BCM310, Uncategorized

Capturing Crises

Photographs have a prolific ability to evoke the deepest of memories, inspire the staunchest of non-believers and transform a story of unimaginable hardship into one that provokes change and help.

Today, we are blessed with the media coming to us with information that covers every angle from  every inch of the globe. We are bombarded with news stories everywhere we turn – from checking your Facebook  news updates whilst on the loo to reading the paper whilst waiting for a coffee.

And now, more than ever, we are connecting with people from all over the world in different time zones and cultures. We are slowly developing an understanding and empathetic view of the world around us. It appears to be a beautiful thing. But do not be mislead by this utopian view of the media, we are also witnessing some of the most barbaric atrocities that we have ever seen.

The unbelievable stories of escape from desecrated cities, the complete and utter chaos caused by environmental tragedies and the narrative of human suffering as individuals flee from the most harrowing and gruesome circumstances are also being transmitted into our lives.

Michal Kimmelman presents a different and somewhat unattractive opinion about how we are not reacting to these poignant images the way we used to:

It was one thing to try to wake humanity up to suffering in the world via photographs from the early years of the last century…when most people saw distant places and learned of faraway disasters through photographs, but it is another thing to try to do so now, when the number of images that flash across television and computer screens diminishes the value of any single image you may see.

It is almost as if each image comes with a needle full of a powerful anaesthetic. We are becoming numb. Numb to the emaciated children, the howling mothers sprawling across bombed streets and the tens of thousands fleeing their homes in the hope of finding a safe place to stay.

But, is it because these atrocities are not happening on our doorsteps, that we are becoming somewhat bored of the same images, the same captions, the same notions, issues, crises? Campbell (2011) suggests that we are only motivated once the suffering is coupled with symbolic proximity.

We incite change when we can relate to it.


It’s a tricky business to get people to look at other people they may have spent a great deal of time trying, consciously or otherwise, not to notice (Kimmelman, 2001)


When the controversial image of a young Syrian refugee who washed up dead on a Turkish beach sparked great debate and outrage, we began to notice.

We thought of our children and we immediately put ourselves in that family’s position. However right or wrong that may have been, we began to realise the human cost of this epidemic. It was no longer about the numbers, the statistics, the enlarged images of tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes with headlines slurring lies. It was a young boy, in a red t-shirt, who so tragically lost his life in the hope of finding a safer home.

As Ingrid Sischy an art critic and writer stated in the New York Times (Kimmelman, 2001, p.2),

Beautification of tragedy results in pictures that ultimately reinforce our passivity toward the experience they reveal

The image – however opposed to it you may be – worked in a sense as it reignited a tired debate over the dispersion of Syrian refugees. It was something that was not beautiful. It was raw, poignant and extremely harrowing. It brought it home for all of us. It put a name to a crisis. And names make individuals.

It is obvious that there is a huge gap between our heightened awareness and our limited response to incite change.We need to start putting names to these crises, not a photograph that is black and white and so artistically done that we cannot connect on the simplest of emotional levels. We need to notice.



Campbell, D, 2001, ‘The problem with regarding the photograph of suffering as ‘pornography’,https://www.david-campbell.org/2011/01/21/problem-with-regarding-photography-of-suffering-as-pornography/

Kimmelman, M, 2001, ‘Photography review; Can Suffering Be Too Beautiful?’ The New York Times, p.1-4, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/13/arts/photography-review-can-suffering-be-too-beautiful.html?pagewanted=all



It’s a Man’s World But it Don’t Mean Nothing Without a Female PM

After the intense response to my fairly recent blog post on female journalists and the misogyny that surrounds them in the industry, it was hard not to write something on our ex- female PM and the barbaric, misogynist and down-right disgusting comments that she received in her time in Parliament.

The UK Telegraph’s journalist John McTernan wrote a phenomenal piece on this exact issue. Whilst I whole-heartedly believed that misogyny in the 21st Century was a rare thing in well-established, professional industries, I was astounded when reading headlines and listening to political news. However, the true shock came when uncovering the comments that are made by people from our Federal Parliament. These people are elected to be our voices and they are betraying this trust.

