An excellent and 1000% appropriate Mad Max: Fury Road fan mix

By two Australians. Because what is Mad Max if not a great Aussie road trip?

This fan mix is 110% irony-free.
This fan mix is 110% irony-free.

  1. Freak – silverchair
  2. Mace Spray – The Jezabels
    you can’t rely on the common man
  3. Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
  4. Fang It (To Tony’s House) – Geraldine Quinn
  5. Never Had So Much Fun – Frenzal Rhomb
  6. Calypso – Spiderbait
  7. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
  8. Pace It – Magic Dirt
    Someone’s taken over from where you started
  9. Pacifier – Shihad
    Smashed up on your own motorway
  10. Cold Hard Bitch – Jet
    Don’t wanna hold hands and talk about our little plans
  11. Greg The Stop Sign – TISM
    We get to do the driving, don’t choose the direction we travel
  12. Down Again – The Superjesus
    Now I’m under the sun, won’t anyone see that I’m alive
  13. Uh Huh – Tkay Maidza
  14. Some Kind of Bliss – Kylie Minogue
  15. Where the Boys At – Chelsea Jane
    Pretty good for a girl, huh?
  16. Khe Sahn – Cold Chisel
    So I worked across the country end to end

You can check out this entire excellent mix (completely out of order!) at YouTube:

Or you can hear it in order, but missing a couple of tracks, via Spotify. And why isn’t AC/DC on Spotify, anyway? What is this un-Australian nonsense?

perth + bertie the giant squid

The 2009 short film ‘This is Perth’ revealed the existence of Bertie the Giant Squid to the world in general, and as an Australian blog, and with Steph a Perthie and Liz a cephalopod admirer, it’s important we chat about this Perth local.

His presence was further revealed when George Jones and the Giant Squid aired at some film festival in the USA in 2012, garnering Bertie an international fanbase.

George Jones and the Giant Squid from Ella Wright on Vimeo.

George Jones and the Giant Squid arguably fictionalises Bertie a little bit, setting His presence off a small island – which Perth is in spirit but not, at this time, in geography – but otherwise remaining true to Him.

Bertie accepts our presence on the Swan and around Perth, but only with offerings and due diligence and respect (we are named ‘sandgropers’, after all, which surely implies a kind of creature harkening back to Him). If you are coming to Perth, please note the courtesies one is expected to pay Him.

Please, Perthies and visitors, share your stories of Bertie in the comments.

motorcycle cop is a sweet nothing

When Steph is sad, she watches a Henson production. When Steph is happy, she watches a Henson production. When Steph sings, she sings a Henson song. There’s some Muppets in her life, is what we’re saying.

There’s a new trailer for Muppets! It’s not a movie (ps, Walter is the worst new Muppet of the last twenty years, pass it on).

And so Steph, lifelong devotee at the altar of Henson, brings you her most useful Muppet quotes.

When you need to give someone something:

“This is for you” in Clueless Morgan’s clueless voice is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. That and “But it’s not even his birthday.” Also this is the greatest Muppet movie ever, I will fight you.

When you need to ask questions or approve of things:

“How are you fixin’ to pay?” “Very popular choice” and “You are all. weirdos.” HELP I LOVE IT.

When giving directions:

When fessing up to something:

“I cannot tell a lie, I ate the whole thing!” GREAT MOMENTS IN ELVIS HISTORY.

When you need to deny something:

“Mother always taught me never eat singing food.”

When you’re announcing things:


When you need to scold a person:

“Light the lamp not the rat.” And sadly I cannot find “Thank you for making me a part of this” but it is SO USEFUL.

When things stop working:

“Dead Tom’s dead! Long John shot ‘im!”

When you need something from someone:

australian movies that would have been improved by the inclusion of vampire Claudia Black

Queen of the Damned was filmed in Melbourne; 3000 Melbourne goths (and Canberran goths) were bussed out to Werribee to film the concert scene; the vampire bar was a derelict bar in Docklands built specially for the purpose. So hilarious. So amazing.

Claudia Black is in the movie for about 2 minutes. So much opportunity lost. So much amazingness.

