#INTERSECTIONAL_FUTURE

Intersectionality is a term that was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw and has since gone on to elaborate and evolve the term to how it is used today. In its simplest form, intersectional feminism attempts to address that oppression is not through single characteristics and that they often intersect in a person. That many different forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, ableism and queerphobia can intersect and therefore marginalise a person further (Carastathis, 2014). However, through the social movement #intersectional_future (and @intersectional_future) I hope to bring to light the many faces of those in defiance of intersectional oppression and working towards holistic equality.

Insta: @intersectional_future

 


REFERENCES

Carastathis, A. (2014). The Concept of Intersectionality in Feminist Theory. Philosophy Compass, 9(5), pp.304-314.

 Crenshaw, K. (1989). [online] Chicagounbound.uchicago.edu. Available at: https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=uclf [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

 Obst, M. (2018). The Future Is Not Female. [online] Beta.upgration.de. Available at: https://beta.upgration.de/details/the-future-is-not-female.html [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

Ruiz-Grossman, S. (2017). You Don’t Have To March To Be In The Resistance. [online] HuffPost UK. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/disability-activism-resistance-alice-wong_us_59270f76e4b061d8f8201e8f [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

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The future of satire in a politically divided public

During the course of one of my university subjects, BCM312: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, we were asked to select and research an issue that interests us. I have selected “The Politician” due to emerging trends concerning media and communication and how it is used and abused by politicians. Specifically, I am interested in the relationship between satire and its place in politics and how it has affected the current political leaderships and the consequential societal polarisation.

There has been a long history of political satire being used throughout the society with roots called back to the Old Comedies of Aristophanes in order to separate genuine political advocates from the frauds (Hall, 2015). According to Jamie Noelle Smith (2018), there are four prominent functions of political satire, which include the purposes of teaching, discipline and ridicule, news-gathering, and as a democratic practice. However, the aspect of satire that proves the most interesting, yet most dangerous, is it’s argued normalising effect.

As we live in the current ‘Trump era” of politics, tensions are highly strung as societal polarisation has hit a peak in a ‘left-wing’ versus ‘right-wing’ showdown. A question arises in how the media, and satire programs in particular, affected Trump’s 2016 election win and the moral implications of making light of his inflammatory comments and hate speech. Late night programs such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and more all played a hand in giving Donald Trump an arguably undeserved spotlight to spew his hateful opinions as fact in the name of comedy and satire. Although these programs are not the only perpetrators in giving Trump a disproportionate platform, there are those creating memes and tweets with the goal of normalising Trump’s bigotry. However, for the purposes of my research I am much more interested in the relationship between Saturday Night Live, Donald Trump, and his 2016 presidential election win.

Saturday Night Live is an American late night sketch programme that has been a long running point of reference for everything pop-culture. It’s an upheld rite of passage for the American politician to be mocked on the show or to appear on SNL themselves since 1976 (Smith, 2018). Politics in general has always been an ever-giving source of content and the 2016 election cycle was no exception.

Donald Trump’s long history under the limelight as a high profile New York businessman, means he was no stranger to Saturday Night Live or it’s show-runner, Lorne Michaels. Trump has been impersonated, mentioned and lampooned on Saturday Night Live for more than 30 years and had a seemingly civil if not friendly relationship with the show. So much so that on April 3, 2014 Trump went on to host Saturday Night Live when his show The Apprentice was just beginning and it was a hit in the ratings. He went on to host again on November 17, 2015 as a fierce contender for the Republican presidential nomination, a decision that resulted in a Latin-American lead protest running down 5th Ave from Trump Tower to the doors of NBC Universal Studios. Considering Trump had previously made inflammatory and fascist comments against Mexican people in his 2016 presidential bid this was unsurprising and long foreshadowed since the announcement that Trump would be hosting.

During SNL‘s 42nd season, cast member Kate McKinnon and guest star Alec Baldwin played the presidential frontrunners Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Smith (2018) asks if the mockery of the obvious portrayed on Saturday Night Live was devoid of the crucial “underlying thread of social criticism and consciousness.” In contrast to more politically invested contemporary programs, the genre of fake news on Saturday Night Live has been largely emptied to serve the needs of the larger show, maintaining its status as just topical, hip, and unthreatening enough to attract celebrities and politicians, as well as a mass audience (Day & Thompson, 2012). This rather neutral mockery that SNL has historically portrayed could be seen as striving for an objective satire in an attempt to retain viewership (it is a tv show after all). SNL features impersonations and guest appearances from across the political spectrum whether the politician reflects the viewpoints of the program’s cast and crew or not. 

