Never Downplay TORTURE

 

“They tell me ‘fuck off, this is our country, we will kill you, go back to your country’. And I say to them ‘you brought me here! You know I can’t go back to my country. You tell me I am a refugee.’ Then the three of them beat me. They hit my head, they kick me. They are supposed to be my security. They are supposed to be protecting me. Instead they are beating me.” (Mohsen, Manus Island)

Dear Readers,

By the time you finish reading this blog post, I would have hoped to have answered all your curiosities and also have provided the cold, hard facts about Australia’s undeniable role concerning torture in Nauru and Manus Island.

Manus island photo
(AAP Image/Eoin Blackwell)

I know torture is bad, but what is it exactly?

The definition of Torture by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT):

‘Torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

So after you have given yourself the chance to digest this wordy definition, how would you feel if I were to say that Australia and torture are definitely not worlds apart?

Australia having a relation to torture is news to me. Doesn’t it only exist in less civilized parts of the world?

It wouldn’t be abnormal to think that Australia wouldn’t have much to do with that horrible little ‘T’ word, because of all its legislations that forbid such cruel acts against humanity.

So let’s not waste any more time and dive straight in, shall we?

According to International law and Australian legislation, torture is prohibited. Also, Australia is a member of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR)

According to the ICCPR, ”No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ and a state party must take “legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures to prevent and provide remedy to survivors of torture in any ‘country under its jurisdiction.”

Ooh, isn’t it lovely that Australia has such great values?

How about this 2013 Amnesty International Report I found?!

Amnesty (2013) explains that even though torture has been widespread and normalised in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Sri Lanka and West Papua, Australia has always carried the reputation of being a country that does not condone nor practise torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading acts. 

Everything seems all rainbows and unicorns to me, so what’s your issue with Australia and torture?

My issue is the fact that we still do not fully understand the unfortunate connection that the words ‘Australia’, ‘Manus Island’, ‘Nauru’ and ‘Torture’ have.

Ok then, so what are we already “supposed” to know about Manus Island and Nauru?

Well, the truth is, you’re not actually supposed to know anything.

This is what the government DOES NOT want us to be seeing on our television screens:

Due to the Australian Border Protection Act, there are very heavy restrictions placed on journalism in Nauru and Manus Island. Much like Guantanamo Bay, the two detention centres are “black sites” because the Australian public is not well informed. Until quite recently, there has been a cloud of secrecy surrounding the happenings of the two detention centres.

And where are these island anyway? I hear they are far away, so it sure ain’t Australia’s problem.

It really isn’t surprising that many Australians don’t know much about the islands considering the Australian government enjoy bullying any media that tries to get to them. They have raised the price of a journalist visa from $200 to $8,000. A visa is mandatory for any media access to the camps, so what does this tell you, hm?

The location of the two processing centres are far from Australia’s shores and are situated in other developing countries. How would you like to be forced from one third world country to another? If you thought it couldn’t get any worse, reports have claimed that the government has gone to new censorship lengths by removing Manus Island and Nauru from Google Maps Australia.

(Note: Look at how I managed to outwit Google!)

Nauru and Manus island location
(Source: Google Maps)

Ok, fine. They have been placed in another tough environment, but surely it isn’t THAT bad.

The accounts of mistreatment have been released and reports from Amnesty International should answer your question.

What makes my alarm bells go off is even though there are such harsh restrictions placed on journalism, Australian media always seem to be reporting on it. This should make everyone question the quality of the reports we consume.

Guardian article on Manus island
(Source: The Guardian/Ben Doherty)

So are you saying that the reports are somewhat downplayed?

Simply put, yes.

It is quite obvious that the Australian media have been following the footsteps of the US media by showing how hesitant they are to use the word ‘torture’ in its reporting. Bennett, Lawrence and Livingston (2006) brought to light the fact that western countries have the tendency to rename ‘torture’ and prefer to use words such as ‘abuse’ ‘mistreatment’ and ‘enhanced interrogation’.

So now that we have established that the Australian government is shady (how shocking!) and censorship on the media is tough, does something now smell a little fishy to you?

But why doesn’t the Australian government want us to know? What is really going on over there?

Well if you have already seen SBS’s dateline report about the state of Manus Island and Nauru, then you should be well aware that the conditions are worse than deplorable.

