Category: About

Honours certainty: the liberation

I’m finally enjoying the liberation of having some direction in my Honours thesis, having picked a topic and had a supervisor agree to help me along. I still feel like one of those golden retrievers wearing science goggles in those “I have no idea what I’m doing” memes amongst a group of Media and Communication’s best and brightest…. but soon, hopefully soon I’ll feel more apart of their Marvel/DC cartoon prequel series about theoretical superheroes before they hit the big time.I-Have-No-Idea-What-Im-Doing-1
Here are some preliminary thoughts which have emerged which will hopefully grow and change as the year makes me smarter and more realistic:
A new kind of curator is emerging, less decked out in vermillion lippie and Scanlan and Theodore and more obsessed with One Direction. She doesn’t pay for her phone credit and thinks her mum is totally embarrassing but she is as skilled in the art of structuring and manipulating interpretations of the works of herself and others (#regram). I speak of the tween, an 11-13 year old menace to the peace of train commutes, who has grown up immersed in technology without novelty- something she already knows the full potential and power of. She curates a version of herself online, ordering the viewer through the gallery of her life in a deliberate loop aimed at promoting the best possible version of herself.

 I’d like to examine the effect of “clean eating” messaging on this extremely vulnerable yet tech savvy audience. I’d like to ask what the implications of being urged to live “cleanly” are for a young female’s sense of self and body image, alongside a discussion of how this idea of “living cleanly” might be assessed through the lens of feminist theory.

Early thoughts

March 2015


A new kind of curator is emerging, less decked out in Scanlan and Theodore and more obsessed with One Direction. She doesn’t pay for her phone credit and thinks her mum is totally embarrassing but she is as skilled in the art of structuring and manipulating interpretations of the works of herself and others (#regram). I speak of the tween, an 11-13 year old menace to the peace of train commutes, who has grown up immersed in technology without novelty- something she already knows the full potential and power of. She curates a version of herself online, ordering the viewer through the gallery of her life in a deliberate loop aimed at promoting the prettiest possible version of herself. I’d like to examine the effect of “clean eating” messaging on this extremely vulnerable yet tech savvy audience. I’d like to ask what the implications of being urged to live “cleanly” are for a young female’s sense of self and body image, alongside a discussion of how this idea of “living cleanly” might be assessed through the lens of feminist theory. I’d also like to examine the use of the “thinspirational” hashtag in facilitating a community of young women suffering from eating disordered behaviours, offering consolation as well as inspiration in the most sinister of ways.

About Me

My favourite ad right now….

The Ronald McDonald House campaign currently running in the form of a TVC is an example of some excellent advertising.

The ad highlights the importance of initiatives in place to keep sick kids and their families together, representing this in visual terms through a little girl’s journey “out of the woods” and into a fresh outlook on the world. We see how it takes an entire family to help the little girl up a tree, and feel a sense of joy as she reaches the top, where alongside her Mum she looks out at the beautiful view of all life now has to offer her.

Instead of resorting to ‘sick kid’ cliches, the ad creators pull on the audience’s heartstrings through the highly creative visual metaphor of the little girl’s journey up the tree. It’s an image which effectively conveys Ronald McDonald House’s key message, that “Family is the best medicine. Ronald McDonald House Charities help them stay close”.

The soundtrack used in the TVC is also exceptionally emotive, a rendition of Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want is You”, which you may remember from the film Juno. The song is a lilting lullaby beginning the moment the little girl finds shelter up the tree. This moment of auditory relief from the imminent boom of thunder, reiterates how the the tree is symbolic of the facilities and services the organisation offers as a form of “shelter from the storm” for vulnerable families.

Additionally, the ad’s appeal to me also lies in the immersive setting it momentarily presents us. It is always a break for the senses when it appears within the ad break, usually book ended of course by high intensity car ads or tv trailers inexplicably scored by a breathy female husk. But this fails to be one of those ads whose message hides behind exceptional production values. The visual metaphor presents a strong, clear and relevant connection to the values of the actual brand.