Satire is a slippery slope and trying to appeal with the widest audience possible when the views are so violently polarised can be dangerous – such is the case with President Trump. This then leads me into my proposed research question: Is there a future for so-called ‘objective satire’ and where do we, as a society, draw the line?


References:

Hall, E. (2015, June). The birth of comedy. History Today, 65(6), 10-17.

Day,A & Thompson, E (2012), “Live From New York, It’s the Fake News! Saturday Night Live and the (Non)Politics of Parody”, Popular Communication, 10:1-2, 170-182, DOI: 10.1080/15405702.2012.638582

Smith, J.N (2018), “No Laughing Matter: Failures of Satire During the 2016 Presidential Election” Honors Theses and Capstones. 381, 21-40, https://scholars.unh.edu/honors/381

Australian cinema: The Aussie battler we seem to push aside

Australian audiences have always been avid cinema-goers and have enjoyed the varied international content that comes our way, no matter the quality, but for that same audience, Australian films are seemingly intolerable or at least deemed unsuccessful at the box office (Bowles, Maltby, Verhoeven, and Walsh, 2007). This leaves us questioning: If Australian audiences are so unenthusiastic about their own industry, what is the point in preserving Australian media content? This outlook however, fails to recognise integral role Australian film and television plays in contributing to the national identity and culture as a whole, which should outweigh the value placed on any sort of commercial success. The success of the Australian film and television industry both culturally and commercially relies on an accumulation of factors ranging from funding to audience engagement.

At this point in time, there is somewhat of a crisis surrounding the Australian film and television industry in which Burns and Eltham (2010) argue is deeply embedded in the history of Australian content funding models and government policy and their control over what projects are produced. There was renaissance of the Australian film industry in the 1970’s due to the introduction of the 10BA tax incentive model resulting in a ‘boom’ time and many popular films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Man from Snowy River (1982), as well as co-financed productions between 10BA and foreign studios such as Crocodile Dundee (1986). This period saw 95% of Australian content privately funded and a variety of genre films produced due to the film producers receiving a generous 150% tax concession in 1981, later lowered to 133% in 1983 and lowered again to 100% from 1987 to 2007. This is not to say the films were of quality, in fact this incentive was exploited by many resulting in a significant percentage of the films not making it to release. The 10BA scheme promised an improved financial infrastructure and audience share was at its highest in post-war history, but the high risk and low profitability of Australian screen production proved unsustainable and could never fully develop (Burns and Eltham, 2010).

After the 10BA era, direct funding from government agencies, principally Film Finance Corporation (FFC) which was formed in 1988, became a major source of finance for local media production during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The FFC acted as a film bank and was responsive and often advocated to the investment decisions of distributors, sales agents and television networks rather than the audiences themselves. By 2000, Australia was attracting significant levels of overseas production away other competing nations through their unique and competitive production incentives and subsidies (Burns and Eltham, 2010). Although Australian crews benefitted through these runaway productions, it was short lived as Hollywood embarked on a subsidy chance as  Canada, Mexico and other US states offered their own incentives as well as Australian producers were competing for a small pool of allocated funding. The FFC eventually failed to generate commercial returns which were attributed to the overwhelming misjudgements of all parties involved from the funding agencies and investors to the filmmakers and distributors (Barber, 2009). This reform also saw Australian science fiction and fantasy phased due to budget constrictions as a resulting of this failure (Ryan, 2012). This then lead to return to Australian blockbusters and genre films following the implementation of the Producer Offset in 2007 and the amalgamation of the FFC, Australian Film Commission (AFC), and Film Australia into the establishment of Screen Australian in 2008 (Screen Australia, 2012). However, this monopoly over government funding in Australian film and television industry results in a selection of projects funded as long as they adhere to upholding significant Australian content outlined by Screen Australia (2012). These cross border, macroeconomic and structural factors involved in Australia’s film finance, film markets and project selection decisions could be an explanation for the current unpopularity of Australian cinema rather than the media narrative of poor local production efforts from a creative aspect Burns and Eltham, 2010).

