From Here to Dystopia: Part 2

So, it has been about one month since my first blog post was published. The central idea and themes have not really changed at all- but my perceptions have along with my faith in humanity. In the first phases of my research when I was first figuring out my plan of attack, I thought that watching the films I listed in my dystopian fiction and going on to dissect them was going to be the easiest part of this assignment. I was very wrong. In my presentation, I used two examples of dystopian fiction (The Handmaid’s Tale and Battle Royale) and after watching them both several times each then going on to analyse and critique them and then try and equate them with modern day society was an arduous task! This is my dissection of both films so far in comparison with our society today:

Battle Royale

  1. Younger generations targeted

Younger generations are targeted because in Japan at the time, the economy was crashing and there were high rates of unemployment. Students were consistently rebelling and boycotting their classes, which is why the government approved the Battle Royale legislation. Although different people have different perspectives and opinions, there is certainly discussion that is occurring today that diminishes younger people as rude, lacking in respect, impatient, lazy etc.

  1. Students set up to fail also represents worldwide failure

In the film, the students are given a bag with supplies including a weapon, food, water, a map and a compass. Each student has a different weapon. The two main characters have a pair of binoculars and a saucepan lid as weapons, while others have shotguns, automatic rifles and sharp knives. This represents that some individuals are unfairly given better opportunities regardless of value while others are essentially set up for failure. By doing this the film suggests that we are already set up for global failure. For example, we have a semi-fraudulent banking system as people are given loans of money that doesn’t actually exist only to have to work even harder to pay these non-existent loans back with actual cash.

  1. We are meant to be protected by the state- but the state sometimes only protects itself (selfish government)

There’s no doubt that most laws are put in place for our benefit. They help in making us feel safe in our day-to-day lives. However there have been relatively recent cases of governments creating laws for their own benefits. In Australia, the Border Force Protection Act was signed in 2015 that states it is illegal for detention centre workers to report child abuse, rape and human rights violations. In 2014, the state of Idaho in the US states it is illegal to film and report animal abuse on farms, establishing severe criminal sanctions for those that report the abuse- as opposed to those who caused it in the first place. This use of “law-making” which protects corporations in charge represents the “forbidden zones” in the film which are set up to give the game its three day time limit. The viewers are able to sit comfortably in their homes while the students have to fight for their lives whilst also worrying about where they are and at what times.

The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. Lack of body autonomy

In the film, women’s lives are only contingent on whether or not they are able to produce children. It is a group of white, religious rich males who decide on the fate of female bodies. Earlier in the year Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order surrounded by 6 rich white males.

  1. Victim blaming

There is a scene in the film where a young handmaid is “slut-shamed” by other women when she bravely states she is a victim of rape and the rape resulted in an aborted pregnancy. The other handmaid’s say that it was her fault for what happened, that God was punishing her and that she is a whore. This scene really resonates with today’s rape culture, as we are currently living in a society where a US college student was convicted of sexual assault and only served just three months of a jail sentence (Brock Turner). We are a society that holds female victims accountable for male crimes. We say well she shouldn’t have worn that short skirt, she shouldn’t have flirted, she shouldn’t have been walking alone at night and we justify this vile behaviour by saying “boys will be boys”.

  1. Travel ban

Diverting from gender issues, I did make a comparison between women being forced to work to death in the colonies if they were unable to give birth to Trump’s travel ban. The Handmaid’s were told that with the role they were playing in society, it was the safest and most pleasant life available to them- and that they should be happy about that. If not, they always had the choice to go to these colonies, which were represented in the film as eerily similar to Nazi death camps. Trump’s travel ban is in itself, a manifestation of Islamophobia and fear-mongering. His party seem to believe that a healthy America is only comprised of white Christians, and that immigrants, whatever nationality they may be play only an insignificant role in the “greatness” of his country. So the Christian Fundamentalist leaders in the Handmaid’s Tale suspended the US constitution under the pretext of restoring order and Trumps travel ban violates constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and equal protection of the laws. Although the travel ban has now been frozen, the act of it in the first place crossed several lines.