They have been described as hellish, unbearable and torturous. An Iranian refugee who has been held at Manus Island detention centre for 28 months says that he has experienced ‘profound and annihilating mental torture’. He writes that not knowing is the worst torture he and fellow detainees are experiencing. “Inflicting torture by the use of time is the best and complete explanation of this situation.”

Asylum seekers are having to resort to their smartphones in order to communicate what is happening behind the barbed-wire fence. Even still, the government puts more restrictive policies in place so that communication with the outside world is incredibly difficult (Coddington, 2014)

Sure, the conditions may not be ideal, but torture is a pretty harsh word to use. 

You can decide for yourself if these occurrences are or are not torture:

-Being deprived of basic medical assistance resulting in death
Being punched after asking for more washing powder
A 5-year-old asylum seeker boy being raped by a fellow detainee and being forced to stay with his rapist in Nauru

Have you decided yet?

The Australian immigration officials that are over there to supposedly protect the detainee’s are condoning the torture of these innocent individuals.

You can call this ‘brutal’ or ‘harsh’, but it will not change the fact that these are acts of torture.

Why should I care?

Because we are all entitled to our human rights. The detainees in these centres have fallen victim to our negligence.

Amnesty’s violation of human rights evaluation goes as such:
1. Refoulement (forcing a refugee to go back to their country where they face persecution)
2. Arbitrary detention
3. Discrimination
4. No legal protection
5. Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment

Did you know that torture is a major global issue?

-Torture has been used by 150 countries in the past, and that it is still being practised. (Crelinsten, 2003, p. 295)

-Australia isn’t the only western country that is shielding its use of torture. The United States are using ‘enhanced interrogation methods’ in Guantanamo bay and another noteworthy point is the fact that the US’s top 10 aid recipients currently practice torture.

How would you like to be treated like you shouldn’t exist anymore?

“In here is nothing to make you feel happy, or give you some hope at least”

We need to act in the next election and fight for the rights of asylum seekers fleeing persecution.

 

 

 

 

References (not including hyperlinks)

Amnesty International. (2013). Annual Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights. London, England: Amnesty International Publications.

Bennett, W. L., Lawrence, Regina G., & Livingston, S. (2006). None dare to call it torture: Indexing and the limits of press independence in the abu ghraib scandal. [Article]. Journal of Communication, 56(3), 467-485. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00296.x

Coddington, K, & Mountz, A 2014, ‘Countering isolation with the use of technology: how asylum-seeking detainees on islands in the Indian Ocean use social media to transcend their confinement’, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 97-112. Available from: 10.1080/19480881.2014.896104. [17 May 2016].

Crelinsten, R. D. (2003). The world of torture: A constructed reality. Theoretical Criminology, 7(3), 293-318. doi: 10.1177/13624806030073003

 

 

Poverty Porn: The Western Cop Out.

 

web1_800px-Helping_the_homeless

 

Previously, I had never even heard of the term ‘poverty porn’. After punching it into Google, the never ending list of explanations was incredible.

“Poverty porn is dangerous”

“What is wrong with poverty porn?”

“5 reasons why poverty porn empowers the wrong person”

I even stumbled upon the Wikipedia definition:

“Poverty porn, also known as development porn or famine porn, has been defined as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations”

After some serious article and YouTube browsing, it became clear to me that this so-called “poverty porn” is all around western media culture.

We really do get off on it as much as pornography addicts get off on well, pornography.

There is so much saturation in the media of famished children’s faces, sad African people crying out for help and documentaries on trailer park people. The BBC in The UK has even created a reality show that recreates the living conditions of Victorian Britain. The main objective is to observe their struggle living and working in extremely tough conditions followed by reminding ourselves of how lucky we are after switching off the television.
Us as a western audience are being asked to feel pity for what is put before us. If we don’t feel pity, what does that make us?

Horrible, snobby and selfish.

Sometimes we are even being asked to open our wallets. Sure, we may shed a tear for the Syrian refugees begging for food as they flee their homes, and we may even donate a few spare pieces of golden shrapnel to feed a few starving children. But what does this exactly achieve?

So, you think that you are changing the world, hm?

But first, let me show you another definition:

Screenshot 2016-04-02 00.15.10

 

If you don’t also agree that shedding a tear to a pair of begging eyes on your plasma tv is not shirking responsibility, I don’t know what is.

