Cultural Dissent


Who the hell cares how old Rebel Wilson is?

In recent days, online media began running strange stories — the exact relevance of which was unclear to anything but these site's Google analytics — claiming that Australian comic and actor Rebel Wilson was really in her mid-30s, not 29 as officially claimed.

3CR Community Radio Melbourne is almost 40 years old. On July 3, 1976, broadcasting from its base in Armadale, 3CR began sending its message out to a radius of just 16km. The station now broadcasts on digital radio and online platforms but the core value remains the same: providing a voice for those denied access to the mass media, particularly the working class, women, Indigenous people and the many community groups and issues discriminated against, in, and by, the mass media.

The open letter that is abridged below was first published at literary magazine Overland, where the full letter and its hundreds of signatories can be read. Artists and arts organisations can add their names to this list of signatories by emailing: overland@vu.edu.au.

If you would to like to sign the general petition, you can do so at the Australians for Artistic Freedom page.

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Prince at the 2015 Grammy awards: “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter. Tonight and always.”

DC Entertainment, Warner Bros Animation, Warner Bros Consumer Products and Mattel - forming a veritable Hollywood marketing Axis of Evil - issued a joint press release on April 22 saying they were releasing a tsunami of marketing targeted at six-to-12 year-old girls.

The product they will be pushing will be “DC Superhero Girls” - including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and more - during their formative years.

Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary
By Ernest Harsch
Ohio University Press, 2014
163 pages, $18.56.

A popular uprising in 1983 in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), a small and poor land-locked country in western Africa, had led to an obscure, but charismatic army officer becoming head of state.

This was inspiring news for those looking for a new breakthrough against imperialism. It had come after the depressing news that Margaret Thatcher's Britain had defeated Argentina in the Malvinas and Ronald Reagan's United States had crushed Grenada's revolution.

In The Company Of Cowards: Bush, Howard & Injustice at Guantanamo
Michael Mori
Viking, 2014
292 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Murder At Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit Of The Truth About Guantanamo Bay
Joseph Hickman
Simon & Schuster, 2015
245 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Major Michael Mori was a Republican-leaning, US military lawyer who “embraced the values I had been taught in scouts, sports, high school, college, law school and the Marines” — above all the ideal of fair play.

Samba
Co-written & directed by Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano
In cinemas now

Nobody could say that French film makers Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano — and their actor of choice, Omar Sy — shy away from heavy subjects.

In their 2012 international hit The Intouchables, they dived straight into questions of disability, racism and class. Now in Samba they have tackled the question of illegal migrants struggling to survive without papers in contemporary France.

I fanatically loved the critically acclaimed Baltimore-based television drama The Wire, which ran for five seasons from 2002-08. It is difficult to even imagine my pop-cultural brain without the presence of Omar Little, Stringer Bell, Bunk and “McNutty”.

When I started doing my sports radio show eight years ago, I scheduled interviews with as many of the actors as I could for no other reason than I wanted to breathe their air. Talking to Michael K Williams about the method of Omar's “long game” while he aggressively chewed on a sandwich will forever remain a career highlight.

If you don't understand baseball's Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, then you can't understand why the Maryland city exploded this week. If you don't understand Oriole Park at Camden Yards then you can't understand why what happened in Baltimore can replicate itself in other cities around the United States.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, US rapper Marcel Cartier released the track "The Guns Of The Viet Minh".

Last year, self-described "pick-up artist" and committed misogynist Julien Blanc arrived in Australia for a planned series of seminars on how to harass women. In response, a grassroots feminist network organised protests that forced several venues to cancel Blanc's seminars and, eventually, prompted the Australian government to cancel Blanc's visa.

A Short History Of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins To Neoliberal Theocracy By John Rainford Resistance Books $20, 184pp. The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Massacre is an explosive theatre work about the politics and violence of East Timor. Produced by Stone/Castro (Australia) and Colectivo 84 (Portugal), it features John Romao as “Timor” and Paulo Castro as “East”.

They work with “weapons of grotesque, sarcasm and a thrash metal soundtrack to create a scenic, hypnotic and dangerous game. The mutant metamorphosis of Australia, Indonesia and Portugal make for an in-your-face confrontation to the East Timor crisis.”

