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Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ casts Canada as a racial utopia

<p>When Hulu’s series <em>The Handmaid’s Tale</em> premiered in 2017, reviewers noted <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/arts/television/review-the-handmaids-tale-creates-a-chilling-mans-world.html">its gripping drama and dystopian exploration</a> of rape culture and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/26/the-handmaids-tale-year-trump-misogyny-metoo">misogyny at a time when both were hallmarks of Donald Trump’s presidency</a>.</p> <p>The series is adapted from Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. It has won numerous awards and was recently renewed for <a href="https://www.elle.com/culture/movies-tv/a35130606/handmaids-tale-season-5-news-date-cast-spoilers-trailer/">a fifth season</a>. But some commentators, including writer Ellen E. Jones, have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jul/31/the-handmaids-tales-race-problem">criticized the series for its use of colour-blind casting that created inclusivity but otherwise ignored race in storylines</a>. Others, including Noah Berlatsky, have analyzed how both the series and novel <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/15/15808530/handmaids-tale-hulu-margaret-atwood-black-history-racial-erasure">erase Black people’s history</a>.</p> <p>Our research examines representations of <a href="https://www.upress.state.ms.us/Books/R/Race-in-Young-Adult-Speculative-Fiction">race in speculative fiction</a> and of <a href="https://www.mqup.ca/reading-between-the-borderlines-products-9780773555136.php">Canada in U.S. literature</a>, leading us to notice how Hulu’s series represents race and national difference.</p> <p>The show positions Canada as a morally superior nation that has rejected the dystopian society’s repressive and exclusionist thinking. This is especially apparent in Season 4’s focus on characters’ escape to Canada, a theme that references older abolitionist narratives. In so doing, the show obscures Canada’s history of slavery, colonialism and racism.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/81PyH5TH-NQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> </p> <h2>Atwood’s dystopian world</h2> <p>Both the novel and show draw on U.S. history to imagine a dystopian world facing an unexplained fertility crisis. Gilead, a <a href="https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on-how-she-came-to-write-the-handmaids-tale">theocratic nation led by religious fundamentalists</a>, has overthrown the U.S. government. Atwood’s female narrator is an <a href="https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA206534450&amp;sid=googleScholar&amp;v=2.1&amp;it=r&amp;linkaccess=abs&amp;issn=00294047&amp;p=AONE&amp;sw=w&amp;userGroupName=anon%7Ec0791e64">educated white woman</a> forced to become a “handmaid.” Each month, a commander rapes her in a religious fertility ceremony. Babies born to handmaids are raised by commanders and their wives. The sole purpose of the handmaids is to rebuild Gilead’s population.</p> <p>Writer Priya Nair explains that Atwood’s novel draws on the historical <a href="https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/anti-blackness-handmaids-tale">oppression of Black enslaved women and applies it to fictional white women</a>. For example, <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Dark-Horizons-Science-Fiction-and-the-Dystopian-Imagination/Moylan-Baccolini/p/book/9780415966146">handmaids who are disobedient</a> are beaten or hanged.</p> <p>Despite clear parallels to slavery, Atwood only obliquely references slavery when the narrator <a href="https://msmagazine.com/2017/05/02/whats-not-said-handmaids-tale/">explains that the “Children of Ham</a>” have been relocated to the Dakotas. “Children of Ham” is a Biblical phrase that was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/01/arts/from-noah-s-curse-to-slavery-s-rationale.html">used historically to justify enslaving Africans</a>.</p> <p>Nair also notes that the novel focuses on white women’s oppression, while seemingly ignoring “the historical realities of an American dystopia founded on anti-Black violence.”</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433508/original/file-20211123-26-1jbixok.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A crowd of women, of white, Black and Asian identities, seen in cloaks and bonnets." /> <span class="caption">Actors are seen at the filming of Handmaid’s Tale at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., February 2019.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Victoria Pickering/Flickr)</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-NC-ND</a></span></p> <p>While the novel relies on historical experiences of Black Americans, its characters are predominantly white, a feature of Gilead that Atwood maintains in the 2019 follow-up <em>The Testaments</em>. As reviewer Danielle Kurtzleben notes, in this second instalment: “<a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/755868251/the-testaments-takes-us-back-to-gilead-for-a-fast-paced-female-centered-adventur">Readers hoping to hear more about race in Gilead will be sorely disappointed</a>.”</p> <p>Atwood intentionally framed Gilead as both misogynist and racist: <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/15/15808530/handmaids-tale-hulu-margaret-atwood-black-history-racial-erasure">the theocracy is interested only in reproducing white babies and, therefore, only enslaving white women</a>.</p> <h2>Colour-blind casting in Hulu’s adaptation</h2> <p>In adapting the novel, Hulu relied on a diverse cast of actors. <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005253/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1">White actor Elisabeth Moss</a> plays June and <a href="https://blackbookmag.com/arts-culture/essay-the-handmaids-tale-star-o-t-fagbenle-on-racial-fairness-in-the-entertainment-industry/">Black British actor</a> <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1282966/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1">O-T Fagbenle</a> portrays her husband Luke. <a href="https://www.bustle.com/p/samira-wiley-on-doing-right-by-her-handmaids-tale-character-her-wife-the-queer-black-community-herself-8732193">Black actor</a> <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4148126/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1">Samira Wiley</a> was cast as June’s best friend Moira. Actors of colour portray characters of all class positions in Gilead’s society.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433506/original/file-20211123-25-401rkr.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="A Black woman dressed glamorously in red lipstick is seen arriving at an event in front of a Hulu / Handmaid's Tale sign." /></p> <p><span class="caption">Samira Wiley, who plays Moira, arrives for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ FYC Phase 2 Event in August 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Shutterstock)</span></span></p> <p><a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0588005/">Executive producer Bruce Miller</a> acknowledges that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jul/31/the-handmaids-tales-race-problem">he cast actors of colour</a> in many roles to avoid creating an all-white world, which would result in a racist TV show. The show doesn’t address race, he explained, because: “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jul/31/the-handmaids-tales-race-problem">It just felt like in a world where birth rates have fallen so precipitously, fertility would trump everything</a>.”</p> <p>The show then relies on colour-blind casting and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/06/16/the-handmaids-tale-proves-that-colorblind-casting-isnt-enough/">colour-blind storytelling</a>.</p> <p>In Atwood’s novel, Canada is <a href="https://the-handmaids-tale.fandom.com/wiki/Canada">the place to which handmaids escape</a>, fleeing there on the Underground Femaleroad — a term that clearly invokes <a href="https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/underground-railroad">the Underground Railroad</a>.</p> <p>In Hulu’s series, handmaids — <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5931656/?ref_=ttep_ep10">including Moira</a> — escape from Gilead to Canada where they find protection and safety, and are able to rebuild their lives. The series draws on older literary traditions that have been integral to maintaining the myth of Canada as free from racism.</p> <h2>Draws on abolitionist narratives</h2> <p>In the 1840s and 1850s, U.S. abolitionist authors intentionally represented Canada as a racial haven. By casting <a href="https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/jcs.2020-0025">Canada as morally superior</a>, abolitionists imagined what the U.S. might look like if slavery were abolished.</p> <p>Abolitionist authors like Black songwriter and poet <a href="https://southernspaces.org/2020/white-people-america-1854/">Joshua McCarter Simpson</a> and white novelist <a href="https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/harriet-beecher-stowe/harriet-beecher-stowe-life/">Harriet Beecher Stowe</a> celebrated Canada as a place that resisted racial violence and provided legal protection for Black refugees fleeing U.S. slavery.</p> <p>Some abolitionists sought to capture the nuanced accounts of Black refugees in Canada. Abolitionist editor <a href="https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/drew/drew.html">Benjamin Drew</a> published oral testimonies of Black refugees, including their experiences of racism in Ontario.</p> <p>Others, like Stowe, minimized the difficulties of the lived experiences of Black Canadians, focusing on stories of Black success in Canada. These celebratory narratives dominated representations of Canada in U.S. literature.</p> <h2>Canada as utopia?</h2> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433513/original/file-20211123-20-1n4hkjj.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="A group of women in red cloaks and bonnets are seen walking by a cluster of trees outside." /></p> <p><span class="caption">Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ escape-to-Canada stories draw on historical narratives by abolitionists.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Victoria Pickering/Flickr)</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-NC-ND</a></span></p> <p><a href="https://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/chairholders-titulaires/profile-eng.aspx?profileId=4528">Literary scholar Nancy Kang</a> argues these abolitionist stories constructed an “<a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/40033673">allegory of Canadian freedom reigning triumphant over American bondage</a>.”</p> <p>Hulu’s <em>The Handmaid’s Tale</em> escape-to-Canada stories draw on these historical narratives. The handmaid Emily, portrayed by white actor <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0088127/">Alexis Bledel</a>, escapes Gilead dramatically, entering Canada by <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8363118/?ref_=ttep_ep1">wading across a rushing river</a>, nearly losing June’s daughter. Once across, she weeps over the baby, recreating an iconic scene from Stowe’s <a href="http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/uncletom/uthp.html"><em>Uncle Tom’s Cabin</em></a>, when the enslaved Eliza escapes slave-catchers by fleeing across a river with her child.</p> <p>Later in the episode, an Asian Canadian doctor welcomes Emily to Canada, saying: “You’re safe here.”</p> <p>On some level, Hulu’s use of colour-blind casting, as Berlatsky notes, “addresses the narrative’s debt to African-American history.” But viewers are still watching an adaptation of a novel whose emotional horror is based on imagining violent, racist aspects of U.S. history <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/15/15808530/handmaids-tale-hulu-margaret-atwood-black-history-racial-erasure">as if the atrocities happened to white people</a>.</p> <h2>Myths of Canada</h2> <p>The series avoids Canada’s history of anti-Black racism, slavery and state violence against Black bodies, as detailed by gender studies and Black/African diaspora scholar <a href="https://wgsi.utoronto.ca/person/robyn-maynard/">Robyn Maynard</a> in <a href="https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/policing-black-lives"><em>Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present</em></a>. It also overlooks Canada’s colonial <a href="https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1450124405592/1529106060525">violence toward Indigenous peoples</a>. These <a href="https://theconversation.com/canadas-shameful-history-of-sterilizing-indigenous-women-107876">forms of violence</a> are intertwined with seeking control over women’s reproductive rights and sexual freedom.</p> <p>The series also overlooks Canada’s history of <a href="https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinese-immigration-act">racist immigration</a> <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/auschwitz-jews-not-welcome-in-wartime-canada">and asylum</a> policies.</p> <p>Hulu’s series does explore some of the consequences of patriarchal oppression. But the show’s positioning of Canada as a racial haven obscures <a href="https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/racism">its history</a> and the <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/firsthand/m_blog/dont-believe-the-hype-canada-is-not-a-nation-of-cultural-tolerance">contemporary reality of racism</a> experienced by BIPOC women and communities in Canada.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/167766/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/miranda-green-barteet-1254372">Miranda Green-Barteet</a>, Associate Professor, Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alyssa-maclean-1261523">Alyssa MacLean</a>, Assistant Professor, Department of English and Writing Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/hulus-the-handmaids-tale-casts-canada-as-a-racial-utopia-167766">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Hulu</em></p>

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The Beatles: Get Back review – Peter Jackson’s TV series is a thrilling, funny (and long) treat for fans

