Woroni TV wants to hear the best zingers you’ve been subjected to when on the dating scene for an upcoming video ‘Weird Sh*t People Say on Dates’! If you’ve heard anything great, hella cute, random or one-liners which you think would make students gag enter it below 👇👇🏻👇🏼👇🏽👇🏾👇🏿👇👇🏻👇🏼👇🏽👇🏾👇🏿
Comments Off on History Past, Present and Future at the Golden Globes
Hollywood’s prestigious awards season has kicked off with the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. While not part of the elusive EGOT crown of awards, winning a Golden Globe is still highly respected in the film and TV industry and it is often seen as a foreshadowing of who will come out on top at the elusive Academy Awards later in the year.
This year’s ceremony was hosted by odd couple Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh. Their opening monologue was filled with the standard amount of awkward banter as they pretended to roast famous attendees while actually complimenting them. But they eventually settled into their rhythm and chose to finish on a note of acknowledging the progress that Hollywood has made over the last year to improve onscreen representation. Oh said she had felt fear at the thought of hosting the ceremony, but eventually decided that “I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change. Next year could be different. It probably will be. Right now, this moment is real.”
Oh echoed the sentiment again when she won the award for Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve, thanking her parents who were present at the ceremony and crying “I love you” to them in Korean.
Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book won Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy respectively. Rather interestingly, they are both films based on historical events. They have also both triggered dissatisfaction from the families of the subjects of the films, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury and African-American pianist Don Shirley, for not accurately portraying their stories.
Continuing that trend, five out of six awards for acting went to portrayals of historical figures. The only exception was Regina King’s win for Best Supporting Actress as Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk, which was based on the novel of the same name.
The final season of The Americans was awarded with Best Television Series – Drama and the announcement of The Kominsky Method as the Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy prompted audience members to do a quick Google search to find out exactly what the new Chuck Lorre Netflix series was about.
The Golden Globes’ split of the motion picture category in ‘drama’ and ‘musical or comedy’ still continues to baffle audiences each year. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association are not alone in dividing awards by genre. For example, the People’s Choice Awards has four genre awards for best movie – comedy, action, drama and family – as well as best movie overall. There are also awards ceremonies entirely dedicated to different genres, such as the Saturn Awards for science fiction, fantasy and horror films.
However, the Golden Globes usually sticks out for its baffling categorisation of films. Just this year, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born were both of a musical nature (if not in the technical definition of a film where songs are used in place of dialogue to further the plot) yet were nominated in the Drama category. Four out of five nominees in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy are categorised as hybrid ‘comedy-dramas’ with the exception of Mary Poppins Returns which is musical fantasy. Other recent mismatches in the Musical or Comedy category were The Martian(winner 2015) and Get Out (nominated 2017).
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when the winner of Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama was announced and Glenn Close couldn’t wipe the look of shock off her face. Previously a two-time winner for her work in TV, it was her first win for film for her role as Joan Castleman in The Wife. The 71-year-old actress carried her joyous air of surprise right through her speech as she reflected on the role of women in society, “We are women and nurturers, we have our children, and our husbands, if we are lucky enough, our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams. And we have to say I have to do that. And I should be allowed to do that.”
Arguably the biggest success of the evening, Bohemian Rhapsody’s win was quite a shock since the film had only entered the ceremony with two nominations. By the end of the night it had won both its awards and set a record for the Best Picture – Drama win with the least amount of nominations in Golden Globes history.
Box Office and popular culture hits Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians unfortunately did not pick up any awards, again reflecting a rift between films that attract large audiences and those that receive critical acclaim. Crazy Rich Asians actress Michelle Yeoh did grace the red carpet wearing Eleanor Young’s famous emerald ring as in a twist it turns out that the ring was a gift she bought for herself which she then lent for use in the movie.
Australian nominees included Troye Sivan for Best Original Song with “Revelation” from Boy Erased, Nicole Kidman for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama as Erin Bell in Destroyer and Tony McNamara for Best Screenplay with The Favourite but unfortunately no Australians took home any awards.
Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on January 22 followed by the ceremony on February 24, 2019.
Comments Off on Join the News Team in 2019 – Applications Now Open
Woroni is looking for News Reporters to join our exceptional news team at ANU Student Media in Semester One 2019. These positions include 4-6 reporters and two Senior Reporters to guide our new recruits and source articles.
