TV: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Paper Giants.

One of the best shows this year. Unfortunately, it only ran over two nights.

The Kennedys.

Wow. Just wow. I loved this miniseries that was cancelled by the History Channel in the U.S. because it allegedly portrayed the Kennedy family in too negative a light. Luckily, it was picked up by the ABC here. I am now officially in love with Greg Kinnear.

Go Back to Where You Came From.

Apart from Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners expose on the meat industry (below), SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From was the most groundbreaking television this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it changed anyone’s minds about the plight of refugees in this country, because those who already empathise with asylum seekers were the show’s target audience, and those who think refugees should go back to where they came from snubbed the show.

Sookie & Eric Finally Get Together on True Blood.

While I’m more of a Sookie and Bill fan, and an Alcide-in-general fan, Eric’s turn as sensitive Sookie-lover in True Blood’s fourth season was a must-watch. But thankfully, the Nordic vampire is back to his old, heartless self.

Charlotte King’s Rape in Private Practice.

Private Practice is an oft-shunned show, in favour of its Seattle counterpart, Grey’s Anatomy, but season four dealt with abortion and rape particularly sensitively and realistically.

Four Corners’ Expose on the Meat Market.

This was probably one of the most talked about news stories in Australia, if one of the most poorly rated episodes of Four Corners. Not because people didn’t care, but because it was so hard to watch. It’s perhaps too soon to tell, but I think we are seeing a chance in meat practices in Australia because of this story.

The Slap.

I found one of ABC’s most anticipated shows of the year to be a spectacular letdown. I’d had Christos Tsiolkas’ novel on my reading list since it was released, however I missed out on reading it before the show premiered in October. Perhaps if I had read the book first I would feel differently about the show, but I found it to be stereotypical and tokenistic, and a massive disappointment from the screen version I had hyped up in my mind. Fail.

MamaMia Gets Its Own TV Show.

Probably not many TV watchers outside of the insular community of MamaMia and Sky News would have known about Mia Freedman’s lifestyle website making the switch to TV. I don’t have pay TV but, luckily, the shows are available to watch on the MamaMia website, YouTube and Facebook, where the panelists talk about all manner of things, like sex, mental illness, celebrity, porn, religion, parenthood and more.

Angry Boys.

I hadn’t watched any of Chris Lilley’s stuff before Angry Boys and, while a lot who had thought the show was a bit of a letdown, I really enjoyed it.

Housos.

Another one that was a bit hit-and-miss, I’d anticipated the show all year. While some moments were gold, others were just supremely unfunny.

At Home With Julia.

Finally, the cherry on top of a parody-tastic television year. I really enjoyed Amanda Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard, but I still found the fact that there was a show about a sitting prime minister pretty offensive.

Any TV moments I missed here that you thought defined 2011?

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same.

From “The Last Refuge of the Un-Australian” by Tony Birch:

“Recently, when a Pakistani migrant who had been granted permanent Australian residency in 1996 set himself on fire outside the federal parliament, as a result of his unsuccessful application to the Immigration Department to have his wife and child join him here, the Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock stated ‘it’s [self-immolation] not something we are used to or experienced with… sadly he sought to do so.’

“This man had done something that was very ‘un-Australian’. He had publicly expressed his grief and anguish at his treatment at the hands of Australian government officials. He had raised an issue that might tap away at all of those clichés of national foundation and celebration. It is not only ‘un-Australian’ to be, through experience, a whistle-blower against nation-building mythology. Simply ‘to be’ one of those who have been abused by the Australian nation is to be ‘un-Australian’.

“It is also ‘un-Australian’ to intern people without trial for up to four years, to subject people to months of isolation in solitary confinement. It is ‘un-Australian’ to remove those people to remote parts of the country where they cannot be visited by family or friends, to where the activities of the multi-national company that profits from their incarceration cannot be scrutinised by the media or the imprisoned’s legal representatives. It would be ‘un-Australian’ in the extreme to use water cannon, tear gas and truncheons against people imprisoned without trial, who are rightfully protesting about the abuse of their human rights.

“I cannot, as a trained historian, state this with empirical certainty, but it is a mathematical probability that it is ‘un-Australian’ to disparage and devalue the worth and lives of refugees by claiming, without evidence, that many of them ‘may be’ associated with ‘terrorists’. Likewise, the propagandist need to focus more closely on the supposed threat that the approximately 8,000 ‘illegal’ arrivals in the last ten years post to ‘our way of life’ rather than overturn a policy that contributed to more than 350 people drowning trying to get here in just one year (1999), is somewhat ‘un-Australian’ I would think.