It's Fatal
Miss Hood
Payback Records
Out now
www.facebook.com/misshoodoffical

Hard-hitting rapper Miss Hood comes from a long line of women warriors. Her ancestors, the Kunai and Gunditjmara people of eastern and western Victoria, put female fighters on the frontline.

"Both of the tribes were matriarchal, so women were equal to men," says the Melbourne-based emcee. "It wasn't unusual to have women warriors as well as men warriors."

Little wonder, then, that her music packs such a powerful feminist punch.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, including a response to the "Reclaim Australia" rallies. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

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The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again
by Paul Geoghegan
Luath Press 2015
177 pages

The British-wide general election for the Westminster parliament scheduled for May 7 looks set to be very close, perhaps even closer than the 2010 election that resulted in the Labour Party being replaced by a Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Opinion polls suggest that neither of the two main British parties, Conservative or Labour, will win enough seats for a majority of their own in the House of Commons.

Günter Grass, who was one of Germany’s most important post-war novelists, died on April 13 at the age of 87 in the town of Lübeck, in northern Germany.

Grass was perhaps most famous for his 1959 book The Tin Drum, a novel that embodied fantastical elements in its critique of Weimar and Nazi Germany. As such, his style bore resemblances to Latin America’s genre of magical realism. In 1979, the book was turned into an Academy Award winning film by Volker Schlöndorff, which won the Oscar for best foreign film.

Internationally awarded Uruguayan author and journalist Eduardo Galeano died on April 13 of lung cancer at age 75 in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.

Born September 3, 1940, Galeano was author of about 35 books, including 1971’s Open Veins of Latin America, which details how Western powers have exploited Latin America and its resources for centuries. It became a bestseller overnight after the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez handed the book a Barack Obama during the fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009.

White City, Black City: Architecture & War in Tel Aviv & Jaffa
By Sharon Rotbard
Pluto Press, £14.99

In July 2003, Unesco put the “White City” of Tel Aviv on its list of World Heritage Sites. It took almost 20 years of incessant campaigning by the Israeli state to secure this recommendation that, de facto, legitimised far-reaching aspects of Zionist ideology.

But was there any merit to the Tel Aviv case in the first place? In fact, the building of Tel Aviv began adjacently to Jaffa — one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world — only from about 1909.

The Inconvenient Genocide: Who Remembers the Armenians?
Geoffrey Robertson QC, Vintage Books,
Sydney, 294 pages, 2014

On the eve of Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler urged his generals “to kill without mercy men, women and children of the Polish race or language”.

“Only in such a way will we win [what] we need,” Hitler said. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.”

The Nazi leader was referring to the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turkish empire in 1915 against the Armenian people within its borders.

Hell-Bent: Australia’s Leap Into The Great War
Douglas Newton
Scribe, 2014
344 pages, $32.99 (pb)

Behind all the froth, then and now, about the noble cause of World War I — defence of freedom against German aggression — lay a far less exalted reality, writes retired University of Western Sydney historian Douglas Newton.

The war’s “grand plan” for Britain, candidly called “The Spoils” by the British Colonial Secretary, was to divvy the world up among the victors.

Gallipoli, Lest We Forget … The Facts
By John Rainford & Peter Ewer
Available at NoGlory.org

In their short documentary released just ahead of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, John Rainford and Peter Ewer have captured the strategic and tactical blunders that led to the deaths of so many in the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign, and the social and economic context in which it was fought.

“Down The Abbott Hole”
By Zelda Grimshaw
Download free

A group of musicians in Cairns, Queensland, have released a song controversially calling for the head of Tony Abbott.

“Down the Abbott Hole” refers to Abbott’s Australia as a bleak and sterile environment, in which fear reigns over logic, and the atmosphere is “cold as ice, black as coal”. The song can be streamed online and was being played by radio stations all over the country just hours after its release.

Melbourne punk band The Duvtons have come out of a five-year hiatus to record a catchy new anti-Abbott song to hasten the fall of “our very own idiot”.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on International Women's Day. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE F SPOT FEMMES FATALES

Only Built For Koori Linx
Provocalz
Featuring Felon and 18 other Indigenous emcees
Mastered by Felon
Coming soon
www.facebook.com/Felon167Inc

The mainstream media are swarming all over the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Felon Mason is stripped to the waist.