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In my first blog post I outlined two scholarly resources that I believed aligned well with the message I am trying to convey in my digital artefact. Soon after, I came across a paper written by a young woman from the US that analysed the themes of dystopian fiction as part of her master’s degree. She researched novels from 2001-2010. Most of her paper is purely themes that she found to be repetitive within each novel, so what I was most interested in most was part of her conclusion/findings. Toward the end of her paper, the author discussed five lessons that could be learnt from reading dystopian novels. These lessons were: that it is okay to have individuality and be unique, that it’s important to keep hope, that technology has gone too far and something needs to be done, we must protect our environment and lastly that it is important have the quality of altruism. My first two academic sources were very pessimistic and dark in nature, more so Potter’s work, so I think it is important to include something that doesn’t necessarily focus on our physical state in the event of a dystopian age, rather our temperaments and qualities and how we should deal with a dystopia in the best way that we can.

Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard discusses the structure and the legitimacy of the government. In a typically dystopian land, it is the government that is the oppressor and the controller of every single event and person in its state, which is why exposing the true immoral nature of the government is so central in discussing dystopian themes and general existence of it. The short book contains several chapters all contributing powerfully to the author’s overall thesis, however I would like to focus on one particular chapter: How the State Transcends its Limits. This chapter begins with discussion of the transformation from monarchical society to the concept of a parliamentary democracy in the United States of America. This evidently resulted in the parliament being the main act of the state and therefore every act completely sovereign. Drawing upon my own political philosophy knowledge- I think it’s interesting to contemplate the state of nature and two philosophers’ views on this phenomenon. In short, John Locke argued that in the state of nature, every man would be equal to one another, and that because we are God’s property we would not harm each other whilst Thomas Hobbes argues that in the state of nature, life would be short, nasty and brutish and essentially states that mankind is too selfish in what they desire to be fair and equal. Returning back to Rothbard, he uses the example of the Bill of Rights and Restrictive parts of the American Constitution to demonstrate an attempt to impose limits of the power of the government. The judicial sector of the US federal government are supposed to interpret laws in alignment with the principles of the constitution, however has only too become an instrument for implementing ideological legitimacies to the actions of the government.

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The main change I have made from my first post is that I will only focus on dystopian films, and I will include Brazil in my final piece. I was planning on more, but I believe if I analyse only a few really well, it will make more of an impact than analysing 10 only briefly. I have also made the decision to include an Instagram feed in my blog which will feature a page run by an authoritarian government in a dystopian era which will include propaganda used to coerce and control its citizens. I will ensure to post the link on Twitter when it is up and running.

newcastle-dystopian-327315.jpg

References

Newgard, L, University of Northern Iowa UNI Scholar Works, Life of Chaos, Life of Hope: Dystopian Literature for Young Adults, Graduate Research Papers, viewed 20 April 2017, <http://scholarworks.uni.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=grp&gt;

Rothbard, M 2009, Anatomy of the State, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Alabama

From Here to Dystopia

“Dystopia is only an illusion of an extreme reality that I see on TV and in books”- society 2k17

Traditionally, dystopias are almost always set in the future. Life is presented as a perpetual war, with an omnipresent government surveillance and added public manipulation. There is, however, a timeless cosmological truth that lie beneath the pragmatic realities of everyday life. These truths are not customarily part of our existential or conscious awareness: we must seek it.

My objective is to inform you that dystopias are not always set safely in the future, romanticised by Hollywood films as we collectively refuse to accept the rapid progress and existence of this manufactured reality. If we dare look underneath the surface, we may discover that we are slowly soaking into a virtually inescapable dystopia.

Dystopian fiction intentionally includes elements of contemporary society in order to generate nightmare-like qualities observed by their audience. They often serve to function as radical political commentary, however are only never really analysed further than their romantic value or the success of the hero/heroine narrative. Today, Hollywood has an inherent obsession with watering down dystopia, in turn illegitimating the inevitable future of dystopia- the Hunger Games is an example of this devolution of significantly dominant yet misconstrued political and societal struggles.

I am going to discuss and analyse four different texts that were produced between the years of 1949-2000. These texts, consisting of three films and two novels will each present wildly differing contexts and themes within their narratives, but with enough in depth analysis and a little bit of imagination and ingenuity will seek to take you on a short but edifying journey- from here to dystopia.

Edit: the in-depth analysis will take place in the next blog. For now- enjoy the trailers and the one novel summary (but really, who hasn’t read 1984).

FILM: Battle Royale

FILM: Brazil

NOVEL: 1984

FILM: The Handmaid’s Tale (there is also a critically acclaimed novel (much better if you can get your hands on it) by Margaret Atwood- but this trailer semi-adequatly sums up the premise of the book in a few minutes).

