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Monthly Archives: January 2013

I am writing a series of pieces documenting my thoughts on the lead up to the Australian Federal Election to be held on 14 September 2013. As a young woman, it will be my first experience of voting in a Federal election. I am not endorsing any particular party or politician. All opinions are mine unless stated otherwise, and while I will try to include honest information at all times, nothing should be taken as fact without further investigation.

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I heard the announcement while on the cross trainer at the gym. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has sent out a Save the Date message, but not for her wedding. September 14 2013 will be the date of the Federal election, and while within the period of estimated dates ranging from August to October, the specific date is inherently problematic even before considering the Red, Blue and Green.

The problem is somewhat ironic. An atheist Prime Minister has called the election for a day conflicting with the beliefs and interests of many religious Australians. Jews will be called to the polls on their annual Day of Atonement, the solemn day of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is commonly spent entirely one’s place of worship, praying, sitting, standing and repenting. It is also the only day of the year on which Jews fast. To say scheduling an election for this day is sacrilege would be putting it lightly.

However, whilst Australia’s Jewish population may be fairly small, another group of believers are also to be upset by the date. Everyone knows that September is a month of intense victory, controversy and upset as AFL and NRL teams battle it out for a place in their respective One Day in Septembers. Am I wrong to think that Saturday September 14 will also be a day of footy finals fever? And this is a rowdy crowd, thousands strong. It’s hard to predict which competition we’ll be hearing more about.

Yesterday’s announcement came as a surprise to many Labor politicians as well as other parliamentarians, the media and the public. Gillard’s early announcement is eerily remnant of the American Presidential Campaign, which involves an arduous process of selection, travel, and petitioning and huge amounts of cold, hard cash. The 227 days to this election is significantly longer than the notice given by past leaders where periods of 30 to 50 days were the norm. Prior to this year, the greatest time between announcement and Election Day was in 1966, 106 days before polling day. According to The Age the nation will experience 184,000 births, 95,000 deaths, 139,000 new immigrants and 7 full moons before the election, as well as the presence of Ellen de Generes and no doubt many other famous figures. According to Mark Kenny, the PM had the Christmas period to reflect and realise just how deep the shit she was in, was, and thus relied of the element of surprise to boost her into the New Year. Keeping her News under the radar was of the highest priority that even the official version of her speech circulated amongst journalists made no mention of it.

The Prime Minister is also seeing the New Year in a different light, or through new lenses at least. The move sparked comment from both political and fashion analysts, and Judith Ireland and Shelly Horton wrote, “Some punters hypothesised that the member for Lalor was courting the youth market with the trendy new accessory. “It seems @JuliaGillard is already campaigning to the hipster voters with those new glasses. Well played,” wrote Kath McLellan of Sydney.” Other ideas include the PM projecting the idea that she is finally ‘in business’, and that she is channeling retiring US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. Personally, I wouldn’t put either of these suggestions too far aside. And despite some people saying ‘if the PM was a man, he wouldn’t be receiving these kinds of comments’, it must be vaguely strategic, or why now?

Sportsbet.com.au already has full-page ads in the newspaper and so far, the odds lie heavily in the favour of the Opposition. This is a reflection of Australian culture, where even the most political matters are but a game, a sport, a competition, with a black and white outcome of winners and losers.

Key issues for this election include the state of the nation’s healthcare and education systems, the Budget, what to do about immigration and the influx of people seeking refuge on Australian land, the environment and more specifically, the Carbon Tax, which Mr Abbott plans to cut if elected into office. Of course there will also be a lot of blaming, broken promises and shying away from accountability that Australian politics is wrapped up in.

I remember the night I was gifted my first mobile phone. Mum, Dad and I were sitting at a local restaurant – fine dinning, with while table cloths and polished silver to boot – and I had just been announced as (Co-) Captain of my school. I was super excited, but also bummed because I’d really wanted House Captain of my house, Oswald, so I could spend my time making up chants and buying green pom-poms and get kudos for it. But there I was, co-captain of the Junior School. And all that responsibility and achievement in my parents’ eyes had merited my very first cellular telephone. I. Was. Stoked. Not a lot of my 11-year-old friends had a mobile phone, but I distinctly remember one friend who had the prized Nokia 3200, one of those ones where you could change the cover and even collage your own on paper and stick it under that wonderful plastic backing. And the game of the moment was Bounce. Fuck, I loved Bounce. Getting that little red ball over jumps and passing levels. I remember when I finally finished the game (ie. completed all the levels), I felt like I’d won the lottery. Bounce was kind of a progression from the Old School Snake (an example of a game that has disintegrated and disappointed thousands of kids across the globe through it’s reincarnations). I played snake on my mum’s Nokia 3410, which she got as part of her work plan. Now I’m more of a Sudoku kinda gal. Gotta love a bit of Sudoku when you can’t sleep at night.