My favourite brand…

RMIT University is one of my favourite brands. This may be due to the fact that I have personally helped to look after it this year working in its PR department, or that it has been the place where I have discovered as a student what I want to do with my life. But I feel even as an outsider, I would thing the brand and its values are always conveyed interestingly and succinctly. Across a variety of campaigns their branding is always immensely consistent, even as a Year 12 student many years back I could almost rattle off the terms “Global, Urban, Connected” which still form the cornerstone of all of its Comms and Marketing strategy. I like how they capitalise on the University’s location in the heart of the CBD through messaging like “I am part of a living city”, establishing themselves almost as part of the fabric of Melbourne itself. The other key element I’ve always loved has been the continuous use of an unsmiling black and white student/alumnus/staff member in its Print advertising. Subverting the usual smiling multicultural group sitting on a manicured lawn, these ads are more visually striking, showing people who seem cool and assured of their place in the world. It’s an enigmatic “mona lisa smile” which is literally embedded within their marketing strategy- the subjects still appear friendly but aren’t actually allowed to smile.

A challenge I have faced in my professional life…

Thriving most in vulnerable sections of society, Mental Illness remains one of the hardest things for Australians to talk about. If people are unable to physically communicate about this issue, you can imagine how problematic taking this conversation to social media can be.
Last year I was charged with doing just that whilst working on a mental health awareness campaign at an NGO.
After speaking to many journalists who simply hung up the phone at the mere mention of an ambassador affected by suicide, I decided to make contact with Jeremy Little from Mindframe, an organisation charged with educating practitioners about the discussion of suicide and other issues of high sensitivity in a Web 2.0 context. Jeremy’s input became invaluable with the rise in popularity of our social media channels. As our pursuit of media coverage fell on ears deafened by the restrictions and particulars of reportage about mental health, we noticed a huge spike in the popularity of our Web 2.0 channels.

But this blessing, turned out to be a very unexpected curse, as we were faced with the pitfalls of creating a thriving hub of social media engagement. We had unwittingly created a community which had taken on a form entirely of its own, as tragic stories emerged through our feeds and people wrote in with expressions of hopelessness we were not equipped to handle in a mere comment box.
In the age of Web 2.0, the barriers of expression had been broken down so effectively that people were taking to our pages to share their darkest thoughts.

So guided by Mindframe’s recommendations, the team went into a state of crisis management, deleting comments readers would find triggering, and contacting their authors with details of support networks they might defer their concerns to. We wanted to now use our influence to take the conversation, ironically, offline and targeted toward professional organisations such as Lifeline and headspace.

The discovery and promotion of eheadspace, a platform whereby users can anonymously make contact with a mental health professional online, tapped into people’s comfortability with expressing themselves freely online and channelled it toward a more appropriate source.

It is certainly a challenging fact that Web 2.0 is a fabulous opportunity for connecting with our audiences, however, the democratic free for all of the medium means we as strategic communicators are no longer able to control this conversation.

What does my ideal work situation look like?

I’d like to be involved with an organisation whose values and internal culture I admire and would one day wish to emulate in my own organisation.

An ideal work situation for me is one that affords the same level of respect and affection for the PAs, interns, mail guys and receptionists as the Executives, Seniors, COOs and CEOs. I have found that the mark of an effective or ineffective working culture is how an organisation treats the person who is hypothetically on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder due to age, experience, position description or income.
In addition, I am a person who responds well to a fast paced environment replete with deadlines hanging in the air as an organised person with an above average level of focus.
I think the best teams are the ones who can bounce off each other, build a repartee and have a laugh together, even a couple of hours after a conflict or professional slip up.
Finally, it appeals to me being part of a unit who are all interested in a similar field and fascinated by the way we attempt to relate to each other through this thing called Communication.

Proudest accomplishments:

1. As students we go through a patchwork of different jobs at uni. For a summer I worked as children’s theatre show performer. The production, a popular adaptation of an Andy Griffiths book, was one of the greatest achievements of my life. Not only was I paid to perform “Gangnam Style” twice a day (back then that was current) and pretend to vomit out yoghurt with green food colouring at the end of every show (you may be familiar with Andy Griffiths’ aesthetic as the author of ‘The Day My Bum went Psycho’)…. I got to make thousands of little kids laugh. We toured the production through a few local schools for kids and young adults living with disability, and the incredible joy and fascination on their faces gave me a feeling of satisfaction almost nothing could ever live up to. Subsequently I became a tutor for teenagers with intellectual disabilities and the experiences I’ve shared with my students, as well as those audience members are memories I’ll always comfortingly take with me to my future ‘grown up’ jobs- which will hopefully involve less Gangnam Style and fake vomit.

