Comments Off on Sapiens: A Cautionary Tale for Humankind
“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.” (Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens)
Although they have only occupied a brief moment in the history of the universe, Homo sapiens’ time spent walking the Earth has been far from insignificant. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Dr Yuval Noah Harari traces the cognitive and technological development of the Homo genus over the past two and a half million years. It is a multidisciplinary must-read for social and natural scientists alike. The book is wittily written in a journalistic style, uniting colloquial language and academic subject matter. As such, Sapiens plays a crucial role in the debate between popular and academic history. This book is not an academic text, but it shouldn’t be criticised for that. History need not be confined to academia. It is vital that the raw information given to the public through ‘infotainment’ style texts is factually accurate. The ‘sprucing’ of historical texts for entertainment or economic value may render them less valuable than academic analyses. Yet as long as the information is accurate, texts such as Sapiens remain an important form of historical writing.
Harari’s thesis includes a crucial observation on human history: that the struggles facing modern society are far from unprecedented. They are the consequences of clear historical trends in human actions that, despite often repeating themselves, open up human society to infinite opportunities. Language, according to Harari, is the key to unlocking these possibilities. Homo sapiens have the unique ability to create ‘social constructs’ and ‘imagined realities’, or more simply, to conjure myth. He uses the Peugeot corporation as an example. If every Peugeot car were to disappear along with its employees and offices, Peugeot would still exist as an entity without any physical connection to the world. In short, it is a ‘legal fiction’ o
Comments Off on Avocado Toast with a side of … Lover
Inspired by our discussions of pop culture, and a previous Woroni column Skippy and Beagle, we – Avocado and Toast, two later year students looking for new forms of procrastination – will discuss a text in a way that’s second nature to us: in message form, with a healthy sprinkling of references and tangents. Up for discussion this time: Lover, Taylor Swift’s latest album.
Toast: We are both Taylor Swift fans, and we have many thoughts about this album, too many to fit here. So we’ll focus on our favourite six songs – yes, we ranked them – with some minor detours along the way.
Avocado: It’s surprising that we haven’t disagreed on our top six, as our tastes vary. I like upbeat songs like the ridiculous, but perfect, ‘Gorgeous’, while you prefer ballads and sadder songs. Our top six includes a mix of these, which is a good description of the variety of songs on the album as a whole!
T: Fair, but one of the things I enjoyed about this album is its coherence regardless of the tempo. The overall sonic-scape created through orchestrations, beats and backing vocals really hit me on first listen. There’s this overarching ethereal ‘aura’. The repeated, echoing “uh oh’s” on ‘You Need To Calm Down’ branch up like a butterfly unfurling its wings. This reflects the pastel liminality on the cover, and we hear different and compelling shades throughout the album.
A: I agree with you about the unity of sound, but I have some coherence issues! The transition from the airy, delicate sound of ‘Afterglow’ into the brash bubbliness of ‘ME!’ is physically painful.
T: I don’t hate the ‘Afterglow’ to ‘ME!’ transition, because there is a thematic lyrical link, but I get that it’s jarring. Then again, I just really love ‘Afterglow’! The orchestrations are minimal – a regular, thumping drum and guitar chords – giving great weight to the emotional lyrics. At the end, the guitar repeats the chorus’s melody, creating a literal afterglow.
A: ‘Afterglow’ is such a great song! Like some of the best songs on the album, it’s about taking responsibility for mistakes. Swift apologises, “sorry that I hurt you,” and assumes responsibility, “hey, it’s on me.” She’s just as self-aware in the most heartbreaking song on the album, ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’, which is about her mother’s battle with cancer. I love Swift’s attempts not to centre herself, as she sings vulnerably, “What am I supposed to do if there’s no you?”. On the plaintively stressed ‘you’, the backing cuts out, underscoring the unimaginable possibility that her mother will not “get better.”
T: Ah, the song I always cry at. I love the specificity of the colours in this song. The “holy orange bottles” and “I’ll paint the kitchen neon” evoke particular moments and feelings. There’s a different use of colour in ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’, perhaps my favourite song, as colour ties into its political interpretations. On one hand, “We’re so sad we paint the town blue” reflects the characters’ emotional states. Alternatively, blue is the colour of the Democratic party, and in “painting the town blue”, Swift is suggesting her political views. The song depicts her broader disconnect and horror with the state of politics, particularly the actions of the “bad guys”, a frustration she noted in a Rolling Stone interview.
A: It’s followed on the album by ‘Paper Rings’, along with ‘Cornelia Street’, creating the best three-track run since 1989. ‘Paper Rings’ is about commitment, and it’s a more upbeat reworking of some of reputation’s best songs. Instead of desperately escaping “in a getaway car”, here Swift “want[s] to drive away with you”. “I want your midnights” in ‘New Year’s Day’ becomes the more domestic “I want your dreary Mondays”.
T: It’s a stellar three-track run! Domesticity carries into ‘Cornelia Street’, which depicts an early relationship in a rented “place on Cornelia Street.” The introduction reminds me of flashback music, recalling specific moments in time. I like how often the music ‘drops out’. It’s widely noted that this occurs in Swift’s bridges, but here it’s at the start of the first and third choruses. This emphasises the emotional openness of “I hope I never lose you.”
