I’m a working non-family, how about you?

Barely a day goes by without our faithful leader, PM Julia Gillard, or our faithful swimsuit-model-wannabe-leader Mr Abbott, dropping the “W.F.” bomb. Working families. Sometimes it is “H.W.F”, or hardworking families, when they feel like sticking it to all those out there who self-identify as lazy. Which is nobody.

We’ve seen plenty of this recently. Depending on who is talking, working families will either feel nothing from the carbon tax or will be reduced to begging on street corners to scrape together enough spare change to afford to turn on the plasma long enough to watch Masterchef each night.

According to every single one of our political leaders, their policies will never, ever negatively impact on working families. The concerns of working families are paramount to both sides of the political spectrum. All in all, it seems that working families alone yield the total sum of political power in the country. No matter your views on the carbon tax, they are grazing on a pretty sweet political paddock (and generating a fair bit of greenhouse gas in the process) in terms of their ability to influence.

However, this raises an important question. Ummm… WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US? Funnily enough, some Australians don’t actually fit into the much-loved yet problematic “working families” category of swing voter. Let’s try to break it down, even though it’s actually fairly difficult to pigeonhole an entire population with any degree of accuracy.

Continue reading…

The Gruen Transfer “banned” size acceptance ad

There’s been quite a controversy brewing back in Oz over the ABC banning part of a segment on, IMO, one of the most interesting TV shows to come out of Australia in the last couple of years — The Gruen Transfer.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it is essentially a humorous panel-style production which analyzes the media, advertising and marketing industries and how advertising is constructed.  That description doesn’t really do it justice… they have basically managed to take a media analysis course from university and turn it into something that is enjoyed widely by a mainstream audience.  Quite a feat.

One of the segments on the show is called “The Pitch”, where creatives from two opposing advertising agencies are given a difficult product or message to try and sell to the audience.  In the past, they have had to sell all sorts of funny and silly things… one I can particularly remember included selling the idea for Australia to go to war with New Zealand.  It caused a lot of controversy, but was also pretty hilarious.  Here’s one of the ads from that “Pitch”, which took the same format as the New Zealand tourism ads and turned them around…

But this week, the ABC banned one of the pitches from being shown.  I’ve obviously missed a lot of the media coverage about it, not being in Oz and all, but have seen a fair bit online.  This week, the challenge presented to the pitchers was to create an ad to promote size acceptance.

The ad that was not banned, by JWT Melbourne, was IMO, the kinda offensive one.  It was somewhat amusing, and in the fairly flippant style of Gruen, fitted in… but essentially the message it delivered was “fat people eat more, so they are helping the economy, so we should love them”, which harks back to that same old “fat people as gluttons” stereotype… it doesn’t do fat people any favors to perpetuate those stereotypes.

The ad that was banned, created by a freelancer working for The Foundry agency, was released online, at its own special website, to get around the ABC ban.  I’m glad that Gruen didn’t just chicken out from making it available, and set something up that worked within the strict strict content guidelines the national broadcaster has to adhere to.

Anyway, here’s the ad.  Obviously, since it was banned from the ABC and all, if you have a delicate disposition, don’t view it.  It’s quite full on.

This ad is the far more effective campaign for the pitch this week, I believe.  It shows that all discrimination is ugly, and it finally puts size discrimination up there on the same level as all those other horrible forms of discrimination that we now all know are socially unacceptable, even though, of course, those forms of discrimination still exist.

I can understand why the ABC banned it though, because being the government-and-hence-taxpayer-funded network, it has strong strong policies about airing things which are racist, homophobic, etc.  Funnily enough, I bet there’s nothing in the innapropriate content policy about airing things which are fattist…

But the banning of this ad has also sparked debate about the size issue… everywhere.  And unfortunately, for a nation where apparently most of us are overweight or obese now according to questionably BMI-based statistics, the debate seems to be heavily dominated by people saying fat people are lazy scum… a popular argument against this ad is that being overweight is a choice, while one’s race or religion is not a choice.

Well, I could choose to starve myself just as someone could choose to convert to Christianity or have sex with someone of the opposite sex.  But if those choices are not happy ones, then what is the fucking point?