The role of a News Reporter will be:
To write and content for the magazine and online, by responding to current events and issues on campus.
This can be overseeing a specific area of interest, or the role can encompass a wide array of topics and areas of university life. These areas can include: postgrad issues, ANU research, housing issues, low SES awareness, international students, ANUSA, clubs and societies, workplace issues, arts events, higher ed policies, university degree changes, funding changes.
To be aware of events and issues on campus for potential publication – you are the eyes and ears of the student body!
Reporters must be able to adhere to strict deadlines and to work as part of a large team, including other reporters, senior reporters and editors. They will be expected to attend weekly meetings and training sessions at the beginning of the semester.
As a reporter you will be expected to write one article per week, which will be published in print and/or online. Reporters need to have a clear understanding of spelling, grammar and structure in writing, as there will be little oversight to your style of writing. Previous experience in publishing, editing or writing is an advantage, but by no means necessary. Ideal candidates will be a team player, a good planner but also good under pressure. Good communication skills are also essential as you will be conducting interviews face-to-face, on the phone and via email with varied stakeholders.
Reporters can expect to receive an honorarium based on their commitment to the role at the end of Semester.
Woroni is also looking for two Senior Reporters to join the team.
The role of a Senior Reporter will be:
Working with the Reporters to plan and manage Woroni’s news content, including mentoring reporters and co-writing articles
Editing and copy-editing articles written by the reporters
They will need to be available for compulsory weekly meetings, and to attend training sessions prior to the commencement of Semester One. Senior Reporters will be expected to spend just under 10 hours per week editing articles, meeting/corresponding with the news Editor and sourcing potential stories.
Each Senior Reporter must generally edit between 2-3 articles per week, to be published in print and/or online. Individuals interested in alternate mediums such as radio, video and experimental writing are encouraged to apply.
You will need to have a clear understanding of spelling, grammar and structure in writing. Previous experience in publishing, editing or writing is an advantage, but by no means necessary. Good communication skills are also essential as fluid communication between editors and reporters is a key role.
Senior Reporters can expect to receive an honoraria based on their commitment to the role at the end of Semester.
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Woroni is looking for News Reporters to join our exceptional news team at ANU Student Media in Semester One 2019. These positions include 4-6 reporters and two Senior Reporters to guide our new recruits and source articles.
Comments Off on The Best Albums You Might Have Missed This Year
We did it, team. We made it to the end of the year (sort of). Although 2018 has been fraught with increasing tensions between countries, an ever-revolving door of political scandals, and just about every natural disaster you can think of, it’s been a bloody good year for music. And I’m here to help you navigate the best stuff. Here’s my list of albums released this year that you may have missed and are now obligated to listen to.
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
I’ve only started to discover jazz this year, and Sons of Kemet provided the perfect introduction in the form of Your Queen Is A Reptile. Hailing from the UK, the band blends African influence with a classic jazz sound (and two drummers!) to create diverse soundscapes unrivalled by previous years’ jazz releases and breathes life into a genre so many are starting to forget.
Best track: ‘My Queen is Ada Eastman’
Mac Miller – Swimming
I’ll be the first to admit that Swimming didn’t initially click with me. It was good, that was for sure, but not something I saw myself coming back to. So, when the announcement of Mac Miller’s passing came, I found myself wandering back and rediscovering the album in all its glory. Drenched in electronics and glistening with heavy bass lines, so much of the album connects personally with the listener. Mac’s signature singing/rapping style consistently outperforms itself as the record rolls on, and his more traditional incorporation of instrumentals creates a perfectly mellow atmosphere unrivalled by many hip-hop releases this year. Although Mac is gone all too soon, it’s nice to know he left such a fantastic album behind.
Best track: ‘Self Care’ – “You never told me being rich was so lonely/Nobody know me, oh well/Hard to complain from this five star hotel”
IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Punk has been on its last legs for a long time now, but IDLES are here to tell you to take that thinking elsewhere. With Joy as an Act of Resistance, they prove there’s still life in the culture. Combining some of the catchiest bass lines of the year with genuinely confronting lyricism, IDLES dip into several genres to make their best work. Addressing themes of toxic masculinity, classism, and xenophobia, and mixed with a diverse combination of aggression and more aggression, it’s an album filled to the brim with on-the-nose one-liners and just pure fun.
