We at No Award are quite intrigued by the fact that, when Julia Gillard was an unpopular prime minister with a tough, unpopular male chief of staff, she was demonised, whereas Tony Abbott is an unpopular prime minister with a tough, unpopular female chief of staff … once again the woman is demonised.
[Disclaimer: If the current Australian government was the subject of a satirical ABC comedy in the style of The Thick of It — and how we wish that were true — Peta Credlin would be Liz’s problematic fave. She’s not quite Malcolm Tucker in a skirt, but only because she’s not famous for creative swearing.]
The Perth Film Network’s latest venture, called “The Action Film Project,” is what appears to be either a particularly exploitative form of crowd-funding, or an unethical business scheme masquerading as a golden opportunity for aspiring filmmakers.
A dense but rewarding discussion of corruption and neo-liberalism in Liz’s home state of Queensland.
And if it’s not region-locked for you, Liz totally recommends Chris Marsters’ The Moonlight State, the 1987 Four Corners expose that helped bring down the Bjelke-Petersen government. It has some gratuitous strip club footage, but is brilliant and valuable nonetheless.
OBVIOUSLY jobs such as electrical engineer, communications operator, and carpenter are all very important. Sadly, No Award is not qualified for any of those. (Frankly, it’s shocking that there’s no call for a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, because Antarctica is going to need one of those eventually, and Stephanie is pretty ready for the job)
Other staff the Australian Antarctic Division should be looking for:
LAWYER. Responsibilities: For when someone starts killing everyone one by one. Someone. Or something. Occupational Health and Safety implications of serial killer on remote Antarctic base.
NEWS PROVIDER. Responsibilities: Min. 8hrs per day surfing internet & providing amusing and entertaining commentary on the state of the outside world. Remuneration: $101,406 p.a. plus allowances.
ARTWORK. Responsibilities: Lie around looking pretty; perfect eyebrow game; provide tutorials on the perfect wing eyeliner; occasionally frown disdainfully at crew members who get too close. Remuneration: Lots of chocolate.
SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR, OFFICIAL FANDOM LIAISON, MEME DISTRIBUTOR. Responsibilities: Grow social media presence through lulz, beta-read other team members’ fic, ensure memes are up-to-date. Check for important show downloads.
INVESTIGATOR. Responsibilities: Willing to go through the door everyone knows the inevitable serial killer on the team is hiding behind, fills out all forms in triplicate, willing to work with and/or against law enforcement, depending on what side of the blood bath they fall.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OF SOME KIND. Please bring guns and knives.
CALLIGRAPHER. Responsibilities: Spend all day making a large and artsy mess, producing very little. Occasionally bounce out of studio to show off something shiny and gold or to ramble about nibs. Remuneration: art supplies to the value of your salary; food.
EATING MODEL. Responsibilities: Demonstrate a healthy and willing appetite for any food cooked by the chef, to discourage grumbling among the rest of the crew. Eat ALL the things. Remuneration: occasional sneaky Haighs drop.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT. Responsibilities: Sort out everyone’s paperwork. Keep offices neat and tidy. Make sure things happen when and where they’re supposed to happen. Appear invisible. Remuneration: more than literally anyone else on the station, who can survive without proper admin?
KNITTER. Responsibilities: Knitting hilars clothes and accessories on request.
On Monday, Invasion Day (though you may know it as Australia Day), we woke to the news that Prime Minister Tony Abbott had looked at all the Australians deserving of recognition for their achievements and contributions to the nation … and bestowed a knighthood on Prince Philip, a one-man-argument for a republic.
Liz said, “Huh.” Then she had breakfast and a cup of tea and checked again, and it was still not a joke.
What’s beautiful about Abbott’s choice is how Australians from all walks of life, across the spectrum of political beliefs and personal backgrounds, have come together to say as one: “What?” And on such a divisive and fraught day as the anniversary of the European invasion and commencement of attempted genocide, that is a great thing. Deserving, you might even say, of a knighthood.
On the other hand, it’s a bit of a joke, right?