Australian movies that would have been improved by the inclusion of vampire Claudia Black:

Claudia as Pandora in Queen of the Damned

Queen of the Damned (2002)

Pandora, about whom Anne Rice has written an entire book (AND WHO ACTUALLY SURVIVES THE ORIGINAL BOOK), appears earlier and more frequently. When Akasha turns up in the vampire house with lots of open doorways to the outside, she lets Vampire Matthew Newton go first and as a result doesn’t die, and we all rejoice because Vampire Matthew Newton is a dickhead. VCB helps Jesse through the change and continues to mentor her, with her eternal lesbian relationship with Lena Olin. Her BFF through time, Marius, leaves to go torment the Eighth Doctor. Bruce Spence hangs out.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Miranda wants to become a vampire because she loves Vampire Claudia Black so much. VCB is less enamoured of Miranda; instead, takes her back to the school. Sets all the girls free from the tyranny of early twentieth century Australia. The girls create a vampire collective in the school and kill all the men.


Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Fran is a great dancer, cos her awesome Auntie Vampire Claudia Black has taken the time and patience to really inspire her, unlike her jerkface dad. At no point does Mr Bill Hunter convince Scott to dance with Liz instead of Fran, and they go to the Pan Pacs. In the interim, Auntie VCB teaches Scott to be more respectful and Fran to be more fierce. When Charm Leachman cuts the music, Auntie VCB puts the music back and then eats Charm Leachman.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Vampire Claudia Black prevents the really racist bits from happening, because she eats Bill Hunter and whisks Cynthia away to have an excellent, fufilling life not filled with racial stereotypes. In the absence of Bill Hunter, VCB saves Guy Pearce from the homophobes, eats them. She and Cynthia do the makeup for the drag show, because VCB loves the desert lights. Everybody goes back to Sydney and has a grand old time.


Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

Vampire Claudia Black kills Bill Hunter; makes sure his assets make their way to his family; Muriel still marries that dude and it all ends the same way because it’s a movie about dreams and failure and oneself, and some things remain true about Australia.

The Wiggles Movie (1997)

Nobody makes any ridiculous messes and she teaches Dorothy the Dinosaur to stop being so fucking culturally appropriative.

Wolf Creek (2005)

Vampire Claudia Break eats John Jarratt; fixes the car; torches the camp. She takes the rottweiler and they keep killing gross white Australian men together.

The Sapphires (2012)

Vampire Claudia Black gets rid of that white dude; she supports the Sapphires in getting to Vietnam and everything is all good. The US release DVD cover isn’t white-washed and focused on the non-Indigenous Australian person.


Bonus Australian TV

Vampire Claudia Black reads books to Little Ted on Play School. Her favourite co-presenters are Noni, Benita, and Jay Laga’aia, because she’s hot and she recognises awesomeness and hotness.

Special mention to the show that never existed but always will in our hearts, The Claudia Black Hotness and Variety Hour; and to Stargate SG1, which Claudia Black breathed life into for an extra two seasons through the power of her hotness.


movies in melbourne (as if we don’t have enough of that)

In blatant Melbourne bias, now that the Melbourne International Film Festival is over, here is a list of film festivals on over the next five to six weeks. You should go see some movies!

Arab Film Festival, currently running until Saturday.

Israeli Film Festival, currently running until 4 September. Also in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Byron Bay.

Czech and Slovak Film Festival, 21 August – 10 September. A theme of resistance and a celebration of Czech and Slovak events. Also taking place in Sydney.

Bayside Film Festival, 27-31 August. I am particularly excited about their youth project where they work with Bayley House and Berendale.

Environmental Film Festival, 4-12 September. Advancing the knowledge and understanding of environmental issues.

Korean Film Festival in Australia, 9-16 September. Also taking place in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide. With a welcome to Hallyuwood and some awesome Korean cinema.

Girls on Film Festival, 12-14 September. Movies by feminists, for feminists. Stories of women and strength.

Italian Film Festival, 17 September – 12 October. Also in Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Byron Bay.