A: The resounding falsetto chorus “I get mystified by how the city screams your name” creates a sense of premature nostalgia. This is also evident in the yearning, introspective “I’m so terrified of if you ever walk away,” foregrounding the intimate and the personal. If reputation was partly Swift creating a public persona, Lover is a more private album.
T: You hear that on ‘Cruel Summer’ too, which embraces the dichotomies of a hidden relationship. Traditional associations of summer are subverted: it’s ‘cruel’, mostly depicted at ‘night’, and gives way to feelings of ‘blue’. If on ‘Red’, “losing him was blue” and “loving him was red”, here red has brutal associations, as “If I bleed, you’ll be the last to know”.
A: The torturous relationship of this song reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, whose story Swift famously rewrote in ‘Love Story’. ‘Cruel Summer’ paints a more disturbing picture. If Juliet was waiting breezily “on a balcony in the summer air”, here the older Swift is desperately “always waiting for you to be waiting below”. When she “sn[eaks] in through the garden gate” it is, ominously, “to seal [her] fate”. ‘Cruel Summer’ restores the tragedy that she’d excised on ‘Love Story’. Lover often characterises relationships as violent, but the end of the album resolves this trope. On the final track, ‘Daylight’, she rejects the intertwining of violence and affection, singing “threw out our cloaks and our daggers because it’s morning now.”
T: “It’s brighter now,” and a great note to end on! While we haven’t talked about “the things [we] hate” on this album, and there certainly are things to dislike here, it’s still a great album. Fingers crossed the next single is ‘Cruel Summer’!
A: I am a major reputation defender, and while it may still be my favourite album to listen to, Lover’s coming close. It may be an overstatement to say “there’s nothing like this”, but the album reconsiders the past and points towards a “golden” future. While it’s not golden, ‘Paper Rings’ would also make for a great next single. Darling, it’s the one I want!
Comments Off on You’re A Big Boy Now: Ginger Album Review
CONTENT WARNING: Sexual Misconduct, Mental Health, Brief Mention of Self-Harm
I’ve probably listened to Brockhampton’s latest offering, Ginger, at least 20 times in full. I loved it nearly immediately, but I didn’t fully get it at first. The album is good for many situations. They include sitting in the bath eating M&Ms after a bad date (trust me on that), the morning commute and a quiet Sunday afternoon making soup. But I was stumped when it came to writing this review. It’s a full, beautiful, eclectic album. So I went back and listened to their previous albums, and I concluded that grown-ups wrote this album.
First, a little backstory. In 2010, Kevin Abstract posted on a Kanye West forum, which led to the creation of the band AliveSinceForever. They eventually disbanded to make way for Brockhampton. The group began releasing singles in 2015 and quickly gained a cult following. They released the mixtape All-American Trash in 2016, followed by the Saturation trilogy of albums across 2017.
Fast forward to 2019, and a lot has changed for this bunch of misfits. On the cusp of mainstream success in the immediate aftermath of the Saturation trilogy, Brockhampton lost Ameer Vann, one of their most versatile members. Multiple women accused Vann of sexual misconduct and he left the band in May 2018. The band took some time, but maybe not enough, before releasing Iridescence in September 2018.
Like Tyler, the Creator’s hip-hop collective Odd Future, Brockhampton tried to give members equal opportunities to shine. The three Saturation albums showcased a group on the cusp of adulthood baring their souls through their music. The group had moved into a huge shared house in San Marcos, Texas, and were churning out good music. They saturated the market with eclectic beats, energetic performances and highly self-aware lyrics. They rapped about depression, sexuality and masculinity. They were also young and silly, with enormous amounts of talent and blue face paint.
The Saturation trilogy was about representation. Brockhampton was accepting of everyone, whether gay, straight, black or white. Saturation was also about being young. In their live performances, the group are incredibly dedicated to the songs and to each other.
Iridescence is a beautiful, angry album that is largely forgotten in the Brockhampton narrative. Perhaps because it was the first without Vann, it feels cut adrift. It has the same energy as the Saturation albums, especially on tracks such as ‘New Orleans’ and ‘J’ouvert’ . However, the fandom perhaps wasn’t ready for its softer vibe.
Ginger achieves what Iridescence couldn’t. It grapples with how the boy band has changed since their early days of living together, although blue paint still abounds. Abstract, as leader of the band, was the focal point of Brockhampton songs. He’d often sing the choruses or the hooks, and he directed the videos. He brought everyone together in live performances. His role in Ginger is more nuanced, as if he’s making way for his protégés who are now stars in their own right. He still has some great verses, especially in St. Percy and ‘Dearly Departed’, but Brockhampton is now more than just Kevin Abstract and his friends. In their Friday Therapy performance of the full album, Abstract is obviously proud of his band members. In his lyrics, however, there is clear angst about the band’s future.
Perhaps what makes Ginger so special is that it is more open to the boys’ different talents. Take Bearface (real name Ciáran McDonald), Brockhampton’s enigmatic Northern Irish member. He only appears briefly on the Saturation trilogy, closing the albums with soulful, guitar-heavy tracks such as ‘Waste’, ‘Summer’, ‘Team’. In Ginger, Bearface features heavily as both a vocalist and a rapper, and adds a whole new dimension to ‘Sugar’ and ‘Big Boy’.