Collectively, we are feeding an industry of misconstrued images all for the gain for wealthy individuals, just so we can reassure ourselves that we are not just rich snobs. I strongly believe that poverty porn is creating a massive western “cop out culture”.

“poverty porn leads to charity, not activism: donors, not advocates.” (Roenigk, 2014)

This really isn’t our fault, because the everyday westerner cannot control the media’s portrayal of suffering. We sure do influence the media’s portrayal (because those slimy suckers know that we have a soft spot for dying, sick children), but nowadays it is almost impossible to escape these haunting images and stories of suffering.

“Images of buzzing flies, begging eyes, and bloated bellies flood television screens and print media in an attempt to pull at heartstrings and garner donations.”(Nathanson, 2013)

However, not all hope is lost because society has attempted to strike back at the culture of “othering” Africa through poverty porn. Their aim is to enlighten the world about how Africa too can be portrayed in a positive light and doesn’t only exist as a western source of pity. They are pretty much saying that *shock* *horror*, there is another side to the story!
Under the Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, contemporary African individuals are attempting to end the media’s constant theme of African suffering.

So.

Let’s just take the time to take a deep breath and admit that we get off on ourselves feeling bad for the sufferers out there. I really don’t think this is a bad thing at all, but then again, is there even much point? The least we could all do is recognise this and study the definition of a “cop out”. Then you can decide for yourself if you would like to to give the homeless man on the corner 5 dollars.

iPhone: The New Aussie Offline Status Symbol

 

Girl with the iPhone 5_tablet

When you first layed eyes on the iPhone,  what were the first thoughts to pop into your head? Perhaps adjectives such as “innovative”, “modern” and “trendy” would come to mind. However, I’m left wondering if the word “status symbol” would also come about. That’s because, in certain Australian societal contexts, that is exactly what it is.

Since the first iPhone exploded onto the scene in 2007, it had a little bit of a slow start. Everyone was still trying to grasp the concept of the smartphone. It essentially indicated the beginning of the smartphone era. In 2011, the iPhone was leading the Australian smartphone charge, with everyone wanting one for themselves.

The iPhone is undeniably one of the most popular brands in the smartphone market. I can assure you that you would see it 8/10 if you scanned a train carriage full of teenagers, university students and business people. Smith (2015) explains how Australia’s appreciation for the Iphone is much more pronounced than other countries. They are everywhere. Yes, the very large fan following of the iPhone is highly obvious, but have we managed to recognise the social status symbol that it has very cleverly constructed? It is a tough question to ask.

Currently I am an Android user, but I must admit that I was one of the million that held my iPhone ever so tightly to my chest as I slept. No, it was not because it had a flashy camera or a sleek design, because there are tons of smartphones in the market that have the same, if not better features. I was lured in because I saw it as my one-way ticket to high-status stardom. I confidently plonked it down onto cafe tables and on my work desk. I made sure it spent more time in my palm in public than hidden in my back pocket. I wanted the Australian public to know that I was one of them and that I was worthy of their attention. That “oh so hip” and “oh so now” piece of metal in my greedy palm was my metaphorical megaphone that aimed to grab the attention of every member of the Australian public that walked past me.

With that being said, the iPhone does play different social status roles in different societal groups. As a university student, I have picked up on the tendency to have your iPhone out on display even when it’s not in use.

Why is that, do you think?

Essentially, university students worship their iPhone as a reflection of their sophistication, completion, wealth status and fashion sense . Some universities have even created links to their website with specific Apple product-related help due to the overwhelming prevalence of the device.

Especially in the adolescent world, the iPhone can be seen (amongst other factors) as the crucial element of group inclusion or separation. It is either you’re in or you’re out. If you have a group of ten sixteen-year-olds, the majority will have an iPhone either visibly hanging out their jean pockets or firmly clutched in their palm as they strut down the street.

Matyszczyk (2014) backs up my claim by explaining how even the model of an adolescent’s iPhone is an important reflection of social status:

“Will they buy the iPhone 6 when it comes out, or be stuck with the slower iPhone 5? Or, even worse, still have an iPhone 4?”

The question as to where this social trend will lead Australian society still begs as there are already 6 generations of iPhones with the popularity barely moving. It will be interesting to see in the years to come if the iPhone will slowly shift from a symbol of sophisticated socio-economic status towards a symbol of high technological and/or professional status. Or perhaps a competitor will knock Apple off its top spot?