Nokia 3200

Nokia 3200

Nokia 3410

Nokia 3410

But my obsession with all things mobile started prior to my school captain election, in Year Five. We were given the task of our own personal project. We could research, write up and present to the class on any topic we wanted. So while most sensible girls chose to study volcanoes and make cool explosions with bicarbonate soda happen on classroom tables, I set out to ‘prove’ to my parents I needed a mobile phone. The truth be told, I did very little actual research for that project and I don’t know how I got a good mark for it because the teacher must have known I was full of crap. I remember sitting in front of our old, big, blue-backed Mac in my dad’s studio, typing up lines that were founded and composed completely from my imagination. Obviously a bibliography was not important in Year Five, or if it was on the criteria, it certainly wasn’t checked prior to marking. I probably just bullshitted and wrote http://www.nokia.com, http://www.sonyericsson.com and http://www.telstra.com without even clicking a button. So from memory, I ‘analysed’ the best plans to go on, the benefits of Telstra vs. Nokia (clearly not comparable ‘items’ one being a provider and one being a phone manufacturer), and printed and cut out pictures of phones I thought were pretty cool and would look good in my hot little hands. Pretty hilarious nearly a decade on. Since then Sony Ericsson has dropped the Ericsson and Nokia’s have been largely superseded by the infamous iPhone and it’s competitors. But the aim of my project was to get a phone. And I guess it worked.

My first phone was the Nokia 2600. I remember taking it home, opening up the manual and letting it ‘fully charge’ over a no doubt sleepless night. It lit up for the first time and I went to school a very happy chap. Not long after, I got a Roxy lanyard and a purple Von Dutch cover for my buddy, and I was right up there with the cool kids. Who could resist a girl with a cellular in her pocket?

Nokia 2600

Nokia 2600

In the summer between Years Five and Six, my family took a trip all the way up the east coast of Australia. We stopped off in Canberra, and then drove for two full days before reaching the Sunshine Coast. I think that entire summer I spent only $10. I reached the end of my credit period (my phone was prepaid) with over $80 left. I was economical and responsible, and I was proud. I also was highly antisocial and rude to anybody that texted me as I’d only reply to the most important of messages, things that deserved a reply. I don’t think I ever made a phone call. It was all about the texting. I remember my aunt and grandmother commenting on how good I was with my phone use, and my younger cousins being jealous of my new acquisition. My mum was so happy with my (bare minimum) usage, and I managed to keep it up for quite a long time. I think I mainly used it to tell the time and played around with all the settings and the screen savers. Oh, and the games.

At the time, personalising your ringtone was just about the coolest thing you could ever dream of. I remember being excited when I got my 2600 because the manual said it had polyphonic ringtones. My mum’s stock standard 3410 was only capable of blasting monophonic brutalities of Bach and Mozart, whereas I could have Rhumba and Calypso. Life was a dream. Television ads selling ringtones and tacky screensavers were common, and watching late at night gave one options some might consider verging on pornographic, suitable for Adult Viewers only. I remember visiting the Vodafone store on my phone and laboriously considering ringtone after ringtone, wondering whether it would be worth all of those $3, and if it would unknowingly find me in a situation of monthly deductions from my $10 allowance. I don’t remember ever making the purchase. It was probably for the best. Mobile phone providers and fellows seem to have a knack when it comes to scheming and reeling in customers unawares.

But things got complicated when other friends got the Nokia 6101, and similar phones that had more impressive features than my 2600. Infrared was never really used amongst my cohort, but Bluetooth became all the rage. Flip phones were ‘in’ and my lanyard was pulling me back. So my jealously and I grew simultaneously. On another note, for some reason, Year Six saw a rebirth of the Tamagotchi. And I refused to get one, because I wanted to be the first one to be ‘over’ it. You see I was ahead of the pack in other ways. I’m still kind of like that, refusing to get involved in things because I want to be the first one who’s passed it. I tried this with Instagram and succeeded for a while. I thought it was pretentious. But whom am I kidding? Photos of food, feet and (duck) faces are sadly addictive (and eat up my data allowance every month).

Nokia 6101

Nokia 6101

With Year Seven came new friends, a new experience despite being at the same school, and new mobile phone trends. Around this time, Orange was phased out and 3 because the hottest provider. Friends held their mobiles together tight when transferring songs via Bluetooth, much like one did with a Tamagotchi. The strength of the Bluetooth signal wasn’t revealed until later, when we realized immediate proximity wasn’t as necessary as we’d previously thought. I remember pressing play for Anthony Callea’s Rain on my portable CD player and holding my phone next to the speakers to try and record an enviable ringtone. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful, one, because it sounded like crackly shit, and two, because apparently, Anthony Callea was in fact not cool. At the same time, I unfortunately made my email address about him, and created a Piczo site with the URL of ‘mscallea’. Obviously my priorities were in tact, and my preference in guys, spot on. When I found out he was gay I was pretty devastated.

My Year Three teacher’s fiancé had proposed to her while he was swimming in the shark tank at the Melbourne Aquarium. And he worked for Sony Ericsson. So basically, I thought the company must have been pretty sweet to get a guy like him. I got my Sony Ericsson z550 as a present from my grandmother around Year Eight. Super happy to get a phone with Bluetooth (and a camera!), I was all over that shit. Until the first one had a technical malfunction. And the second one, I dropped straight into a glass of water at a restaurant, in front of the grandmother who’d purchased the product for me. And the third one, which was stolen. Boo.