“But of course the representatives of the Australian people, the federal government, engage in such behaviour on a daily basis. To ensure that such practices are not perceived as ‘un-Australian’ we not only transfer refugees to remote areas of the country, we un-people those who arrive here by reconfiguring them as ‘the ungrateful’, ‘the terrorist’, ‘the queue-jumper’ and legally as ‘the non-person’. ‘We’ can then protect Australia and ‘our way of life’ against the alien invader as ‘we’ did against ‘the Aborigines’ in the past, because they failed to adhere to the doctrine of terra nullius by unpatriotically refusing to reclassify themselves as ‘non-people’, in claiming their rights and identity as indigenous people.

“The Department of Immigration lists 37 countries that it regards as a threat to Australia, in that visitors who arrive from these countries, by boat or otherwise, are regarded as the most ‘at risk for overstaying their visa’. The countries listed include Bangladesh, Chile, India, Poland, Samoa and Vietnam. Most are non-white and none are Anglo or English speaking (as a first language). And yet approximately 20 per cent of arrivals to Australia who overstay their visas are British. There is no mention of Britain in the blacklisted countries. Nor do we see the fair skin of the backpacker behind the barbed-wire of the detention camps…

“We have a situation in Australia today where we are witnessing the human rights abuses of many people. Aboriginal people continue to be abused as a result of the crimes committed by white Australia both in the past and contemporary society. The abusive treatment of refugees is similar to the treatment of Aboriginal people in the country in that they pose a threat which, more than being based on any material manifestation, either real or imagined, is a threat to a way of life erected on xenophobia, selfishness and a fear of difference.

“We must transform the culture of Australian life by screaming to our politicians that such an idea is genuinely un-Australian and that we will not tolerate it. And we must do this beyond the act of the political gesture. Activism can be a loaded word, but still, to be active in some way, to speak, to write, to march, to protest, to be angry and to put that anger into expression and action is a suitably un-Australian idea at this time.”

This was written… wait for it… in April 2001. More than ten years ago and, indeed, before the September 11 attacks, and nothing has changed. Being young and naïve, I didn’t realise there was as strong an anti-Muslim culture as there is today, just over ten years on. And it’s appalling to have it made aware that Birch’s words are just as poignant today as they were a decade ago.

Related: Melbourne Writers’ Festival: Beyond White Guilt.

My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

September 11, 10 Years On.

Cowboys VS. Aliens & Indians… Does it Really Matter? They’re All the Same Anyway, According to the New Movie.

Elsewhere: [New York Magazine] 9/11 Encyclopedia: Xenophobia.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“If Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman.” [The Bleeding Cool, via Jezebel]

“An Open Letter to Fred Nile”, member of the Christian Democratic Party, who said the baby being expected by Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong and her partner, Sophie Allouache, has “human rights” and should not be brought up in a home with two mummies. [MamaMia]

The anti-child-model argument. And it’s a good one. [The Guardian]

The navel-gazing of the Gen Y writer. [Harvest Magazine]

Latoya Peterson “On Being Feminism’s ‘Ms. Nigga’”. [Racialicious]

The old Hollywood deception that was Rock Hudson. [The Hairpin]

The case for spoilers. I’ve been guilty of giving away the ending of movies and TV shows, saying things like “Oh yeah, and then it grows back” about Jessica’s broken hymen in her first sexual encounter—as a human or vampire—with Hoyt on True Blood, when I asked a friend which episode they were up to. Oh, you haven’t seen it? Whoops! [Jezebel]

The (Real Life) Help. [Jezebel]

And if The Help, the DSK case and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child have taught us anything, it’s that domestic workers are treated like shit. But hope may be on the horizon… [The Houston Chronicle]

As per Beyonce’s suggestion, a new word for feminism: equalism. Though one suggestion seems to have been submitted by Voltron… [Jezebel]

Where have all the good men gone? Not posting on Twitter thread #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend and not being all “Post Gender Normative”, that’s for sure! [Tiger Beatdown, McSweeney’s]

Reproductive rights, consent and organ/egg donation. [Feministe]

Feminism and superheroes conference in Melbourne? So wish I was there! [The Age]

Six myths about terrorists. [MamaMia]

It’s (not) all about popular(ity) at Girl with a Satchel.