Regardless of what the outcome is, the Apple brand should be patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

The great attention debacle.

Can’t focus on one thing at a time? Do you end up doing something else without even doing what you wanted to in the first place? Don’t you worry, because you are definitely not alone. Even writing this blog post without losing my attention is proving to be quite the challenge. I sat down at my computer with the aim of solely doing this blog post, but after not even 10 minutes I was on to job hunting expedition, researching where in Sydney you can see Kangaroos and of course keeping up to date on my Facebook stalking. I think it is fair to say that my attention drifted, and I am not sure why. My homemade theory is that we tend to focus more on our preoccupations rather than the task at hand, especially if the task is something that carries a little bit of pressure.

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There are endless distractions in the physical world around us with smartphones, social media and people when sometimes all we need is ourselves to cause the distraction. Today, a lack of attention seems to be the norm, but it has not just started recently. It has been around since the very beginning.

As this weeks task involves testing the attention of someone else, I went to my trusty family who always seems to be looking at the squirrels running past the window instead of focusing on the task at hand. The dinner table at dinner time is the one time of the day where all technology or any other distractions are taken away so that as a family we can have a somewhat decent conversation. For the most part, there is conversation and all 5 of us are usually engaged somewhat. I thought the best way to test my families attention span at the dinner table was by reintroducing the assumed source of distraction- the smartphones! *cue dramatic music*

spence-smith-social-media-distraction

So I set out the experiment in a way that meant that everyone had to put their phones on the table next to their dinner but try to solely focus on the dinner table conversation. To make it more fair, I let everyone choose a topic of their choice so that there would be something interesting for everyone to talk about. At the end of all 5 topics, I was then going to ask each family member to openly ask what everyone had taken in from the multiple conversations.

The experiment lasted around 40 minutes and I think it is fair to say that everyone was watching the squirrels running outside at some point, including myself who seemed to be easily distracted by Facebook notifications and the constant Whatsapp notifications from a Spanish friend throughout the whole 40 minutes. Myself and my 2 brothers seemed to be the most distracted even though not one of us picked up our phones throughout the whole 40 minutes. Our comprehension of all the conversations that we had were quite limited, which surprised me at first. We were only able to recount the parts that were either funny or had some sort of personal interest. After asking my 2 brothers why they think they did not retain as much information, I found out it was because the mere presence of the phone on the table was enough of a distraction in itself. They said that even though they did not receive anything, when the phone is around, they are always expecting something from it in terms of a notification from Facebook or simply a text message.

“According to a new study reported by Associated Press last month, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought longer. Some very focused researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds today. Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds.” (Makin, 2015)

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Makin presents some startling research data showing that apparently the age of smartphones has reduced our actual attention span. But to be honest, I am not that surprised. Just by reflecting on my own behaviour, the smartphone is a big source of distraction for myself personally. From observing the behaviour of my family members to my own behaviour, the more interesting question I would like to ask myself is, how is this affecting our brains?

“Over the past few years researchers have done a lot of work on attention span, and how the brain is being re-sculpted by all those hours a day spent online. One of the conclusions that some of them are coming to is that the online life nurtures fluid intelligence and offline life is better at nurturing crystallizing intelligence.” (Brooks, 2015)

Basically, Brooks says that our online attention nurtures mental agility and our ability to skim ahead and “get the gist”. I agree with this as it is more apparent than ever that our online lives are overflowing with information, therefore we are training our brains to pick out the good bits or only the bits that we want to see. I would like to see where this takes us in the future because maybe it could even lead to a further reduction in our attention spans? Our brains may be shifting in a way that will mean that our memories with be getting shorter, but our brains will be able to process information quicker. It is hard to tell, but it sure is fascinating.