Sony Ericsson z550

Sony Ericsson z550

I called my number from my mum’s phone after realizing it’d been stolen and the guy who’d stolen it answered it with “Fuck off, Mum”. Obviously it’d said ‘Mum calling’. I cried. I also remember losing one yellow and one metallic green Haviana thong that night. Should have thought about being trendy and indie, wearing one of each before realizing that I’d be stuck with a permanently mismatching pair of thongs as a result. You live and you learn.

Throughout the rest of Year Eight and Year Nine, I made my way through a number of friends and family member’s old phones. None of them were memorable, and many were largely unworkable, too. I chose to go the summer between these two years, mobile free. I was again, pretty ahead of the game, but maybe by 200 years or something (will they ever be entirely superseded?) and it kind of sucked when I couldn’t wish a friend happy birthday because I was stuck in northern New South Wales without access to another phone. I thought she’d hate me after that. To my surprise, we happened to be mature enough to move our friendship beyond it.

My next new (read: store bought) phone was the oh-so-common silver Nokia 3110, probably still living an infrequent existence today. It came with a Casino Royale theme and got me through the long days, late nights and drunken calls of Year Ten. Its camera was sharp and enabled me to have crappy techno music as my ringtone, so I was sufficiently happy. With this as my staple, I seemed to pass over the various editions of the fad, pink Motorola Razr’s which greeted you with “Hello, Moto” each time someone turned them on. Additionally, I missed the craze of slide phones and the Nokia E Series. That was definitely due to my insistence that I would not get something that everyone else had. Instead, in 2010, I got the Blackberry Curve 8520, which I never turned off silent or vibrate, so much so that when I passed it onto my mum the next year and heard it ring, it’s sound was foreign and unrecognizable.

Nokia 3110

Nokia 3110

Motorola Razr

Motorola Razr

Nokia E(72) Series

Nokia E(72) Series

Blackberry Curve 8520

My Blackberry saw me through hard times and some months my $29 cap was barely dented. I have always had a thing about saving messages, and it has been very rare that I ever delete one. I’m sentimental and a hoarder. Not the greatest trait to have but technology comes with a lot of memory these days, so why delete if it isn’t necessary? I loved its trace/sense mouse and enjoyed the having the full QWERTY keyboard to twiddle my thumbs over. I got into apps with my Blackberry, most notably Facebook, which I had unlimited access to. I also checked my email and did a few web-based things on it but it was pretty clear that it was a man’s phone, a business phone. Is that sexist? Probably.

Just after finishing school, I got a car and finally rose to meet the iPhone trend. I decided holding back from this one for the sake of individuality would actually be stupid rather than self-proving. And I’m so glad I did. I do use folders under the titles of Utilities, Reference, Games, News, Uni & Work, Photography, Melbourne, Sound and Health, but some of the apps don’t really fit into the folder they’re found in. Facebook and Twitter are out there on their own, showing their significance, and the frequency of which I use them. After placing such a focus on transferring music via Bluetooth in the past and making sure you had enough memory to do to, the iPod is now an inherent feature of the iPhone. Alongside its touchscreen, it’s almost strange to imagine being without it. And from monophonic tones through to techno trash, I now settle for the factory default ringtone and message tone. I’ve never even bothered to look twice. I love the Do Not Disturb setting, and the way everything syncs with my beloved MacBook Pro, including iMessage working across Apple platforms. My iPhone 4s completes me. We are engaged and in love. And it’s the greatest, most superficial and one-sided relationship I’ve ever had.

iPhone 4s

iPhone 4s

I don’t know if I’m part of Generation Y, or Generation Z, or the Techno Generation. But I know that my generation’s use of mobile phones, living in a developed country, has evolved as I have. My friends and I have gone from playing games on each other’s phones, to asking to look at another’s phone and pretend to be playing games while really reading messages to find out what they’re hiding, and have now reached a stage where our mobile phone ownership and use is fairly independent from one another, if not incredibly dependent on the device itself. But it’s the way of the world. And nothing’s going to stop its constant evolution. But as a consequence, the next time someone fails to reply to your message within a few hours, you’d be pretty right to think they‘re hating on you. But in the same respect, don’t be one of those people who sends messages consisting only of question marks. Because no one likes a hassle-r. So save yourself. Because that’s one reputation you’ll struggle to lose.

Yesterday, I worked at the Melbourne Big Day Out. Leaving the house before 8am and travelling home in the dark, it most definitely lived up to its name. I worked at a token booth, selling little pieces of paper to attendees at $4 a pop that with a proof of age wristband, entitled them to enter the licensed areas of the premises and purchase extremely expensive beverages to fuel their drunken fun. For one token, you got water. Two gave you a beer or a cider, while spirits cost you three. I was stationed at one of the quieter booths, which enabled me to get to know the other girls I was working with. There were five of us, plus a supervisor. What follows is a singleminded, stereotypical overview of each of those girls. Please take this with a grain of salt. I have no doubt there is so much more to these girls than this piece will contain. But for the sake of some simplified, cliched humour, I will introduce you to each of them as follows. (Inspired by the lists of Thought Catalog).