<p>The Beatles’ Get Back project, undertaken in January 1969, has finally been completed. Again.</p> <p>For most of the last 50 years it has been known as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_It_Be_(1970_film)">Let it Be</a>, a film and LP record released in 1970. The project, conceived by Paul McCartney, was originally intended to be a television special documenting the band’s preparation for a live concert (their first in two and a half years). Because of the performance element, the Beatles decided to get back to their roots and only develop material that could be played without adding overdubs.</p> <p>As it happened, the concert didn’t go ahead, the Beatles famously deciding instead to play a short unannounced gig on the roof of their headquarters. The TV special became a feature film, and the audio was handed over to the “wall of sound” producer, Phil Spector (leading to controversial results).</p> <p>Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, the Beatles withdrew the film version (a fly-on-the-wall documentary directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) from circulation.</p> <p>Lindsay-Hogg’s Let it Be is remembered as a portrait of a band in the process of breaking up. And indeed, George Harrison did briefly quit the band early into the four-week project, though Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary does not cover this episode.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433853/original/file-20211125-17-14zc63j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433853/original/file-20211125-17-14zc63j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">George Harrison in Get Back.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Walt Disney Pictures, Apple Corps, WingNut Films</span></span></p> <p>Let it Be was seen as a downer in part because the Beatles, especially Lennon, were keen to trash it in the light of the band’s breakup (which occurred just weeks before the release of Let it Be, both film and album). As Lennon said in December 1970, the shoot was “hell”, and Spector was “given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit”.</p> <h2>A different tenor</h2> <p>While the newly released The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson, covers Harrison’s departure and return, Jackson’s film is tonally different from Lindsay-Hogg’s. According to Jackson, the dour account of Let it Be is inaccurate, since there is much “joy” and friendship evident in the 60 hours of film and 150 hours of audio tape that has been sitting in a vault for half a century.</p> <p>Much of this audio has long been available as bootlegs, informing written accounts of this period of the Beatles’ history. The audio without the video, however, doesn’t always tell the whole story.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hmDy9x3AUc0?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>While Jackson and his team haven’t shied away from the moments of friction, ennui, and aimlessness experienced by the band, the tenor of Get Back is more upbeat than Lindsay-Hogg’s version (though there is perhaps more levity in that film than Jackson or its reputation allows).</p> <p>But Get Back is not just a recut of Let it Be; it is a documentary in its own right, a film about the making of a film. Lindsay-Hogg is now a character in the drama of trying to work out what the project is about, and how it will end.</p> <p>Unlike the cinema verité style of Let it Be, Get Back gives much-needed context in the form of titles naming the protagonists and songs, as well as explaining what is happening. The use of a day-by-day countdown to the live performance gives the otherwise shapeless events a sense of narrative and even tension.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nSrCk1icisI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Get Back was to be a feature film with a theatrical release, but COVID-19 led to a rescheduling and reconceptualising of the work, so that it became a documentary for Disney+. Recent reports were that the series would be a three-part series with a six-hour running time.</p> <h2>The climactic rooftop concert</h2> <p>As it turns out, that running time is closer to eight hours. (Let it Be is a mere 80 minutes long.) Almost all of these eight hours show the Beatles at work on a sound stage (at Twickenham Film Studios) or in an ad hoc recording studio (put together in the Beatles’ Apple headquarters, when – after Harrison’s walkout – it was decided that Twickenham wasn’t conducive to creativity).</p> <p>The Apple studio is clearly more pleasant, and the tone is further lightened when the Beatles are joined by an outsider, their old friend Billy Preston, on keyboards (a crucial moment for the project).</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/385eTo76OzA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>There is nevertheless something of a hermetic feel to most of Get Back, so that when the Beatles and Preston head up to the rooftop to play in public – the cinematic “payoff” that the band and Lindsay-Hogg had been looking for throughout the project – there is a palpable sense of release.</p> <p>And the famous rooftop concert, presented with creative use of split screen, is stunningly good (and is also, for the first time, presented in its 42-minute entirety).</p> <p>After the countless run throughs and takes of the same songs over the preceding weeks (as well as numerous covers and early Beatles tunes), the sense of energy and the quality of playing gives the film the climactic moment that it needs, complete with police officers demanding, albeit politely, that the Beatles stop breaching the peace of London’s West End.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I392lK8QUhQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h2>Cigarettes, cups of tea, and white bread</h2> <p>Get Back is very different from Let it Be in part due to Jackson’s editing, especially his use of montage, which produces a dynamic, sometimes frenetic, energy. Beyond these stylistic elements, Get Back is notable as a technical feat.</p> <p>It looks and sounds astonishingly good, not something that was ever said about Let it Be. Jackson and his technical team have employed the kind of film restoration techniques used in his war documentary <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7905466/">They Shall Not Grow Old</a> (2018).</p> <p>The vision in Get Back is beautifully saturated, sharp, and less grainy than Lindsay-Hogg’s film. Harrison and Starr, in their sartorial splendour, often resemble their cartoon equivalents from <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063823/">Yellow Submarine</a> (1968).</p> <p>If there is anything unvarnished about Jackson’s film it is the sight of people apparently living off cigarettes, cups of tea, and white bread. Also notably “historical” is the homosocial nature of the project; almost all of the active participants are men. Even Yoko Ono, who sits beside Lennon throughout, is almost entirely silent (save for her vocal participation in a couple of impromptu jams).</p> <p>While the film has been painstakingly restored, the soundtrack has been almost remade. Much of the audio was recorded on mono quarter-inch tape. Jackson’s technical team used machine learning to effectively “remix” these mono tapes, allowing Jackson to hone in on individual voices masked by other sound sources (voices or musical instruments).</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433854/original/file-20211125-19-e4obm5.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433854/original/file-20211125-19-e4obm5.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">John Lennon in Get Back.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Walt Disney Pictures, Apple Corps, WingNut Films</span></span></p> <p>This is an extraordinary technological breakthrough, allowing key conversations to be heard properly for the first time, and for the remixing of the play throughs and rehearsals of songs, which weren’t being recorded as “takes” on the eight-track system.</p> <p>Get Back is a treat for any Beatles fan. It’s a reminder, too, if one is needed, that some classic songs were recorded for the project. (Given that McCartney supplied at least three of these classics – Let it Be, The Long and Winding Road, and Get Back – it’s unsurprising that he has long been unsatisfied with the way they were originally showcased.)</p> <p>But Jackson’s film isn’t all sweetness and light. Lennon, for instance, is dismissive of Harrison’s I, Me, Mine, and he makes a throwaway joke about Bob Wooler, a Liverpool disc jockey whom Lennon assaulted in 1963. Also notable is the relative absence of George Martin, who largely hands production duties to his sound engineer, Glyn Johns, surely a sign that Martin found something amiss with the project.</p> <p>And indeed numerous sequences show a band lacking focus and discipline. Get Back, then, is unquestionably a mixed bag: thrilling, compelling, and funny, but also sometimes just a little boring.</p> <p>In this, Jackson has been true to the original project. His extraordinary TV series is essential viewing for anyone interested in popular music.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172404/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-mccooey-308502">David McCooey</a>, Professor of Writing and Literature, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-beatles-get-back-review-peter-jacksons-tv-series-is-a-thrilling-funny-and-long-treat-for-fans-172404">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Apple Corps Ltd</em></p>

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Royals release extraordinary joint statement

<p>Buckingham palace has released a rare statement to condemn the BBC's new documentary about the royal family, saying the claims the show made are "overblown and unfounded".</p> <p>The extraordinary joint statement from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House was aired during the two-part series titled <em>Princes and the Press</em>, which details how Prince Harry and Prince William have been treated by the media.</p> <p>The royal family was reportedly furious when they were not given the chance to vet the documentary before it aired, and issued a blistering statement to the BBC ahead of the broadcast.</p> <p>"A free, responsible and open Press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy," the joint statement read.</p> <p>"However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility."</p> <p>The first episode of the series aired on Monday night and featured Omid Scobie, a journalist who co-authored Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's unofficial autobiography <em>Finding Freedom</em>.</p> <p>Scobie claimed that unfavourable stories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has been vetted by members of the royal household, while journalist Dan Wootton said officials "behind the scenes" has reached out to press amid growing frustrations with Harry and Meghan's behaviour.</p> <p>"There were some people who felt [Meghan] needed to be put in her place," Scobie said during the documentary.</p> <p>"I think by leaking a negative story, that's punishment."</p> <p>The documentary also discussed rumours of "competitiveness" between members of the royal family, and aired reports of Meghan's alleged "bullying" while in the palace.</p> <p>Jenny Afia, a lawyer who had previously worked with Meghan, denied reports that the Duchess was "difficult" to work with.</p> <p>"Those stories were false. This narrative that no one can work with the Duchess of Sussex that she was too difficult, demanding a boss, and that everyone had to leave is just not true," she said.</p> <p>It has been reported that officials at the BBC refused to allow Buckingham Palace advance footage of the first episode of the documentary, in order to eliminate any chance of censorship.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Preppers is a deep reading of colonial violence – and a hilarious, must-watch Aussie TV comedy

<p>A sophisticated multi-layered critique of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy with an all-star Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cast (along with some well-known non-Indigenous personalities playing an assortment of “allies”), Preppers is hilarious.</p> <p>Trying to navigate being the only Indigenous person on an all-white TV morning show, Wake up Australia, and dealing with <a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/unmasking-the-racial-contract-debbie-bargallie/book/9781925302653.html">daily microaggressions</a>, Charlie (Nakkiah Lui) finds herself suffering feelings of inadequacy and soothing herself with self-help affirmations.</p> <p>Then, after a series of unfortunate events, she wakes to find herself at a doomsday preppers hold out known as “Eden 2”. The six-part series then unfolds in an isolated camp where power relations shift as everyone prepares for the end of the world.</p> <p>The core cast of seven is led by a group of brilliant Blak actors: Lui is joined by Jack Charles, Meyne Wyatt, Ursula Yovich and Aaron McGrath, with non-Indigenous actors Eryn Jean Norvill and Chum Ehelepola rounding out the preppers.</p> <p>Many other wonderful actors move in and out of the series, including Miranda Tapsell, Luke Carroll and Christine Anu, as it tackles some big issues such as colonial violence, frontier wars, inter-generational trauma and the politics of identity.</p> <p>But it does this all in the great Aussie tradition of <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-84796-8_6">taking the piss</a>: making fun of the things that are absurd, risible, offensive and hurtful.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nvb1Mx34TiA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h2>A story of allyship</h2> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-84796-8_10">Much has been written on the topic of allyship</a> with Indigenous people, particularly the danger that, in seeking “ally” status one is really seeking to position oneself as the “good white person”.</p> <p>If white allies are motivated solely by a desire to be seen as a “good person”, there is a danger they might remain <a href="https://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2070/">ignorant of or indifferent</a> to larger structures of power. Preppers explores this complexity in a way that will make us all laugh, while also revealing how allyship operates to silence or take from Indigenous people.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430732/original/file-20211108-25-bmjnpb.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430732/original/file-20211108-25-bmjnpb.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A white woman dressed like a coloniser, and an Aboriginal woman dressed as an Aussie flag thong." /></a> <span class="caption">Is this allyship?</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">ABC TV</span></span></p> <p>In one episode, the group is accidentally locked in the bunker. Jayden (Aaron McGrath) calls on Kirby (Eryn Jean Norvill) to be sacrificed before they run out of air. As Jayden describes it, this would be “the ultimate display of white allyship”.</p> <p>Kirby, not very happy to comply, responds by stating she should survive to go on and tell the story.</p> <p>“We don’t need another white person to tell a Black story,” says Jayden.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430731/original/file-20211108-10550-nd7vuv.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430731/original/file-20211108-10550-nd7vuv.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A white woman with a shotgun mike, looked on by three Aboriginal people." /></a> <span class="caption">‘We don’t need another white person to tell a Black story’, Jayden tells Kirby.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">ABC TV</span></span></p> <p>Becoming an ally is no simple or straightforward matter. Instead, it requires constant reflection on your social position, and remaining accountable to those with whom you are “allied” – but you probably won’t be called to self-sacrifice to ensure enough air is left in your doomsday bunker.</p> <p>In true Hollywood end-of-days fashion, the group turns on itself. Kirby declares Charlie (Lui) will be the one to die.</p> <p>Charlie’s reward will be becoming the namesake for a future child of born again Christians Lionel (New Zealand-Sri Lankan actor Chum Ehelepola) and Kelly (Ursula Yovich). Not the first or the second child but one of the later ones, Kelly notes.</p> <p>An annual day of honour will also be bestowed upon Charlie – “a day of mourning and dancing and stuff”. Thankfully, they are saved by the arrival of Charlie’s mum, Marie (Christine Anu).</p> <h2>Tough truths through comedy</h2> <p>Preppers unpacks what we think we know – and what has been taught to us as truth – about colonisation. In one scene, bones are found. The preppers suspect the bones could be those of an Aboriginal person killed during the frontier wars.</p> <p>The truth of these atrocities is questioned by some members of the group. “Don’t they teach you that in school?”, Jayden asks.</p> <p>“We used to make boomerangs out of Popsicle sticks, does that count?”, asks Lionel.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430733/original/file-20211108-10010-1o9yuk7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430733/original/file-20211108-10010-1o9yuk7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Jack Charles" /></a> <span class="caption">Through Monty (Jack Charles), Preppers tells the truth about Australia’s history.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">ABC TV</span></span></p> <p>The resident Elder, Monty (Jack Charles), reveals he may have some records of local frontier wars and quips “that is the thing with you white fellas. You deny it but you wrote it down”.</p> <p>Describing <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/this-interactive-map-highlights-150-indigenous-massacres">frontier violence</a> as an apocalypse, Monty shows the group a series of slides of colonial soldiers and settlers killing Aboriginal people, declaring they were “led by a cruel man, a real dog. He shot, burnt, beat, hung local Aboriginal people”.</p> <p>Even though Preppers is a comedy, the show provides a deep reading often left out of recollections of colonial violence. Indigenous people were not just passive victims of the heinous crimes. They were people who fought for their lives and Country.</p> <p>“They ambushed this colonial dog and his men, stole their weapons and turned the guns back on them. The Blackfullas had their revenge”, says Monty.</p> <h2>Blackfulla deadly</h2> <p>From Charlie, whose anxiety manifests into uncontrollable flatulence, to a Black <a href="https://www.vulture.com/2019/04/is-you-vs-wild-real-netflix-bear-gryllls.html">Bear Grylls</a>-alpha-male-wannabe (Guy, played by Meyne Wyatt), to a pair of amorous born again Christians practising abstinence, Preppers includes brilliant performances from all in the cast.</p> <p>Preppers embodies the true definition of Blak humour in all its intricacies, and the unique ways Indigenous comedy can address the complexities of everyday life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in contemporary Australia.</p> <p>The series is, to quote a line in one of the episodes, “like deadly, like Blackfulla deadly, not like gammin [fake or pretend]” - a must watch!</p> <p><em>Preppers is on ABC from November 10.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170100/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bronwyn-carlson-136214">Bronwyn Carlson</a>, Professor, Indigenous Studies and Director of The Centre for Global Indigenous Futures, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/preppers-is-a-deep-reading-of-colonial-violence-and-a-hilarious-must-watch-aussie-tv-comedy-170100">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: ABC</em></p>

