October 28, 2005

ghostriders in the sky

I posted a link to another version of this pretty stencil I did ages ago, but recently I did this spray for my folio.

As a matter of fact, I do rule the universe.
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watch me explode

Right now I kind of feel like one of the technicians at Chernobyl. On one hand, I want to deny my role in unleashing a curse onto humanity, on the other I feel the need to confess so the same mistake is never made again.

Who here likes to read magazines? You might have noticed a new magazine named Explode, aimed at teenage boys, has hit the stands. Here's the confessional: I was once employed by Pacific Publications to work on articles for the mock-up to take to focus groups for this magazine. The job was only temporary (a month, regular readers might remember me talking about this job this time last year) and nothing ever came of it. Or so I thought.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI've never really written about my time at Pac Pubs because I secretly harbour dreams of working there again. Working at PP was a mixture of wide-eyed whimsy and stomach-churning corporate culture coated in the worst elements of laddish behaviour. The final straw for me was the hilarious office joker who made some "funnies" about effective ways to kill muslims and, despite my best efforts (including my clever charade of hiding my gayness to fit in with the boys), the background level of casual misogyny really got to me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's talk about teen magazines. I secretly think mags like Girlfriend are great. Mixed up with all the contradictory messages about body image ("body image campaigns" are lame liberal feminism's evasive response to manifestations of alienation under capitalism. Say it! Capitalism fucks you up!) are some very heartfelt and interesting articles. My favourite article was one about how "psychics" use techniques such as cold reading. I'm in the privileged position to know a couple of people behind that particular magazine and I know for fact that they're very genuine and quite aware of the role they can play in young women's lives. Go and read some Chomsky about what bad media institutions do to good people.

Which brings me to my role in the formation of Explode. I was employed to write articles, tidbits and to come up with regular feature ideas. Reading this article on Crikey bought to my attention that some of the things I wrote made it into the first edition, as well as almost all of my ideas. Which is not to say that the entire publication is made up of things I made up (far from it), but that my ideas didmake it in. The gross out pictures in the opening pages? My idea (although I had shark attack pics in the mock-up). Here's the part where it starts to make me look bad: those break-up lines quoted in the Crikey article? Yep, I wrote them. Custom car culture? Me. Sealed section? Me again. Dolly Doctor for boys? I lay claim.

I tried to argue against the outright sexist stuff like scantily-clad women but, as you can see, I lost. I questioned the value of warping teen boys' ideals of femininity just to sell Playstation games or whatever. I think opening my big trap about the sexism is probably why I didn't get hired. And I would've taken the job, too. I'm more than prepared to sell out, it's just that no-one is buying.

So I'm filled with a conflicted mixture of disappointment and horror. It's like drunkenly cracking onto someone you think is ugly, only to be rejected. I'm curious as to why they didn't hire me on an ongoing basis given that they (seem to have) used so much of my writing and the editor almost seems to be quoting me verbatim on things I said during meetings, about rites-of-passage etc. I'm kind of glad they didn't though. Having said that, I'm still available. Stephen? Hello? (That's the conflict speaking).

I haven't bought a copy of the magazine yet. I'm a bit scared to see what is in it. Fuck it, I'll get a copy today. Let you know about the results soon.

PS I'm super sick right now. Send me comments of sympathy!

October 27, 2005

thanks asha

Some things never stop being funny.
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October 17, 2005

shotgun scatter

I'm on the precipice. So much to do that effects what happens to me over the next few years. This week will be crucial. So allow me to procrastinate and briefly weigh into the controversy around Serenity and the fanbase, alternately known as Browncoats and Reavers (the equivalent of Trekkers and Trekkies).

Image hosted by Photobucket.comOne of my favourite sites, CHUD, weighed in with editorials that have sent shockwaves around the world, that is if you understand "send shockwaves around the world" to mean "made a few nerds spurt Mountain Dew through their collective nostrils." And that, is my point. The ability of fanatic Firefly afficianados to alientate the general movie-going audience is limited by their sphere of influence. How exactly can they ruin a box office taking?

While CHUD has made very valid, accurate and neccessary points about the changing nature of fandom (this was done well by Land of the Dead, clearly less successfully by Serenity), I think they over-estimate the ability of forum banter to bleed into real-life decisions, like buying a movie ticket. Let's face it, non-geeks don't usually spend months anticipating this kind of release. It is not the marketing juggernaut of King Kong (as CHUD pointed out). I think the pamphleting and suspiciously well-publicised fan initiatives (such as the fellow who allegedly bought US$3k of tickets) are more indicative of Universal's defective PR strategy, and Mutant Enemy's unfortunate devotion to a vocal section of a fanbase that thrives on reference to itself. Not, as CHUD seems to say, the cause for Serenty's malaise at the box office.

I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan. I thought Serenity was one of the best sci-fi movies I've seen for years. I can recognise, however, that Buffy degenerated when fans began to influence the output a little too much. It's crude, but I'm going to say it anyway: geeks have decomposed into stockholders in cultural corporations. Geekery seems to be more about supporting the franchise as a community wrapped in a commodity. On one level this is a more harmonious relationship with the money behind the production, but on another level it's the opposite of everything that I love about geeks. I think it's great when fans take something like Star Trek and make it their own, interacting and commandeering in unexpected and often unprofitable ways. I'm not seeing that careful, critical eye from the Whedonites. Maybe it's Joss' ability to make flawed characters so likable that accounts for so many Whedon fans being scarily defensive. I'll also say something else a bit cringy and paraphrase Naomi Klein: the consumption of these commodities is now a cultural event. Having seen the latest film is cultural currency. I wish geeks could see past the marketing and back to the ideas.

The Browncoats/Reaver's mates at Universal once tried to shut down the kind of fan sites that bind the Firefly community together. Now they just control them with tidbits like t-shirts and movie props. Fuck that shit. Serenity was a watershed moment which should make fanboys and fangirls look at how they influence and are being influenced, but I doubt the Internet has the capacity for meaningful self-reflection. But, dammit, geeks need to be critical again.

October 07, 2005

george bush doesn't like black people

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The picture to the left is a completely accurate represtation of what it's like to be on the dole.

I'm being fully hassled by my Job Network Provider at the moment. I'm receiving phonecalls and endless emails. She (my "case manager" or whatever they call themselves) keeps asking for me to provide documentation to prove that I'm studying full time and then keeps saying I should be on Austudy. If this sounds familiar, it's because I've gone through the same rigmarole with this particular worker's predecessor.

This morning she rang and asked for me. When my housemate said I was at school, she basically accused her of lying because she "could hear voices in the background."

My tentative plan is to go back to studying next semester in which case I will need to go on Austudy, that is if it still exists by then. Christ, now that I want to get off the dole I can feel the icy tendrils of the Job Network trying to pull me back in.