The Diehard Music Fan

The Diehard was your ultimate festival go-er. She knew who was playing when, on what stage, and could identify each sound that made its way into our booth with it’s creator, performer and their last performance. She’d celebrated new years at Falls and spoke about BDOs of years past. She proclaimed to have “strategically scheduled” her breaks around acts she most wanted to see, and stuck to her guns, refusing to take a break at any other time meaning the rest of us had to work ours out around her musical preferences. She might have had #99problemsbutfailing3Gaintone because she knew the set lists off by heart. Her friends consisted of likeminded Diehards and when they came within hearing distance of our booth, she took it upon herself to scream “OMG SCOTT! SCOTTTTTTTTT! OI, SOMEONE GET THAT RANGA OVER THERE!”. After blasting our ears and those of the customer she was serving out, said Ranga would then stumble over to her counter being like “OMG NO WAY! HOW DID YOU GET THIS GIG!? THAT IS SICKKKKK!”. Note the use of the word ‘gig’ to identify her job as a sales person – a telling sign of a true muso bunch.

The Self-Confessed Bitch

The S-CB was all over this job. Used to bossing people around as a personal trainer and dealing with perving males while dressed in a skimpy outfit during her “promo work”, she made more sales than the rest of us put together. While not working for money, she spends her time working out at the gym, lifting heavy weights five days a week, and following a strict diet, packed full of protein, training for body sculpting comps which she enters every few months. She has two trophies already, and breaks up with anyone unable to handle her strict eating/lifting regime. She’d prepared her meals for the day and packed them in a Cool Bag to ensure her minced Roo (yes, kangaRoo) and greens, and her two eggs were kept fresh and clean. In answer to the question you’re all wondering, yes, it was clear she Did Lift. Interestingly though, she made fun of all the young girls with intense spray tans waddling around before our eyes, while it was clear she too was sporting one herself. Ahh, the beauty of irony, or is it coincidence? Whatever it was, we all learnt a thing or two about attitude and that her father had paid $50,000 a year for her to attend an elite private school which was “totally worth it”. Good to know you’re using that knowledge well, girl.

The One With No Personality

There’s always one.

The Blissfully Ignorant Immigrant

When told the event was scheduled to receive an impressive 50,000 attendees, her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped. From the developing world, via Adelaide, she spoke fondly of the round tokens in bars of her hometown, and her time dressed up in an animal suit while she supported herself through her studies in the nation’s City of Churches. The only problem was though, her speaking fondling never really seemed to stop. She spoke constantly, of anything and everything, and poached customers from the lines of those next to her. “Excuse me! Excuse me!”, she wailed, trying to attract the attention of those dazed and distracted in the lines before us. She couldn’t understand how so many people would choose to get drunk, during the day time, with relatively no productivity or beneficial outcome other than pure drunkeness. I must admit, part of me struggles with this too. But as it was blatantly obvious to all, it was Straya Day, and what true Aussie doesn’t love a beer or two to celebrate their country’s pride? We told her it’s tradition. “Ohh, is it? That’s strange, isn’t it?” Well whether it is or it isn’t, she sure got the message by the end of the night.

The Mum

All crude humour aside, our supervisor was lovely. She truly helped us through stubborn customers, balancing our books and straightening out any potential harassment issues. She brought us together and laughed at our jokes. We found you could gage one’s usual level of drinking by how they responded to a) the prices of the tokens (and thus, drinks) and b) how many they purchased. We giggled at one man who forked out $200 off the bat, without thought, which would get him 25 beers, and noted others who came for just three or four tokens, managing their drinking wisely and responsibly. We learned about her 21 month old daughter, and about her family and lifestyle. We supported her when her one vice ([soy] coffee) was a let down, cold and icky, and she kept us going through sales peaks and lulls.

The day was a success even if Melbourne’s weather wasn’t. I just hope there aren’t hundreds of kids too sick to go back to school this week because they dressed (completely inappropriately) in short shorts and a singlet, for 40 degrees when I’m sure it barely made it to 20. But I guess that’s a sneaky way out of a new school year, so maybe today’s youth are smarter than we all thought?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Imagine how different the world would be if we were confined to the boundaries of our hometown or city. If we could visit other states and countries but had no option to relocate permanently or temporarily, despite feeling more comfortable in the alternate environment. What if the path you chose as a 17 or 18 year old, confined you to one industry or one vocation for life? There was no option to retrain, go back to university, no excuse or remedy for a ‘mid-life crisis’, no way to shift between sectors or orientations. What if the materials of your childhood home defined you in some way or other, the hospital you were born in restricted your options in life, or your first word was utilised as a tool for dividing the population in groups that would somehow shape the rest of their lives. Each factor above contributes to the way we live, how we shape our relationships, how we build our sense of self, how we interact with others and respond to our feelings. Certain people are able to cope with change better than others. Some people are born into wealth while others struggle just to get by. Some people are brought up vegetarian, others are brought up as surf-lifesavers. We can be city people or country people. We might come from a small family, be born to a single mum, or have a dozen brothers and sisters to play with in a bustling household. I might play netball while you choose hockey as your preferred sport. I like Modern Family, you like Neighbours. I eat spearmint Extra, you chew on peppermint. My mum taught me to tie my laces with one loop but your dad ties his with two.