The creative behind the ad, Adam Hunt, has written a fantastic piece about why he produced it for the Mumberella blog, which you can read here.  There’s also a great interview between Wil Anderson, the Gruen panel and Adam on the ad’s site.  Just keep watching after the ad to see the debate.

I mean, obviously, this kind of ad could never really be screened on a commercial or government television network.  But I think the tone in which the offensive “jokes” are presented makes it clear that HEY, this is an ad about unacceptable behavior.

But ultimately, the Pitch is about experimentation.  And I feel glad that someone has finally had the balls to put this into the mainstream and say that fat discrimination is not OK.  It’s an issue that never gets discussion in the mainstream media, particularly not in Australia where there isn’t the emerging size acceptance movement that is starting to have an impact in the States.

So what’s your take on it?  Effective?  Gone too far?  Should I not even be typing this entry and spend eight hours a day on a treadmill until I can fit into a size 8?

Danger! Danger!

“Where you from miss?” my taxi driver hollered as we rode over a particularly pothole-riddled stretch of "road".

“Australia.”

“Oh. Australia. Why your government hate us? They tell people not to come here. We not all Bali bombers.”

“I’m not sure why, sir.  The government is a bit stupid.”

I hadn't actually looked at the updated travel warnings the Australian Government issued for Indonesia after the execution of the Bali bombers.

But I was watching some CNN "doco" about "The Face of Terrorism" (cue dramatic music and graphics and montages of Al Quaeda training camps mixed in with people doing DANGEROUS traditional dances in Bali) and it told me all about how TERRORISM is the BIGGEST PROBLEM EVA in Indonesia and all people are LIVING IN FEAR every day.

So, I thought maybe I should check out the travel warning so that I can start living with a reasonable level of FEAR.  Because Indonesia is apparently SCARY SCARY.

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, the danger levels in Indonesia are ranked as "reconsider need to travel".  Not the worst level, only the second worst.  Worst is reserved for places with active combat troops.

Do you know what other countries you should "reconsider your need to travel" to?  See here.  Interesting that Indonesia is considered as dangerous as the Congo, where actual fighting is happening now, instead of just speculation.

The warning for Indonesia is LONG, about 5000 words.  If you want to read it yourself, go here.

Let me summarize it for you.

If you live or work or are thinking about going to Indonesia you probably won't ever return to the fair soils of Australia because EVIL TERRORISTS are lurking everywhere. You should probably stay here in Australia where everything is nice and white (on TV) and the only dangers are random acts of violence, probably alcohol fuelled.  Indonesians in general are Muslims and everyone knows that in general that means they are probably terrorists.  It's also a bit sus because they don't drink shitloads of beer.  And heaps of them are going to freak out because the Bali bombers got sent to their virgin-filled heaven so you should be extra careful eating at or visiting WHITE PEOPLE places because they don't like us and our democratic ideals.  But don't eat at street stalls either or you will get gastro and DIE. 

If you do decide to ignore our overblown warning, you should exercise EXTREME CAUTION.  EXTREME!  ARM YOURSELF WITH A MACHETE, BOMB DIFFUSER KIT AND DON'T SPEAK TO ANYONE.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS AUSTRALIAN OR YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY KILLED.  TELL THE EMBASSY YOU ARE COMING SO WE CAN IDENTIFY YOUR REMAINS.

That's roughly what it says.

It begs the question… have the people who write this shit ever been to Indonesia?  If they have, have they actually mingled with any Indonesians or talked with them about these kinds of issues?

Why why why why why does Australia still have this massive fear of Asia?  This warning isn't about terrorism at all.  It's about the politics of fear, and I hoped now that Howard had gone and now Bush is practically out the door as well, that we would have gotten over that crap to some extent.  Sometimes it feels like we haven't progressed at all from the Hanson years.

No one can really anticipate if a terrorist attack is on its way or not, same as you can't pick if you will be struck by lightening.  Obviously the execution of the Bali bombers carried some additional risk, which any rational person could figure out.  And embassies etc have to put out travel advisories. But this kind of over the top crap coming out of our government only adds to this irrational fear that a certain section of Australian society has about Indonesia and Asia.

