At The Movies

15 08 2013

Em Bee, 77, doesn’t see many movies any more. “The last movie I saw was Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) because it had some of the old fashion actors and actresses that I knew. I did enjoy that yes, it was good”, she says. “It was recommended too and I thought ‘yes, I would like to see that’. One of my friends that had seen it recommended it to me; they’re the same age as me”.

This hasn’t always been the case though. “[We used to go] at least once a week, sometimes twice. We lived out at Bulli. We went as a bit of a get away from plain ordinary life”, Em says. “You’d get into something, almost like a fantasy I guess you could call it. It was just a get-away from the ordinary hum-drum life.”

The reasons as to why Em doesn’t see many contemporary movies anymore are simple: “I don’t like a lot of violence. Avatar and all that doesn’t appeal to me, it’s just not my age group even though some might say its light.” Surely it is just the quality in the depictions of violence right? “[I do like] A good war movie. A good musical like Rose-Marie, Kiss Me Kate, Showboat, Calamity Jane, those types of things. I never did like boxing movies and I never did like anything to do with jail movies. [And] Some of the rubbish that they show on the TV at the moment I wouldn’t even look at. So I like the old stuff, yes.”

As people, we are all creatures of habit, and Em is no different. “I’ve got to sit down stairs at the back”, she admits. “I don’t do stair very well. Otherwise I might sit upstairs up the front, but preferably downstairs.”

When the movie is over, Em doesn’t hang around. “As soon as it’s over I usually make my way out”, she confesses. “I just get up and go when the movie is over, yes. I wait till the lights come up, but I never hang around”.

If ever you see Em at the theatre though, try not to disturb proceedings too much. “I go to movies to watch a movie, not to hear what they’re talking about. I think it’s very, very rude”, she comments on people who make a little too much noise. “I would probably turn around and give them a stare. I don’t think I would say anything, but I turn around and give them a stare” she says with a decent demonstration of the dirty look one can expect to be thrown.

As the story of Em Bee demonstrates, while it is important to move with the times in some facets of life, not everything has to change.


Privately Public

7 08 2013

I arrived 5 or so minutes early for a lecture yesterday, and as I sat in the room waiting for the lecturer to arrive, given my sitting position in the room (roughly the middle), I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who had their Facebook accounts open, and made a note of this.

A few questions arise from a situation like this; if I wanted to, would I be I entitled to look at who a particular person was and what appeared on their newsfeed by glancing over their shoulder in such a way that they wouldn’t  know? Is this an invasion of privacy?

Morally, the answer is almost certainly going to be yes in every instance. But as Susan Gal (2002) points out, a space can be both public and private. Let’s take the living room of your house as an example.

On any given night, you would not allow just anyone to walk into your living room on the condition that there are a friend of a friend. In this instance, the living room is private. Now I want you to cast your mind back a few years now and think of the incident involving a guy by the name of Corey Worthington. If on the night of his infamy I was to enter his living room, I would more than likely have gained access without being questioned. This then, makes the living room a public space (albeit for only a short time in this example).

Now let’s just think of a generic house, because this too can be divided into both public and private. If you invite guests around, you allow them into your living room, dining room, toilet, even onto your back porch without too much stress. Thus these are the public parts of your house. But what about your bedroom, attic or basement? Would you as readily allow them into these areas? These might then be considered private areas of your house.

But even when you don’t have guests around and it is just your family, you act differently in the living room as opposed to your bedroom (well, I know I do).  I can have my headphones as loud as I like in my bedroom without being questioned. When I do this in the lounge room though, I might get thrown some scornful looks.

So can I look at someone’s Facebook account over their shoulder in a lecture? I did not need permission to enter the space; and they chose to open it in knowing full well that they were not alone. So are they entitled to the same privacy to interact with their friends online as they would get when doing it at home?

P.S.- I don’t intentionally look over people’s shoulders at what they are doing on their laptops, it’s just that this task requires a bit of observation like that. So I can’t help but go ‘Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, no idea what that website is, Microsoft Word, Facebook’ etc. as I look around.