Rachel Hills on motivation and the fear of failure. And success! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Classism on True Blood. [Tiger Beatdown]

Caroline Da Costa on why we need RU486 (the “abortion drug”). [MamaMia]

A step in the right direction to welcoming asylum seekers to Australia. [MamaMia]

Still with asylum seekers, along similar lines as my post this week. [The Punch]

Larry David as “feminist hero”? [Jezebel]

“Revolution” is what we call riots we like:

“… Guilt ridden white first-world bloggers… love protests in Syria and Iran and elsewhere because they can cast those people, members of an alien culture, race, and religion, as the perfect representations of resistance while totally stripping them of the actual thorny reality of political rage. Theocratic preferences are stripped away; violent behaviour… is ignored; the re-instantiation of sexist Islamic doctrine within the structures of protest movements are conveniently elided. This is the way of all patronising attitudes from the overclass towards resistance: in order to preserve its romanticized view, it has to occlude the particular grievances and goals that make the protest meaningful in the first place….” [L’Hôte]

In the wake of the death of a toddler attacked by a pitbull, The Punch’s Anthony Sharwood decrees “pitbulls should all be killed. Every last one. It really is as simple as that.” Hmm, not sure I agree…

Do zoos have a place in 2011? [The Punch]

This profile on 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner Michele Bachmann makes me want to pray to the God she so staunchly believes in that there’s still a little bit of sense and belief in President Obama left in the U.S. [The New Yorker]

Image via Jezebel.

Asylum Seekers: Have a Little Compassion.

Late last month an inquiry was launched into the high rates of self-harm and suicide attempts at detention centres across Australia.

Add to this the rioting and hunger strikes at detention centres in Queensland and Darwin, amongst others, and it’s a sorry state of affairs for asylum seekers in Australia.

Those who see asylum seekers as “illegals” when, in actual fact, anyone has the legal right to flee to another country to seek asylum, are probably reasoning that they brought this on themselves, that they shouldn’t expect to come into our country and be given a free ride, exempt from the laws “legal” citizens abide by.

If anyone saw Go Back to Where You Came From, the softening of Cronulla lifeguard Adam Hartup was immediate after he visited men on their final appeal to gain asylum at Villawood detention centre. He relayed the story of one man who said if he wasn’t granted asylum he would have to kill himself because he couldn’t return to his home country, where he would be killed anyway. What other option do these people have?

When you’re caged like an animal (and I don’t even believe in caging animals. Wait, does the zoo count?) and treated like you’re guilty for exerting your legal right to flee a dangerous country, there’s probably not a light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

While I don’t agree with rioting, we can’t let a few “bad eggs”, so to speak, influence the way we view the majority of detainees in detention centres, who are waiting quietly to have their legal right to seek asylum recognised.

Related: My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

Elsewhere: [ABC Lateline] Detention Centre Self-Harming Prompts Inquiry.

[The Age] Police Use Tear Gas to Quell Riot on Christmas Island.

TV: My Response—Go Back to Where You Came From.

 

Last night marked the “where are they now?” special of SBS’s groundbreaking reality TV series social experiment, Go Back to Where You Came From, which aired over three emotional nights last week. The episode was called Go Back to Where You Came From: The Response, so I thought I’d offer my response to the show.

Firstly, I’d like to say that I thought it was one of the best things I’ve seen all year. Hell, I’ll even go as far as saying it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Given the opportunity, I would have loved to go along with Raye, Adam, Darren, Raquel, Gleny and Roderick to Malaysia, Jordan, Kenya, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Certainly, I would think twice about going to those countries on my own, but were the participants in any real danger with a camera crew and, I’m guessing, copious amounts of security around? My money’s on no.

While there has been a lot of criticism of Darren and Raquel, especially, and I was (and still am) one of those naysayers, a lot has to be said for the participants’ willingness to enter into the experiment; their willingness to let the experiment change their views.

I still think Raquel is a bit ignorant and sheltered, but I was really proud of her embracing an offer of friendship from a woman in a “teatowel” on the special last night. She said it right when she said “we all have hearts”, and witnessing what they did would be enough to soften even the hardest heart. Darren notwithstanding.

In fact, I think Raquel hit the nail on the head when she kept complaining throughout the journey that she’s an “Austraylyan” (is that the phonetic spelling for the bogan pronunciation of our country?), that she hasn’t been brought up like this, and—especially—that in the refugee camps, everyone was staring at her and she felt like she didn’t belong. I’m sure these are all feelings refugees have. We’re lucky enough to be raised in the “lucky country”, so to speak. Don’t you think we should extend some of those privileges to those not as lucky?