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Surprise twist in casting of Prince William

<p>Hit Netflix show <em>The Crown</em> has finally announced their Prince William after a nationwide search. </p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/the-crown-prince-william-dominic-west-son-senan-1235114068/" target="_blank">Variety</a> exclusively revealed that the Prince will be played by newcomer Senan West: the real life son of Dominic West who will play Prince Charles. </p> <p>The 13-year-old has been cast as a slightly older Prince William, as the show will portray him in his teenage years as he begins to mature into a young man. </p> <p>He will make his on-screen debut in the final episodes of the upcoming season alongside his father. </p> <p>It is believed the young actor submitted an audition tape for the role, which captivated the show's producers. </p> <p>As well as being in scenes with his father Dominic, Senan will be acting alongside Elizabeth Debicki, who will play his mother Diana. </p> <p>Prince William had only just turned 15 years old when Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, alongside her <span>Dodi Al Fayed.</span></p> <p><span>Dodi Al Fayed will be portrayed by Khalid Abdalla in the upcoming season of the show, as producers of <em>The Crown</em> have not yet commented on whether Diana's death will be depicted in the series. </span></p> <p><span>Despite no formal confirmation, the casting of the </span>upcoming season suggests that viewers will at least see the events leading up to the crash. </p> <p>The new cast, which changes every two seasons to reflect the royal family's lives, will see Imelda Staunton replace Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Jonathan Pryce portray Prince Philip. </p> <p><span>Lesley Manville </span><span>will play Charles's aunt Princess Margaret, while Jonny Lee Miller</span><span> is set to make an appearance as Prime Minister John Major.</span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Netflix / Getty Images</em></p>

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Beyond Bluey: why adults love re-watching Australian kids’ TV from their childhoods

<p>Due to the COVID-19 extended lockdowns this year, as well as greater accessibility on streaming services, many adults have been returning to their childhoods via nostalgic kids’ TV viewing.</p> <p>As part of our research project, <a href="https://www.actcresearch.com/">Australian Children’s Television Cultures</a>, we surveyed over 600 adults about their viewing habits — and it turns out some viewers never forget the joy of the television shows that they raced home to watch after school.</p> <p>Many survey participants confessed they had simply never stopped watching children’s shows in the first place. Australia’s own <a href="https://actf.com.au/news/view/17433/7-australian-kidsa-tv-shows-that-parents-will-love">Dance Academy (2010-2013)</a> was frequently mentioned in the responses as a show that even adult viewers “can watch… anytime and feel connected with,” as one respondent put it.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427087/original/file-20211018-18-l9c9vw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427087/original/file-20211018-18-l9c9vw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="The cast of Dance Academy." /></a> <span class="caption">Australia’s Dance Academy (2010-2013) is popular with adults today.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">IMDB</span></span></p> <h2>Streaming Nostalgia</h2> <p>For those who didn’t keep their old VHS tapes or DVDs, it has been the advent of streaming services, from YouTube to Netflix, that has enabled viewers to rediscover their cherished kids’ shows of old. Nearly two thirds of adult respondents have revisited Australian children’s shows in recent years, most often via online clips and streaming services.</p> <p>In our survey, <a href="https://theconversation.com/round-the-twists-fans-grew-up-and-their-love-for-the-show-grew-with-them-167695">Round the Twist (1989-2001)</a> emerged as the favourite Australian children’s television show to revisit, with Lift Off! (1992-1995), Lockie Leonard (2007-2010) and <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/culture/tv-and-radio/there-s-a-55-year-old-bear-in-there-happy-birthday-play-school-20210708-p587xr.html">Play School (1966-)</a> also highly placed.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427090/original/file-20211018-38329-zawqys.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427090/original/file-20211018-38329-zawqys.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Lift Off! (1992-1995) is a popular show for adults to find clips from on YouTube.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">IMDB</span></span></p> <p><a href="https://actf.com.au/news/view/18318/14-ozkidstv-series-to-stream-on-netflix">Netflix has licensed a swathe of Australian kids shows</a>, among them Round the Twist and Lockie Leonard. Our survey showed that these classic programs not only turn up as recommendations on Netflix kids’ profiles, but in adults’ recommendations as well, whether or not they have children. Indeed, <a href="https://cstonline.net/family-watch-together-tv-netflix-and-the-dark-intergenerational-fantasy-by-djoymi-baker-jessica-balanzategui-and-diana-sandars/">Netflix has been keen to license and commission nostalgic content</a> with intergenerational appeal.</p> <p>While there’s nothing new about adults getting swept up in nostalgia for childhood viewing, the streaming era has made it even easier to pass on these family viewing traditions.</p> <h2>Kids’ shows in lockdown</h2> <p>The heightened nostalgic urge to <a href="https://cstonline.net/reuniting-with-friends-during-a-pandemic-by-simone-knox-and-kai-hanno-schwind/">return to old TV shows</a> has also been linked to the COVID-19 lockdowns many of us have recently been through, or indeed are still experiencing.</p> <p>In our survey, many respondents mentioned the lockdown made them more likely to revisit children’s TV from their youth. As one survey respondent noted, “in these strange and chaotic COVID-19 times, I’ve been really feeding into the nostalgia.”</p> <p>Nostalgia emerged as a term in 1688 to describe a <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/when-nostalgia-was-a-disease/278648/">disease</a> primarily associated with soldiers longing to return home, even though upon their return, home was never quite the same. The word itself reflected this bittersweet combination, forged from the Greek nostos (homecoming) and algos (pain). In popular culture, nostalgia is frequently associated with warm and fuzzy feelings, but, as <a href="https://newleftreview.org/issues/ii14/articles/timothy-bewes-an-anatomy-of-nostalgia.pdf">Svetlana Boym influentially suggests</a>, nostalgia is also a type of grieving for a past that has been lost.</p> <p>Returning to kids’ TV is a way of both grieving for and celebrating our own <a href="https://library.oapen.org/viewer/web/viewer.html?file=/bitstream/handle/20.500.12657/25965/1004118.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">past childhood</a>, as well as a pre-COVID world we used to enjoy. In other words, nostalgia is not as simple as we might at first assume.</p> <h2>Family viewing</h2> <p>Our survey responses indicate families have been uniting across the divide of lockdown restrictions and closed borders to watch old kids’ TV shows together:</p> <p>“In lockdown, it’s provided a connection point for my family” by rewatching Round the Twist and <a href="https://actf.com.au/education-programs/id/188/">Sky Trackers (1994)</a>, one respondent noted. They explained, “we talk about what we remember, and tell jokes about it consistently through messaging services.”</p> <p>Not only parents but also grandparents and babysitters revealed they enjoy sharing beloved shows from their childhood with the next generation. This strategy <a href="https://cstonline.net/intergenerational-spectatorship-doctor-who-at-the-beach-by-djoymi-baker/">isn’t always successful</a> given tastes and expectations have changed, with today’s kids finding some old shows “bonkers” or describing the special effects as dated. As one parent from the survey notes, “having children now, I want to show them some of the shows I loved (whether they like it or not!)”</p> <p>Many of our survey participants discussed this shared viewing across generations, but also just among other adults. So as it happens, kids’ TV isn’t just for kids.</p> <h2>Unifying a generation</h2> <p>Beyond family members, our participants are finding connections with their own generation on social media through old kids’ shows they still enjoy. Even young adults are already feeling nostalgic.</p> <p>“I have loved <a href="https://punkee.com.au/h20-just-add-water-tiktok/77899">watching on TikTok people recreating some of the iconic scenes</a>” from H2O: Just Add Water (2006-2010) and Blue Water High (2005-2008), one participant told us. They explained, “When scrolling through the comments of these videos there’s often hundreds of other young Australians that relate as they had the same fond memories of these shows which I feel unites us.”</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427091/original/file-20211018-22-105e8dz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427091/original/file-20211018-22-105e8dz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">H2O: Just Add Water (2006-2010 has become a popular worldwide meme on TikTok, and has spurred many people to revisit the series.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">IMdB</span></span></p> <p>With so much content now spread across broadcasting, cable and streaming television services, it’s uncertain whether today’s kids’ TV will offer this same sense of <a href="https://www.flowjournal.org/2020/03/streaming-comes-across-the-sky/">communal nostalgia</a> to future generations — though <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-idealised-australian-ethos-why-bluey-is-an-audience-favourite-even-for-adults-without-kids-168571">Bluey (2018-)</a> is surely a contender. Bluey is already the focus of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/blueyfanmemes/">popular memes</a> and a successful <a href="http://www.blueypod.com/">recap podcast</a>, so perhaps the show is a contemporary vehicle for adult viewers’ nostalgia about growing up in Australia, albeit in a new guise.</p> <p>Ultimately, our research indicates that engaging nostalgically with kids’ TV has been an important means of social connection during the pandemic, both between adults and within and across different generations.</p> <p>Although nostalgia was initially defined as a ‘disease’, today it is combating the division the pandemic has created, with locked down audiences using streaming services to reconnect with their favourite kids’ TV and each other.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/169727/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/djoymi-baker-1269345">Djoymi Baker</a>, Lecturer in Cinema Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-balanzategui-814024">Jessica Balanzategui</a>, Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joanna-mcintyre-333903">Joanna McIntyre</a>, Lecturer in Media Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-burke-109751">Liam Burke</a>, Associate Professor and Cinema and Screen Studies Discipline Leader, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beyond-bluey-why-adults-love-re-watching-australian-kids-tv-from-their-childhoods-169727">original article</a>.</p>

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Meghan Markle makes rare TV appearance on The Ellen Show

<p dir="ltr">Meghan Markle made a surprise appearance on<span> </span><em>The Ellen Show,<span> </span></em>sitting down with Ellen DeGeneres in her first TV interview since her famous interview with Oprah earlier this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a teaser shared by Ellen on Wednesday, Meghan talked about the early days of her acting career, when she would regularly visit the Warner Brothers lot, where Ellen’s show is filmed, to audition. Ellen said to Meghan, “You said the last talk show you did was like, I don’t know, another decade ago, but you used to come to this lot to audition all the time.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Meghan recalled those early days, saying, “Oh my gosh, completely! I would park at gate three and then I would scoot on over, and what was so nice is the security guards would always say, ‘Break a leg, we hope you get it!’” she said. “So to drive in today was very different.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">A lot has changed since the last time Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, was on the Warner Brothers lot. Don’t miss the rest of our interview tomorrow. <a href="https://t.co/pBihJLf0um">pic.twitter.com/pBihJLf0um</a></p> — Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow/status/1460975532162437121?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2021</a></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">She also talked about the car she used to drive to auditions, describing it as having “a life of its own”. She explained, “I had this very, very old Ford Explorer Sport, and at a certain point the key stopped working on the driver’s side, so you couldn’t get yourself in through the door.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So after auditions, I would park at the back of the parking lot and I would open the trunk and climb in and then pull it shut behind me and crawl over all my seats to get out. That’s how I would come to and fro.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Meghan’s appearance on<span> </span><em>The Ellen Show<span> </span></em>also marks her first interview since giving birth to daughter Lilibet in June. Ellen and Meghan have been friends for years, after meeting at an LA dog shelter where Ellen convinced the actress to adopt her first dog, Bogart.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meghan’s appearance on the show is part of the long-running show’s 19th and final season, following continued claims of bullying and a toxic workplace.</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2019, Ellen revealed to her audience that she and wife Portia de Rossi had visited Prince Harry and Meghan at their home at the time, Frogmore Cottage, and met their son Archie. She said of the couple, “I see them get attacked and it’s not fair. They are two of the most down-to-earth, compassionate people, and they’re doing so much good for the world.”</p>

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Squid Game is influenced by the horror of survival comics and real-life debt

