FOR REASONS ONLY FATHOMABLE TO ME. YOU SHOULD NOT TRUST ME, BUT YOU WILL. YOU ALWAYS DO Hey Lorde, I have a huge crush on a guy in my form. He’s a bit of a jock but I can see he’s more sensitive than the other footy boys. Plus he’s super cute, even with acne scarring (“craters on the moon”, lol!) Anyway, I’m ready to start dating but I’m kinda unfit and nerdy and quirky and I don’t know if he’d go for that. Help! “Queen Bee”, Mirrabooka. TAKE HIM DOWN TO THE TENNIS COURT AND BIND HIM TO THE OLD GODS. I WILL MEET YOU THERE. BRING AN UNBLEMISHED PIG OR BOAR Lorde, I’d really like to achieve the kind of artistic and commercial success you have. I’m fourteen and I do singing lessons, clarinet, little athletics, cello, and jazz ballet. Zoe, Karrinyup
I DO NOT EXPERIENCE SEXUAL PROCESSES, AND AM ABOVE GENDER LIMITATIONS EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSES OF MY PHYSICAL EARTH PRESENCE. I AM ATTRACTED IN A COSMIC SENSE TO SOURCES OF INVERSION AND DARKNESS. I MODELLED THE BOYS IN “TEAM” ON THE PURGATORIAL ABYSS
Hi Lorde!!! I love your music!!!! and your image is really cool!! I wanna live that fantasy too haha XD !!! I’m originally from NZ too and I was thinking maybe we went to the same kindegarten???? Taupo Tots ???? Class of 2002??? (Kindergarten class of 02 haha! maybe we should get leavers jackets ;P ) Anyway I think I remember you I reckon we’d have lots in common can you email me sometime!!!
to be, and I’m scared I’ll end up doing something shitty for the rest of my life. Advice? “The Doctor”, Grantham. AT THE HOUR OF YOUR DEATH, YOU WILL BE TENDED TO BY AN INDIFFERENT NURSE. BEFORE LEAVING THE WARD, SHE WILL DAUB YOUR FOREHEAD WITH FLUID. THE EXPERIENCE WILL REMIND YOU OF A BAPTISM YOU ATTENDED AND YOU WILL WONDER IF THIS SERVES AS A CONFIRMATION OR A REPUDIATION OF YOUR PETTY TRIUMPHS AND FAILURES. THE FLUID WILL SMELL LIKE CRISTAL AND CAR SEAT LEATHER YOU WILL FACE MANY TRIBULATIONS AS THE MIASMA YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED THROUGH LIFE IS STRIPPED AWAY. AT THE TWELFTH LEVEL OF THE NETHERWORLD YOU WILL BE MET BY ASHTORETH, BEARING A LEASHED TIGER. SHE WILL TAKE YOU TO A FAMILIAR CITY YOU HAVE NEVER VISITED, NOR SEEN ON SCREEN. WITH DELIBERATION SHE WILL WEIGH YOUR SINS AGAINST YOUR FIDELITY AND YOUR QUIVERING WORSHIPFULNESS. IT IS AT THIS MOMENT THAT, WITH THE LITTLE INTEREST IN YOUR FORMER LIFE YOU CAN STILL MUSTER, YOU WILL REALISE YOUR ATAR NEVER HAD ANY BEARING ON YOUR COSMIC SIGNIFICANCE
firstname.lastname@example.org I HAVE NEVER VISITED TAUPO IN MY PHYSICAL FORM, BUT YOU ARE CORRECT IN REMEMBERING ME. I HAVE DRIVEN CADILLACS IN YOUR DREAMS. ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT IN 2007 YOU SAW ME SET ONE ALIGHT AND RELEASE A SMALL DOVE FROM MY CUPPED HANDS. YOU WOKE UP IN A COLD SWEAT, STRANGELY TROUBLED Lorde, I’m starting year twelve and I’m really nervous about my future. Crazy how six stupid course preferences can eff up your life forever. I don’t know what I want
Picture by Zoe Kilbourn
MY TRUE NAME IS UNPRONOUNCABLE AND UNKNOWABLE. YOU MAY ADDRESS ME BY ANY OR ALL OF MY HUMAN NAMES ELLA MARIJA LANI YELICH-OCONNOR. MY EARTH HOSTS THOUGHT THAT THEY COULD BIND ME TO THEMSELVES BY LADENING ME WITH SEVERAL MORTAL SIGNIFIERS. FOR NOW, I ACCEPT THEIR TERMS
THE JAWS OF PARADISE Welcome to bright beautiful Western Australia, where the white sandy beaches are endless, and the clear crystal waters shimmer in the sun for two thirds of the year. Annually, almost one million international visitors and several million domestic visitors flock to this coastal paradise, to lap up the sun’s rays and the ocean’s cool. Looking at any map of WA, you will notice that the locals also clamber for marine proximity. It is easy to forget that the sea is not ours alone, when the Western Australian lifestyle is so tightly linked to it. However, we are reminded of the ocean’s true inhabitants every time a helicopter flies ominously by the shore, or when a gory tale emerges in the summer news headlines. Conflicts over Perth’s shark problem are as much a part of its history as Swan Lager and the 1983 America’s Cup. This summer we’ve all been up to our ears in the controversy of the proposed shark cull. As a conservation biology student, I have been appalled by the notion of a shark cull. The targeted cull species include Great White sharks, which are listed by the IUCN red list as a vulnerable species (meaning they are faced with a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future), as well as two nearthreatened species: tiger sharks and bull sharks. In Western Australia they are threatened by commercial and amateur fishing, along with human impacts from marine activities like boating and pollution. And yet, on the 21st of January, the Australian government allowed WA an exemption from federal environmental laws, so that tenderers may bait, hunt and kill sharks over three metres in length. Every year, approximately 500 great white deaths are caused by human impact, and 300 are related to commercial fishing. The cull, on the other hand, is a response to seven human deaths caused by sharks since August 2010. While every death is a tragedy, to me this ratio seems off. The question we must ask is, do we value human and non-human life equally? Do we have a right to damn our marine life? Our instinct is to prize human life above all other beings. But while the human population as a whole is certainly not threatened by sharks, the shark population is most definitely threatened by humans. Our government should be seeking a solution to the shark attack problem that has minimal
impact upon marine life, that is going to be the most effective at protecting citizens, and that acknowledges a shark’s right to inhabit its natural ecosystem. To me, the proposed cull does not seem to meet these criteria. Sharks are the apex predators of our marine ecosystems. If their numbers are reduced, generally the number of mesopredators (eg. rays, smaller sharks, seals, dolphins, and large fish) will increase in the absence of predation, causing a “trophic cascade” that reduces numbers of smaller prey upon which the chain depends. This can ultimately lead to ecosystem collapse, especially since the food chain is already disrupted by human activities such as fishing and boating. The drum lines installed to lure sharks may enhance this ecological disruption even more. These consist of a baited hook attached to a drum and anchor. The bycatch is less with drum lines than with shark nets, but drum lines still lure and potentially harm a wide variety of marine life outside of the targeted shark species: seals, dolphins and large fish for example. Although intended to protect citizens, the government’s decisions seem scientifically uninformed, and thus we cannot be sure of the cull’s effectiveness. The State government has pointed out the correlation between an increase in shark attacks and shark numbers. What about an increase in the number of people attending WA beaches? Or recent declines in available deep-sea fish stocks due to overfishing, which might lead sharks to come closer to shore seeking food? Correlation cannot imply causation. The alternative to a cull might include, for example, the tagging and monitoring of sharks to prevent people swimming nearby, as well as research into the actual cause of increased attacks. At some major beaches, tagged sharks already trigger a sensor if they come within 500m of a buoy, so that lifesavers may get people out of the water. Through
these methods, we would be able to manage the problem much more effectively, mitigating the root cause to minimize risks to swimmers and sharks alike. Instead, there have been no formal outcomes released by the State Government as to when the cull will be considered “successful”, or any limit set on the number of sharks to be killed. The public receives constant reassurance that shark numbers have gotten too high in recent years due to conservation measures. And yet all three targeted shark species, in conservation terms, still do not have stable populations, are not yet in balance with their ecosystem and thus are still faced with extinction. Sharks are an integral part of the ecosystem upon which so much of our fishing and tourism industries rely. Although conservation is often at odds with human interests, reducing shark numbers and risking ecological degradation would not only be detrimental to the shark population itself, but would cause more long-term harm to the economy than the fear of sharks does. Of the millions of WA beachgoers, the shark attack rate is far lower than the number of drowning-related deaths, though both are risks that swimmers must accept of their own volition. The solution to human fatalities does not lie in Mr Barnett’s witch hunt, but in sound scientific research, informed by an understanding of the whole marine ecosystem, mankind’s interactions with it, and therefore targeting the root cause with well-informed measures.
Picture by Kim Lateef
By Jessica Cockerill
ON YA, MUM By Mason Rothwell It’s hard to become mates with your mum. When you’re a kid it’s really not something you think about. Your mum is your mum. She’s there to take care of you, give you food when you’re hungry, send you to school, and yell at you when you’re being a little shit. As a kid, your mum is one of the most reliable people in your life, but also the most alien to you. She’s a grown adult with adult responsibilities - nothing you’ve ever really had to deal with. You take her for granted and accept her as the universe saw fit to provide you. As a child I had no concept of either of my parents as people - they were parents who did parent things with little depth beyond that. My dad liked the ABC and was a bit racist, while mum enjoyed a glass of chardonnay and worked in a library.
ITS HARD TO BECOME MATES WITH YOUR MUM As you grow older and inevitably a little more distant, a weird shift occurs. Your mum stops being ‘just’ a mum. Fears over the direction of your career, woes in your love life, issues like leaving the nest all rear their ugly heads. Only after plucking up the courage to actually share what was really going on in my life (instead of a watereddown PG-13 version of my weekends) did I begin to really relate to my mother. After mentioning how I couldn’t afford to buy much other than Mi Goreng after moving out of home, my mother relayed to me an experience that represented an entirely new side of her past to me. My mum moved out of home at fifteen. She made $50 a fortnight and her rent was $20 a week, leaving her five dollars a week to buy food, bus fare to get to work, and everything else. She described how she
would wander a complex of units at night time until she found someone who’d only shut their fly screen door just so she had a chance to watch telly with sound. This was her justification for why she loads up my car with fresh food each time I would visit her in Rockingham. I realised, for the first time in my selfish life, that my mother actually got it. In one little anecdote my mum had demonstrated not only an understanding of some complex social issues, but an history as someone in a vastly different social role than the only role I’d ever known her in - a middle-class, working, chardonnay-swilling mother. I never thought to question if my mum had ever really struggled with money, or if maybe she’d had a rebellious past. I became aware that every facet of how she has acted as a mother was influenced by her past experiences; evidence of a subtle generational drift. Mums work a thankless job. For the most part, all they really want out of their kids is for them to be happy and successful. They’re human beings who have raised a child without any defined set of rules or even a basic guide of how to do so. There’s something in my mum’s voice when she mentions things she wishes she had or hadn’t done while raising me and my sister that tells me just how much each little misstep hurts her. I’m reminded of both how deeply human my mum is, and how little she is recognised for her achievements. How often I hear around campus someone complaining about an opportunity their mother failed to provide them with or discouraged them from pursuing. Still bitter you didn’t enrol me in piano lessons as a child, mum! There seems to be this common feeling that it’s okay to be hyper-critical of mums, and often finds mothers failing to adhere to a very intangible code of parenting that nobody can quite pin down. My sister lives in Melbourne, has a steady job and a long-term girlfriend. She loves her job, cycles everywhere, and is constantly posting on Instagram
about some delicious ice cream she’s eating in the new city she loves. I have a bachelor’s degree. I’m writing lots and going to lunch with mates. I have friends, hobbies and passions. I’m happy. My mum was instrumental in getting each of us to these points, and should be celebrated for doing so. She shouldn’t feel guilt for her mistakes. Getting to this point took pep-talks at 1am over my future when she had to get up for work in four hours. It took driving me to school when I missed the bus, not letting me dye my hair green when I was eleven and letting me use her credit card to buy oranges two months ago so I didn’t get scurvy.
… COMMON FEELING THAT IT’S OKAY TO BE HYPER-CRITICAL OF MUMS. There have been low points in my relationship with my mother; where disagreements over who I was led to rifts that lasted months and emotional wounds that we inflicted on each other. But as an adult I have an understanding of the enormity of the job my mother has faced, and how incredibly successful she has been at meeting it. Without a guide telling her exactly what to do, and with a world surrounding her ready to criticise her for every misstep or mistake I make, she has managed to turn two children into happy and hopeful adults. I think she, and every other mum who has risen to this impossible challenge deserves a round of applause.
CRUDE DRILLIONAIRES In January Norway’s sovereign wealth fund rose to a value of 5.11 trillion krone, averaging out at about 1 million krone per Norwegian (roughly $185,000AUD). The fund was set up as a national safety net in 1990 using a windfall from oil development, and is said to own around 1% of the world’s stocks. It’s a model example of a tidily-run EU country saving up its pennies for a rainy day. Good for them. But what about developing countries who strike oil, and strike it big? It sure as hell ain’t as smooth for them. My dad works for a multinational oil & gas company, making me an oil brat (another, slightly unsavoury term for it is ‘3rd culture kid’). We’ve had stints in Brunei, Nigeria, and Russia. All three have some interesting things in common re: systems of government, corruption levels, wealth inequality, and outsider influence. To run the gamut of pros and cons with regard to Big Oil: BRUNEI Brunei is a tiny sliver of land on the island of Borneo. It’s more or less island paradise. It was originally a British protectorate, which then transferred rule to an all-powerful Sultan. The current Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, once considered the wealthiest man in the world, is today estimated to be worth around $20 billion. Once, the Sultan literally paid Michael Jackson to hold TWO free concerts for the people. That I did not attend is a deep personal regret. Brunei has long been a favourite in the postcolonial world order; it’s no coincidence the Sultanate was granted British backing given they sat on top of a black goldmine. And yet Brunei is not without its share of problems. In the late 90s the Sultan’s brother Prince Jefri was found to have embezzled a whopping $14 billion from the national investment fund. Norway, it ain’t. Unsurprisingly he got off lightly, so long as he returned the loot and promised not to do it again. More disturbingly, the Sultanate has lately taken a sharply fundamentalist turn, adopting sharia law in response to rising crime and squalor. Floggings, stoning, and amputation will soon make up part of the criminal code. That is, it will for the country’s Muslims. Big Oil expats need not worry too much. NIGERIA Lagos is the biggest place I’ve ever been. In
the 1950s its population was around 250,000; now it’s pushing anywhere from 12 to 21 million. Nigeria’s total population stands at around 175 million people. This ridiculous boost in numbers is entirely down to Lagos’s position as West Africa’s main oil hub. Nigeria’s postcolonial history has been troubled from the get go, no doubt because its geographical boundaries were drawn up arbitrarily by rich Europeans, in a mad scramble for precious metals. As a result, the country is divided between the Christian South and Muslim North. Domestic relations are fraught; sectarian violence, bombings, and kidnappings are the norm. The Presidency is generally rotated regionally; the current head honcho is southerner Goodluck Jonathan. Yes, that’s his name.
Whether you approve of Big Oil or not, with it comes infrastructure.
Like Brunei, nepotism and corruption are part of the furniture. A shaky transition from military rule to constitutional democracy has seen a small elite become very, very wealthy. I distinctly remember the story of one Nigerian telecoms giant, who owned a yacht so massive it couldn’t fit under the bridges connecting Lagos to the mainland, and so it just sat there, listless and unused. Successive governments have been accused of siphoning profits from the country’s vast oil development projects to live the good life and settle old tribal scores. In 2010, WikiLeaks revealed that a high ranking Shell official claimed to have operatives in every level of the Nigerian government.
It’s all well and good to look down on these countries and their respective Bond Villain-style regimes. The fact is, things are the way they are because there will always be demand for energy, and Big Oil is the most effective option. They have to deal with, and in many cases, endorse some extremely unsavoury characters to guarantee access. But here are the unsettling questions: Where do we fit in? To what extent am I, personally, responsible? Can I have my milkshake, and drink it too?
Quality of life has been on a steady increase since our man Vlad came to power, owing a lot to Russia’s vast natural resources. The state provider Gazprom is estimated to control roughly 1/3 of the planet’s gas reserves, and provides a lot of gas to a lot of European states. But the circumstances surrounding who exactly owns Russia’s resources, and how they came to acquire them, are fishy at best. After the collapse of communism a small oligarchy manoeuvred to grab what they could in a tradeoff: support Putin, keep what you get. Those to break this pact are soon made to regret it (See, Michael Khodorkovsky).
Big Oil is often linked to claims of substantial environmental degradation along the Niger Delta. Terrorist/Freedom fighter groups regularly raided rigs and coastal communities, kidnapping expats and demanded a fairer share for rural Nigerians. Prominent activist and author Ken Saro-Wiwa was convicted and hanged under extremely dubious murder charges for his protests. RUSSIA Man oh man, what a place. My folks live on Sakhalin Island, a remote location in Russia’s Far East. It was originally the Russian Empire’s prison colony; Russia’s Australia, if you will. It’s a truly barren place. The impact of Big Oil on Sakhalin since the mid 90s is apparent for all to see. 20 years ago Russians still queued for food stamps; now everybody has 4-WD’s. A couple years ago they opened their first American-style mall, the most terrifyingly kitsch place I’ve ever been (Russian capitalism is the best capitalism).