Also the Melbourne Writer’s Festival starts tonight!

snowpiercer: the revolution cannot be trusted if it’s white

Here at No Award, there are two things we know for sure about our dystopic climate change future: It is brown; and we will be eating cockroaches.

In related news, you know that No Award went to the movies this week! I really, really liked Snowpiercer (Liz and I disagreed on how great Pacific Rim was, as well). But this is not that joyful shrieking as I clapped my hands. This is a look at the use of non-white bodies and Western imperialism and moral attitudes in our dystopic future. This analysis accepts the basic premise of Snowpiercer: that is, that all of humanity remaining exists on a high speed train that hasn’t stopped in 17 years. There are no questions about track repairs, wear and tear on the outside of the train, and the supply of animal carcasses. Maybe later.

The movie ends with two brown babies leaving to start the world again. Everyone else seems dead. This is correct. End of the world boils down to an Asian girl and a brown boy, protected at the end by an Asian father and a white man. I dig it.

Racially, there are few other things I dig.

This revolution is peppered with brown faces but ultimately led by white ones, from one end of the train to the other. It starts with the disobedience of a white dude, who is oppressed by a white lady (using her tools of white and not-white). It is controlled by two white men, paternalistic imperialists who do what they do for the good of everyone else, never mind what anyone else has to say. It’s led by the man-pain of a white man, and takes a long pause when we learn what we already knew (he knows what babies taste like, man, because being 17 when the world froze he was probably privileged and shielded).

As Liz mentioned, Curtis (the beautiful Chris Evans) turns his judgey face on those he is leading when he discovers that protein bars are made from cockroaches. He decides they don’t need to know. Never mind that people (not white people) willingly eat cockroaches now, before our dystopic future has arrived. Never mind that he makes the decision on their behalf, like a patronising jerk. Never mind that in 17 years on a train, they’ve probably already realised. But this is a story about a white man, at its core, and the decisions white men make on the behalf of everyone they think is less than them (every one).

It’s uncool that we had to watch brown bodies being used for everything; literally, brown bodies. Grey, played by Luke Pasqualino, had to use his shirtless brown body to communicate because he was unable to speak. I enjoy a brown man as much as the next person (probably more, being a brown bisexual, and I have loved Luke Pasqualino since he was in the Borgias and fully clothed), but this is hugely problematic. Brown bodies, especially male brown bodies, have long been used in Western media as either items of lust and hyper-sexuality or as items of abuse (including in slavery). The hairless, shirtless brown man who can’t speak in English has often been shorthand for the exotic, noble savage, and Grey, following Gillam’s instructions, does nothing but support that stereotype: the brown person here for the story of the white person.

Like Elysium, the white-skied brown-earthed saved by the localised/nativised white man story starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and fewer brown people than I would have liked, the segregation of the brown tail end and the white-ish front end makes sense within the world. (I was, incidentally, so happy to see some brown children in the school car, though we really only saw that one smart-ass white girl). That the faces of control and violence are all white makes sense. That the faces of rigour and sticking to the rules are Asian are an uncomfortable stereotype of the model minority and super racist.

That the brown players are here for the consumption of the white person is confirmed by the costuming process, which you can read about in this interview. It is, at its essence, look at all the exotic clothes I put on all these white bodies. They’re so multi-ethnic! And they are. But, as always, with a white face, who takes what they can see and find but ultimately doesn’t understand what we’re here to do or what these stolen tools are for.

And in the end, Snowpiercer merely confirms everything we already knew. A cis white man cannot be trusted to smash the system; do not trust the white dudes with the revolution (cf Ms Hayley Inch in a text this morning). The system is always supported by brown bodies – literally, in the case of Grey’s very attractive yet constantly bare torso. And our climate dystopia is coming.

End note: I am interested in thoughts re: the ending, where Tanya, the African-American mother, has been replaced by Yona, holding Timmy’s hand as they walk (BARE-HANDED) into the snow. Whilst two brown babies is correct, there are thoughts around racial conceptions of motherhood that I don’t feel able to talk to but are worth discussing.

No Award goes to the movies: Snowpiercer

Actually, half of No Award went to the pub, then we met up in a cocktail bar, then we went to the movies.  (Stephanie’s post is coming … soon.)