Gal, S 2002, ‘A Semiotics of the Public/Private Distinction’, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 77-95

Television Evolution

4 08 2013

John, 50, was born in Yorkshire, England, before moving to Australia with his parents when he was 5 years of age. And a lot has changed in relation to visual entertainment in that time. “When we first moved to Australia, T.V. was just starting out, black and white, big old HMV box”, he says. “You could barely get a signal. Everyone wanted colour, but 90% of it was black and white”.

“I used to look after myself when I was growing up. Mum had jobs and dad had work, so I used to look after myself”, he says, showing that he had some form of independence from a young age. “In the morning before I went to school, I used to watch Wacky Racers, Catch A Pigeon and Astro Boy, but it was all black and white. When they coloured Astro Boy it was a totally different thing. It wasn’t the same”, a heavy laugh reverberates around this small room.

But that’s not all that has changed since the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “It was a safer time back then I think”, he says after a brief pause. “You could go out in the street and not worry about some idiot trying to pick you up. Back then, kids used to run the block. [But] now they’ve all got knives and bullshit happening. It’s all violence. Kids get to watch shit now that my parents would’ve, you know. I used to have to sneak around the corner and watch Number 96 when my folks were on the couch. Now kids are just allowed to watch it. And there is so much more violence then there ever used to be. The shit that’s on T.V. and its rated ‘M’ was rated ‘R’ back then.”

Asked if this is a case of Albert Bandura’s bobo doll experiment reaching extreme levels, John says you’d be crazy to think otherwise, “I know you got to turn a blind eye to things sometimes, but this is just impossible to do so”. However there is currently debate going on about whether or not this is the case, as some argue that a release such as this can be theraputic.

The argument of whether violence is influential though is not just something which has arisen in recent times with the advent of televsion though. Both “Plato and Aristotle had srong views on the subject” (Cogburn & Silcox 2009), and their arguments are continued today around the world by school teachers and parents alike. And the argument will once again be discussed by many after the shooting murder of Chris Lane in the U.S.

Due to the ever advancing nature of everything technology, with the evolution of the television has come the advent of new devices that offer a new kind of viewing experience. “In the beginning it was ‘Beta Max’ which was basically a cassette that was the size of a truck”, he emphasises with hand gestures. “From there it was VHS, I didn’t mind VHS. [But] DVD is the finest, the easiest, but it’s all technology, and if you’re not technical minded they’re as useless as an old ‘Beta Max’”.

Then there are the interactive consoles that have changed the world as well. “Back then, kids played, they didn’t sit in front of the T.V. playing video games or anything. They didn’t do all that”, a slight hint of sadness enters his voice. “And now that’s just a normal part of a kid’s life. I grew up with Pac-Man, and that was as violent as it got”.

Asked what he thinks about television from his childhood compared to the standards today, John has this to say, “I don’t think it’s come to the better, I think it’s come to the worse.” And, sadly, this is a sentiment that is echoed by many others of a similar age in society.

Cogburn, J & Silcox, M 2009, “Realistic blood and gore”: do violent games make violent gamers? (first-person shooters)”, Philosophy Through Video Games, Routledge, New York.

I’m Back!

30 07 2013

I know I haven’t posted in a month, so I’m sorry. But I also noticed that I’m only 60 hits away from 2500. So given the lack of action here of late, I want to say thank you for still reading.

I’m only posting here now for a uni assessment. So this won’t be like my usual posting (but that may resume in time; so please bear with me). The class is BCM240, and it’s running for the first time this session. So once again, I’m a guinea pig.

This initial post for the subject is for me to post a picture that I can subsequently discuss in relation to media, audience and place. So here is my picture:

Taken by yours truly

Taken by yours truly

I decided to take this picture to highlight the similarities and differences between the humble newspaper and an iPod (which is my sisters, not mine)

Both are mobile; but only one needs power to operate. Both can divide opinion; one because of what it is, the other because of what is within. Both can be viewed by multiple people at one time; but only one is big enough that it doesn’t need to be passed around.