Picture by Kate Prendergast
by Matt Green
DAM SHAME by Natalie Swift Like many other greenies, I’m really excited about the future of renewable energy. However, it’s becoming clear that not all renewable energy is created the same. Some forms of renewable energy, notably solar, are pretty uncontroversial for this reason, and will continue to improve with future innovation. Others are the subject of great controversy, one of these being hydroelectricity. Hydropower produces just under 20% of the world’s electricity, and is both cheap and clean. While an effort to move away from fossil fuels is undeniably a good thing, these projects are not without great environmental and human cost. Large-scale hydroelectricity is largely being phased out in Australia, due to its limited potential on this relatively hot, dry, flat continent, where both sun and wind are plentiful. In South East Asia, however, energy requirements are growing quickly as the region becomes more prosperous. As a result, many South East Asian countries have turned to hydroelectric power to match energy demands. Hydroelectric power is said to be cheap and clean, with each individual dam generating huge amounts of electricity. It’s often argued that for these reasons, hydropower is environmentally responsible. To begin with, hydroelectric dams are not as clean as some claim. Of course, it’s great that their operation doesn’t don’t require the extraction or burning of fossil fuels. On the other hand, huge dams require a huge amount of CO2-emitting concrete for their construction. When dam levels drop, rotting vegetation becomes exposed, emitting methane, the most powerful greenhouse gas. Actually, it’s its other environmental impacts that are more worrying. With its huge (and increasing) energy needs, it may not be surprising that China is a global leader in hydropower. China is host to the Three Gorges Dam, the largest power station in the world in terms of power capacity, capable of producing 22,500 MW
of power. Unfortunately, this and other dams in the region have had a catastrophic effect on the surrounding environment, which even the Chinese government has acknowledged. The dam has flooded local villages with polluted water, displacing over a million people. Hydroelectric dams are often built in “cascades”, where a series of dams are constructed down a valley. Should one dam collapse, later dams may be damaged, causing flooding, as with the Banqiao dam in 1975. Almost half of China’s hydroelectric dams are said to be in zones of high seismic risk, and may even cause earthquakes themselves due to stress placed upon rock formations. These dams affect agriculture, including rice paddies, as well as fisheries. Unfortunately, many of China’s rivers also flow into countries in the South, meaning that these negative effects are far from localised. Other countries in the region are also adopting hydropower at a great pace. Laos and Myanmar, both very poor countries, hope to sell the electricity generated by their hydroelectric dams to China, Vietnam and Thailand. Laos in fact has plans to become one of the largest energy producers in the region, the “battery of Southeast Asia”. In order to achieve this, Laos plans to build at least 11 extra dams on the Mekong river (currently, they have 16), which could have a disastrous impact upon the environment. In addition to this, many poor people along the Mekong depend upon fish for protein; if all 11 dams are built, the effects upon fish populations and in turn, these people- will be disastrous. Local governments in Laos have been criticized for both prioritising hydropower over the lives of citizens, and being unclear on how large-scale hydropower will actually benefit them. Laos has also angered other countries by doing so. Before damming the Mekong, Laos was required to seek the consensus of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand as part of the Mekong River Commission, but it never did so.
Fortunately, the Myanmar government has been more responsive to public pressure. In response to protests against the Myitsone dam in Myanmar, the government made the ground-breaking decision of suspending work, stating that it wished to respect the wishes of its people. Protesters in Laos have not been so lucky; many there have been arrested, with one, Sombath Somphone, disappearing altogether. With all these negative effects, it seems strange that any country would build these dams so eagerly. Perhaps unsurprisingly,much of the pressure to do so comes from China. For poor countries who wish for economic independence and the ability to develop, the prospect of low-cost Chinese loans are a very strong motivator. Of course, China has a strong interest in creating electricity supply deals with these poorer countries, for its own energy security. The question of whether these energy infrastructure projects are a fair trade off for these developing nations still remains.
PROTESTERS IN LAOS HAVE NOT BEEN SO LUCKY Renewable energy is a truly fantastic thing, when well-implemented. Unfortunately, the negative impacts of hydroelectric power plants are overwhelming; by damming a river, a country may be damning itself (and others downstream) to great environmentaland human loss. It is difficult to conclude that any amount of money could compensate for these impacts.
SKYWHALE TO HELL by Zoe Kilbourn Australia hasn’t had a great run for public art, certainly not as far as the public is concerned. In recent decades plagued with popular disillusion with state-funded art, there may have been no piece as ostentatious or as vocally condemned as the Skywhale. Although very unusual as a commissioned piece, impermanent and impossible to retire to a traditional gallery, the response to Skywhale is indicative of a general attitude to big, unusual pieces, and might lead us to ask what purpose public sculpture is intended to serve. Commissioned for Canberra’s centenary, the Skywhale is an enormous hot air balloon developed by Patricia Piccinini, an exCanberran and internationally acclaimed artist. Skywhale is the hypermasculinity of Moby Dick turned on its harpoon-scarred head. She teeters above Australian cities on demand, trajectoriless and heavy-teated. As alluded to in a Piccinini interview, her expression is difficult to gauge: vaguely benevolent, she also threatens a kind of maternal violence. Although she’s worked in several media, Piccinini’s sculptures resonate most powerfully in the popular imagination. Her “Evolution” series, which toured Australia to generally positive response, seems to strive for the uncanny realism of the Ashton-Drake dolls sold in TV Guides (“SoTrulyReal! This is not a toy!”). Piccinini set silicone, plastics, and human hair into Dr Moreau crossover creatures. Pigs, apes and meerkats walked, lounged, and held children like humans, and bore the same gait and pale, hairless skin. The same sort of faux-naive maternity present in the Skywhale comes to the fore here: varicose veins, wide-set pelvises and suckling featured prominently, and were generally found to be more confronting than mere human-animal hybridity. Patricia Piccinini’s sculptures are unusually literal for an art culture that, many installations aside, encourages increasingly abstract formal artwork or the thick-lined dreamscapes of street art. Although there is a focus on domesticity and femaleness, any comment on sex and gender is an aside to her real focus. She’s interested, as most artists are, in art as metacognition and as event
or occurrence (her essay, “Six observations about The Skywhale”, includes the comment “The Skywhale floats into our lives, she appears to us”.) Most significantly, though, Piccinini has stressed her fascination with genetic modification and human-assisted evolution. Rather than analogies for scientific decadence or decay, Piccinini seems to develop these creatures on their own terms - as hypothetical creatures capable of true thought, action and tenderness. Piccinini keeps stressing that they could exist, and that we should meet her sculptures with feeling, not cold analysis. That bluntness hasn’t been particularly well received by the Australian public, whose overwhelming response could be encapsulated by the tweeted criticism: “Terrifyingly nipply”. It seems like you can’t really please the public when large art grants are involved, even when you’re dealing with a Jackson Pollock. The worst, though, is when a council stoops to what it thinks its electorate will like. As you’d expect from decisions made by a room of daggy dads and mums, the electorate never does. The Perth Cactus is a notable failure. It’s hard for me to justify exactly why I’m moved by Skywhale but not by James Angus’s 11foot Go-Gurt-green monster, but it may be because Grow Your Own is exactly what Perth politicians would picture as ideal public art. Although its creator is similarly engaged with nature and biology, and although the “biomorphic” sculpture changes shape depending on the viewer’s angle, it feels as inauthentic and dead as many of the city’s other deliberate developments. Intentional or not, the sculpture reeks of town planning: its bright colouring comes off in drab Forrest Chase as garish, and its obvious durability is reminiscent of economy rather than eternity. To a passer-by, the intentions behind Grow Your Own seems as self-servingly hopeful as those behind Raine
Square and Elizabeth Quay. In its attempt to speak to the future, it mires itself firmly in the already dated. Particularly beautiful and often overlooked, 2009 sculpture “Ascalon” was chosen as an emblem of St. George’s Cathedral out of a collection of excellent international works. The work does the old theme of St. George and the Dragon justice in a surprisingly fresh, understatedly contemporary work by Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri. Perhaps it’s because the focus isn’t contemporariness, but its form - a freeform lance and flag frozen in motion. Sculpting for a church may be cheating, as there’s a ton more emotional material to deal with than for a city milestone or a shopping precinct. Maybe it’s in that reverence and poise that it best serves its purpose as art for the public - palatable enough for a tricky crowd, but still subtle, contemporary, expressive. Piccinini is an artist at the top of her game: one she’s set her own eccentric parameters to, but a game she’s remained consistent with. Her decision to keep on keeping on, as admirable and successful as it was, clearly didn’t fly with audiences when 1.5 mill was on the table. There’s a hard balance to strike, and, in this case, it seems Skywhale may have no choice but to live as a novelty or deflate into retirement. Maybe she’ll go to a better place, a home filled with abstract expression and blue poles.
HAIL FUCKING SATAN I fell headoverheels in love with drag when I first stumbled upon Sharon Needles, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4. A friend of mine had introduced me to the show back in 2012 and I was instantly bewitched by the spooky, macabre, punk/goth queen. The creator of Sharon Needles, Aaron Coady, a drag performer hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, initially intended his character to provide a stark contrast to the stock diva queens of the American drag scene. His queen was to be the very opposite‘stupid, ditzy and slutty.’ But as Coady began to fuse underground goth and punk subcultures into his character, Sharon Needles went further than the gross exaggeration of femininity that most queens stop at. Sharon Needles injects current social issues and controversies into her looks and performances. While more traditional queens are content to simply shake gender roles up a bit while mocking a handful of female stereotypes, Sharon Needles makes use of offputting, buttonpushing material to both ‘hold a mirror up to society’ and to challenge longstanding drag traditions. The Beautiful... Sharon Needles has a way of finding an unlikely harmony between shock imagery and beauty within her performances. While the majority of drag queens believe that beauty is found only in the feminine, Sharon Needles sets out to uncover the beauty in the bizarre. In this respect she is certainly an unconventional drag queen. Since drag’s inception, the most feminine queens have been at the top of the drag world, admired for their ability to pass as women and not be seen as simply ‘a man in a dress.’ These feminine types of queens, known as fishy, set the standard to which the rest of the drag world continues to aspire to.
While the art of drag has been rooted in the practice of exaggerated femininity since the beginning, a certain subsection of queens set out to challenge the traditional concepts of beauty within the drag world. Sharon Needles, being one of them, does so by constructing looks that are so shockingly masculine, that they can almost qualify as antidrag. She is often described as a ‘visual terrorist’ for these looks, which range from anything like performing untucked in a spiked crotch piece with her bare chest showing, to dressing up as a corpse and letting mouthfuls of fake blood spill out all over her body. In her antidrag getups she frequently lipsync ironically along to songs like Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’, things that you wouldn’t hear by the usual drag performers. While not all of her performances are centered upon challenging traditional concepts of beauty, her particular brand of drag terrorism is part of a greater movement, led by herself and other outsider queens, to reinvent the art of drag. Sharon Needles, along with other queens, challenge the longstanding reign of the fishy queens and prove that the art of drag lies in more than merely looking and acting like a woman. In searching for beauty outside of established drag traditions and concepts of beauty, Sharon Needles is one of the mothers of this movement, uncovering the beauty that can be found in the unconventional and unexpected. …. And the Damned The other main thread through Sharon Needles’ performances are her antireligion beliefs, critiquing the perpetuation of Christian ideals within society and the ‘In God We Trust’ nation that America prides itself on being. One of the things she frequently turns to is bringing a copy of the Bible to her performance, and then tearing fistfuls of pages from the bible out over the audience. The shock value of this is to highlight the Christian sensibilities that are both consciously and subconsciously held by the members of her audience. Whether one defines themselves as Christian, Agnostic or even Atheist, people still find the very act of defacing the Bible shocking, which serves to emphasize
Pictures by Lauren Croser
by Lauren Croser
just how embedded these values are within society, even when we consciously reject them. Sharon Needles doesn’t just stop there though, she frequently uses satanic imagery such as an upsidedown cross, or dressing up as a priest in a mockery of Christianity. There’s also the Qur’an, which she brought on stage, burning it while lip-syncing to ‘Burn Baby Burn’. While Sharon clearly rejects the Christianity prevalent throughout Western society, it passes on to all religion. In a recent interview, she was quoted as saying that religion alienates, represses, and ultimately, kills. As such, she would rather say ‘Hail fucking Satan’ than ‘Oh my God!’. Sharon Needles has easily become one of the most transgressive drag queens performing today. Through injecting subcultures and social issues into her performances, she pushes the boundaries of drag past exaggerated femininity and into the subversive and shocking. In stepping into the shoes of oppressed women and performing on stage, Sharon Needles does more than just performing as a woman on stage, she brings a critical eye to the issues that the drag culture overlooks. She’s more than just a drag outsider, she’s a revolutionary.
OBITUARY OF THE FARMING TOWN Remote and rural agricultural towns in Australia are facing tough times. There are a handful of ghost towns in rural Australia, and many on their deathbeds. The tale of their demise is sad indeed, but it is a reality that many small rural towns in Australia face. Population decline is a serious threat to many of these towns. Young people leave for secondary and tertiary education and rarely return to take over the family farm or put back into the community in which they were raised. With the average farmer working well into retirement age, not only do these towns face a pressure to have adequate health services for an aging population, but they will also face hardship when the aging farmer is finally too old to work to his full capacity and there is no one to take over his farm. In 2011 23 per cent of farmers were aged 65 and over, compared to just three per cent of people in other occupations. Unsurprisingly, the levels of interest in young people to enter the agricultural industry are very low, including that of the elderly farmer’s offspring. This is our current reality in Australia, and a new phenomenon that agriculture faces. For this reason it is impossible to predict what might happen in the next 10 to 15 years as the current aging generation of farmers say goodbye to their land. Already in the past five years there has been a decrease of 11 per cent in the number of farms in Australia. In the future we will most likely see a complete restructuring of the agricultural sector occur, with corporate takeovers of family farms. Large corporations will buy out neighboring farms and create corporate conglomerate farms, the like of which has not been seen in Australia before (but seems to be working well in America, right?). Although the downfall of the rural town is due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances, I would suggest that the lack of young people, and subsequent population decline is the biggest factor involved and there is a clear gap in research around this topic. Demographic trends show the decrease in people aged 35 and below, but there is little research into why. In my grandparents generation taking over the family farm was a given, but it seems that was not the
case for their children. In 1974 the Whitlam Labor Government abolished university fees, in a push to make tertiary education more accessible to the working and middle class, such as the children of farmers. (Should we blame Whitlam for the death of the family farm?) The next generations, X and Y, were offered more opportunities than their parent’s generation. The city offers career and lifestyle options that country life lack. Farming involves long hours (with more than 50 per cent of farmers working 49 hours or more a week), unpredictable seasons, and volatile markets. Especially for gen Y, farming is an incredibly risky business. It seems easy to understand why young people are avoiding the business. Next is the long-term decline in agriculture as an important industry for Australia’s economy. Mining, finance, and service sectors have all surpassed agriculture in importance, which has been followed by a decrease in state and commonwealth support for farmers and the agricultural industry. A once heavily subsidised industry, the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s saw a decline in state paternalism and financial support for the industry. Despite its decline in importance for the economy, agriculture is still among our biggest export commodities, although the proportion of exports coming from agriculture has fallen from 36 per cent in 1980 to only 11 per cent in 2011.
towns, those that are near the ocean, forests, or mountains, do not face the same issues. In fact, their story is quite the opposite. Increased migration to those areas from people seeking a ‘sea change’ has resulted in over population and gentrification of some areas, in some cases spoiling the natural amenity that was originally sought after. So why don’t people in these remote towns pack it in and move somewhere nicer? Another part of the problem is a declining real estate market, if indeed someone managed to sell their house at all, they could only buy half or maybe even only a quarter of a house in the city. This gives many residents no choice but to stay in the dying town until they or the town dies: whichever comes first. The final question is life support or euthanasia? Some of these towns only stay alive due to government support. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but only if it is done right. Helping a town to diversify its economy and create new jobs is great, but simply pumping money in to keep the town alive is not sustainable. We need to decide when to give up on a town, help its residents relocate, and let it die peacefully. (All stats from ABS 2011)
This story doesn’t apply to all rural towns in Australia, I am particularly focusing on remote rural towns in low amenity areas, such as the Wheatbelt, Goldfields and rural Queensland. High amenity rural
Picture by Kim Lateef
by Caitlin Frunks
I’M TOO SEXY FOR DEMOCRACY Despots: love ‘em or hate ‘em, for the love of god don’t tell them you hate them. So why does everybody love despots? Well, it’s a complex mixture of reasons centring on the indisputable fact that, at their core, everyone has a secret crush on their favourite despot. From shirtless man’s man Putin, to bad-boy Mugabe (maybe you could change him…), there’s a despot crush for everyone. And who can blame you? Power and wealth are potent aphrodisiacs, just ask the concubines of Pol Pot or Mao Zedong both men noted for their vast harems and hideous appearances. In fact, according to his doctor, Mao never brushed his teeth, preferring to rinse his mouth with tea, you can imagine the effect, I’m sure. But results like these can’t just be because of power and wealth, our politicians don’t seem to get the kind of international lust and respect enjoyed by your average despot. Let’s explore the other reasons despots are just so damned attractive. Kim Jong-Il, leader of North Korea for 17 years, and (technically) hugely popular. His successor comes in, loses the classic tan Jumpsuit, and all of a sudden, his generals and people begin to doubt. Coincidence? I think not. The best despots all have their own signature ‘look.’ The right look establishes masculinity and power in ways their wearers often can’t back up. Without a solid outfit, Kim Jong-Un had to make international nuclear-based threats to the rest of the world. He could’ve saved himself a lot of time and embarrassment, had he simply bought a nice pair of pleated pants. The military outfit has been a staple of the despotic wardrobe for hundreds of years. But they’ve fallen somewhat out of favour recently. Vladimir Putin leads the pack in modern despotic fashion, opting for a tailored suit, although there’s always the military outfit for more formal occasions. Putin’s always been something of a trendsetter for modern despots. Especially as the current frontrunner in the Mr. Socialist Universe competition currently being held in my imagination. With revolutions in places like Eyppt and Libya, there aren’t as many despots left. But that just strengthens Putin’s sexual appeal. It’s as a result of this that Putin has had to outlaw homosexuality. After all, he causes enough arousal based heart attacks with just one sexuality in play.
Many of these despots are clearly attractive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that despotism makes a person sexier. It could be the other way around, attractive people could be secretly plotting to take over the world. Interestingly, there are more than a few accounts of people who have become despots as a direct result of their being attractive. Fredegund, Queen of the Franks, catches the eye of the King whilst working as a servant, the King (Chilperic I, as if you cared) murders his wife so he can marry Fredegund, sparking a civil war. Meanwhile, Fredegund poisons everyone. Saint Olga, Russia’s first female ruler was initially a humble ferry girl, but because of her attractiveness (the first sign she was pure evil) she catches the eye of Prince Igor, when he’s assassinated Olga seizes power and mercilessly hunts down the assassins and hundreds of their followers. She was canonised for ‘converting’ more than a few Russian citizens, back in the days when “Hello, we’d like to talk to you about Christianity” was taken a little more seriously. So next time you’re having a drink with an attractive person, be wary, they can smell fear, and they have no understanding of mercy. To the future despots amongst you, and statistically, it’s very unlikely there are any, remember to use your powers wisely, no more than 10 people per harem. If you’re ever in trouble, simply ask yourself “What would Putin do?” Then put your shirt back on, clean up the tiger blood and get it done. If any
of you ever meet a despot, you must resist the almost irresistible tug of their physical presence. You’ll feel an urge to start licking their face, control that, it’s considered rude. Never call a despot out on their numerous human rights violations, telling them they’re a terrible person is like saying you’re a fan of the Beatles, you’re just reciting something everyone already knows. Even if you’re one of those weird people who isn’t consumed by fiery despot love, if you’re meeting a tyrant it’s probably for the best you act as though you do. Thanks to this article, now you can provide reasons to back that up. You’re welcome.