2. In 2011 I graduated high school with an ATAR score of 98.1 and a perfect score of 50 in English. This is obviously a change of tact from the first accomplishment on this list, but this achievement means much more than a number to me. Toward the end of year 12 I fell profoundly ill and wasn’t able to attend school for weeks. I nearly resigned myself to failure (quantifiable back then by a certain ATAR score), but I looked back on the work I had done all year and throughout my schooling and refused to give up on a number that did justice to my effort and attitude. I drew on the repartee I had established with my teachers and in turn they worked hard to help me through the year in a way that again did justice to my effort and attitude. I emerged as the Dux of three subjects, with one perfect score and an ATAR that really defied everyone’s belief.
But beside from giving me lots of options to pick from at Uni, the most satisfying thing about this accomplishment was the fact that excellent academic results meant I had the credibility to first establish myself as a VCE English and Literature Tutor. Since then I have tutored and mentored over 30 students through the bubble that is VCE, alongside work with young adults with intellectual disabilities. This job has really affirmed to me my talent for communication, for using carefully targeted strategies to appeal to different modes of thinking and understanding, for translating complexity into relatability and for dealing with a variety of different personalities, each with their own difficulties and rewards.

50 shades of brown jeans

As a leftie feminist fond of being treated with respect in romantic relationships, it is a very predictable post I am about to write having spent the evening watching 50 Shades of Grey. However, I’ll write it anyway and add to the number of shrill but absolutely on point criticisms of the films glorification of domestic violence.

via Tumblr
via Tumblr

Well first off, thanks to E L James’ sneaky idea of making Ana sign a ‘contract’, the BDSM scenes in the film seemed more like a bit of campy fun and didn’t carry the undertones of sexual violence I expected them to. The sex scenes were truly nothing special or anything to write home about. To be quite honest, there would be more sexual chemistry between a small dog and its owner’s calf than Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.

Unfortunately for Diector Sam Taylor-Johnson, the decision to include barely 15 minutes of actual intercourse in the entire film did it no favours, as instead we spend most of the movie focused in on the distressing courtship and manipulation of Anastasia by Christian outside of the bedroom. The books almost get away with their disturbing premise due to their nature of works of campy erotica, but the film’s futile mission to embed meaning and complexity in a story that began as Twilight fan fiction is where it trips over itself and gives itself away.

How about that Christian Grey, what a beacon of Mr Right-ness, dripping with threatening sexuality and so great at being the thinking woman’s crumpet?

God, wasn’t it so Cleo Bachelor of the Year when he left Anastasia cute little “Eat Me” “Drink Me” notes for the Berocca on her bedside table after she foolishly got drunk, drunk dialled him, was tracked down via Sony Cyberattack style computer smarts by him and then whisked home- unconscious and stripped naked and dressed by a man she had met on one prior occasion.

Didn’t we all just swoon when Christian was so good as to share her bed after sex and sleep next to her given his staunch rules against exposure to affection and normalcy stemming from being statutory raped as a teen?

The most disturbing part of this movie was the throbbing sighs heard in the theatre on the rare occasions Mr Grey condescended to doing something vaguely nice for his little woman.

Thankfully most males (except under duress) probably won’t be exposed to this movie, which dangerously tells us that all you need to do to be a sex symbol is stalk your girlfriend, break into her house and sell her property.