Dom McLennon, always a champion lyricist, is arguably the best performer on the album, consistently versatile and technically brilliant. He bares his soul rapping about depression, self-harm and Vann’s departure. Matt Champion is also lyrically brilliant, ruminating on success, loss and the future. The direction of both Joba and Merlyn Wood is less obvious. Both deliver standout performances, in an obvious departure from the frenzied, often screamed, verses they had on previous albums.
Perhaps this change reflects the overall maturity of the album. The album has a more edited feel than their previous offerings. The beats are still unique, including the striking horns of ‘If You Pray Right’, but they are stripped back. The rapping is honed, tighter. The group are still silly and energetic, but they’re adults now. This is not, as Abstract claimed, a summer album. It’s sad, and quite grim in some places. They adults, they’re depressed and they lost a friend. They deliver these emotions with a beautiful, newfound maturity.
I particularly like the way the album tackles masculinity. Their earlier music attempted to challenge the constricting nature of masculinity, but this is something new. In McLennon’s verse on ‘Dearly Departed’ he addresses Vann directly. He raps, “pass the weight off to your friends and never face the truth / because you never learned how to be a man.” It’s more open and vitriolic than much of McLennon’s previous offerings. It suggests that the band recognises that to be a role-model and an adult is to never shy away from the truth. The album’s final song, ‘Victor Roberts’, is similarly mature. Here Roberts, an old friend of McLennon’s, raps his life story complete with encounters with police, drugs and anxiety. It foregrounds the emotional intelligence Brockhampton have found in the years between Saturation and Ginger. They’re big boys now and they have stories to tell. They’re hurting and they know how to turn that into beautiful songs.
I’d recommend this album whether you’re looking for fun, empathy or redemption. Brockhampton have achieved a level of maturity and technical brilliance that much of rap could learn from. Ginger is heartbreaking in places, but we all need a dose of reality sometimes. Listen to it all the way through. And then, listen again.
Comments Off on The Bachelorette Episodes Three and Four: It Isn’t Love, It Isn’t Hate, and It’s Definitely Not Indifference
Goodness! It’s only week two of The Bachelorette, and it’s already making the ‘dog c*nt’ incident from the last season of The Bachelor look positively PG.
But let’s start at the beginning, with the Wednesday episode coming fresh from the dramatic exit of two of the man-children competing for Angie’s heart. After a nice little ponder, which of course takes place on a beach, our Bachelorette decides that some guy named Jackson that I kind of remember is the best candidate for a solo helicopter date. It goes hilariously off-track with Angie’s motion sickness causing her to hurl in a very romantic way. Luckily they get back on track with a good old-fashioned chat about their feelings on the sofa. That’s always classic. Jackson gets a rose, and we all move on to the group date.
We meet most of the boys in an open field where they’re participating in a ‘dog show’. I say ‘most’, because someone we’ve never heard of before – Mitch? Mitch who? – has allegedly rolled his ankle and is sulking in the mansion. But no one cares about him, because a new man named Ryan saunters into the frame. Apparently he’s a figure from Angie’s past, and he’s ready to join the contestants. The men try to ‘bond’ with all the puppies Channel 10 has summoned from some dark corner of the studio. It’s the sexy Willy Wonka, otherwise known as Ciarran, who claims the single date. Spoiler: he’s great.
Back at the mansion, Ryan is not warmly welcomed by the bros. Especially not Jaime. Jaime seems to have descended into a deep, dark pit of rage, and honestly Angie should look into getting a restraining order. When the cocktail party rolls around, Jaime is basically one giant throbbing vein. He swoops in for some alone time with Angie the moment she finishes talking to Ryan. This is a direct violation of the bro-code agreement struck up by the contestants, and they are unimpressed. Luckily, Jaime is saved from being crowned ‘Asshole of the Evening’ by the spontaneous arrival of Mitch (who?). For some reason, he thinks it’s appropriate to deliver an ultimatum to Angie:”‘Pick me at the end, or don’t give me a rose.” Whoops. No rose for you. Also, discount Zac Efron doesn’t get a rose either, so no regrets there.
Episode Two is when things start heating up. A group date is announced, and luckily for Jaime’s mental health, he’s invited. But before we embark, we meet Angie’s best friend and co-queen of Gogglebox, Yvie, who’s here to give her hot take on the boys so far. She is, of course, in a fabulous pink limo ready to throw Angie a surprise ‘hen’s party’. Of course, lacking any female participants (when is the bisexual Bachelorette going to be a thing?) the boys end up tagging along as the possé. The date turns out to be a live drawing class which means – you guessed it – we need a nude model. By nude, I do, of course, mean fully nude. And Ciarran is the first to volunteer, which makes Yvie VERY happy.
Yvie runs off to have a chat with new boy in town, Ryan, and promptly falls in love with him. She then takes the magical unicorn that is Ciarran over for a little chat. He’s reclining on a bachelor set piece with nothing but a bunch of grapes for modesty. Amazingly, Yvie is able to keep her eyes on his face, and Ciarran looks more relaxed than he has all season. Yvie’s picks for the season are Ryan, Carlin and Ciarran. Jaime is still angry.
Switching over to our single date, it’s Timm’s turn for the spotlight, and their date is actually very relatable and chilled. They have a cute walk in the park, followed by some totally-not-sponsored Gelato Messina, and Timm seems pretty cool. He also pees at some point, but hey that’s all part of the relatability factor.
