Categories
Pop Culture

The Wiggles cast is expanding to promote diversity

 

Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles will welcome new cast members next month. 

Four new members will join Anthony Field, Emma Watkins, Simon Pryce and Lachlan Gilespie. They are from a vast range of cultural backgrounds. Ethiopian – born Tsehay (pronounced Suh- hai) Hawkins, Indigenous ballerina, Evie Ferris, John Pearce, who is Filipino descent and Asian – Australian Kelly Hamilton will be the new members.. 

There are also new characters: Shorley Shawn the Unicorn, Officer Beaples and Bok, the hand puppet. They are non – binary.

The Wiggles accused of going ‘woke’

Not surprisingly, the changes have caused some backlash. Liberal Senator, Matt Canavan is critical of the move. He told The Australian:

The Wiggles are free to do what they like. It was nice while it lasted. But you go woke, you go broke.

Former Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director, Lyle Shelton also attacked the move. In an article published by Eternity News, he savaged the non – binary characters and attacked the use of a rainbow umbrella as a prop. 

Writer and former Australian Defence Force officer, Catherine Mcgregor,  condemned corporate ‘virtue signalling’ as an “absolute insult”. 

Is promoting diversity to children a bad thing?

How does promoting diversity affect children?

Children are naturally curious. Not only that, according to Beyond Blue, promoting diversity to young children can enhance their own self – esteem. It also helps children work out their own place in the world. 

Promoting diversity to children can happen in a number of ways:

  • Allow situations where children can listen and learn from people of various cultural backgrounds
  • Be a role model by being respectful towards people yourself
  • Schools and early education services can translate newsletters and notices to other relevant languages
  • Allow children access to a variety of media that explores people from other cultures. 

Gender identity

Let me say this once. Yes, children DO know about gender at a young age. 

According to healthychildren.org, many children develop their understanding of their biological sex and their gender identity between the ages of two and four. 

It’s this time that children also observe and pick up on gender roles. Many children who identify as gender diverse develop their sense of identity around the same age as cis – gender children. 

Parents can promote gender diversity to young children in a number of ways: 

    Give children books and puzzles that show non – stereotypical gender representations
    Allow children to play with a wide range of toys, regardless whether they are ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys
    By age of six, children play with other children and toys that fit their gender identity. Parents, caregivers and teachers should support these choices. 

Stop fear mongering about diversity!

Let’s stop fear – mongering about diversity. People are different, get over it! 

No, children are not ‘brainwashed’ to be a certain gender.

A four – year – old is not ‘too young’ to know their gender identity. 

 

Yes, let ‘children be children’. And let children be themselves, regardless of their ethnicity or gender.

What do you think of the upcoming changes tovThe Wiggles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Pop Culture

Former ‘Neighbours’ actor claims drug use on set

Australian drama, Neighbours has been hit with more scandals and accusations.

In her autobiography, Nicola Charles claimed she was offered drugs while on set. She also claimed she helped an unnamed cast member who passed out after taking speed.

The human inside me couldn’t leave her there alone on the couch, barely conscious and strugglimg. Her so-called friends on the cast had conveniently disappeared and washed their hands of the situation.

In return, Charles was offered speed herself the next day in the cast’s bathroom. She declined the offer.

The actress, along with other cast members took speed to keep their weight down.

These events allegedly happened in the late 1990’s. Charles accused Neighbours’ production company, Fremantle Media for turning a blind eye.

Neighbours plagued with scandal

Earlier this year, a number of former cast members claimed they’d been victims of racism and sexism.

In April, Shareena Clanton claimed she’d been a victim of racism and sexism while playing Sheila Canning.

Meyne Wyatt (Nate Kinski) and Sharon Johal (Dipi Rebecchi) claimed they also faced racism and homophobia on set. Johal alleged that some of the perpetrators were current cast members. She accused Neighbours’ production company, Fremantle Media of not taking allegations seriously.

When I first read about racism, sexism and homophobia claims, I was shocked. Neighbours have had a string of people of colour as cast members. To me, the characters of Dipi and Yashvi Rebecchi (Olivia Junkeer), were well developed. They didn’t seem like disrespectful stereotypes of Indian Australians. I could be wrong.