The constant shots of Christian carrying Anastasia in his arms to her room did more to show his infantilisation of her than even the obvious “Anastasia you must wear this peach coloured dress that makes you look like 4”. Weary from a long hard session of sexual domination, Ana is dropped off to her sleeping quarters by a man who could easily be a long suffering Dad whose kid has fallen asleep in front of Road to Eldorado. When she salaciously stands up to Christian, ie. expresses herself and doesn’t go along with being his doll and says “I want to go home, is that ok?” it is more like a sarcastic retort to a daggy dad. OOOO you go girl #thesass. But then you go “OH WAIT” when you realise that is a serious request because the only way of her fleeing the man she has just had a fight with is having him drive her home from this sex compound. Again we get a nice little shot of long suffering Dad Christian driving home his sleeping little girl Anastasia.

Is this supposed to be some metaphor for the sexual molestation Christian received at the hands of a superior figure? I  don’t think the film is that smart.

The film is like that one extremely self deprecating friend you have who is just prone to foot in mouth syndrome. Just when you think she’s all g talking to that fly ass homie at the clerb she says something too fucked up to appear self deprecating and endearing and things get awkward for us all and we have to call in Rita Ora for backup. It could go with the campy sexy angle and give the housewives what they want, but instead it commits an act of horrendous self sabotage in its bid to look all Sundancey and classsy. The disturbing, unsettling and persuasive fetishisation of domestic violence in the novels is the thing its critic’s have most latched onto (WITH GOOD REASON) SO WHY ON EARTH MAKE THAT THE FOCAL POINT OF THE FILM?

Basically, I would have been happier if this film resembled a 90 minute long porno which is saying a lot coming from someone who could bore you to tears over a glass of cheap red intoning the unrealistic expectations it sets up for teenage boys.

Yes I am that girl at that family BBQ.


Communication and Translation: “sorry I’ll just stop you there”

One of the greatest pleasures I’ve had working in the Central Communications unit of a University this year has been writing stories on complicated research.

Throughout my life I’ve always been told my strengths lie in a humanities direction, and this can force a person to get a bit slack when it comes to passing Year 10 Science. Resting on my literary laurels a bit I left school relieved that I’d get to spend the rest of my life pursuing things more in my mental ball park.

Imagine my surprise then when in my internship I discovered my success hinged upon the subject of piezoelectricity and how it can be used to generate surface acoustic waves on a lab on a chip!

I soon realised there would be no room for any resting on any literary laurels as I sat across from the researcher in an extremely busy cafe listening to a long winded explanation of his life’s work. He spoke with such pride and excitement, but to a layperson the words were almost parseltongue.

We came up with a savvy process where I’d widen my eyes in stress and interest, write notes and then stop him and ask for things to be repeated to me as if I was 10 years old. In terms of scientific knowledge, mentally I am 10 years old but it is a little known fact that this is roughly the intellect level journalists write for- and that is not even a sneaky joke about the Herald Sun.

With a few subsequent lattes, much hand waving and almost too many “ok I’ll just stop you there…” s for my subject’s divine patience, I finally knocked up a story which you can find here.

Being surrounded by like minded and passionate people can sometimes be a bit of a curse when it comes to bringing your story to a new audience not as well versed in the specifics of microfluidics. At the same time, encountering people whose success in life does not solely rest on their ability to communicate presents its challenges. So my work this year has been an interesting exploration of how communications and science can intersect and benefit each other.

Often research discoveries which would benefit and be of interest to a mainstream audience go unnoticed due to the sector’s unfamiliarity with translating things to the language of the common man.

So I’ve enjoyed pushing great stories out there this year and would love to pursue a role in science and technology communication in the future.

It turns out PR is more than just Edina Monsoon style schmoozing with like minded arty fartys named Giles or Sandstorm….

Some highlights of my scientific immersion:

Laser technique offers nano breakthrough

Gait monitoring system engineers progress

Connecting the digital with the reel

Holly Clark: just like a chocolate milkshake only crunchy

So I recently joined LinkedIn in the hopes of becoming Australia’s Next Top Communications Professional.

It’s a very interesting concept, thinking about yourself as a brand.

As communications graduates we have spent a few years and many thousands of dollars analysing the summary of impressions and attitudes which culminate in an organisation’s brand, and how we may hope to shape these.

Now, on the cusp of a professional debut into the industry, we are told to imagine ourselves as a brand and position our personality as our biggest asset. These are interesting terms to think in, and frankly may take a while to sink in.