None of this pre-movie drinking was enough to make Snowpiercer live up to its hype.

The rest of this post contains spoilers, because it’s not so much a review as a reaction, and occasionally I just need to stand back and go, “Okay, really?  SERIOUSLY?”

Sometimes it seems like Tumblr fandom has very low standards.  Like thinking that Pacific Rim, a movie where a whole lot of people of colour die and a white dude has manpain, is a shining beacon of progressivism and representation.  See also: giving Team Welcome to Night Vale cookies for being nice to queer people.  Who hurt you, Tumblr?  Who let you think the bare minimum was good enough?

In this case, we know who taught that lesson: Hollywood.  But by accepting the framing of the original cut of Snowpiercer as original and inclusive and brilliant, we’re just continuing to let them write the narrative.

Snowpiercer is a movie about Chris Evans, white guy, leading a revolution inspired by his mentor, John Hurt, white guy, against Ed Harris, white guy.  Along the way, Octavia Spencer plays a Mother Who Loves Her Son and Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko play Asian Supporting Characters With Useful Arbitrary Skills And A Subplot Of Their Own That Isn’t Really Explored In Depth.  And Tilda Swinton spends a third of the movie chewing the scenery, which is brilliant and delightful and kind of just highlights how by-the-numbers everything else is.  Except that it’s on a train, which is cool because trains are great.

This is a movie that pulls its punches.  The oppressed tail end passengers are fed on protein bars, black gelatinous strips that don’t remotely resemble the western food craved by Chris Evans and Jamie Bell.  When the revolutionaries reach the car where these protein bars are manufactured, we learn the HORRIFIC and TERRIBLE TRUTH about their origin:  they’re made from cockroaches.

Okay, that’s pretty gross, but between you and me, I was expecting to find out they were made from the children abducted from the tail section in the first act.  Given a choice between “starvation” and “cockroach jelly”, I’ll take the jelly any day.  Hell, cockroaches are a delicacy in some parts of the world.  So the montage of ignorant revolutionaries happily gorging themselves on protein bars while Chris Evans looks on in silent judgement is hardly warranted.  We don’t need you to be our food police, Scruffy Chris Evans Revolutionary Dude.

Now, try not to be too shocked when I tell you that the passengers in the forward section of the train aren’t eating cockroach jelly.  They’re eating sushi, fresh fruit and steak.  The train is a metaphor, you see, for class and oppression, which is why there are multiple speeches about people having pre-ordained places that they just have to accept.  If this is the cut that Harvey Weinstein thought too complex for the average American viewer, I’d hate to see the edited version.

As it happens, Chris Evans’s pre-ordained place is Revolutionary Leader and Future Train Leading Dude, as arranged between Ed Harris and John Hurt.  This is probably not intended as a metaphor for white patriarchy, but it works surprisingly well.  I can’t say I really cared, but that’s because Curtis the White Revolutionary Played By Chris Evans just isn’t very interesting.  And I can’t really blame Evans for that — he seems like a delightful human labrador, and very nice and all, but he’s not really a guy who can rise above a mediocre script.  And this script was thin as paper.

Not to mention lazy.  Security specialist/drug addict Namgoong Minsu is awoken from stasis to assist the revolution; a few scenes later, he tells his daughter, Yona, about a landmark he looks for “every year”.  Except the unstated number of years he was sleeping, I guess.  Yona, at 17, is too young to remember life before the train … except she can’t be exactly 17, because she too has been in stasis.  In a couple of scenes, Yona demonstrates clairvoyancy, which doesn’t seem to surprise or amaze anyone.  Later … nothing.  Towards the end, Ed Harris congratulates Curtis on being the first human being to travel from one end of the train to the other.  But earlier we saw his sidekick Claude, memorable for being a beautiful plump woman in a striking yellow coat, visit the tail end.  Now she’s there, in that very scene, at the front.  Are fat women not human beings?  No, it’s just this impossibly careless script.