Were Indian Australians added simply for brownie points? Was it just about quotas? Of course, I can’t say for sure either way.

Since around 2010 (maybe 2011), Neighbours featured its first character.

Chris Pappas’ (James Mason) coming out was based on a real person. Pappas struggled with his sexuality during Year 11. He told Summer, whom he dated. The storyline explored homophobia in sport and being ‘outed’ without giving consent.

I rememberr watching the episodes of Pappas’ struggle and it hitting me. It was so raw. I related to it to an extent, having past struggles of my own. That’s when ai stared becoming a fan and regular viewer of the show.

Categories
Pop Culture

ABBA hologram performance and new music announced

Get ready from a blast from the past! Well… kinda.

ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus has promised fans that ABBA is planning on releasing new music. 

These new songs are the first recorded since Agnetha Faltskog, Annifrid Lyngstad Benny Andersson and Ulvaeus parted in 1981.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has halted ABBA releasing the songs, a TV special and Abbatar; a hologram – based live show. 

Despite the setbacks, Ulvaeus is convinced it’s going to happen. 

“It’s not a case anymore of it might happen. It will happen”, he told Newscorp

He even joked that it’ll be COVID safe, with no live singing. 

The show will be launched at a venue in London. 

Australia will also get the chance to see Abbatar. However, no dates have been mentioned. 

The band regularly discuss their ‘comeback’. 

Two titles of new songs have come out in the past five years: I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down. 

Ulvaeus has refused to expose any more details about the new songs.

Next year will mark fifty years since the release of the single People Need Love. 

However, the band has no desire to physically tour again.

The hits that have never got old

ABBA’s music has stood the test of time. Almost everyone has heard at least one of these hits:

Dancing Queen (1976)

Mamma Mia (1975)

SOS (1975)

Waterlook (1974)

Waterloo won them Eurovision in Brighton, UK. It also kickstarted their career globally, especially in Australia. 

 

 

ABBA’s impact on pop music spans generations

You don’t have to be a child of the 1970’s to know who ABBA are. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers have heard of ABBA. 

I remember growing up listening to ABBA Gold. I also remember A*Teens covering Mamma Mia. 

Then, there was the musical Mamma Mia. It became a hit movie in 2008, starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. 

 

Mamma Mia DVD featuring L to R: Julie Waters as Rosie, Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, Meryl Streep as Donna, Pierce Brosnan as Sam, Christine Barinski as Tanya, Stellan Skarsgard as Sam and Collin Firth as Harry.

The singing wasn’t the best. Key signatures were altered from the original. But the hits in the movie were recognisable. 

Ten years, later, MammaMia: Here We Go Again came out. It featured some of ABBA’s lesser known songs such as Adante, Adante, I’ve Been Waiting For You and My Love, My Life. 

ABBA turned metal

I kid you not. 

In the early 2010’s, power/ symphonic metal band ReinXeed, (now Majestica) did a number of metal covers of Swedish pop songs, including ABBA’s. 

Here are some of my favourites. 

Take A Chance On Me

Does Your Mother Know

Rock Me

 

ReinXeed/ Majestica haven’t been the only metal band to have covered ABBA. Yngwie Malmsteen did a great cover of Gimme Gimme Gimme.

 

No one can deny ABBA’s impact on music. They’re a once – in – a – lifetime band. There will never be a band like them. They definitely did an amazing job.

Maybe not too long from now, even more generations will be exposed to their music. Even if it’s in hologram/ virtual form. 

What is your favourite ABBA song? For metal fans, do you have a favourite metal ABBA cover? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

Categories
Pop Culture

Australian drama slammed for racism

Image: iStock

CW: racism

Former actors from Australian hit drama, Neighbours have opened up about experiences of racism and homophobia.

Earlier this month, Shareena Clanton and Meyne Wyatt made allegations of racism, homophobia and misogyny. They alleged that terms like “lil monkey” and “ni**er” were used. However, Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi claims that word was said by a person of colour quoting rap lyrics.

Wyatt has also accused cast of homophobia.

Sharon Johal, who had played Dipi Rebecchi, joined the chorus, claiming that she was a victim of “direct and indirect racism”.

In a lengthy statement given to Guardian Australia, Johal claimed she tried to “deny, bury and ultimately survive” racial abuse from unnamed colleagues.