But at the end of the day, when you kick off the Senso’s worth a few month’s hard labour at an internship, and think about your career prospects with a weird mixture of excitement and abject horror, the good news is that you happen to be the world’s foremost expert on your own brand. You may in fact have spent years cultivating it, grooming yourself physically by covering up zits with the text bar on snapchat and ideologically by studying hard and knowing what the abbreviations CMS, SEO and PRIA stand for.

It doesn’t have to be such a dirty concept if you imagine brand management as a realisation of the person you want people to think you are…. a leaked trailer of a movie which will be amazing but isn’t quite finished yet….or a sneaky peak of the person you will evolve into with the employer’s help and guidance.

When I walk into job interviews I always feel empowered by the fact that I have so much control over the snapshot the employer gets of my personality. The interviewer has not perchanced to run into me in the loos of a nightclub or in the changing rooms of target on a fellow quest for shapewear. I’m in there prepped with hours of research on the company, its values, the position and the interviewer’s LinkedIn profiles, with hopefully a killer winged eye and a good hair day.

They have about 30 minutes to judge whether I am a complete sociopath or worth investing thousands of dollars in. Will the candidate be the type to steal their stuff from the fridge? Will they sniff all the time? Will they turn into a dithering mess on the first sign of pressure?

Terms such as “self motivated” “strong verbal and non verbal” and “collaborative” are pretty easy to drop in into an interview if you’ve had some practice. But if I were an employer I’d be asking these simple day to day questions, because I feel that the candidate who is incredible at using HR buzzwords, showcasing left and right brain excellence and speaking for hours about how they were a Roman Emperor in a past life may do extremely well in a job interview but might be an absolute nightmare to walk into the office and greet of a morning.

For now, I’m going to spruik the fact that I am simply nice and talented and see where that gets me, because I think a brand is easiest to sell if its based on truth and integrity.




Gatecrashing the Media Party: On setting the public agenda in a digitised age

Through the prism of Western Print media, Media gatekeepership the practice of controlling the nature and content of information passed from ‘sender to receiver’- is seen to be an ever present influence on the views and values of society. The Agenda Setting theory of Media Influence is an important explanation of such immense power. In this theory, an audience is understood as Active- readily engaging and seeking out information mediated by their own reception contexts. However, though gatekeepers cannot tell this audience what exactly to think, they do hold immense power to control what to think about and there are of course innumerable examples throughout history of such awareness birthing persuasion. Through the lens of Western Print Media, the process of gatekeepship runs smoothly through traditional media channels, however, with a proliferation of new informational platforms in a digitised age, the relationship between gatekeeper and audience has been significantly scrambled. Moreover, the identity of the ‘gatekeeper’ is in a state of change, as technologies of extension not only multiply, but become more accessible to the everyday audience member. Now, the modern ‘gatekeeper’, or more aptly ‘gatecrasher’ need only an internet connection in a cafe instead of a multi media conglomerate

This reinvigorated process of ‘gatecrasheship’ was exemplified in the Arab Spring of late 2010-early 2011, as the plight of Mohamed Bouazizi , a young street vendor who self-immolated outside the Tunisian Governor’s office in Sidi Boiuzid gained global attention. As state run media gatekeepers ignored the tragedy, discontent in Sidi Bouzid was instead captured in anonymously posted Youtube videos, foreign news coverage and shared jokes about their ageing dictator over text. Soon Al Jazeera was running the content recorded and written by citizen activists, which shocked the world. If this platform had not existed, the information communicated to an international audience would have been filtered and shaped by corrupt state-aligned gatekeepers. Additionally, it is a useful comparison to contrast this global audience, informed and aware of the atrocities, to previous ones in the midst of war. Where the latter has no physical point of access on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia etc.-reliant upon content filtered and shaped by media bias, their 2011 counterparts not only had a point of access, but a point of access in unprivileged possession of the technology of extension of the Everyman: the smartphone. The ‘gatecrasher’ now only needed a wifi connection to exert as much influence in setting the international public agenda as the conventional print media ‘gatekeeper’. In this case, the proliferation, increased accessibility of technologies of extension scrambled the relationship between the conventional gatekeeper and their audience.