Dystopian Realities

10 years from now, we will ask ourselves “when did the world take this fatal detour?”

The truth is, there was not a single bullet, and there was not a single gun. It was the accumulation of many different factors that enabled our sense of agency, our livelihoods and our faith in human rights to disintegrate.

A few scholarly resources 

Potter, G 2012, ‘Imaginaries and Realities, Utopia and Dystopia’, Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research’, vol. 23, viewed 15 March 2017, http://www.alternateroutes.ca/index.php/ar/article/viewFile/15869/15771

Potter argues that dystopia is grounded in the present day. He states the dystopian thesis buried in logical and empirical content, which emphasises the near certain hopelessness with respect to avoiding a future of unimaginable horror and suffering- and there is nothing in our power to prevent it. He discusses how dystopia is essentially a Marxist phenomenon. An example he gives is in regards to poverty, unemployment and inequality- and describes these issues as features of our global political economy, that are not contingent rather they are fundamental to the system. These issues are being aggravated and amplified each and every day, which is why dystopian theory rejects reformism of any kind as a potential solution in avoiding dystopia. In order to revolutionise in the first place, the first world needs a revolution. However, the political consciousness embedded for need for a political overhaul is just not here. The majority of affluent middle classes, in the US and Canada for example, cannot begin to comprehend what is happening to millions of peasants and workers around the world. Potter ponders- is it their affluence that blinds them? He contends that development and underdeveloped have evolved together, which only reinforces the fact that an insurgency is only wishful thinking.

Slaughter, R 2004, Futures beyond Dystopia: Creating Social Foresight, Routledge Falmer, New York.

Slaughter takes the stance that the affluent world we live in was founded on illusions. He believes that we are entranced by wealth, successes and an even more compelling technological prowess. He states that the most likely of futures before us are irredeemably dystopian in nature, and sets out a list of propositions about aspects of our current society that worry him (although the book is slightly outdated, the themes outlined in the following list is still largely relevant).

  • A Western worldview that in certain respects supports a “short-term, thin, instrumental view of the world.
  • Dominant economic and political agendas that serve to produce a consumer society and perpetuate destructive and unsustainable views, practices, and systems everywhere.
  • Little attention to conscious participation in wider social and natural entities, awareness, and spirituality.
  • The over glamorisation of technology and its potentials in detriment to our humanity.
  • Often-false solutions to the perennial problems of human existence – meaning, purpose, soulful work, rites of passage, and death.
  • Powerful forces aligned in favour of material growth and against ‘enoughness’ and ‘voluntary simplicity.’
  • “Overall, it may be possible to redesign some of the ‘ways of knowing’ that are contained within the Western worldview by retiring defective components and replacing them with consciously chosen equivalents. The tools for engaging in this work are widely available, but the places where they can be learned and practiced are not very common.” (p. 8)

Slaughter’s aim in his writings aims to establish a sustainable and desirable future by using the rich store of intellectual and practical knowledge that has been gained over half a century of futures studies. “Essentially the task is about letting go of industrial models, values, priorities and structures across the board and opening to the processes of transformation available through the perennial wisdom of humankind” (p. 255).

Slaughter hoped that his book would provide the motivation to change the ways that we operate day-to-day. Fast-forwarding to 13 years down the track, have we even slightly achieved that? It seems that the aspects of society he was originally worried about have, in most cases, only worsened in nature. The good news is, is that this project will present all the information necessary to allow you, a human being in this ungodly world, to make up your own mind about your impending doom, I mean future…

“The future has already arrived- it’s just not widely distributed yet”. 

battle-royale-screenshot-11_758_426_81_s_c1

Buckle up and lets enjoy the ride 

 

Struggle Street

Struggle Street, an SBS 3-part documentary on the lower class ‘bogans’ of Mt Druitt, has been under scrutiny since it aired last year. With 1.5 million people watching the first episode, there is no doubt that Australia has heavily mixed views ranging from accusations of “poverty porn” whilst others wondered why it even aired in the first place claiming it to be uninteresting.