McTernan highlights the main differences between the hate comments that male Prime Ministers receive and female Prime Ministers. McTernan believes that “Gillard faced misogyny from 1998, when she was first elected to federal parliament” and that in 2007 she was branded as “deliberately barren”. Why does her personal life matter in politics? Janet Albrechtsen wrote an acrimonious article in 2010 about the upcoming PM Ms Gillard and how she is “no role model for girls who want more than a career” because of the life decisions that Ms Gillard has made and that this is some crime because “she has never had to make room for the frustrating demands and magnificent responsibilities of caring for little babies, picking up sick children from school, raising teenagers. Not to mention the needs of a husband or partner”. Frankly…WHO CARES?! If she were a man, there would be no discussion about her personal life and whether or not it impinges on her policies or whether or not she is the ‘correct’ role model.

But it was my utter shock when the tape was ripped from the Australian public’s mouths, and they let rip. One woman called into the 2GB radio saying that “she’s a menopausal woman who needs to resign” and from the same radio program “in my opinion, Julia Gillard is a piece of crap”. Why Australia, why? The disgusting, piggish comments did not stop. Soon protest posters were emblazoned with “ditch the witch” and “Bob Brown’s Bitch” with the leader of the Opposition – Tony Abbott – proudly standing in front of them. Such as this one…

Opposition Leader - Tony Abbott standing in front of "ditch the witch" banners

But it was when journalists were exploiting their roles and turning into repugnant pigs. Alan Jones stated that Julia Gillard’s father passed away from “shame” because “his daughter told lies” every time she entered Parliament. Alan Jones awakened a dormant beast that is the Australian public. Since the 1970s, people were silenced if they even breathed a misogynistic phrase but Jones prodded the sleeping dog and it was like fighting an uphill battle. For example, The Sydney University’s Liberal students went to Twitter to announce their complete admiration for Jones’s comments regarding his comments on the death of Ms Gillard’s father.


But that was not all that the Australian public heard from Jones on the subject of Ms Gillard. He later said that “they” should put Julia Gillard into a “chaff bag and take [her] as far out to sea as they can”. As well as Ms Gillard needing “emotional and psychological help” as she is “a misanthrope”. A bit of a pot calling the kettle black there.

But most significantly would be the constant onslaught of comments regarding Ms Gillard’s dress sense. Acclaimed feminist Germaine Greer who did extraordinary work during the late 20th Century for women and women’s rights said that Ms Gillard should change what she wears because she has a “fat arse”. Rebecca Sparrow of Mamamia.com.au was stunned by the comment that Greer made as she said in her article that Greer has “spent decades pointing out that a woman’s physicality is irrelevant”. This fixation on how Ms Gillard dressed was futile, irrelevant and quite frankly boring. Why does it matter if that suit flares out in an “unflattering manner”? Or that the colour of her suit is unappealing? She was never going to step out in Versace with Christian Louboutin heels. She is not the editor of a fashion magazine, she is the bloomin’ Prime Minister – someone who was elected to represent our country. As Anne Summers writes an astounding piece and comments on this very issue, “Although male politicians might occasionally have some aspect of their clothes remarked upon…they never, repeat never, have to endure the banality of the endless sartorial commentary that all women in politics, but especially the leaders, have to deal with.”

No matter where you stand in politics, this period in Australian history was disgusting and shameful. Our first female Prime Minister and this is how we treat her. It either puts the fire in your belly to prove them all wrong or makes you want to forget all your aspirations to be an inspirational female in a male-dominated world. Ms Gillard’s time in Parliament showed that misogyny still exists in the 21st Century. However, she did show that you do not have to be lowered to your critics’ standards. And for that, I thank you Ms Gillard – you have ignited that fire in my belly.


Sources from quotes that are not linked:

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An Apple a Day Does Not Keep the Controversy at Bay

When the technological world first began, industries built content that allowed them complete and utter control. However, as technology has advanced, it has been increasingly more difficult for them to control. But not when it comes to Apple vs. Android.