However, the reliability of the information disseminated by the gatecrasher is somewhat contentious. This was bought to light recently as the self professed ‘front page of the internet’, Reddit, wrongly identified missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi as one of the perpetrators of the Boston bombings, hours after FBI photographs of the Tsarnaevs were released. The claims made it all the way to the forefront of CNN and Fox News’ broadcast of the event, reaching a world wide audience of millions. Of course not every viewer accepted the claim, but many took to social media to debate about the post, expressing outrage when the brothers were eventually identified. The process of Agenda Setting was successfully enacted, but certainly to the detriment of fact as well as the Tripathi family.

Print journalism has undoubtably progressed since William Randolf Hearst’s artful furnishing of news events in 1892 (famously cabling his man in Cuba “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the War”), though content is inherently filtered through the biases particular to a medium supposed as ‘dead’. Today, audiences consume such media with the assumption that journalists working under a rigorous code of ethics are reporting content with the closest proximity fact. No such checks and balances exist for 2013’s responsible administrator, the renegade gatecrasher. Thus, not only is the relationship between gatekeeper and audience scrambled, so to is the relationship between information and fact.

My Skins Reawakening circa 2014

As I keenly await my friends finishing exams, and with precious little episodes of Orange is The New Black left I recently turned my attention to a Skins retrospective.

In my experience, actually finding myself inside a Skins story line a few times was not quite as cool as 15 year old me would have liked it to be. In this way, I feel like the show is an accurate depiction of some of the scenarios facing young people today and that itself justly warrants a parental freakout. But the purpose of this post lies in exploring how wrong it was to fetishise and idealise stuff that is the reason being a teenager can be so scary and confusing at times.

Skins was one of the first things Girlfriend Magazine ever recognised as a ‘cult show’, thus at 14 there was nothing I wanted more than for my parents to let me stay up late and watch SBS like a pervert or a foreign movie fiend. My friends with more small l liberal parents would eagerly trade the box sets and crave the day we too could stumble upon some E at an abandoned mansion party and dance attractively to strobe lights in a misunderstood way.

Everyone always used to talk about how they wished they were Effy or Cassie or Naomi, godesses of underage drinking and three episode long lesbian awakenings and my hate fire of my parent’s conservative ways burned stronger- I hadn’t even been allowed to watch the OC at 11 for godsake!

So for a few years I attempted to console myself through listening to the dreamy theme song on repeat on my sick rectangular shuffle.

Now I’m having one of those horrible moments where you look at your parents and say, ‘thankyou you were right, I’ll do the exact same thing for my daughter one day.’

At 20 I’m revisiting this show and being absolutely flabbergasted by the behaviour of those who might belong in the modern day screeching loudly on train carriages about 5 Seconds of/to? Summer or moping about on the flinders st steps.

16 year olds should not be out at rave parties swapping googs and having awkward sexual encounters! These kids need structure! Extra curricular activities! Better role models!

My god. I’m so aware too that I’m adopting the tone of a concerned member of the public making a complaint to the school principal about students behaviour at the local fish and chip shop, but having witnessed how much these characters were idolised and fetishised it’s incredibly scary that people ever wished their lives were like skins.


I don’t think the creators of the show set out to cause any kind of moral panic ala The Tenant of Wildfell Hall circa 1856 (woah what a reference). It’s entertaining aesthetically, with fabulous production values and fairly good actors save for the mind bogglingly beautiful actresses who don’t seem to do much save for looking elfin and exhaling ciggarette smoke enigmatically. There have also been some incredible guest stars, particularly British comedians before they hit the big time like Bill Bailey and THE NEXT DOCTOR or more importantly to a PR student MALCOLM TUCKER as someone’s dad.

But the fact was, this show was the absolute epitome of coolness and emulating the behaviour of its angst ridden subjects represented a real goal for a girl of 15. I would be horrified if my little sister was exposed to this kind of hysteria in only a couple of years. At least One Direction are poster boys of carefully managed khaki sex appeal, I will give them that. And at least when a couple of them are doing weed in the back of a cab it promotes an awkward conversation between parents and little girls.