I have noticed a trend in social media over the past year with people using the term “porn” and associating it with non-sexual things i.e. food porn, make-up porn, earth porn. “Poverty porn” is a term I only came across when Struggle Street first appeared on our screens. The definition is basically Westerners definition of global inequality, disease and hunger. An article in “the conversation” also describes “poverty porn” as a distorted presentation of disadvantage by the advantaged. I do not believe this is the case. Yes, some people would feel a sense of superiority when watching, but through living in Wollongong I have seen how those who live on government benefits act. I’m not saying that everyone who lives on the doll cheat the system and do not appreciate the help they get, as I know that isn’t the case. However, in certain parts of Wollongong, and especially on the free buses, everyday I witness people who it is quite obvious do not work, don’t look after themselves and spend money on illicit substances and alcohol. It is my belief that how the families/individuals on Struggle Street are represented are not deluded or misrepresented, but actually a somewhat accurate depiction.

The other day I was waiting for the bus in Fairy Meadow (across from Coles) when a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 14 began waiting also. It was a hot morning and I had my sunglasses on and was scanning up and down and road, as you do when you are waiting. This girl, who had a can of Bundaberg Rum in one hand and a cigarette in the other, caught my gaze and said “you lookin’ at me? You wanna stop that aye”. Not only was she skipping school (she had her uniform on) but she was causing a scene in public, one that got the attention from everyone waiting at the bus stop. This got me thinking, I wonder what sort family she comes from. What sort of family would raise a child to think that every single aspect of her behaviour was acceptable.

In saying that I think that those who live with government benefits in government housing and refuse to improve the well-being of themselves and their families, it is also my opinion that “breaking the cycle” as my Mum always says is never an easy option. When you are raised on very little, live in a home with alcoholic/drug affected parents and haven’t been raised with the education that is needed to properly succeed in life, it is rare to come across someone who has overcome all these barriers in their adult years.

“Struggle Street” is a series that has done all it can in its quest for ratings, and in doing so has represented Mt Druitt in a very narrow way. There is no denying that it is wrong to merely show the negative side of the area without showing the people in the area that have stable jobs with their lives together. However, it is in my belief that their depiction of the underprivileged members of Mt Druitt are completely true, and it is in not just that area that these people exist, but all over NSW as I have personally witnessed. This deems my analysis of “Poverty Porn” as a term that exists to cause moral panic. However, bringing awareness to this issue is not a bad thing, as more “privileged”  people need to be educated in this social issue.

References:

https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/p luginfile.php/598885/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20poverty%20porn%20with%20an%20extra%20dose%20of%20class%20racism.pdf   (week 3 reading: Struggle Street is Poverty Porn with an extra dose of racism)

The dark side of Instagram

Every day, more than 75 million people use Instagram. 20% of people who use the internet world wide have Instagram. There are 400 million active Instagram users every month. These statistics are pretty horrifying, right? Considering Instagram is pretty much just a bunch of photos of food, coffee, nature and bikini models. I would like to use this opportunity to talk about the often hidden, unnoticed aspect of the social media platform. Although it is less political due to limited text, Instagram has several potential dangerous effects on someone’s life. I’m going to use two examples, one personal, and one that was plastered all over the media. Lets begin with the personal one! During my late teens, I came across a dark, poetic and pitiful side of the fun, colourful and adventurous platform we know as Instagram. I found lots of accounts that posted depressing, sometimes suicidal quotes and poems and soon my feed was filled with depression and grief. My friends noticed and were instantly worried, but I saw no problem in it. Looking back, I realise this sounds completely insane and it was perhaps an outlet for my personal issues as I have never been one to open up to people about negative things. This whole experience opened me up to a side of Instagram that is quite scary. I discovered it was also a platform for people to unload their mental illness onto, which actually introduced a large fan base of people that were also unwell. Speaking from personal experience, this can have such a massive detrimental effect on someone’s well-being, and if they are mentally ill, could preclude recovery. During this sad time of my life, there was no doubt that Instagram- as a social media platform- shaped who I was at the time, as well as who I am now.

image

The second example I am going to give is something that had a lot of media attention earlier in the year. An 18 year old “Instagram famous” model named Essena O’Neill had been making thousands of dollars modelling on Instagram and sharing her photos with over 580,000 followers when she suddenly broke down and re-captioned every single one of her photos to reveal the truth of what actually was going on the time that a particular photo was taken. Here are some examples.