Accordingly, No Award brings you a short list of people at least as deserving of knighthoods as Sir Mr The Queen:
Many years ago, darling wonderful Chally wrote Dear USians on the Internet (yes, it’s on Feministe), about US centricity in social justice and how problematic is. Literally the first comment is a complaint about this letter!
Because we can’t ever have social justice that isn’t informed by the USA, I guess.
The thing is this:
Our Australian injustices cannot be righted through a paradigm that fits the USA.
The injustices that plague the USA do not necessarily translate outside of the USA.
We can exchange thoughts and techniques but we cannot
match perfectly, or even imperfectly.
Liz has her own reasons for being my partner in yelling here on No Award, but this was my moment:
An act called the Jackson Jive performed on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. They performed in blackface, and it was bullshit. There was debate whether it was intentionally racist or just clueless, and one theory was from the name: that their name was ‘Jackson Jive’, it was postulated, was an intentional reference to shucking and jiving, an element of minstrelsy, and therefore intentionally racist. I was decried by a USAmerican person when I pointed out our history of blackface didn’t include quite so much minstrelsy, and the shucking and jiving thing isn’t as known here. Australia’s Blak history is different from any other country’s. Just like our experiences of colonialism, racism, and imperialism are different.
[Liz notes: Minstrelsy in Australia started out with US minstrel acts touring Australia, and then Australian performers began to mimic them. I could make a remark about Iggy Azalea, but I haven’t had nearly enough tea.]
[Liz’s moment was the controversy about the KFC ad in which a lone Australian white guy finds himself surrounded by Indians at the cricket, and makes friends by sharing his KFC. Racist in the sense of playing on fears of brown people? Yes, although obviously there is also the fear of being surrounded by supporters of a rival team. Playing into stereotypes about African Americans and fried chicken? Uh, no.]
But apparently we can’t have racial experiences that are different from those experienced in the USA.
To make something about someone else’s racial history is to ignore our own very real issues, and means the discussions we have are limited and restricted. If I’m going to educate anybody, it’s going to be the people in communities here in Australia. We shouldn’t need to expend our energy fighting those who are supposed to be our community, our allies in oppression, whose experiences are similar but not the same.
Indigenous Australians may be light-skinned, and if they are it is often a product of the imperialism and genocide of our Australian history. But sure, let’s call an Indigenous Australian white, like that’s not loaded, like A.O. Neville, “Protector of Aborigines” from 1936 – 1940, didn’t endorse “biological absorption” of Aboriginal Australians, like we don’t have the Stolen Generation.
And we know light-skinned privilege exists, I live it (as a light-skinned Azn), but ugh, gross. Gross. The entire concept of “white passing” is dangerous and hurtful in the context of Indigenous Australians. That’s what the whole Eatock v Bolt case was about.
This is not to deny that often the language and work done by USAcentric and USA-based activists doesn’t assist us in our work and in our activism and in our fights. There are lots of great USA-based voices that help out. But that doesn’t mean their concepts are universally applicable.
When our language is different from theirs and they yell at us for it, don’t lose hope.
And when our frame of reference is different from theirs and they call us wrong, and racist, and too white, yell back.
Come here to No Award, if you have to. I will always yell with you.
Maybe what we need is a primer for well-meaning USAmericans. It’ll be about Indigenous Australians being classed as fauna, The White Australia Policy, slavery in Queensland, and I’m tired just thinking about it. Bags not me.
Over the weekend there was some shit going down in the #DearWhitePeople tag, with a whole heap of American (including African-American) policing of Australian Indigenous identities. (It is still pretty anger-making in there, and it sucks for @ebswearspink) I hope that there will be some write ups or something, but it’s not something Steph feels qualified to talk about (though an aside: this is in large part why No Award exists. Because we hate being forced to work through a USA social justice paradigm).
If you’re in Melbourne, Steph is going to some Invasion Day stuff:
There’s a smoking ceremony in the Tianjin Gardens at 10, and then a rally and march from 10:30 from Parliament house, because January 26 is a day of mourning and resistance. This rally is a resistance to colonialism and genocide.
Following that, there’s a festival in Treasury Gardens – Share the Spirit. It’s a festival to celebrate indigenous Australian culture and tradition.