But think about a group of fictional teens with thick accents as the 2007 version of One Direction (they have a lot in common anyway I guess) and think about all the salacious stuff they got up to!

Don’t worry Tony, J-Law is waiting for you

I guess the show was good in that it probably introduced certain social issues and adult themes to an audience earlier than they might have discovered it in real life. Story lines around addiction, eating disorders and sexual assault may have helped to make an audience more aware of the world and offered solace in representation for those already living with such problems. But the many conversations we used to have about wanting to be ‘like Cassie’ are coming back to me and making me feel quite unsettled. Cassie was a character living with an eating disorder, but to 15 year old girls she was an it girl and her problems just made her all the more misunderstood and in need of Sid to romantically save her from her demons.

Again, it is perhaps a testament to my exit from my teenage years or the weird experience of finding myself inside a Skins storyline a few times and not quite enjoying it as much as 15 year old me would have liked me to, but lord jesus my parents were right!

I can only hope that my little sister receives her teenage awakening from something I prudishly approve of ;).




True Detective Feels

For the past fortnight I have experienced just how potent a symbol a flat circle is for time, as I have watched True Detective, been to hyped up to sleep an appropriate amount, marvelled at what life must be like for friends and colleagues who have not discovered its beauty… and then by night watched True Detective and been too hyped up to sleep an appropriate amount….

This was is an absolutely fabulous show, and I must admit I feel a bit hollow at the thought of it being an anthology series with the promise of a new season without Matthew McConaughey’s subtitle worthy southern drawl and Woody Harrelson’s crinkly forehead in moments of tension.

True Detective set out as an ambitious project, a crime thriller centring around the same mystery for 8 1 hour episodes geared toward filling the void left by Walter White’s exit from the HBO schedule.

However, though commonly proclaimed as ground breaking by every person of taste with uTorrent, True Detective actually fulfilled a lot of the tropes and conventions of the regular crime thriller show in a pretty uniform way.

Both Rust and Marty were damaged men who had to go through immense trauma to confront their demons and reach a sense of peace in the dark, swampy world of Louisiana. Two guarded, mysterious detectives unravelled emotionally by a close proximity to death and ambiguity, who end up as unlikely bffs- sound familiar?

Ultimately, the crime itself, the murder of Dora Lang (and subsequent crimes uncovered of course), was merely a vehicle for this reaching of personal growth- though an incredibly suspenseful and well crafted one. It seemed apt that the only way for these men to recover from their familial estrangement issues (Rust grieving the loss of his young daughter and Marty the nuclear family he passed up for ex underage prostitutes he helped out of their situation) and talk openly about their feelings, was through a very macho coffee and donut cop search for a man to feel superior to. Well, you wouldn’t really call those 8 hours all coffee and donuts, but lets say that their transition from degenerates to self actualized human beings was treated in a very typical way by a male spear headed production team.

After the very first episode, creator Nic Pizzolatto said that the entire mystery would be able to be unravelled in a close viewing of the premiere. The point was, viewers would have to wait a week to see if their theories had legs. And this I think, is what sparked the incredible online fan community which built around the show’s 8 week run. I think Pizzolatto’s comment was a very telling one, as the show did absolutely set out to feed its viewers with little blink and you’ll miss it niblets of relevancy alongside big bad red herrings. In post finale retrospect, Pizzolatto admitted to Buzzfeed that certain occurrences of the signature Carcosan ‘spiral’, threaded menacingly though the mis en scene of the show in bird formations and inept mowing activities, were actually accidental production errors. However, since the show had been so successful in setting up a climate of fan hysteria not seen since a one direction concert, little details like this were turned into thesis long treatise of ‘Why Maggie is involved’, ‘Why Audrey hears about the abuse at school’ etc.

And all from a simple formation of miscellany in Audrey, Marty’s daughter’s room.

Although the creator said such goofs were unintentional, I’m sure he was secretly chuffed at the observation.

