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.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary Pop Culture

Maybe my generation needs to take it down a peg?

I rarely watch reality TV anymore. Any I do watch are often reruns. I can’t tell you when I watched a singing/ talent reality show. However, I stumbled on this video on YouTube before. While not all of them are young (there’s a contestant who was about middle – aged), all but one fired up judges due to arrogance and rudely not taking no for an answer.

Most of the contestants seemed to be the epitome of Gen Y (and Z) stereotypes: entitled, spoiled, wanting everything now, not being able to handle rejection etc. Of course, it doesn’t represent all Gen Y (or most) or Gen Z.

Starting at 4:33, a girl named Charlotte, at only sixteen years old, tried to sing a Whitney Houston song. Judge Michael “Louis” Walsh got into a row with Sharon Osbourne after saying that Charlotte was ‘deluded’. He ended up getting wine thrown in his face. Harshness of Walsh’s comment aside (it was very snide, especially toward a sixteen – year – old), I wondered how Charlotte dealt with criticism or rejection in general and whether she ever did to that point, to be honest.

Then there were performers (one girl group and a solo male artist), who’s ego was way too big and they were quite rude to the judges and crew. Examples of the narcissism that Gen Y are often accused of, methinks.

 

Categories
books Pop Culture

How BuzzFeed copy editor made me excited about writing

I have been reading the book A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in our Buzzfeed Age by Buzzfeed’s Copy Editor, Emmy Favilla. While it took me a while to read it (an understatement, to tell you the truth), I loved it. It made me even more excited about getting into the field of professional writing.

The book went through some history of the English language and what linguists had to say. Then it focused on how rapidly language is changing, especially in the age of the internet and social media (I thought about writing ‘Internet’, just then. That was one of the debates Favilla wrote about in the book. I’ll stick with ‘i’, I think).

Basically, there are a few rules, only preferences. Sure it has to make sense and no writer should be making typos right, left or centre if they’re serious and not a maniac (myself included). Consistency is key.

Of course, there are social norms one should consider, like inclusive language. I think Favilla went into overkill with this. Here’s the thing: I believe that if someone requests to be preferred to by a specific pronoun, including “they” or “ze”, by all means refer to the person by that pronoun. I don’t think you necessarily have to ‘eliminate’ gender altogether. If you really don’t know, then, if you can ask. In  a rare case, use gender neutral, but I don’t think you need to go overboard with it.

Another pet peeve I discovered I have while reading the book is drawn out sentences. I  realised this at the start. Hey, that’s fine for Favilla, I’m not knocking that. I just prefer shorter sentences— less than twenty – five words preferably. Definitely no more than thirty.

That aside, it was exciting to read about the evolution of the English language. I loved reading about the emoticons, and how far back they went, (right back to the 1980’s, apparently). Also, there’s debate about whether one of Abraham Lincoln’s written speeches included typos or a deliberate emoticon. In regard to emojis, I nominate the Ancient Egyptians as being the first to use them. 😛

Screenshot: Things have gone full circle over the past 4,000 years.

 

While language, particularly grammar has become a lot more relaxed over the years, Favila emphasised the need for the need for inclusive language and the importance in using appropriate terms for one’ gender or racial identity (particularly indigenous groups around the world). I’ll put my two cents in when it comes to gender: I believe you should refer to someone by the pronouns that a person prefers (including ‘they’ and ‘ze’/ ‘zir’).  Should it be something that a writer or anyone else needs to tie themselves in knots over with everyone they meet? No. I fear that we are making things too complicated. Be courteous. If you are asked to refer to someone using certain pronouns, use them. If not, my guess is what you see is what you get.

Another thing I found fascinating was the differences in British/ Australian and American English. Of course, there’s colour/ color, favour/ favor and Imperial vs Metric measurements (miles vs kilometres, etc). However, I didn’t know that the US has slightly different use of swear words and their offense levels than the UK and Australia. Who knew? (P.S. I’m not giving any examples here. Google them for yourself if you want to know).

A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age was a great read and offered great insights in the English language. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in language or it’s evolution.

Have you read A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age? What did you think? Leave your thoughts below.

 

Categories
Music News Pop Culture

Malcolm Young has died aged 64

AC/DC rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young has died on Saturday after a three – year long battle with dementia and lung cancer. He was sixty – four.

The Young family released a statement, describing him as a “beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother”.

The Scottish – born guitarist was in the original AC/DC lineup in 1973, along with his brother, Angus. his late brother, Easybeats’ member, George, as their producer.

AC/DC has been a major part of Australia’s rock music history. Since the release of their debut album, High Voltage in 1975, AC/DC took Australia, then the world by storm. To date, they have sold over 200 million albums.

The 1980 passing of lead singer, Bon Scott from alcohol poisining could have seen the end of the band. However, former Geordie singer, Brian Johnson took Bon Scott’s place later that year. It was then, they made, what’s arguably become one of the best selling albums in hard rock/ heavy metal, Back in Black. 

