Urban Society Round Up #2

Well, this has been a mental two weeks. I think the phrase ‘thrown in the deep end’ has never applied quite so literally to my life (apart from the time I was actually thrown in the deep end of the community pool, but whatever. I forgave my brother.) One week after starting this new job, I found out my Managing Editor was away on annual leave for a week. Cue panic attacks, stress, and a general feeling of ‘holy-hell-I’m-not-cut-out-for-this’. But, you know, I survived. And it gets easier. And I got to write some things along the way!

I got a little political over the last two weeks. You may have head that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has decided to no longer allow any refugees arriving by boat into Australia, but rather to deport them to Papua New Guinea. (If you’re Australian, take that with a heavy dose of irony. If you’re not, welcome to the xenophobic swing of Australian politics.) I – like many Australians – think this is an all round disgusting and simplistic measure, and so I quite enjoyed writing about a refugee who tried to pay back the government $18,000. Note: he originally sought – and was granted – political asylum in Greece, before coming to Australia legally. On the other side of the world, UK Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to ban porn on the internet. To put it less simplistically, he wants to implement an ‘opt-out’ family-friendly filter, as well as crack down on child porn, extremely violent porn and simulated rape. His heart’s in the right place, but is this really the best method? Plus, as one 21-year-old UK commenter pointed out, young people everywhere have to embarrassingly ask their parents to turn on the porn. Awkies.

bans porn

Then we get to the shock value posts (because it’s all about the clicks, people). I came in early especially to write about Rolling Stone putting the Boston Bomber on the front cover, because a) I was so fired up about it, and b) I wanted to do the thing properly. For a uni assignment I researched the general media-wide cock-up that was the Boston Bombings, so I a bit of what I was talking about (and I like to talk smart sometimes). Then there was the barrel-of-laughs wedding that ended in a family-wide brawl, that caused more than one commenter to reference ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’.  And here is a video (and accompanying words, but mostly the video) of why it is very important not to do things like stick your head in a crocodile’s mouth. Sadly, I also wrote about a baby that was stabbed 90 times by his mother (warning: graphic images). As awful as this was, I wanted to talk about mental illness and post-natal depression, because a mentally sane person simply does not stab their baby. I knew this would attract comments such as “don’t stigmatise mental illness like that” (which it did), but I also thought that for every outraged person, there would be a mother nodding along thinking of the times they’d wanted to throw their baby out the window because it didn’t stop crying.

And so we get to the uplifting part of this tale! Here, watch Zach Braff help a man propose to his girlfriend, or read about the social media that only allows images of happy things, whether great or small.

Of course, there’s a bit of celebrity gossip along the way. Every morning we do a post called ‘Hot Mess Threesome’, which is some kind of celebrity scandal, gossip, or just plain funny news. It’s good practise in ‘how to be a funny writer’, which isn’t one of my strong suits. What do you think of these little ditties?

  • Hugh Jackman ‘admits’ to wearing Wolverine suit in the bedroom [link]
  • Michelle Bridges and the Commando split up [link]
  • Kochy tries to skateboard and breaks his co-host’s ankle [link]
  • A reporter draws a massive penis on live TV [link]
  • Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spend almost a mill on gold-plated toilets [link]
  • Kelly Rowland became an actual ‘survivor’ and had to get rescued while at sea [link]
  • The View come to the defence of butt sex [link]

And, of course, we wrote about the Royal Baby. I still can’t believe they went with George.

First San Francisco and then Bondi Beach? There must be an extremely pissed deity out there.

Whale splash

In the past 24 hours, two of the public’s worst nightmares have become reality.

The first is the San Francisco plane crash. While Australia slept, an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crash landed at San Francisco airport. Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that two are dead, while a further 140 are injured.

The second is the surfer who was rushed to hospital after being knocked unconscious by a 15-metre humpback whale this morning at Bondi Beach. It might not be a shark, but a whale is still a very real threat in the water. I imagine running head-first into an elephant would be a similar experience.