The most shocking thing the movie does is kill off most of the characters and leave only Yona and Timmy, an adorable black child, alive.  Well done, I guess, but what is the point?  Yona has had no arc of her own; Timmy was barely in the movie.

I’m pretty bummed that I didn’t enjoy Snowpiercer more, because I was really looking forward to seeing it.  I’m tired of properties being hailed as incredibly original or progressive or even simply good, and then finding, no, they’re just mediocre.  I like big, dumb movies, and I enjoy finding the shreds of intelligence that exist within them — the opposite experience is just depressing.  Snowpiercer had some really great scenes, but I almost wish I’d walked out after Tilda Swinton died, so I could imagine a much better final third in place of what we actually got.

mqff viewing schedule

mqffbannerThe Melbourne Queer Film Festival starts in just TWO HOURS. This year I’m blogging for MQFF, so I’m heavily involved, and you can see my filthy penguin flipperprints over everything (check out the blog).

I love Melbourne’s festivals, as they’re often a great time to get involved in a community, learn more about a subject, or just love Melbourne a little bit more. And MQFF is definitely one of my favourite festivals all year round. And if you’re broke, there’s even $10 buck tix, which I LOVE the concept of.

Tonight is the opening night party, and there are still tickets to that: Any Day Now, starring your favourite and mine, Alan Cumming.  Also I will be wearing a tutu.

And I am super excited about so many films! If you’re still unsure, I wrote a list for Peril of Azn-interest films, and below is my personal list (note: I won’t end up seeing all of these):

G.B.F (Gay Best Friend)  (Saturday 15 March, 20:15): The summary starts “Move over Mean Girls and Heathers, it’s 2014 and there’s a new set of prom queen wannabes and they need a gay best friend;” I don’t need to know anything else.

Quick Change (Saturday 15 March, 16:00): I have seen the first five minutes of this movie and it looks adorable – sadly my screener was having issues and I failed at seeing the rest. This Filipino movie is about Dorina, a trans woman who makes a living selling homemade cosmetics to other trans women. She does a runner when a client has a bad reaction to some of her cosmetics.

Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? (Sunday 16 March, 20:30): This is a comedy and I need the laughs.

OUT in the Line-Up (Sunday 16 March, 15:00): Australian documentary. Queer surfers.

52 Tuesdays (Tuesday 18 March, 18:00): Filmed every tuesday over a year, this film (not a documentary) follows a teen as one of her parents transitions, and I am super into the conceit of this film.

Bad Hair (Wednesday 19 March, 18:00): Not totally sure what this movie is about, but I do know Junior wants to straighten his hair and I’m intrigued.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Wednesday 19 March, 21:00): Taiwanese movie about discovering one is gay after being established with a family. Allegedly a comedy of errors. This usually wouldn’t be my thing but it’s the only Mandarin-language movie this year.

Noor (Friday 21 March, 18:00): A Pakistani trans man goes on a road trip to find a place where he belongs. Hopefully adorable.

Zoe.Misplaced (Sunday 23 March, 15:00): Melbourne lezzie drama. All good.

I have reviewed Soongava, so I won’t be seeing that again, but it was very interesting.

SEE YOU THERE. Come say hi, I’ll be there most days of the festival.

Saturday morning links

Note: Links may not actually be posted until Saturday afternoon

Stuff Stephanie has been doing

Writing!  She has a series of posts about Chinese-Australian identity at Peril, and has written a piece on voluntourism, ethics and actually making a difference for The Toast.

Australia (is terrible)

Australia Day has more violence than any other public holiday!  What this article doesn’t mention is that very few of this violence is directed at white people, which means the current HARD LINE LAURA NORDER stance currently being adopted by New South Wales isn’t going to help in this instance.

This might be time-sensitive, but comedian Aamer Rahman has been retweeting some of the racist hate he gets.


Group dynamics on a female podcast – a bunch of my friends do Verity, an all-women Doctor Who podcast.  Now, I am terrible with podcasts, so I don’t listen to it regularly, but it’s clever and interesting and often very funny.  However, some people (male people) think Team Verity need to be a bit … nicer.