Best track: ‘I’m Scum’ – “Spit in your percolator/I am procrastinator/I over-tip the waiter/Sarcastic amputator”
Noname – Room 25
Never one to shy away from how she’s truly feeling, Noname holds her own in a genre dominated by male artists and proves that some of the best writing comes from the heart. Room 25 follows her brilliant Telefone mixtape by amping up the beautifully airy instrumentals, coupling them with almost spoken word-like flow to create a short burst of delightful energy. The introspection never feels forced, and almost becomes its own instrument in the sea of frenetic drum lines and measured bass playing. It’s glorious to hear an artist finally achieve their full potential, and I hope you love it just as much as I do.
Best track: ‘Don’t Forget About Me’ – “I know my body’s fragile, know it’s made from clay/But if I have to go, I pray my soul is still eternal”
Saba – Care for Me
Finally, I cover an artist I truly hope is on the come-up: Saba. His unique blend of lofi with jazz-based hip-hop creates an incredible dynamic between instrumentals and lyricism all through Care for Me, and it results in one of the most enthralling listens of the year. Despite the warm surface of the music, the album conveys Saba’s battles with his demons, his close friends dying, and police brutality. But the at-times bleak lyricism is backed by chilled instrumentals, creating a dynamic unmatched by his contemporaries. It perfectly complements a rainy day, or even just a bleak one, but it warms the soul and leaves the listener hoping for a better future.
Best track: ‘BUSY/SIRENS’ – “Surely deservin’ of all this lonely/You sad? Tell me, how you sad? You got all these friends, you got all these fans”
Ashley DeLeon is from South Carolina. She writes like your grade two teacher: rounded letters with stripes through the ‘z’, and careful, consistent spacing. It makes the words look almost harmless: Christmas. Glass. Bullet. Last night, Ashley’s dad shot up the house. Guns and ammunition from his time in the Marines were laid out on his bed like a little black dress. She walked barefoot over shattered glass to wrestle him to the ground, preventing him from shooting his family and then himself. And then she lay there, shivering on the front lawn, overwhelmed with the weight of it all.
Ashley doesn’t want anything in particular. There is no policy demand in the letter she sent to President Obama, which ended up in front of the 30 staffers, 500 volunteers and various interns who helped to manage the White House mailroom. Its powerful emergency message saw it filtered into the ‘red dot’ pile, to be replied to within twenty-four hours. The red-dot pile was for people who were a danger to themselves or others.
Every day of his presidency, Obama received about 10,000 letters. And every evening, he read ten. Nicknamed the 10Lads (short for ‘ten letters a day’) they were chosen by the extensive team of mailroom staff for their emotiveness and power. Obama answered some himself, giving notes to his team to help them answer others.
The letters are a picture of an America torn asunder, but also one that works hard to put itself back together. Many were stories of a moment of despair: people who had lost a loved one, particularly a soldier, perhaps from suicide. Sometimes people sent in their bills, their last chances, their mortgage statements. Sometimes they were proud: a man finally admitting to his wife that he was gay, a mother with her teenager’s spotless report card.
And sometimes they couldn’t stop seeing the America Obama had shaped, and continued to shape. “Sir, I was injured in Afghanistan in 2011…I am horrified at the thought of my future,” Patrick Holbrook from Hawaii wrote. “YOU, Sir,” Bethany Kern emphasised, “are the one person that IS supposed to HELP the LITTLE PEOPLE like my family. In my neck of the woods…jobs are few and far between.” “I miss my career and my old hands” said Bobby Ingram. “Thank you for listening to the citizen I am.”
Why write to the President? Volunteers suspected people felt more of a personal connection to Obama than previous presidents. Perhaps it was his relative youth and young children, they mused. Perhaps it was the new direction he represented for the White House: the first black president might bring with him a habit of listening to the people who weren’t usually listened to.
And listen Obama did. In 2009, when Natoma Canfield wrote to the President about her enormous health insurance premiums (“I need your health reform bill to help me!!! I simply can no longer afford to pay for my health care costs!”) he framed it, and it hung between his private study and the Oval Office. Criminal justice issues had always made a heavy showing in hard mail, because it was the last resort channel of communication with those who had the power to change things. Fiona Reeves, the director of the mailroom, decided to include letters from inmates in Obama’s nightly reading. Obama’s 2014 Justice Department program which offered executive relief to federal prisoners serving for nonviolent drug crimes appeared to show he had been reading it. Another issue commonly raised in the letters was the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy around homosexuality. One painful letter was written anonymously because “the person I love can be dishonourably discharged for loving me back.” When Obama repealed the policy and legalised gay marriage, the same person wrote again. “On Aug 3 my husband…will be promoted to senior master sergeant, and I’ll be there to hand him his new shirt with the extra stripes on it.”