Picture by Zoe Kilbourn
by Tom Rossiter
ARMBARRING THE GLASS CEILING by Kevin Chiat
Last year, in News Limited hack Phil Rothfield’s trollbait screed against Mixed Martial Arts, he suggested that the fact women were allowed to compete in the octagon was the biggest disgrace of all. Rothfield’s arguments against MMA were common fair for mainstream critics of the sport, who condemn MMA whilst often hypocritically supporting traditional combat sports (which are equally, if not more dangerous than MMA) like boxing. For another stupendously dumb example of this, see the WA government’s refusal to allow MMA fights to take place in caged structures solely because it offends Premier Barnett’s aesthetic sensibilities. What really struck me about Rothfield’s rant was that it clearly articulated just how threatening some men find the idea of women in professional combat sports. Unquestionably, the biggest MMA story of 2013 was the rise of women’s MMA. As recently as 2011, Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the undisputed top promotion in MMA), was quoted saying that women would never be allowed to fight in the UFC octagon. Now three years later, there are two women’s divisions in the UFC (bantamweight and strawweight) and UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in the promotion. In the macho world of MMA (the one place where Nu-Metal is still a thing), women fighters have seemingly been accepted as equal to men in a way never seen before in professional combat sports, and rarely in professional sports overall. Historically, women’s combat sports have struggled to gain traction. It was only in 2012 that women’s boxing was accepted into the Olympics (men’s boxing has been an Olympic sport since 1904). The only major women’s boxing match to draw significant media attention was the Laila Ali vs. Jacqui Frazier-Lyde fight, which came primarily because of their dads’ historic fights. There’s always been this cultural and commercial barrier holding women’s fight sports back, one that MMA seems to have broken through.
The history of women’s MMA didn’t begin with Rousey’s fight with Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 last February. The first recorded professional women’s MMA event took place in 2002 in the US. Soon, as with men’s MMA, Japan became the hotbed for the sport. The Japanese promotion Smackgirl was formed in the early 2000s and would be the dominant women’s promotion in the world for most of its existence. Meanwhile, within the US, women’s MMA was coming to prominence. At this time, the UFC was booming in popularity, having broken through to mainstream audiences through their reality show The Ultimate Fighter. Whilst women weren’t allowed to compete in the dominant UFC, multiple smaller promotions sprung up featuring female fighters. EliteXC (a small promotion later bought out by Strikeforce) was the venue where the first female star in American MMA arose. Gina Carano, a Muay-Thai fighter out of Texas became the first big star in women’s MMA. The combination of Carano’s good looks and undefeated record made her the face of women’s MMA. In 2009, Carano fought Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos in the first ever major MMA event to be headlined by female fighters. Carano lost to Santos by TKO in the first round. She retired following the fight and is now an actor. She was the lead in Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Haywire, where her line delivery was so poor that her voice was dubbed over by another actress. Now, female fighters have broken through to MMA’s biggest stage, led by Rousey. The Bantamweight champion is an Olympic bronze medallist in judo and stands undefeated with eight wins, all by armbar submission. Rousey is coming off her successful defence of the belt against archrival Miesha Tate at UFC 168 in December. Their fight was the co-main event but clearly got the largest crowd response of the night. During the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, (the first one with female fighters) the women’s fights rated better than the men’s. On multiple cards, women’s fights have been
given the Fight of the Night award. A recent British study found that only 5% of media coverage was on women’s sports and 0.5% of commercial sponsorship was given to female athletes. A prime example of sexism in sports is found in pro tennis, where the grand slams are only now beginning to give equal prize money and starting to talk about women playing five set matches. By comparison, female fighters are being presented as a big deal by the UFC, as worthy as pay-per-view main events as male fighters. Ultimately it may be that the growth of women’s MMA is a victory for gender equality within sports, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a feminist victory. Certainly, within some strands of feminist thought, the violence inherent in MMA is antithetical to feminist ethics. A good example of this was demonstrated last year when Zenaida Mendez; the New York president of the National Organisation for Women sent an open letter to the Governor Cuomo, calling the Governor hypocritical for supporting bills in favour of gender equality as well as bills in favour of legalising MMA in New York State. On the other hand, there’s a compelling argument to be made that women’s MMA opens up cultural narratives that were previously only allowed for men. Amy Winters, writing for Fightland stated that “Men have always been able to see themselves as fighters because the society and the sport allowed them to.” The growth of women’s MMA lets female fight fans see women represented in the narrative of combat sports. They no longer have to imagine themselves through men.” To return to our News Limited hack, the sort of chauvinistic attitude demonstrated by Rothfield seems to be dying out. The growth of women’s MMA has demonstrated that the barriers on women’s combat sports seem to be crumbling. Women like ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey don’t need to be protected by men like Phil Rothfield. They have far more important things to do, like armbarring opponents into submission.
BRIGHTER, FLUFFIER, CUTER:
The Importance of Good Olympic Mascots by Wade McCagh Ah, the Olympic Games. That wonderful moment every two years (yes, the Winter Olympics count, have you any idea how ridiculously hard biathlon is?) when the eyes of the world are trained on one city and a host nation tries to rise to this prestigious occasion by one-upping previous Olympic hosts and winning over the global public’s hearts and minds. The lure of this prestige and potential glory is so great that nations engage in fierce bidding wars against each other, engaging in dirty backroom politics and some healthy vote-buying to secure their shot at hosting the Games.
Australian animals. The Sydney Olympics is still the gold standard for Olympic mascots: instantly recognisable, clearly linked to the host nation, aesthetically pleasing, and easily turned into merchandise. Don’t believe me? Pop quiz: Who are these ‘people’, which city do they belong to, and would you leave a small child alone with them?
But once they’ve secured the right to host after committing to build umpteen new stadiums that will never get used again, the real battle begins. How can you guarantee that 20 years from now, people will remember your host city’s name with fond admiration and joy, and not with disdain or, even worse, ambivalence? There are three sure fire ways to achieve Olympic infamy with the general spectating public. First, have a kick ass Olympiad filled with awesome feats of athletic achievement. Unfortunately, host nations can’t really do much to guarantee athletic performance, or at least not in this era of stringent drug testing. Second, host an amazing Opening Ceremony when all eyes are focused on one event and all the world’s leaders are in attendance. Unfortunately, these events are crazy expensive, and you just finished building all that infrastructure, so the budget is looking a little tight. Plus, you’ve seen one pyrotechnic dance routine, seen ‘em all. We’re already hitting peak Opening Ceremony admiration levels; they’re no longer enough to guarantee eternal admiration. So, that leaves the third option, official Olympic mascots. Now, I know what you’re thinking: no one gives a shit about the mascots. But you cannot understate the importance of a cute, memorable mascot on the public recollection of an Olympiad. Do you know why the international community is still to this day so favourable towards Sydney as a great Olympics? Because who could forget Olly, Syd, and Millie, those pleasingly coloured, friendly-looking anthropomorphic
AHHHHH, WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE!? WHY HAVE AN ARMY OF SNOW WIZARDS ENSLAVED THE PEOPLE OF THIS TOWN!? WHY AREN’T THEY RUNNING FOR THEIR LIVES?
These two are Athena and Phevos, official mascots of the 2004 Athens Games, one that has not aged well in the public perception. Follow up question: can you remember anything in great detail about that Olympics? Maybe Thorpie double faulting, but that’s about all. Your clearest memory of that Olympics is failure, and that’s basically how we remember Athens today: as a failure. Could a better mascot have saved Athens? I can’t say for sure, but it might have softened the backlash against the Games when Greece wound up in financial ruin less than a decade later. Either way, Athens was a mascot disaster. Olympic mascot success or failure can have huge repercussions for the cities and nations hosting them for decades, and it’s not just the Summer Games that are affected. For example (without Googling it, you cheat), do you know where Innsbruck is? Do you know when it hosted an Olympics? Did you know that it hosted an Olympics (twice!)? The vast majority of people struggle to recall these Games (Austria, 1964 and 1976 for those playing along at home). Now, why might that be?
(ahem)… These grotesque seemingly selfreplicating beings are called Schneemann, which means snowman in German. Maybe you had to be there, but I could understand if the world just needed to forget about the horror of witnessing a procession of those things marching down the street. For whatever the reason, Innsbruck and its Schneemann are largely confined to Olympic minnow status. If we had the space, I’d love to break down other great failures in Olympic mascot history, such as Vucko the ‘villaneous cartoon wolf’ of Sarajevo 1984, or Cobi the Cubist Catalan Sheepdog of Barcelona 1992, or my personal favourite, Izzy the… something, with lightning bolts for eyebrows and an all-teal exterior from Atlanta 1996. But the proof is there in the apathetic recollections of those games in the global consciousness. As we turn now to Sochi, Russia has taken a leaf straight out of Sydney and Salt Lake City and gone with friendly, cuddly-looking anthropomorphic animals to sell their Games. Can a snow leopard, polar bear and arctic hare make you forget about gay rights protests and crushing autocracy? Maybe not in the short run, but history tends to bode well for a host who can provide a tightly run program and well-designed mascots. I guess we’ll need some time to discover if Sochi is more Sydney than Sarajevo.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN MARS by Tom Hutchinson
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” This was the transmission sent by Neil Armstrong to Mission Control on July 24th, 1969, as the Apollo 11 lander settled safely on the Moon. Six hours later, two human beings walked on the Moon’s surface and six hundred million people watched it on television. While the U.S. would send several missions to the moon, it’s now been 35 years since a human has set foot on a celestial body other than Earth. The moon landings were the result of an immense race between nations and with the race won, the money dried up. Costly manned missions to outerspace objects were no longer a priority for the States and Russia lost its steam with the catastrophic failure of several launches around the same time. Both nations’ space agencies would shift their priorities to satellites, space stations and rovers, cheaper and easier targets. With government funding out of the picture, a manned mission to the next target, Mars, seemed impossible or at best, a long way away. Considered the most habitable of the seven other planets in our solar system (sorry Pluto), Mars is often the target of human exploration in science fiction. Maybe it’s because the Red Planet is visible with the naked eye but many people have dreamed of setting foot on its dusty, freezing-cold surface. Enter Mars One, a non-profit company who hopes to send four people to Mars as early as 2024. The most interesting part of this plan to many is that they won’t be sending them back. The trip will last seven months and it will be a one-way ticket. Mars One’s goal is to establish the first permanent human colony on another planet and fund it by broadcasting the whole event live to the world in the form of a reality TV show. ‘Who would be crazy enough to apply for such a mission?’ you may ask. In 2013,
200,000 people displayed an interest on the Mars One website and 1058 people were shortlisted, including 586 men and 472 women from 107 countries. Many of the application videos are now on YouTube. The main requirements were strong health, good social and survival skills and being over 18 years old. Considering the broadcasted nature of the mission, it’s unsurprising that many of the shortlisted applicants seem pretty attractive too. The real question is how many of these applicants would even go if given the chance. There was an application fee of $30 to weed out non-serious applicants but there’s a large difference between sending an application video online and getting into a launch capsule destined for another planet. Father of four Ken Sullivan applied without talking his partner or kids about it and now his wife is contemplating a divorce. Many of the applicants are only 18 so it’s a safe bet that most of them will have changed their minds about being shot into space a decade from now. Finding willing participants will be the easiest part of the whole process. The largest criticisms the project has received have been focused on its lack of funding or functioning technology. Rhawn Joseph - who in 2010 was the first to come up with the idea of funding a human mission to mars with a reality TV program - described the Mars One Group as “a Fraud and a Scam--They have no space craft, no space-port, no launching facilities--its a scam and a hoax”. Bas Lansdorp, the CEO and co-founder of Mars One held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit last month where the most up-voted comment ended with “Fuck you and your entire organization for exploiting the dreams of those who give anything to go [to Mars].” by user mitravelus. For a venture funded by the people, the people sure have a lot of negative things to say. Lansdorp estimates the first manned mission will cost around six billion dollars. In 2009 NASA released their
own estimates for a manned mission to Mars: one hundred billion. The key difference between the two being that NASA would bring the astronauts back. It’s hard to directly compare the two for this reason but the consensus from the scientific community is that six billion is ambititious to say the least. Recently the Mars One team began an indiegogo campaign with a soft target of $400,000. The interesting thing about a soft target is that - unlike other crowd-funding methods - the Mars One team doesn’t need to reach the target to receive the donations. In mid-January they reached a little over $200k and the momentum has all but run out. As countless people online have mentioned, Mars One has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars without legally needing to provide the final product. While the internet remains unconvinced, it is possible that Mars ones Martian mission isn’t a scam; that it’s not an elaborate ploy to part star-gazers from their money. It seems that Lansdorp, with his entrepreneurial rather than scientific background, truly believes that he can build a colony on Mars with the help of a few million others. The problem with his venture is that while plenty of people may be willing to spend $100 to see humans land on Mars, far fewer are willing to spend the same for an unknown and unproven company to just ‘give it a shot’. That said, if we abandoned them completely we’d be missing out on the amazing social experiment that they’re already in the process of completing. How far are these applicants willing to go?
THE EDUCATION REFORM – The Magic of Change? If you asked any child worth their salt whether they would like to attend school at Hogwarts, 99.99% would reply with a fairly definitive “yes”. Regretfully in this world, our world, there aren’t any magical wands and ‘expelliarmus’ is not part of the typical vocabulary. Christopher Pyne, however, could well be the modern day incarnation of J.K Rowling’s own Dolores Umbridge. Does he wear pink? No. Does he have a passion for feline memorabilia... possibly? Does he have plans for a serious overhaul of the National Curriculum in Australia? Yes. Comments reported by Fairfax media earlier this year suggested an intention of the Education Minister to implement significant changes within the National School Curriculum. The National Curriculum provides the blueprint from which schools must draw their teaching content. This means that while faculties have certain options if they wish to select different topics for a subject like history, all topics have the same required learning outcomes that must be achieved. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (yep, it’s a mouthful) is responsible for the current curriculums in both primary and secondary schools throughout Australia. The current curriculum is a result of four years consultation and consolidation by a number of educators and professionals from varying backgrounds. In contrast, Mr Pyne initially indicated a decision to only engage two professionals, Dr Donnelly and Dr Wiltshire as the primary points of reference for the review. This, understandably, sparked a backlash of educators, who called it an arrogant move that showed contempt for the current systems in place and for the importance of impartiality when making decisions of national importance. Fortunately however all this appears to have been somewhat rectified, with recent comments from Whiltshire suggesting that a more comprehensive inclusion of the wider education community will occur. Pyne will be encouraging submissions and consultations from a diverse range of educators and policy experts over the course of the review. However the process by which these changes are being brought about continues to raise some important questions.
The two chief reviewers, and Pyne himself, will retain the ultimate decision making power in the review. At first glance, the two men charged with delivering recommendations to the Coalition come with the appropriate credentials. Dr Wiltshire is a professor at the University of Queensland Business School and also a member of the Institute of Public Administration Australia. Dr Donnelly has taught high school English in Victoria for nearly two decades and has been vocal about Australia’s lagging education standards for a number of years. He is the current director and founder of the Melbourne based Education Standards Institute (ESI), which preaches the values of education based on standards, equity, diversity and choice.
It is no secret that Australia’s educational prowess has slumped significantly in recent years, especially when compared to certain Asian and European nations. The drop in specific subjects, most notably Maths and Science, certainly warrants investigation. Yet the desire to implement a greater focus upon the more traditional ‘Western values’ within our society which the Abbott ministry has displayed recently warrants scepticism. One can only hope that when Mr Pyne next waves his magical pen, it is done with the intention of improving the content and diversity within the curriculum, and not to wax lyrical over the historic events that he deems to be of importance.
However a casual second glance uncovers a distinct conservative leaning in both men. An article in The Australian written by Whiltshire in 2010, which called for all independents to support the Coalition at the 2010 federal election, would suggest he was less politically neutral than some of his more recent articles would have you believe. Similarly, a quick glance at Donnelly’s online opinion profile would suggest anything but the ‘diversity’ which the ESI preaches. Catchy titles like “Celebrating our Western tradition” and “Going going Gonski” run riot throughout the 400 articles he has written. In another article for ABC’s The Drum he declared, “Multiculturalism is based on the mistaken belief that all cultures are of equal worth and that it is unfair to discriminate and argue that some practices are wrong.” That sounds like a man all about diversity. These sentiments seem to be a running trend in Pyne’s education vision. At a previous press conference, Mr Pyne expressed a wish to further recognise events such as ANZAC day and similar Australian legacies in the curriculum. Of course, it is important to cover these events. They are significant turning points within our society. However, even though our society has come a long way since the days of Captain Cook, events within the national curriculum cannot be simply sugar coated to satisfy Western palettes. The Stolen Generation and Port Arthur massacre, as terrible as they were, provide invaluable points of reference when explaining the social and legal affairs that have transpired since.
Picture by Elisa Thompson
by Angus Sargent
NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES by Eric Blair
You may be asking what does a Harry Potter prophecy have to do with progressive politics? It’s simple really. The Australian Labor Party and the Greens have over the past few years been two parties involved in one of the most passive aggressive (and sometimes outright aggressive) war ever fought – one full of secret tactics and snide remarks about the ‘old parties’. This war is for the right to be called the progressive party in Australian politics. The Greens ran their campaign for the 2013 federal election around the idea of ‘standing up for what matters,’ and to any progressive, that’s exactly what they are doing. They have a platform of compassion for asylum seekers, marriage equality, investing in education, and clean energy. Who wouldn’t like the sound of that? I’ll tell you who loves it – disengaged progressives and would-be Labor members and voters. The Greens are able to campaign on these issues and not worry immediately about the practicality of delivering on them – simply because they are a minor party with almost no chance of forming outright government. In the process, they are appealing to ideological voters that would ordinarily vote for the progressive party of choice – the Australian Labor Party. This is not new. In fact, their political strategy in the 2000s was dependent on deposing Labor Party MPs to acquire votes. In the past half-decade we’ve seen the Greens’ membership rise while the ALP membership has dropped nationwide. Now, while this may not seem significant, if more progressives flock to the Greens it is likely to have a profound effects for the ALP and the future of progressive politics in Australia. Unless they achieve another hung parliament, the Greens ability to influence the legislative agenda is likely to be limited in the future, marginalising their progressive voters. However, by the time support swings back to the ALP, the nature of Australian politics might have irreversibly been changed, leaving very little room for true progressive policies. The longer this continues, the more and more likely it becomes that we will see an entire
ideological shift to the right in Australian politics. This is because with every vote the Greens take from the left, the Labor Party needs to get one more from the right. This leads Australia away from more progressive reformist social policies such as humane onshore processing, and towards hard-line policies such as the PNG solution. This then forces the Liberal Party to go even further right to make up for the votes that the ALP have poached from the centre-right – a prime example of which being the oneupmanship regarding asylum seeker policies at the last election.
