typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Archive for October 2007

How Rupert Murdoch’s “The Australian” rewrites political history…

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Just a brief post to point out something intriguing. Just reading an Australian election analysis by Possum Comitatus at New Matilda, which pointed out this amazing piece of Big Brotherly piece of ‘information correction’ by Dennis Shanahan – editor of The Australian – on July 10 this year.

Well, it may not have actually been on July 10. The ‘correction’ appears to have been made as it has become increasingly clear that The Oz’s insistence on a resurgence by an inspired and visionary John Howard is a load of piffle.

Check out the “Howard checks Rudd’s march” op ed that seems to have gone missing from the Oz archives:

But support for the Prime Minister has improved since he announced the commonwealth takeover of isolated Aboriginal communities and repeated his determination to “stay the course” in Iraq.

In the past week, Mr Howard has also linked his Government’s global defence policy with the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow and the subsequent police investigations in Australia.

According to the latest Newspoll surveys 61 per cent of voters agree with Mr Howard’s actions in the Northern Territory. Even a majority of Labor voters approve of the plan.

Which has been replaced by “Rudd relaxed about Howard’s poll comeback“:

But the political support for Labor remains solid and the party’s two-party-preferred advantage of 56 per cent to 44 per cent – based on preferences flows at the 2004 election – has not changed in the past three weeks. The opposition leader still holds a greater satisfaction rating, 60 per cent to Mr Howard’s 46 per cent, and Labor retains an election-winning lead.

Kind of like Miranda Devine pretending to have a soul in the hope of keeping her job in a somewhat less evil Australia.

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October 24, 2007 at 1:03 pm

icanhascheezypolitikz?

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Further to yesterday’s post about LOL pols on Flickr, here are some LOLitical and mediacre bits i’ve put together for your amusement/ contempt. Grab a GIMP and get busy you space-monkeyz! (it’s actually kind of soothing…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COALition can not haz cheezburger!!! The last one was of course assembled at the all-inspired icanhascheezburger which is still the best community to visit if you wish to make sense of the origins and memetasticicization of all things LOL.

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October 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Aussie Green Blog props LOL pols on Flickr (aka LOLiticians)

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…you get the idea. Check out the LOL POLS group on Flickr. Have a rofl or may a submishn. Currently is fun, but may evolve to status of therapy over next 5 weeks.

Thanks Greens – good tip! (Do check out the Greens blog by the way – is more down to earth than other parties’ staff-maintained MySpac pages).

COALition can not haz cheezburger!!! 

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October 22, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Howard still anti-Reconciliation – the most telling minute of the debate.

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The Howard – Rudd debate on national tv just now revealed a couple of things. There are certainly a number of possible topics for discussion – commentator bias (hi Annabel Crabb), media ethics (hi Channel 9) – but here’s a suddenly crucial revelation which I expect shall be neglected by most political analysts in tomorrow’s papers. The same analysts and outlets as usual shall no doubt continue to lobby poisonously against reality.

Consider this – Howard’s final minute of summary and closure. As he talked about his proposed education revolution, one to overhaul and Gerard-Hendersonise the Aussie school history curriculum, he ever so briefly dropped his daks and waved red, white and blue-spangled genitalia at the national tv audience.

Well, not literally. But he did expose his dirty little reconciliation secret. For all the talk of his new attitude to Aboriginal Australians, his deeper understanding, his hope for real progress – he went straight back to the moment in 1997 when in front of the nation’s indigenous leaders, activists, academics, and citizenry, he categorically stonewalled the Reconciliation movement in this country. In talking tonight in that final moment, he insisted that without knowledge of where they’ve come from and the sacrifices made to make Australia what it is today, kids must know the great Australian story. Fair enough. “It’s not a story without blemish,” said Howard – his only acknowledgment that part of that story is a brutal, prolonged tale of systematic murder, abduction, relocation, separation and theft (more commonly referred to as ‘genocide’).

“Blemish”. Blemish? Blemish!!! A word commonly used to refer to displeasing aberration of the skin. the same word by which he specifically sought to emasculate the issue of Australian genocide in front of distinguished, committed, and affected hosts and guests a decade ago. Within the same hour as he spoke with feigned sincerity of his nation-propelling plan to include lip service within the preamble to the Constitution.