Steph says: There’s rallies all over the country. Please go to one. We are living on indigenous land. I grew up on Noongar land, and I’m living on Wurudgeri land. My personal ancestors might not have had anything to do with the genocides of years past, but by staying silent I contribute to everything that continues. It is the very least I can do.
“Tell the truth, we all thought it was another silly rumour. Bad enough the Yanks sit out the first three years of war, but then, right when it’s getting hairy, they go out and spend money on a super soldier project? Well, we knew they were [CENSORED], but who’d have believed it?”
– Bruce Leonards, Private, 7th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force, WWII
“Just bloody typical, isn’t it?”
– Police Inspector Charles Price
“It seemed rather silly to spend all that money when our boys were dying in Burma and New Guinea. But that’s Americans for you. Well, he was rather handsome, I’ll give them that. Didn’t he die?”
– Beryl Montgomery, Australian Army Nursing Service
“Bad enough that Brisbane was practically an armed camp — girls falling over themselves to go to nightclubs with American soldiers, couldn’t say no to a bit of chocolate and a pair of nylons — then the Yanks went and put a silly costume on a male model. Bet the girls will be going silly for him, next, too.”
– Leading Aircraftman Keith Avard, Royal Australian Air Force
[No Award notes that the legendary appeal of American soldiers to Australian women had as much to do with their coming from a culture where women were, you know, considered worth talking to, as their material advantages.]
[Also, what’s up with this thing where YouTube doesn’t let us get the old embed code anymore? DOES THE NEW ONE WORK FOR ANYONE AT ALL?]
Using no less than three primary documents, discuss the effect of the Captain America mythos on the Australian experience of World War II.
– year twelve Modern History exam question, Bongoola State High School, Queensland, 1997
“Of course they needed to build a super soldier. Everyone knows the US Armed Forces were [CENSORED].”
– Private Clyde Cotterill
“What a [censored]. Those seppos need us more than we need them. We don’t need a super soldier when we have true blue Aussies.”
– Billy Sampson, farmer (father of Private William Sampson)
Angered by the slurs cast towards Captain America and the Howling Commandos, American soldiers Harold Hicks, William Edward Arford and Terje Brekka began an all out brawl that drew in all American naval staff, all New Zealand naval staff, and a number of Australian boys present in the National Hotel at the time. Although initially uninvolved, Stanley Reginald Hooper (26) and Ned Rako Kelly (21), Maori soldiers unwinding in the bar, were soon drawn into the brawl, and were the only fatalities. The Coroner at the time ruled these deaths as caused by self-defence, but later testimony by Australians and New Zealanders present reveals the ongoing antipathy towards the Americans over constant boasting of the role of the Howling Commandos, and the lack of stamina of the Antipodean boys…
– excerpt, Captain America and the Boys and Girls of Australia, David Tiller, Penguin Books, 1966
“We used to love the boys coming through, but they’ve all come up skiting since this all went down. Really, the Battle of Perth was inevitable.”
– Helena Cook, Pub Owner, Fremantle
“MacArthur was already neglecting Australian and New Zealand troops. We knew, without a doubt, that once they started producing super soldiers, we were right out of it. No chance of a look in after that.”
– Captain Charles Hardy, 9th Division, 2nd Australian Imperial Force
Australian Prime Minister John Howard again refused to apologise for experiments conducted on young Aboriginal men in the 1950s in an attempt to reproduce America’s super-soldier serum.
“These terrible experiments are in the past,” said the Prime Minister. “It’s time for Australia to move on.”
Until 1995, the Australian and British governments denied that Project Albion existed. Four men died and eight suffered permanent disability as a result of the experiments. Transcript, ABC News, 12 April 2000
“Saw him on a newsreel. Big bloke, eh? Reckon he’d go in for Aussie rules? Melbourne could use a player like him. Provided we ever get the MCG back from the Marines.”
– Betty Fraser, nurse, Melbourne, 1944 (as remembered by her daughter, Adele Brunton, in 2012)
[Historical note: for part of WWII, the US Marines were housed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.]
Colebatch argues that American unions were so inspired by Captain America that they refused to strike during the war. Australian dock workers, he suggests, lacking such a powerfully patriotic motivator, fell prey to the manipulation of Communists, fifth columnists and traitors. What we needed was not just a superhero, but a conservative superhero.
