The gay and lesbian movement of the 1970s gives us plenty of ideas about how we might approach refugee activism. What did we do that worked, and how might these things be relevant to the most pressing moral question in Australia today – the shocking mistreatment of refugees and asylum-seekers?
What keeps you going? The idea that you have a kinship with earlier creatives, and, if you’ve got that novel in a drawer, that you might one day join their celebrated ranks? There’s a lot of people, wrestling with some echt-Williamsburg cutely miniaturist novel, who, if they were honest, have some image of themselves taking martinis on the terrace sometime with Gertrude Stein, Papa Hemingway, Jack Kerouac and Lena Dunham.
In a widely reported presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Cerf expressed last week the belief that we live ‘in a digital Dark Age’ in which ‘an information black hole’ threatens to create ‘a forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century’. You couldn’t frame the problem in more alarmist, apocalyptic terms. But is true? Yes and no. Consider a written English text that exists in two formats: as an analogue document printed on paper and as a digital document written in Word Perfect 2.0 and stored on a 3½ inch floppy disc formatted by a 1989 Apple Macintosh.
It’s still hard to digest the fantastical news reporting that plagued Australia in 2014. From The Courier Mail’s front-page photograph of transgender murder victim Mayang Prasetyo to Fairfax Media’s use of an incorrect photograph in their reporting on the death of Numan Haider, it was a year to forget for Australia’s mainstream media. This was seen most clearly in December’s ‘Sydney siege’, which sent them into overdrive.
Many cite our action as a possible new trajectory. But it is not new. In fact, over the decades that policies of mandatory detention and remote or offshore processing have endured, there have been multiple incidents of creative, high-risk media stunts. Probably the closest precedent to our action was 2004’s Big Brother contestant, Merlin Luck, staging a silent protest during the live eviction show, holding a small banner which read ‘FREE TH REFUGEES’.