A major hurdle facing Australian films and genre films is the development of a national identity. In order to succeed commercially, Australian films must not only contribute to the national identity identified by its citizens but also the general identity we established to appeal for a global audience. There is often a trade off when it comes to Australian films as our general identity is underdeveloped. There is a choice that is made in our current film model whether to contribute to the national identity and receive a relatively small commercial gain or to produce films that are more generic and lose that ‘Australian-ness’ to the point it is near unrecognisable as an Australian film in order to achieve a greater market or critical success opting for the more arthouse film creating an even more niche appeal domestically (Ryan, 2012).

In reflecting upon these past unsustainable funding models and inconsistent cycles of boom and bust within the industry, the Australian film industry is in desperate need of a rebrand and in doing so allocating funds towards this new brand of cinema in which Australian culture is celebrated through film and television both locally and internationally with stories that include both unique and reflective ‘Australian-isms’ without neglecting the wider global audience’s interest (Ryan, 2012). This could diminish the market success through not being general or ‘Hollywood’ enough for an international audience, however Australian content provides an incalculable value towards our culture that is worth exhibiting and preserving. Such films as Muriel’s Wedding (1993), Crocodile Dundee (1986) and The Castle (1997) are exemplary of those that succeeded commercially and successfully contributed not only to the culture but the Australian lexicon as well (Bowles, 2007).

Screen Australia as a government funding institution needs to re-evaluate what constitutes significant Australian content as they are neglecting culturally important stories and storytellers in favour of trying to achieve unrealistic economic success. Australian content creators are limited in where they can receive their funding and there are many stories that are deemed ineligible for funding and never make it to the screen. Perhaps a combination of both government and private funding is an alternative answer as there then is not just one overseeing financier in command of the production and placing more control back into the control of the producers and more input from the domestic audience on what constitutes significant Australian content.


Bowles, Kate (2007) “Three miles of rough dirt road: towards an audience centred approach to cinema studies in Australia”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 1: 3 p 245-260.

Bowles, Kate, Maltby, Richard, Verhoeven, Deb, and Walsh, Mike (2007) “More than Ballyhoo? The Importance of understanding film consumption in Australia”. Metro 152: p 96-101

Burns, Alex and Eltham, Ben “Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’”. Media International Australia. August 2010, No. 136, p 103-118.

Ryan, Mark David (2012) “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 6 (2) p 141-157.

Getting down to business: The Producer Offset five years on. (2012). [ebook] Screen Australia, pp.1-20. Available at: https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/14380132-5665-4504-83c9-799b5b0cba4e/Getting-down-to-business.pdf?ext=.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2018].

What Draws The LGBTQIA+ Population To Tumblr?

In my last blog post I discussed a research project I was interested in undertaking which concerned the prevalence of the queer or LGBTQIA+ community in online spaces with a focus on Tumblr. Specifically, my research question is why queer identifying persons are drawn to such online social spaces such as Tumblr. In order to do this as an ethnographer I will need to use both primary and secondary sources in order to back up my hypotheses and gather a more informative and holistic viewpoint.

I can use the primary sources in order to address the more specific questions I have concerning Tumblr use that I can tailor to elicit the data that I need to help me with my study (Institute for Work & Health, 2015). In order to collect this data, I plan on conducting a survey with queer users of Tumblr through a recruitment post via Tumblr as well as my direct observations of the LGBTQIA+ community on the site.

As my study takes place in an online setting, there will be certain adjustments I will need to make on my research technique concerning approaching and interacting with research subjects. My subjects will be from an online environment I will need to adequately incorporate computer-mediated communication in order to accommodate the social change online spaces create (Garcia, Standlee, Bechkoff, and Cui, 2009, 53). Additionally, as an experienced user of Tumblr, I already possess the skillset in order to navigate the site expertly, communicate with users effectively, and use all functions of the site to my advantage when undertaking my research project (Garcia et al., 2009, 59-60). Also worthy of noting, there are ethical issues raised surrounding the blurred lines between public and private content and the confidentiality issues surrounding the access to that data. However, to combat this issue, I will only be using data collected from those of whom have consented as well as concealing identities as subject names are insignificant to the research I am trying to conduct. I may also have to alter my presentation of self through a creation of an additional Tumblr blog as I feel my personal blog would be inappropriate to use for such purpose (Garcia et al., 2009, 73). With these adjustments I hope to conduct both an ethical and informative study.