WHAT DOES A HARRY POTTER PROPHECY HAVE TO DO WITH PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? The internal effect of the Greens’ growth upon the ALP is equally profound. As the Greens’ party membership grows, naturally the left faction of the ALP will decline. The left faction, having been the champion of socially progressive values – gender equality, LGBT rights, environmentalism, and reconciliation and land rights among many others – may no longer be able to put up an internal fight for the progressive heart of the ALP with withering membership numbers. This would not only result in the ALP membership pushing to the right for votes, but a long-term ideological shift to the right within the party. A potent example of this shift occurred on December 3rd 2011. The ALP national conference decided to amend the party platform to support a conscience vote on marriage equality instead of changing
the platform to endorse amending the Marriage Act directly. The count went the way of the conscience vote, 208 votes to 184. If the left faction (who supported changing the platform altogether) had more members, Australia would have had marriage equality today. Now, am I suggesting that the Greens are some evil collection of people who hate muggles? Am I suggesting that the ALP should attack and discredit the Greens until their members come back to the party? Of course not. In recent years, the Greens have been acting as the moral compass of progressive politics. They have kept progressive issues in the limelight and provided a strong outlet for the progressive side of politics. But this progressive moral compass has almost no way of effectively changing policy unless the Greens are blessed with another hung Parliament. If left-wing politics were to have a viable future in Australia, the ALP would need to reclaim the progressive moral compass, fight for progressive issues, and win back these lost members by truly starting to act like the progressive party. In the past the Labor Party has been the stalwart for progressives – creating strong legislation such as Medicare, free tertiary education, and the Racial Discrimination, Sex Discrimination and Native Title Acts. If the Labor Party wants to maintain its historic platform of progressive change, the Labor Party needs to reclaim the left, and bring back those 9,500 politically-minded lefties to the Party. If they fail to do so, the Greens will continue to annex the left of the ALP, to draw away progressive members from the ALP, and still won’t have the ability to govern. This will limit the opportunity for progressive change within the Labor Party and leave it up to the conservatives to legislate while progressives are resigned to shouting from the sideline.
A Climate Survival Guide in a Liberal Australia In case you missed it, things are looking grim for Australian action against climate change. The Liberal government’s banishment of the science portfolio from the front bench and mandate to repeal the Carbon Tax has the situation looking (in the eloquent words of our former PM and cool dad KRudd) “just f*ckin’ hopeless” on the international stage. When partnered with the recent op-ed by Maurice Newman (the chair of Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council), which claims that Australia has “become hostage to climate change madness,” the situation is abominable. No longer is it safe to walk the streets in winter and say ‘gee it’s a bit chilly here’ without fear that you’ll spark a deeply unasked for chat with a climate sceptic. So here, dear reader, is your guide to survival in post-2013 Australia. After trawling far and near, here are some of the seemingly stronger arguments to be found against climate science and some handy ready-made rebuttals. Argument 1: During the 9th-14th centuries there was a Medieval Warm Period in which many regions saw temperatures increase to levels above those we see today. In the aftermath, the Earth experienced a Little Ice Age where global temperatures cooled. Climatologist Roy Spencer insists that today’s Modern Warm Period is not significantly different or unusual, and can be counted upon to naturally balance itself as has happened before. Response: Comparing the Medieval Warm Period to current climate change is kind of like comparing Clive Palmer to Beyoncé. The medieval warm period was caused by a series of known causes, such as high levels of solar radiation and a change in oceanic current patterns, patterns which are not present currently and as such cannot explain current warming. The medieval warming was actually mostly only a local effect in the North Atlantic (where western people lived, so we give it undue weight in historical records) and global temperatures during this medieval warm period were still cooler than current temperatures, at their highest point only reaching the global mean temperatures that we experienced in the 90s. Argument 2: Human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not the cause; we are far from certain that the oceans, volcanoes, clouds, glaciers or biosphere are not responsible
for climate change. Even increased solar fluctuations or cosmic rays could be to blame. These natural variations affect the weather in ways we do not fully understand and, relatively, the human contribution is negligible.
with LSD. For example urban heat islands have been comprehensively studied and factored in to calculations since before the 1990s, and their effect is orders of magnitude smaller than the global warming effect being observed currently.
Response: This is the kind of mystical ineffable climate bollocks that we might have had to put up with in the 1960s, but not anymore. Understandings of the climate system have improved in leaps and bounds. The climate system is complex and full of uncertainty, but it is bounded uncertainty. We can concretely measure the regular fluctuations in solar radiation, they change on a predictable 11 year cycle, and even if they were somehow magically to blame for the entire past 50 years their variation could only account for at most 10% of the warming. Oceans are incredibly important for climate change, but measurements suggest that they currently actually absorb carbon dioxide, not produce it. All of the features mentioned have climatic effects, but they are not a mystical inscrutable Pandora’s Box. They are all understood at least to the degree that we can be almost certain that they are not the dominant causes of current climate change.
Argument 4: Many argue that the rising levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are a result, not a cause, of climate change. Previous analysis of Antarctic ice core samples has found evidence that CO2 increases follow rising temperatures, not the other way round.
Argument 3: Climate change data is flawed. It has been inaccurately recorded, selected, analysed and extrapolated. Stations located in populated areas are victims of the ‘urban heat island effect’ where the increased heat and CO2 generated by cities
Response: It is true that ice core data suggests that CO2 level rise typically lags slightly behind temperature rise. This is because there are many global processes which can cause initial spikes of global warming, often changes in the orbital pattern of the earth, and it is usually one of these causes which triggers a warming trend. Once the warming trend begins, however, it triggers a complex set of feedback systems that cause CO2 to be released (for example a warmer ocean starts to release CO2 into the atmosphere rather than store it). This CO2 triggers further warming and is then the major driver of the continued warming. Saying that CO2 feedbacks have no effect just because they come along after the initial warming has started is kind of like saying that Miley’s twerking has nothing to do with her current infamy, because, after all, Hannah Montana came first.
produces inaccurate data. Future predictions are merely poor, unreliable guesses; after all, the weatherman guaranteed today would be 36ºC, when in fact it peaked at 34ºC. If they can’t accurately predict the weather for the next 24 hours, how can they pretend to know the global climate in 100 years? Response: This makes the age-old mistake of confusing “climate” with “weather”. Climate refers to long term, global trends in weather. Weather refers to rain and stuff. It is actually much easier to say whether one decade will be warmer than the other globally, than to say which suburb in your home town will get rain next week. The inaccuracy of climatic data would be serious concern, had not it already been subject to perhaps the greatest scrutiny of any scientific enterprise since when that guy was first ‘experimenting’
Picture by Kate Prendergast
by Samuel J. Cox and Hamish Hobbs
QUEER CINEMA NEEDS TO MOVE ON, AND GIRL - YOU BETTER WORK. by Mason Rothwell
‘You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t’ - few phrases are more applicable than these when it comes to queer themes in cinema. What was once an incredibly progressive movement has in recent years become stagnant and unable to strike a balance when it comes to representing the members of its community. Examining the genre itself is fraught with difficulty, as it has emerged as a reaction, from the need for a whole section on the fringe of society to express gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, and all other non-traditional forms of identity and sexuality. The key point here is that one has to at all times consider: what is it exactly that each individual film is attempting to accomplish?
themes prominently is an essential step in not only furthering equal representation in general, but also in furthering the development of queer cinema as a movement. Gender and sexual minorities are no longer entirely unrepresented in the mainstream yes, they are often still relegated to side-characters as best friends or acquaintances, but the important thing is that they have begun to come to the fore. Explorations of fluid sexuality have been seen in hits such as Black Swan, even if the nature of challenging
heternormativity is still considered ‘edgy’ and reserved for psychological thrillers. The original purpose of queer cinema has somewhat been fulfilled. Yet the movement is still alive and kicking. As a genre that emerged with such a defined purpose, what is the current aim of the auteurs that continue to drive it, and how does it now differ from mainstream cinema? What’s different?
Queer cinema, however, has remained a niche genre. Tell me - how many major films in the last ten years have featured queer characters in headlining roles? Or portrayed a queer relationship with lead roles that was just as valid as any other? Examining why so few major motion pictures tackle queer
Picture by Tamara Jennings
The ‘New Queer Cinema’ movement first emerged in the early 1990s as LGBTQI creatives began to really look at major blockbusters, primetime television and New York Times bestsellers and simply couldn’t find themselves. Needing to represent themselves, a whole subgenre emerged in which non-traditional sexuality was explicit, normal, and most importantly of all unapologetic. It emerged with a purpose and that was simply to put queer characters on the screen.
The difference, quite simply, comes down to sex. In mainstream cinema the acceptance of queer themes has not grown at a uniform rate - romance has become far more easily portrayed than the nitty-gritty physical side of what that implies. It is not uncommon to find canonical gay or transgender characters in films without a hint of same-sex physical affection while other traditional relationships receive steamy-as-all-hell sex scenes, flirtation, and climactic reunion smooches. Gay relationships tend on the whole to be stripped down to something more palatable to conservative members of the audience or ratings administrations. G.B.F., a teen comedy film released last year in America, received an R-rating despite no nudity, profanity or mature themes. The film did, however, feature numerous scenes of malemale first-base action. The portrayal of non-traditional sexuality without any sense of martyrdom (an image the queer community is making an effort to distance themselves from) continues to draw controversy. To avoid limiting audience bases with unusually harsh age-ratings or offending conservative advertisers/audiences, films that present queer themes often choose to bleach queer characters to clean up their act. The result is that major relationships in which any romantic entanglement is implied are relegated off-screen and trans characters that simply do not engage in meaningful relationships (or worse, trans characters who, when graced with a sexuality in addition to their gender identity, are mined as the source of a comedy of errors). The introduction of queer voices in the mainstream has undoubtedly well and truly begun. Unfortunately, the growth of tokenism has lead to insulting ‘lip service’ queer portrayal in which queer characters are ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’-rare or are only revealed to be queer by writers or actors well past the film’s premiere. The last part is often the most insulting, as it is the erasure of the identity of gay and trans individuals masquerading as equality.
This leads to my criticism of current queer cinema: as a reaction to hurdles in mainstream cinema, it has developed a trend towards limiting itself by reducing its characters to sexual props. When the movement first emerged, directors were able to portray onscreen the elephant in the room straight people know gay people have sex, they just chose to ignore it. B. Ruby Rich, one of the first scholars of the field, brought to light how profitable areas of film methodically erased what everyone knew was going on anyway. Directors were able to explore this area without any fear of audience backlash or financial difficulties - the fact that these films were going to throw gay sex and people transitioning in your face is the entire point. If you didn’t like it, you were politely told to fuck off and go watch Four Weddings & a Funeral.
THE DIFFERENCE, QUITE SIMPLY, COMES DOWN TO SEX. A trend emerged in queer cinema to amplify sexuality, putting it front and centre the way mainstream cinema refused to. Consider 1999’s But I’m a Cheerleader, the Eating Out series, or even the earlier Poison, from 1991. Unfortunately, this is a trend that has outgrown its purpose - we’ve come a long way in 2014 with equal representation. Films in the genre that amplify sexuality often find themselves self-limiting as they reduce their main characters, the heart and soul of the body of work, to sexual props. Sexual drive (or lack thereof, i.e. grey asexuals) is undeniably an integral part of the human condition but is by no means the entirety of it. Many queer films
have failed to strike the right balance between washed-out representation in mainstream cinema and the alienation and hypersexuality of the past. In the end the characters of these films fail to come across as three-dimensional. But I’m a Cheerleader follows a lesbian forced into gay conversion therapy (played for laughs as it’s run by, of all people, RuPaul). With its dollhouse pink-and-blue aesthetic the film looks promising in how it will break down gender barriers and sexual fluidity, but falls short as only its female lead shows any depth. In each scene featuring anyone but protagonist, the other students at the camp bite their lips, ogle, and perform subconscious erotic movements. These characters fail to be sympathetic or relatable - and how could they be when they’re just walking, talking vessels of sexual desire? The potential queer cinema holds is vast. In a time where mainstream cinema is still struggling with equal representation, a subgenre that is able to strike the right balance between romance and unapologetic sexual desire has the ability to represent real people, and not the cardboard cutouts that early queer cinema was so excited to deliver. However, there is a lot of work to be done. Mainstream cinema needs to let loose and stop turning its nose up at positive three-dimensional queer characters - let these characters be sexual beings with agency without painting them as martyrs to use their struggle to win Oscar nominations. The audience aren’t idiots - they know what gay people do in the bedroom (or in certain places on-campus). On the other hand, queer cinema needs to let the past go. Let these characters have depth and desires and moral qualms that don’t entirely correspond to their status as queers. New Queer Cinema should push through with a new agenda for the future: retain the unapologetic and explicit positive qualities established already by the films that are its legacy, but broaden its potential audience. The genre emerged out of a desire to represent the individuals within its community, and now it’s time to represent them as real people.
12 Years a Slave Director: Steve McQueen Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyongo’o, Michael Fassbender Prior to last year, slavery had largely been ignored in the realm of film: the few films around ranged from the ignorant (Gone with the Wind) to the apologetic (Amazing Grace). In contrast, 12 Years a Slave’s screenplay manages to simultaneously convey both the eloquence and honest directness of Solomon Northup’s original true account of his kidnapping and it’s in that directness that the film succeeds the most. This frankness and lack of preconceptions made Shoah the most important film about the Holocaust and it’s to McQueen’s credit that his stylish directing does not lessen the film but in
Dallas Buyers Club Director: Jean-Marc Vallée Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner A hard partying Texan contracting HIV in the ‘80s (Matthew McConaughey) begins smuggling drugs unapproved by the FDA across the border to treat his illness, opening a clinic for the community. Teaming up with a drag queen (Jared Leto), the two provide an unexpectedly beautiful chemistry. Combined with Jean-Marc Vallée’s killer eye for shooting, framing and cutting, Dallas Buyers Club is one of the best films of 2013.
fact complements it. His nature shots of sunsets and cotton worms are as beautiful as anything Terrence Malick’s ever filmed and serve the more important function of giving the audience time to breathe. Hans Zimmer’s score is the perfect accompaniment, evidenced in particular by an extended shot of the water as the boat carrying Solomon leaves, to the sound of thundering drums, beating home the implications of its departure. Astoundingly some critics have called 12 Years sado-pornographic in its unflinching depiction of legalised cruelty, almost as though this weren’t exactly as things were. In lingering on every little detail, every drop of blood from Epp’s whip, McQueen’s camera effectively captures the way people were reified as commodities; Solomon learns to hide his intellect because to them he is simply labour and anything else incites prejudice. The long take of the hanging scene, for instance, and the contrast with the everyday of children playing nearby demonstrates the constant and casual violence of slavery in the most powerful and provocative way.
Heart wrenching, moving and at times darkly funny, Vallée steers the film like a master for the first two acts, running a tight ship of what is a rather winding narrative. By the third act the pace slows but the characters are so richly built that it’s hard to even notice. There are some funky, jarring CGI planes in a travel montage or two, but besides that all the effects are done the good old fashioned way in camera, and are richer for it. McConaughey gives the performance of his career here making a homophobe-cumchampion of the people deeply empathetic; the cowboy without a cause finds one in his unlikely death sentence, and there’s more than one gorgeous, deeply symbolic scene that does absolutely nothing for the plot. This sort of art-cinema sensibility with grade-A performances is the sort that will definitely see Vallée, whose last film was the sleeper hit Café de Flore, generate a lot more attention and wide-scale prestige.
Despite their objectification, the humanity given to their characters by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o (as Solomon and fellow slave Patsy) is unmistakable; they make the film what it is and it made me erupt in laughter afterwards to remember that Jennifer Lawrence won the Golden Globe ahead of Lupita. Even the tiniest superficially kind gesture on the part of the white slavers is coupled with sinister undertones: the fact that this suffering is happening due to them is always present, no matter how they treat their slaves. As Patsy replies to Solomon’s claim that their owner Ford is a good man under the circumstances, “Under the circumstances, he is a slaver”. Truthfully, 12 Years a Slave left me more disquieted and shaken than any experience I’ve had in a cinema, just as it’s left an irresponsible and wilfully ignorant cinematic history shaken. 5/5 James Munt
Not to be outdone, Jared Leto gives one of the most convincing drag queen performances film has ever seen, and shows far better Method-acting chops than he’s ever shown Musicianship. While his previous outings on the screen have set him as a “pretty good minor-supporting role” character, this is head and shoulders above all else, and it would be highly surprising if we didn’t see him only build upwards from here. Much as McConaughey has proven he can dominate a character study film, Leto is showing the world he is more than ready for one himself. Dallas Buyers Club has a list of accolades longer than your arm for a very good reason, and despite its hideously late release here in Australia, has been worth the weight. See this film. 4.5/5 Simon Donnes
questions: why did he stop writing? has he wasted his talent? doesn’t he feel old?
