TV: Paper Giants 2—Modern Day Magazine Wars.

paper giants magazine wars

ABC’s two-part sequel to 2011’s Ita Buttrose biopic, Paper Giants 2: Magazine Wars, culminated last night with the death of Nene King’s husband, Princess Di, and the integrity of gossip magazines.

It’s interesting that the miniseries that charts the rise and rise of Woman’s Day under the leadership of King to overtake New Idea as the premier women’s weekly magazine in Australia aired at the time of all the hullaballoo surrounding the rights to publish pictures from Jennifer Hawkins’ Bali wedding.

For those who haven’t been keeping score, Bauer Media’s Woman’s Day paid upwards of $300,000 to publish exclusive pictures from the former Miss Universe’s wedding to long-time beau Jake Wall, but not before Channel 7, and their associated print platform, Who magazine, put paparazzi pics from a hovering helicopter into the public domain. Sounds like a storyline from the next instalment of Paper Giants

Magazine Wars addresses the pursuit by the paparazzi for the hottest pics during the height of the public’s obsession with the royals, Squidgygate, Camillagate and, of course, Princess Diana’s death, which was arguably caused by the paps. This is juxtaposed with the diving accident death of King’s husband, Pat, whose body has never been found, and King suddenly found herself on the pages of the magazines instead of dictating what was on them. While King and boss Kerry Packer stare at the word “Killer” spray-painted in red on the roller door to ACP’s parking garage and the Woman’s Day office gets threatening phone calls, King laments that she’s only giving the people what they want, before the closing credits roll against a backdrop of Paris Hilton in jail, Anna Nicole Smith’s tragic downfall and Kim Kardashian’s bikini body.

Woman’s Day and its magazine war with New Idea may have been partly responsible for Australia’s growing obsession with celebrity culture, but King’s right: magazine circulation may be dwindling currently, but for a while there gossip rags were modern culture’s guilty pleasure du jour, and that obsession has transferred online to TMZ, Perez Hilton and the like. Princess Di and her ilk may have tried to escape the paparazzi, but in this day and age, they’re an accepted part and parcel of being in the public eye.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Woman’s Day Paid More Than $300,000 for Jennifer Hawkins’ Wedding Shots. Then This Happened…

Magazines: Men Have Issues.

Last weekend’s edition of Sunday Life was dubbed “The Man Issue”, and it gives a forum to men to talk about the things that bother them: namely, stay-at-home fatherhood being seen as feminine and “what women should know about men”, with one clearly more profound and less satirical than the other.

Packed to the Rafters’ James Stewart covers the magazine and talks about his new role as stay-at-home dad to baby Scout, with partner and former Rafters star, Jessica Marais. He admirably says:

“I don’t want to be an absent father…  And now my partner—who has a much larger profile than me, can make five times as much money as me—is hot right now… So it was kind of easy for me to go, ‘Just stop what you’re doing, hang your boots up for a little bit, support her 100 per cent and learn to be a father.’ It was a no-brainer, you know?”

Swoon.

The article touts Stewart as “poster boy for modern-day ‘manism’” [quotations mine], a movement which “liberates” men “from their traditional masculine roles”. Um, I think we already have a movement that works to break the shackles of gender normativity and promote equality between the sexes and it’s called feminism.

In a rare moment of sense from Ita Buttrose, she tells the magazine that “We used to say to women, ‘Make your choice, don’t apologise.’ Well, I think those messages need to be given to men.”

Here, here.

But where The Age insert undoes all its equality talk is in an article that precedes the cover story, about the facts women need to know about men, by former Zoo Weekly editor Paul Merrill. He tells Sunday Life’s primarily female readership that “as hunter-gatherers, housework is not a priority” (how about you hunter-gather some washing?!), and that men prefer famous people who actually do stuff. You know, ’cause women aren’t capable of admiring anyone except the Kardashians. And speaking of that über-preened family, women must remember that “looks aren’t everything”:

“To a woman, the most important thing in any situation is how something looks—her hair, make-up, shoes and house… Who cares!… It’s not being slobby, it’s being less shallow.”

What do I think Merrill needs to know about women? We’d prefer to share the burden of housekeeping, we don’t only read if it’s a gossip mag or 50 Shades of Grey (which he infers in not so many words in the piece), and we don’t like to be called shallow for being well-presented. And where would Merrill be without the latter? Certainly not the editor of a lad’s mag.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Hot Pants & Slut-Shaming. Would You Like a Cardi With That?

Image via Sunday Life Facebook page.

Event: Bendigo Writers Festival.

The month of August is chock full of writers festivals (okay, two, but I’m going to a lot of sessions!), so much so that I’ve taken time off paid work to further my currently unpaid writing career.

Over the weekend I ventured to Bendigo for their writers festival, which boasted big names like Ita Buttrose. I decided to give her talk a miss as it coincided with another talk I wanted to go to about blogging and writing online which is more relevant to me, and frankly, some of the things Ita’s said recently have really rubbed me the wrong way. I think I like her better as portrayed by Asher Keddie than in real life!

While Megan Burke (my new idol) and ABC Open’s Jane Curtis were great speakers (and great bloggers), I felt the audience were all middle aged aspiring mummy bloggers and the content was relevant to them, who are interested in starting a blog, not me. Maybe three years ago, but not now.