Fan theories were also set ablaze in the show’s fascinating manipulation of cause and effect. In so many cases, we saw the effect before the cause and the rest of our viewing was dedicated to finding out how point A could have possibly collided with point B. From the very beginning we are first introduced to the 2012 pot bellied, balding versions of Marty Hart and the philosophising degenerate Rust Cohle (an immediate subversion of any inherited expectations of McConaughey’s heartthrob-esque role in the piece). As we dip into the case of Dora Lang, the two true detectives of 1995 are young and almost spritely in comparison to their latter selves- immediately setting up a distinct narrative possibility that there is something about this case which has led to the two men’s ruin.

At the end of only the third episode of the series, we are supposedly introduced to the killer, Reggie Le Deux in a memorable final shot of a monster roaming through what looks like a Viet Kong bunker wearing only a freaky gas mask and jock strap. Later episodes follow the detective’s efforts to catch the err, ‘unmasked’ man, however the journey they take is still open to much interpretation. But, in one of the show’s biggest red herrings, it ensues that Reggie isn’t quite the bad guy they were looking for in 95′, and Dora Lange’s killer is in fact the lawn mower man we are similarly introduced to in the final shots of episode 7. Again we are introduced to the bad guy before the detectives are, and this extra narrative information causes us to do crazy things like stay home from 21st birthday parties to watch the next episode. In a masterstroke by Pizzolatto, we know from the Le Deux debacle that our extra information still won’t aid in predicting the point of climax Hart & Cole are spinning toward at break neck speed.

The show really knew how to plunge an audience into full blown reddit hysteria.

In some cases, even though their theories may have been disproven, the amount of factual information and analysis compiled from the show to support these may even stand up to the creators in its own right. Barthes’ ‘The Author is Dead’ hypothesis might apply well to this text, as it matters little what the original intent of the creators was, it was how the story was re appropriated by the fans and how particular narrative info (unwitting or intended) was hijacked to surmount distinctive interpretations.

True Detective masterfully tapped in to the modern audience’s fascination with putting their own take on great stories, it gave us the foundation and let it up to the audience to decide on what they would use to embellish their own interpretations.

In any case, even after the end of the series, and perhaps as True Detective makes way for a new storyline next year, fans will STILL be theorising- a fabulous and unique result for any show hoping to grab the attention of the reddit generation.


Hijacking the conversation

Last week, Louisa wrote a fabulous blog post about her experience wrangling a blog for a small Pilates studio after the page was hacked. This was a great example of how in the age of Web 2.0, the conversation can be hijacked- this time literally. 

Brand hijacks, is anyone safe?

I touched on this issue last week as I wrote about the pitfalls of initiating a connection with the right publics, but in turn losing control of the conversation we wished to have with our audience. Like Louisa’s blog, our social pages were also hijacked by messages we definitely did not want to put out there as an NGO attempting to raise awareness of incredibly delicate issues.

Social identity theft- it happens to the best of us (well, depending on what side of politics you swing).

Louisa’s post insightfully sheds light upon the proper process of managing the small crisis facing the studio’s brand. However, lets look at another social identity theft, this time on a much larger scale.

Source: Google Images

Last month it appeared Julie Bishop was going through a emoticon filled rennaiscance, as her twitter account was hijacked by a user pushing their weight loss program onto unsuspecting followers. After a twitter user thanked Bishop “for the tip”, the hijack was swiftly bought to her attention.

Bishop's famous death stare
Bishop’s famous death stare

With the last 12 months replete with other embarrassing examples of social identity theft- see CNN, Jeep and fellow pollie Denis Napthine’s account– how is a practitioner to best protect their client from a brand hijack?

1. Secure your online presence- no copy cats allowed

Secure your social footprint by registering strategic variations of your brand on ALL social streams: even if you don’t intend to actively use them, securing the rights to YOUR brand’s name is what is important.

Nicole Metijec: SocialFireFighter

Source: Nicole Matejic
Source: Nicole Matejic

2. Build a sturdy Arc for your brand

Ensure that by the time you hear that thunder or intercept a Viagra ad in your stream, you have a sturdy plan in place to respond. Don’t let the trolls catch you out.

Source: Nicole Metijic
Source: Nicole Metijic

3. And finally: Be transparent like Julie

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