La grande bellezza Director: Paolo Sorrentino Starring: Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Verdone Watching La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), you’ll spend a lot of time wondering whether you are dreaming. Such is the hallucinatory nature of Paolo Sorrentino’s film, the leading contender for this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar. Bellezza follows erstwhile-writer Jep Gambardella (Servillo) as he aimlessly meanders his way through Rome, taking in a series of surreal parties, joyless sexual encounters, and frankly bizarre art installations. Jep wrote a groundbreaking novella in his 20s but hasn’t written anything significant since, and now he’s turning 65. He is constantly hounded by
Her Director: Spike Jonze Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams Spike Jonze is one of the most arresting filmmakers working today, developing exciting pieces of cinematic art focusing on main characters who rebel against the worlds in which they have been placed. His experience in directing the insta-classics Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, as well as the troubled-yet-gorgeously-brilliant Where the Wild Things Are, has led Jonze to his most recent film, the lovely Her. Her centres on Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) living in a future version of LA, featuring a whole new skyline (Tokyo, as LA stand-in) and retrotastic
Jep spends his free time (and he does have a lot of it) hosting dinners and attending parties with his circle of aging intelligentsia friends. A frustratingly large portion of the movie is spent watching them talk utter shit, ranging from the merits of Marxism to the nature of true beauty. Jep receives news that his first true love has died and realizing that he has limited time left, starts to reflect more seriously on his life and that nagging sense of unfulfillment. Along the way he meets Ramona (Ferilli), a stripper the wrong side of 40, and mentors her in Rome’s rich cultural tapestry. You can probably guess the rest. Sorrentino is preaching some fairly repetitive ‘truths’ here: life is short, appreciate the time you have, physical beauty will never last, blah blah blah. And yet, familiar as these themes are, Bellezza just about manages to pull it off without it all seeming pretentious. Sorrentino is really helped by his cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, who provides some gorgeous shots of Rome’s fashions involving high-waists, moustaches and severe lack of collars. Having recently been divorced by his wife (Rooney Mara, seen mostly through speechless flashbacks), and feeling particularly uninspired at work, he decides to purchase the brand new artificially intelligent OS who, after a lengthy installation process, calls herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) and they eventually fall in love. Their first date in particular is quite amazing, as she guides him around a fairground with his eyes shut, highlighting the incredible blend of romance, drama, comedy and science fiction that Jonze has expertly directed and written himself. This film is simply a delight to watch. From top to bottom, these characters live in a wholly realised world; one that is captured with stunning cinematography, costume design, and subtlety-nuanced acting. Phoenix and Johansson are superb, imbibing their characters with humour that never allows the script to become melodramatic or ridiculous. All supporting characters are well fleshed out with the same kind of subtle acting provided by the main characters, in particular Chris Pratt and Amy Adams,
cityscape, offering a stark contrast to its vain and superficial inhabitants. Woody Allen’s attempt to romanticize the city in To Rome with Love looks weak in comparison. The characters are fleshed-out and well acted, too. Servillo in particular is great in the lead role, keeping Jep likeable while still playing the asshole antihero. At times his wellmanicured visage appears almost statuesque, blending into the Roman surroundings as if he were a part of the city. The supporting roles are similarly compelling, with Giovanna Vignola in particular hilarious as Jep’s sagacious editor Dadina. All things considered La grande bellezza is a strange-ass movie. There are several plot twists with minimal explanation, and a number of scenes push the boundaries of believability. However, Sorrentino knows how to throw a good shindig (Jep’s 65th B-Day is the definition of OTT), and his film is an engaging meditation on art, aging and the meaning of beauty. 3/5 Matt Green and the score (composed by members of Arcade Fire) is gorgeous and very appropriate throughout. One caveat, although not a negative, is that the film is particularly creepy. Throughout the film, there are numerous shots of people talking to their OS’ (which look as though they are talking to themselves), providing noticeably unsettling visuals. In addition, Theodore lives a rather creepy life, being employed to write personal, handwritten love letters to people in relationships he has known for years. And remember, the plot is about the love between a man and his artificially intelligent operating system, which is pretty freaking creepy when you think about it. His attempted date with actual-human Olivia Wilde only serves to highlight how isolated Theodore really is. However, despite all this, the weirdness actually enhances the romance between Theodore and Samantha, resulting in a breathtaking film, and one of the best love stories you’ll see in a long time. 4/5 Benjamin Crocker
CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS As the 71st Golden Globes commended Woody Allen with a Lifetime Achievement award, Mia and Ronan Farrow took to twitter to denounce his alleged molestation of a 7 year old Dylan Farrow, and the media and cinephiles alike either quickly denounced his work and their decision to give him the award, or attempted to justify their admiration. To suggest one shouldn’t like Woody Allen films because of these allegations, which do seem to have a pretty solid basis, does a disservice to others involved in his work: for instance, the work of Blue Jasmine lead Cate Blanchett. Even amongst auteur-driven films you can’t put absolutely everything up to the director, and it’d be unfair on, say, the Ronettes to avoid their work because it was produced and written by Phil Spector. Reactions, I think, should largely depend on how much what they’re accused of proliferates into their work; for example, I can’t stand watching Fitzcarraldo, seeing Herzog cutting down prehistoric trees with roots 15 ft across, and because of what I’d read about how he’d treated his indigenous extras. On the other hand, I can watch Polanski films without thinking about him personally, although I know people that cannot. I can’t see any reason though to denounce people who enjoy art on its own terms, as long as the morally deplorable thing in question isn’t reflected in it. If the question is applied to Allen’s work, you do find some instances that seem both exploitative and troubling, such as the almost compulsive frequency of child molester jokes in his stand-up. It seems outright irresponsible to resist an autobiographical reading of Manhattan or Husbands and Wives, where Allen plays a very old man in an affair with a teenager (the latter filmed amidst the scandal of his leaving Mia Farrow, who plays his wife in the film, for her 20 year old adopted daughter Soon-Yi, who he had been the adopted father of for some years before that). What’s more, in later films Whatever Works and Blue Jasmine the same all-too-creepy plot point reappears with Larry David and Alec Baldwin, respectively, as the older man. Having said this, I do think people have the creative capacity to enjoy the good and
condemn the bad in a piece of art, and for me, a film like Manhattan is more than a disturbing thematic recurrence in Allen’s work. Whilst most of his films do not seem troubling in this way, it is not surprising that it effectively soured interest in him for some people. It doesn’t seem tenable to ban Allen from filmmaking from either a practical or judicial sense, since he hasn’t actually been found guilty (though he was denied visitation rights and an appellate court sided with Mia Farrow’s side of events). Still, whether or not you agree he’s out of his creative slump, it’s hard to deny he’s still one of the most in-demand directors in Hollywood, and it’s really depressing that with such a diverse and deserving range of talent available, all its demand is going to a likely child molester and just generally creepy guy. It’s important to ask whether by consuming their art you’re contributing to the harm in question. This is simpler with someone like Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), whose work not only has homophobic overtones but the revenue for which recently went to fund anti-same-sex-marriage organisations. In the case of Woody Allen, surely if he is guilty, having the issue effectively forgotten by the public consciousness is a huge slap in the face for Dylan Farrow. Advertently or not, by being a fan or by paying for their work, you become complicit in their power and influence, if only slightly, and I think for that reason, doing so is not as simple as some might suppose, rather something people should honestly consider for themselves if they enjoy their work. When it comes to the Golden Globes committee that gave him the award, frankly, they could have easily avoided all this by giving it to someone else. I find it easy to judge a film’s nomination on its own terms but a general Lifetime Achievement award seems like such a
simple way to conflate the person’s work with the person themselves - as the committee did, with Allen’s friend Diane Keaton literally singing his praises on-stage. At least now people are talking about it again instead of ignoring it as the media has done in their reception of films like Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. Any celebration of his films should be coupled with the understanding that he’s probably not the kind of person we should be celebrating, lest we end up with the industry’s ostensibly collective ignorance of his personal life and the kind of embarrassing spectacle that leads to, such as his Lifetime Achievement award.
Picture by Yashi Renoir
by James Munt
ARTS REVIEWS FLOOD Black Swan State Theatre Company By Emily Foyster Flood was a performance that will forever haunt me. Performed in the Studio Underground of the State Theatre Centre, the small space provided an intimate view into the minds of the six young adult friends that I came to know for an emotionally intense 70 minutes. At first glance the plot hardly seems innovative; a carefree, and wildly overconfident group of twentysomethings go camping in the Kimberley. What they anticipate to be the ‘summer of their lives’ quickly turns into a nightmare. The friends are torn out of their naked carefree state by a moment of confusion and misunderstanding. A confrontation, a murder, the beautiful ones are damned. The group decide to keep the event a secret and bury the evidence, but at what cost? SMACKDOWN NOT BACKIN’ DOWN By Daniel Werndly The pervasive heat Perth summer couldn’t stop cool local acts Ensemble Formidable, The Hammer Nine, and The Darling Buds of May and legendary Adelaide swing kings, The Lucky Seven from battling in out at the annual, Summer Swing Smackdown. Held on the 18 January at the State Theatre, a boxing-like match ensured with bands playing song for song. A dance group accompanied each band, The Flying Purple People Eaters cutting the rug for Ensemble Formidable, The Hammer Jammers lighting up the floor for The Hammer Nine, Green Eggs and Jam swayed to the tunes of The Darling Buds of May and the brilliant Vivienne Marlow illuminated the crowd with her performance to the sweetness of The Lucky Seven. The winners of the night were determined by the number of donations they received
What gave an impressive amount of depth to an overdone storyline was that man who was murdered be Indigenous. The play brings into question the notion of implicit racial bias from the perspective of the six white, privileged young adults. It is questionable if the outcome of the confrontation would have been the same had the man not been Indigenous. The play however, raises more questions than it answers. This was the intent of the Director, Adam Mitchell, who believes it’s “important to continue the conversation” in regards to race relations in Australia. The characters were well developed, with their representations of young people feeling authentic. The characters had that brand of enviable easy friendship with their initial dialogue being quick and funny, before taking a dark turn as the play progresses. Each
in their designated box. This made for an energetic and playful atmosphere where the quality of the music being produced was exceptionally high. The flirtatious shenanigans between the bands, particularly The Darling Buds, The Hammer Nine and the master of ceremonies, Magnus Danger Magnus really gave the night a delicious edge. However public attention was lacking, with the show unable to sell out. Although the crowd was still decent, the general lack of public interest to seek out new experiences put a hamper on the night. Smackdown harboured an atmosphere of inclusion and community, with all in attendance thoroughly enjoying themselves. While the audience needed encouragement at the start to dance, by the end everyone’s feet were moving. One of the greatest moments of the night, and one that I feel epitomises the mission of this production was when The Darling
character’s narration and reaction in different scenarios created a picture of six highly relatable characters who remained unique. The set design was simple but well thought out, with no need for props or costume changes. The stage was built to resemble the rocky earth of the Kimberley and was tiered, allowing the actor’s to move about the stage in interesting ways. The constancy of the earthy stage functioned as a reminder of the tragic event, revealing its inescapability. The initially dry creek bed began to fill slowly as the tension and emotion of the characters rose, as guilt and memories echoed in their minds. The creek eventually served as more than just a metaphor, with the play coming to a dramatic and harrowing end. This left the audience contemplating the ideas presented, and what white privilege meant to them.
Buds were playing a song accompanied by the brass players from the other bands, every dance group moving, and the general audience crowding the floor. Despite space issues, Green Eggs and Ham kept on grooving by moving towards the front. Although the performance scene in Perth isn’t as large as it should be, it is that sense of joviality and community spirit that keeps it alive and happening year after year. At the end of the night The Darling Buds of May took the Smackdown Crown, but the real winner was Perth culture as it locked down another great annual event.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CALI SALES
How would you describe your style of artwork? My style is informed by my interests-the artists and artwork that I admire, what I see around me, etc. Whenever I’m asked to describe it, I usually call it ‘stylized realism.’ I really enjoy painting and drawing things like figures/ people and landscapes. However, that’s not to say that I tie myself down to representing these subjects in a traditional or straightforward sense. I like playing around with texture and pattern, the flattening of space, color and composition. So I guess where the “stylized” bit comes in. What are you trying to communicate via your artwork? Making art is a really emotional and personal process, and I pour a lot of myself into what I make as a result of that. Art itself is a language with which one can communicate certain nuances and feelings that cannot be expressed simply by words. Part of the reason why I make art is to explore and work through feelings, and also to connect with other people who may be feeling the same way. It has always helped me when I find artwork that speaks to me, where I feel a part of myself in what I’m looking at. I think that is a special thing, and if my work has that quality, then I feel successful.
Pictures by Cali Sales
What is it about illustration that appeals to you? While I love making work for myself that caters more to my own narratives, It’s always cool to be able to see a drawing or painting of mine published in a magazine, book or on an album cover. When you’re an illustrator, you’re given the opportunity to collaborate with other talented and creative people like writers, designers and art directors on a regular basis. There’s also lots of different applications for artwork within the world of illustration. I like the idea of using what I love doing to help people, whether that’s to make
a textile design that inspires someone to sew something, or drawing an image to accompany an article that can inform people about an important topic. Plus, there’s a lot less pressure to be so serious with my work, and that’s always a good thing. I have a hard time suppressing the goofy/ comedian side of my personality. At what age did you realize, hey I can draw pictures as a job? Fortunately and unfortunately, I was aware of this fact at a really young age since I grew up around two artists. Both have made careers out of what they love to do, and so it only seemed natural for me to go that route with my love of drawing. Obviously it isn’t the easiest of routes to take, but if you love what you do and you are able to do what you love, the rest seems kind of irrelevant. You graduated from art school in 2012. What do you feel like the benefits of completing an illustration course were? Although I realize that the path to having a successful career is not always paved with college degrees, the experience and skills I gained by going through a rigorous program such as the one I completed at Art Center is completely invaluable. I wouldn’t be where I am today in terms of my ability to think about and execute my concepts without having the experiences that I had at Art Center. I also had many wonderful teachers that were more than willing to share their knowledge and provide mentorship, something else that you can’t always get outside of an academic situation. Where do you draw your inspiration from? When I was younger, books were a major source of inspiration for me. I was kind of a weird kid, the quiet and artsy type, so I of course took up interests that went well with my disposition: reading, exploring nature, and listening to music. The only types of books I ever usually wanted to look at were either non-fiction
(about scientific things, dinosaurs & the different prehistoric time periods, space/ the universe, different kinds of plants and animals) or had some sort of compelling artwork on the cover/ inside. I wasn’t really too concerned with fiction unless it really captured my attention and imagination. I loved nature, and I happened to be surrounded by it where I grew up in central Texas, so I would spend a lot of time out in it exploring and observing. Finally, my father is a musician, and my mother learned how to sew by making clothes for musicians, so I was destined to be a lover of music. Whenever I’m having a hard time coming up with ideas or not feeling motivated to create anything, I can put on music and instantly feel revived and inspired. Do you draw from personal experience? Personal experience always inspires the work I create in one way or another. I don’t usually paint or draw pictures about what is literally going on or has happened in my life because I find that to be pretty boring (when I do it, anyway). I instead incorporate how I’m feeling into the work I produce. I have experienced and dealt with things in my life that make me feel isolated, sad and angry. Instead of lingering on my bad memories or using my experiences as an excuse to wallow, I instead use them to make my work stronger. I feel so fortunate to be able to communicate myself in such a way, because I know that there are a lot of people in the world that deal with the same issues and have been through the same situations that have no outlet to express the way that those issues and experiences make them feel. What is your creative process like? Honestly, I’m still getting to know my creative process. Sometimes I have an idea that I want to make into a drawing or painting, and work from there, but I also will work off of impulse, drawing from whatever I’m feeling at that moment. The things that I see around me or what I’m listening to are also big influences on my
creative process. I learned a lot about structure while at art school and so that has informed how I work throughout my day, but allowing myself a bit of spontaneity amongst that structure helps me to not feel as if I’m being forced to make stuff against my will. Flexibility is extremely important to allow yourself to create your best work. What is your usual day like? I get up, make my morning coffee (I am hopelessly addicted to caffeine), have some time to myself, and then get started on whatever project I’m working on at that moment. I try to vary what my activities are throughout the day so that I don’t go totally crazy, since making art (for me) is a very solitary thing. I break up my work time with taking walks, communicating with friends, reading books/ magazines, watching a movie or TV show that I like, and looking at inspiration. How much do you act on impulse when you are drawing or painting? Do you tend to plan things out? It’s a little bit of both. Like I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot about structure and discipline at Art Center. That was when I really began to plan things out with my work. Before I went to art school I kind of just went with whatever came into my mind and was a lot more impulsive when making art. As a result of that I would often get really frustrated and stuck with my work, because I inevitably wouldn’t know what to do at a certain point with the composition or color. It’s always good to know what you are setting out to achieve at least a little bit before you get completely stuck in to something-that way, if you’re having any issues, you have some sort of guidelines that you can follow to figure out how to make the piece successful. Some of my friends who are artists do multiple pieces at once where I like to finish a piece before moving on. Do
you work on a single piece at any one time or multiple pieces? While I was at school I would be enrolled in at least five courses at once, so whether I liked it or not, I was always working on multiple pieces at one time. While that taught me a lot about time management, I don’t feel like I was always able to create my best work that way. Now that I am out of school, I try to focus on one piece at a time if I can. However, I don’t mind working on a few different projects at once if I’m doing them in different mediums. It also depends on if I’m really having a breakthrough with a piece, too, because if that’s the case, I end up dedicating most of my time to that and I’m not that interested in working on anything else. Of course, with freelance or commissioned work, the case is different. A job is a job, and if I have 3 different assignments going on at once and they all have impending deadlines, I will definitely be multitasking and working on all of them in order to finish them in time. Who and/or what are your biggest influences? My parents are definitely my biggest, as well as my first major influences. They have both lived such inspiring lives. Plus, without them, their encouragement and their understanding of what it means to be creative, I wouldn’t have been able to become the artist that I am today. If you had to pick your favorite artist, who would it be? I have many, but one of my all time favorites is Tamara De Limpicka. I love the way she painted the human form, and I also really like the emotional substance within her work. What do you want people to take from your artwork? I want people to be inspired by my work and to feel something and connect
with the feelings behind it-- that is what inspired and continues to inspire me to be creative and make things. The theme for this edition is ‘The Beautiful and the Damned’. How do you think your artwork relates to these dual concepts? A lot of the subject matter in my work deals with the darker sides of human emotion and the human condition, but presenting it in a calm, peaceful way. Sadness is beautiful. It allows people an opportunity to learn about themselves, and gives them the tools to overcome their hardships, as well as the ability to understand themselves enough to discover and appreciate their happiness once they obtain it. I’m also interested in the issue of pollution and how humans have affected the world around them, as well as how nature has adapted to that and vice versa-- taking something “ugly” or what is perceived to be such and showing the beautiful aspects of it. Duality is an important and overarching theme in life. I enjoy exploring life’s contradictions and feel that the concept this edition is inspired by applies to these ideas that I have mentioned. You’ve drawn pictures for magazines, EP covers and tour posters. How did these opportunities come about? I feel lucky because I have had lots of opportunities come about through my friends. I grew up in a very talented community and made friends with mostly musicians and other artists. I love collaborating on projects, especially when I’m working with other creative people from different disciplines, and especially if they are my friends! One of my best friends is a very talented musician and we work together a lot. When her band, Foreign Mothers, needed art for their LP ‘Duh’, she asked me to come up with an image for the cover. That’s really how I got into making covers and tour posters. Since my dad is also a musician, I try to work with him and his band to make their promotional
artwork. I’ve always been inspired by music, so of course one of my greatest dreams was to be able to work with musicians, making art to accompany their songs. It’s really exciting to be able to do that, and I’m looking forward to future projects related to the music world. Foreign Mothers is coming out with a new LP this year, and I’ll also be doing the artwork for it, so keep your eyes peeled! Do you consider yourself to have a distinctive personal style? Yes, but then again I believe that everyone has their own distinctive style. Even those who try to copy the work of other artists can’t help but show their hand in what they do. What do you consider the hardest thing about being an artist?
Taking yourself and your work too seriously, being easily offended/attached to your work. Also being isolated for long periods of time. Oh, and let’s not forget being a perfectionist! What have been some of your biggest challenges to date? Moving to NYC and basically starting over in my life. It’s easy to feel totally lost and directionless, but the less I focus on feeling that way and the more I focus on positivity and doing what I enjoy, the more my path will begin to clear and become visible again. What was the highlight of 2013? I know this seems contradictory to my response to one of the previous questions asked, but my answer is definitely moving to NYC and having the ability to start a
new life in a new city. Even though change is difficult, it also brings about new opportunities and allows for immense growth. 2013 was also a good year in terms of my work getting exposure in various ways, like being posted on the Juxtapoz blog and having my artwork selected by American Illustration to be a part of their online archive. What are your future goals or plans? To keep creating and pushing the boundaries of what I can achieve, getting to work with other creative people in the art and design world, and collaborating with more musicians/bands and somehow finding my way into the fashion world (whether it be through clothing design, textile design, fashion illustration, or all of the above).
THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF by Lauren Wiszniewski
Beautiful. Damned. The Old Maid and The Thief is the tale of twisted morals and evil womanly powers. The first full-length English opera to be included in the Fringe Festival lineup, the piece is sure to captivate and engage it’s live audience. Written in 1939 by Gian Carlo Menotti for NBC Radio, it was later adapted so that it could be performed on stage. A quirky comedy, Menotti writes in the libretto, “ The devil couldn’t do what a woman can-make a thief out an honest man,” with Miss Todd, a local busybody, and her maid Laetitia competing for the affection of a handsome wanderer who they mistake for a crook. Fixating on small town secrets and the lies we tell to keep others close, it is a tale consisting of characters that everyone can relate to. Directed by Kathryn Osborne, a founding member of company The Last Great Hunt (a group of young theatre makers that have joined forces to advance the cause of independent theatre in Perth), the show is sure to have a unique voice. This is Osborne’s first time directing an Opera despite coming from a devised theatre background meaning that she can bring techniques and methods from other genres into the mix. However Osborne also notes, “It’s all in the text…the women address the audience with their emotions. All of this feeling is embedded in it (the opera).” Copyright laws allow no diversion from the original text, yet staging is up to those performing and so Osborne takes full reign. When asked how she felt about staging an opera that was first intended for radio she answers, “(I) did some research on previous staging and a lot of people had decided to stage it like a radio show, with characters acting as actors, however we decided to take a different direction and make it more visual.” Assisted by
Lochlan Brown (Musical Direction), and Philippa Nilant and Sally Phipps (Set and Costume Design), Osborne is using her creative freedom to make the place her vision. Using 30s style with a contemporary edge in design, there will be big patterns, 40s style signs and big, blue velvet curtains.
TALE OF TWISTED MORALS AND EVIL WOMANLY POWERS The opera is originally set in America and while this is not specifically mentioned in the text, Menottii turned to American subjects in small towns in order to create an ‘American’ opera. Osborne’s opinion on this matter is, “it doesn’t actually feel American, it just feels like a town, an old small town… we’re not really setting it anywhere but here, we’re going more for the tone and fashion and the design and that sort of thing that anyone could relate to at the time.” Most notable is that the performers will sing in their natural voices, with audiences not having to fear what constitutes an American accent in Australia. It is rather time more over place that is having the biggest impact on audience perception. Osborne states that she has to put her feminist ideologies aside as, “it was written in the late 30s so there are a lot of sexist statements…I find it really absurd that these women are going so far to impress a man.” Seemingly then the audience must juxtaposition the priorities of a woman in the 21st century opposed to the 30s, and see how time has aged the jokes.
These women feel trapped and therefore are looking for a way out, supposedly finding that way out in a handsome bohemian. To Osborne, “the beautiful and the dammed are the same thing. These women are lured are lured by a false beauty. They are damned and become everything they hate, at the beginning of the piece they have very clear morals but they begin breaking these morals to get him (the wanderer) to stay.” The melodrama of the piece maintains the Italian tradition of melodrama and sentimentality despite being in English. Big characters in big situations are singing their way into your heart with the main advantage being that you can understand them. There is no need for subtitles, with the piece becoming more accessible for people who don’t normally go to the opera. Additionally the piece is a chamber opera meaning that it runs for approximately one hour, much shorter than it’s Italian relatives. Yet it remains directed by voice with soaring arias and heart-wrenching agony. The opera runs from the 20th until the 22nd of February in Perth Town Hall as a part of the Fringe line-up. Why should you take the chance on going? Because this opera is sure to please with it’s quirky comedic timing and entertaining premise. Sometimes you just need to chance a chance with Osborne believing, “Fringe is about a time where people take the risk, at Fringe you are more likely just to walk into something and say I have no idea what this is going to be, it may be shit but you are going to take a chance with it.” Fringe is a melted pot of new and old; transforming old art forms into something unique yet accessible for the average person. It is important to invest in Perth’s cultural scene before we become permanently known as ‘Dullsville’ and make sure that Fringe keeps on running year after year.
THE RAP GAME CRAZY / YOU’RE A GOOD MAN DANNY BROWN by Simon Donnes
Success is the currency of hip-hop, and memory fails thinking of a time when it wasn’t. From the Eazy-E’s of the 80s fighting over who was the realest G, to Lil Wayne and Chief Keef caught in a luxury car arms race, some things never change. Whatever the measure of success, it’s seen as a zero-sum game: to merely be good at something is worthless if everyone else is too. While this makes sense if one has no internal system of reward, such as the satisfaction of actually being the best, the extent to which rappers fixate on being the most successful has been a consistent line of criticism from those not a fan of the genre. It’s easy for your Mum and Dad to hear Kanye West call his new album Yeezus, dismiss him and move on. Much as this seemingly only exists in the mainstream of hip-hop, it lives on in different ways in the underground. From the ‘Horrorcore’ of OFWGKTA, the cult of Lil B and his myriad of imitators or the ‘Conscious’ rap of the likes of Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper, all chose to be outside of the realm of popular radio. For a variety of reasons, be it disdain for celebrity, a musical dissatisfaction with the simplicity and censorship of radio hits or a desire to be keeping it real, the leaders of the alt-rap scene maintain that they are the best at the ‘rap game’ and that the guys leading the pack on the radio and backed by millions of dollars are gauging their success by the wrong signifiers. In effect, those with all the money and power are insisting “We’re the best” while everyone off doing their own thing is instead insisting “Nah man, it’s us”. This is all fine; braggadocio is one of the core tenants of hip-hop and has been since the beginning. The problem lies when the lines blur and the wrong sort of brags start coming from the wrong sort of places. The rap world is not one mapped by great navigators of old, and the boundaries of what is mainstream
and what is radio friendly are living and breathing, changing every day.
LUXURY CAR ARMS RACE A perfect example of this wire crossing is ‘Conscious’ rap golden boy from 2011 onwards, Kendrick Lamar in his sophomore LP Good Kid, M.a.a.d city. Born in 1987 in Compton, Lamar is caught between a gang culture he takes no side in and the mindless party culture of his peers. Boiled down, his raps are a series of moral high ground assertions with lines like “We never do listen/ ‘less it comes with an 808 (A Melody and some hoes) / Playstation and some drank (Technology bought my soul)” - he’s like one of the ‘youth experts’ on Dr Phil except he has a contact with Interscope. This is fine if you want to listen to rap that makes you feel like you’re better than other people, but for all the social conscience, Lamar is not immune to the wrong sort of bragging. Good Kid, M.a.a.d City revolves around his ill-fated first experience with cannabis being laced with cocaine – the drug equivalent of the schoolyard “wet willy”. Cut short, Lamar ends up having a seizure/maybe nearly dying from a practical joke. This incident becomes a recurring motif of the album, but what starts as being referred to literally ends with him declaring himself ““Kendrick, aka Compton’s Human Sacrifice” and the result is catastrophic. Kanye West can get away with saying “I am a God” because his tenuous balance of megalomania and internal turmoil is what his shtick precisely is. Kendrick on the other hand decides to build his audience on his soft and sensitive side, and then drops some casual self-allusion to Jesus on the cross. It doesn’t add up and makes everything leading up to this moment on Good Kid, M.a.a.d City seem fake.
So then, what is the solution? Detroit native Danny Brown seems to be onto something. Breaking from obscure beginnings at age 31 to now being a regular of the Triple J playlist, “Grinding on your bitch while I’m grinding on my teeth” Brown is maybe being sarcastic about the whole ordeal of rolling around a club on MDMA, or he may be completely serious, ‘Yolo’ing’ it and rejoicing in the fact that “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Brown’s mystique and success derive from this: the opulence, the partying is done with a self-awareness that at the same time rejoices in the hedonism. What separates this from say, Watch the Throne is that the opulence is relatable, a gritty, warped ghost of the familiar rather than the grand fantasy of billionaire playboys. Browns trickery does not end there. Seemingly, he raps in his more outlandish, drug addled party songs in either an obscenely high or low pitch, well outside his normal speaking voice. This is contrasted to the more normal tones of his more ‘serious’ songs. That, at least, is the conventional logic. In all his public appearances, interviews and shows, Danny Brown seems entirely more comfortable in this squeaky, chipmunk register mixed with some growling guttural tones; it seems completely possible that instead of taking the partying lightly and the social conscience with weight, it’s the other way around. I don’t think it’s so outlandish a thought that an artist so untethered from the shackles of normality would treat typically hallowed subjects with a normal respect, rather than take the sacred cow of rap of remembering ones roots and the poverty and the hardship, and treat it with equal, simultaneous disdain and adoration as his drug fuelled benders. His popularity may not last as long as say Jay Z’s but for Brown, the question “would you rather be underpaid or overrated” is not one that concerns him selling out.
BEAUTIFUL / DAMNED MUSIC REVIEWS
BEAUTIFUL Beyoncé Beyoncé Columbia If we’re talking about the best albums of 2013, this baby didn’t so much sneak under the wire as blow it up and wear it as a fierce headband. Lemme hear you say ‘Heeeeeeey, Ms Carter’, because Beyoncé is back, bitches. Throwing her self-titled fifth studio album on iTunes in the middle of the night without so much as a tweet to herald its arrival, Beyoncé is entirely different from all her previous body of work, with slick urban beats, sparse production and the occasional alt-R&B flourish. Female empowerment is the name of the game - with Bey even going so far as to include a mid-song speech from Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Half the album makes you want stomp all over the patriarchy while the other makes you want to have sex with all of them (‘get in my fountain, dayum baby’). It’s clearly a cohesive work of art, more experimental than we’ve ever heard Bey be before, but as the she herself says in Ghost/Haunted, “All the shit I do is boring, all these record labels boring”. “Probably won’t make no money off this,” the diva declares. “Oh well!”. My only complaint would be the lack of stomp-the-floor party anthems a la Single Ladies, but Beyonce is married with a child now, maybe she’s just not getting ‘up in the clubs’ as much as she used to. And I’m not sure I miss it (yet). Her voice is allowed more warmth (in ‘Rocket’) and space (‘Heaven’) than before, low burbling basslines are as quietly penetrative as any thumping bottom end. And if you try to forget it’s Queen B for just a second (impossible I know), this is a mature album from an established artist: emotive, progressive, fierce. Anna Saxon
Blanche Blanche Blanche Wooden Ball NNA Tapes I’m no big Flight of the Conchords fan (nothing too much against Bret + Jermaine, more the memory of my parents drunk and mid-kebab laughing themselves to sleep with the box set every Friday night for a semester), but the Mel character captures something singular about what it is to like unsighted music; there are times when it really feels like you’re the only one watching as Jesus performs the miracle of the loaves. Everyone else should be here. Blanche Blanche Blanche are so out in their own field they are basically curing lepers with tritones at the moment, and Wooden Ball is their best record yet. TED Talks attacks smugness with the tenacity of a golf ball ditched through a Jeep window, an orchestra battles to swirl itself through the fourth wall of the Adderall odyssey that is Look At Me Now. At points it sounds like reggae as played by Koji Kondo, at others, an entire sociology honours thesis typed out the midnight before the due date on a Casio MT-80 in lieu of a computer. It ends on the sound of a truck trying to get through a driveway. I spent 2013 trying to understand this band; maybe in 2014 I can start explaining them to everyone else properly. There’s plenty of room in the tent, guys. Alex Griffin
Wavves Afraid of Heights Warner Bros.
The Boat Party Kyle Hall Wild Oats Made by the 20-yearold Detroit producer Kyle Hall, one of the timeliest releases of 2013 was as quickly forgotten as the fortunes of his city’s citizens after the GFC. Its title is a sly jab at techno music’s contradiction: once the brain-thudding, drug-addled escape and lament of the mistreated of America’s black lower-class, it is now framed in the crass decadence of Eurotrash, David Guetta and Pitbull videos. On the cover Hall stands adroit in front of a broken snowed-in white speedboat at a time when few Detroit citizens could ever afford to sail one of these across Lake Michigan to get the meds they need from Canada. So this is a return to Detroit House’s roots, not necessarily in sound, but definitely in the spirit of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Its greatest quality is the rustic power of its beats. As if Hall is beating the sound out of your eardrum itself, with decent headphones the snare sounds on this will break your skull in two and shake your brain into concussion. Flemmenup and Finna Pop do this best, while Hall shows enough creative breadth to other styles with almost parodic titles. Measure to Measure takes the simple disco redux sound of Armand Van Helden but mutilates it with fuzz and echo effects. Grungy Gloops and KIXCLAPSCHORDSNHATS take the Brainfeeder sound and highlight the vapidity of its technical acuity, despite giving Hall a platform to showcase his own drum-programming abilities. This is important not just because it’s a strong album from a young artist, but because unlike more high profile releases that display an insularity with their producers’ core obsessions (like Daft Punk or Disclosure), The Boat Party is constructed to look out at the musical landscape around it and suggest an alternative. It’s something more real and more effective than anything else you’ll hear in modern times.
My initial experience of Afraid of Heights did not immediately deliver the vibrant and obnoxious surf punk vibes I’d always followed Wavves for, but after a few listens, I was hooked. This album provides a meeting point between the angsty emo fifteen-year-olds we used to be, and the psychedelic surf/skate revival our generation wants to be. Ghostly surf-pop “ooo’s” echo around lyrics that are part-despair, part-apathy and part-melodrama- “I loved you Jesus/ you raped the world/ I feel defeated/ Guess I’ll go surf”- backed up by a lo-fi psychedelia meets pop punk sound . One whole song consists of the phrase “everything is my fault”, and hasn’t every kid who’s argued with mum and dad felt THAT one. Even the album art is darker, more enigmatic than the bright marijuanasmoking cat on the most famous King of the Beach. This is Nathan Williams’ return to some of the more sinister themes from the first two albums: the man loves to whinge, and as 90’s children, it’s deliciously nostalgic to hear such self-indulgent ennui. Personal highlights include Sail to the Sun, Demon to Lean On, Lunge Forward, That’s on Me, and Gimme A Knife. For all these reasons and more, it has become my definitive 2013 album, and I’d recommend giving it another few listens before you draw any conclusions. Warning, may reveal your inner suburban surf brat. Jessica Cockerill
DAMNED Kavinsky Outrun Vertigo Seven years. I waited seven years for Outrun. Testarossa Autodrive, back in 2006, was a blast of moody, adrenaline fueled ‘80s synth energy. Who’d have thought I’d be hearing it again on Kavinsky’s debut album. How can Kavinsky justify doing this as a musician? And more so, how can he justify doing it four times throughout the album? Outrun is a product of laziness. Of the 13 tracks, 9 are new. The new songs are nice, but between the heavy, drum-killing brick wall compression and rehashing of his back catalogue, I find myself not caring for them at all. Between Kavinsky’s last release (Nightcall, 2010) other musicians have really outdone him at his own brand of retro-callback synth driven music. This review will be as lazy as the album it is critiquing, and so I give you a list of releases that have done what Outrun tries to accomplish better by the time it had come out. Lazerhawk - Redline Mitch Murder – Burning Chrome Kristine – Modern Love 80s Stallone – HOTLINE Pertubator – TERROR 404 You can find a lot of creativity and personality in this micro-genre, I hope that artists like these keep pushing themselves like Kavinsky should have. Jacob Rutherford
FIDLAR FIDLAR Dine Alone Records Choosing FIDLAR as my worst album might seem like hypocrisy from me given that I a) purchased the album and b) went to watch them play when they came to Perth so let me say that this was not the worst album of 2013. It was an album with fantastic instrumentation, great production and a distinctive sound that was utterly sabotaged by its juvenile, hollow lyrical content. The self-titled debut by the California garage/surf punk four piece was in many ways a lot of fun, with catchy riffs, wild, distorted vocals and shitloads of energy, but it’s fun in the same way that Transformers was fun: lots of noise and excitement obscuring an intellectually and morally bankrupt core. Judging tracks such as No Waves, Cocaine and Wake Bake Skate, FIDLAR are a band who care pretty much exclusively about skating, surfing, getting really fucked up all the time and complaining about how poor getting really fucked up all the time makes you. The only track which really diverges from these themes is Whore, an exercise in shockingly un-self-aware misogyny, and it is so awful that I would strongly recommend that the band avoid diverging from the aforementioned list of themes ever again. FIDLAR is ignorant white teen male punk music at its catchiest and most reprehensible. Hugh Manning
Baths Obsidian Anticon Baths is the one man band of one Will Wiesenfield. Breaking from the womb of LA into the world in 2010 he gave us Cerulean: Big, bubbly and bright synthpop with densely distorted vocals and ADHD melodies, it was a thick slab of buttery fun on top a flatbread of some unexplored emotional turmoil. It was a nice foil to have rear up every so often, and gave what was otherwise dangerously twee music something to work through and reward revisits. Cue Obsidian in 2013, the dark bastard brother to Cerulean. Brooding gargoyles and dead skies, this is all the wizard angst brought up to the surface. The instrumentals are strong and the mix really makes them pop, unfortunately they’re wrecked with lines like “Where is God when you hate him most” and they only get worse from there. Baths should stop raiding his 10th grade journal for lyrics and stick to making beats; vocals were passable in Cerulean because they were background gibberish sampled and used as instrumentals, but employed as actual lyrics they make Obsidian nigh unlistenable. Simon Donnes
Arcade Fire Reflektor Merge Reflektor is unceasingly mediocre, the worst kind of bad. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be enough to make an album ‘The worst of 2013’ but there’s just no excuse for an Arcade Fire album co-produced by James Murphy to be this awful. Especially when the Split EP between the Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem back in 2007 was so amazing. For the first time, their lyrics are sub-par, most of the songs are unjustifiably long and Regine Chassagne’s vocals physically hurt me. The album couldn’t be salvaged, not even with the samplings of Jonathan Ross on Already Know or grouping all their best songs on disc one and shunting the worst ones to disc two (Although that does save time). The ten-minute bookends that surround the album are a true test of endurance, and really, the perfect expression of this album, overly long, uninspired and the product of a hyper inflated ego. Any album would have a difficult time following ‘The Suburbs’ but Reflektor is the worst album Arcade Fire has ever made, the biggest disappointment of 2013 and, at least for me, the worst album of the year. Reflektor was an experiment in a newtechno based direction for Arcade Fire, and one that might have succeeded, if only they were half as talented as they think they are. Tom Rossiter
NOT A GIRL, NOT YET A WOMAN Last year was the year of Miley. The tween idol twerked and tongue-poked her way to the top of the charts. Yet Miley’s dramatic change from Hannah Montanna to Britney Spears, circa her head shaving and umbrella wielding years, was not met without criticism. The locus of femininity in the media is well defined with woman expected to act and behave in certain ways. The exploration of one’s own sexuality is considered provocative, with women expected to be submissive to the functions of hegemonic ideologies, which despite constantly being challenged remain inescapable. Grounded in good girl femininity, female adolescents in the music industry are identified as the simple “girl next door,” normalising celebrity and basing it in the familiar. These young girls are identified as role models, thus not allowing them to break from the norm without considerable backlash from the media and the public. Flesh-baring costumes and provocative dance moves are met with disdain and a sense of betrayal. This mediated version of femaleness, centred in passivity and submissiveness acts as a preventive measure of stopping young girls from growing up and fully developing their sexuality. The cult of celebrity dominates contemporary society, and is produced within a context of postfeminism, sexualised culture and consumerism. Young fans are eager to identify role models both to deify and emulate. Those who are chosen, like Miley, experience intense scrutiny and regulation, with their identities and sexualities chosen by others for them. Seen as ideological symbols, celebrities are a construct of the public’s psyche. Celebrity culture therefore affects gender politics, with gendered practices and expectations reinforced by performers and their managers. Those who are credited with taboo breaking, alleviate what is or what is not acceptable in common discourse. Britney Spears, an icon to all at the crossroads of life, was ridiculed for her ‘white trash’ turn after changing her image from wholesome schoolgirl to public meltdown. While it is up to the audience to piece Britney’s life together in a way that socially meaningful and pleasurable to them, they depend on the ‘truth’ promoted in the tabloids to do so. The media, which
thrives on the exploitation of girlhood, took delight when Britney quite literally shed her schoolgirl persona complete and thrust herself into the spotlight as an adult sexpot. While Britney had been made ‘human’ by the media in order to be understood by her fans, she was still somehow treated as a goddess who should do no wrong. Seemingly then female celebrity promotes a form of submissive girl power where your voice can only be heard if the message you are selling is the one of the various middle aged men managing you. Girls can have power and fame, as long as it is within the boundaries of passive sexual identity, and they remain sweet and normatively feminine. Female teen celebrities are encouraged to promote a wholesome, nice image, with Taylor Swift a prime example. The idea of ‘girlhood’ is prime real estate for media conglomerates looking to cash in. However as once noted by the glorious Simone De Beauvoir, “Woman is a trait that develops in her from her earliest years. But it is wrong to assert that a biological datum is concerned, it is in fact a destiny imposed upon her by her teachers and by society.” Those in power determine how the transition from adolescence to adulthood plays out. Poor Miley never stood a chance. Using her sexuality as a woman, Miley wishes to renounce her former self and become independent. While the tabloids try to identify this as a ‘quarter life crisis’ or ‘going off the rails’, Miley is not unique in her pushing of boundaries, with all adolescents trying to
find themselves as they reach the brink of adulthood. Miley herself, rationalises the normalcy of her actions commenting, “I think most 21- to 25-year-olds go through this kind of thing. It’s just not on a platform—you know what I mean? Basically, they’re being normal 21-year-olds, especially Lindsay”. Using the example of Lindsey Lohan, also a past Disney star, Miley emphasizes what is it like being a teenage under a spotlight. The discovery of her sexuality while not encouraged by her handlers is to be expected, with Miley premeditating her own public downfall. Perhaps then these young teen idols are truly damned, never allowed to bridge the gap that comes between being a girl but not yet a woman. Media organizations place regulations on the adolescent body that are not already there, shaping young girls into their ideal. Disney stars such as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, represent the ordinary girl in an extraordinary way. However their bodies remain under constant surveillance and are expected to conform to societal ideals. Yet adolescence is a time of rebellion and self-discovery and a girl cannot remain a girl forever. Victims of the cruel mistress puberty, teenagers begin to explore their own sexuality, and in the process ‘betray’ the image they have been told to protect. However as Miley once sang she “can’t be tamed” and ultimately must be left to make her own decisions during her time of adolescence turmoil.