In life, there are many circumstances we can’t control. You might be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time – either way, you could not foreshadow the events that day, or that hour presented you with. Other factors are a mixture of preference, influence and understanding – I say tomAto, you say toma(R)to. I like yellow and you like green. I like JT while you prefer Jay Z. No one is right or wrong, these things are a matter of choice, generally with reasoning behind it even if only that you see one more desirable than the other, or your were brought up one way rather than another.

Now if an employment agency were recruiting for a bunch of people to ‘sell’ the colour yellow as The Face of Summer, naturally they’d be looking for people who saw yellow as a happy colour, a motivating colour, maybe those who saw yellow as the colour of late nights on the beach and days running through a field of blooming sunflowers (or whatever). To employ someone who associated yellow with sickness and disease would be rather a strange choice. They are unlikely to get the same return on investment as their aforementioned, summer-loving counterpart. In the same respect, choosing someone who favoured green, purple or navy blue may not be a wise move, as their personal preference for another colour might present an obstacle in them achieving their targets, and in turn, yours, as the employer. But luckily for you, it would be relatively safe to assume that those who had gone through the application process, put in the hard yards to submit their resume, cover letter and maybe even attend an interview, are not the people who envision summer in shades of green, purple or navy blue. People apply for positions of responsibility whether paid, voluntary or for work (or life) experience based on their skill set, their passions and their curiosities. As a communications student, I am not going to apply for an engineering internship, nor would an engineering student apply for work at a public relations firm. Sure, in the future our interests and abilities may change as we steer ourselves in a different direction. And we are lucky to for the most part, have the chance and receive the respect to do just that.

What has promoted my thoughts on these issues today, is the current debate over a new rights bill that allows religious organisations and companies owned by religious groups to discriminate against potential employees that in some way, challenge their religious foundations or orientation. This includes public services such as hospitals and educational institutions. The Catholic Church are one of the largest employers in the country. International cereals company Sanitarium is owned and operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. As outlined in their Guidelines, Sanitarium “recognise[s] the 7th day as a day of rest therefore we do not support events requesting commercial or promotional assistance during the hours of Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (the Sabbath).” Therefore, a business with an estimated turnover of $300 million a year and potential employment opportunities for hundreds of Australians, under this Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, will have the opportunity and the right, to deny those who seek to work commercially or on promotional jobs for the company on the Sabbath, as well as those who more generally are not in favour of such work, yet are neither opposed to it either.

Supposedly, the Bill will allow religious groups to discriminate against those if “is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion”.

While many people are subject to discrimination, the focus of this campaign lies predominately with discrimination against same-sex attracted individuals. Two of my closest friends are same-sex attracted. One male, one female. Some of my family’s closest friends (practically extended family themselves), are also same-sex attracted. The Oxford Dictionary defines discrimination as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex“. It is thereby, by definition, unjust to vet people based on their sexual orientation. Furthermore, allowing religious organisations to do just so gives them rights that extend beyond non-religious organisations, so far in fact, that if a secular organisation were to do so, it would be illegal under Australian law.

This is a Labor government. How can a party who by their own values say they strive to give “every Australian opportunities through education and training, ensuring fairness at work…”, continue to support a bill that will ensure just the opposite? And to further the contradictory action, the Minister looking after the motion through the Senate is Finance Minister Penny Wong – a committed Christian and a lesbian. She is quoted to have said that Labor are ”seeking to balance the existing law and the practice of religious exemptions with the principle of non-discrimination”.

And sure, I sympathise with the dichotomy the government are presented with. Well, at least to some extent. I do not want to discriminate against those of any religion. I don’t want to undermine their beliefs nor am I saying the circumstances can be easily navigated and resolved. I am, however, in favour of equality. I would never want to know someone, or even hear of someone, who has been denied their right to work for an organisation purely based on their sexuality. I never want one of my friends to find they have lost an important employment opportunity to someone with a lesser skill set, relatively no experience and sketchy references, just because they are gay.

Unlike the many determinants in our lives over which we have control, our sexual preferences and thus our personal identity, are not simply matters of one or the other. These desires are innate, they are unlearned. Unfortunately, many people with mental illness or chronic disease suffer these same or similar prejudices, and the stigma associated with conditions, preferences or individual (dis)abilities must be reduced if we are to exist as a society of equals, unhindered by possible rejection or unfair dismissal.

In November 2012, Australian marriage equality advocates welcomed a new draft national anti-discrimination law that aimed to protect gay Australians from unfair treatment in employment and services. Yet this is exactly what we are being faced with a mere two months later. Lobby group GetUp!, the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Greens have also all criticised the current Bill for not offering proper protections against discrimination for LGBTI people. Others who may face discrimination include pregnant women, women who are thought to “potentially” be pregnant, and couples living in a de facto relationship.