She accused show’s production company, Fremantle of not taking real action to prevent further abuse.

Clanton claimed that when she called out yhe cast member for using the offensive word, another colleague would defend the accused. Allegedly, Clanton was also told to ‘take it somewhere else’ and that other cast members were getting ‘uncomfortable’.

The Guardian Australia reported that an unnamed cast member was removed after some racism incidents. The alleged offender was ordered to attend cultural sensitivity training.

 

Neighbours and diversity

When I first read about these accusations, I was shocked. In the past ten years (roughly), Neighbours has had a number of LGBTQ+ characters. And, unlike Home and Away, they didn’t have a gay character for one or two episodes.

Over the years, Neighbours has explored multiple issues facing LGBTQ and ethnic minority communities. In 2018, Neighbours featured the marriage of David Tenaka (Takaya Honda) and Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson).

Neighbours has also had a number of people of colour. Episodes have explored issues like sexuality in Japanese culture, the Australia Day debate and Indian spirituality and meditation.

They have also fearured their first ever transgender character, Mackenzie Hargreaves. She’s been played by Georgie Stone. Stone became the youngest transgendender person in Australia to be granted the right to start puberty blockers.

Personally, as someone who watches Neighbours regularly, I find these allegations really disappointing. I mean, what’s the point? Have minorities just been used?

Enough virtue signalling. Time for proper action

If the allegations are true, I think there is something we can learn from the Neighbours controversy. It’s easy to fulfill a quota; have one or a few token people of colour, LGBTQ+ characters, employees, etc.

It’s another thing to combat discrimination. Every work place, including in the entertainment industry, should have zero tolerance for discrimination. Written policies should be in place stating what is and isn’t acceptable.

I also think that all allegations should be at least investigated before it becomes a major issue. No allegation of any form of abuse or discrimination should just be dismissed or downplayed. After an investigation, appropriate action should take place.

If your in Australia and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14.

If you feel like you’ve been a victim of racism, you can contact the Australian Rights Commission.

Categories
Music News Pop Culture

Michael Gudinski launches new show and album

The COVID-19 isolation lockdown has seen many people, including myself, embrace music.

From the tone – deaf rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine, and musical parodies of the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd and Queen songs online. Many people  have embraced the music bug.

I myself, have been teaching myself keyboard using the Joytunes’ SimplyPiano app. It’s been both frustrating, but quite fun.

61 key Casio keyboard
This has been my way to embrace my musical side during isolation

I’ve also been listening to a fair bit of music, (which admittedly, isn’t new for me). About a month ago, I ordered myself Metallica’s S & M DVD and A Collection of Roxette Hits CD/ DVD.

 

 

 Online show to launch

According to Herald Sun, Mushroom Records co – founder, Michael Gudinski, with the help of the Victorian Government, is set to launch State of Music, as part of a entertainment/ tourism campaign, Victoria Together. It’s aim is to bring Victoria to tourists and show live performances from isolation. Gudinski’s project was in response to the halt to Melbourne’s entertainment culture due to the coronavirus.

While originating in Melbourne, any musical act from Australia or New Zealand can take part.

Livestream aims to attract young audience

Gudinski told Herald Sun that he wanted to use the Internet, including Facebook  to attract a younger audience.

The artist lineup is a mixture ‘80’s and contemporary artists. The first livestream will feature, Diesel, Birds of Tokyo, James Reyna and G – Flip.

According to Gudinski, artists are free to choose the songs they perform. The live-streams will not feature ads. Interviews are also a part of the shows.

The first livestream will begin at 7.30 p.m AEST tonight. Six more live-streams will occur in the following weeks at the same time.

Gudinski is also producing a 3- CD set and vinyl of  Music From the Homefront. Proceeds will go to the charity, Support Act.

JB Hifi has agreed to sell the album without profit

 

Millennials may get taste of Countdown

When the livestream was compared to Countdown, I knew I had to write something about it.

Unfortunately, I was born two years after the show ended. However, I have the Countdown Spectacular on DVD, which was performed in 2006.

The performances were brilliant. Some of my favourite songs were Hush, John Paul Young and Leo Sayer.

DVD Countdown Spectacular (from 2006)
This was my first taste of the show Countdown. I absolutely love it.