The thing that strikes me about both of these incidences is that they’re threats that cross our minds, but we wave away with the reasoning of “Oh, that never happens.” Crash landings from reputable airlines never happen. Being attacked by dangerous sea creatures never happen. If we couldn’t reason away these very real possibilities, we’d never board a flight or swim in the ocean again.

Plane crashI’m not a nervous flyer, but the take-off and landing still freak me out. There’s always that weightless feeling as you take off, where you suddenly realise that you are in a giant tin bucket several hundred feet above the ground and there’s no possible way physics accounts for this shit. (I calm down and remember my physics lessons approximately 30 seconds later, or as soon as the stewards stalk walking around.) And when you land, there’s always that bump, when you think, “Hmm. Will the plane topple over? Will we crash into the terminal? Oh well done, they’ve landed safely again.”

I can’t say I’m as calm about the ocean. I mean, I love going for a swim and all but the entire time I’m having a mild panic attack, imagining all sorts of sharks/sting rays/jelly fish/blue bottles/crabs/seaweed that could brush against my foot. I live in Australia, so this is a very real possibility. (I did see a shark once. It was approximately three feet long and probably couldn’t have bitten my pinky toe off, let alone a leg. Doesn’t matter. I’ve never sprinted out of the water so fast in my life.)

As much as our imagination goes into overdrive when we’re flying, or swimming in the ocean, or looking for lost children or Googling vague medical symptoms, reasoning is what brings us back to reality. Landing planes is practically all done with technology, anyway. If there was a shark in the water, there would be a warning. The lost child has probably wandered over to the toy section. You probably have a mild cold, not cancer.

But today, we’ve had two nightmares come true. Granted, this is nothing compared to what’s happening in Egypt, or Turkey, or even Australia’s shambles of politics. But these are fears of a different type altogether. This is along the same lines of hearing a bump in the night, only to find out there actually is someone in your house.

Which leads me to believe there must be a very pissed deity somewhere. Or perhaps its collective bad karma. Or maybe it’s just a chronological hotspot of bad luck. That seems like the sort of thing that comes in threes, doesn’t it? The mystical and the magical and stand up jokes always come in threes. These incidences feel very much like they fit into the category of threes.

We’ve already had two. I wonder what’s coming next?

Photo Credits

Bondi Beach: Sydney Morning Herald

Plane Crash: News.com.au

To every review of The Great Gatsby.

The-Great-Gatsby3

I’ve become addicted to reading reviews of The Great Gatsby. I’ve almost unconsciously followed every piece of media, every leaked photo, every interview with Baz Luhrman and finally, every review. This film… it’s been a few years coming.

And there’s one thing I’d like to say to all of these Gatsby reviewers: Can you please, for the love of all that is holy, just SHUT UP ALREADY.

If I read one more time that “Baz didn’t even read the book,” (he listened to it on audiobook), or that “the beauty of the book is in the prose and that just doesn’t translate well into film,” (duh) I will literally tear my hair out and then the paper in half.

Well done you. You made these very clever and original insights. Of course, tell me ALL about how the other The Great Gatsby films ‘failed’ or how much you loved the book. It’s not like I haven’t read it all before.

Cover ArtI’ve read that Luhrmann doesn’t have the subtlety of Fitzgerald. I’ve read that it is over the top, with in-your-face references to symbolism. I’ve read that the film being bookended by Nick Carraway’s recounting of this time period to a therapist is clunky, doesn’t work, and – more specifically – isn’t in the book. I’ve read that people take issue with the text that appears on screen, with the references to the green light, with Jordan Baker not getting enough screen time. I’ve read people literally tear apart every aspect of this film.

To those people, I ask you one thing: have you forgotten that the director is Baz Luhrman?

Baz of Moulin Rouge. Baz of Romeo + Juliet. Baz of Australia, of which I think I was one of only a few people in the world who enjoyed the film.