New blog: Intersectionality Times, “a place that hopes to provide a safe space for those of us who are ‘othered’ by mainstream Australian feminism.”

Stealing sexy calendars isn’t Jesus and it isn’t radical – “If your activism involves turning over tables and then leaving them there for minimum wage workers to clean up, please rethink. If your feminism involves “breaking glass ceilings” and leaving other women to sweep up the glass, stop.”  I really couldn’t put it better.

Dear James Delingpole: You are the problem – “Little boys are not universally sociopaths in training: nurturing and love are not exclusively feminine traits. But that’s what they can sometimes become, if, as so many people do, you assume that boys are naturally monstrous, and consequently neglect to teach them the empathy, kindness and respect for others you’ve already decided they’re incapable of learning.”


A Chinese space opera trilogy is coming to the US Anglosphere – this isn’t new news, but I’m reblogging it mostly so I remember.  Also, it looks like some of Liu Cuxin’s short fiction is available in English on Amazon, so note to self, get into that.

I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: Voyager for the first time since … well, since I stopped being a Trekkie, back in the early 2000s.  I’d like to say that I’ve been inspired with meaningful and clever thoughts about the series, but … well, apparently nothing has changed since I was 14.  Except that I’m playing a fun game of, “Did I actually watch this multiple times, or did I just memorise Jim Wright‘s review?”

But in the same universe, Grant Watson has been watching and blogging about the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Economic injustice

Why your shoes won’t save the world – the problem with “buy one, give one” charity.


Not your Asian sidekick – the fight for diverse identities – an Australian account of the recent hashtag, and why it’s important.

Why I prefer “black” – On identity, race, nationalism and more.  Of note:  I don’t use the term “person/woman of colour” for myself because, from an Aboriginal perspective, this phrase does not carry the same political weight and indeed, to be “of colour” to me is to also be comfortable with people defining my background by those old blood quanta percentages, which I reject.

This is something I try to keep in mind:  although “person of colour” is widely accepted, and generally not considered offensive, it is by no means a universal phrase.  (I had to explain this to an American recently.  It was … challenging.)


How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze?  This article covers a lot of ground, but the answer is basically “intersectionality”.

Also, I am kind of touched by the notion that $4 is a lot to pay for toast.  Bless you, America, but your prices are artificially low.

(It’s not just America.  Mel from Subversive Reader was ranting on Twitter … yesterday?  About $2 baby shirts, and the fact that the fabric alone costs more than that.  As she said, someone isn’t being paid their due, and you can bet it’s not the Australian retail worker at the final point of sale.)


Last week, Melbourne experienced a record-breaking heatwave.  I coped by hiding out in an air-conditioned cinema and watching Frozen.  

I had initially planned to give Frozen the old boycott-by-ignoring-and-basically-forgetting-it-existed, because of that animator’s comments about it being sooooooo haaaaaaaaaard to animate women, because they have to have facial expressions but still remain pretty!  I was like, dude, you work for a company that’s fairly well-known for its animated female characters, I’m pretty sure you can figure it out.

However, increasing numbers of my friends were seeing it, and coming away talking it up as totes feminist and progressive.  My curiosity was piqued!  Also, it was really hot.

And I enjoyed it!  I thought it was a decent movie in its own right, but played with Disney tropes in an interesting way.  And if you  had told me that Disney would do a movie about an agoraphobic princess, I wouldn’t have believed you.  AND YET.

Okay, I don’t think Elsa is actually agoraphobic, or has any other condition that maps to contemporary psychology.  But the way her fear of her magic, and hurting people with her magic, manifests is so close to agoraphobia (and other things — Anna hints that she assumed her sister was obsessive-compulsive) that it felt quite right to me.  Likewise, in finally embracing her abilities, she displays a hint of the femme fatale, making her possibly the most knowingly sexual Disney princess queen yet.

Also, Anna is basically me, if I was a Disney princess.  Except that I wouldn’t go haring off after my sister in a snowstorm, wearing a summer dress.  (Sorry, sis.)

With that in mind, here are some interesting and useful Frozen posts:

7 moments that made Frozen the most progressive Disney movie ever – I try to avoid that kind of hyperbole, because it’s nearly always wrong/oversimplified/ALSO WRONG.  But these were good features!

