diversity in media: all talk, no action?

This might be something we picked up from academia, the idea that discussing an issue is somehow on par with solving it, or at least beginning the process. A panel on diversity is like a panel on world peace.

  • Man Booker Prize author Marlon James on diversity

Read more, in relation specifically to diversity panels and the Sydney Writers’ Festival: diversity in media: all talk, no action? by Virat Nehru

Sunshine, ten years on

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As the movie goes on, the crew of the Icarus II becomes increasingly convinced that they’re going to die out there, millions of miles from home. More than in any science fiction movie I’ve seen — maybe any movie — Sunshine‘s characters face this knowledge with a kind of fatalistic grace. They don’t pretend to be anything other than doomed, but they carry on anyway. That grace seems worth remembering, and celebrating, as Sunshine turns 10. It seems increasingly important as we move into a turbulent future — and toward the individual endings that we know are coming.

A favourite of mine, and not just because it has Cillian Murphy at peak twink.

Read on: Ten years later, ‘Sunshine’ remains one of the bleakest and most beautiful sci-fi movies ever made | TechCrunch

Writing the working class

Dorothy Allison: I went off and won scholarships. I applied for scholarships at church and ladies’ circles. They’re always service organizations run by middle-class women who are generous and kind to the poor. You win those awards by being humble and grateful. Gratitude can eat the heart out of you, because the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that you aren’t as good as the people you’re begging help from. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of the very successful working-class kids who win scholarships drink themselves to death or shoot themselves in the head.

I’ve been thinking a lot about class lately. There are Australian commentators whose constant banging on about being working class — Van Badham, I’m looking at you — stakes a claim to a political and cultural high-ground, a ‘Leftier-than-thou’ stance I’ve never seen taken by anyone actually engaged in the building of class consciousness and solidarity. I can’t claim that, myself, because I was raised in a welfare-class family with middle-class aspirations — more chip than shoulder. Mum’s family saw education as the pathway to middle-class status confirmation; when my parents separated, my Mum’s eldest sister met with my Dad for lunch and expressed the sincere concern that divorce would mean the kids can’t go to Xavier College. And this was true: I was too dumb for Xavier — or perhaps, unwilling to beg sincerely enough. So this quote in particular resonates powerfully with me.

Read on: Dorothy Allison: Tender to the Bone – Guernica

State of play: UK politics at the theatre

Our conversation kicks off with an argument about the relationship between politics and theatre. In The Absence of War, George Jones implies there is an affinity, saying to another politician: “You don’t go to the theatre, you’re missing out there, everyone in politics should.” In Quiz, Paul, a TV producer, comments: “Some people say that politics is just performance.” But Hare declares that the list of theatregoing politicians is short: “Neil Kinnock was exceptional in being a theatregoer. George Osborne, in a way that was incomprehensible to me, was a theatregoer. Tony Blair was a theatregoer.”

Some interesting reflections here on camp as a political mode.

Read on: State of play: David Hare and James Graham talk drama and politics | Stage | The Guardian

Male entitlement and morbid altruism

To state the obvious: forms of ruinous masculinity – or masculinity applied ruinously – exist in dismal abundance. When examining violence, masculinity matters. And yet, if we are to somehow ban “good bloke” testimonies, we will be ignoring their significance, namely that they describe one particular clinical profile of the paternal offender, long established in the psychological literature: the morbidly altruistic killer.

Contains descriptions of men killing their families.

Read on: Margaret River and paternal familicide | The Saturday Paper

The spirit of controversy

Here were acres of burlap sacks piled atop pallets and containing the 40 or so barks, roots, fungi, herbs, and spices that go into Fernet Branca. These include myrrh, gentian root, cinchona bark, orris root, zedoary, and saffron. To walk through the room is to reconnoiter a peculiar olfactory geography, crossing from the republic of one aroma into another, with the borderlands between the two sometimes under détente, but often not.

Read more about Fernet-Branca in: The Bitter Beginning – The Atlantic

The Gray Lady discovers twinks

Female body types have always cycled in and out of style; yet with men, alternatives to the ideal of imposing physicality have usually been ignored or lampooned. But as women continue to use their voices to undo that legacy of toxic masculinity, a different kind of change is taking place from within the culture: These twinks, after all, aren’t just enviably lean boys or the latest unrealistic gay fantasy, but a new answer to the problem of what makes a man.

Hat tip Ted Kerr. Oh boy, do I have feels about this. I was a teenager in the 1990s, when the hegemonic body shape was either bulky or ripped muscle. It’s kind-of hilarious to see the NYT just now announcing this trend. The shift to a more slender body shape began with emo and scene looks in the early 2000s: to see that, we only need trace the changing look of 90s boy bands through to 1D and 5SOS. (Or the changing body shape of Spiderman.) The shift has enlarged the margins of what counts as desirable masculinity to include features that would previously have been derided as pretty and therefore feminine. It also intensifies ageism, since ‘pretty’ and ‘slender’ are much harder to maintain once you’re past your twenties. It has altered the configuration of gay sexual racism, as well: mid-2000s scholarship on multicultural queer describes prejudice against ‘skinny Asians’, but I now mainly see that enacted by gay men in the South-East Asian circuit culture. I am curious to see whether this trend will intensify or dissipate in the next decade.

Read on: Welcome to the Age of the Twink – The New York Times