Essena+O'Neill+Quits+Social+MediaEssena89essena-619-386essena-o-neil-2

It is hard to believe this girl is still in high school and has been taught her whole life that likes define her self worth. It’s really sad when a small device in our pockets can quantify just how loved and valued we are. This whole event with Essena, when first published onto several websites and blogs, sparked a very positive response, with people being reminded that self-love does not come from strangers on Instagram and that social media is not real life. However, the more viral Essena got, the more people became suspicious of her true motives. I started reading comments on articles that Essena had an agenda and that we were all blinded by her candour and “honesty” when it came to Instagram. Essena did not help this suspicion as she actually set up a GoFundMe page and asked her followers for money. Keep in mind this is a young girl who still lives at home who has already earnt tens of thousands of dollars during her months as an Instagram famous model. People started believing that the whole thing was actually a publicity stunt, and I have to admit, if it was she did a pretty good job as I, and many other internet users had never heard of this girl before she decided to be an internet “game changer”.

In the case of this girl, an argument can be made that sometimes our identity actually arises from our interactions with other people. I myself use Instagram not as a platform to become made aware of, or for attention, but because I like to tell the people that follow me (friends, family mostly) of what I’m doing or maybe even something superficial like a new haircut. It is becoming increasingly popular for mostly women to make money out of Instagram, and to do this they must portray a “perfect” lifestyle of detox teas, intricate salads, yoga, fashion and beauty. Yet 99% of accounts do not mention the effects of detox teas (a long time on the toilet), the hours it takes to look camera ready, or just the truth of what happens behind the scenes of this “perfect” life that most of the time is not perfect at all.

Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher, states that our identity is partly shaped by recognition, often by the miss-recognition of others. This has had a damaging effect on today’s social media users as people feel they are then confined to a certain picture of themselves, just as Essena experienced. As these two very different accounts tell, there is a dark side to Instagram that many people are either not aware of or are so obsessed with the platform that they are totally unaware of the detrimental effects it is having on their well-being.

References:

Week 2 Lecture

By The Numbers: 160+ Interesting Instagram Statistics (January 2016)

Under appreciated celebrity activists

In a perfect world, celebrities would use their influence to make a real difference in the world with no second agenda or fabricated promises. Rapper 50 cent, otherwise known as Curtis Jackson is an international superstar known mainly for his unpolished rapping. However, Jackson is actually on the board of directors of the G-Unity foundation which provides grants to non-profit organisations that work to improve the quality of life for low income and underserved communities. Not only this, but he has been an advocate for issues such as AIDS/HIV, at risk/disadvantaged youths, cancer, children, conservation, health, environment, poverty and veteran member support. An article in Elite Daily opens on the statement “contrary to popular belief, rappers are half-way decent people”. I find this a deeply uncomfortable sentence. There are celebrities such as Bono and Angelina Jolie that receive mass amounts of praise and media attention and there are people like not only 50 Cent, but Snoop Dogg and Kanye West who do not receive half the amount of support and commendation they deserve for their very generous donations and charity work. This is merely because of their status as a rapper in the western music industry. Another celebrity, in my opinion, that has not received the right amount of praise for her efforts in charity work is Mariah Carey. In 1999 Mariah received a congressional award in honour of her contributions to youth profits and non-profit organisations. There is no denial that a portion of celebrities, however big or small, use activism as a form of power play where they purely intend to make themselves look good. Celebrities that keep their charity work low key and humble and only bring it up when asked should be the way that global issues are promoted. There is no denial that heavily publicising issues and charities through social media does do some good in spreading awareness and so forth, but when the end game is for these celebrities to gain status and admirable recognition, it does seem like a double standard.

Reference List

Sonny, J 2013, ‘When Rappers Have Hearts: The Most Charitable Emcees in the Game’, Elite Daily, 7 August, viewed 27/08/2015 <http://elitedaily.com/music/when-rappers-have-hearts-the-most-charitable-emcees-in-the-game/>

2015, 50 Cent: Charity Work, Events and Causes, Look to the Stars, viewed 28/08/2015 <https://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/50-cent#related-news>

Why society thinks fat women and marriage don’t mix

Lindy West, a recently married woman has written an article for The Guardian based upon the fact that on her wedding day, she was the most overweight she had ever been. This reverts to the unpopular opinion about how fat woman should simultaneously be free of patriarchal standards as well as be able to participate in them, alluding to the point that woman should not be labelled by her weight as well as her personal choices on the day that she has chosen to celebrate her love for another person. In the case of this article, I am going to partly focus on the comments written on the bottom of the webpage, which range from strongly positive to crudely negative.