Blood & Guts: Dispatches From The Whale Wars
Sam Vincent
Black Inc., 2014, 274 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Industrial-scale whaling, writes Sam Vincent in Blood & Guts, had picked clean the world’s oceans until only the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary remained, protected by the icy remoteness of Antarctica and a worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

It is difficult to imagine two more different university towns in the United States than Madison, Wisconsin, and Norman, Oklahoma.

Madison has a reputation stretching back decades as liberal ― even radical ― territory. That ain’t Norman.

In recent days, however, both communities were connected by the resistance of Black students ― and supporters ― against racism.

Madison and Norman are bringing together different aspects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It demonstrates how this struggle is firmly implanted among the young ― including young athletes.

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
Gabriella Coleman
464 pages
Published November 2014
Verso
www.versobooks.com

In the early days of hacker collective Anonymous, political activism seemed to be the last thing on its members' minds.

Seeking only laughs, usually at the expense of others, members would dismiss anyone they disapproved of as "fags". They held particular disdain for anyone hinting at political activism, who they slammed as "moralfags".

Radical Aboriginal rapper Provocalz uploaded the new track "Closure" to YouTube on March 20, in his words to "get out the anger n frustrations of the last few days". It responds to the proposal to forcibly close up to 150 rural Aboriginal communities.

I take issue with Ben Courtice’s and Emma Murphy’s criticism of my review of Bill Gammage’s book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia in the January 28 Green Left Weekly.

I have two major arguments with their criticism. First, Gammage has made a major contribution to our understanding of how Aboriginal Australians cared for the land for more than 60,000 years right across the continent.

Grrl Fest is an independent multi-platform music and arts event, celebrating and empowering women-identified artists. This year, the Melbourne event will be celebrating its third year.

Grrl Fest will be held on March 21 at the Northcote Town Hall.

There will be an outdoor venue, markets, music, workshops, cocktails and cabaret. The venue is a change up from the dusty warehouse beginnings of Grrl Fest.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
By Jill Lepore
Knopf, 2014, 410 pages

Wonder Woman cannot marry, according to Amazon law. She doesn’t want to, either. Especially if it would mean that she — the comic book superhero disguised as a secretary — would be stuck in the kitchen cooking dinner for her would-be domesticator, Captain Steve Trevor, the US pilot she fell in love with after rescuing him from his plane crash on her woman-only, feminist island utopia.

This week RE-fugue is happening. An artistic residency by Marziya Mohammedali about the intersection between art and activism. It's aimed at amplifying the voices of refugees, including those currently in detention and inspiring people to get active.

As you enter the space you're confronted with an installation that resembles a tent from Manus Island detention centre. Depending on when you attend the residency, you might get to help out creating the installation — though you've missed the really fun part of getting the tarpaulins up.

No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes
By Anand Gopal
Metropolitan books, 2014
304 pp, $27

Anand Gopal's book should be compulsory reading for every federal politician in Australia. Nobody could finish it and still have a shred of belief in US foreign policy.

What comes through this history is that it is very dangerous to be an enemy of the US. However, it is just as dangerous to be an ally.

The son of poor villagers in Niger, Bombino was set to come a long way to perform at WOMADelaide, the annual world music and dance festival held in Adelaide from March 6 to 9. His unique blend of desert blues and hardcore rock 'n' roll was sure to fire up this year’s main stage. Vanessa Powell spoke to the performer.

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Bombino, can you tell me about the traditional music of Niger? Does your music incorporate traditional styles?

Citizenfour
Directed by Laura Poitras
Staring Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald & William Binney
In cinemas now

Directed, filmed, and produced by Laura Poirtas, Citizenfour is a documentary about exposing truths those in power would like hidden, and the danger of mass surveillance in our present society.

Focusing on the case of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, who exposed the US government body's wholesale spying around the world, it takes the viewer on a thrilling journey to reveal how the story unfolded away from the spotlight.

Citizenfour won the Oscar for best documentary on February 22, an award that its director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald collected, later joined on stage by Edward Snowden's partner Lindsay Mills.

“The disclosures of Edward Snowden don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” said Poitras when receiving the Oscar.

“When the decisions that rule us are taken in secret we lose the power to control and govern ourselves.”

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