Even the order of the letters had power. Reeves, in charge of arranging them, did so carefully, sometimes pointedly: three about the Dakota Access Pipeline in a row, two conflicting experiences of the Affordable Care Act back-to-back. Obama noted that “occasionally, the letter is particularly, uh, pointed at what an idiot I am.” His favourite letters were those that “made a connection”. He recalled stories, from Marines with PTSD to a man writing about his son’s friend, an illegal immigrant. In reading the letters, the line between person and President blurred. They contributed to a President who, when asked what he was proudest of during his time in office, noted that he didn’t feel like he’d lost himself. “I haven’t become cynical, and I haven’t become callused,” he said. “And I would like to think that these letters have something to do with that.”
Ashley’s letter was one Obama personally responded to. The last line of his message encapsulates what people seem to want from their letters to the President, even if the society he leads remains harsh. “Beneath the pain,” Obama wrote, “your father still loves his daughter, and is surely proud of her.”
“What we need more of is slow art – art that holds time as a vase holds water.” (Robert Hughes)
The Water Gallery is a narrow space hidden away on the lower ground level of the National Gallery of Australia. Floor to ceiling windows create the illusion that the pond, which laps against the building, is actually inside the space. Descending a staircase from the cavernous contemporary gallery into this intimate space makes coming here feel secret and special. I recently discovered that the works by contemporary Japanese ceramicists previously occupying this gallery is now gone, to be replaced by a new exhibition in December. I frequently visited this display, and its loss is one I feel keenly. For me, the space perfectly answered the call by art critic Robert Hughes for “slow art” as a response to the increasingly fast-paced commercial art world.
Popular philosopher Alain de Botton suggests that art can offer therapeutic benefits which ought to be accessible to ‘ordinary’ people as well as artworld-initiated audiences. These benefits include providing hope, making us feel less lonely, and showing us the value in “everyday things”. When people look at art they intuitively seek something that can help them make sense of the world, connect with other people, see their own experiences reflected back at them, and deeply engage with new ideas – but often contemporary art fails to deliver on these expectations. A lot of the art that fills the ever-expanding art fairs and biennales across the world instead leaves its audience (including me) alienated, disengaged and confused.
Art historian Julian Stallabrass criticised the young British artists (think Damien Hirst’s ‘shark’ or Tracey Emin’s ‘bed’) for producing work which ‘looked like’ contemporary art but failed to engage viewers deeply, describing this phenomenon as “High Art Lite”. Robert Hughes took aim at the work of Jeff Koons and other “fast art” for presenting mere novelty without really having anything “fresh and vital to say.” Often on the contemporary art circuit the hype around new media – be it consumer products, animal carcasses, video, or virtual reality – can disguise the absence of meaningful content. This ‘fast’ or ‘lite’ art fulfils the market’s demand for a fashionable product that has the look of contemporary art, but it does not follow through on showing us new ways to see, to live in and to understand our world. The outcome for audiences is that we go in looking for art which helps us make sense of things, but what we get instead is art which leaves as bewildered – or simply bored – instead.
The trend in contemporary art appears to be to emphasise the plurality of conflicting perspectives. Art focuses on the particularities of experience, which often require local knowledge to understand, and bombards audiences with a dizzying array of technological possibilities, moral conundrums and ambiguous political messages. Themes of alienation and the inability to communicate abound. Compulsory postmodern self-awareness perpetually deconstructs but offers us no alternative structures through which to make sense of our world.
Undoubtedly this hopeless confusion reflects the reality of the contemporary world, but the problem for audiences is that we already know that living in today’s global digital world can feel overwhelming and uninterpretable. Art which merely replicates this chaos becomes just another stream of conflicting information and imagery adding to those which already bombard us daily, and tells us nothing about how we might actually comprehend our lives.