Another one of the participants I was really proud of was Adam, the Cronulla lifeguard. He certainly came into the program with a set of prejudices from his upbringing in the affluent beachside suburb and his involvement in the 2005 riots there, but I almost cried in the second episode when he sheepishly admitted that he would get on a boat: the very action that he’d been decrying from the beginning. I was happy he changed his mind because a face like that goes to waste on a person so right-wing!

Raye was another who had a marked turnaround. In most of her scenes I wept along with her, and it was great to see her spending time with the Masudi’s, the eldest child of which is coming to stay with her and her husband this weekend.

That leaves Gleny (yay!), Darren (boo!) and Roderick (meh!).

I felt that Roderick didn’t get much screen time and therefore we weren’t really clear on his motivations for going on the program, nor his beliefs. I wasn’t such a big fan of his Tony Abbott t-shirts but, as he said on last night’s special, he believes in the freedom of speech and religion, which is what the Liberal party stands stood for.

Gleny was super awesome and I applaud her efforts to more fully understand the plight of refugees and her offer to house some should it come to that. And if it comes to that, I would be there right alongside her. If people are complaining about people from other countries “infiltrating” the Aussie society and that they should “speak our language”, what better way to integrate them than to have them live with you? Next SBS “social experiment” right there!

Darren was someone I couldn’t really understand; to witness everything he did and the only result be downgrading his vilification of asylum seekers from “queue jumpers” to “system dodgers” is pretty cold-hearted. Especially seeing as his wife is Taiwanese, and could very well have been an asylum seeker if her circumstances were different. A lot of attention was drawn to his children, as well: would he put his family on a boat if it meant the possibility of a better, safer life for them? (The answer was no.)

One of the many things I found interesting was the different reactions from different participants when their views were challenged. Raye and Adam were quick to change their status on refugees and became the darlings of the show, somewhat. But Darren and Raquel, who had the furthest journeys to take in terms of changing their opinions, dealt with this with anger and frustration. The angrier they got, the more the audience could see just how uncomfortable they were with this. Again, as Raquel said, “we all have hearts”.

You’d have to be positively heartless for this show not to affect you. Most of the people I spoke to who watched it said they cried at some point each night. Them and me both. I just hope what eventuates from this show is a deeper understanding of the plight of asylum seekers, and a fire being lit under the government’s ass to make some actual change happen.

Elsewhere: [SBS] Go Back to Where You Came From.

Image via SBS.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS last night, Wednesday or Tuesday night’s, check it out on the website. Do yourself a favour: it really is eye-opening stuff, whichever side of the asylum-seeking fence you sit on (and you’d better be on the right one, dammit!). And here’s MamaMia’s Rick Morton’s take on the show.

Also at MamaMia, “The Weiner Photos”.

Who is Coco?

“The ‘Scary Dad’ Phenomenon.”

It’s a year today since Julia Gillard took over as Prime Minister of Australia.

According to Dilbert creator Scott Adams, men are square pegs in round, vagina-shaped holes. Consent or no.

The Angelina–Louis Vuitton–Cambodia debacle.

Gala Darling on body image and beauty in style blogging:

“… Whoever these girls are that we choose to compare ourselves to, they’re just living their lives—and honestly, if that makes us feel bad about OURselves, it is OUR issue.”

Well said, girlfriend!

Forget Women in Refrigerators. “Dead Men Defrosting.”

“Likes Girls”? Dianna Agron on equality.

Born this way, or pray the gay away? Jezebel, via Autostraddle.

“Liberals tend… to believe that the more socially liberal actions (deciding to make less money and help others) were when people were being true to themselves, and conservatives tend… to believe that socially conservative actions (renouncing homosexuality) were more authentic. So! That solves the case, no? Everyone thinks they’re right, in philosophy as everywhere else in the world.

“Maybe that’s true; maybe what matters are our opinions more than our choices or our biology.”

Freeman-Sheldon sufferer Jes Sachse and photographer Holly Norris challenge the hipster-sexy American Apparel ads with their own “American Able” series of images.

–Phobia and –Isms in Glee.

Now this is how you write an anti-SlutWalk article.

“Why I Walked the SlutWalk.”

Still with the SlutWalk, this time from a man’s perspective.

Girl with a Satchel on Bridesmaids, feminism, taste and “public v private appropriateness”.

Images via West Coast Show, Fell Down the Rabbit Hole, MamaMia.