In recent weeks a culture war has raged in the field of science fiction and fantasy. Hot on the heels of the Gamergate controversy – and to a significant extent running parallel alongside it – in this latest case, a right-wing group known as the ‘Sad Puppies’ have campaigned to correct science fiction of its ‘Leftist’ bias. The fight again highlights the deep schisms running through contemporary popular culture.
Why don’t we commemorate Gallipoli by taking a clear, cold-eyed look at what war is and what war does? Instead of featuring members of the Australian cricket team, why doesn’t every Camp Gallipoli event include speakers who have lived through recent wars and can talk about their experiences?
This is not only an argument for ‘representation’ – that is, the idea that if we decentre whiteness and increase representation of non-white poets everywhere, racism will be solved. But representation within poetry is a practical reality: who gets books published? Who gets asked to read or speak on panels? Who is offered residencies at major art/writing institutions? Whose books are added to teaching courses?
In that sense, then, #freshinourmemories can be seen as exemplary rather than anomalous – a reminder that there’s no human misery from which someone won’t try to make a buck and that profiteering was widespread during the war years. Indeed, Woolworths’ specific slogan actually tells us more about the Great War than the anodyne rhetoric of the official commemoration.
Recently Australia has rediscovered an old crime, one it intends to charge Indigenous people with: identity fraud. Apparently the ‘white blacks’ of Andrew Bolt’s imagination are back. Somewhere in Australia there is a mob of pretenders who are lining up to claim the privileges of Indigeneity.