Film, TV

Taboo: black humour with compassion


For the last two Thursday’s, I’ve been watching Ten’s controversial show, Taboo.

In the show, stand-up comedian, Harley Breen meets people facing adversity. After getting to know their situation, he uses their experiences as part of his stand-up gig.

This is not the first time he has attempted this. Last year, he did an episode on disability. I wasn’t aware of that.

In the first episode this year, Breen went to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, to meet terminally ill people:

  • Matt: former infantry soldier who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour
  • Lauren: cystic fibrosis, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety sufferer.
  • Nicole: new mother who was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer
  • Michael: father of two girls, diagnosed with lung cancer (not caused by smoking).

Matt, Lauren, Nicole and Michael opened up about their diagnoses and how it affected them and their loved ones.

My favourite part was when Breen and the guests started talking about medications they all take. Breen then joked that tgey were all “massive druggies”. I think that worked because the guests cinsented and in on the joke.

There was one joke Breen made that I thought was miscalculated. That was when Breen talked about parents losing terminally ill children. This was after Matt confided in him how much it upset him and indicated that was his personal boundary. I don’t think Breen was being callous, but if I were him, I would have left it out.


Breen tackles racism

Last week, Breen tackled racism and prejudice against Muslims.  Breen admitted on Studio 10 that it was the episode that he was nervous about.

This episode was well done; maybe better than the terminal illness episode.

I found this episode more satirical. Breen mocked the attitudes that the guests faced. He tackled intrusive questions, (i.e. ‘where are you from?’) and ostracism that some Muslims face, especially in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

My favourite part of this episode is when Breen tackled cultural differences between himself and Sara. Because of her faith, Sara doesn’t drink alcohol. Breen treated this like a language barrier in his stand up gig.



My take on the Taboo series so far

Overall, I think Harley Breen should be applauded. I like the way he has seeked consent from and bounced ideas off his guests upon the show.


This style of black humour isn’t for everybody. For some, the topics will be too raw and upsetting. Some may think that there are some things that “don’t have funny” in them.

Taboo  dares to test the boundaries of comedy. This is what makes Harley Breen so commendable.


The next episode tackles mental illness.


Taboo airs Thursday, 8.45pm EST on Win.


Have you seen any of the Taboo comedy series? Let me know your thoughts about it in the comments below.
































Study suggests teachers suffer poor mental health

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

In March, I wrote about high rates of bullying, harassment and violence principals face. In the post, I speculated that teachers were being treated badly at a similar rate.

That’s  not the only issue that many teachers face.

According to the SBS, a study conducted by Associate Professor of Psychology of Bond University, Peta Stapleton suggests that teachers suffer higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.

166 teachers took part in the study.

Of those studied, 18% of respondents met the criteria for a moderate or major depression diagnosis. Over half (62%), met the criteria for moderate anxiety. 19.75% fitted the criteria for severe anxiety.


What is causing this?

The causes of mental illness can be complicated. Genetics, brain chemistry, personality traits and trauma can all increase one’s vulnerability to mental disorders.

Major stress, conflict with staff and lack of work  – reward balance were major contributors to mental decline of participants.

The Feed did a segment exposing struggles teachers have dealing with students with learning and behavioural problems. Not only were they frequently exposed to aggressive outbursts, time was taken from other students. This showed a lack of professional support in dealing with children with learning or behavioural disorders.

Importance of specialised support staff

This is why teacher’s aides and specialised staff are so important. Schools need staff that know how to calm down children with ADHD or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Teacher’s aides can often offer one – on – one support for children who need extra help.

Attitudes need to change

I expressed in the post linked above that I think the way teachers are snowed under by bureaucratic red tape and are vilified by the media is appalling.

I can’t believe the number of times I’ve heard teachers being accused of ‘indoctrinating’, or worse  ‘grooming’ students in the media. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Even if you don’t 100% agree with  the information children have been given, I think that sort of inflammatory language is uncalled for.

Teachers don’t ‘groom’ children, (most don’t anyway). They inform, challenge and inspire students. They equip them with knowledge and skills to enter and hopefully thrive in the world.