It's so strange how Indonesia as seen from Australia and Indonesia as actually seen from Indonesia are almost two different countries…  I've never experienced that with any other foreign country I have visited.  Maybe it's just cos I haven't been to Bali yet…

Lucky I saw the strippers last weekend…

I feel ever so fortunate to be in Indonesia at the same time as the infamous anti-pornography bill was finally passed, 10 years after it was first drafted. 

I'm also here while the Bali bombers will (presumably) be topped and homegrown Jakarta lad and very nearly Indonesian Barack Obama will dig John McCain's electoral grave.  It's exciting times in JKT. (no mother, I'm sure there won't be any hardline Islamic backlash, ok?  What, you thought you saw violent protests on the TV today in Jakarta?  Maybe it was India.  Just calm down and watch some more Home and Away, yeah?  Please send some plot updates as well, I'm dieing to know what happened to Martha with the cancer battle and all that.  Are Kirsty and whatshisname still together?)

But the porn bill is particularly exciting because it plans to eliminate all sexual desire across all levels of society.  So, it's exciting because it's going to eliminate excitement.  Whoopeeeeeeee (in a completely non-sexual way).

I am, of course, being a smart arse.

You'd think after maturing on the shelf for so long, the porn bill would have become extrememly palatable, like a good drop of red.  No such luck unfortunately.  Two political parties even stormed out of the proceedings.

Here's the dish.  The final version of the bill states that porno is "pictures, sketches, photos, writing, voice, sound, moving picture,
animation, cartoons, conversation, gestures, or other communications
shown in public with salacious content or sexual exploitation that
violate the moral values of society."

It's toned down a bit from previous versions, but it is still pretty vague.  Moral values of society is a pretty loose concept.  But I think the clause about stoning people (or something… that might have been exaggeration) who don't cover their shoulders when in public got scrapped.

Thankfully, Aussie bogans can still apparently wear bikinis in Bali.  Lucky, SBY, otherwise you would have had Kevin Rudd's polite rationalism busting on your arse to plead the case because "Australian families are doing it tough" right now and they want their Bali beach holidays to be as fun as ever, ok?

For the sexy mammas of Jakarta, stepping out the door is going to become an illegal act in itself.  Strutting along the bumpy footpaths, skimming around potholes and sewers… your hips tend to wriggle a bit.  My comrade in proving ones point by being a smartarse, the lovable sex goddess Bel, has posted all about these perils (and the double standards of it all) right here and here.  There's also another post here by another Jakarta foxy shiela, who writes by the name of Ananda Ayu.

Yeah, sure, we are used to our liberal Western tarty ways.  But there are a lot of Indonesians of all sorts of backgrounds who think this bill should have had a bit more work done on it before anyone even thought about giving it the thumbs up.

The way it was rushed through makes me all the more suspicious that there are people who want to use it to serve their own ends, as quickly as possible.  Namely, to score political points before Indonesia's general elections next year.

A big concern of mine — besides concerns about how this law could be implemented in a way to serve certain interest groups, how it could be used to attack women for crimes committed by men who can only think with the thing in their pants and how it could kill the cultural industries — is how I'm going to get my laundry done now.

I mentioned below that my laundry lady was checking out my knickers and boulder-holders the other day and thought they were sexy.  Well, sexy equals porn.

Am I doomed to handwashing?

Also, this blog is pretty crass.  And I'm fairly loose with dropping words of a sexual nature into conversations.  So are a lot of people I know.

Are dirty jokes, bad puns and talking like a sailor going to get me and my pals locked up?  Conversation can be porn now apparently too.  If so, all of Indonesia's foreign journalists are in peril.  Is my blog porn?  I don't think so, it doesn't get enough hits from Google.  Maybe this post will help. Porn porn porn porn porn.  I've just increased the traffic at least threefold.  Hello dirty old men!  Now go away, thanks.

And my Britney Spears-inpired dance moves probably fall under that gestures and body movement category.

It's all a bit of a worry.  Hopefully it will backfire on the parties that supported the bill, and in next year's elections we will see more moderates and less fundies sitting in the seats of Indonesia's legislature. Hopefully…

PS.  I just noticed, this is my 200th post on this blog!  Yay!