Another reason why I took this picture is because how it could be said that one may (admittedly at a stretch) be said to be an ancestor to the other. With a newspaper, you can voice your opinion (both verbally as you read and visually in print if you’re lucky enough); with internet connection, your iPod can do this. A newspaper has adverts much like your iPod. You can look up specific people on your iPod, and in the newspaper there is an ‘In Search’ section that allows others to see what you are seeking. The newspaper can even be said t be a form of entertainment. It has comics, crosswords, sudoku, quizzes etc. You may even take to and become a fan of a particular writer in a similar way you may follow someone on Twitter or YouTube.

So would it be bizarre to say that an iPod was partially modelled (and thus is an evolution of) a newspaper as much as a computer?

It’s All A Game Of Change

1 07 2013

They say ‘never meet your heroes’; it’ll ruin your built up perception of them. But what do they say to journalism students? ‘Never interview you heroes’? If they do, “Oops”. I was lucky enough to meet Steve Kilbey in Bondi last weekend.

30 years. Kids will tell their parents that that’s a long time. But parents will retort ‘blink and you can miss it you know’. No matter which way you cut it though, a lot will change in that time. 30 years ago there was no such thing as a ‘smart phone’ or an XBOX. And 3D glasses were red and blue cellophane.

30 years ago The Church had only just released their third album, Seance. The cover of which would go on to feature in the third edition of the Album Cover Album coffee table books. “I came home one day and my brother Russell’s girlfriend, who was an art college student, had been mucking around with photography. She’d been out with a friend of hers who’d chucked on a veil and was holding a metal flower”, says lead singer-songwriter-bass player Steve Kilbey. “Not thinking much of it, she threw it on the kitchen table and as soon as I walked in, I went ‘that’s our new album cover’. When I showed it to everybody else, they were like, ‘yes, that’s it’. No argument what so ever”


In an interview on SBS’s Rock Around The World during the same period, a softly spoken Steve said “I never sit down and think ‘I’m going to write a song for so and so and then approach them’.” This would seem a logical statement. How do you know what another person wants out of the same industry? “I’m not sure why exactly I said that stuff then, but that’s 30 years ago, I don’t know what I was thinking. [Because] I would now”, he says. “If someone asked me to write a song either for them [or] that they’re going to perform, I’m pretty happy to do that”.

But not everything changes in 30 years. Steve is still of the belief that the worst thing you can do is try and understand a song. “The more concrete facts that you know about this abstract thing, the less you will really enjoy it, even though you mightn’t think it at the time”, he says. “It’s like the documentary I made (Long Distance Century Buzzes And Fades). Some people are going ‘I want to see all the footage. If that’s 3 hours, I want to see all 16.’ They think they want to see it, but I’ve actually done them a favour by giving them what they’ve got. Just let it be an intangible, atmospheric, ambiguous thing”.


With over 3 decades of writing music under his belt, Steve’s creative spark is all but waning. For his most recent album with Martin Kennedy, You Are Everything, Steve wrote the lyrics for all 11 tracks in two days. He even wrote them for ‘A Better Day’ on the spot. “I usually listen to it and write the lyrics in a minute. But in this case, when Martin started the song up, I said ‘is that all it does?’, because it’s just two chords”, Steve recalls. “He said ‘yeah’, and I said ‘alright, I’m not even going to write it down’. So I just grabbed the head phones and sung it”.

This isn’t the first time Steve has done such a thing though. “On solo albums I do that too, so it’s not the first time it’s happened. I often just improvise”, he says. “Grant McLennan (of The Go-Betweens and Jack Frost collaborations) is one stop better than me though. I’ll strum the guitar for a bit before getting the words where he’d strum and make up the words at the same time”, he says, playing an air guitar.


But you know that 30 years is a long time when Steve says he’s in his 3rd phase. “The mad, energetic uncle”, he says with a laugh. Having arrived via his “heroin stage”, Steve is now more physical during on stage performances than ever before. ‘I only really started getting physical on stage 11 or 12 years ago, and that coincided with me getting hardcore about swimming and yoga’, he says. And with this new lease of life has come an increased workload. While The Church may not have put out any new offerings since 2010, Steve has been a part of 10 albums since then; either as a solo artist or in collaboration.

