Decoding dystopia

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Article
Category
Culture

The Independent newspaper recently reported the British Broadcasting Corporation is designing a television program in which unemployed and low paid workers will compete against each other, The Hunger Games style, for cash prizes. The newspaper report is one of several recent things that have got me thinking about how aspects of dystopian cinema are bleeding into real life.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture

On forgetting Aboriginal art

Five years have passed since an Aboriginal voice was at the centre of exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and ceremonial practice at the NGV, when Yamatji curator Stephen Gilchrist worked at the gallery (2005-10). He recently wrote about the potential strength of an art institution when Indigenous perspectives inform the way it operates, going beyond ‘us vs them’ scenarios to create ‘culturally resonant’ spaces that can attract and interest multiethnic Australian audiences.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture
Sexism

Grand Theft Auto V's grand gender problem

Because the player’s protagonist character is male, players interact with the simulated world as a man. Women in the game insult the protagonist’s appearance, and men either threaten to attack him, or make sexist jokes and comments expecting his support. This is where the problems of the game begin, but it’s also the start of their solution. GTA VI needs a female protagonist. But what sort of character could she be?

wage hike or strike
Type
Article
Category
Activism
Politics

Wage wars across the Atlantic

Ultimately, it is the public that takes up the slack of a low minimum wage. A report from the Centre for Labor Research and Education found low wages paid by businesses are costing taxpayers in the United States nearly $153 billion a year. After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs is going to working families to meet basic needs.

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Type
Article
Category
Politics
Syriza

The referendum and the momentum

For the last year or more, history has raced ahead in Greece. The impressive victory of the ‘No’ campaign in yesterday’s referendum is the latest significant moment. Forged in the shadow of a banking crisis, with Europe’s political establishment against them, around 60% of Greek voters reaffirmed once more their anti-austerity stance.

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Type
Article
Category
Politics
Technology

Terror at home

‘I think it would also be fair to say that we should have made more of a fuss at the time.’ It was April 2015. In a brightly lit Australian National University lecture theatre, Seven West Media’s Bridget Fair was lamenting the passage of a terrorism law. Depending on how you count such things, it was either the sixty-fifth or sixty-sixth anti-terror law passed by Australia’s parliament since 2001. This one had far-reaching implications. Among other things, it criminalised the conduct of journalism.

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Type
Polemic
Category
Culture

Overboiled and over it

Was it an hour, this premiere episode? It felt unending, progressively folding in on itself like an origami of self-seriousness. True Detective season two’s premiere is stodgy and heavy-handed to the point of oafishness. It plays something like an end-of-times prophecy for slow crime; the whole thing is so done that any genuine new entry to the genre feels like a satire. True Detective is its own comedy sketch.

no-art
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Article
Category
Culture

Dear Minister for the Arts, George Brandis

It is deeply disturbing for any Minister to attempt to directly control the kinds of culture produced in a democracy that values freedom of expression. We want to continue the Australian tradition of arts funding being independent of any political influence. The Minister himself has previously argued that art will always provoke debate, ‘that’s why we have an arms-length and peer-reviewed structure for the allocation for the funding’. What he now proposes is precisely the opposite.

demon
Type
Article
Category
Culture
Sexism

The demonic and the Devine

The stories Devine herself relates about gender, race and class speak to our contemporary, paradoxical moment: we are in an increasingly conservative Australia within a world where feminist thought – though not without compromise – is becoming increasingly mainstream. Devine, a conservative woman with a politics deeply complicated by her feminine subjectivity, is perfectly placed to articulate the profound traumas of contemporary Australian gender politics.

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Type
Announcement
Category
Prizes

The Overland NUW Fair Australia Prize shortlist

What does a fair Australia look like, and how do we get there? The Fair Australia Prize asked writers and artists to engage with these questions and imagine a new political agenda for Australia through fiction, essays, poetry and illustrations. Overland…

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Type
Article
Category
History
Racism

A confederacy of bigots

Take the spoils and leave the debts. In other words, let’s fly the Confederate flag, but refuse to have a conversation about reparations or affirmative action. Let’s have hundreds of Confederate memorials, and not one museum dedicated to slavery. Let’s all read Gone with the Wind, but ignore the convict lease system that locked African Americans into unpaid labour in the aftermath of slavery.

michonne
Type
Article
Category
Feminism
Gaming

Battlefield Feminist: what violence offers gamers

For Feminist Frequency, non-violence in games is about ‘what’s possible when games approach human experience through a lens of empathy rather than one of violence’. But I strongly disagree with this idea: most violent acts in games are inherently empathic within a particular framework – you are fighting for your side (whichever side that is), and many games even allow a degree of choice in that fight, depending on your own moral framework.

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Type
Article
Category
Politics

Witches, terrorists and the ABC

It hardly goes without saying that such moral disengagement is a characteristic feature of Abbott’s style of rule, though in all fairness it is hardly unique to him. It is this that is lost when his actions are attributed to stupidity rather than duplicity. He is, after all, the protege of former PM John Howard, who used the ‘ancient fantasy’ to devastating effect during such events as the Tampa crisis and the children overboard affair as an ideological safety value for weaseling out of all the harmful consequences of three decades of neoliberal policies.

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Type
Article
Category
Writing

Way beyond pay

Over the past decade, media organisations have increasingly switched from keeping full-time staff in foreign regions to hiring freelancers to report from those places. The upshot is badly exacerbated risk. ‘Freelancers generally don’t have an institutional safety net,’ says Abouzeid.

To-travel
Type
Regular
Category
Writing

On writing from where you are

In Australia – and elsewhere – writers navigate a literary landscape marked by a colonising ‘centre’ and colonised ‘periphery’. While AA Phillips coined the pervasive term ‘cultural cringe’ in 1950, the phenomenon itself is older. Prefacing his 1894 Short Stories in Prose and Verse, Henry Lawson wrote bitterly that a writer from the periphery might produce excellent work for years, yet be dismissed as ‘an imitator of some recognised English or American author’ until he or she succeeds in the US or UK.