<p><em>Note: The following article contains spoilers about “Squid Game.”</em></p> <p>Is the Netflix Korean sensation <em>Squid Game</em> <a href="https://www.nme.com/reviews/tv-reviews/squid-game-review-netflix-k-drama-3056718">an allegory for late capitalism</a>? The response to the show is similar to <a href="https://www.britannica.com/art/morality-play-dramatic-genre">medieval morality plays that attempted to hammer home the eternal damnability of the Seven Deadly Sins</a>.</p> <p>I’m a university literature professor who specializes in film and video media. This means that I’m usually on the hunt for “constitutive contradictions” — <a href="https://doi.org/10.7208/9780226670973-010">those hypocrisies that may defy the rule of law and common sense, but are required in allegedly just, democratic, ultra-advanced capitalist societies</a>.</p> <p>And so, I’m undecided between a red button and a green button of the types that figure in <em>Squid Game</em> Episode 2’s mockery of an election. If allegory is a story or performance conveying deeper or hidden meaning that its audience must work to interpret, the show would qualify based on audience reaction alone. But maybe it isn’t at all allegorical, in that <em>Squid Game</em> makes what little covert evil and hypocrisy may remain in our world so graphically, unmistakably overt.</p> <h2>Alternatives to capitalism</h2> <p>This series socks us with what cultural theorist Mark Fisher called “<a href="https://libcom.org/files/Capitalist%20Realism_%20Is%20There%20No%20Alternat%20-%20Mark%20Fisher.pdf">capitalist realism</a>” — the impossibility of imagining an outside to the political-economic system in which most of us live, let alone an alternative to it.</p> <p>But when asked if he deliberately set out to expose the dehumanizing and even lethal effects of late capitalism, <em>Squid Game</em> creator Hwang Dong-hyuk laughed off the suggestion that his blockbuster series delivers any “profound” point or message.</p> <p>“The show is motivated by a simple idea,” he told the <em>Guardian</em>. “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/oct/26/squid-games-creator-rich-netflix-bonus-hwang-dong-hyuk">We are fighting for our lives in very unequal circumstances</a>.”</p> <p>Hwang referred to his own experience of the <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/the-global-financial-crisis.html">2009 global economic downturn</a> as an inspiration for the series, which saw financing for his film projects dry up and compelled him, his mother and grandmother to take out loans.</p> <p>Drawn to the hardcore survivalist games depicted in Japanese and South Korean comic books, Hwang pondered just how bad things could get and how far he might go to keep himself and his family alive. He didn’t need to look far to find cautionary tales.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N0p1t-dC7Ko?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <br /><span class="caption">‘Squid Game’ creator Hwang Dong-hyuk named Japanese manga and cult movie ‘Battle Royale’ as one of his influences.</span></p> <h2>Real-life events</h2> <p>The back story of <em>Squid Game</em>‘s protagonist, Seong Gi-hun, is a fictionalized retelling of the violent 2009 <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/squid-game-review/">clash between car manufacturer Ssangyong and 1,000 of the over 2,600 employees</a> Ssangyong laid off. Striking workers stood down a brutal alliance of private security forces and Korean police for 77 days. Thirty strikers and a few of their spouses lost their lives — many to suicide — during the strike and its aftermath in the Korean courts.</p> <p>Continued under- and unemployment, loss of property and accumulated debt (<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-coronavirus-global-debt/">compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic</a>), has meant that in 2021, personal debt in South Korea climbed to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/08/squid-game-lays-bare-south-koreas-real-life-personal-debt-crisis">105 per cent of GDP</a>. Canada’s average household debt <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/households-debt-to-gdp">skyrocketed to 112 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2021, before dropping to 109 per cent in the second quarter</a>.</p> <p>“We are all living in a Squid Game world,” Hwang told the <em>Guardian</em>, without pretension or exaggeration.</p> <h2>Financial demands</h2> <p>Actor Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-hun is riveting as our everyman. Like millions of workers displaced and discarded worldwide, <em>Squid Game</em>’s protagonist Gi-hun tries to stay afloat in the service and gig economies, with a fried chicken restaurant that quickly fails, and then as a driver.</p> <p>He takes out loans from banks and loan sharks that tenuously prop up his gambling addiction. Gi-hun’s ex-wife has remarried, to a gainfully employed man, and is planning to move with him to the United States, along with Gi-hun’s daughter. The new husband can afford to celebrate his stepdaughter’s birthday with dinner at a steakhouse (uttered in English, so all know it’s a big deal), while Gi-hun can only pay for a hot dog and fish cake fast-food snack, and a tragicomic inappropriate gift clawed out from an arcade game.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/t6YuqFh5htw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <br /><span class="caption">Despite his financial situation, Gi-hun tries to redeem himself on his daughter’s birthday.</span></p> <p>An inveterate gamer and perennial optimist with an endearingly expressive face, Gi-hun lives on the cusp of the Big Payoff — whether off-track betting, withdrawing money from his mother’s bank account or accepting an invitation to play a <a href="https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/drama/squid-game-paper-flip-ddakji-how-to-play/">game of ddakji</a> in a Seoul subway station.</p> <p>But like all games of chance in the nine-episode series, it’s clear that this one — where players toss paper tokens in an attempt to flip over their opponent’s tokens — is rigged from before the start. It’s also clear that all 456 competitors (Gi-hun is No. 456) are in a <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/battle%20royal">battle royal</a> for their lives and a giant cash jackpot, which lends the show its highest-stakes, highest-concept brand of suspense.</p> <h2>Contradictions</h2> <p>What may be less clear — and potentially the stuff of constitutive contradictions and ironies galore — is why record numbers of viewers have flocked to <em>Squid Game</em>. The series is <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/squid-game-review/">the most watched Netflix series ever</a>, beating out previous ratings champion <em>Bridgerton</em>. Bloomberg News estimates <em>Squid Game</em>’s worth to Netflix to be <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/squid-game-is-worth-nearly-900-million-to-netflix-report-11634511855?mod=article_inline">close to US$900 million</a>.</p> <p>The whole series, however, only <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/squid-game-is-worth-nearly-900-million-to-netflix-report-11634511855">cost about $21 million to make</a>, while creator Hwang lost six teeth from all the stress and has received no performance-based bonuses. He also doesn’t want to be forever known as “the Squid Game guy.”</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/429792/original/file-20211102-39236-6iqujn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/429792/original/file-20211102-39236-6iqujn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="An aerial view of Seoul, showing highrises and shanty towns" /></a> <span class="caption">Personal debt in South Korea climbed to 105 per cent of GDP in 2021.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Shutterstock)</span></span></p> <p>An unidentified Korean part-time food delivery driver told the <em>Guardian</em>: “You have to pay to watch [the show] and I don’t know anyone who will let me use their Netflix account.… In any case, why would I want to watch a bunch of people with huge debts? <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/08/squid-game-lays-bare-south-koreas-real-life-personal-debt-crisis">I can just look in the mirror</a>.”</p> <p>Why indeed would anyone in financial straits like any of the players in the series want to watch <em>Squid Game</em>? I’ve searched the internet, without success, for a ballpark number of the 142 million households that tuned in globally who may have signed up for a Netflix free-trial period to do so.</p> <p>Hwang is currently in discussions with his streaming empire paymasters <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/squid-game-creator-season-2-meaning-1235030617/">over potential additional seasons as well as his other film projects</a>. Considering <a href="https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/08/05/netflix-subscriber-growth-accelerate-through-2025/">industry growth predictions</a>, what will some viewers pay or sacrifice to keep watching <em>Squid Game</em>?</p> <p>More to the point, why would they? I think an answer to the late-capitalist allegory question hinges on what audiences see reflected back to themselves on screen. One viewer might recognize their own challenging situation in a character’s story, while another sees suffering of an unimaginable kind.</p> <p>These divergent vectors of identification may determine whether there is or isn’t any profound or hidden meaning to <em>Squid Game</em>. They may also influence new, gruesome games of chance, manipulation and life-or-death next season. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170514/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elaine-chang-1283642">Elaine Chang</a>, Associate Professor, English and Theatre Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-guelph-1071">University of Guelph</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/squid-game-is-influenced-by-the-horror-of-survival-comics-and-real-life-debt-170514">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Netflix’s Sex Education is doing sex education better than most schools

<p>Netflix’s comedy <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7767422/">Sex Education</a>, now in its third season, is set among a group of students and teachers at a British high school. In depicting sex education, it teaches viewers about sex and sexuality – often doing a better job than school-based sex ed classes.</p> <p>In the first episode of season three, Dr Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) is interviewed on the radio about her new book, Uneducated Nation: A Sex Education Manifesto for Our Youth.</p> <p>When the host asks her to tell him about the book, she replies she was “shocked at the ineptitude” of school sex ed classes. So she created</p> <blockquote> <p>this easy-to-read manual to help empower our teenagers, and their parents, as they become sexually active young adults.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zmgYlYw7Uwk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>He responds, “Sounds a bit racy”. Jean retorts,</p> <blockquote> <p>Well, if, by racy, you mean highly researched and completely essential to the health and well-being of our children, then, yes, I suppose it is.</p> </blockquote> <p>Jean’s response could easily be applied to the television series itself – racy but essential. It could also be seen as a comment about how school-based sexual education programs could improve their communication of relevant information to curious teenagers.</p> <p>We are part of an international research team working with scholars from Greece, Ireland and Norway to interview adolescents and their parents about their <a href="https://www.ecu.edu.au/schools/arts-and-humanities/research-and-creative-activity/communication-media-and-cultural-studies/adolescents-perceptions-of-harm-from-accessing-online-content">perceptions of harm in accessing sexual content</a>.</p> <p>As researchers with expertise in the fields of sexology, communication and media studies, we value the knowledge young people share about their own needs and desires.</p> <p>Our research with teens – and into stories that represent their experiences – illustrates they are sexual beings who want and deserve sex-positive information. Too often, this positive side of sex is left out of the classroom.</p> <h2>Sexually provocative, but educational</h2> <p>Sex Education is one example of how stories in popular culture can portray teen sexuality positively.</p> <p>For instance, the opening scene of this first episode of season three is upbeat, playful and sexy.</p> <p>It cuts between at least 13 different moments of sexual pleasure: heterosexual sex, gay sex between young men, gay role-playing sex between young women, masturbating while watching porn, online sex, virtual reality sex – and the pleasure of reading a book while eating cheese puffs.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430938/original/file-20211108-15-144mlop.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430938/original/file-20211108-15-144mlop.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson as mother and son" /></a>This sequence is sexually provocative, but it also educational. It shows a range of desires across ages (yes, teachers and parents have sex, too), races, sexualities and body sizes.</p> <p>There are none of the messages about abstinence and fear often associated with representations of teen sex, and no coy curtain-wafting standing in for sex.</p> <p>The premise of the show is the teenagers at Moordale High do not receive adequate sex education classes, so Jean’s son Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his classmate Maeve (Emma Mackey) set up a sex therapy service for their peers.</p> <p>These young people seek information about how to overcome sexual difficulties and become better lovers. They find (usually) correct – and always frank – information from Otis and Maeve, who offer resources and advice.</p> <h2>Teenagers and porn</h2> <p>As we argue in a recent <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1988130">essay</a>, this TV show complicates the idea that pornography is only harmful to teens.</p> <p>Watching porn can be “a bit of fun”, to quote one character, but also a source of misinformation about sex. Sex Education debunks this misinformation, such as when one character mistakenly believes a large penis is required for sexual satisfaction, and another thinks her labia should be tucked in.</p> <p>Teenagers as consumers and producers of pornographic and erotic narratives can use these stories, and the stories in Sex Education, to develop an understanding of sex and sexuality and supplement the information provided in school curriculum.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430939/original/file-20211109-13-5cfbav.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430939/original/file-20211109-13-5cfbav.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Production still" /></a> <span class="caption"></span>This seeming contradiction about pornography aligns with a <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/publications/effects-pornography-children-and-young-people">report</a> written by the Australian Institute of Family Studies about the effects of porn on young people.</p> <p>This report highlights the lack of information about how young people access sexual content (unintentionally or intentionally); about the content of pornography they view; and about teenagers’ ability to distinguish between the fantasy pornography represents and the reality of their sexual experiences.</p> <p>The report also found very few accounts from teens themselves about their experiences accessing sexual content online and any perceived harm from it. It points to a need for further research, which includes the voices of adolescents.</p> <h2>Teaching pleasure</h2> <p>Dr Jacqui Hendriks, who coordinates Curtin University’s sexology courses, believes sex ed should include <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-27/sex-education-lgbt-sexuality-young-high-school-pleasure-respect/12960062">discussions of pleasure rather than focusing primarily on reproduction</a>.</p> <p>At present, the quality of sex education varies widely across the nation, but in Western Australia, a group of researchers have <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/2/e026657#xref-ref-8-1">identified</a> the “need for a greater focus on positive sexuality and relevant contemporary issues” in the classroom.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/431191/original/file-20211109-15-uycjqf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/431191/original/file-20211109-15-uycjqf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Production image, two black men lean in to kiss" /></a> <span class="caption"></span>Sex Education challenges a commonly-held perception teenagers should be protected from the harms of sex and sexual material. The stories told by teens and about teens can be crucial tools to open conversations between children and adults about sex.</p> <p>The conversation started by shows like Sex Education highlights the need for more comprehensive sexual education not only in schools but in communities and in the family home itself.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170776/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/debra-dudek-176691">Debra Dudek</a>, Associate professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/giselle-natassia-woodley-930025">Giselle Natassia Woodley</a>, Researcher and Phd Candidate, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/netflixs-sex-education-is-doing-sex-education-better-than-most-schools-170776">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Netflix</em></p>