How Ariel became Disney’s bad woman: a look at Frozen and The Little Mermaid – so I completely disagree with this post’s taken on Frozen, but I really love it for reclaiming the feminism of The Little Mermaid.  IT’S COMPLICATED.

(Having said that, as an adult, I now find it quite sad that Ariel is only 16 when she makes the irrevocable decision to change species and get married.  That’s so young!)

Here I Go (Despair of an Alto) – I can’t actually hit a note or hold a tune, but if I could, I’d be an alto.  So this speaks to me on a very profound level.


an immigration narrative or three

I saw Elysium on the weekend. It’s not very subtle. It’s so not very subtle that I’m not even going to talk about its blatant immigration narrative, its poverty porn of brown people and brown spaces and deserts, its third world despair as represented by Matt Damon (MATT DAMON).

(My short review: Gosh, there were some interesting ideas presented! Completely wasted, totally pointless, Jodie Foster chewing on the scenery and despite it being the only believable white future I’ve ever seen it was boring and kind of offensive.)

Also I’m sick with the death cold I picked up on the flight home from Singapore, which I still haven’t shaken, so today you’re getting links on immigration and immigration narratives. You love it, I know you do.

My favourite post about Elysium is I renounce my Elysium Citizenship by J Lamb. It is a super excellent post about privilege, representation, and boring boring narratives that seek to interrogate but merely reinforce.

Blomkamp offers this antiseptic, conformist Whiteness as the celestial haven all the darker nations covet; lush green grass tickles the bare toes of towheaded human gazelles who play and laugh and smile because their lives demand no other purpose. Watch as a statuesque beauty drops her theatrical red robe to lie upon what appears to be a personal tanning bed; you learn it’s actually a miracle machine that can cure cancer in seconds. Horror paralyzes. This manicured playground for Teutonic supermodels and corporate overlords gives life everlasting to a Whiteness so privileged it never need die. Earth’s cautionary tales spend the entire film gripped by a feral desperation to emigrate to this orbital nirvana; the entire movie posits a world where no person of color wants anything less than Elysian citizenship. Ask yourself how this morality play ends.
Many good liberal folk applauded this film, and considered Elysium a warning against American xenophobia and isolationism. We have so much, why can’t we share? But the Elysium immigration metaphor characterizes the darker nations as eternally broken, and always wanting.

Anyway, but that’s the USA! Australia has a totally different immigration narrative from that.

I exist because of immigration. Don’t many of us? I exist because of illegal immigration. I exist because my grandmother escaped the Chinese mainland, swam to Hong Kong as a child, and made her way on a boat to Malaysia. I don’t know anything more about that, because here’s one of the things about asylum seeking: when your circumstances are such that a seven year old child has to swim away from the only home she’s ever known, you tend to lose your grasp on your past and your family history. My family history starts in Malaysia, where my family worked and stressed and lived, and continues here to me (I wrote a thesis on illegal flows of migration in and around China in 2005, which is hilariously not the same). I can’t imagine a world where I would deny someone the chance to run away and start again, whatever the situation they’re having to leave; let alone when they’re a refugee from persecution.

Which is why this article at the Hoopla BLOWS MY MIND: Immigrants Against Immigration.

Candidate for the Eastern Melbourne seat of Chisholm, Liberal candidate and former Vietnamese refugee, John Nguyen (below) shares my mother’s sentiments. He came by boat, yet pledges to stop the boats.
Nguyen says his family came to Australia the “right way”, because they sought asylum in Malaysia which is the first country they arrived in.
They were later processed and brought to Australia. But now, Nguyen wants the integrity of our borders upheld.
This baffled me. I wanted to know more.
So I visited ethnic hubs across western Sydney approaching shopkeepers, mums and couples dining at cafes and simply asked: “Do you think we should end immigration and stop the boats?”


And for your reference: Asylum Seekers: Where Australia Stands.

Okay good. PS I would break up with my own parents if they felt we should limit asylum seekers, given how few we accept as it is.