“It’s not a story without blemish”. It’s not a country without displeasing aberrations of the skin. It’s not a Prime Minister given to any kind of sincere respect or appreciation for the First People of this land, even as he proclaims his passive aggressive urge to consider acknowledging their existence if he is re-elected.

Disgusted.

Thanks to Ninglun for the tip – check out the commentary on this little slice of history (although it could have been this evening) from 2min 50sec.

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October 21, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Film Review: Into the Wild

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The film project which Sean Penn has pulled together – Into The Wild – is a labor of love with preparation and background efforts reputed to have lasted over a decade. For the audience, the production staff, actors, and the real people whose stories make this film what it is, Into The Wild is – on many levels – a fittingly personal experience. However hard the film companies may try to promote it as a feelgood adventure flick, it certainly isn’t anything so readily categorized. It is likely the most astonishing piece of storytelling on which Sean Penn has yet worked behind-the-scenes.

Adapted by Penn from the Jon Krakauer book of the same name, Into The Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless: a young man with all the seeming benefits of a wealthy family, solid education, and straight-A opportunities. But rather than the road so obvious, he embarks on a road rarely so sincerely travelled – donating his entire college fund to OxFam, destroying all his i.d., and disappearing into the still wild frontiers that live in the midst of, and beyond, American civilization.

It’s the beginning of a two-year journey of utterly unpredictable adventure, and although the story is astounding it is not in the detail of the plot that this story’s magic lies. The plot, like the perfectly ordered structure of this film, is just a vehicle. Not by accident, the story is full of vehicles. Whether they’re mobile or stationary – worlds are moving within them as surely as they are taking part in this world. Reinventing himself as Alexander Supertramp McCandless rides the edge of chaos; crucially the clear structure of Into The Wild lets both audience and filmmakers right inside the characters – into the detail of their stories, into their insights, fears, conflicts, and most importantly their transformations.

More than the tale of a twenty-something boy with eyes as big as the sky and burning questions similarly fed and answered by a swag of literary heavyweights, making his way from Dakota to Mexico, from fringe-dweller commune to snowy solitude – it is transformation that drives the movie and pulls us deeper inside its sometimes harsh embrace.

There is a deliberate naivety in the movie’s beginning. There is an understatedness that lies somewhere between the feeling of documentary and an awareness that the actors are acting, without quite being either. There is almost a feeling of a rawness that has been overdone.

The role that this early approach plays in the total effect of the film is undeniable. Penn and his cast initially play with us; there is room to play back. There is the kind of light and easy idealism one might expect from an adventurer who has just burnt his last pocketful of dollar bills. This is as much to put as in the moment as it is to leave us unprepared, no doubt in much the same way true adventurers are.

Ultimately the film blossoms and explodes in unexpected directions. As a viewer, I found myself asking questions of the character and his development which would soon be more than answered. Insights from McCandless’ sister throughout play a large part in enriching our understanding of who he was but, in a manner so atypical of American cinema, we are never bludgeoned into a viewpoint, understanding or conclusion. As with the first news reports surrounding the discovery of McCandless’ body one cold Alaskan day and, later, the critical response to his story as retold by Krakauer, there will be mixed responses to his story in film.

And that is a beautiful thing. If anything, in that achievement Penn and his obviously committed cast have brought a truth to the screen which is too frequently lacking.

The style in which we are fluidly immersed in tales of greatness, the literature of Leo Tolstoy, Jack London, and others carried by McCandless, stories no doubt restored by people who became part of his journey and were in turn transformed by the short time they had with him, his back-story, and the internal dialogue building inside as he discovers that beauty and horror live much closer to each other than we let ourselves believe; this style is essential to the film’s impact, its multilayered texture, and it seamless richness.

The soundtrack, worked on largely by Eddie Vedder, plays no small part in helping this film work its seemingly easygoing magic. Hard Sun has to be the song of the year but more importantly the musical feel is organic, subtle, and happy to be taken or left. There is no sonic cheapening of the moment with obvious emotional or responsive cues. The story is so beautifully told that Vedder only has to add to what is already a great accomplishment, rather than accomplish what hasn’t been done. Similarly the cinematography is subtly stunning but never overbearing. While the camera captures and conveys zen-like moments of motion and stillness, its ultimate achievement is delivering an almost objective truth that allows the viewer to respond in their own personal way.