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Five reasons we should listen more closely to TV dialogue

<p>People often ask me why <a href="http://www.qadda.com/MonikasResearch.html">I study television dialogue</a>. Behind such a question sometimes lie deep-seated assumptions about the low value of popular culture.</p> <p>Such underlying assumptions can extend not just to the cultural product itself, but also to its systematic (academic) study. In other words, if pop culture is worthless, then surely its study is also worthless.</p> <p>Nevertheless, television scholars have been analysing television for more than 30 years. But linguists have only recently started to examine the <em>language</em> of TV series, in other words TV dialogue. We all know a <a href="http://www.tvguide.com/news/tvs-60-greatest-catchphrases-1070102.aspx">TV catchphrase or two</a>, but the influence of TV series on our culture is both more subtle and more widespread than this.</p> <p>We need to pay attention to TV series and the dialogue they contain. Here are five reasons why:</p> <h2>1) It’s everywhere</h2> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/46278/original/q5dfqxb6-1397432819.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Netflix tweet quoting House of Cards.</span></p> <p>TV dialogue used to be something that we only encountered when watching our favourite series live on television. The rise of new technologies means there’s more opportunity for us than ever to consume TV dialogue. We can now engage with it whenever and wherever we want.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/47091/original/w9cmv268-1398643354.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">A catchphrase from the Big Bang Theory - on a t-shirt.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Monika Bednarek</span></span></p> <p>New technologies also expose us to TV dialogue through other ways. Friends might live-tweet a dialogue snippet from a shared favourite show. Fan websites might ask us to nominate our most beloved dialogue exchange. Networks might advertise their latest show through TV quotes.</p> <p>TV dialogue is even wearable, and we can use our bodies to put it on display.</p> <h2>2) It’s incredibly popular around the globe</h2> <p>TV series are hugely popular cultural products. They attract billions of viewers around the globe. TV series from the US and Britain are especially successful – from <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1606375/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Downton Abbey</a> to <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436992/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Doctor Who</a>, from <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944947/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Game of Thrones</a> to <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1442437/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Modern Family</a>.</p> <p>This means that we all encounter a lot of American and British English without even leaving Australia. And the same goes for audiences who speak English as <a href="http://grammar.about.com/od/e/g/English-As-A-Foreign-Language-Efl.htm">a second or foreign language</a>. TV dialogue is actually used to learn and teach English around the world.</p> <p>I know for sure this was the case for me. Growing up in Germany, I complemented my English lessons by watching endless re-runs of American TV series. I still remember learning expressions like <em>fall</em> (for autumn), <em>take a raincheck</em>, and how to pronounce the word <em>psychology</em> from watching TV.</p> <p>TV dialogue clearly crosses national borders. Not just when American, British or Australian TV series make it overseas.</p> <p>European TV series like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0826760/?ref_=nv_sr_2">The Killing</a>, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1733785/?ref_=nv_sr_2">The Bridge</a> or <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2521668/?ref_=nv_sr_1">The Returned</a> have been huge hits in English-speaking nations, too.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P2Eh1kwxWRI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">“You’re actually watching something with subtitles?”</span></p> <p>This is fertile ground for research into languages and cultures: What gets taken up in the transference of the dialogue from one culture to another, through dubbing and subtitling? And how is Australian TV dialogue different from American TV dialogue? Or French from British?</p> <h2>3) It’s high-quality writing</h2> <p>Reading about TV series, I keep encountering the expression “<a href="http://www.avclub.com/article/the-golden-age-of-tv-is-dead-long-live-the-golden--103129">golden age of television</a>”. This usually refers to the recent emergence of high-quality TV series funded by networks like <a href="http://www.hbo.com/">HBO</a>, <a href="http://www.amctv.com/">AMC</a>, <a href="http://www.sho.com/sho/home">Showtime</a>, and the online distributor <a href="https://www.netflix.com/">Netflix</a>.</p> <p>TV dialogue now definitely needs to be taken seriously in terms of its artistic sophistication. Programmes like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903747/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Breaking Bad</a>, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0306414/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">The Wire</a> or Australia’s <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1530541/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Offspring</a> receive critical acclaim and are nominated for awards.</p> <p>Australians tuned into the Logies last night, with its category of <a href="http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2014/04/logie-awards-2014-winners.html">outstanding drama series won by Redfern Now</a>. In a couple of weeks we’ll know who was successful at the <a href="http://awards.bafta.org/award/2014/television">British Academy Television Awards</a>. Then there are also the Emmys coming up in August and the Golden Globes which took place back in January.</p> <p>Allan Ball, the creator of <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844441/?ref_=nv_sr_1">True Blood</a> and <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248654/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Six Feet Under</a>, has suggested that “television right now is far more welcoming to interesting, complicated, nuanced storytelling for adults than movies are”.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hPhhF-NbUvw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Alan Ball at the Opera House.</span></p> <p>In such quality series, TV audiences encounter sophisticated characters with depth. We are also asked to follow sometimes difficult dialogue and get into complex story arcs that span many episodes or even seasons. This is one of the reasons why literary and cultural scholars also study TV series. For example, in 2010 researchers at The University of Sydney organised a symposium on Mad Men. Last year I participated in a <a href="http://arts.brookes.ac.uk/events/items/140913-crime-drama-symposium.html">symposium on TV crime drama at Oxford Brookes University</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JEMbzcHzR30?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Writing Mad Men.</span></p> <p>But it’s not just in academia that TV writing has become more valued. Interviews with TV writers and creators are regularly published in the media. Writers/creators like Alan Ball and Joss Whedon (of cult series <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118276/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Buffy the Vampire Slayer</a>) speak to sold-out audiences at the Sydney Opera House.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SMuZs5iPdgw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Joss Whedon at the Sydney Opera House.</span></p> <p>On 1 May, Vince Gilligan (who created Breaking Bad) will speak at Sydney Town Hall. The Sydney Writer’s Festival event was sold out within days. At the beginning of the 21st century, we clearly value high-quality TV dialogue.</p> <h2>4) It engages us on a social and psychological level</h2> <p>Watching TV series has long been more than an isolated and isolating experience. TV dialogue engages us on a social level. We watch TV series together or talk to each other about them, at home, among friends and colleagues, and with strangers.</p> <p>We also build virtual communities around a TV series, for example on fan websites, facebook or Twitter. As crossword maker and Sydney Morning Herald columnist <a href="http://davidastle.com/">David Astle</a> put it: “<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/are-the-mass-media-the-clearing-houses-of-english/3592934">TV transcends the TV room</a>”.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/46298/original/pcmn5zj3-1397438393.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Virtual sociality from HBO.</span></p> <p>TV dialogue also engages us on a psychological level. The TV characters that we encounter may become objects of hate, admiration or identification. We clearly engage with them emotionally. Researchers speak of the ‘<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S1532785XMEP0403_04#.U0NeU1fDU1w">para-social’ relationships</a> we form with such characters.</p> <p>TV dialogue clearly has an important role to play in building these characters. <a href="http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/multi.2012.31.2.issue-2/multi-2012-0010/multi-2012-0010.xml?format=INT">In one of my studies</a> I wanted to know what makes The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon so “special”. The study showed how specific cues in the dialogue make him a nerd-par-excellence, like his inappropriate use of formal language and unintentional impoliteness.</p> <h2>5) It tells us important stories about our world</h2> <p>TV dialogue tells us and teaches us a lot about the world we live in. Philosopher Mark Rowlands has written a book about TV series with the tongue-in-cheek title <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Know-Learned-Philosophy-Explained/dp/0091898358">Everything I Know I Learned from TV.</a></p> <p>To put it strongly, TV tells us who we are and how we live. For example, medical shows like House and Nurse Jackie address ethical issues and the work-life balance. Crime series are often propelled by current social issues or actual cases. Political dramas like West Wing and House of Cards provide searing political commentary. Programmes like Deadwood tackle human nature and morality.</p> <p>Only recently, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/apr/07/game-of-thrones-parallels-prime-minister">Julia Gillard compared Game of Thrones to her time as Prime Minister</a>. In her words, “after all, what girl has not yearned for a few dragons when in a tight spot?”</p> <p>For me, writing is at the centre of telling these stories about our world. And this is just one of five reasons why I believe we need to pay close attention to TV dialogue.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/monika-bednarek-121197">Monika Bednarek</a>, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-reasons-we-should-listen-more-closely-to-tv-dialogue-25585">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: HBO</em></p>

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Succession: how true to life is the TV series?

<p><em><strong>This article contains spoilers for season three of Succession.</strong></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.hbo.com/succession">Succession</a> is back for another series of excruciating family interactions and vicious backstabbing. Going behind the scenes at <a href="https://theconversation.com/succession-logan-roys-hand-picked-directors-cover-up-wrongdoing-just-like-in-real-life-170140">Waystar Royco</a> – the fictional version of the world’s biggest media and entertainment company – has never made for comfortable viewing.</p> <p>The business has long turned <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Category:Main_Characters">the family</a> against each another – yet they must work out who will be crowned successor to <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Logan_Roy">Logan Roy</a>, the founder and CEO of the media conglomerate and the patriarch of the Roy family. Over the past two series, viewers have watched on as three of the four Roy children – <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Kendall_Roy">Kendall</a>, <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Roman_Roy">Roman</a> and <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Shiv_Roy">Shiv</a> – each attempt to prove their worth as the right person to take over the firm.</p> <p>For many family businesses, when the person at the top takes ill, dies or wants to retire this can often mean the end of the business. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6520.2004.00047.x">Research shows that</a> succession planning must be anticipated long in advance, but often isn’t. And without plans in place, everything else can quickly topple.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-09-2020-0701">My research</a> looks at successions in family businesses – specifically, how knowledge should be passed on during this process. It’s clear to me that the Roy family are missing many important elements that add up to create a successful succession – namely, a trusting atmosphere, a loving family and most of all, a CEO that is willing to retire.</p> <h2>How a succession should look</h2> <p>In many ways, the TV series Succession demonstrates the exact opposite of what family businesses should do. Rather than things being planned, considered and clearly articulated, the process is highly dysfunctional, unpredictable and often downright abusive.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-09-2020-0701">I have found</a> that there are certain factors companies must consider should they want to avoid the Roy-style situation. In an ideal world, a succession would go through three stages, the first of which involves ground rules being established so everyone knows what to expect.</p> <p>A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0894486513480386">loving and trusting</a> family relationship is important during this foundational stage and family meetings often play an important role. The Roy family obviously do not relate to each other in a loving and trusting way. So while there are many family dinners and family meeting scenes, these seem to resemble something closer to the <a href="https://www.history.com/news/why-judas-betrayed-jesus">Last Supper</a> – and end with similar levels of betrayals.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfbs.2015.10.002">Research shows</a> that the leadership style of the current CEO of a business also plays a vital role in the success of this initial phase. Ideally, this is someone who will openly participate in the process and who is supportive. In the case of Succession, Logan often holds back knowledge from his children and plays them off against each other in his typical power-hungry fashion.</p> <p>Adding to all these difficulties, as with many businesses, Waystar Royco also features a host of non-family employees and other stakeholders. All these individuals have their own experiences and knowledge that need to be captured and passed on to the new CEO, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14778238.2019.1621224">research shows</a> this is often hard to do.</p> <p>Indeed, in the first episode of season three, Logan declares that if one of the kids was to take over, the first thing they would do would be to sack some of his longstanding advisers – which is what often happens in real life. Instead, Logan has decided to temporarily elevate the company’s general counsel (or chief legal officer), <a href="https://succession.fandom.com/wiki/Gerri_Kellman">Gerri Kellman</a>, to the top spot – while still steering the ship from the shadows, of course.</p> <h2>The grooming stage</h2> <p>Once the ground rules have been established, “the grooming stage” can then commence – this is where the successor is nurtured to be the next leader of the business. The Roy family dynamic will again likely play out negatively in this phase as nurturing is not a word many of them are familiar with.</p> <p>Logan’s determination to decrease any successor’s autonomy, combined with his controversial moral and ethical standards, will also mean that things will be very difficult for interim successor Gerri – and for any eventual successor of the firm. Indeed, it will be hard for anyone to really make any difference – particularly in light of the allegations of <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/succession-season-three-cast-interview-snclt08cp">covered up</a> rapes and murders on cruise liners that the company owns.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q2vuZQJNVl8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14778238.2018.1457005">Research has found</a> that, at the grooming stage, good mentoring and coaching is important to ensure knowledge is passed on between generations. Though <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2006.12.014">jealousy and rivalry</a> can stop things going smoothly here: as Logan has made clear, the Roy family members are “at war” with each other as they battle to find a new successor, so it’s unlikely this stage will go to plan for the Roys either.</p> <h2>Passing the baton</h2> <p>The final phase of a succession involves the current CEO “passing the baton” to the successor – and this phase needs to be managed well for the effective running of the company. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/etap.12114">This stage</a> offers opportunities to reshape the strategic direction of a business. Many family businesses, for example, use the next generation’s knowledge in digital technology to broaden their presence on social media.</p> <p>This is also a time when other potential successors (if managed appropriately) can be brought onto the board or the top management team. This helps to maintain family control and ensure things are operating in a way that is in keeping with the family’s wishes.</p> <p>It’s clear the Roys still have some way to go before they decide upon their successor. And judging by the current climate at the company, the process will continue to be highly dysfunctional and challenging for all involved. What more could fans want?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170139/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bingbing-ge-1280714">Bingbing Ge</a>, Teaching Fellow in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/succession-how-true-to-life-is-the-tv-series-170139">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: HBO</em></p>