“This is the 21st century- fat women are allowed to get married”

“Unbelievable! I wonder if the guardian online would publish a piece promoting anorexia”

“You look great. Good article. Luck and love to you and your husband”

“I can’t help but think the author is projecting her own insecurities and fears. I mean, for an article claiming ones weight/size doesn’t matter, she certainly turns it into an issue”

“Being fat is unhealthy and dangerous”

“How desperately insecure must these women be? If you want to be fat then be fat but don’t pretend you’ve achieved something”

Yes, most of the few dozen comments were negative. It doesn’t really need to be said that many of the comments were completely inappropriate and arrogant. Being overweight certainly should not be condoned, but it definitely should not be belittled. In saying that, it is not the point of the article whatsoever. The point is that fat-shaming is still everywhere and still so acceptable to many. This woman has been told that she is less-than her whole life. If she does not need external validation from a patriarchal society she certainly does not need validation from a bunch of anonymous web users. There are many things that West says that I agree with. The foremost being that it is now a very common thought that the best weddings are the ones that are most expensive. This is a form of capitalist brainwashing that shouldn’t exist to 99% of brides to be. Couples should generate a wedding that directly reflects their values, values that will then stay with them throughout the duration of their future. The one sentence that does not sit right with me is the very end of the article where West states “this is yours, fat girls. Eat it up”. This is not helping the trolls, it is merely feeding them.

Reference List

West, L 2015, ‘My Wedding Was Perfect- and I Was Fat as Hell the Whole Time’, The Guardian, 22 July, viewed 27/08/2015 <http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/my-wedding-perfect-fat-woman>

The Headdress: ceremonial item or fashion statement?

Osheaga, a Montreal music and arts festival has recently banned First Nations headdresses in an effort to demonstrate zero tolerance for cultural appropriation. In a statement made on their Facebook page, Osheaga justified their decision alluding to the importance in respecting the cultural and spiritual significance of the headdress in native communities. In addressing limitations, there is not really a legitimate reason as to why this should not proceed to be a normalcy within festivals. Female festival goers in the modern day are spending a ridiculous amount of money and energy on attempting to appear as a quirky bohemian babe with a free spirit. Headdresses are not the only cultural artefact that has made its way to become a fashion statement, as the bindi, although a cultural and religious symbol for Hindu and Southeast Asian women has been worn by the likes of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. In a nutshell, the disheartened girls that don’t get to wear whatever they want, even if it’s a cultural appropriation far from appropriate, is a small price to pay for a strictly ceremonial headdress to stay that way. As not even the indigenous peoples entitlement to wear the headdress would wear said headdress to a festival. Along with the headdress, Osheaga has also banned laser pointers, fireworks, drones and selfie sticks. The decision to ban the headdress is a decision that I believe to be respectable and earnest, however it does raise the question of why other things that may be deemed offensive aren’t banned i.e. tribal tattoos or anything that can be interpreted as having been inspired by tribal or Aztec culture. In a world where everything is appropriated, it is important to remember boundaries. In Australia, even though it has been centuries since the nation became whitewashed with European colonisation, we are more respectful and dignified than ever when it concerns the original inhabitants of Australia. In the case of native headdresses worn at festivals, it boils down to two distinct points of discussion: a strictly ceremonial item or an ignorant fashion statement.

Reference List

Marsh, C 2015, ‘Osheaga’s Headdress Ban Shows Festival’s Zero Tolerance For Cultural Appropriation’, The Guardian, 18 July, viewed 26/08/2015 <http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jul/17/osheaga-music-festival-headdress-cultural-appropriation?CMP=fb_gu>