My picks for future live live-streams

Here’s who I think would be great for future live- streams:

  • Leo Sayer
  • Cheetah
  • Eskimo Joe
  • 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Justice Crew
  •  Bernard Fanning (is a Powderfinger reunion a bit of a stretch?)

I know some of these acts, like Eskimo Joe have been around for a while, but a boost for them won’t hur. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard songs from them for a while.

Overall, I think this is a real cool initiative. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see some of the shows. It will be a great way to escape the turmoil that’s going on at the moment.

 

Will you watch Gudinski’s livestream show? Also, what acts would you like to see perform and be interviewed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Culture Film, TV Pop Culture

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Pop Culture

Lunatics: had potential, but fell short

 

 

 

On the Easter long weekend, I binge –  watched Chris Lilley’s Netflix mockumentary Lunatics. It premiered on April 19.

Lunatics follows the lives of six main characters.

  • Becky Douglas: an abnormally tall teenager that starts college in the U.S. with her “non – identical” twin sister, Jess
  • Keith Dick: a fashion retailer who deals with object sexuality towards a cash register he refers to as Karen.
  • Gavin Mcgregor: an obese isolated twelve – year – old who moves to Gayford Manor in the UK and aims to become an Instagram star
  • Joyce Jeffries: an ex – porn star who struggles after retirement and suffers from hoarding disorder
  • Jana Melhoopin – Jonks: a “pet psychic to the stars”, who falls in love and becomes jealous of her female assistant
  • Quentin Cook: a failed real estate agent who becomes a DJ, ‘DJ Q*nt.

All the characters are ostracised by society. They not only embrace their ‘quirks’, but are also able to succeed despite challenges.

Criticisms from the media

Lunatics hasn’t been overly popular among commentators in the media. Criticisms vary in severity, with Michael Idato from Sydney Morning Herald saying:

His [Chris Lilley’s] characters are grotesque and frequently intentionally unlikeable. There are laughs to be found, though they are often interspersed with long spells of observation

Idato theorised that Lilley tried to avoid outrage after his 2014 show Jonah From Tonga, hence playing it too safe.

Some critics were less sympathetic.

Stuart Heritage from The Guardian Australia attacked the series as “boring”. Heritage also found the end of the series as not redemptive, likening it to a bully convincing the victim he was joking.

However, not everyone was critical of Lunatics. 

Jay Bedi attacked Lilley’s critics in The Spectator Australia, calling them “self – triggered screen critics”.

Bedi argues that pushing the limits, like Lunatics did, was a necessary thing. Australia has to compete in an international market that’s often dominated by content from the U.S.

 

 

Interesting premise, flat plot

Lunatics didn’t meet my expectations. The premise; people achieving despite physical and emotional challenges was an interesting premise. However, it fell short in a number of areas, especially compared to his previous work.

Characters were under developed and too little backstory was given

In my view, characters were under developed: While thinking and talking about this, I came up with a conclusion. Comedy characters should be either relatable (like in Kath and Kim) or completely absurd (like Basil in Fawlty Towers).

For me, the characters in Lunatics were neither. It was hard to sympathise with the characters, yet, you couldn’t dismiss them completely because of their outsider status.

A lack of background didn’t help. Why did the Cook brothers feel the need to be so sexist and narcissistic? How did Gavin Mcgregor’s loneliness really affect him?

In contrast, Jonah Takalua’s background was clear in Summer Heights High and Jonah From Tonga; he was a teenager from a troubled family and having to overcome behavioural and mental issues. Summer Heights High failed to help him, despite the efforts of teachers and Student Welfare Officer, Doug Peterson.

The closest Lunatics got to adding complexity to a character was with ex-porn star, Joyce Jeffries. Her mental health was clearly declining throughout the series. Yet, it was so caricatured that it was hard to feel anything for her.

Nothing held the characters together

Aside from their oddities, there was very little linking the main characters in Lunatics together. They were all in different places; even in different parts of the world. Having a central setting would have made more sense.

 

Lunatics could have been much better. Allowing people to develop empathy for the characters would have helped. Ironically, I think Chris Lilley achieved his aim. He got people talking, sometimes laughing, other times outraged.  So, you could argue 5hat Lilley did something right.