The antidote advocated for by Robert Hughes is ‘slow art’. In 2004, he said that we need “art that holds time as a vase holds water” – a maxim I feel was embodied by the Water Gallery display. The contemporary Japanese ceramic works housed in this space do not “look new”, but they demonstrate that contemporary art needn’t rely on superficial novelty to continue to be relevant. They acknowledge the value of tradition, gradual refinement of artistic forms, and painstaking processes of creation. The pieces and their interaction with the space itself invited us to take pause from our fast-paced digitally-driven lives, be fully present in this meditative place, and contemplate the quiet works and moving reflections of water on the ceiling.
Take, for instance, Mihara Ken’s Kigen (Genesis) no 1. The work does not shout for our attention or instantly gratify us with spectacle, it emerges slowly. Standing before the work, you would notice the gravity of the form in relation to your own body – the sense that it would be heavy to lift. I think that now more than ever in the context of our increasingly digital world we intuitively respond to that which is tangible and handmade. A work like this is something of a relief in an art landscape dominated by video and virtual reality.
Although the elegant form seems timeless, the work also speaks to the contemporary art world’s desire to embrace the cultural specificity of local and personal experience. Shinto culture is a key inspiration for the piece, particularly the importance of ritual, which is echoed in Mihara’s repeated firing and grinding of the ceramic. The distinctive deep metallic tones come from the high iron content of the Izumo clay, local to Mihara’s native Shimane prefecture. The result is textural and architectural; the form gives us a tangible sense of the landscape from which it is formed, the physical hand of the artist in shaping it, and the repeated, ritualistic processes involved. The design of the Water Gallery display was an essay in sensitive curatorship. The gently rippling pond outside echoed the Shinto ritual of water purification and created a meditative atmosphere, which evoked the practice of worship at kami shrines that remains central to shrine-Shintoism in contemporary Japan.
Aided by careful curatorship, works like Mihara Ken’s allow us to deeply engage with new ways of thinking about the world and connect with the experiences of others instead of reminding us how disparate and disconnected we are. The Water Gallery offered respite from an alienating and confusing world. It was a space that showed us that there is more to life than our everyday concerns and needs – something that great art has always offered, and which will continue to be a relevant aim of contemporary art today and into the future. My sense of loss at no longer being able to visit this display demonstrates the success of the Water Gallery in facilitating a meaningful and personal experience of contemporary art. I can only hope that the new display will be just as moving.
Comments Off on The Forgotten Asia: From Nagini to Crazy Rich Asians
To the uni students like myself who should be writing essays instead of browsing Facebook and Twitter: you’re probably aware of the recent controversy over the casting choice of the role Nagini in the new Fantastic Beasts movie. Since the release of the trailer of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, fans have gone crazy over the choice to cast South Korean actress Claudia Kim as Nagini. The first issue fans have brought up is that Nagini is a snake, and firmly on the ‘bad guy’ side in the series. This draws on the stereotypical ‘Dragon Lady’ caricature which sees East Asian women presented as powerful but cold and deceitful. Worse, she is also a pet to Voldemort, a middle-aged white man. For many this brings to mind the fetishising of Asian women which has long been seen as a problem in Western-produced media. Now you can see why critics call that false representation. J. K. Rowling responded to her critics in a tweet which read, “The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini’… Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi…” At first glance, this makes it seem quite reasonable to have an Asian actress cast in the role of Nagini.
But it’s not quite that simple. The Indonesian myth of Naga is actually derived from the Shiva-Hinduist tradition, where the nāga are a proud semi-divine race who can appear as humans, serpents or a mix of the two. In Asia at large, the Naga myth is associated with either Hinduism or Buddhism, which is perhaps something Rowling should have considered when casting her Naga. Furthermore, while it is true that Indonesia comprises highly ethnically diverse populations, Korean actress Kim is a strange choice to represent them. 95% of Indonesia’s 300 ethnic groups are of Native Indonesian descent, with Chinese Indonesians making up less than 1% of the population. This means that most of the Indonesian population have much darker skin tones than Chinese, Japanese and Korean people. If Rowling’s aim was to keep the role true to the origin of the myth, she missed the mark by using a broad brush to cast an Asian actress rather than considering her specific origin.
Of course, J. K. Rowling isn’t solely to blame for this issue. Not only Hollywood, but its audience, too often forgets about a large portion of Asia. Often when we talk about racial representation or racialism, the term ‘Asian’ is almost exclusively used to refer to Chinese, Japanese, South Korean and Singaporean people. It is almost like these 4 countries are the only countries in Asia. The justification that immediately springs to mind is that these countries represent a significant proportion of the Asian population. However, the population of India is 5 times more than the population of Japan, South Korea and Singapore combined. South Korea is not even in the top 10 countries in Asia by population. And yet when it comes to Asian representation, especially in Hollywood, we can only think of Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans.