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How Netflix affects what we watch and who we are – and it’s not just the algorithm

<p>Netflix’s dystopian Korean drama Squid Game has become the streaming platform’s <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/squid-game-netflix-most-watched-bridgerton-b1937363.html">biggest-ever series launch</a>, with 111 million viewers watching at least two minutes of an episode.</p> <p>Out of the thousands of programmes available on Netflix globally, how did so many people end up watching the same show? The easy answer is <a href="https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137270047">an algorithm</a> – a computer program that offers us personalised recommendations on a platform based on our data and that of other users.</p> <p>Streaming platforms like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime have undoubtedly <a href="https://books.emeraldinsight.com/page/detail/Streaming-Culture/?k=9781839827730">reshaped the way</a> we consume media, primarily by massively increasing the film, music and TV available to viewers.</p> <p>How do we cope with so many options? Services like Netflix <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8675.12568">use algorithms</a> to <a href="https://books.emeraldinsight.com/page/detail/The-Quirks-of-Digital-Culture/?k=9781787699168">guide our attention</a> in certain directions, organising content and keeping us active on the platform. As soon as we open the app the personalisation processes begin.</p> <p>Our cultural landscape is now automated rather than simply being a product of our previous <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Culture-Class-Distinction/Bennett-Savage-Silva-Warde-Gayo-Cal-Wright/p/book/9780415560771">experiences, background and social circles</a>. These algorithms don’t just respond to our tastes, they also <a href="https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137270047">shape and influence them</a>.</p> <p>But focusing too much on the algorithm misses another important cultural transformation that has happened. To make all this content manageable, streaming platforms have introduced new ways of organising culture for us. The categories used to label culture into genres have always been important, but they took on new forms and power with streaming.</p> <h2>Classifying our tastes</h2> <p>The possibilities of streaming have inspired a new “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1749975512473461">classificatory imagination</a>”. I coined this term to describe how viewing the world through <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/sorting-things-out">genres, labels and categories</a> helps shape our own identities and <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/55037/the-order-of-things-by-michel-foucault/">sense of place</a> in the world.</p> <p>While 50 years ago, you might have discovered a handful of music genres through friends or by going to the record shop, the advent of streaming has brought classification and genre to our media consumption on a grand scale. Spotify alone has over <a href="https://www.papermag.com/spotify-wrapped-music-genres-escape-room-2649122474.html?rebelltitem=21#rebelltitem21">five thousand music genres</a>. Listeners also come up with their own genre labels when creating playlists. We are constantly fed new labels and categories as we consume music, films and television.</p> <p>Thanks to these categories, our tastes can be more specific and eclectic, and our identities more fluid. These personalised recommendations and algorithms can also shape our tastes. My own personalised end-of-year review from Spotify told me that “chamber psych” – a category I’d never heard of – was my second-favourite genre. I found myself searching to find out what it was, and to discover the artists attached to it.</p> <p>These hyper-specific categories are created and stored in metadata – the behind-the-scenes codes that support platforms like Spotify. They are the basis for personalised recommendations, and they help decide what we consume. If we think of Netflix as a vast archive of TV and film, the way it is organised through metadata decides what is discovered from within it.</p> <p>On Netflix, the <a href="https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/news/the-netflix-id-bible-every-category-on-netflix/">thousands of categories</a> range from familiar film genres like horror, documentary and romance, to the hyper-specific “campy foreign movies from the 1970s”.</p> <p>While Squid Game is labelled with the genres “Korean, TV thrillers, drama” to the public, there are thousands of more specific categories in Netflix’s metadata that are shaping our consumption. The personalised homepage uses algorithms to offer you certain genre categories, as well as specific shows. Because most of it is in the metadata, we may not be aware of what categories are being served to us.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mBNt-cLjXwc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Take Squid Game – it might well be that the way to have a large launch is partly to do with the algorithmic promotion of widely watched content. Its success is an example of how algorithms can reinforce what is already popular. As on social media, once a trend starts to catch on, algorithms can direct even more attention toward it. Netflix categorises do this too, telling us what programmes are trending or popular in our local area.</p> <h2>Who is in control?</h2> <p>As everyday media consumers, we are still at the edge of what we understand about the workings and potential of these recommendation algorithms. We should also consider some of the potential consequences of the classificatory imagination.</p> <p>The classification of culture could shut us out to certain categories or voices – this can be limiting or even harmful, as is the case with how misinformation is spread on social media.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Culture-Class-Distinction/Bennett-Savage-Silva-Warde-Gayo-Cal-Wright/p/book/9780415560771">social connections</a> are also profoundly shaped by the culture we consume, so these labels can ultimately affect who we interact with.</p> <p>The positives are obvious – personalised recommendations from Netflix and Spotify help us find exactly what we like in an incomprehensible number of options. The question is: who decides what the labels are, what gets put into these boxes and, therefore, what we end up watching, listening to and reading?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/169897/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-beer-149528">David Beer</a>, Professor of Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-york-1344">University of York</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-netflix-affects-what-we-watch-and-who-we-are-and-its-not-just-the-algorithm-169897">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Liked Netflix’s The Chair? Here are 4 moving, funny novels set in English departments

<p>English departments are strange places. Even to those of us who spend our working lives inside them, they can seem utterly mysterious. Those looking in from outside must find them even more baffling. What exactly do lecturers do all day? They teach and interact with students, but what happens the rest of the time?</p> <p>Literary scholars everywhere, writes <a href="https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/english-literature-and-creative-writing/people/terry-eagleton">Terry Eagleton</a>, “live in a state of dread – a dread that one day, someone … will suddenly get wise to the fact that we draw salaries for reading poems and novels.” This fact, say Eagleton, “is as scandalous as being paid for sunbathing [or] eating chocolate.”</p> <p>He has a point.</p> <p>Harvard professor <a href="https://english.fas.harvard.edu/people/deidre-shauna-lynch">Deidre Shauna Lynch</a> says even more bluntly that what English academics get up to simply “does not look like work” to those on the outside. Those of us writing on literature, she suggests, must make our peace with this fact. We must resign ourselves to being largely unknown to the broader culture, living in quiet obscurity.</p> <p>And yet, as Netflix’s The Chair makes clear, life within an English department can actually look a lot like life in any other workplace. At the fictional Pembroke University, there are familiar office politics and dramas, as well as the usual mixture of ambition, resentment, and status-seeking that exist elsewhere. Professor Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) steers a team of colleagues who have eccentric literary quirks but are recognisable figures in many workplaces.</p> <p>If you enjoyed this series, I’d recommend checking out these four novels, all of which offer compelling depictions of English departments. Forget the Campus Novel – the English Department Novel is a more interesting sub-genre.</p> <h2>1. Richard Russo, Straight Man (1997)</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428162/original/file-20211025-19-ar21bw.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428162/original/file-20211025-19-ar21bw.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span></p> <p>Russo’s comic novel shares many similarities with The Chair. It centres on the madcap adventures of William Henry Devereaux, Jr., who chairs an English department similar in size to that of Pembroke. Furious about recent financial cuts, Devereaux takes matters into his own hands. He uses a local television network to publicise his cause, threatening to kill one goose from the university pond every day until his department’s budget is reinstated.</p> <p>Russo emphasises the slapstick, farcical side of departmental politics. Straight Man is a glorious send up of self-serious academics, the politics of literary theory, and intellectual ambition.</p> <p>It also offers a perfect gloss on the old adage that academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low. I strongly suspect that the writers of The Chair had Devereaux in mind while creating the similarly hapless Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass).</p> <h2>2. John Williams, Stoner (1965)</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428161/original/file-20211025-13-1glczfs.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428161/original/file-20211025-13-1glczfs.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> </p> <p>John Williams may well have written the most moving novel ever to be set in an English department.</p> <p>In understated, elegiac prose, Williams gives us the tragic life story of William Stoner, an obscure English professor at the University of Missouri, who enters as an agriculture student but develops a lifelong passion for literature. He lives his entire life against the backdrop of the university, and all of his significant relationships are found within the English department.</p> <p>While Stoner’s contributions to the field seem middling to his colleagues, he inspires generations of students with his generous and rigorous teaching. His personal life may well be a kind of tragedy, but he finds redemption in his teaching and research, and a true home in the department.</p> <p>Williams gives us an example of the English department novel at its most existential and weighty, one beloved of readers inside and outside the academy.</p> <h2>3. Mary McCarthy, The Groves of Academe (1952)</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428163/original/file-20211025-27-16tzpl7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428163/original/file-20211025-27-16tzpl7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> </p> <p>McCarthy’s novel takes us back to comedy once again, mining the same territory as The Chair and Straight Man but written well in advance of either. Drawing on her own experiences at Bard College and elsewhere, McCarthy gives us a farce with a serious political edge. Set at the fictional Jocelyn College, the novel centres on Henry Mulcahy, an expert on James Joyce who learns he has been let go, seemingly without cause.</p> <p>As he fights to save his position, McCarthy shows us the subtle and shifting nature of allegiances within the English departments she knew firsthand, as well as the petty disputes and lurid scandals they can harbour. She pulls no punches, laying bare the gossip, naked careerism, and backstabbing that even seemingly mild-mannered English academics are capable of.</p> <p>The novel also gives us a classic bait-and-switch. The central character, Mulcahy, whom we initially see as sympathetic and unfairly mistreated, slowly comes into focus as manipulative and profoundly unlikable. As we begin to see the central events from the perspective of once minor characters, the truth is revealed, and McCarthy skillfully shows us the mistakes of our earlier judgments.</p> <h2>4. Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety (1987)</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428164/original/file-20211025-15-1u6vbym.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428164/original/file-20211025-15-1u6vbym.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> </p> <p>This wise and moving novel explores the lifelong friendship between two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang. Sid and Larry are English professors in Madison, Wisconsin, and the novel follows them as they chase literary ambitions while also managing substantial teaching duties.</p> <p>Both are striving for tenure and are forced to negotiate complicated faculty politics. Ultimately, this is a novel about “quiet lives,” as the narrator tells us. Its great themes are friendship, marriage, and the nature of love.</p> <p>And while the English department often fades into the background as Stegner explores other aspects of his characters’ lives, its politics are never far away. Sid and Larry are often concerned with the petty machinations of their academic colleagues, and Crossing to Safety includes many details that still resonate with life at a university today. Stegner’s novel also offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of literary studies from the 1930s to the 1970s.</p> <p>Of course, there are many other novels within this sub-genre, including David Lodge’s beloved campus trilogy, as well as novels by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pnin">Vladimir Nabokov</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disgrace">J.M. Coetzee</a>, and others. While eating chocolate and sunbathing wouldn’t necessarily make for interesting fiction, life in an English department, it seems, certainly does.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170110/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lucas-thompson-1261087">Lucas Thompson</a>, Lecturer, Department of English, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/liked-netflixs-the-chair-here-are-4-moving-funny-novels-set-in-english-departments-170110">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Netflix</em></p>

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New Gold Mountain review: a compelling murder mystery shines light on early Australian multiculturalism