In an age of bombastic film anthems, mega-million-dollar actors, far-out plot twists and massive special effects capture but do not ultimately satisfy ‘the consumer’ – for that is the target of many such productions – Into The Wild feels like a film that will endure as a classic of both American and global cinema for years to come, in much the same way that films such as To Kill A Mockingbird, The Deer Hunter, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest have before it.

It is a film of characters, not actors. It could not be that way were it not for an accomplished, credible, and adventurously selected cast. Special mention should be made of the additional layers of intrigue added to the movie by cameos of characters from McCandless’ actual journey, and Emile Hirsch who plays McCandless/ Supertramp. Given that Supertramp went through periods of starvation in his great Alaskan solitude, Hirsch actually lost over 40 pounds – apparently getting down to 115 pound, or a near-anorexic 51 kilos for the role. To mention any more would mean to mention all.

Apparently this film has been rated ‘R’ in the U.S. for reasons of language and nudity. This is preposterous and hopefully it will not be similarly misrepresented in Australia.

There are harsh realities in this movie, but there is nothing lascivious or gratuitous. It is a wonder that people of all ages can be exposed at any time to the consumer-porn which McCandless was in part railing against, yet be denied the near-unique wonderment of this film until they are of an age where they themselves are already going through personal dilemmas similar to McCandless, or are too far gone in the land of suits and C.V.s to wake up as he so forcefully seemed to.

Into the Wild is a richly beautiful, well-humoured and at times literally stunning piece of cinema. It has the feel of a film certain to still be delivering unexpected gems of insight on a third or fourth sitting. And although it necessarily invalidates this review to say so, it is a beautifully told tale as much experiential as it is transformative. However it moves you, Into the Wild will surely move you.

Although thoroughly different – not just in that it is a story which has already happened – it has the capacity to move audiences as profoundly as recent European films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Dancer in the Dark, and Children Of Men. Their preference for a very real and chaotic mixture of light and dark over Hollywood sensationalism is perhaps the most immediately apparent thread that binds such a group of works.

Into The Wild has an aura of ‘essential viewing’ which I think has become incredibly rare in Western film. It is a breathtaking achievement.

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October 20, 2007 at 2:52 pm

Stephen Colbert (coal Bear) to run for President!!!

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Why? Well, in his own words, “it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.”

Good luck Stephen – go hard. And take comfort from our experience in Australia, where a candidate satirising the right-wing incumbent is proving consistently and reassuringly popular. I know that it must have come as a blow when The Convenientest Truth missed both the Oscar and the Nobel prizes but hey – the Presidency? As third prizes go, that’s better than what you picked up in the egg-and-spoon race for ‘special children’ at home economics day. You remember.

But hang on a minute. A fork in the road? Capitalized? So that it’s A Fork in the Road? You jammy bastard Coal Bear!? You’ve already pilfered the Australian campaign!

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October 19, 2007 at 12:40 am

Coming soon: Sean Penn & PETA….

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That’s right – it’s all been a bit dire and heavy here lately, what with Johnny Howard’s master plan grinding into effect and huge chunks of biodiversity literally due to be flushed down the toilet. BLAAAAARGH!!!!!!

So just letting you know – if you’re interested, of course – to check back in here in the next day or so.

You’ll find a review of the brand spanking new film Into The Wild. Personally, I don’t much care for hype like “oooh, Oscars” – BUT, as a way to easily convey meaning, this is an Oscar+ movie. Really mindblowing film of rich depth, insight atypical of American cinema, and a durability likely to ensure its status as a future classic. Do come back and read more Friday.

Also coming up – an interview with Dan Mathews, Vice President of PETA and author of the freshly released (and compulsively readable) Committed: a rabble-rouser’s memoir. For animal-lovers, activists, queens, readers, writers, popstars, supporters & all people easily pissed by perspectives that don’t fit their world view there’ll be plenty of juicy goodness in the 40-minute transcript when it goes online by early next week.

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October 18, 2007 at 6:31 pm