Their success was far from over. In 1991, AC/DC released their twelth studio album, Razor’s Edge, which included Thunderstruck.

The past few years had been tough on the band. Drummer Phil Rudd faced charges of marijuana posession and making threats to kill.

There were fears about Brian Johnston when he was told that he’d have to quit touring becausecof the risk of hearing loss. Guns ‘N’ Roses, Axl Rose was his replacement. However, in August, Rolling Stone reported that due to evolving hearing technology, Johnston had his hearing maintained and will he able to perform again. He made a surprise appearance at the Reading Festival.

Since Young’s retirement, his nephew, Stephen Young has taken his place on guitar. Hopefully, with that, AC/DC can keep on rock for a few more years.

Malcolm survived alongside his wife, Linda, children, Cara  and Ross, grandchildren and brother and sister.

Rock in peace, Malcolm.

Do you have a favourite AC/DC memory (song, concert, etc)? Tell us about in the comments below.

 

Categories
books Pop Culture

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ – a great end to a great series

Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The last book of the Harry Potter series. A fine ending to the series.

I finally finished the seventh Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was great. A fine end to what was overall a great series.

I started reading Harry Potter when I was about eleven. I got the first book either for Christmas or my birthday (can’t remember exactly. And I might have been twelve when I read it). It was like nothing I’ve read or (later in the movie), seen before.

It had a strong story line and characters. It was sad in parts. I cried when Harry Potter saw his parents in the Erised mirror in the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone movie.

I thought the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was better than the first. It had a great plot, and gave good context to the origin of Hogwarts, the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry and Ron turn out to be more mischievous.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2nd Harry Potter book

 

I won’t go through the whole series. You can read them for yourself, if you haven’t already. What I will say is that, what the whole series did really well is revealing the true colours of characters. And often, it wasn’t obvious at the start: for example, Sirius Black (Prisoner of Azkaban) was not a wanted criminal, but a man who was falsely accused of being a Death Eater and Harry’s godfather, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, celebrity and fraud who stole credit for other people’s achievements (Chamber of Secrets) and, of course, the revealing of Tom Riddle’s real identity – Lord Voldemort (a.k.a “He Who Must Not Be Named’).

I’ve got to say, my least favourite of the books and movies was the sixth one, Harry Potter and the Half – Blood Prince. It started off alright, with the revealing that Professor Snape was a Death Eater, but by the second half, I though the story fell a bit flat. The movie just went on for too long and there were moments in the film that I thought were unnecessary. This turned me off Harry Potter for a while.

However, I’m glad I finally did read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It took me over a month, but I got there (it was nice reading an actual paperback book, too, rather than a digital one). Rowling could not have finished the series any stronger if she tried.

Interesting things I’ve realised while reading the ‘Deathly Hallows’

When I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I realsed things throughout the series that I hadn’t noticed before. There are quite a few historical references (in characters’ names mainly), and strong social and political themes.

Historical names

Minerva McGonagall: Minerva,was of course the ancient Roman goddess of wisdom, intellect, arts and war. She did seems wise, I guess. I wonder if that was deliberate.

Another ancient Roman reference is the name of Professor Remus Lupin. Remus was believed to be a demigod; son of Mars, who along with his twin brother Romulus founded Rome. Remus ended up being murdered in a bitter dispute with Romulus, who ended up naming the city.

Does anyone know exactly why Rowling used references to ancient Roman mythology?

Social issues

If you look closely, there are a number of social and political themes in Harry Potter. The main one, at least I picked up on, is discrimination. That is first evident in the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Draco Malfoy calls Hermione Granger a “Mudblood”; an offensive term used against those who weren’t born into a “pure blood” wizard/ witch family. The level of hatred toward non – Magic (Muggle) or mixed families becomes much more explicit in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Voldemort and his followers attempt to weed out non – pure blood witches, wizards and Muggles (non – Magical people).

Not only is there implicit and explicit discrimination in the wizard and non – wizard world, but there is also historical tension between wizards and goblins. In the Deathly Hallows this is revealed by Griphook’s lack of trust towards Harry, Hermione and Ron (Weasley), which prevents him from allowing them access to Godric Gryffindor’s sword.

The importance of friendship is also prominent in all the Harry Potter books and movies. Harry learns to allow his friends to help him when he needs it. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore admonishes Harry to allow Ron and Hermione know what’s troubling him. In the Deathly Hallows, Neville Longbottom pleads with Harry to allow him to help him defeat Voldemort.

 

Harry Potter is undoubtedly one of the greatest fiction series, at least in the past ten years. I doubt that such creativity and success will be reciprocated any time soon. I’m glad I’ve gone through the Harry Potter journey.

Have you read all the Harry Potter books or seen the movies? What’s your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.