Amidst all this darkness though, there is some light. Social welfare charity, Anglicare, introduced a formal policy welcoming and supporting inclusion and diversity nearly a decade ago. South Australian branch chief executive, the Reverend Peter Sandeman is quoted to have said ”Jesus didn’t discriminate in who he associated with and helped and neither should we”. Another light shines from the south, where the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act penalises church-based schools and welfare agencies if they are found to discriminate against LGBTI employees, students or clients.

Now is not the time for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to be losing supporters. The year’s first Newspoll suggests the Coalition has retained the lead on a two-party-preferred basis, 51 to 49 per cent. But a more conservative government is even less likely to fight discrimination cases. So what can you do?

Start by signing these two petitions:

GetUp!’s WE ARE ALL E=UAL campaign, and

Community Run’s WHAT’S GOD GOT TO DO WITH IT? REMOVE RELIGIONS’ RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE

The Bill itself can be viewed here. Public submissions can be seen here.

And just consider what it would be like if you couldn’t get a job because you were brought up in a brick house, when all a company was considering were those who’d spent more time in a weatherboard. That determining factor is or was, out of your control. You didn’t choose the house you lived in as a child. But it became part of who you are. That house shaped you and will forever be in your heart. So don’t discriminate, because you’re hitting out against someone else’s home every single time.

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These past few years I’ve not seen many films in the cinema. I’ve seen plenty of movies and watched seasons of many series’ at home, but I’d say that generally I would have been able to count the number of times I’d set foot in a cinema on one hand. I think 2013 is going to be the year in which I venture to the big screen more and more, if these first two weeks are anything to go by.

This weekend alone, I’ve been to the movies twice. Last night, I saw Hitchcock and this evening, The Perks of Being A Wallflower. So I thought I’d gather a few thoughts and pen them to page – or type them or whatever you’re supposed to say when press keys down and magically your thoughts appear on the screen in front of you.

***Potential spoiler alert***

Sadly/shamefully/oddly, I knew almost nothing about Alfred Hitchcock before last night. I knew he’d directed Psycho, and that was about it. I knew the screeching Psycho music but would not have necessarily associated the sound with the silver screen. Hitchcock is directed by Sacha Gervasi, a journalist-writer and a relative newcomer to the directorial scene. The story is thought to be a biographical story of the lives of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, yet is based on Stephen Rebello’s book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.

Anthony Hopkins is a portly Hitchcock, with intriguing lips and a waddle to be applauded for what must have been the result of in-depth character development. Hitchcock, or ‘Hitch’ as he is more commonly known, is an avid eater, a charmer and a risk taker, who believes in himself and his work so much that he will mortgage his house to make a film will very little backing from producers or distributors. Yet he has undoubted support from his wife, Alma, a stubborn, hearty and dedicated Helen Mirren, who portrays her character with great integrity. I can only imagine the real Alma, had she lived to see this production, would have been proud and satisfied with Mirren’s performance. Ultimately, it is a story of relationships (aren’t they all), but more specifically of the strength of a woman who dares to live her own life while standing by her husband and all of his endeavours. 

The film also features Scarlett Johansson, James D’Arcy, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel and Danny Huston, who to my eye, looks like he’s just jumped out of a Walt Disney picture. His face is so huge and animated, it consumed me almost as much as it filled up space on screen.

All in all, it’s not a must see, but definitely is well-directed, well-cast, and acted thoughtfully and thoroughly (if that’s even a ‘thing’). I kind of wish it were nominated for an Oscar or two, best supporting actress being the stand out pick, if any.

On a completely different note, Perks was something I’d been wanting to see since hearing it was coming out as a film, many months ago. While Hitchcock was seen on a whim, this had been in the pipeline for a long time. I feel slightly unauthorised to speak about this film considering I haven’t read the book, which I feel indebted to read even more as a result of seeing the film. I always think it’s best to read the book first, but for some reason, I didn’t get around to it. Let’s say it’s now etched into my ever-growing To Read list.

The story is directed by and the screenplay, adapted by Stephen Chbosky, author of the original novel. With a young yet all-star cast, he has done a wonderful job of portraying youth through relationships, sadness, conflict and self-doubt. Coined as a coming-of-age novel, it has a cult-like following and this group will no doubt have grown since stars Ezra Miller and Emma Watson have jumped on board.

A narrative spoken by Charlie (Logan Lerman) tracks his growth from a shy freshman with many secrets and no friends, to his time as a young man with knowledge of love, experiences of beauty, fun and an ability to speak the truth and be heard, without shame and free from judgement. Charlie is introduced to drugs, sex, pain and honesty through his friendship with Patrick, (Miller) and his step-sister Sam, (Watson). The film deals with issues that could have been brutalised and vulgarised if not handled with appropriate care, including gay relationships, mental illness, sexual disturbance and violence. But it is a testament to the story, the acting and the greater direction and production of the film, that each of these occurrences are told with authenticity and respect. The depiction Charlie’s inner torment and his time in hospital is delicate, as are the subtle yet powerful references to various characters’ sexual abuse.