References

http://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article35782965.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/opinion/david-brooks-building-attention-span.html?_r=0

A new Superfood coming to a store near you: Orthorexia

Living in Australia in this day and age, food seems to be as hot as the sun. People just cannot get enough of it because hey, it makes our Instagram feeds look better. New health foods and diets are becoming an increasingly popular discussion topics in the media realm because all these “new and exciting” foods that seem to be appearing. Well actually, they have been around for ever in other parts of the world, usually in poorer and more tropical parts. Parts where these foods have no problem growing, and are in fact a huge staple in these places. Govinnage (2014) explains how the superfood Coconut oil has been used for centuries in Asia and the Pacific Islands. But now since these Superfoods such as Quinoa, Chia, Goji, Kale etc have hit the media attention, not only has the consumption of these foods become somewhat of a religion but a lot of these poorer countries cannot keep up with the demand and has caused problems. Just take a look at Pete Evans and Daniel Churchill (who was an ex Masterchef contestant). These personalities entered the media realm through a different medium other than food, but then seemed to use this as a stepping stone into a sector that they may be passionate about, but not so qualified. Everyone has their own vision of ‘perfect health’, and most of us work towards it even if it isn’t an easy path however, these personalities also have their own views on ‘perfect health’ but due to money, fame and a different set of ideologies, they see it as an opportunity to make money while at the same time, boosting their own profile.

With this sudden wave of Super-healthy-eating information through most of our media outlets, there are even new eating disorders arising. Orthorexia is the newest eating disorder that involves restricting foods that are insufficiently clean, healthy or wholesome instead of the traditional eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa which is simply the restriction of food intake altogether. This means that Orthorexia is a much more hidden disorder because the trend to “eat clean” gives the impression that you are being as healthy as possible. It really involves being obsessive and compulsive with the foods that the person chooses to eat. Often a diet or fad that is highly unsustainable. Barclay explains how a woman developed this disorder by doing body “cleanses”:- “She began doing juice cleanses, cutting out solid food entirely. At first, it was three-day cleanses, then 10-day, then 30-day. The restricted diet began to take its toll. Jordan began experiencing skin problems, then her hair began falling out and she stopped getting her period. Starved for nutrients, her body was shutting down.”

The media is overflowing with information on “the latest superfood” or “the food that will stop cancer” or “the diet that will make you look 10 years younger”. There is just simply too much information with too many opinions on “what works” because there is little scientific evidence. In fact, social media platforms such as Instagram are only going to make the prevalence of diseases such as Orthorexia worse, because with all these “foodie trends” such as #cleaneating creating a religion of eating an incredibly restrictive diet. I can only see this cult-like healthy eating behaviour to lead to many more disorders being diagnosed in the future.

References:

Govinnage, S 2014 “Coconut oil, teff and quinoa: increased ‘superfoods’ demand hits the south in the guts”, The Guardian, September 24

Barclay, S 2015 “Orthorexia: The New Eating Disorder You’ve Never Heard Of”, Healthline, February 24

Taylor, L 2015 “Health experts slam Pete Evans’ ‘irresponsible’ paleo cookbook for kids”, SBS, March 12

If you’re in the public space using media, you’ve already signed the contract.

For this week’s task, I have taken a video of various students going about their daily business in a grassy area in the university. It is just a simple panning video with some students on their phones; some other students chatting to others and some others are eating. I recorded this short video just to give a sense of relaxed student behaviour on campus. I did not ask anyone in this video if they would let me film because I think it would be impractical to ask every single person in the video for permission . “In actuality, it would be impractical to ask every person in the frame whether they’re OK with a picture. That said, if someone clearly does not want to be photographed or if they are for their photo to be deleted after the fact, then I do think those wishes have to be respected.” (Colberg 2013)

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I think that I am not being unethical because I am not focussing on anyone in particular, plus if someone asked me to not video them then I would respect their wishes. I also did not ask because I did not want to disrupt the essence of the whole video. I wanted to capture student behaviour in its most natural form, so if I asked before taking the video then perhaps it would have disrupted the environment a little. Perhaps I could have asked after, but if someone said no to the video then it would make things complicated. Plus, I do believe that you can learn a bit about yourself from other people observing you “That said, and second, it’s the photographic community’s task to educate the public about what they’re doing. In other words, instead of posturing about what they can do, street photographers better tell the public how what they’re doing is not only mindful of the public’s concerns, but also constitutes an important and valuable artistic practice that enriches not just the practitioners’ but everybody else’s lives.” (Colberg, 2013)

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I do believe that you should ask for permission if you are intending to use the video or image in a way that could be viewed as negative even if they are not your intentions. I chose these students in particular because they weren’t doing anything negative so that I couldn’t have possibly portrayed them that way.