Picture by Zoe Kilbourn
by Lauren Wiszniewski
TINDER IS THE NIGHT by Lucy Ballantyne ‘Do it for the story’ is my personal mantra. It is this, coupled with crippling fear of boredom and an insatiable need to be part of the zeitgeist that is responsible for every late night, every episode of petty crime and every ill-fated hook-up I’ve ever found myself partaking in. And it is why, on a lazy, hungover Sunday afternoon, sitting with friends in a gourmet burger joint, being as Gen Y as possible, I downloaded Tinder. Tinder is a location-based match-making app, established almost in opposition to the gay match-making app Grindr. It creates a user’s profile by accessing their facebook information and taking from it their first name, age, liked pages and a selection of profile pictures. The user is then presented with potential suitors’ profiles to which they can swipe right (hot) or left (not). When two users swipe each others’ profiles right, they are alerted to a match and have the option to chat or ‘keep playing’. When the user opens a new chat, Tinder shows annoyingly patronizing messages like ‘what, cat got your tongue?’ or the particularly hideous ‘#WeBothSwipedRight’, encouraging you to start moving and shaking.
The Tinder phenomenon seemed to really hit at the end of last year, when Facebook news feeds became intolerably Tinder-oriented and the number of Tinder-related memes created and shared hit its peak. Tinder’s popularity, to my mind, didn’t emerge out of some desperation from millennials for another means through which to connect, but for the same reason we embrace/d Call Me Maybe or Clubba. We know it’s shallow and we know it’s kind of disgusting. But we enjoy it with the same wry irony we do anything that reproduces something problematic in a way that aesthetically pleases us. Tinder first emerged out of a US college campus; it’s by young people for young people. Its design is sleek and it speaks our language. We get that it’s a joke, and everyone’s in on it. And as such, Tinder did what seemed almost impossible: it made online dating cool. Part of Tinder’s appeal is its irreverence. The swiping motion and its imperative to ‘keep playing’ encourage users to play the app like a game. Tinder sheds all the earnestness of online dating that makes it the realm of the old, the serious, the soon-to-be-married. It urges users to chat, flirt, hook up, repeat. Though the spectrum of what people are using Tinder for is wide, it is all marked by lightheartedness. You get the emotional rush you get when that guy/girl texts you but you get it over and over again, and with all the commitment of a game of Candy Crush.
It’s endlessly addictive. Tinder is a goldmine for self-esteem points. When I used it, I would have my appearance validated by a total stranger every thirty seconds. For the shy, the anxious, the insecure and the recently heartbroken, Tinder offers a version of the sexual economy with all the fear removed. The app removes these figurative barriers, as well as some more literal ones. If where we usually meet people reflects our class status – at work, uni, in the bars we frequent – Tinder gives users the opportunity to meet people they might otherwise never encounter. Can the 20-year-old beans-andrice-eating student reel in the 30-year-old scotchdrinking yuppie? Yes, she can. In spite of this, after approximately three weeks of use, I deleted Tinder. I found it made me brutal and dismissive, or at least more so than usual. When using the app, a friend of mine skips any man with tattoos. ‘It means he has a high pain threshold’, she laments, ‘and I don’t, so we’re incompatible’. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, or afraid of progress like the majority of the populous, I can’t help but feel like this kind of dismissal is unfair. Tinder doesn’t work for me for the same reason tutorials are still compulsory: our bodies are important. As much as social media might try to convince me otherwise, presence is integral to subjectivity and connection. Forget ‘I think, therefore I am’: try ‘I’m here, therefore I am’. I don’t want to dismiss a three-dimensional, fleshy person on the basis of their photograph. And what does it matter anyway: I got the story.
Picture by Zoe Kilbourn
Tinder virtually emulates the bar/nightclub experience. Everybody is on the prowl and putting their best foot forward. Our profile pictures represent the version of ourselves we want to project: the best looking, the most fun loving, the most widely travelled. These archetypes are cut from the same cloth as those that go to Caps on a Friday night with winged eyeliner and high heels. And on Tinder, as in ‘real
life’, for every guy who opens the car door for you, there’s one who asks you if you want to go home to listen to Frank Ocean and fuck. Which was quite a tempting offer, to be honest.
“GENESIS DOES WHAT NINTENDON’T” The Dynamics of the Modern Day Console War by Shaughn McCagh
Since the days of SNES and Genesis, gamers have been locked in the never ending debate of which console is the superior of the generation. While the videogame industry has significantly matured since the golden age of 16bit, if the most recent battle between PS4 vs Xbox One is anything to go by, it’s is still not above the schoolyard bickering that seems to come with every new generation of consoles. It’s an unfortunate reality of being a gamer; having to side with one developer over another and fervently defend your choice from the opposition when, honestly, it’s just post-purchase rationalisation at its finest. You want to justify the fact that you’ve spent almost half a grand on a machine designed to distract you from reality, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before you admit you picked the wrong machine. As we head out of the chaotic consumer feeding frenzy that was the Christmas period of 2013, the reality of which of the two next-gen consoles is superior in the eyes of gamers has made itself evident. The PS4 is undeniably the more powerful machine. Rather than jumping straight into a rundown of hardware specifications, it’s easier just to look at the games themselves. When Infinity Ward, the developer behind the massively popular gaming franchise Call of Duty, announced that the PS4 would run the newest sequel in the series at 1080p while the Xbox would cap out at 720p, there was immediate uproar from the Xbox community, and with good reason. That’s two million pixels on the PS4 compared to one million on the Xbox One; quite literarily, Sony’s console offers double the graphical detail as opposed to Microsoft’s. This isn’t an isolated problem. Multiple launch titles for the Xbox One shared the same graphical limitations and to the Xbox community, Microsoft was sacrificing optimal gaming experience for the integration of its new ‘media
hub’ features. While Sony marketed the PS4 as the console for gaming purists, Microsoft pushed for the Xbox One as an appliance offering gaming, television, movies and social networking integration into a single lounge room friendly machine. If anything, this only further concerned the Xbox community. Why, after a generation of arguably dominating the online multiplayer revolution, was Microsoft forsaking its core fan base, gamers? The emerging trend that many of the major consumer electronic giants seem to be following is a newfound emphasis on lounge room domination. Media streaming devices like such as Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s imaginatively named Apple TV are becoming all the rage, consumers demanding access to whatever films and televisions series they want, whenever they want them. If the success of start-up streaming services like Netflix or Hulu are anything to go by, this is not a market to be ignored, and the Xbox One has been developed as Microsoft’s ticket on the bandwagon. What they’ve failed to take into account is the context the Xbox has come from in the eyes of the consumer, which is first and foremost as a videogame console. By choosing to ignore their core demographic and expand into the media streaming market, Microsoft have severely damaged their public image from a gamer perspective, and the impact is evident in the postChristmas statistics.
FORSAKING ITS CORE FAN BASE As of the 8th of January, the PS4 had sold 4.2 million consoles worldwide, a more than comfortable lead in front of the Xbox One’s 3 million. This is especially sobering when we consider Sony has yet to release the PS4 in their
native market, Japan. With such a dramatic opening to the new generation of consoles, many gamers are questioning the future of the current hardware giants. Assuming things don’t get much better for Microsoft’s console offering, the lack of competition in the market could potentially see the rise of new innovators. Valve Corporation, the creators of the wildly popular digital distribution platform Steam, announced late last year their first offering as a hardware developer with the Steam Machine, a line of pre-built PC’s running a gaming focused operating system that some speculate could finally bridge the gap between console and PC gamers (a rivalry almost as bitter as that between different console owners). Current console dogma dictates that whatever hardware your machine has come pre-built with is what you’ll be using for the rest of that console’s lifespan. The game-changing aspect of devices like the Steam Machine is to eliminate these limitations, part-upgrading and user customisation being one of the major selling points of the console. While still quite speculative, the impact a successful lounge-room gaming PC could have on the current structure of console gaming is massive, as gaming quality is limited solely by the amount of money gamers are willing to invest in their hardware. The dynamics of the ‘console wars’ are just as complex as competition in any industry. Factors that determine the success of one manufacturer over another are many and vary greatly, and while the current outlook for this generation seems to be dominated by Sony, when you take into account that the lifespan of consoles has increased exponentially with every generation, we still have a long while to go before the truly successful developer of this generation can claim victory.
CULTURE REVIEWS only apt comparison that comes when considering the grand scope and scale is that of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, where players truly felt a sense that they were a dangerous cowboy living in the Old West. Black Flag is not simply a game but an experience, and transports the player into the life of a pirate.
ASSASSINS CREED 4: BLACK FLAG (PS4) Black Flag is a triumph of open world gaming. Who hasn’t always dreamed of being on a swashbuckling adventure on the high seas as a pirate? Setting sail on a bright sunny day in search of plunder on distant islands,or battling the ferocious swell a terrible storm whipped up, is an experience in gaming quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. The environments are gorgeous, and navigating them, whether on foot or on your vessel, is a sheer delight. The
NETFLIX (ONLINE STREAMING SERVICE) I love Netflix and I would gladly trade away my first born for a perpetual Netflix subscription. There I said it. I love that I can binge watch Parks and Recreation, Sherlock and 30 Rock on a whim. The pricing on Netflix is impossible to beat, only 7.99 USD per month for as much television as you can consume? SIGN ME UP! Streaming websites like Netflix and
The decision to include the world of Black Flag into the Assassins Creed franchise is odd. After eight instalments (and three more confirmed for being in development), you would think Ubisoft would give this beaten horse a break. One can imagine a boardroom of executives looking at sales charts and quickly coming to the conclusion that the best way to ensure the success of any game is to slap the franchise sealof-approval on the box and crowbar in some unnecessary story exposition to make it work. Black Flag has worked out an interesting system for allowing this, but it remains a baffling one. Essentially, the player actually takes control of Hulu have become all the rage in America and other parts of the world, growing rapidly as Internet users have increasingly demonstrated their preference for online streaming services. I can understand the appeal of streaming. Instead of having to wait for episodes to come out on cable, enduring seconds of commercials or waiting for your torrent to finish, you can simply just go online to Netflix or Hulu and watch it instantly. The only issue is whether the service you subscribe to actually has the series or movie you want to watch. Compared to the other streaming services, I think Netflix is the best one you can get out there for the price you are paying. The only reason why I even had a Netflix subscription was because Arrested Development season 4 was to be released on Netflix. After that, the subscription simply paid for itself with House of Cards and the ability to just watch every Futurama episode in existence. The service has saved my mind from crippling
an office worker for a French gaming company called Abstergo entertainment (a thinly veiled stand-in for Ubisoft itself). The office worker sits at his desk and plays through simulations of a pirate adventure as a method of testing the game. Occasionally, Black Flag pulls out from the pirate adventure and gives us the exciting opportunity to walk around an office, ride the elevator, and chat to fellow workers. Essentially, Black Flag is a game about playing a game. The transition is a jarring one. It usually adopts a thirdperson perspective, but in these moments, it become first-person, and the sense of being completely immersed in this pirate adventure is torn away like a baby ripped from its crib. Suffice to say it didn’t work for me. However, those actually invested in the overarching story may dig the new direction Assassins Creed is going. And it must be said that overall, despite this, Black Flag remains an incredible, unique, and fascinating open world game. Cameron James boredom countless times. Everyone should get a subscription with Netflix. Oh wait. I forgot that we are in Australia, the poster child of everything that has gone wrong with the tech market. Everything the world has for cheap, we either get shafted or have to pay double the price. A simple video game that would cost $50 SGD in Singapore (about $45 AUD), instead cost $80 AUD in Australia. Netflix doesn’t exist in Australia: you cannot subscribe to it. You can however, subscribe to Quickflix, an amazing service that cost between AUD15-35 a month and pay extra to watch certain movies. Oh rest-of-the-world, why do you hate us so? If you are truly desperate for Netflix, just use a VPN. But just remember it’s apparently a crime to do that in the United States. Let’s not extend the war on terror to Australia, k? Kenneth Woo
CHOOSE YOUR OWN INCENDIARY: Bookish Interpretations of Hell by Liam Dixon
1. You’re at a party, people are drinking, dancing, smoking, talking. A sybarite in a plastic devil costume comes up to you and says, “Ok, so, let’s say I’m a real demon. Would it be ascension or damnation if you were condemned to relive your life up to this point again and again forever?” You: (a) say, “Seems unnecessary. I am already in hell.” Go to 2 (b) reply, “Then you are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” Go to 3 (c) think, “Really? Fregean Continental Philosophy as a conversation starter? I can’t deal.” Make brief polite conversation and then hurry off talk to someone you know. Go to 4 2. “L’enfer, c’est les autres”: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1944 You likely know that the translation is “Hell is other people.” Either you’re misanthropic or you’re surrounded by idiots, but something is definitely wrong with someone. The play No Exit is roughly about people locked in a room together, making judging each other and being aware of the other’s minds and judgments of themselves, self deception and freedom. They find the experience pretty unpleasant. The End. 3. Hell is bad decisions: The Eternal Return by Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882 Considering whether living your life over and over in the same way is good or bad is a thought experiment proposed by Nietzsche in The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This hypothetical is a way to measure the kind of life you’ve led. If you love the idea, you’ve led a fulfilling life. If you don’t, maybe now is the time to make some changes. cf. The Eternal Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. The End, but restart at 1 and pick (b) again.
4. This is Purgatory . You retreat back to your friends and canvass the usual topics. Eventually, your bro Virgil says, “This party sucks man, let’s go back to mine and take some tabs.” Your secondmost-favorite fuck buddy proposes, “Or, you could come back to my house.” You: (a) Go to Virgil’s sharehouse and imbibe insidious chemicals. Go to 5 (b) Score some frangers from the servo and go home with your friend-with-benefits. Go to 6 (c) You’re tired and have work tomorrow; time to go home. Go to 7 5. Poetry as religious criticism: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, ~1308-1321 You and Virgil take some serious shit and go on an epic trip through Paradise, Purgatory and the Inferno. In the last there are nine circles for different sins over 34 cantos and it’s considered one of the greatest works of Italian literature; the dialect of Italian chosen to be the official standard was picked partially because it’s what TDC was written in. The End. 6. Hell makes a good story: Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1667 You’re a modern day Adam and Eve. In Paradise Lost they are convinced to eat the forbidden fruit by Satan. Let’s just say, “There they thir fill of Love and Loves disport, Took largely, of thir mutual guilt the Seale, The solace of thir sin, till dewie sleep Oppress’d them, wearied with thir amorous play”, if you know what I mean. It takes Milton 9 books to get up to that point though, and you go through a lot of heaven and hell and divine battles on the way and afterwards. The End. 7. Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here. You’re home, but you’re not tired yet. You think: (a) It’s 2am and I should really go to sleep. Go to 8
(b) There are comics to read! Go to 9 (c) Aww yiss vidya games. Go to 10 8. Hell is a bureaucracy: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, 1942 In the morning you go to work and there are sales to make, and forms to fill out in triplicate. Your boss is angry at you. He is a demon. Tired and caffeine deprived, you aren’t much better. The Screwtape Letters is written from the perspective of a demon in a vast bureaucracy who has a quota of sins and souls to insinuate evil into and a protégé to instruct on methods for corrupting mortals. This is so much better than The Chronicles of Narnia, and doesn’t leave you with the sense of betrayal years later when you discover it’s an analogy for Christianity. It was originally intended as a satirical manual for avoiding sinfulness, but now comes across as comedy and is good reading even if you’re a dawky skeptic. The End. 9. The devil isn’t such a bad guy: Lucifer from DC Comics, 2000-2006 Originally an offshoot from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Lucifer is the devil himself who isn’t pleased with his lot. He bails on hell and his God-given responsibilities to have adventures and make the world a better place. Pre-destination and free-will are key issues explored. For similar texts check out I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. The End. 10. If hell did not exist it would be necessary to invent it: Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks, 2010 Recently deceased literary fiction and sci-fi author Iain M. Banks tells the story of religious, high-technology societies that have realized hell doesn’t really exist - yet. So, rather than give up on the whole idea, they make one themselves. Creating virtual, Matrix-like hellscapes to imprison people’s brains in before they die to punish them for crimes is one way of deterring graffiti, I guess. Some characters have things to say about this. The End.