A stand out performance award must go to Ezra Miller, previously best known for playing the title role in We Need to Talk About Kevin, one of my favourite films. In Perks he is Patrick, a queer/queeny, enthusiastic spark with a confidence sure to be envied by teenagers and adults alike. Apart from his distinctive physical features, his acting is impeccable. The first Rocky Horror scene is possibly the one of the best moments in theatre ever. You have GOT to see it, words cannot describe… Other casting is also superb, including Paul Rudd as Mr Anderson and Mae Whitman (whom I love from Parenthood) as Mary Elizabeth. Additional familiar faces include Joan Cusack, Kate Walsh and Dylan McDermott.

I would highly recommend Perks to people of any age. It is an eclectic mix of romance, drama, teen-fiction and simple, raw emotion. It will make you feel something. And whatever that feeling may be, is special in itself.

Maybe these are summaries more than reviews, or thoughts rather than star ratings, but I felt compelled to write something about my hours in front of the big screen this weekend. If nothing else, I hope you too, might now venture out to see either of these films, and do let me know what you think of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Motivations behind podcasting: What are the motivations behind participating in podcasting on a personal, individual level for both the sender and the receiver?

Podcasting technology was developed in 2004 in response to time-consuming processes for downloading audio files from the Internet. MTV VJ, Mark Curry turned to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) as a means for automating the process (McClung & Johnson 2010). The name podcast came about through combining the words broadcasting and iPod and describes the portable audio files available for download to home computers and other portable playback devices. Podcasts have a diverse user base, and have enabled both amateur and professional media organisations to disseminate information to listeners to be consumed on the listener’s own time schedule. These audio files are easily transferrable to devices such as iPods and MP3 players and thus “podcasts enable users to time-shift and place-shift content” (McClung & Johnson 2010, p. 83) ensuring both ease and pleasure of consumption.

Podcasts are often directed at niche audiences, whether it is a program of British comedy, health and fitness podcasts, self-help, politics, or technologically focused. The personalized and flexible aspects of podcasting, in combination with their ease of use and portability, heighten the appeal of the podcasts for both users and makers. Podcasting is based around the interactive communication model with a focus on feedback between the sender and receiver of information. Podcasting communities have emerged as makers and listeners actively seek interaction and create conversations within and beyond the boundaries of their podcasts. In this way social networks are established creating a sense of belonging and engaging individuals in conversation they may not have been able to access through other modes of communication.

Podcasts generally follow a template or structure making it easier for listeners to follow the individual podcast as well as the show or stream of podcasts to which it is tied. A basic structure of a podcast begins with greetings and rhetorical questions that initiate quasi-interactions with the listener (Jarrett 2009). The host then outlines the topic or theme of discussion, and defines a purpose for the podcast that relates the conversation back to the life of the listener. The nature of podcasting, being an online tool also dictates that each podcast show and episode has a title, alerting potential listeners to its focus and content. Podcasts may consist of varied segments including interviews with experts, scripted section or narratives, music interludes and featured questions, often at the end of a podcast, to prompt interaction beyond the close of the recording. These features seek to lure new listeners and thus are important to the sustainability of the podcast. However, it is important to note that podcasts are a form of communication that does not have to have a big user base to continue production. If a podcaster has a small, niche audience, and is getting positive feedback and satisfaction in production, there is no barrier to its continuation. This establishes the freedom involved in podcasting, as well as being a key motivator for podcast production.

Podcasting is very much a product of Ong’s culture of ‘secondary orality’ (Ong 2002) that describes communication effects of an electronic society. Both primary and secondary orality generate a strong group sense (Fernback 2003) but the electronic culture has diminished any need for physical co-presence that may have been sustained through primary orality (Venturini n.d). “Electronic media may arouse a sense of closeness and community” (Venturini n.d, para. 5) and virtual communication is a key aspect of podcasting and the establishment of podcasting communities. Ong draws significantly on McLuhan’s notion of a ‘global village’ where physical distance does not hinder peoples’ communication activities. McLuhan writes, “We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening” (Symes 1995, para. 5).

Six gratifications have been associated with MP3 players: boredom, stimulation, entertainment, relaxation, escape, and loneliness (McClung & Johnson 2010). McClung and Johnson conducted research into the motivations behind podcast use among a very digitalised sample (58.5% of respondents spent between two and four hours online per day; more than 20% spent over six hours online per day). Results revealed that factors contributing to increased podcast use included entertainment, time shifting, library building, advertising, and social aspects, such as “how users talk with other fans about the podcasts they download” (McClung & Johnson 2010, p. 89). The availability and accessibility of the podcasts for libraries such as iTunes were coupled with personal empowerment through choice of when, where and how users were able to listen to their chosen podcasts, and “an overwhelming majority (89%) report actually using the podcasts they downloaded” (p. 89). However, despite the above, the value of podcasting still lies primarily with the content. Users “appreciate the ability to access only podcasts they like” (p. 89) and enjoy the communal aspect of discussing the media in social settings. McClung and Johnson suggest it could be “the socialization function of podcast use is akin to early radio use, but in a different technological format” (p. 93) that really motivates people to download and listen to their chosen podcasts.