 

Did you see Lunatics? What did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Music News Opinion/Commentary

Happy birthday, Joan Jett!

On this day in 1958, the (second) Queen of Rock was born (no offence, but Suzi Quatro will always be the first Queen of Rock).

To celebrate her birthday and extensive music career, here are my personal favourite songs.

Change the world, (Sinner, 2006)

Bad Reputation (Bad Reputation, 1981)

Fake Friends (The Album, 1983)

Cherry Bomb (originally The Runaways, 1976 then Glorious results of a misspent youth 1984)

 

What an amazing career Joan Jett has had. I admire her guts and how she never gave up despite the vile abuse she got in the aftermath of the Runaways’ split in 1979. Not only has Joan Jett been an inspiration to female musicians, but also anyone with a dream and a passion. That’s amazing.

 

Happy birthday, Joan. Keep rocking!

What is your favourite Joan Jett song? 

Categories
Pop Culture Reality TV

The Bachelor is accused of promoting bullying

 

I haven’t watched The Bachelor much this year. I only watch it if someone else is or when a repeat is shown on a TV in a public place.  So, I can’t tell you much about who’s who, who’s gone so far, who I think should win, etc, etc.

I was outraged after reading this article. An anonymous writer on Mamamia, a self – confessed former school bully, said that The Bachelor Australia, specifically Cat, Romy and Alisha and their treatment of Tenille, reminded her of her bad behaviour in high school.

What the hell is The Bachelor Australia doing promoting bullying? What are the producers and directors thinking?

Media hypocrisy: reporting on and glorifying bullying

It’s no secret what harm bullying can do; to children, teenagers and adults. Recently, there has been a number of cases exposed in the media of young people taking their own lives after being viciously bullied by school bullies and online. And a show that has peaked with an average of 1.25 million viewers nationwide has the nerve to glorify it and use it for ratings?

The girls accused of bullying have proclaimed that they were taken out of context and has blamed editors. All three have also faced a backlash on social media, some of it which has been vile and abusive (which I don’t condone, either).

Whether the cast, producers, directors or editors are to blame, it doesn’t matter. For some reason, The Bachelor Australia has promoted bullying. That’s not OK. It’s not OK to glorify people (of any gender), being cut down, ostracised or be subjected to other bullying behaviour.

Where does the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) on this? They are the national media body that oversees compliance in the media and telecommunications industries. Not a blip as far as I’m aware.

What does this say about commercial TV as a whole? Due to international competitors such as streaming services Netflix and Stan and cable networks such as Foxtel, the commercial media industry is struggling to maintain decent audience size.. Channel Ten (now part of Win network and recently bought by US’s CBS), faced the reality of going into administration. I can’t believe in glorifying bullying to get viewers and advertisers. Quite frankly, I don’t think it should be allowed.

 

I guess the most effective revenge is for people not to watch The Bachelor Australia and let their ratings crash. It’s still unsettling how the Australian media industry has allowed it to happen in the first place.

UPDATE

The backlash against Alisha, Cat and Romy has continued. According to Perth Now, Alisha was refused a rose and therefore, exited the show. Fifi Box, Byron Cooke and Brendan Fevola from Melbourne’s Fox FM has cancelled a scheduled interview with Cat with very short notice. Box defended the cancellation saying that she ‘couldn’t in good conscience welcome her [Cat] to the show’.

Let’s hope The Bachelor Australia and other reality shows will get the message that bullying doesn’t pay.

If you are struggling, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. As always, feel free to post contact details of crisis, suicide prevention or other mental health services in your country/ area, feel free to post that 8nformation in the comments. 

Categories
Pop Culture

Let’s talk: Scarlett Johannsen controversy

Scarlett Johansson has stepped down from playing transman, Dante Tex Gill in Rub and Tug after backlash from transgender activists.

Now, my view about LGBTQ+ characters in film and TV is: as long as the character isn’t portrayed as a negative stereotype (unless it’s satire or black comedy), then it doesn’t worry me whether the actor is LGBTQ+.

 

I want to know your thoughts. What do you think about cis – het actors playing LGBTQ+ characters?

Transgender/ gender non – binary/ Scarlett Johanssonnon – conforming people, how do you feel about a cis – gender actor playing a transgender character?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.