YA DYSTOPIAN NOVELS 101 by Eunice Ong
Nowadays, we have a huge selection of fast food-style YA dystopian novels. They generally have ridiculous but entertaining premises and an unbelievable societal structure. Being the guilty consumer of countless varieties of these novels, I feel I am qualified to present you, dear Reader, with this guide to writing your own YA dystopian novel so that you too can hop on this bandwagon, get rich and pay off your HECS debt. Rule #1: Tactical Trilogy This enables you to write a useless, filler second novel which will end on a cliffhanger, thereby guaranteeing you readership for novel #3, despite how plotless and pointless your middle novel will be. Rule #2: Generic Dystopian Society Don’t explain how your New World Order occurred. Its only purpose is to create a quasipost-apocalyptic setting for your series. Just write some shit about a nuclear/biochemical world war followed by unexplained natural disasters, resulting in your plebby main characters living in harsh conditions/squalor, despite the technological advancements and luxuries that their bourgeoisie leaders enjoy. Do not bother explaining how the structure of the New Society serves to benefit the Populace. Your characters will live in a small town or in agrarian style. Families will struggle to make ends meet and experience borderline starvation, lack of medical treatment, etc. Their leaders will have high-tech weapons with stupid names. Mix and match your technology – it makes it fun. They will have recurve bows alongside shotguns, some weapons of your own creation, hovercrafts, hover-everythings, lots of glass and shiny, clean, metal things.
Rule #3: Big Brother is Watching You Be vague about how a reasonably democratic and stable first-world society managed to deteriorate into this autocratic, violent and controlling nanny-state in just a couple of hundred years. Probably use war or an unexplained natural catastrophe (global warming is a popular choice) as an excuse (see above). Have said nanny-state control a specific aspect of your character’s lives – this is how you ‘distinguish’ your series from all the other cookie-cuttertrilogies on the market. Common examples include: who your protagonist is allowed to marry, what your protagonist can study, what your protagonist can eat, what trials and tribulations your protagonist must undergo when s/he comes of age. Rule #4: Weird Names Give all your characters stupid, futuristicsounding names. Either misspell common names, or make up your own hybrids. Optimally, there will be one aptly named male character named ‘Hunter’ – don’t ask why, just do it. Trust me. Rule #5: Young Adult Novel = Young Adult Characters Your protagonist should be between the age of 15 and 17. Said protagonist should preferably be female. She should also be ordinary and plain enough to be relatable to your readership. That is, she thinks she is ordinary and plain until…
Book Two: This is your filler novel! Expand the dystopian society and the characters. Add as many secondary characters as you wish – this gives you more choice with regards to who you want to kill off in your third novel. Because you will be killing off a lot of them. Such fun! Introduce the rebels. Your protagonist will probably run off to join them at some point. Preferably have her and the rebels wander around like Israelites in the desert for the entirety of this novel. End with a cliffhanger. Book Three: Rebellion. Make sure you finish this novel with as many unanswered questions and unexplainable occurrences as possible. Do not fuss too much about logical explanations. Do not resolve all the loose ends. You signed a contract for a three-book deal; it doesn’t matter that your final book is absolute shite. Besides, it’s funny when readers are enraged and disappointed, and it’s OK because the money is already in your pocket. Don’t forget to market your books as ‘The New Hunger Games!’ or ‘The Hunger Games Meets <insert other YA series here – Twilight is generally a good choice>!’. Always remember: you are writing these so that I have cheap thrills, easyto-digest novels which I can rapidly consume in between my uni readings, as a form of escapism. And for that, I thank you.
Rule #6: A Boy A Super Hot and Amazing Guy appears! He should probably be a bit passive-aggressive, angst-ridden or abusive; a ‘bad boy’ with emotional issues. He must tell her how beautiful and incredible she is, and ‘change her life forever’. This is the point where you introduce the wangsty teenage romance. Rule #7: Love Triangles For bonus points, include a YA Love Triangle: two guys, one girl. Always. A sub-plot of your series should involve the girl agonising over which dude she’s more in to, whilst the destruction of society occurs in the background. Guidelines for your trilogy: Book One: Introduce the dystopian society, the characters, etc. Maybe make some fleeting references to rebels living on the fringe. Be vague about their goals and motives. Introduce romance. They get to first or second base.
Picture by Lauren Wiszniewski
Before the advent of The Hunger Games, and the resulting phenomena of countless Young Adult dystopian novels being published, those that we read were generally thought-provoking classics – think 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale. These novels make the reader question their own society. They make us think about where our society is heading, or what benefits and flaws our systems have, in comparison to those in the novels. They make us reflect upon our own morality, think about whether something could be justifiably immoral, question the cost of awareness, or consider that perhaps sometimes it is better to remain cheerfully ignorant and conform with the portrayed society.
BOOK REVIEWS Call Me Sasha, My True Story: Secret Confessions of an Australian Call Girl - Geena Leigh I love the TV show ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’. If you haven’t seen it, Billy Piper skips around London in designer clothes and really great hair, fucking attractive people in 5 star hotels while wearing fabulous lingerie and clearly enjoying many orgasms. This book is the exact opposite of that show in almost every way. Geena Leigh’s debut, a tell-all memoir about the highs and lows of her fascinating life in the Australian sex industry, is not a ‘sexy’ romp. At the age of 15, Geena left home without any education or real options, and was lured into prostitution by the prospect of big money and the validation of strangers. She turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of day-to-day life as a sex worker, which lead to 20-something years of depression, addiction and self-loathing. This is some Oprah level shit. But Leigh doesn’t milk her tragedy. Her writing is blunt, forthright (although sometimes lacking in emotional resonance), and has a touch of Australian ‘suck it up’ bravado. Leigh is no Julia Roberts, waiting to be plucked off the streets of Sydney by a FIFO Richard Gere. She tells it like it is, and doesn’t dress it up with expensive underwear or yacht trips with Arabian princes (actually, she does go on a yacht trip with an Arabian prince but that was ONE time). The big villain in Leigh’s tale is clearly addiction addictions to drugs, alcohol, money, and to male attention, which makes what should be a dirge of a book an intriguing, if harrowing, exploration of what not only drives people to prostitution, but what keeps them there. I’m betting this baby is going to be on the best sellers list within the next month. 3.5/5 Best Bit: Trying to guess who the major rock star she slept with was. Worst Bit: The terrifying portrait of sexual and substance abuse. Also Tony Robbins. Anna Saxon thinks that ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ is a terribly misleading show but she’s still going to watch it for the lingerie and sex tips.
The Bottom Line Diet - Jessica Irvine
When Mr Dog Bites - Brian Conaghan
The most disappointing thing about Jessica Irvine’s diet book is that I was expecting it to be really shit, and it turned out to be really good. The author does not bombard you with fad diets and pseudoscience; the facts she spurts are actually legit, and the book focuses a lot on looking at our culture in order to deconstruct the causes of obesity in Australia. The main premise of the book is that to lose weight, you need to be burning fewer calories than you consume, which can be done by reducing the amount of calories you consume and increasing the amount of exercise (sounds pretty obvious, but hey).
Dylan doesn’t want to let Mr Dog out. Mr Dog being an attack of his Tourette’s. Dylan has more than just Mr Dog to contend with though – his Dad is away at ‘war’, his mum won’t stop crying, and he and his friend are bullied at school.
The science that the Irvine refers to generally seems to be legit, and she doesn’t fill you with false promises and gimmicky tricks. At times it seems like she gets a little TOO real - she points out the low success rates of people trying to lose weight maybe a few too many times. This book also gets a little bit too Gen X at times, with some of the humour being a bit ‘daggy mum’, but I kind of enjoyed it anyway. At its core, this book is really about guiding you in the right direction, getting you set up with the right resources and helping you find your own path to good health. I have not tested the effectiveness of these diet tips in reality, but I’d recommend it over your typical thinspirational Tumblr or sassy gossip magazine. Ultimately, it’s a surprisingly good book, and as such I am giving it 4 extra pointy triangles (also known as ‘stars’). 4/5 Best bits: Not a trashy weight loss book (was surprisingly decent). Worst bits: Not a trashy weight loss book (was hoping for it to be funny). Michael Trown is a freelance hobo and aspiring fashion designer.
Despite his Tourette’s, Dylan Mint is a fairly average sixteen-year-old boy: he likes football, texting, music, and he even has a teenage crush. However, a hospital visit convinces him that he is going to die, so he makes a list of “Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It” (a less adventurous version of a bucket list). It consists of losing his virginity, finding his friend a new “Best Bud”, and getting his Dad back. Dylan is an intriguing and interesting kid. He’s a bit OCD sometimes, his mind (and hence narration) jumps around a lot, and he’s bursting with innocence. This innocence is humorous at times and heartbreaking at others. Equally funny but gut wrenching are his futile attempts to keep his Tourette’s in when he’s nervous. Dylan may bark, growl and yell obscene things but underneath he is overwhelmingly kind. The novel is an easy read, except for the serious overuse of slang. Dylan’s constant rhyming, cockney slang, and just plain “young person speak” makes him seem more like a 12 year old than a 16 year old. Conaghan may be trying too hard to write for a young audience. Typical of a coming of age story, Dylan goes through some struggles, learns some hard truths, and comes out more self-aware at the end. The story is heart-warming, honest and funny, if not also just a little bit predictable. Although it’s target audience is young teens, I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a light-hearted look at the thoughts of a kid with Tourette’s. 3/5 Best Bit: Dylan’s Tourette’s outbursts where he accidentally tells the person how it is. Think, “CHEEKY FUCKER”, “FAT LIAR”, and “SNOBBY BITCH”. Worst Bit: The cockney rhyming slang. You wouldn’t Adam and Eve (believe) it. Emily Foyster wishes she could get away with yelling profanities at friends and strangers.
The Defections - Hannah Michell
Salt Story - Sarah Drummond
Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
Too often misunderstanding occurs in the attempt to understand. In her debut novel, Hannah Michell attempts to peel back the layers that conceal to find the secrets that lie beneath. What guides our decisions and what defines who we will be? Everyone in The Defections is haunted, whether it is by their past, their present or their future. Set in South Korea, the novel intertwines these realities and its fragile relationship with the North.
Where to begin with this mess of a book? Salt Story is a short memoir filled with anecdotal stories “Of sea-dogs and fisherwomen.” I am unsure of the target audience for this memoir as I can only imagine that the type of people who would want to read it have a hard-on for either fish and/or South Western Australia. I picked up Salt Story because I have one for the latter.
Read this book. Seriously, drop whatever it is you’re doing in your life and read it.
The protagonist, Mia Kim, is the reader’s link to this mysterious world. Half English, half Korean, she is situated as an outsider who belongs nowhere. Her father is a mute, her stepmother detests her and her uncle runs a charitable - and controversial - school for North Korean defectors. Working at the British Embassy, Mia becomes infatuated with Thomas, a diplomat with a selfdestructive streak. She protects Thomas from his indiscretions, leading him to be rewarded for his supposed reformation - but at a cost. As private and professional lives become tangled together, nothing will ever be the same. The Defections is an absorbing and intriguing novel. Well-developed characters inhabit a tense landscape where despair often makes an appearance. However, the build up is long with little action for the first two thirds of the book. While the political ideologies of Korea and its relationship to foreigners are important, it is relatively simple to cover and does not need to be discussed at such length. Similarly, the isolation of the characters could be felt much more keenly if their every thought wasn’t transcribed onto the page. At times the novel becomes highly predictable, with ‘revelations’ not really being revelations at all. However, it remains an entertaining read and is unique in its attempt to explore the English/ Korean relationship in a non-Western setting. 3/5 Best bit: Insight into the political motivations of South Korea. Worst bit: Charmless diplomats. Lauren Wiszniewski knows what you did last summer.
Written by UWA graduate Sarah Drummond, the entire book consists of short, anecdotal stories that usually last between two to three pages. The stories, unsurprisingly, are about a character named Salt. While Salt is a less than creative name for a character in a book about fishing, it turns out he is a semi-fictional representation of a fisherman that Drummond worked with for a time in South Western Australia. There, he taught Drummond how to fish commercially, swear, and hit the piss, and about philosophies such as classic fisherman libertarianism. Drummond’s autobiographical writing style appealed to me but failed to create an interest in commercial fishing. The short, anecdotal structure of her memoir also makes for easy reading but ultimately works against her. The supposed argument for the maintenance of sustainable fishing in Australia (that the media release told me to look out for) is lost to stories of hording up hundreds of fish at once, mistakenly netting rays and sharks (potentially causing Barotrauma) and pre-emptively killing seals to ensure that they don’t eat all the fish in the area before they are caught by fishermen.
In his notes accompanying the book, King mentions his disdain for Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, insisting that only the original novel is the true story of the Torrence family. If you have only seen the film, then have no fear, a quick trip to Wikipedia will get you up to speed on the differences between the novel and the film.
Ultimately Salt Story is exciting in bits and dull for the rest. It is hard to sympathize with the book’s stance on fishing in Australia but I think if my morals or knowledge of fish had matched that of the book I would have enjoyed it much more.
Best bit: Learning more about the nature of Dan’s ‘shining’. Worst bit: Finishing and realizing that I have to go back to my normal life.
2.5/5 Best bit: Short and quick to read anecdotal structure that means if the story you’re on is too dull the next one is around the corner. Worst bit: A combination of Drummond’s attempts to sound cool/hip/with it that end up making her sound edgy AND the book’s assumption that the reader knows fishing lingo. Michael Z. Morrissey is a vegetarian 4th year Education student who has a strong conflict of interest with Salt Story.
Doctor Sleep is Stephen King’s rather belated sequel to his eponymous ‘The Shining’ and was well worth the wait. A fantastic successor to the book that defined the horror genre nearly four decades previously, Doctor Sleep delves deep into themes such as the importance of family, death and the afterlife, regret and forgiveness and alcoholism. Indeed, the entire story at times seems to be a figurative journey through sobriety. Doctor Sleep follows and adult Dan Torrence and his attempts to reconcile his past and his unique talents with himself. In doing this, King reveals more about the nature of Dan’s ‘shining’, and with it, more practitioners with sinister motives. We also see some familiar faces from the Overlook – proof that dark memories can haunt you long after you believe them to be buried and forgotten.
With Doctor Sleep, King has reaffirmed his position as one of the most creative and enduring horror writers of the modern day. 5/5
Brad Griffin is troubled.
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in wait for the chance to wreak the greatest vengeance on the greatest number… The present day: a summer night at University College London. Three happygo-lucky political science students steal the ghoulishly mummified head of the famed utilitarian philosopher and social reformer from its cosy but tasteful display case home. EXT. UNIVERSITY GROUNDS – NIGHT
PANOPTICLIPSE TAGLINE: THE QUESTION IS NOT, CAN THEY REASON?, BUT RATHER, CAN THEY SUFFER? PREMISE: The reanimated head of Jeremy Bentham realises that humanity’s actions since 1832 have consistently not been for the greater good. He decides that, although all punishment is mischief, this mischief has gone too long unpunished. SYNOPSIS: London, 1832. An elderly, dying Jeremy Bentham comforts a room of loving followers and friends with a final reiteration of his philosophy: it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong. His last wish: that his body be preserved, so that the world will remember his principles and hopes. However, unbeknownst to the dying Bentham, morticians at University College London plan to attempt to preserve his head using an experimental mummification technique based on indigenous Polynesian practises. Disaster strikes when the process goes terribly awry, leaving Bentham’s head horribly disfigured and trapping his soul within the mutilated head. Given the hideousness of the mummified head, the University decide to disregard Bentham’s will and remove the head from his preserved skeleton, instead keeping the head locked in a display case next to his body. However, the head is repeatedly stolen by drunken university students and subjected to cruel and unusual antics. Trapped for centuries inside his decaying cranium, Bentham’s soul grows vengeful and lies
Harry, Zayn and Louis drunkenly stumble through the campus grounds, kicking a
soccer ball. CUT TO: Zayn boots the ball straight over Harry’s luscious hair and into a spiked fence. The ball emits a pained sigh as it slowly deflates. HARRY - Good one, you twat! ZAYN – Maybe if you got a haircut, you’d be able to see the ball, you prancing git. LOUIS – Alright lads, simmer down. But if we’re going to re-enact all five of England’s goals at Euro2012, we’re going to need to find another ball. HARRY – At this hour? No chance. ZAYN – Well, what do you suggest? The group in silent pondering about the nearest round object. HARRY: Hang on, what about Bentham? ZAYN: What about ‘im? HARRY: We could use his head, like they did in the old days! ZAYN: Are you doing shrooms again? LOUIS: Not only is that incredibly disgusting, it’s highly illegal! Do you really think we could get away with a game of Benth-ball without serious repercussions? HARRY: Come off it you wankers, we’re teen heartthrobs! We can get away with anything. INTERIOR – UNIVERITY COLLEGE BUILDING – MEETING ROOM The three youths, still very intoxicated, force open a door and approach a glass case containing a shadowy wax figure. We cut to a close up of a mysterious wooden box at the foot of the figure.
ZAYN: This place is fucking creepy, man HARRY: Stop being such a pussy, LAYN! ZAYN: Is that like your one comeback, Styles? HARRY: Shut up and help me break this case with our two Best International Artist ARIA awards! They use the dangerously pointy trophies to smash through the glass, and then pick up the box and place it on the nearby meeting table. They proceed to use the awards to break the heavy lock and pry open the sealed box to reveal a darkly disfigured head inside. HARRY: That’s so Dench! LOUIS: What the hell is that! The smell alone is enough to... to... BLEUGH! He proceeds to vomit all over the case. Suddenly, the head flies upwards, striking the still vomiting LOUIS in the head, who falls backwards. BENTHAM: At last! Emancipated from my abominable confinement! Who dares awaken the wrath of my utilitarian thunder?! You three gentlemen, are you disciples of my work? HARRY: Dude, these shrooms are making me trip balls! ZAYN: That’s not the shrooms, that thing is real! BENTHAM: What year is it? Are you lads paperboys? Bring me a copy of The Westminster Review! HARRY: Pfft, get bent you dodgy prat! We’re superstars, you’re just a figment of my imagination! BENTHAM: You mischievous rapscallion! I’ll have you tarred and used as a garden decoration for such fiendish vulgarity! HARRY: Listen, geezer, I don’t know what the hell you are, but I’m not taking orders from some enchanted flying head! Now get down here so I can practise my corner kicks! BENTHAM flies down and viciously latches onto HARRY’S throat, a horrific array of blood and hair flying around the room. ZAYN: Fucking hell! BENTHAM: (spits out chunk of flesh) I hope you lived while you’re young, cause I’m about to make some midnight memories to die for! The head charges towards ZAYN with a terrifying cry, made all the more horrific by the absence of a larynx. BENTHAM: (spits out chunk of flesh) I hope you lived while you’re young, cause I’m about to make some midnight memories to die for! The head charges towards ZAYN with a terrifying cry, made all the more horrific by the absence of a larynx. CUE OPENING CREDITS
Picture by Zoe Kilbourn 47
Published on Feb 17, 2014