I will use this information gathered in conjunction with the secondary research I will be conducting as such sources will provide me with readily available, helpful and informative material that I can easily obtain to assist back up my findings (Institute for Work & Health, 2015). Looking at both quantitative and qualitative research that directly relates to the study I am conducting, the information gathered from sources such as There’s Something Queer About Tumblr (Byron and Robards, 2017) and Queer Lives: The Construction of Queer Self and Community on Tumblr (Zamanian, 2014), will provide me with a basis into answering my question of why queers are so drawn to Tumblr as a social networking site.

Hopefully through the combination of these methods I will be able to provide an answer my question, effectively studying the interactions and intentions behind the queer users of Tumblr.

 


References

Byron, P. and Robards, B. (2018). There’s something queer about Tumblr. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/theres-something-queer-about-tumblr-73520 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].

Garcia, A., Standlee, A., Bechkoff, J. and Cui, Y. (2009). Ethnographic Approaches to the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 38(1), pp.52-84.

Institute for Work & Health (2015). Primary data and secondary data  [online] Available at: https://www.iwh.on.ca/what-researchers-mean-by/primary-data-and-secondary-data [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].

Zimanian, P. (2014). Queer Lives: The Construction of Queer Self and Community on Tumblr. Postgraduate. Sarah Lawrence College.

Queer Magnetism To Online Spaces

Since the mid-1990s, the Internet and online spaces have been considered an ideal place for young queer people to gather and interact, create a space to navigate their interests, and communicate identities and desires (Hampson and Bochmann, 2018). Tumblr is a blogging and social networking website in which users create a blog page and are able to follow other blogs and create content or share others’ content. This content can range from anywhere from analyses of the political climate to cute pet videos and pornography. Tumblr has created an online community where people can share their art, their opinions, their thoughts, their feelings, their stories and with a click of the button can be seen across the globe (Muñiz and O’Guinn, 2001, 413; Caliandro, 2017, 561).

 

As of 2018, Tumblr is a social media space with a large portion of vocal and visibly queer users. Additionally, as a user myself, I’ve found it interesting that joining the platform prior to coming out to both myself and others I somehow have still found the queer community and queer relationships that I needed to feel like my experiences were relatable. I initially joined to follow those who had the same interests as me, such as television, movies, comedy and soccer. Whether it was my tastes and interests that were inherently queer or if it was the pure multitude of queer users, I unintentionally gravitated towards queer blogs, and sequentially enveloping myself into the queer community. From an ethnographic standpoint, I find it interesting how so many people of the LGBTQIA+ community have found Tumblr as somewhat of a watering hole for queer entertainment, affairs, news and politics (Byron and Robards, 2017).

For my research project, I would like to concentrate on the question of why queer identifying persons are drawn to such online social spaces with a particular focus on the usage of Tumblr. I will be looking into queer users and how they first found queer content and how they use the filter bubbled and somewhat utopic space now. Some theories I have hypothesised include the sense of community and safety Tumblr provides, Tumblr as a place of discovery and learning and where a person can fit in and identify themselves comfortably, and finally queer magnetism: a social phenomenon in which somehow without specifying sexual or gender identities, queer persons tend to swim in the same circles due to similar belief systems and/or interests.

Through these hypotheses I hope to gain an understanding of how and why such a large population of the Tumblr community are queer identifying and how they found their online space and made it the abode in which they comfortably reside.

 


References

Byron, P. and Robards, B. (2018). There’s something queer about Tumblr. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/theres-something-queer-about-tumblr-73520 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].

Caliandro, A. (2017). Digital Methods for Ethnography: Analytical Concepts for Ethnographers Exploring Social Media Environments. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 47(5), p.561.

Hampson, E. and Bochmann, L. (2018). Queering the internet: A sociological analysis of queer online activism | re:publica 2018. [online] re:publica 2018. Available at: https://18.re-publica.com/en/session/queering-internet-sociological-analysis-queer-online-activism [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].