It’s now cocktail hour, and you can feel the man-tantrums brewing in the air. Jaime wants to sit down and have a ‘chat’ about how Yvie likes Ryan more than him, and doesn’t get why that’s weird. I’m serious, Ange. Get a restraining order. The next villain of the evening is Timm. He’s armed with two braids in his hair, and goes in for the kill by planting another smooch on Angie. What a greedy guy, with all his hair and the ‘m’s’ in his name and solo time…
Any-hoo, the rose ceremony draws to a close, and in a horrifying twist Jaime gets a rose…at least for another week. Two people, who I swear are just extras, get sent home, and we are left wondering what glorious tantrum will see Jaime evicted next week.
Comments Off on The Bachelorette Episodes One and Two: Here We Go Again. How Can I Resist You?
Welcome back, fans of trashy television and low-stakes drama! It’s time for a breakdown of the new dating show in town. The end of The Bachelor left a bitter hole in our hearts, so let’s get invested in The Bachelorette’s new set of eligible contestants. With the first week already delivering some piping hot drama and ‘meme-able’ moments, it looks like it’s going to be a good run.
First, we’re introduced to our Bachelorette Angie, the rising star of Gogglebox. Here she’s branching out from commenting on TV shows to commenting on eligible men. She’s blonde (shocker!), loves trashy TV and dogs, and makes vagina jokes, so naturally she’s the ‘cool girl’ all men fantasise about. We linger on her just long enough for her to be sufficiently likeable. Then we move on to the real reason we’re all watching: the parade of men out to win her heart, or at least a chance not to be edited out.
There are A LOT of them, and many of them look the same. So without further ado, it’s time to introduce the highlights of the night. These are the men we’ll only remember enough to know whether we pulled them in the office sweepstake.
Timm (No, that’s not a typo, his parents just couldn’t stop at one ‘M’):
Henceforth known as ‘sunflower boy’. Angie wonders how he knew sunflowers were special to her. Great job, mate, who doesn’t love sunflowers? He’s cute in a surf instructor way, and the kind of boy old women describe as a ‘darl’: not exactly hubby material, but good enough.
Carlin (Like the fish from Finding Nemo, spelled with a C):
He’s straight-laced, sweet and handsome enough to make any of his qualities immediately triple in impressiveness. This one may be my personal pick of the litter. Sure, I guessed wrong by picking Elly as winner of The Bachelor, but it’s a new season and a clean slate. Plus, this man is a real-life Disney Prince brought to life.
Jaime (It’s unisex):
A fireman. Holding a puppy. He’s a human charity calendar. Also, he’s reasonably understanding of the complete lack of attention Angie shows him once the puppy appears. Honestly, it’s understandable. Can the puppy be a contestant?
Kayde (Too much to unpack. It’s a name somewhere between Cain from the bible and Kate):
Unfortunately, someone made the terrible mistake of telling the booksmart boy that he looks a bit like Zac Efron. He interpreted that to mean that he could do a Baywatch-themed entrance. No, honey, no.
Ciarran (So many Rs):
Sexy Willy Wonka. Need I say more?
Jess (Like the Veronica):
Came in with a literal throne to sit on, and honestly the only king I see is King of the Douchebags. Creeper alert going off the charts with this one. If he wins, it will set feminism back a few centuries.
We quickly flick through a series of introductions, including one poor guy who brought a lizard and still didn’t make the final cut. Then comes the final twist: Angie’s brother Brad, under the suspiciously normal name Mark, goes undercover to dish up dirt on the other boys.
Carlin kills the cocktail party with a song that would probably be cringy if the guy didn’t look like a stock image of ‘Mr Right’. But there’s some competition afoot. The men are vying for the precious ‘24 hour’ rose, guaranteeing them a full-day date with the lucky lady. Jaime apparently forgets that this isn’t the Olympics and goes into competitive overdrive. Meanwhile Jess, still wearing a cape, flexes his toxic masculinity by saying he wouldn’t take the rose if he were offered it. Long story short: Brad tells Angie, Angie confronts Jess, Jess blames Jamie, and Jamie sits by the fire to manage his devastation. The grown man is on the verge of tears, and I’m worried about the emotional stability of our firefighters.
The episode ends with Brad unveiling himself and Carlin getting the 24-hour rose (yay!). Two random men we met for about five seconds are given the boot, and Jess continues to be a horse’s ass.
We pick up the next day with the much publicised 24-hour date, and it’s the glampiest glamping you ever saw. Carlin’s starting to look more and more like the perfect guy until BOOM! Bombshell! He announces he’s secretly married. Honestly, Angie doesn’t seem to mind too much, and I wouldn’t either after looking at that angel baby face.
The date lasts about five minutes before the rest of the men burst in for a group date. In a subversive masterpiece the typical sexual photoshoot is substituted for a hilarious ‘animal attraction’ photo sesh. Trust me, you have not known true joy until you’ve seen a man trying to look attractive as a red-painted lobster. Another supposedly grown-up man throws a tantrum because his chicken suit gives him ‘testicles’ under his chin.