The second talk I went to on Saturday was “Are We There Yet?”, featuring Indigenous writer Alexis Wright, astrophysicist turned lawyer turned writer Sulari Gentill, Muslim writer Hanifa Deen, and author Arnold Zable, and facilitated by Shannon Kerrigan, was promising in theory but failed to live up to the hype in practice. I thought all the writers were great and had valuable things to say about how writing contributes to social change but the format of the session was all wrong: I’m not a fan of each speaker telling a story about their take on the subject for a third or a quarter of the time and then it’s over. I much prefer pre-determined questions being posed to the panel and then opening them up for discussion. Suggestion for further panels: use social media to tally up the questions and thought threads attendees want to hear about and incorporate those into the talk, instead of stuffing them into a ten minute question and answer session at the end.

Speaking of, the last talk I went to on Sunday afternoon was about “His & Hers” writing, which had the potential to really delve into the notion that women write about shopping and sex and men write about serious things. When the facilitator, Sofia Ahlberg, asked if women can write a “great Australian novel” and insinuated that they can’t (not because that’s her personal view, I don’t think, but because our society just doesn’t allow for that with, perhaps, the exception of Kate Grenville), a man from the audience and his wife audibly retorted and rudely told Ahlberg to open the discussion up to questions from the audience.

What I got out of the session was an interest in 50 Shades of Grey that I didn’t have before, thanks to John Flaus’ comments that he didn’t think it was written by a woman due to its “clinical”, “outsider” perspective on sex. Either that, or an incredibly narcissistic woman. Interesting.

Also on Sunday was the “What Makes a Hero” session, with Janine Bourke, sports writer Gideon Haigh (sportspeople as heroes is one of my pet topics), Ned Kelly biographer Ian Jones and Hanifa Deen, who asked where minorities get their heroes from if they’re a primarily “conservative construct”, as Haigh asserted. Deen also talked about “cultural amnesia” which I found interesting as we so often put people on a pedestal after—and sometimes despite—committing indiscretions (Ned Kelly, Chopper Reid, and countless football players, to name some Australian “heroes”): “we remember and admire the things we want to”.

Finally, there was a horror panel featuring horror writers Brett McBean and Cameron Oliver, reviewer Lucy Sussex and president of the Australian Horror Writers Association, Geoff Brown. This was probably the best panel in terms of actually addressing the topic and opening the discussion up to questions and comments about “what scares us”. Interestingly, Bendigo is one of the most haunted cities in the world, with more ghosts per person than anywhere else! They talked about the canonical horror films of the late ’70s and ’80s like Carrie, The Shining and The Exorcist and how filmmakers are “scared to scare people” now and that the current zombie, vampire and werewolf trend reflects our xenophobia and fear of the “other”; more so, that they will “turn us into them”. If that doesn’t some up what we’re scared of, I don’t know what does.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

In Defence of Mia Freedman.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Was “Girls on Show” Slut-Shaming?

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?

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Magazines: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants?

 

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Mia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo, Madison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age & Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like Jezebel, Cover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

The Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Images via ABC, MamaMia, Teacup.

TV: Paper Giants–The Birth of Cleo Review.

 

Asher Keddie has never been my favourite actress. So I wasn’t particularly looking forward to her portrayal of magazine mogul Ita Buttrose in ABC’s Paper Giants.

However, after watching both episodes online on Good Friday, I’m now a Keddie convert.

If you’ve read any of the myriad of positive reviews of the miniseries, you’ll know that Keddie gets the Ita lisp down perfectly.

But Keddie gives off a different air to Ita (granted, I’m only really familiar with The Morning Show and etiquette Ita, not the golden age of magazines Ita), though, and really makes the role her own.

Film-wise, the imagery embodies the ’70s perfectly (’cause I was alive then and all!) and harkens back to simpler times, when the printers baulked at having to change their formatting to accommodate the patented Cleo sealed section, saying it couldn’t be done!

Though the role of women was going through an upheaval at the time, and Cleo paved the way for women of that generation.

I found it funny and quite poignant that women like Ita and her assistant Leslie, played by Jessica Tovey, were working to change the status of women through their magazine, while privately their lives were in shambles: Leslie tries to take on the role of sexually empowered woman, experimenting with role play, fantasy and sex toys, but still stays with her unenlightened fiancé Muz, while maintaining an affair with a senior co-worker, who refuses to leave his wife for her. And before Ita’s husband, Mac, leaves her raising one child and pregnant with another, the film juxtaposes Ita arriving home from a long day at the office that included being rebuffed for a loan without the permission of her husband with asking Mac if he’d like onions with his steak, which she immediately begins making.

At this juncture, the Cleo girls raise the notion of Superwoman, and if she actually exists; a debate modern feminists are still grappling with.

My favourite parts of the miniseries, apart from Keddie as Ita, and Rob Carlton as Kerry Packer, was its ability to poke fun at the present day, such as a dig at Time Out magazine, and how it will “never take off” and a Cleo girl asking, “Who’s Paul Keating?”

Related: “Cultural Talking Points”: How Does Jackie O’s “Bad Parenting” Relate to Hunting?

Has Feminism Failed?

Images via Facebook, ABC.