Colebatch writes of Steve Rogers as a sepia-toned historical figure. The fact that Captain America is alive and well, exposing SHIELD corruption and talking up universal health care, is as insignificant as any of the other facts he mangles. – J. M. Caudwell, review of Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II in The New Left, October 2014.
The winning design, which was decided on by the public and Sunrise viewers, featured an ochre-coloured bodice and a long open-front skirt embellished with Aboriginal prints and clay beading.
Holstock, an emerging Victorian designer, was granted permission from the Wurundjeri clan to showcase the prints, originally painted by its last traditional elder William Barak in the 1800s.
“I wanted to bring this design back to Australia’s original roots, and I really drew inspiration from that,” Holstock said.
No Award, this is not at all where I expected this post to go. (I thought I’d link to Genevieve’s annual post and then go on a ramble about cultural appropriation) Don’t get me wrong, it’s still kind of ugly and awkward, but it’s not offensive and culturally appropriative, and includes respect and acknowledgement of our first peoples, and it’s also a little fun. I would like to know what granted permission means in this case, though. Did elder Murrundindi also approve the execution of the dress itself? Or just the use of the original painting (I’m struggling to work out which piece it is) as a print? But this is a great way to interact with Dreamtime things, rather than just stealing stuff and calling it appreciation. This is so unexpected. Australia, I’m momentarily proud of you.
Hold your breath, though. This weekend is Survival Day, so there’s a post for that soon, and we’ll go back to being disappointed in being Australians again.
Important and relevant to the interests of No Award: at Spoonflower, an Australian cities design contest. There’s some racist poo in there, but mostly it’s hilarious fun.
The 7 Wonders of Reservoir. (Liz is moving in a few months, and has given serious thought to the fact that she can afford a two-bedroom house in Reservoir. Only the fact that she neither owns a car nor drives is keeping her in the inner suburbs.)
Official No Award stance: Do not sing the National Anthem on Invasion Day (known legally as Australia Day). Can you even. This is beyond even the cultural cringe. (Steph had a moment when she first opened that article where she thought ‘NADC’ said ‘NAIDOC’ and she was like WHY WOULD NAIDOC SUPPORT THIS. Don’t worry. She was wrong.) And a thing at En Passant.
The other Chinese favorite, perhaps less expected, has been The Merchant of Venice, which debuted as a silent film in Shanghai in 1927. Called The Woman Lawyer, the film highlighted what has particularly interested Chinese audiences about the play, even up to the present: its proto-feminist heroine Portia, who dresses as a man and brilliantly defends Antonio in a gripping courtroom drama. That scene later became, and still remains, a staple of the Chinese middle school curriculum. The Western focus on Jewish-Christian relations means little to Chinese audiences compared with the way that Shakespeare dramatizes a classic battle of Confucian ethics, between li (profit motive) and yi (loyalty to friends).
(Liz would argue against the suggestion that China is unique in using Shakespeare to advance its ideology! But it’s an interesting article nonetheless.)
Steph’s post from last week on Appropriation and Racism in Melbourne Restaurants has been linked eleven trillion times, so you should definitely read that. There will be a follow-up post eventually to tell you all the restaurants she has been told about following that.
One day I was cycling around Melbourne and I saw a delivery motor bike in front of me. On its rear it said “you ling, we bling,” and I braked so fast you’d have thought I was in a cartoon. The unfortunate thing is, Miss Chu’s is not alone amongst Melbourne’s eateries in its racist imagery. So come with me now on a tour of racism, appropriation and ‘fun’ across Melbourne’s restaurants.
Ann Leckie’s 2013 debut novel Ancillary Justice exploded on the SF scene and, in 2014, won a whole lot of awards and considerable praise for its portrayal of imperialism and depiction of gender. The blurb:
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.
Space opera. Corpse soldiers. Artificial intelligence. Space politics. These are things that No Award is here for. And to the surprise of absolutely no one ever, we have some opinions about Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. So many opinions, in fact, that mere Twitter conversations couldn’t do them justice. Accordingly, we are joined here today by Dr Sophie and Dr Jonathan.