Jaime starts to get a bit creepy-stalker-esque, but his creep factor is overshadowed by Jess. He somehow thinks it’s appropriate to make lewd gestures at Angie while her back is turned and to comment on the ‘view’. It gets worse when the shoot wraps up, and he starts bragging about all the non-consensual kissing he’s engaged in. In a feat of self-restraint, I managed not to break the TV.
Carlin and some other beautifully feminist boys, who warm the cockles of my heart, surge to the rescue by telling Angie what’s been said. She proceeds to confront Jess with the BADASS GIRL POWER SPEECH WE ALL DESERVE. Watching Jess get into that limo is strangely cathartic. You can almost hear the women of Australia cheering as he’s driven away to whatever cesspit he crawled out from.
Well, that’s the first week of The Bachelorette over. Already, there’s been some big-boy hissy fits, a solid dose of feminist girl power, bitter rivalries emerging and, most importantly, the return of Osher’s majestic head of hair. It’s good to be back.
Comments Off on Arts Revue: Love Capital Review: An All-Round Bloody Good Time
I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Arts Revue: Love Capital on Wednesday. In classic arts fashion, the show’s humour was endearingly self-deprecating in all the right ways, and the references were varied and original enough to keep the ball rolling. Some skits were all too real, with scathingly accurate depictions of Sydney private school privilege and Australian bro culture, just to name a few. At certain times the crowd was laughing out of pain, *cough* free labour and ‘stupol’ shoulder tapping *cough*. At others, it was pure Glee, which I was glad to see return in multiple iterations throughout, because who doesn’t love a throwback.
The cast were exceptionally engaging and great at keeping in character throughout. Even those less comfortable singing gave it a red-hot crack and delivered on enthusiastic projection. Some impressive vocal talent was on display, with old theatre hats like Sachini Poogoda leading the way. There were more than a few ghosts of productions past showing their best on stage, including Lewis Laverty-Wilson, who was back again with a variety of accents. But there were also some exciting new faces and dynamic talents in some kickass women performers.
A huge congratulations must go to one of the tightest musical ensembles I’ve ever heard at a revue, expertly led by Patrick Haesler, commanding a huge repertoire. Well-chosen tunes set the backdrop for extremely smooth transitions, and credit must go to Bec Emder who managed to enlist the cast as her stagehands. Props (haha) must go to the tech team, who, despite some fuzzy mikes at the beginning and end, helped create a seamless show with well-timed cues.
The skits blended political, humanities and general on-campus humour to appeal to a wide audience. This meant that the show was accessible to almost anyone, rather than typecasting a typical viewer as other productions have done in the past. The choice to keep the theme generic meant that individual moments could shine and didn’t seem repetitive. Some of my favourite skits made excellent use of wordplay to deliver sharp ‘ba doom chick’ moments.
The classic references to ANU culture in the opening and closing numbers, while perhaps overdone in revues, were like warm, satisfying embraces. All the concepts were great, and while some of the more finicky dialogue didn’t quite ‘land’, the ideas were clever and genuinely funny. Some skits didn’t shy away from edgier topics, which were delivered in a sensitive and intelligent manner. The ensemble showed that they had multiple angles, but shout-outs must go to Harry Power’s hilarious facial expressions and Jonah Lafferty’s diverse character range, with a distinct Biblical theme!
Special mention goes, of course, to the dynamic directing duo of Ella Serhan-Sharp and Elroy James. Their ‘El squared’ energy had me in stitches when they gave their own unexpected, yet cracking, rendition of a classic retro hit (no spoilers though!). Producers Penny Henderson and Zoe Ranganathan had sourced a great range of costumes, and the recurring theme of red was both strategic and relevant. The choreography was purposeful and clear, if sometimes very literal.
Arts Revue: Love Capital is perfect if you want a fun night to distract you from end-of-semester misery, and a reminder that our university is full of some really cool people doing awesome things. You’ll be guaranteed a wholly enjoyable and hilarious evening of entertainment. Also, who doesn’t love a revue that finishes when it says it will? Well done, team!
Comments Off on Bachie Recaps Episodes 15 and 16: It’s Gonna Be Forever And It’s Gonna Go Down In Flames
Hold back your tears folks, this is it…our beloved Bachie is finished. We’ll have to turn elsewhere for our weekly dose of over-the-top drama and hideous male fashion.
This week saw a winner crowned, but first let’s go back to where the week began. Our final three, Helena, Abbie and Chelsie, wait patiently as Matt thinks about who he will choose while running shirtless through the bush. But we only have a few minutes to bask in his pensive pectoral glory before we pan to his solo date with Chelsie. Here we learn that he doesn’t seem to know her last name? Really? He’s planning kids with these women but acting delighted when he finds out their surnames? What a catch! Soon, Matt’s memory glitches are the least of Chelsie’s problems. He ropes her into a game of code cracking that involves actual maths for the reward of an oxytocin-emblazoned necklace. It’s cute and nerdy and utterly nauseating, and finishes with Chelsie admitting that she’s falling in love with Matt. Ew, enough with the mushy stuff!
Luckily, Abbie is here to bring the heat, and I do mean that literally. She and Matt are next up with a beach date. Our favourite shameless Gemini becomes our hero by saying the actual words, “I just really want to have sex with you right now.” Wow! If her literally saying it doesn’t convince you that Abbie’s horny, the spectacular dry humping on the sand should probably do the trick. Poor Matt’s sexual prowess must be better than it looks, because it soon reduces the eloquent Abbie to stammering, “I think I’m in love with you.” Although, that might just have been the super-yacht talking. Did I mention that they’re on a super-yacht? Yeah, that’s a thing.