<p>The beautifully shot and evenly paced New Gold Mountain, the new series from SBS, is an 1850s-era murder mystery set in the Ballarat goldfields during the gold rush heyday.</p> <p>In 1851, gold was discovered in Ballarat – a little known pastoral outpost of the British empire. News of the strike quickly spread and the town rapidly developed. Initially, the first arrivals came from other parts of Victoria. Others followed from other Australian colonies. Soon after, international arrivals came from all regions of the globe and in 1852 many arrived from Southern China in search of gold.</p> <p>New Gold Mountain focuses on this Chinese-Australian goldfields experience, primarily from the point of view of Leung Wei Shing (Yoson An), the brooding headman of the Chinese miners and his relationships with his younger, errant brother Leung Wei Sun (Sam Wang) and his loyal assistant Gok (Chris Masters Mah).</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/r-8U7AmNp-U?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The narrative is widened to include Belle Roberts (Alyssa Sutherland), the English widow turned newspaper proprietor; Hattie (Leonie Whyman), the resilient Indigenous woman trying to get by; and Patrick Thomas (Christopher James Baker), the troubled Irish miner whose wife’s disappearance drives the plot.</p> <p>In their own ways, each character is caught between different cultures, friendships and allegiances in the rapidly forming goldfields frontier society on the far side of the world.</p> <h2>A Chinese Australian tale</h2> <p>Chinese migration patterns to Australia were largely based on regional associations, particularly in the localities of Toi Shan, Sze Yup and Sam Yup in Guangdong, Southern China. These regional associations and “brotherhoods”, as they are referred to in the series, were labour recruiting mechanisms similar to the one Wei Shing runs at this Chinese camp.</p> <p>Here, Cheung Lei (Mabel Li) brings into play the connections, allegiances and complexities between Chinese gold seekers in the Australian colonies and their backers in China.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425586/original/file-20211010-25-7hpfvp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425586/original/file-20211010-25-7hpfvp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Production image: a white woman and an Asian man talk." /></a></p> <p>On one hand, relations between key characters and groups (primarily between the Chinese and Europeans) are typified by racism and hostility. But there is also cooperation, as Wei Shing and Belle unite to solve the murder. Sometimes there is brutal friendship, as when Wei Shing and the Chinese protector, Standish (Dan Spielman), finally establish exactly where they stand with each other.</p> <p>Director Corrie Chen and creator Peter Cox pull no punches while maintaining a compelling murder mystery and this lively ensemble offers a nuanced reading of the Australian goldfields experience, telling a mature and ambiguous account of the frontier.</p> <p>The other stars of the series are the distinctive former mining landscapes and Sovereign Hill providing the visual backdrops for the 1850s goldfields society. You can imagine how startled recent arrivals from the bustling South China trading ports of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau must have been on disembarkation. The flora and fauna – literally everything – was so different to home.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425633/original/file-20211011-23-vtq501.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425633/original/file-20211011-23-vtq501.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A Chinese man stands amid red lanterns" /></a></p> <p>Chen explores this shock in a moment of brief magical realism with Wei Shing’s encounters with a kangaroo. It seems the bush sees all. The Chinese miners and their Indigenous and European counterparts were all coming to terms with a landscape broken by mining and colonised by a disparate society coming to terms with its own experiences and opportunities. New Gold Mountain evocatively captures this moment.</p> <h2>The gold rush on screen</h2> <p>Australian goldfields life has been shown on television before, notably <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071046/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_7">Rush</a>, the Victorian gold rush era drama from the 1970s.</p> <p>But the obvious cultural point of reference is <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348914/">Deadwood</a> (2004-06), David Milch’s multi-layered historical narrative based on the 1850s gold-rush town in the Black Hills Indian Cession, a region that subsequently became South Dakota.</p> <p>Much of Deadwood centres on the business dealings between the Chinese headman, Mr Wu, and the corrupt saloon owner and town powerbroker, Al Swearengen. The inherent racism of frontier life is apparent, as is the mutual respect the two men have for each other as they seek to benefit from nefarious business dealings.</p> <p>Similar complex, intertwined plots of shifting alliances and a mutual desire to win money run through New Gold Mountain.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425627/original/file-20211011-21-1dkjedm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425627/original/file-20211011-21-1dkjedm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Production image: a Chinese man looks for gold in his hands." /></a></p> <p><span class="caption"></span>On closer viewing, the series also shares a watermark with the New Zealand made <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0195822/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Illustrious Energy</a> (1988), directed by Leon Narbey, which also explored the goldfields experience from a Chinese perspective. Other Australian colonial stories have been told in John Hillcoat’s <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421238/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2">The Proposition</a> (2005) and Jennifer Kent’s recent <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4068576">The Nightingale</a> (2018).</p> <p>Yoson An’s smouldering portrayal of Wei Shing resembles Jay Swan’s character in <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7298596/">Mystery Road</a> (2018–). Both are extremely resourceful, conflicted and move between different worlds while confronting the ghosts of their own respective pasts in remote Australia.</p> <h2>Historical voices together</h2> <p>New Gold Mountain emphasises the little told history of the Chinese on the diggings. The paradoxical nature of the colonial gold seeking era is best understood when all the historical voices are heard together. If one story dominates, much of the historical themes which help to explain Australian society in the present day are missed.</p> <p>The show also reminds us of the complex enduring relationship between China and Australia, which has often been driven by the mining industry.</p> <p>But, ultimately, it’s a cracking murder mystery that reminds viewers the first Australian multicultural moment happened in the mid-19th century – not the 20th.</p> <p><em>New Gold Mountain premieres on SBS Wednesday 13 October.</em></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/keir-reeves-872184">Keir Reeves</a>, Professor of History &amp; Director Future Regions Research Centre, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/federation-university-australia-780">Federation University Australia</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-gold-mountain-review-a-compelling-murder-mystery-shines-light-on-early-australian-multiculturalism-169527">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: SBS</em></p>

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How the hyper-violent Squid Game has crept into digital content targeting young children

<p>The dystopian South Korean horror series Squid Game has become <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/netflix-adds-more-users-than-it-predicted-boosted-by-squid-game-11634674211#:%7E:text=In%20its%20letter%20to%20investors,in%2094%20countries%2C%20it%20said.">Netflix’s most watched </a>TV series, but it <a href="https://www.gamesradar.com/au/squid-game-phone-number-edit-netflix/">is quickly becoming as controversial as it is popular</a>.</p> <p>The latest controversy to arise around Squid Game, which is rated MA15+ in Australia, relates to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/10/18/kids-playing-squid-game/">the interest it has sparked amongst young children</a>. This includes <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/education/children-as-young-as-six-mimicking-squid-game-in-playground-school-warns-20211014-p58zxx.html">warnings from an Australian school that children as young</a> as six are recreating games featured in the dark and gory hit show.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/oct/17/english-council-urges-parents-not-to-allow-children-to-watch-squid-game">A council in Southern England</a> recently sent an email to parents urging them to “be vigilant” after receiving reports “young people are copying games and violence” from the show. In Australia, similar warnings have been issued by educators in <a href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/sydney-primary-school-issues-warning-to-parents-over-netflixs-squid-game-series-c-4235374">Sydney</a> and <a href="https://thewest.com.au/stories/alarming-squid-game-warning-send-to-wa-schools/">Western Australia</a>.</p> <p>In Squid Game, characters compete for a cash prize by participating in challenges that augment classic Korean children’s games, with the “losers” being killed at the end of each round. Further emphasising the show’s twisted take on child’s play, these games are staged in highly stylised arenas, such as an adult scale children’s playground. After each challenge, these traditional children’s play spaces tend to be left soaked in blood and littered with piles of corpses.</p> <h2>Squid Game on TikTok and YouTube</h2> <p>While the recent warnings urge parents not to let their children watch Squid Game, young children’s awareness of the violent show more likely relates to its pervasive presence on social media, which has extended to viral content on TikTok and YouTube, popular with teenagers and children. The show is certainly a craze within children’s digital cultures.</p> <p>A number of successful channels on YouTube Kids (designed for viewers under 12) have capitalised on the Squid Game trend. This YouTube content includes “<a href="https://www.youtubekids.com/watch?v=sWi-EVi6H1U">How to Draw Squid Game</a>” character videos, and Squid Game themed <a href="https://www.youtubekids.com/watch?v=IRICggaHLT8">gameplay videos</a> from online videogame Roblox.</p> <p>This videogame, which is <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/21/21333431/roblox-over-half-of-us-kids-playing-virtual-parties-fortnite">popular with kids,</a> enables users to program games and share them with other users.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ltV_lT1SLdo?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Squid Game has become<a href="https://www.polygon.com/22700182/squid-game-roblox-netflix-show"> a very common theme </a>in these user programmed Roblox games. Many Squid Game Roblox videos <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltV_lT1SLdo">have hundreds of thousands</a> or <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_9TsVKYPp8">even millions of views</a>.</p> <p>On both the kids’ and main version of YouTube, videos aimed at children feature people (often children) playing these Squid Game inspired games in Roblox, with the “Red Light, Green Light” challenge emerging <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNfHAn8PGPM">as a particularly popular trend</a>. This challenge is also a trend on TikTok, with people emulating the game in a vast variety of <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@theblondejon/video/7012080679378849029?is_from_webapp=v1&amp;q=red%20light%20green%20light%20squid%20game&amp;t=1634792841564">real life settings</a> and in videogames <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@oldtime101/video/7014485706940648710?is_from_webapp=v1&amp;q=red%20light%20green%20light%20squid%20game&amp;t=1634792841564">Roblox</a> and <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@chrisreksu/video/7016787344397257990?is_from_webapp=v1&amp;q=red%20light%20green%20light%20squid%20game%20minecraft&amp;t=1634793021421">Minecraft. </a></p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KNfHAn8PGPM?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The “Red Light, Green Light” scene has become one of Squid Game’s most widely shared moments: the giant animatronic doll that acts as a deadly motion sensor in this game has been heavily meme-ified. This doll often features in video thumbnails for Squid Game-related children’s YouTube content.</p> <p>Most of these kids’ YouTube videos are quite innocuous by themselves. However, they show how Squid Game has crept into digital content explicitly targeting young children.</p> <h2>Murky boundaries</h2> <p>Given Squid Game’s bright, childish aesthetics and focus on playground games, it is perhaps not surprising that viral online content about the show appeals to children. But the boundaries between adult and child-oriented content online have always been murky.</p> <p>YouTube has been at the centre of a number of controversies regarding <a href="https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2">inappropriate content aimed at children</a>. TikTok has faced similar controversies related to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56815480">children’s safety on the app </a>and problematic content being watched by children, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/oct/08/revealed-anti-vaccine-tiktok-videos-viewed-children-as-young-as-nine-covid">such as anti-vaccine videos.</a> Tik Tok allows full access to the app to children aged over 13 but reports show children much younger are using it: alongside YouTube, TikTok is currently facing <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/technology/577537-tiktok-youtube-snapchat-executives-to-testify-at-senate-hearing-on-kids">a US Senate hearing on kids’ safety</a>.</p> <p>After a historic fine of US$170 million (A$227 million) was imposed on YouTube by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2019, sweeping changes were introduced to make the distinction between adult and children’s content clearer on the platform. For instance, creators must now inform YouTube if their content is for children and machine-learning is used to identify videos that <a href="https://blog.youtube/news-and-events/an-update-on-kids/">clearly target young audiences.</a></p> <p>Despite these changes, YouTube remains a very different beast to broadcast television, and content popular with children on both the main and children’s version of the platform often differs markedly from kids’ TV.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427666/original/file-20211021-14-1xrpoic.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427666/original/file-20211021-14-1xrpoic.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Still from Squid Game" /></a></p> <p>Children’s YouTube content that riffs on Squid Game characters and scenes continues a longstanding trend of <a href="https://theconversation.com/in-an-age-of-elsa-spider-man-romantic-mash-ups-how-to-monitor-youtubes-childrens-content-123088">“mash-up” content for children on the platform</a>.</p> <p>Like Squid Game content, “mash-up” videos harness trending themes, search terms, and characters – often featuring popular characters in thumbnail imagery and video titles.</p> <p>Adult anxieties about Squid Game’s malign influence on children build on earlier concerns about this “mash-up” content, but also about children’s interaction with the web more generally.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427664/original/file-20211021-27-100x57m.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/427664/original/file-20211021-27-100x57m.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a><br />The rising global panic about children’s participation in Squid Game challenges echoes the “Momo” phenomenon of 2018 and 2019. In this case, a photo of a sinister figure that became associated with the moniker “Momo” went viral online (the photo was actually of a Japanese sculpture).</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/momo-challenge-shows-how-even-experts-are-falling-for-digital-hoaxes-112782">An international news cycle</a> emerged about “Momo”, claiming the creature was appearing in children’s content on YouTube and encouraging kids to participate in deadly games and challenges.</p> <p>As is now occurring in relation to Squid Game, in Australia and beyond <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-01/momo-challenge-sparks-warning-from-online-safety-watchdog/10861080">official warnings were issued to parents</a> about the “Momo Challenge”, advising them to be vigilant. It soon became clear the “Momo Challenge” was most likely <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47393510">a viral hoax</a>.</p> <p>Momo embodied parents’ worst fears about the dangers of children’s internet use. Concerns about Squid Game’s influence on children have a similar tenor: these fears may not be a response to actual dangers, but a manifestation of our discomfort with how easily adult-oriented media can seep into online content aimed at young children.</p> <p>The unruly tentacles of Squid Game’s inter-generational appeal show how streaming media challenges existing conceptions of “child-appropriate” content.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170209/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-balanzategui-814024">Jessica Balanzategui</a>, Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-hyper-violent-squid-game-has-crept-into-digital-content-targeting-young-children-170209">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Netflix</em></p>