Apart from the music though, Steve also posts to his blog (The Time Being) daily, and paints or draws too. The normal person would love to be able to have achieved just half of all this in such a short period of time. As one DJ noted in an interview last year, to ‘research [Steve] is overwhelming, there is just so much to pick through’.

But with so much talent and energy, you can’t really fully appreciate what Steve Kilbey is like as a purveyor of art until you witness him at work for yourself. Upon walking into his workspace, a large open room with a low, angled ceiling, Steve is working on another of his drawings. And it’s not that he is detached from the interview, but he certainly has the energy and ability to focus on two tasks at once without being dull. He gives high quality answers that leave you wanting to know more, all while adding more strokes to the portrait he is in the developing stages of.


It’s not even that long before Steve is bouncing around mocking his on stage performances. And showing a brief excerpt from the recently released documentary, he demonstrates the kind of energy that many people dream of having, let alone when they’re nearing 60.


Steve’s band The Church have been on numerous different recording labels, and given they haven’t had a recognised hit since the early ‘90s, it’s amazing that they are still around today. What they have gone through would have been enough to break other bands long ago. But their very existence shows that while nothing stays the same forever, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is also why, on a morning that is cold, miserable and drizzling, Steve is the “only person getting up and the first thing I’m thinking is ‘I’ve got to have a swim’”. How many other stars of rock would be thinking that?

*Pictures taken by Kit Q

Video Killed The Football Star

4 06 2013

Seeing as tonight is the first State of Origin game, I may as well talk about that. At least I can kind of be positive.

A few people and I agree that we don’t like the video referees much in the NRL but we all reckon that this years system (where the on-filed ref makes his decision before going up stairs) is much better.

However, I still think it’s too much. Why could the game not adopt a cricket style referral system? The ref makes his decision as he sees it. But each team gets one challenge per game. So if a ref says it was held up, the team denied can choose to challenge the decision. If it comes back ‘No Try’, that team has no more challenges for the game, but if they are successful, they get another.

This would make referee’s decisions the ones that stand and might stop players hassling the ref, helping to further improve the family friendly image the game wants.

And why is it that the video referee can’t adjudicate on a forward pass? He can make a call about a knock-on, so what’s the difference? In both instances the ball travels in a forward direction.

Another alternative to phase out the video referee is to have more on-field refs. Bear with me here. We already have 2 referees on the field, and the 2 touch judges. But why not go further and have an ‘in goal’ referee? This mean that when a potential try is scored there will be 5 sets of eyes watching the action as it unfolds. It works for the AFL. Admitedly though, scoring in AFL is drastically different to NRL.

The good news for me at the moment is work hasn’t rung me yet. The bad news is it’s only 9:58. And yes, I am wearing a blue shirt today.

According to the published date on the post, it’s still the 4/6/13, but where I am it’s actually 5/6/13. Just pointing that out for those of you who are reading this and might get confused about my referencing the SOO as tonight.

Ooooohhhhhhhh Crap

4 06 2013

My cover might have been blown!

If you don’t already know, I plan to quit uni. And I haven’t been to a class in a few weeks. But apparently that’s not enough for the bigwigs to notice.

Today I got a text message and two calls (which I ignored because I didn’t know the number) from uni. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they also rang my home phone. But the worse bit is who picked up; no prizes for guessing who I’m talking about. Good thing he was at work when I got home so it was my sister who ended up telling me.

I was planning to tell my parents in my own time, but that opportunity may have gone. Nuts.

I also gained a slightly better understanding as to why some people put on a lot of weight or are struggling in terms of money. Because we say “just once more won’t hurt. Will it? Nah, I’ll just start fresh tomorrow”. Either that or it’s just me, I hope it’s not though.

So if you see a slightly flabby man short of breath and running as fast as he can down a hill within the next 48 hours, chances are it’ll be me. And if you do see me, you can be a total cruel person and smile and wave. I promise I want hurt you if you do.