When deciding which smartphone I wanted, I orignally thought iPhone as it was the ‘on-trend’ device to have and they were simple and shiny and user friendly. But after doing further research – yes I do this for nearly every product I buy (nerdy I know) – I realised that the iPhone is just an over priced piece of glass.


I have always disliked Apple for various reasons and this distaste was heightened in my lecture as we discussed open/generative and closed/locked systems.

Apple is the perfect example of a closed or locked system; as Steve Jobs stated, “we define everything that is on the phone“. Apple’s closed system means:

  • Everything is thethered to Apple
  • All apps are from the App Store
  • Apps available have been approved by Apple and may be removed at their discretion
  • They have complete control over content, user’s interaction and the platform

Scary when you think of it in those terms, isn’t it? Apple seems to like the ideology that they can have complete control over us as they are locking our options for our “own good“. Conversely, Android is the opposite believing in an open and free operating system. These are the few features that an open system has:

  • Anyone can access and modify the system
  • Open ‘garden’ of apps – Google has received criticism over this point as consumers believe they should ‘spring clean’ their app store
  • No control over users, content or platform
  • As part of the Open Handset Alliance, there are 84 companies who have joined allowing consumers  greater competition and a better outcome when buying phones.

However, after my very “convincing” one-sided argument, I do believe that iPhones do have a purpose as a phone for my parents or those new to smartphone technology as Peter Yared says in his amusing and articulate article “What phone would I recommend for my mum? An iPhone. It’s safe, predictable, and uniform. What would I recommend for anyone under 40? Definitely one of the new breeds of Andorid phones” and I whole-heartedly agree.

We- the younger generations – are changing the way industries and producers design their products. Evan William, co-founder of Twitter said that he originally “designed [it] as a broadcast medium” and that “sharing was invented by users” further emphasising the pre-historic way that Apple works as a locked system. Twitter is a generative system allowing users to individualize their interaction and experiences with that particular product and/or system.

This is the way of the future – but brings to light the problem with the future of the internet and social media. Thus being the paradox of convergence – as consumers now have more freedom of choice, industries are aiming to reign in their control of ownership.  Is anything simple?!

I will leave you with this funny commercial that was re-done on an ABC program called ‘The Checkout‘ which is fantastically hilarious and supports my view on iPhones just being expensive glass…

Sources: iBroke cartoon: http://capitalogix.typepad.com/public/2010/04/ipad.html

Android: http://ranpict.com/android-vs-apple-wallpaper.html

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Pass the blame to the left hand side

When most people are asked, “does TV make you fat?” the majority will scoff at this idea – and I was no exception. It seems utterly absurd that by sitting in front of the televsion it somehow magically expands your waistline. This is the theory of causality – one thing (in this instance, televsion) causes another thing to occur (people becoming fat). Whilst most people can accept this theory, others – such as David Gauntlett – digress:
“the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive..”

Gauntlett later states:“The’media effects’ approach..comes at the problem backwards, by starting with the media and then trying to lasso connections from there on to social beings, rather than the other way around.” This grahic of obesity in America supports his statement that the media is constantly being blamed when in actual fact 60% of people who were surveyed said it was too much in-home entertainment that led to their obesity and 84% saying that it was eating too much fast food. This leads onto the question of does watching violent media, make you a violent person and do violent things?

The horrific case of James Bulger is a true testament to Gauntlett’s belief of the backwards approach of the media effects model. In 1993, a 2 year old boy was abducted, brutally beaten and subsequently killed. His killers were two ten year old boys. In court, the judge stated, “violent films, possibly Child’s Play 3” had “striking similarities to the manner of the attack on James Bulger…” The media went into a frenzy, blaming violent videos and games saying that it led young children to re-enact scenarios that they had seen in various forms of media. However, further investigation into the lives of the two young killers exposed dysfunctional families where violence and neglect were common.

So, I leave you with this: is it really the media’s fault, or are we simply passing the blame to the left hand side?