On the (Rest of the) Net.

LindsayOWN

I wrote about Oprah’s docuseries being bad for Lindsay Lohan’s career. At least before her lacklustre reputation could be boiled down to “Rumours”. Now, despite her addiction and various other mental and physical issues, we’ve see just how unprofessional she really is. [Junkee]

Jill Meagher’s widower Tom on the “Monster Myth”, rape as punishment, and as an inevitability for certain types of women by certain types of men who don’t understand “the rules”:

“The idea of the lurking monster is no doubt a useful myth, one we can use to defuse any fear of the women we love being hurt, without the need to examine ourselves or our male-dominated society. It is also an excuse to implement a set of rules on women on ‘how not to get raped’, which is a strange cocktail of naiveté and cynicism. It is naïve because it views rapists as a monolithic group of thigh-rubbing predators with a checklist rather than the bloke you just passed in the office, pub or gym, cynical because these rules allow us to classify victims. If the victim was wearing x or drinking y well then of course the monster is going to attack—didn’t she read the rules? I have often come up against people on this point who claim that they’re just being ‘realistic’. While it may come from a place of concern, if we’re being realistic we need to look at how and where rape and violence actually occur, and how troubling it is that we use a nebulous term like ‘reality’ to condone the imposition of dress codes, acceptable behaviours, and living spaces on women to avoid a mythical rape-monster. Okay, this rape-monster did exist in the form of Adrian Bayley, but no amount of adherence to these ill-conceived rules could have stopped him from raping somebody that night.” [White Ribbon Australia]

Can you be a feminist and…? [Another Angry Woman]

Equal opportunity objectification. (I also wrote about the phenomenon upon the release of Magic Mike in 2012.) [Jezebel] 

James Franco, teen girls and “Humbert Humbert culture”. [The Style Con]

The garish-yet-elegant art of drag… and wrestling! [WFAE NPR]

On TV, troubled women are better off dead than being helped. [The New Republic]

Still with TV, rape in the golden age of it. Notice how most of these shows centre around men while raped women are in the periphery. [Washington Post]

And further to this, isn’t it about time straight, white men on TV stopped being represented above all other possibilities? [SBS News]

Battling street harassment with street art. [New York Times]

The science of promiscuity. [The Wheeler Centre]

Image via Junkee.

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: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

Magazine Review: Sunday Life, 24th July 2011.

 

You’d better duck into your nearest newsagent and hope they have a spare copy of The Sunday Age/Sydney Morning Herald, as its weekly insert, Sunday Life, is a must-read.

In addition to the usual fabulous columns by Mia Freedman and Sarah Wilson, who talk about the hullabaloo surrounding the recent plus-sized (and scantily clad) cover of Vogue Italia (p. 7), and being “deliberately” and uncomfortably vulnerable (p. 10), respectively, Rachel Hills writes on classism in Australia (p. 16–17) and deputy editor Natalie Reilly ponders the magazine’s recent Kate Ellis cover (p. 19).

What with the recent carbon tax being slammed for not being affordable for lower income earners and “Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott… falling over themselves to defend the livelihoods of ‘battlers’ earning more than $150,000 a year—an income more than double the median for Australian families,” class is more of an issue in Australia than ever before, but talking about it “just isn’t cool”.

It’s a very interesting issue, one that has somewhat reared its head in SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From, the still-to-be aired Housos, a satirical take on life in a housing commission, and the backlash against Cate Blanchett backing the carbon tax.

I have written a little bit here and there about such things, but ultimately, it’s hard to take the “cashed-up bogan” seriously when they say they can’t afford to pay the carbon tax: if they just turned off their $2000 flat-screen TV that they bought with their baby bonus, we might not be in this mess. (Harsh, yes, but it is an anecdotal example!)

Hills quotes Housos, Pizza and Swift & Shift Couriers producer Paul Fenech, who likens the uproar over Housos as “a rich wanker test. The truth is, when we show this comedy to people who live it, they love it.” This could also be applied to the carbon tax and the public reception of shows like Angry Boys: you can always count on the conservative, upper-to-middle class right to become uproarious about such things. Could it be because “talking about class makes us nervous… because it suggests that we might not be as equal as we’d like to think we are—and that’s threatening”? I’d bet it is.

I saw this first hand when I brought up Go Back to Where You Came From with a right-leaning friend. Then I told him I was going to vote Greens next election. Then he called me a communist.

But what’s so wrong with believing everyone should receive the same civil rights? Abbott would argue, “why ‘screw over… people who want to get ahead’?” Indeed; but does it mean that we have to step on the little man to do so?

In “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”, Reilly addresses the age old conundrum of serious women not being able to be taken seriously if they’re dressed in anything remotely “sexy”.

Apparently, there was an outcry from Sunday Life readers regarding the June 26 issue, which featured Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, dressed in a pink high-necked blouse, red pencil skirt (above the knee, but I wouldn’t call it a mini) and killer turquoise heels. And therein lies the problem:

“When a female politician wears anything other than a sensible suit, outrage ensues.”

Yet, when Prime Minister Julia Gillard wears an unflattering get-up, she’s criticised for not being fashionable enough. Seems a girl just can’t win.

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

Does Pop Culture Glamourise Our Carbon Footprint?

Conservativism Reigns Supreme in The Sunday Age’s Opinion Section.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Latest Trend in Discrimination.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] $150,000 Doesn’t Make You Rich. Discuss.

[MamaMia] The Four Reactions to This Magazine Cover.

[Sarah Wilson] How Do You Get “Deliberate” About Your Life?

[Girl with a Satchel] “Carbon Cate” for T Magazine & the Prius Effect.