Baz is big. He’s over the top. This isn’t some other director only known for Hollywood blockbusters or period dramas. This is Baz Luhrmann, known for hyper-emotive, colourful, oddly paced yet busting with raw emotion films. Films that depict in the large-scale what we human beings feel at the core of our being.

James Franco got it right, when he wrote:

“The critics who’ve ravaged the film for not being loyal to the book are hypocrites. These people make their living doing readings and critiques of texts in order to generate theories of varying levels of competency, or simply to make a living. Luhrmann’s film is his reading and adaptation of a text—his critique, if you will. Would anyone object to a production of Hamlet in outer space? Not as much as they object to the Gatsby adaptation, apparentlyMaybe that’s because Gatsby is so much about a time and a place, while Shakespeare, in my mind, is more about universal ideas, ideals, and feelings. Luhrmann needed to breathe life into the ephemera and aura of the 20s and that’s just what he succeeded at.”

I saw the film, and guess what – I loved it. Not because it was an exact replica of a book I’d read and loved, but because it was fun.

It was like going to a glamorous party, which I’m sure is exactly what Luhrmann intended. The anticipation, the arrival, the first sip of champagne, the nods to old friends and the eavesdropping of strangers, the second glass, the realisation you’ve perhaps drunk too much. The retreat. The hangover. The sobering realisation.

The novel has such popularity that no movie could ever do it justice in the eyes of its fans. But Luhrmann didn’t forget them. There were nods after nods to the text – the original cover art was used as a billboard, the original text made up dialogue, even Nick Carraway recounting his experiences to the therapist had something of the book in him. After all, if someone needs to recount, why not give him someone to recount to? Nick even takes the place of Fitzgerald, penning the novel The Great Gatsby.

Yes, the film can be erratic, has euphoric highs and heart wrenching lows, is at times painfully obvious and at others surprisingly deep.

But you know who else was? Jay Gatsby. And what fun he was.

Gastby, Daisy and Tom

What did you think of the film? Have you seen it yet?

Australia, what are we not talking about?

When applying for my internship, I was asked to write a 600 word article on something I thought would interest the readers. After much deliberation, I chose the tricky subject of euthanasia. While the issues discussed have not affected me or my family personally, it is an issue I feel strongly about. If this topic is likely to distress you, please don’t read on. Continue reading

INTERVIEW // An Australian Musician with a ‘Heart of Gold’

I had the good fortune to meet Telen Rodwell, an Australian musician/film maker/general-all-round awesome person who is about to release his first album. We met at the Renaissance Hotel in King’s Cross, and I squealed like a little girl when I realised the lobby was used for a couple scenes in Harry Potter. This was also my first in-person interview, and after having a mild panic attack at the thought of, you know, actually conducting an interview in person, I downloaded three voice recorder apps. This article originally appeared in The Australian Times. Continue reading

Australia Day 2013

 

urlWow. It was only when I sat down and actually thought about this upcoming Australia Day, and where I was at the same time last year did I realise how much had changed.

Last Australia Day, I was barely two months into my London life. With an empty house (everyone had escaped winter for, well, Australia), I rounded up a couple Aussie mates and headed to Elk Bar in Fulham. As Australia Day’s go, it was brilliant: Bundy rum was on special, the place was decked in green and gold, and everyone was there to have a good time. It felt like finding a second family of long lost relatives, and a hundred drunk Aussies belting out John Farnham’s ‘Your the Voice’ was nothing short of epic. That night I ran into a couple mates from home, and when I grew tired of waiting for drinks and tried to sneak behind the bar, no one kicked me out – I just got served. Continue reading

An open letter to the bringers of Christmas

SnowmanDear all the bringers of Christmas,

I’m sorry Santa, but this one isn’t for you. We had our fun, but it’s all been downhill since my fifth Christmas, when the toys I found in the closet appeared in my sisters stocking. Ad Santa, you don’t deliver your Christmas presents three weeks early to the parents, do you? I knew my Mum was lying. Continue reading