Teachers need to be able to assist all students achieve their full potential.

Most importantly, teachers, along with all professionals, should be able to work in a physically and mentally healthy environment. No one should have to endure physical and verbal abuse, nor should they have to feel under valued or bullied bt other staff.


Let an education revolution begin. No, not more theories, frameworks or paperwork. Not more tests that just stress everyone out. Let’s start an education revolution of nurture; for both students and staff.

Let’s start an expectation that teachers, principals and other staff will not have to put up with threats, intimidation and violence from anybody.

Let’s start treating teachers like human beings, They need care, rest and recognition, just like the rest of us. They deserve a much better work – reward balance than what they are getting.

And lastly, get off their backs. Most are trying to do the right thing by their students, regardless of how many students get Band Sixes in NAPLAN (National Assessment  Program for Literacy and Numeracy) and other tests/ exams.



Anyone who is suffering from any mental health issues/ concerns can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.



Feel free to check out these posts

screenshot of Glycerine Queen Media blog


I have been OK with the amount of traffic this blog has attracted. However, I realised that there are a few posts that haven’t got any views yet. Here are some:

Like it or not, childcare is a necessity

Herald Sun opinion piece exposes the harms of conversion therapy

Either speech matters or it doesn’t. It can’t be both

Schools are doing away with awards


That’s just a few. Feel free to check them out. If you want to comment on any of these (or any other) posts, of course, go ahead!

SBS’s ‘The Feed’ brings poverty into the spotlight

The ABC and SBS are often criticised for bias. There have also been new calls for the two Australian government – owned broadcasters to be merged or sold and be pushed into the commercial media landscape.

I do agree that bias is a bit much on the ABC. I used to see it quite often when I used to watch Q and A regularly. And, yes, the SBS has controversial shows on it.  Sometimes, presenters aren’t as respectful as what they could be.

One thing both the ABC and SBS have going for them is that often, they give a voice to those that the commercial mainstream media (and governments) often ignore.

The real face of a ‘dole bludger’

Tara Schultz is on Newstart. She is thirty – one. By her own admission, has never held down full- time work.

Reading that alone may give you an impression that Schultz is a bum. But, if you read the rest of The Feed’s article, you’ll quickly realise that her story is much more complicated.

Schultz’s short life so far has been marred by sexual abuse, poverty, terminal illness, death and mental illness in the family. She cared for her father to the end of his battle with lung cancer. After her father’s death, Schultz looked after his widow, who suffers agoraphobia and post – traumatic stress disorder. She then moved to look after her mother who suffers fromschizophrenia. Her step – mother no longer had a carer due to government funding cuts.

When talking about elections, Schultz said her family finds voting “utterly laughable”.

I won’t go through the whole article. Read through it yourself. It’s heartbreaking.

Indictment of society and Australia’s political system

The article really reflects how broken our political system is. Quite frankly, it’s also a reflection of how broken our society is.

Poverty wasn’t mentioned during the election. The main focus was (as is often the case), on the upper and middle -class.

This election was also about culture wars. The media, especially Newscorp did the Israel Folau’s sacking to death. This became part of a very messy political campaign. It’s ironic that Christianity and religious freedom became hot button issues, yet, the poor were left out of the debate. The Bible contains hundreds of verses advocating for them.

What should be done?

Poverty is complicated, so I won’t be able to provide an adequate answer in one post. Obviously, Newstart should be increased so it can be lived on.

The way the government fails to help the severely mentally ill is appalling. It is a disgrace that Schultz’s mother lost her carer due to funding cuts.

I passionately believe that those with chronic mental illnesses should be able to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). If not, there needs to be an equivalent for mental illness sufferers.


The article also shows that welfare isn’t something that should be sneered at. The caricatures of what a welfare recipient looks like is obviously not the reality. There are people and families that need it as a means to survive.

A question to Prime Minister Scott Morrison: what will you do about it? Or should I say: What would Jesus do? (Hint: He wouldn’t give himself an A$11,000 pay rise while allowing penalty rates to be slashed for lower income workers).