Anyway, we quickly jump to a date with Helena, who did stick around after all. The two of them are on a boring old dinner date when Matt decides not to shy away from the awkward topic of the multiple dumpings. Helena’s statement that she was just ‘testing’ him doesn’t fly with Matt, because there’s no manipulative testing of people’s emotions on this show! No sir! Only some completely above-board forcing of women to reveal their deepest insecurities on national television. Anyway, that’s all for these two, we’re already bored and ready for the rose ceremony. The battle between Matt’s head and his penis is in full swing, with both Abbie and Chelsie claiming their rightful roses. Helena heads off to be a handful for some other poor kid.
Next episode, Helena is promptly forgotten as the finale party head down to South Africa for an exotic, not-quite fairy-tale threesome. It’s all wide shots and bird’s-eye views, and it feels like Channel 10 is pushing a very belated advertisement for Disney’s The Lion King. Abbie’s looking quietly confident (okay, maybe not so quietly), but that’s all about to change when Matt’s best friend Kate, her old nemesis, pops out of the woodwork. She can’t roll her eyes enough at Abbie’s continued presence on the show, and because she is an actual goddess she marches straight over to Abbie to let her know it. But Abbie quickly breaks the cardinal Bachelor rule by bitching about her potential boyfriend’s best friend, which is a direct trip to break-up city. Matt has another friend hanging around too, who gets one-on-one time with Chelsie, but they’re boringly wholesome and friend number two is a Chelsie convert as well. But it’s not over yet.
Abbie’s single date starts with her suggesting that “maybe today will end the longest dry spell in history,” a statement that makes me question her understanding of celibacy. But this is coming from the girl who later moans “Take my chopper virginity” when a helicopter arrives, so I’m not too sure what’s happening in this poor girl’s sex-starved brain. Unfortunately, the date sees them firmly strapped in their chairs, and it’s Chelsie’s poolside date where most of the humping occurs. Goddamn it, Chelsie, haven’t you learned that dry humping is Abbie’s thing?
The big moment arrives, and shock, horror! Chelsie appears first, meaning she gets the loser edit. Everyone and their brother knows the golden rule that the loser gets dumped by the Bachelor first. This means that the winner can enjoy their prize without worrying about dealing with some teary contestant later. So it looks like Abbie is the winner, until Channel 10 pulls a twist ending straight out of an M. Night Shyamalan film. We suddenly cut to Abbie waiting in the desert, looking annoyingly stunning in a beaded dress. We may know by now it’s over for her, but she sure doesn’t. Matt doesn’t make the situation any better by showering her in compliments, until the final devastating blow that his “heart belongs to someone else.” Looking genuinely shattered, Abbie asks him to explain himself. The resulting stammering silence is so long and terrible that it’s almost a relief when Abbie snaps a final “As long as you’re happy. That’s all that matters.” Ouch. Back in the limo, Abbie proudly declares that she will be completely over him by the time the show airs. I can’t be the only one hoping she is kept far, far away from Matt and Chelsie on the way home.
But let’s all forget about Abbie and her paralysing rage. It’s time to focus on our glorious victor, waiting somewhere in the African desert with a blowout to die for. She looks genuinely shocked and starts to sob as Matt pledges his heart to her, and it’s actually very lovely. Still, the producers can’t resist one final cut to their ratings golden girl, Abbie, seething in the limo.
And that’s that! 16 episodes of madness culminating in a very cute, nerdy couple, and here’s wishing them all the best for the future. It seems like we’ll be looking to The Bachelorette for our next fix of matchmaking madness!
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CONTENT WARNING: Sexual Assault, Violence, Drugs and Alcohol
NUTS’ production of Rosie Licence’s It’s Not Creepy If They’re Hot captures the nuances of millennial social relations, humiliation, ego and delusion. Through the insightful direction of Sophie Tallis, the production successfully portrays a group of teenagers’ woeful attempts at engaging in drugs, alcohol and sex.
The crux of the play explores sexual violence, and the cast deals with this theme both professionally and compassionately. Caitlin Baker is particularly exceptional as she portrays the emotional and psychological turmoil of Claire, who is date raped by a sober male friend. Baker’s line, “I started thinking how we have to think” is particularly poignant and resonated with the audience on the night I attended. She comments how she is forced to lie about the fact that her drink was spiked with a date rape drug so that her future legal career is not jeopardised. This is just one example of how this play illustrates the unrelenting female plight of having to compromise even your dignity to thrive in a patriarchal landscape. I commend Caitlin Baker and the rest of the cast for sensitively sharing an untold story that happens so much more frequently than we are willing to admit.
Juxtaposed with Claire’s plight is Liv’s superficial and stereotypical fixation with romantic and sexual issues, in particular how she perceives boys and how they perceive her. Played expertly by Portia Elliot, Liv is undeniably self-centred and immature. This is evident when Claire candidly comments on how she “doesn’t have it any harder than anybody else, [she] just makes a lot of noise about it”. This denotes the adolescent need for attention, validation and sympathy. In contrast to Claire’s indescribable anguish, Liv’s unwillingness to confront what happened to her best friend reveals how individuals on the cusp of adulthood often lack empathy. Portia Elliot portrays the unrelenting narrow-mindedness of teenagers in a refreshing and relatable fashion. Her character serves as a nostalgic reminder to the audience of the consuming nature of the social trivialities of parties.
