Australia’s primordial national identity in the surf and sand.

The two readings this week interestingly compete and compare cultural boundaries and spaces by using unabashed raw emotion to highlight the adversities two different cultures face when it comes to the corporeal haven and national identity of the Australian beach.

Moreton-Robinson’s examination and review of the CantChant exhibition discusses the adversities the Aboriginal people have had to face in relation to ownership, power roles and cultural beliefs at the beach. The exhibition is a powerful resistance to the classifications thrust upon Aboriginals and their struggle to assimilate themselves into the Australian identity.

Dale Richards is the first Aborigine to reach the main draw of a World Championship Tour contest.

Dale Richards is the first Aborigine to reach the main draw of a World Championship Tour contest.

However, for Clifton Evers this Australian identity is the surfing culture that he believes is a habitually born and bred trait for many coastal boys and emphasises that the release that occurs while surfing is primal and masculine, but this is often stunted by the adversities of gangs such as the ‘Bra Boys’ who take an ownership role of the beach.

Both readings focus on the beach as a primary source of cultural identification and space and both agree that the beach encompasses this Australian culture that everyone tries to integrate with. They also agree that the primal instinct for males is ownership. Both readings yearn for the beach as it provides an equal and recognised identity for Aboriginals and fulfils a primordial urge for the typical Australian surfer.

As a comparison, the Maori people of New Zealand lead a much different life than the Aboriginals of Australia. Maoris have been assimilated more into society, their culture and traditions are much more recognised and respected than those of the Aboriginals. This is evident in the New Zealand national anthem containing Maori lyrics, identifying that the Maori people are an important part of the national identity. Even in the Rugby World Cup that is currently underway some form of Maori culture has been included at the start of each game and even the national Rugby team performs a Maori war cry (usually the Haka) at the start of each game.

If men stopped focusing so much on masculinity and forcing their culture into a national identity would society be more sustainable and enjoyable? Do you think the idea of masculinity and culture space inhibits society from ever truly making any progress?

What does it mean to have ownership over something that is public and primal?

Celebrity “Evolution”

The human fascination with celebrity culture stems from a mediated portrayal of a celebrity industry, dealing largely in the creation, commodification, fabrication and exaggerated expectations of human greatness.  What actually constitutes a celebrity, however, is debatable.

Turner’s reading discusses this idea of celebrity industry and public interest. The media is continually encouraging the public to see celebrity as a new development rather than an extension of a long-standing condition. This cycle of renewal is exemplified in the Kardashian’s – a family who appear to have done nothing to earn fame yet exude this idea of constructedness and inauthenticity. Apart from a sex tape the family is “famous” for their father being a friend and legal aid to O.J Simpson. The Simpson trial is something that has caused a lot of controversy and majority believe him to be guilty of murder, however the sensationalism and visual luxury the family live is secondary to the fact that daddy Kardashian was accused of dealing drugs, prostitution etc. How is it that the media has manipulated society to abandon rationalism and instead admire these people, who lack the presence and charisma associated with the idea of celebrity?

Kardashian sisters - currently some of the biggest "celebrities" on the planet.

On the other hand, the Anderson reading talks about the commodification side of celebrity and how celebrities can attract certain subcultures like pre-teens and the gay community. Britney Spears is a perfect example of a media-created and subsequently vilified celebrity whose well-known train wreck of a life accrued the support of many in the gay community who came to her rescue, such as the famous Chris Crocker “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!” viral hit. The reading talks about this isolation and persecution felt by many in the gay community, which is one reason why so many flocked to Britney’s aid in her time of apparent media carnage.

Celebrity industry is something that manufactures and destroys. As Turner explains, celebrity is a symptom of cultural change and thus moves as culture moves. Gone are the days when celebrity meant glamour, grandeur and gracefulness. As our culture slowly breaks down so too does our expectations of those who personify this idea of celebrity.

A comparison of the changing ideals and images of celebrity culture.

What do you think constitutes celebrity and who is deserving of this title? Is celebrity just a misplaced meaning that hinders our society from seeing past material objects?

Don’t Feed the Trolls!

The internet has led to the formation of defined and broad communities who, through their interaction and shared humour, can often create phenomenons of online memes. According to Thwaites, the idea of a decentralised communication device means that it is liberatory- free from centralised control and unhindered by boundaries (within reason). By giving cyber-liberation to the masses it allows for this sense of community – an imagined relationship that many rely on to feel some form of connection. However, despite numerous happy memes of cats and the like, there are many who abuse this anonymity and liberation and use internet memes as a weapon.

One internet meme that took a nasty turn was “an hero,” the sad story of a boy who took his own life and had a MySpace memorial page created in remembrance which contained a poem by a fellow seventh grader referring to him as “an hero” throughout, which led a specific internet community to come and exploit the obvious grammatical error and create a back story to the suicide, an “art-form” known as “trolling”. The harassment that took place included the MySpace account being hacked, images of the dead boy as a zombie were posted as well as hardcore porn scenes for his fellow classmates to see and his parents were constantly called and harassed by “trolls” claiming they were his dead son communicating from the grave. The aim was to create shock value and inflict pain. To this day, the term “an hero” is used in many online communities as the phrase for suicide.