An example of this can be seen in the recent Warner Bros production of Crazy Rich Asians. Singapore, where the film was largely shot, is more diverse than many assume: Malays, Indians and other ethnic minorities account for around a quarter of its population. But the film focuses on Chinese people, Singapore’s ethnic majority, at the expense of any representation of this variety. Ng Yi-Sheng, an Asian and gay rights activist, noted that the ‘brown Asians’ in Crazy Rich Asians mostly perform menial tasks like driving and domestic work, and play (without fail) bit parts in the film. The film’s female lead Constance Wu noted in a tweet that the film won’t represent ‘every Asian American.’ Of course, there is a limit to the number of ethnicities who can be represented in a film. But is forgetting large swathes of Asia the way to go about achieving representation?
As someone from Hong Kong and a member of Asian community, I feel a bit hypocritical when we complain about Asian representation in Hollywood and demand for the world to stop ignoring our existence. While representation of East Asians like myself (a category seen to include primarily China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Vietnam) is certainly still lacking, when we mobilise to call for more we seem to ignore our neighbours.
Asians are more than just Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans and Singaporeans. Asians are more than pale yellow skin tones. The next time when we talk about the Asian representation, perhaps it is a good time to rethink what it means to have true representation.
In Northam, the sunset matches the land. Layers of red, pink and brown like an endless gradient seep in to the scrubby horizon. Silhouetted against the darkening sky is the tiny town’s biggest art installation, its shades of green and blue almost garish in this brush-soft landscape. The site of this art? Not, as you might expect, another of Australia’s giant objects. Instead, the 6,500-person town 100km north-east of Perth hosted artists Phlegm and HENSE in 2015, who were tasked with painting its 36m tall silos. Three and a half years later, a unique collaboration has seen six different silo artworks take shape across Western Australia’s south, inspiring many more in other states.
Tower silos are tall cylindrical structures for storing bulk materials – in this case, grain. They are used by farmers or country towns to collect grain, enabling it to be stored and protected until it is transported for export or processing. Already significant landmarks in many small towns, the idea to use them as canvases for giant works of art which could be used to bring togetherness and tourism to small and struggling communities was inspired.
WA’s six installations form the Public Silo Trail, which began as a collaboration between a grain grower cooperative (CBH Group) and FORM, an independent cultural organisation. Six towns and eight artists were carefully selected for the project, which was seen as an opportunity to create an open-air cultural tourism opportunity in frequently overlooked regional areas. While both the surfaces being painted on (steel or concrete? porous or smooth?) and the pieces themselves were vastly different, FORM aimed for each one to act as a representation of the local community.
For many struggling rural towns, these silos are the promise of economic rejuvenation. Rochester, in Victoria’s north, pinned its hope on Jimmy DVate and the kingfisher he painted on a Grain Corp silo near the Northern Highway. Two weeks from completion, the mural – which depicts the bright blue and yellow bird on the banks of a river, feeding on a local fish – had already made the town “almost chaotic” with weekend traffic. It wasn’t only locals who stood at the foot of the silo to watch it take shape. Many tourists and residents of regional towns stopped by to have lunch and see the mural, bringing hope for local businesses.
The owner of Goorombat’s Railway Hotel says that the barking owl mural she can see from her window – also by Jimmy DVate – has brought life back to the pub. Formerly spare weekday lunches have seen as many as 30 meals served, and customers have had to be turned away on weekends. In Brim, where the first mural in regional Victoria took shape, tourists have continued to stop. As many as 20 vans are still seen overnight at the caravan park – with more during Christmas and Easter. Thousands more stopped in the small town of Coonalpyn, in South Australia’s south-east, to watch a mural of a local schoolgirl take form in 2017. The newly opened Coonalpyn Silo Café has benefited significantly from the business, and the District Authority has had to institute a traffic management plan to deal with the number of trucks pulling over.