I also made sure that there weren’t any minors in my clip because I didn’t ask for permission. If I did however record a minor, I would ask because it is highly frowned upon filming or taking photos of children that are not yours without giving reason, even if it is legal. Colberg (2013) explains how photographers have been getting into hot water from taking photos of their own nude children. One aspect of my behaviour that I am battling to find ethical is that if being in the clip goes against their religious, spiritual or personal beliefs. Or maybe they do not want to be “exposed”. It is the fact that someone else has the power to do it and not them. I will never know because I did not ask for permission, but I think that I tried to make it as ethical as possible by not portraying any one of them in a negative light and also made it quite a “general” and “natural” clip. I do think that if you are going to use media devices in a public space, you are subjecting yourself and basically resigning yourself to the fact that it is ok to be the subject of observation due to this behaviour. Public space ethnography is effective because then we can maybe get a clearer understanding as to why our behaviour might be influenced by changing media patterns. Being in the public is essentially making yourself more vulnerable so researching behaviours out in the public will lead to answers as to why media patterns are shifting these behaviours.

References:

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

Jaws- Eyes covered and Ears blocked

For this weeks task, I went back to Patricia to ask her about her experiences with the cinema in her country of origin, Brazil.

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When asked about a very memorable cinema-going experience she said: “Jaws is one of the only memories I have of watching a film because it was that damn scary! I closed my eyes as tight as I could and blocked my ears, so I had to ask my sister what was happening when there was a scary part.” She also said that she sat right up the back because she thought it would be embarrassing being seen looking terrified. I thought this was absolutely hilarious because being my mother, she still does exactly the same thing! We have a little tradition between myself and her to watch horror movies together at home and she still covers her eyes and ears like there’s no tomorrow and then asks me to recount what happened constantly throughout the scary parts. I also like to sit up the back of the cinema, but not because of saving my pride, but more so the fact that I feel more of the atmosphere. For me, going to the cinema is more of a 360 experience rather than just watching the screen itself. She added that she thinks her experience with ‘Jaws’ is so vivid because it was the first time she saw such great special effects. I couldn’t help but chuckle at that comment because, well, they were pretty bad.

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One particular question that I was dying to ask was her thoughts on the movies being dubbed back then. She said that Dubbing to her was normal. She in fact said that she didn’t even realise that the movies were even dubbed into Portuguese. She said that she knew that the actors were not Brazilian, but to her it was not obvious that the Portuguese was in fact dubbed. I thought that was incredible because to us, it is so obvious when movies are dubbed into your own language. Generally because they are dubbed so poorly. Patricia did follow up by saying “Now I think dubbed moves are disgustingly horrible. I just can’t watch them anymore”. I guess I never considered the fact that in the days of no internet and very little international connection, dubbed movies were actually considered done very well.

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Another memory that Patricia commented on was the fact that going to the cinema was quite expensive and that the closest cinema was at Copacabana which was about 40 minutes away from her suburb, which made going to the cinema quite a special occasion. This memory links well with Hagerstrand’s capability constraint. I find this memory hard to identify with because being from Sydney, I seem to be surrounded by Cinemas. I mean for me, it’s between Cronulla and Miranda which are a comfortable 20 minutes away from me, and it usually comes down to ticket prices and which seats I find more comfortable.

One aspect of her Brazilian cinema-going experience that I found incredible was the fact that the films were on continuous rotation. So if you were disorganised and got to the movie say 15 minutes late, you watch it from that point and then once it finishes, you watch the beginning when the movie starts again so you can fully understand the movie. This memory links with Hagerstrand’s coupling constraint, because for Patricia sometimes they had no idea when the movie started so they just had to turn up. Obviously in this day and age, this is not a problem because we have access to the movie timetables on our phones, computers and basically anywhere with an internet connection, hence why we are expected to be at the movie at the starting time listed.

For Patricia, the whole culture around going to the cinema was not a formal occasion, but it wasn’t casual either. She said that they dressed nicely and that she usually went on a Sunday. At least once a month but sometimes twice, so there was a sense of regularity. Whereas, for me, my cinema-going behaviours is quite casual and I can go for months and month without going to the cinema because there are many other ways to get the movie for free. Some aspects of the cinema have not changed however with Patricia commenting that popcorn was the food of choice and that she never went with her parents as a young teenage girl. I can obviously relate to this because popcorn for me is vital in the cinema experience. If you don’t have popcorn, then it is like something is missing. Now we have a lot more food choice with Choc-tops and ‘Lolly bars’, whereas Patricia said they simply just had popcorn.