Podcasts, falling under the category of participatory media, enable the “empowerment of non-professional or subjugated discourse” (Jarrett 2009, p. 116) particularly advantageous for the individual podcaster. Personal trainer Trish Blackwell’s podcast From the Inside Out released its first episode in July 2012. She tells listeners that she records her podcasts from within her closet, and repeatedly put off starting her show due to a fear of failure. The motivational nature of the show lends itself favourably to this particular discussion, as the show’s tagline is ‘The podcast about living, exercising and thinking from the inside out’. Blackwell discusses her experience of starting a podcast, as an amateur without professional equipment, through the encouragement of a friend. As a user, one is able to subscribe to her (or any) podcast series, when a new episode is released the audio downloads automatically, like an RSS feed.

The motivations for individuals to start up their own podcasts are varied however it would be negligent to dismiss the significance of the power the technology gives one to disseminate knowledge and personal narratives to a potentially large audience across national or cultural boundaries and time-enforced barriers. Podcast users in Australia are able to download episodes from BBC4 and listen to them in their own time, only hours after they have been aired through broadcast media in Britain. This is true of most audio content uploaded onto the Web, and provides users with a greater scope of knowledge from which to learn and contemplate. For podcast senders, this broad reach is a key motivator, especially when considered in relation to an interactive communication model. Foulger (2004) notes there is a bi-directionality of communication in this model, where feedback is introduced as a key aspect of two-way communication. It draws on earlier sender-receiver communication models, but the addition of feedback empowers both sender and receiver to engage with each other and provides points of discussion, criticism and positive responses to one another. This focus enables an exchange of information, expanding on the limitations offered by a one-way model of communication in which the receiver has no impact on future proceedings.

Such exchanges can be seen in the variety of responses encouraged by Blackwell. Blackwell encourages her listeners to follow her on Twitter, to subscribe to future podcasts, search her website, download her fitness-oriented applications from the Apple App Store, or even to send her an email, with any feedback, recommendations and responses. Blackwell also expresses her appreciation for her listeners. Being a new and amateur podcaster, these listeners are integral to the show’s success. Thus, through users subscribing to her show and the emails and followers she is gaining as a result of this process, Blackwell has achieved her goal to establish an outlet for her to teach and express her passion for living a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle, through podcasting. Similarly, many podcasters ask for feedback via their podcast library providers, such as iTunes. Listeners are then motivated to rate podcasts and provide comments from which other users can decide to download the podcast.

Podcasting has generated a sense of community that has its basis in the rhetoric through which many podcasters often communicate with their listeners. On a personal basis, many podcasters use lay discourse, “associated with experiential and concrete narratives, subjectivity, particularity and, importantly, authenticity” (Jarrett 2009, p. 125) to establish a relationship with their listeners. Podcasts not derived from news sources, political or non-government organisations, frequently utilize experiential narrative (Jarrett 2009) as a way of validating their comments, as they are commonly without expertise or professional standing opinion on their topic of discussion. Furthermore “rich engagement of audiences and user-generated content [can be] integral to [podcasting’s] success” (Jarrett 2009, p. 116), and thus it is this interaction and creation of virtual communities that becomes so important to maintaining and fostering these relationships. Users (both sender and receiver) are able to engage in intimate relationships and discussions despite being physically disconnected, and find individuals with similar interests and passions as well as avenues through which to discuss these subjects. What is interesting about podcasting is that while most people listen to episodes through headphones, alone and often whilst at the gym, cooking or multitasking, their personal interest in the conversation generates greater engagement than when one listens to the radio generally. The difference here is that users have actively tailored listening to their interests rather than being subject to the dictates of programming.

As listeners are paying greater attention to details of the discussion, they are being educated on a deeper level, which encourages them to join the virtual community and provide feedback, to rate the show or sign up to a forum through which to pursue their interests further. These communities, in turn, generate ongoing discussion and provide new modes of learning and educative models with which podcast senders and receivers can engage. It can be concluded from this research that the benefits to the individual of producing and consuming podcasts are numerous. However, the way podcasting enables the creation of communities based on niche interests is most significant in parallel with the interactive communication model, probing feedback and reciprocal relationships between listeners themselves as well as with the host. Together, they shape the podcast, empowering all users to engage in the group mentality suggested by Ong’s (2002) ‘second orality’. The evident rapid growth of the podcast suggests it is likely to continue to motivate producers and listeners in innovative and interesting ways.

References

Fernback, J 2003, ‘Legends on the net: an examination of computer-mediated communication as a local of oral culture’, New Media & Society, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 29-45.

Foulger, D 2004, Models of the Communication Process, viewed 1 October 2012, http://davis.foulger.info/research/unifiedModelOfCommunication.htm

Jarret, K 2009, ‘Private talk in the public sphere Podcasting as broadcast talk’, Communication, Politics & Culture, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 116-135.

McClung, S & Johnson, K 2010, ‘Examining the Motives of Podcast Users’, Journal of Radio & Audio Media, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 82-95.

Ong, W J 2002, Orality and Literacy, Routledge, New York

Symes, B 1995, Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’, viewed 1 October 2012, http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/bas9401.html

Venturini, T n.d, ‘Second Orality’, International Collaborative Dictionary of Communications, viewed 1 October 2012, http://mediaresearchhub.ssrc.org/icdc-content-folder/second-orality/