Dhiiren Mongonaraju’s performance as Adam offers much-needed comedic relief, and demonstrates how drug culture enables us to be both present and absent at social gatherings. His friendship with Joel Symon’s character Henry is uplifting, even though it is ketamine that binds them together, and portrays the ‘bromance’ culture that can take precedence over sexual encounters with women.
The cast skilfully delivers the play’s niche jokes, enabling it to truly capture the current social landscape. My favourite of these jokes is when James, played by Emilio Lapitan, asks Adam into what degree he wants to transfer when he says that he studies Arts. Emilio also has an authentic scene with Liv, in which she forces him to answer whether he would be willing to sleep with her. This tragic yet truthful moment accurately depicts the uncomfortable positions into which women often put men while seeking their approval.
I highly recommend going to see this play before it finishes this week. It is relatable, hilarious and intelligent. It explores controversial themes such as sexual assault, violence, drugs and alcohol. I applaud the cast and crew who were brave enough to tell this story.
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Time flies when you’re lapping up drama. Hometown week is already on our doorstep, and it seems like this season of The Bachelor has flown by at a breakneck pace.
We started this week’s episode with Osher congratulating our fabulous final five, but we’re already on shaky footing as Elly has decided to take up the mantle as resident Abbie-basher. Apparently learning no lessons from the brutal eviction of Sogand, she is poised and ready to play at the next group date… but wait! Shock! The nation’s favourite sexologist, Nikki Goldstein, appears. She gives possibly the best news Abbie could have hoped for: that the theme of the group date will be ‘sexual chemistry’. Step back Elly, we’re in Abbie’s wheelhouse now.
So each of the girls are forced to demean themselves, not only emotionally but also physically, as they are challenged to…um…press themselves against a blindfolded Matt while the other girls watch. Yikes! Abbie squirms as she watches other girls put their arms around ‘her man’ until it is finally her moment to pounce, and she marks her territory with a totally-non-sexual scratch down his back. Still, the lovely and bubbly Elly is crowned ‘best hugger’, a prize of which I’m sure her mother will be eternally proud.
The second part of the competition is something straight out of a nightmare. The challenge is to maintain eye contact with Matt for four whole minutes. If that doesn’t make you break into a cold sweat, I just don’t know what will! As someone who gets uncomfortable after maybe five seconds of silent eye contact, this sounds more like a weird form of social anxiety torture than anything else. Even Abbie’s best sensual lip bite isn’t enough to tear the victory away from Elly, and everyone’s favourite country gal is granted the solo time with Matt.
Just when it looks like Elly is back to her lovely self and winning over her prize, her worst instincts kick in. Suddenly we are back to the Sogand drama of a few weeks prior. Matt receives her SECOND warning about Abbie, which is no better than the first. At this stage Matt has heard so much against Abbie that it’s starting to sound like a broken record. Will the boy ever learn?
Apparently not, because it’s Abbie who snags the next single date, and boy oh boy is she done playing. After a very weird date where they have to pretend to move house, Abbie finally pins Matt down on the bed with a self-confessed dry hump. Oh my poor, abused eyes! Only after the lap dance does Matt actually think to ask Abbie the truth of her intentions, and Abbie is SHOOK. “I am completely here for the right reasons,” she assures him, probably planning her next bikini shot on Instagram.
There’s a lot of resentment flying around at the cocktail party, as each girl is absolutely done with the other’s shit. Then suddenly it’s rose ceremony time, and in a twist that the entire world saw coming, poor Elly is booted off the show. As Elly leaves the mansion in tears, the camera pans to Abbie offering a smug smile accompanied by a coy, “I feel better”. Jesus, who is this girl, a bond villain?
Then, it’s the next episode, and all hope for Abbie’s comeuppance is rapidly flying out the window. It’s Helena who takes centre stage for the hometown drama. In fact, her double dumping of Matt over the course of a single episode may border on iconic. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as the episode starts with a visit to Abbie’s hometown in sunny Brisbane, where Matt embarrasses himself with the most hideous shirt I have ever had the horror to behold. Here we find out that Abbie’s lies reach further than we thought, with Abbie’s mother apparently believing her daughter to be primed and ready to start popping out little mini Abbies. In light of Abbie’s previous hesitation about kids and marriage, it looks like someone’s communication skills need polishing. Next up is Chelsie’s Melbourne family, where her folks are about as smart and perfect as you can imagine. Her sister’s protective interrogation of Matt makes her actual sibling goals.
Our next flight, this time to Sydney, brings us a closer view of a more problematic situation, namely Emma and her obsession with Matt. Even her friend gives her an incredulous look when Emma claims she has ‘fallen in love’ with Matt. Not one to quit while she’s ahead, Emma delivers the same information to Matt, who looks as though every muscle in his body is telling him to run. “I’m not really on the same page,” he tells the audience casually as buckets of sweat pour from his brow. Luckily he manages to deal expertly with the situation by just not saying anything to her.