Muñiz, Albert M., Jr., and Thomas C. O’Guinn. 2001. “Brand Community.” Journal of Consumer Research 27 (March): 412–32

A Two-Man Fan Club

new-is-it-normal-to-talk-to-random-people-online-2-1

When I was in my mid teenaged years, I had just begun my Tumblr blog. This was a place in which people with similar interests can connect across the globe with these commonalities. They had just updated and introduced a letter writing function on the site where you could write directly to any blog at any time more or less anonymously. Using this to my advantage I chose to write to a Sara Ramirez fan blog to mutually appreciate the actress and the show she was on Grey’s Anatomy. We talked over a span of weeks before one of us, I can’t remember who, stopped replying. I didn’t know their gender, their name, their age or where they were from, but we shared a unique relationship as a result of the digital age.

How people interact when it’s exclusively digital is quite different to if they met in person. There’s not as much commitment to keep talking to another person. If you want to stop talking to someone you just stop or ghost them. It’s a little heart breaking at first but the digital relationships that I so far have formed have been quite superficial and one-dimensional, so I get over it a lot more quickly than someone I would have connected with in person. It’s a cold and cut-throat place and if you fail to be interesting enough people will stop listening. Relationships can pick up and drop off at any time and often without warning.

Even as a digital native, this form of virtual relationship was new to me. And as a digital ethnographer now, I would still find it difficult to analyse the effect that particular relationship had on me and my socialisation. Talking about a passion of mine to a complete stranger and strictly talking about that mutual interest. But these sorts of relationships are becoming more frequent with Twitter and Instagram and sliding into a stranger’s DM’s to talk about your interests with them that you found in the tags of this social networking form (Caliandro, 2017). Initiating contact is a guilt and risk-free action where you can easily cut people out of your life that you don’t wish to talk to. Subjects of politics, religion or anything else that would be a social faux pas when sitting at around a dinner table often start conversations and connect people across the globe with similar likes, dislikes, values, beliefs, and attitudes.

My relationship began, sustained, and ended on Tumblr and served its purpose of finding someone to talk to about a similar interest that seemed unique to me in my teenage years and somewhat opened the doors to new forms of relationships and meeting more people online as a new norm coming into my adulthood.

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References

Caliandro, A. (2017). Digital Methods for Ethnography: Analytical Concepts for Ethnographers Exploring Social Media Environments. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, [online] pp.7-9. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0891241617702960 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].

Alone Together: A Networked Home

tech-770x300.png

Since starting university in Wollongong, both my brother and I have moved away from home, I’m living with my aunt and uncle and my brother living on campus in Wagga Wagga. Our family dynamic changed drastically as my once full family home soon became an empty nest for my parents. These sudden changes however, were fought with the networking technologies available to us at our fingertips.

We became a networked home. Instead of coming home from uni and telling my parents about my day, I’ll video call them using Messenger and keep connected that way. Sometimes we spend hours talking about what we’ve been up to or what’s happening in the world around us. During the day we keep connected through playing against each other on Words with Friends, creating even more conversations for us to talk about when we do call each other. I’ll text my brother funny things I see on Tumblr or Youtube, tagging him in memes on Facebook and sending him snaps on Snapchat and he does the same with me. Networked communication is our primary form, if not our only form of keeping updated on each other’s lives for most of the year now. I will be scrolling though Facebook as I talk to my mum about the newest Jeopardy on that night that I can no longer watch at my new home. I call my best friend who lives across the world in Texas and tell her everything and she the same with me.

I sleep with my phone, receiving a goodnight text from my mum and a good morning text when I wake up wishing me a great day. Sherry Turkle said that technology is trying to redefine human connection and I completely agree. However, she continues that concentrating on the ideological version of this redefinition is hurting us and diverting us away from physical human connection and socialisation rather than connecting us closer, but I disagree (Turkle, 2012). I think the reality is the ideology, I wouldn’t be able to have the relationships with the people I connect with without the networked home. The criticism that people would “rather text than talk” in person I feel is misinformed and overly simplistic. A lot of the time, for me at least and I’m sure a lot of other young people feel the same, that we would rather text strangers than talk to them in person, but when it comes to friends and family a physical social interaction is just as good as networked interaction. This redefinition of human connection gives us more ways to interconnect, more opportunities to socialise with the ones you love rather than taking away the more traditional forms of human communication and interaction.

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References

Turkle, S. (2012). Transcript of “Connected, but alone?”. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript [Accessed 29 Aug. 2018].