Innovative solutions have been harnessed to help the towns maximise their profits, such as solar panels to illuminate the silos at night. DVate sees these collaborations as reflective of a greater aim to the murals. To him, they are more than a money-making opportunity, but a way to increase the wellbeing of towns and bring them together. With mental health issues a severe problem in rural Australia, and often stemming from the isolation felt by those in farm environments, community togetherness is an important aim. Guido Van Helsen, the artist of the Coonalpyn schoolgirl, is fondly considered a “local” and has been taken out for activities from drinking to sheep-shearing with the farming populations he has painted for.
The presence and importance of silo art is increasingly being recognised around Australia. Now, a new series of four Australia Post $1 stamps are set to display the murals at Brim in Victoria, Ravensthorpe in Western Australia, Fallon in Queensland and Weethalle in NSW. Australia Post’s philatelic manager Michael Zsolt sees silo art as a symbol of rural communities, and the environment, history and industries at their heart.
The Public Silo Trail officially launches this month, and FORM will be installing interpretive signage and starting a website with pictures and artist information. Hope for the rejuvenation of these rural communities is sorely needed, and silo art has plenty to give.
Comments Off on Framing Trans Characters and Other Artistic Endeavours
My most memorable experience of realizing a character was transgender was in a webcomic. It wasn’t an especially grandiose moment, only a few panels of lines and colors and pixels. I remember exhaling – feeling like all the air had been pushed out of my lungs as the recognition hit me square in the chest. It was a transmasculine character casually taking off their shirt, revealing a binder underneath. No fuss, no fanfare, no surprise or discussion or “very special moment” acknowledging that they were trans.
You, my mind whispered. I recognize you. I know you better than the back of my hand.
Because really, who spends that much time looking at the back of their hands anyway? Not me, that’s for sure. But this? This nebulous feeling, the subtle wrongness of trying to fit into any definition of “woman”, the yearning of seeing T-shirts that lay flush against flat chests. Yes, I knew the feeling very well.
The name of the webcomic itself has long been lost to the haze of memory, but that particular moment felt like a revelation. Finally seeing someone like myself in a story – not only present, but tangible – was euphoric.
Of course, there are other systemic issues with the representation of trans people in our media. Firstly, there was an absolute dearth of trans representation in any sort of mainstream media until very recently, despite the fact that we have always existed – in every culture, across every time period. This non-representation is an even worse problem for trans and gender diverse people of color, who are basically non-existent in popular media. It took me a long time to realize that non-binary person of colour was even an identity that I could claim, a thing that I could be. A lot of that stemmed from not seeing anyone who looked like me or who felt the way I felt represented anywhere at all. Even now, the question of where exactly people like me belong remains. The shedding of identities that needs to take place just to fit into one place or another (cultural spaces, religious spaces, queer spaces) still gnaws at me regularly.
Then there is widespread practice of hiring cisgender actors, and those of the wrong gender especially, to play trans characters. This does tangible harm. Not only does it deprive trans actors of already scarce roles, it also solidifies the perception of trans people — trans women especially — as just cis people playing dress-up. Consciously or not, when people see cis actors such as Jeffrey Tambor or Jared Leto in their suits, receiving an award for playing trans characters, the image of trans women as just “men in a dress” gets another boost. These issues have been written about by trans people more eloquently than I ever could. I’m just touching on them briefly here to remind you that they exist, and they are important.
What I want to explore more deeply today is the framing of trans people in popular culture. I don’t know if coming across the same webcomic – the same colours, the same panels – would have the same effect on me today. I had only just come out to myself back then, and everything was feeling fresh and raw and new. But why I think it affected me so much was the context with which the character was presented. They were just living their life, and being trans was only a part of them being a whole self. Until very recently, I think that that might’ve been the best way I had ever seen a medium disclose that a character was trans. Until, that is, the queer visual novel game Dream Daddy, where a character only has an offhand line about wearing a binder to indicate that he is not only a trans man, but trans father to boot, and it is not even close to the most interesting thing about him. It is fabulous!
Of course, I’m not suggesting that throwaway casual lines are always the best way to achieve trans representation. After all, we don’t want the Dumbledore situation all over again, where creators can just retroactively point to a character and say “they’re queer now!”. But I think the best way forward for creators, especially cis creators who have no lived trans experience, is to let their trans characters exist in the way that feels true to their setting, without trying to shoehorn an explanation or calling excessive attention to their trans-ness.