[Sydney Morning Herald] Go Back to Where You Came From Strictly for the Gullible.

[Heathen Scripture] The Other Reason Why Raquel Was Wrong.

Image via Sydney Morning Herald.

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.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Islam.

From the transcript of SBS Insight’s “Fear of Islam” episode, which aired back in November of last year:

“… Every single thing that has been said about Muslims, that they are un-American, that they are foreign, that they are exotic has been said in this country about Jews in the 20th century, was said about Catholics in this country, in the latter part of the 19th century, so it’s a common occurrence in the United States…

“If we want to make sense of this mess and stop pushing Muslims into the arms of the extremist, we need to make meaningful distinctions between the religion of Islam that a billion Muslims follow and see as a guidance of peaceful righteous moral life and the puritanical Islam of a minority which so captures the media’s attention…

“… It’s kind of convenient to simply pick an choose whatever violent bits and pieces one finds in the Koran and ignore the equally important verses that talk about compassion and peace…

“… You have Today Tonight and A Current Affair which essentially on a fortnightly basis is Muslim bash [sic]. When you get that perception of Muslims, for a lot of mainstream people their understanding of Islam is established through a ridiculous documentary focused on extremism or A Current Affair Muslim bashing, so we need to understand where we are getting our knowledge of Muslims…”

Elsewhere: [SBS] Insight: Fear of Islam Transcript.

Image via Quran Reading.

TV: Glee Gets Down on Friday at the Prom.

 

So Rebecca Black has officially permeated the zeitgeist, with “Friday” being performed by Puck, Artie and Sam at McKinley High’s junior prom on last night’s episode of Glee.

And despite Quinn’s monotonous efforts to be crowned prom queen, along with Finn as her king, she lost out to “queen” Kurt.

Kurt’s date Blaine told Kurt of what happened to him at his last prom (he and another gay friend were set on by the school homophobes and gang bashed) and that he wasn’t 100% comfortable with attending, but he went for Kurt anyway.

Kurt’s dad, Burt, was concerned that Kurt’s “royal wedding-inspired” tux, which he handmade himself, wasn’t appropriate and that Kurt shouldn’t draw any extra attention to himself and Blaine.

Kurt thinks, despite Santana and Karofsky escorting him to and from classes as part of their Bully Whips anti-bullying squad, that McKinley is really coming around to the idea of gay acceptance, because he hasn’t been physically or verbally abused since returning from Dalton Academy.

Hatred builds up inside if we can’t let it out, and it seems that the kids at McKinley let it out sneakily and quietly, by “secret ballot” for prom queen.

But you know Kurt: he sucked it up and went out there in front of the school to tell them… “Kate Middleton, eat your heart out.” Okay, I was expecting something a little more inspirational than that, considering the “gay prom” issue is one that’s rampant in the U.S., and also here, as a recent episode of SBS’s Insight will attest.

But I suppose we have Chris Colfer’s Golden Globes speech to comfort us.

And, as is Glee’s trademark, the controversy was wrapped up nicely into one 42-minute episode and McKinley’s homophobia will live to fight another day.

Until then, let’s get down on “Friday”!

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: [SBS] Gay in School: SBS Insight.

Images via Showbiz Nest, I Am Thea 07, Maurissa Weiner.

ADFA Sex Scandal—Just a Few Bad Eggs?

Here are some particularly poignant quotes from Insight’s look at the sex scandal that rocked the Australian Defence Force Academy, and their treatment of women:

“… We are recruiting from a society that may put great emphasis on masculinity, blokey behaviour, these young men coming into ADFA, their heroes are  footballers who are getting slaps over the wrists for sexual misbehaviour and alcohol. You have to realise that we are bringing those sorts of people in…”

This is very true of Australian “blokey” culture, but is it similar inside the defence force?:

 “The cases that we have been looking at are very sad and certainly not accepted in defence but they are in a minority and it is disappointing that I think the culture is not the negative culture that we are trying to portray in some of these stories. As bad as they are it’s a strong culture based on values and values based leadership. Yes, there are some bad eggs out there and bad incidents. But that’s not the culture of defence. The defence culture is a positive one based on really strong values.”

Is it really about just a few “bad eggs” amongst a lot of standup officers (as the below anecdote will illustrate) that happen to get their stories of “misbehaviour” in the news? Is “defence culture” a reflection of Aussie society that, indeed, slaps footballers on the wrist for major indiscretions and blames the victim? Or are “these attitudes… coming from within defence”, and somehow perpetuating the above cultural perceptions? Really, how can we trust the ADFA to act within the best interests of Australia and to keep us safe when they can’t even act within the best interests of their female cadets; to keep them safe?

“I had a private soldier come to me who said, ‘Sir, I’m really upset. The sergeant has given me some papers and I’m to be discharged and I don’t know anything about this.’ I asked him to sit down and tell me his story. He was being discharged because his fitness had decreased and reason his fitness had decreased was because he was upset because he had just lost his twins, his twin babies. Both his twins had just died. Of course he was beside himself with grief and wasn’t exercising and wasn’t able to pass his fitness assessment.

“So I said to the sergeant, ‘Leave this with me.’ I went off home, the sergeant had gone into my office and taken the papers out, gone back to the private and told him he was being discharged and that this was what defence was doing with him because he couldn’t pass his fitness assessment. I took that sort of complaint to my Commanding Officer and I was referred for psychological assessment. When I complained about that I was charged with insubordination, when I complained about being charged with insubordination for following the redress of grievance system I was threatened with court martial, a full on court martial for writing letters to people complaining about their behaviour.”

Related: Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Elsewhere: [SBS] Under Fire: SBS Insight Transcript.

Images via SBS, The Daily Telegraph.