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Campaign

English chef Jamie Oliver has recently amplified his media personality through a campaign called ‘Food Revolution Day’ that aims to put compulsory practical food education on the school curriculum. At first glance, no one can argue that Jamie is doing this for egocentric or immoral reasons. In 2008, Jamie became a popular household name. With this status came a general consensus of ‘at least he’s doing something’; in relation to his series Jamie’s Ministry of Food. This introduces a key development into Jamie Oliver’s campaign for the education of school children; when did Jamie shift from a lifestyle expert to a moral entrepreneur (Hollows & Jones, 2010, p. 1). Jamie’s Food Revolution Campaign touches on many serious issues surrounding school food and education of food in the school system. These issues range from overuse of processed food, lack of funding and French fries being considered a vegetable. However, through close analysis of the Campaign and taking into account the actual results and reviews of Jamie’s ABC television series Food Revolution, it is clear that it is an abject failure- as in it did not set out to do what it was originally intended to. The issues on the show were all reduced to individual stories and choices, unable to deal with complexities or systematic issues (Gupta 2010). What keeps the viewer wanting more are the staples of reality television, as personal dramas, conflicts and sad moments make for an entertaining viewing experience. The same is said for Jamie’s Food Revolution website in regards to the extent in which change is foreseen. Jamie notes that there are things we can do in our personal lives such as challenge your work colleagues to a cook off, host a dinner party and try a new ingredient and make a meal from scratch. These acts (all asked to be done with Jamie’s recipes) are absolutely harmless. However there are limitations in regards to this. The foremost reason being expenses. In no way am I excusing the overweight population for their decisions, but the majority of time their reasoning for their alarming diets are costs of healthy and organic food. An obese co-worker will not spend a week’s grocery bill on the many ingredients used in a Jamie Oliver recipe, they will opt for simple takeaway. A working mother will tend not to cook every meal from scratch with a fresh farmers market ingredient, she will make something less time consuming. In this sense, although Jamie’s campaign is commendable in his efforts to make a difference, the more it is analysed the more it falls apart at the seams.

Reference List

Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Food Revolution Day 2015, Food Revolution Day, viewed 25/08/2015 <http://www.foodrevolutionday.com/#dMCeMo04suGXjvGW.97>

Gupta, A 2010, ‘How TV Superchef Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ Flunked Out’, Alternet, 7 April, viewed 25/08/2015 <http://www.alternet.org/story/146354/how_tv_superchef_jamie_oliver%27s_%27food_revolution%27_flunked_out>

Hollows, J & Jones, S 2010 ‘’At least He’s Doing Something’: Moral Entrepreneurship and Individual Responsibility in Jamie’s Ministry of Food’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, pp 207-322

A short intro

Hi guys,

I’m Ashleigh and I am in third year of a double degree studying a bachelor of communication/media and politics. I’m 20 years old and I come from a small country town. So as you can imagine, Wollongong was a pretty major culture shock. Not only Wollongong though, but my subjects and courses not only put man things into perspective for me, but gave me new perspectives on current and ongoing issues that I never even knew existed. I am so intrigued by the mediasphere.

When picking my Spring semester subjects, this was first to grab my attention. In my 2.5 years at university I have never taken a subject that was purely focused on a specific region, let alone just the digital media in an area. My knowledge of Asian media is somewhat scarce, but I am super excited to learn about “digital Asia”.

Can’t wait to go on this DIGC330 journey with you all.

China VS the world

China has 420 million internet users. The top priority at hand is being able to connect with each other. However, China has a notorious digital barrier that blocks YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google, sites which are taken for granted in the west. So, China may not have Facebook anymore, but there is a clone of the popular social network named Renren. The practice of creating these duplicates is to enable to Chinese Government to keep their citizens complacent. Michael Anti explains on a Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrcaHGqTqHk) that just because China blocks several prevalent major players on the global internet, does not have to mean that the “Chinanet” is a barren “wasteland”. In fact, Anti believes that the utter opposite of this is the truth. Anti states that there are hundreds of millions of micro bloggers that are working to create the first national public sphere in the country’s history and thus shifting the balance of power in unexpected ways.

While the internet in China in the present day is active and popular, it does come with great censorship and control. What is interesting however, is the answer to the question: How does a censorious country like China able to build their complicated and extreme firewalls and filtering systems? The answer, is with Western technology. If you wanted to censor the internet, all you need to do is go and buy “censorware” from an American corporation such as Cisco. This seems a little bit like a double-standard.

Will this give young travelers less incentive to travel to China? On every social networking sites there are hundreds of photos and status’s that depict travel and holidaying. Did you really go to Bali if you didn’t take a photo of your legs by the poolside holding a strawberry daiquiri if you didn’t post it on every single one of your social media accounts? China seems to be doing a good job of secluding itself from not only the west, but from all corners of the globe. Although their own forms of social media that are unknown to other countries seem to work for them, it seems as though the role of social media behind the Great Firewall is somewhat arbitrary.

References

(Author not disclosed) 2011, ‘Column, the Great Firewall of China’, Financial Express, 17 Nov, Accessed 12 April. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/904414840?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=15112

Oxblood, R 2002, ‘Great Firewall of China’, New Scientist, vol. 176, issue. 2368. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/200385021/abstract/F7E88CC72D964280PQ/1?accountid=15112