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Uncanny Robin Williams impersonation stuns fans

<p><em>Image: Youtube </em></p> <p>Robin Williams’ fans are very excited by actor Jamie Costa’s impersonation of the late star.</p> <p>Costa posted a five-minute clip to his YouTube channel, titled<span> </span><em>ROBIN Test Footage Scene,<span> </span></em>on Tuesday, showing a scene featuring himself as Williams and Sarah Murphree as Pam Dawber on the set of<span> </span><em>Mork &amp; Mindy</em>.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0-kOy4s_Z0M" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The clip shows Dawber interrupting Williams as he runs through lines to break the news of comedian John Belushi’s death – and shows Williams’ reaction to the news.</p> <p>When Murphree tells Costa Belushi had been found dead that morning, Costa finds it hard to digest the news, insisting: “No, I told you, I was with him. John’s not dead, I was with him last night.”</p> <p>Blues Brothers star Belushi died aged 33 of a cocaine and heroin overdose at Chateau Marmont in LA in 1982.</p> <p>After Murphee warns Costa: “I can’t let what happened to him happen to you” and a knock on the door signals it is time for the pair to go back on set, costa returns to reciting lines – this time, with a break in his voice.</p> <p>The short film left some viewers hankering for a full biopic of Williams, who died by suicide in 2014 after battling Lewy body dementia.</p> <p>“Who else has been hoping Jamie would play Robin in a biopic since you saw his first Robin impressions?” one wrote.</p> <p>“It’s one thing to resemble a person but it’s how much he sounds like and has his mannerisms and expressions down that’s so freaking impressive. I hope this movie gets made. I still feel his loss,” said another.</p> <p>“This is absolutely incredible. Make this full length movie and hire this man NOW!” a third wrote.</p>

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Karl's joke about the Queen's walking stick goes global

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Karl Stefanovic has made headlines across the UK after making a crude joke about the Queen using a walking stick at a public engagement for the first time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The monarch was seen using the stick while attending a service at Westminster Abbey marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844816/queen-stick.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3cde2b26359944cc9093727c65ca4188" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As Alex Cullen reported the day’s headlines on Wednesday, he said, “She was using a cane. She was 95.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stefanovic replied: “She could use it to beat you up.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’d let her win. She’s 95,” Cullen joked.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844814/cullen-queen.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3b7ca1c8bc49433780edab0d74303d73" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Today / Channel 9</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She would smash you bro,” Stefanovic continued, to which Cullen said: “She would smash me and then jump on me.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I suppose she is single,” Stefanovic replied, prompting laughter across the panel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And shout at me for being a proud Republican,” Stefanovic added.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the episode aired, the hosts have received some backlash on social media.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">British supporters of the Queen took to Twitter to share their criticisms and call for Stefanovic’s firing, while British and US news publications described the joke as “crude”, “gross”, and “uncolored”.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Today host Karl Stefanovic makes gross joke about Queen Elizabeth, 95, using a walking stick <a href="https://t.co/vsQdM43R2L">https://t.co/vsQdM43R2L</a></p> — USMAIL24 (@usmail24) <a href="https://twitter.com/usmail24/status/1448255493621886976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 13, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Not the 1st time Aussie showbiz clowns have mocked Our Royal Family to try &amp; improve their status, when it just shows how pathetically desperate the Aussie mainstream media is for presenters, they have to scrape scum from the barrels,” user Upstart Eagle tweeted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m assuming [Stefanovic’s] aged about 12, in which case he needs his arse smacked and no supper,” author Peter Maughan tweeted.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Karl Stefanovic makes crude joke about the Queen using a walking stick. Stefanovic &amp; Cullen should be fired for their rudeness, disrespect &amp; crude insinuations, that stick is to help our 95 year old Queen &amp; that sort of rubbish on our TV program should be dealt with harshly,</p> — Old Bill (@Cuthred) <a href="https://twitter.com/Cuthred/status/1448119643206529029?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 13, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was the first time the Queen used the walking aid since 2004, when she was recovering following a knee operation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though many are concerned for the Queen’s health, it is understood she used the stick for comfort.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Today / Channel 9</span></em></p>

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‘An idealised Australian ethos’: why Bluey is an audience favourite, even for adults without kids

<p>Bluey, the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-01/bluey-abc-kids-show-wins-international-emmys-childrens-award/12111308">Emmy award-winning</a> animated series about a family of anthropomorphized cattle dogs, has become a <a href="https://www.kidspot.com.au/lifestyle/entertainment/the-most-downloaded-show-on-the-abc-is-not-what-youd-expect/news-story/6c1fdef918c5890b23695538c8c136b2">ratings phenomenon</a> since it was first broadcast on the ABC in 2018. Bluey follows the eponymous six-year-old Blue Heeler, her younger sister, Bingo, and their playful parents, Bandit and Chilli.</p> <p>As part of our new research project, <a href="https://www.actcresearch.com/">Australian Children’s Television Cultures</a>, we are <a href="https://swinuw.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nLAOj9X5VUfPvw">surveying audiences</a> about how they interact with Australian children’s programming.</p> <p>From over 700 adult responses, Bluey was the TV program parents were most keen to watch with their children. Respondents celebrated its unambiguously Australian setting, irreverent humour, and family orientated themes at a time when other children’s content, such as the dead-eyed nursey rhymes of YouTube channel <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbCmjCuTUZos6Inko4u57UQ">Cocomelon</a>, seem to only offer generic, computer-generated distractions. Indeed, many adults without children said they watch Bluey.</p> <p>One respondent described Bluey, which is set in Brisbane, as “representative of an idealised Australian ethos — relaxed, curious, and hard-working”.</p> <p>Another, an early childhood educator, emphasised that “Australian children need Australian shows”. And as a parent explained,</p> <blockquote> <p>It’s nice for children to see familiar landmarks and have issues that are current to them, as opposed to Peppa Pig and needing to explain why we don’t have snow at Christmas".</p> </blockquote> <p>One aspect of Bluey audiences consider particularly relatable is the family dynamic, including the games Bluey and Bingo play with their resourceful parents. One locked-down Australian mother has even created “<a href="https://looseparts.com.au/bluey/">50 Days of Bluey</a>”, guidelines for home activities inspired by the show.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EuSpVc9z3Rk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Bluey’s games include: “Daddy Robot” in which a “malfunctioning” Bandit teaches Bluey and Bingo the importance of tidying up; “Rug Island”, a kids-only oasis that the Heelers create in their backyard; and “Mount Mumandad”, in which Bluey and Bingo climb their exhausted parents after they have collapsed on the couch.</p> <p>Then there’s the humour: described by one respondent as full of Australian cultural nuances. As one parent noted,</p> <blockquote> <p>Bluey ‘gets’ parents perfectly … we enjoy watching it so we steer our kids towards it.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Read on many levels</h2> <p>The show can be read on multiple levels, which is why it can appeal to adults too. For instance, a recent Father’s Day episode saw Bluey’s dad, Bandit, discuss his conflicted feelings about getting a vasectomy with another dad.</p> <p>As Bandit explained, “I’m keen to get it done, but, Chilli, [his wife] she wants to keep her options open”. This adult moment in what is ostensibly a kids’ cartoon generated much discussion on social media. One fan tweeted</p> <blockquote> <p>I’m a grown man wondering if a cartoon dog family is going to have a baby. Weird life this is.</p> </blockquote> <p>From election day barbecues to Queenslander houses and backyards, early audience responses to our study agree Bluey offers a snapshot of Australia. However, many were quick to point out this snapshot doesn’t provide the full picture.</p> <p>Bluey has been <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/can-bluey-show-be-more-representative/100042084">gently criticised</a> for a perceived lack of diversity. The show centres on a hetero-normative nuclear family in a world largely populated by able-bodied characters, with Anglo-Australian names and accents. As one respondent noted</p> <blockquote> <p>We’re definitely getting better [at reflecting Australian culture] with shows like Bluey, but as a gay man I would love to see more LGBT representation in kids’ shows. It would be nice as a kid to know you’re valid.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nevertheless, many of this study’s early participants felt that on the whole, kids’ TV was becoming more reflective of wider Australia. Children’s content praised for providing greater diversity of representation included Indigenous Australian-led shows Little J &amp; Big Cuz and Jarjums.</p> <p>National babysitter Play School was celebrated for its continued commitment to featuring hosts from a variety of backgrounds, and the greater diversity in The Wiggles’ new line-up was applauded.</p> <h2>Taking ‘bush wees’ global</h2> <p>One respondent wondered if the humour and references in Bluey were “lost on audiences outside of Australia”. However, since the Walt Disney Company acquired the show’s international broadcasting rights in 2019, Bluey has been reaching a wide <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jun/13/australias-bluey-goes-global-after-fetching-deal-with-disney">overseas audience</a>.</p> <p>While some small accommodations have been made for international viewers — “capsicums” became “peppers” in the UK and a gag with a pooping pony was cut for Disney Junior — the show has resisted being watered down. As such, it is taking bilbies and “bush wees” to global audiences.</p> <p>At a time when the commercial broadcaster quotas that previously protected local kids’ TV have been <a href="https://theconversation.com/cheese-n-crackers-concerns-deepen-for-the-future-of-australian-childrens-television-147183">scrapped</a> and international shows like Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig can be instantly summoned by tapping on a smart-phone, the local enthusiasm for Bluey is heartening.</p> <p>“I have friends in the US whose kids watch Bluey and they say their kids are talking in Aussie accents,” noted one respondent with pride.</p> <p>Said another: “Bluey will be forever iconic not just to kids but their parents, not just in Australia but all over the world”.</p> <p><em>Our research project, <a href="https://www.actcresearch.com/">Australian Children’s Television Cultures</a>, aims to better understand the role and responsibility of local Kids’ TV. You can participate in this research by clicking on the following <a href="https://swinuw.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nLAOj9X5VUfPvw">link</a>. You can also follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/_ACTC_?s=20">Twitter</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/168571/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-burke-109751">Liam Burke</a>, Associate Professor and Cinema and Screen Studies Discipline Leader, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/djoymi-baker-1269345">Djoymi Baker</a>, Lecturer in Cinema Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-balanzategui-814024">Jessica Balanzategui</a>, Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joanna-mcintyre-333903">Joanna McIntyre</a>, Lecturer in Media Studies, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-idealised-australian-ethos-why-bluey-is-an-audience-favourite-even-for-adults-without-kids-168571">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: ABC TV</em></p>

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Netflix forced to cut Squid Game scene for bizarre reason

<p>The popularity of Netflix's new show <em>Squid Game</em> is breaking international records, and is on track to become the most popular show of all the on the streaming service.</p> <p>The show is a violent and dystopian Korean drama that sees 456 destitute 'players' enter a game arena to win a hefty sum of prize money upon the completion of six children's games.</p> <p>In the first episode of the show however, Netflix have made a grave mistake that has had very interesting consequences.</p> <p>When the 'players' were approached to take part in the game, they were given a business card and told to call the number.</p> <p>The number was in fact a real person's phone number, and the owner has been inundated with phone calls from strangers since the show's release on September 17th.</p> <p>The real-life owner of the phone number told the Korean publication <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mt.co.kr" target="_blank">Money Today</a> that she has been receiving "endless" calls and texts, as well as offers to buy the phone number.</p> <p>“It has come to the point where people are reaching out day and night due to their curiosity. It drains my phone’s battery and it turns off,” the woman, who is from the Gyeonggi province of South Korea, said.</p> <p>“At first, I didn’t know why, then my friend told me that my number came out [in the series].”</p> <p>The woman, who is a small business owner and is unrelated to Netflix or the <em>Squid Game</em> production, has been assured by Netflix that measures will be taken to protect the woman's identity.</p> <p><span>“Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary,” Netflix told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/squid-games-netflix-phone-number-b1931823.html" target="_blank">The </a></span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/squid-games-netflix-phone-number-b1931823.html" target="_blank">Independent</a>.</p> <p>Certain regions have had the scene altered to no longer feature the phone number.</p> <p>Netflix even offered to buy the woman's number for a measly $1,000AUD, which the woman rejected as the number has been tied up in her small business for almost twenty years.</p> <p>The production crew upped the compensation to almost $6,000AUD which was also rejected, before a new offer from an unlikely source was offered.</p> <p>Presidential candidate for South Korea Huh Kyung Young <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.koreaboo.com/news/squid-game-phone-number-controversy-presidential-candidate-buy-100-million/" target="_blank">offered the woman over $116,000</a> for the number, in a bid to win the position of high office.</p> <p>The issue the mystery phone number is not the first backlash Netflix's <em>Squid Game</em> has received.</p> <p>Due to its explosive popularity, a Korean internet service provider announced they were suing Netflix for clogging up the internet with traffic.</p> <p>Check out the trailer for <em>Squid Game</em> here. Viewer discretion is advised.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oqxAJKy0ii4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em>Image credits: Netflix</em></p>

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