As the Knobel reading suggests, memes are catchy phenomenon’s that spread around and hold certain discreteness about them. They also are characterised by their longevity. As the internet has advanced and social media becomes more accessible, “trolling” has become a feared but almost expected part of highly publicised deaths. The Knobel reading focuses more on light-hearted memes such as ‘lolcats’ but doesn’t quite address memes that take a darker and morally reprehensible turn. Internet memes can be a happy and enjoyable part of the internet, providing humour and entertainment, but if memes spread like a virus and their longevity is what defines them as successful, how can we stop the negative and depraved categories altogether?

Just for interest, the first Australian to be convicted for “trolling” was jailed this year for three years, let’s hope this continues!

Modern day poisoned ideologies?

Our entire world is governed by ideology; the ‘ideas’ held in common by society which form logic about certain things help us differentiate between what is just and what is unjust. One example of ideology being used as a political tool is 9/11, which holds a common meaning in the minds and hearts of Americans and demonstrates the creation of a new ideology held by the people of America, one of patriotism and also a thirst for revenge and justice. The government and media circulated and produced a public discourse of the need to continue the war efforts in order to bring peace to those who suffered.

Thwaites talks about the idea of interpellation, whereby you take on the role of addressee by recognition. When President George W. Bush addressed Americans he created this ideology all on his own, about the people’s unyielding anger and this was “our” problem and that “we” will deal with it “together.” The function of his address meant that the ideology of the patriotic American was reborn. This idea was also offered to the people as their own wants and desires, an example of hegemony. As a result, reconciliation through the power of discourse has meant that laws have been changed and security has become much more of an issue in today’s society, especially in airports and large events.

9/11 is an interesting example because the ideology of Americans is different to those in Australia or England. The lives lost were a tragedy, no doubt, but there is a deeply ingrained feeling in many non-Americans that the tragedy was used to justify a greater, much worse injustice. The deaths of 3000 Americans have been avenged with the blood of over 132,000 Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children but still the vague war against a vague and changing opponent (first terrorists, then the Taliban, then Iraq itself, then ‘insurgents’) continues. This has also caused an ideological shift in Americans, who are now questioning President Obama’s motives in continuing the war.

Additionally, Belinda Morrissey’s article on the dangers of using evidence that is circumstantial to convict people and the ideology of the “bad mother” who fails to develop the archetypal nurturing that motherhood supposedly brings made me think about the Julian Assange case. Assange has been an important figure in unearthing corrupt corporation’s darkest secrets, and due to a woman charging him for sexual assault he is now America’s number 1 target, fighting tooth and nail to have him extradited. If he is extradited he could face the death penalty. It is someone’s word against his, and due to the nature of his work his own word is being largely ignored in jurisdiction, which could mean an innocent man is sentenced due to failing the discourse and ideology of privacy.

In a world governed by ideology, what is the best way to correct ideologies that have gone astray and bring them back to reality?

The breakdown of institution – food/family

Discourse and Medium

Culture has taught us that the family institution is the nurturing mother, the breadwinning father and two to three happy and healthy children. Tony Thwaites suggests that the role of institutions is to coordinate power relationships. As we know, this idea of family is a cultural myth, with today’s society bearing an overwhelming amount of single or unmarried moth

Britain's youngest grandparents

er’s trying to work and bring up their children and many other broken families struggling to stay afloat while dealing with these cultural preconceptions. Cultural discourse are texts that work to organise these institutions, with one such example being the practice and teaching of safe sex and abstinence, which is heavily emphasised in schooling by the government and also an encouraged lesson to be taught at home.

The breakdown of institution in our culture has led to cases such as this: A family in the UK has proudly come forward to the media and announced that the young daughter has given birth to a baby at 14, making her mother and father one of the youngest set of grandparents in the world at just 29 years old. This institutional breakdown has meant that a power shift within the family unit has occurred, and the parent-child relationship has collapsed into a parent-parent relationship. This is also another example that Thwaites highlights, the use of media discourse in society and the objectivity in stories. It is heavily emphasised that the grandparents are unmarried and unemployed, allowing the audience to make its own assumption about where the money to support this family comes from, and whether they will become great-grandparents at 43.

Furthermore, Keane comments on the certain discourses involved with food and addictions to healthy eating and anorexia, but also the cultural preconception of obese people – that they invoke a perception of laziness and greed. One example of addiction to another extreme is an American woman who is supersizing herself to be the fattest woman on Earth. This woman does not fall under the realm of following a discourse of control or bodily admiration; she is not a compulsive eater but suffers from the same ill-perception of one’s self that someone with anorexia may have. The fact she eats to feel better about herself is something Keane likens to “feminine therapeutic discourse,” that obese women see fat as either protection from the world or a rebellious form against ideas of femininity, which is what this

Susanne Eman believes beauty is not about appearances.

woman is trying to achieve.

Family and food are things that are unavoidable in a human’s life, both provide nurture and comfort but both can easily be abused for personal satisfaction and gain. Do the formation of institutions mean that these are forever meant to be challenged by those who refuse to accept them?