Many of us are so desperate for any representation at all that we tend to overlook the implicit “othering” that happens to trans characters just by the virtue of the way they are framed. Every trans story is not a coming out story. Every trans person is not staring at a mirror putting on lipstick or binding their chest. A majority of the trans experience has to do with normal, mundane day-to-day living. Or hell, fantastic, high-flying superhero living! After all, we come in all shapes, shades and sizes. I think it’s about high time our media reflects the complex, diverse and colorful realities lived by trans people every day.
We’re in the schoolyard, and a small crowd is gathering, chanting ‘fight’ over and over. A brawl is brewing before our very eyes. And it’s not going how we expected. It’s the bully against the bullied, and the bullied knows some moves you didn’t think he had in him. He’s hitting hard – and so far, the bully has yet to even throw something back. You’re almost starting to feel sorry for the bigger guy.
In this case, it’s Eminem (bully), versus Machine Gun Kelly, or MGK (bullied). Their latest exchange might seem extraordinary, but it stems from a feud going back to 2012, when MGK tweeted about Eminem’s daughter. The then-21-year-old rapper’s tweet described Hailie (who was 16 at the time) as “hot as f**k…. with all due respect.” In a late 2015 interview with Hot 97, MGK said he believed the tweet still affected his chances on radio stations with ties to Eminem. Though Eminem has previously referenced his beef with MGK, nowhere has it come as directly as in the song ‘Not Alike,’ on his recent surprise album ‘Kamikaze’. Of course, MGK is far from the only name dropped on the album, which came out just last week. Throughout the 45-minute record runtime, Eminem takes aim at Lil Pump, Vince Staples, and Tyler The Creator/Earl Sweatshirt, amongst plenty of other pop-culture based figures. But though some of these attacks present their own issues, none have been more enthralling than his ‘Not Alike’ diss. It isn’t even because it’s one of the best tracks on the project; rather, it’s due to MGK’s response, ‘Rap Devil’.
It’s been a long time since rap rivalry has mattered outside of the genre. It typically remains in the underground or within hip-hop circles, so watching it unravel in the mainstream is a treat for those on the sideline. Many have tried (and failed) to match Eminem with their own tracks, but nothing can touch the raw intensity of ‘Rap Devil,’ which MGK described in a tweet as a “battle between the past and the future.” Clocking in at just under five minutes, MGK spits some of the best bars of his career, taking aim at Eminem’s slump in quality for the last decade (“Still can’t cover up the fact/Your last four albums is as bad as your selfie”), his seemingly pre-determined success by working with legendary producer Dr. Dre (“Yeah there’s a difference between us/I got all my shit without Dre producin’ me”), and Eminem’s control over MGK’s stunted success (“I just wanna feed my daughter/You tryna stop the money to support her”).
Thus far, the Eminem camp has been relatively quiet, with only rumours circulating as to his apparent response being in the works. If the past is anything to go by, however, we’re in for a treat. Not so long ago Ja Rule, a hip-hop artist prominent during the early 2000s, found himself feuding with 50 Cent and, as a result, Eminem. In 2000, 50 Cent was stabbed and shot by people involved with Ja Rule’s company, Murder Inc, leading him to reference these events and attack Ja Rule in a number of his songs. 50 Cent then signed to Eminem’s record label, Shady Records, and Ja Rule was quick to threaten that if Eminem allowed him to be dissed through the record label, he would not hesitate to respond. This led to ‘Hail Mary’, a collaboration between 50 Cent and Eminem which essentially described Ja as a knockoff version of 2Pac. Ja Rule tried valiantly to get the one-up on Eminem by releasing the diss track ‘Loose Change’, wherein he attacked members of Eminem’s family, including his daughter, and insinuated that she would end up like her “crack head” grandmother or sexually promiscuous mother. Eminem employed his rap collective, D12, to respond with the track ‘Hailie’s Revenge’, all but ending the feud and, as time continued, Ja Rule’s career. Though this can be put to Ja Rule’s poor marketing decisions and constant in-fighting with his labelmates, ‘Hailie’s Revenge’ was the final blow.
Retrospectively, then, ‘Rap Devil’ is a brave move from an artist who is well aware of the potential consequences of challenging one of the greatest to ever make hip-hop. But it doesn’t make it any less entertaining. ‘Rap Devil’ is a fantastic track, filled to the brim with wit and one-liners that carry both substance and charm, but I’d advise MGK to start praying. Eminem always get the last laugh.