Next up is the Perth-based Helena, whose family is as tall and European as her. Everything is going just fine until Matt can’t remember if Helena spoke French to him during their introduction, and suddenly shit hits the fan. There’s storming out and people speaking French, and finally Helena officially dumps Matt with the always effective, ‘I don’t want to waste your time’. But Matt’s stammered apologies get through to her, and she’s okay to stay in the competition.
But not so fast! Two minutes pass and Helena has changed her mind again. There’s a sudden cut to a cul-de-sac where Helena explains to a very confused Matt that she is definitely, 100 per cent, non-negotiably breaking up with him. That lasts about one minute before Matt talks her around again. Doesn’t she seem fun and low-maintenance?
But wait! There’s more! At the rose ceremony it looks like Helena won’t bother to show, but at the last minute she appears out of nowhere like a drama-loving Cinderella. Obviously this girl is a giant red flag, but there’s a bigger red flag to get rid of first. Matt chooses to evict Emma, who leaves with the dignity of someone getting kicked out of Mooseheads on a Thursday night. Watch out Matt – she knows where you live.
Now it’s just the final three, and with Australia on tenterhooks it’s time to wonder just who (Chelsie) the winner (Chelsie) could be (Chelsie)?
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Things are beginning to heat up for our Bachelor contestants, and even the all-stars are back to celebrate.
Wednesday’s episode starts with a lovely trip down memory lane with Bachelor winners Sam and Snez joining Matty J and Laura to give advice on… marriage? Living? Making good television? Honestly, they don’t really seem qualified enough to give advice on anything. But hey, I guess both girls are pregnant, and in the world of reality TV that is the ultimate mark of success. Our experts choose Helena to be grilled in an intimate dinner that turns out to be more of an interrogation. It’s pretty awkward, and we’re all relieved at the cut to single date time.
Emma is chosen for the date, still heartbroken at not yet having been impregnated by Matt. At this stage, she’s so smitten that I almost hope he picks her. The two have another food-themed date, injecting aphrodisiacs into chocolate. Isn’t chocolate already an aphrodisiac? Anyway, it works too well, and the poor chocolatier has to excuse herself while the two pash it out. Come on, guys. Respect the chocolate. Once they’ve finished dishonouring the name of chocolate, the two settle in for a cute little picnic where Emma barely manages to stop herself from shackling Matt to her wrist in a bid to show him how committed she is.
Now it’s time for a regular cocktail party, or is it? Of course not! Osher crashes the party with two date cards asking the women to ‘show initiative’ to gain time with Matt, and the girls just about fall over themselves to get their hands on them. Sogand snatches hers straight away, but Abbie has to try a little harder to get hers. She whines that she needs it more than Elly because of some BIG CONVERSATION she needs to have with Matt. Elly actually gives it to Abbie, and my respect for Elly plummets a little.
Anyway, Matt has some time alone with Sogand. He claims she hasn’t been overt enough in her feelings for him. Um, excuse me, but do you not remember the disgrace of a belly dance that happened last week? Do you think that’s something women whip out just for anyone? When Abbie’s solo moment comes around she seizes her opportunity to…discuss the cheese platter. What a scoundrel!
By the time the rose ceremony swings around, it’s pretty clear that Abbie is here to stay. Unsurprisingly, it is Sogand who is whisked away in the limo. Fare thee well, you final hint of actual diversity, it was nice having you.
Thursday night brings us some of the most uncomfortable moments so far, and this is from a show that made its contestants bathe in chocolate. Worried that Helena might not have completely signed herself over to him heart, soul and uterus, Matt tries to make the girl map out the next ten years of her life with him. This is in front of a nation of people who don’t even know what they’re doing for dinner tonight. Truly nightmarish. Understandably, the activity causes Helena to panic. The increasingly visible producers deal with it in a helpful way by literally chasing her down. Even then she isn’t allowed some time off, and she ends up in a copper bathtub with Matt. The perfect cure for any kind of anxiety.
We cut away from their revolting kissing to a group art class where the straightest, whitest girls you will ever see are invited to ‘embrace their inner drag queens’ by painting a special self-portrait. The results are all average-to-bad, except for Abbie’s, which is actually the source of nightmares and probably a portal into hell or something. Appropriate.
When the rose ceremony begins Elly is at the end of her tether, furious (if such an emotion is possible for her) that Abbie did not show gratitude for her one-on-one time with Matt. To be honest, I’m with Abbie on this one. Elly made the stupid decision to give her the card in the first place, even if she was a bit distracted by the high-pitched whine of Abbie saying ‘gimme it’. So Elly decides not to learn from the failures of previous contestants and tries her hand at warning Matt against the manipulative Abbie. Poor Matt doesn’t want to listen though, he’s still distracted by how hot Abbie is. Apparently it takes more than three times to get a message through to this guy. That’s good to know before you marry him!
Anyway, Abbie is NOT HAPPY, but her furiously arching eyebrows will have to wait because it’s time for the rose ceremony. Despite the producers desperately trying to create suspense, it’s painfully obvious to everyone but Kristen that we will be saying goodbye, or zaijian, to her tonight. She actually does seem pretty blindsided, and it would almost be sad if I weren’t so numb to the whole thing at this point.
I guess we will all have to tune in next week to see Matt actually use that science brain to work out that Abbie may be a bit shady. Although at this point my hope is fading fast.