A link with Hagerstrand’s authority constraint is Patricia’s answer to who could enter certain films shown. She said that they were very strict on who could watch certain films depending on the classification. She said that she had to show her student card all the time and that it was very hard to enter if you didn’t have an identification. This is something that I found quite interesting, because you would have thought that this wouldn’t have changed OR have got a little more strict. But from my experiences, it has been the complete opposite. Now, the staff hardly ever check for any proof of age, and sometimes there hasn’t even been anyone at the doors! This does change the experience a little bit for me because I do envy the feeling of a certain movie being an exclusive and special experience. It does take away that sense of exclusivity now that most age groups can enter any movie that they like. Personally, the cinema-going experience of today has definitely changed since the days of Patricia for reasons that I have explained above. There are still some similarities but, all in all, it has attained a much more casual label. With new elements such as Gold Class, perhaps the cinema culture is attempting to reinvigorate itself and bring back the classiness and exclusivity that it once had.

Guy Sebastian- Celebrity Activism done right.

Celebrity Activism can cop quite a bit of flack and has in the past. This can be due to it being seen as a ploy to selfishly advertise the celebrity while looking like a good member of society at the same time. They sometimes lack a lot of expertise in the area of what they are trying to combat and at times may even neglect the charity after the cameras are turned off. For lots of celebrities, it’s a win win situation.

Guy Sebastian is the Australian singer and songwriter that burst into celebrity stardom when he won the 2003 Australian Idol title. He has managed to stick in mainly the Australian music spotlight for over 10 years and has also managed to mostly attract positive media attention. I think that this is a fair statement to say because it is shown through his quite extensive work done in charity and making music that creates awareness for global inequalities. He has not just been an idol for the Australian music industry, but has also been a role-model at showing how to not exploit global issues when you are of celebrity status in order to benefit yourself. An article shows how in the past, Sebastian has given proceeds from celebrity work to his charity, “From a photography exhibition in Sydney on Monday, November 18 to donating the proceeds of a story they sold to a women’s magazine announcing Jules’ pregnancy to the foundation, the charity work has Guy looking at ‘celebrity’ in a whole new light.”. The foundation that is mentioned and the one that Sebastian owns is called “The Sebastian foundation” whose main goal is to “help families in need”. Their mission statement is “Our focus is people. Our love is people. We want to see the need and meet the need. We want to help in any way we can and we hope you join us in our mission”. His charity also collaborates with like-minded partners and charities on an on-going project basis. His foundation collaborated with the Red Cross’s aid of the Australian bushfires and also has a range of personal photography for sale with all proceeds going towards the foundation.

His song “Get Along” which was released in 2012, was probably one of his most memorable songs due to the message imbedded. The lyrics aimed to raise awareness about the harm caused by racial, cultural and religious intolerance around the world which goes to show that he has used his high profile status as a platform to positively advocate for global issues that need to be addressed. The difference that separates Sebastian from many other celebrity activists is that he does not exploit the people involved in his charity and always releases information regarding its intentions.

Celebrity Activism can be looked down upon due to the possible exploitation and selfish intentions behind many charity ventures, so Sebastian is definitely setting a trend worth following.

References:

Lewis, M 2013 “Charity the foundation of a solid life for Guy Sebastian and his wife Jules”, The Daily Telegraph, November 13 http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/charity-the-foundation-of-a-solid-life-for-guy-sebastian-and-his-wife-jules/story-fni0cvc9-1226758508643

Bastaldo, B 2012 “Justin Timberlake fired for neglecting charity”, Tribute, October 4 http://www.tribute.ca/news/index.php/justin-timberlake-fired-for-neglecting-charity/2012/10/04/

http://thesebastianfoundation.org/?country=AU

White Feminism.

The term “white feminism” is a term that probably confused you just as much as it confused me. Before, I was only really familiar with the term “feminism” which is described by Urban Dictionary as, “The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men”. In fact, the term “white feminism” only really occurred to me after reading an article on a 13 year old Disney star bringing this topic into media discussion. In her Instagram post discussing why we should be talking about white feminism, she says that “Issues that are commonly thought of as feminist issues include, sexual assault, rape, abortion, planned parenthood, domestic violence, equal education and the wage gap”. She goes on to say that this typical form of feminism excludes other female societal groups that face gender oppression and other issues due to their racial origin. Other issues that she says that “traditional” feminism tends to exclude include police brutality and trans-women violence. She implys that these “white feminists” need to obtain a more “intersectional feministic” view. Blanchard states Kimberle Crenshaw’s quote defining intersectional feminism as “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only inter-related, but bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Example of this include gender, race, class, ability and ethnicity”. Blanchard raises a fair discussion topic because the current media today does show a very “white feminist” view point:

However, from reading this article and educating myself about the term “white feminism”, I couldn’t help but question if this is just a ploy to create victims out of nothing when the issue is far greater than what is being discussed. After finding an article by The Huffington Post on “white feminism”, the statements I found about traditional feminists or “white feminists”, to me were quite ignorant. If you watch the video at the beginning of the article, pay particular attention to some statements such as “they have a lot to learn” and “…but, most white feminists are white”. I find both these statements quite ignorant and ludicrous because they are basically saying that it is unusual to have a non-white female standing up for traditional feminist values and that “they” have a lot to learn about being a “better feminist”. I think intersectional feminism has been around for a very long time, but I think that the women that wrote that article expect white feminists to have a sign up saying “I’m an intersectional feminist” plastered to their forehead. Some comments from readers such as “the oppression olympics is still in full swing I see” and “Wow that’s another sub sub sub group I need to care about when I used to care about all, but now your here to tell me that I never really did at all and to shut the F up. I’m enlightened…” show that these kinds of discussions regarding feminism could existent just for the sake of there being something to discuss. You be the judge.

References:

Saul, H 2015 “Rowan Blanchard: 13-year-old Disney star sparks debate about ‘white feminism’ with engaging Instagram essay”, The Independent, 24 August

Blay, Z & Gray, E 2015 “Why we need to talk about white feminism”, The Huffington Post, 10 August

Humans of New York and the World.

tumblr_mf99rtRyZu1qggwnvo1_1280“She plans to be an actress”

Humans of New York is an independent photography project run by Brandon Stanton. He is a young American who runs the photoblog on the social media websites Tumblr and Facebook whose original goal was to photograph 10,000 New-Yorkers and provide a powerful snapshot of their personal story. His quite vibrant blog has now gone overseas with Stanton taking trips to Pakistan and Iran with the goal of providing inspiring and heartwarming stories from people in parts of the world that to the Western world are mostly seen as ‘faceless’. What I mean by the term ‘faceless’ is that the Western media tends to group up all of the ‘remaining countries’ and classify them as one. Edward Said argues that “the Europeans divided the world into two parts; the east and the west or the occident and the orient or the civilized and the uncivilized”. The traditional Western media doesn’t allow an emotional connection with the people of these parts of the world because we just simply do not know enough about them. This can then cause cultural ignorance in forms such as cultural appropriation.

Staton’s recent travel to Iran shown through his photo blog, not only puts a face and personality to many Iranian people, but also shows us that they are as human as the Western population “Like all the stories that Humans of New York bring us, the tales from Iran make for beautiful reads. From wise little kids to proud new parents to old couples still in love, the stories will touch a chord with anyone who reads them.” In one portrait of this young Iranian women, the caption underneath says “she plans to be an actress”. Without this quote that came from this young woman, many people that are consumed by the Western media would just see an ethnic woman in a headscarf from somewhere in the East. The simplification of the Western mind by the Western media inhibits us from recognising people from these “parts of the world” that are not the West. Through these very intimate portraits being taken, we are allowing ourselves to make a personal connection with them. Stanton’s blog is the perfect example of how breaking down the cultural barriers is not as hard as it is commonly perceived to be. Through Statons project, we are learning about quite a foreign cultures way of life. We get a deeper insight as to why they dress and live in certain ways and why it means something to them when to us, it doesn’t mean anything.

References:

Kohli, A 2015 “These Stories of the People of Iran Will Make You Happy and Sad”, NDTV http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/these-stories-of-the-people-of-iran-will-make-you-happy-and-sad-1211228

Website: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/tagged/iran

Said, E 1994 “An Introduction to Edward Said’s Orientalism”, Vintage http://www.renaissance.com.pk/febbore2y6.htm