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Skins USA: Spot the Difference

5 Jan

It would appear that the producers of Skins USA have learnt from the mistakes of failed cross-continental conversions such as “Kath and Kim” and “Big Brother”; instead of reformulating a concept for American audiences, Skins USA looks to be more of a downtown-Baltimore carbon-copy. One might question the logic in spending millions of network dollars simply so American audiences need not furrow their brows in a desperate attempt to understand the phrase “you think I’m a right James Blunt”. But nevertheless, considering the popularity of the original Skins to every American in the English-speaking world outside of America, and as much as it pains me to admit, this *could* work.

But then wait a minute. There is something missing from that promo. Something’s not the same.

Watch it again.

Anyone?

Where the fuck is Maxxie?

Now don’t get me wrong. I actually didn’t like Maxxie in the original skins. I thought his character lacked development and that the writers had copped out on a figure who could’ve had a compelling and important storyline. But he was pivotal, interesting, and like all the other original characters, distinctly different from the kind of person who we were used to seeing on television.

So I searched far and wide and found Maxxie’s replacement.

Meet Tea. She’s young, she’s gay, she’s a dancer, and she’s….a chick?

Fascinatingly, Skins USA producers don’t appear to have bothered with changing anything about Maxxie Tea’s dialogue or relationships; check out this leaked “side-script” (court. Perez Hilton).

INT. SPORTS HALL. MORNING

CHEERLEADERS: (CHANTING) Roundview… We love you!!! Aha! Ahu! Love you, Roundview!! Say what?!! Say Huh!!! Say what! Say huh!! Say who! Roundview…!

The camera comes to rest on TEA (17), an unusual looking but nevertheless beautiful girl.
The CHEERLEADERS spin out into immaculately coreographed individual spins and group turns. TEA presses a BLUETOOTH RECEIVER. Cheerleader continues around her.

TEA: Hey Tony…
TONY: [PHONE] Forget the big gay night out Tea. We need you.
TEA: Sorry Tony, I promised Chris and Abs I’d take them on a voyage of wonder and discovery…

Yet again, identical (more or less) to the original.

When I was in New York a few years back, I watched on free-to-air TV the original Skins episode in which Jal contemplates terminating her pregnancy. It was a poignant and powerful storyline, one which had the potential to further the normalisation of discussion of family planning and teen pregnancy in an honest manner. And it was completely airbrushed out of the version I saw.

I’m afraid the same thing is happening here. Maxxie has been airbrushed out, and the opportunity to have a televised character who is young, male, gay, functional, and not on Law & Order: SVU has been lost. Instead, we’re left with another example only alternate sexuality permissible in the American media – young, hot, and lesbian.

There’s a certain irony in transforming a show which was based upon concepts of inclusivity into one which is subtly pornographying it’s characters.

Who knows; maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Tea won’t be a 2-dimensional object. But what worries me the most is that audiences won’t be watching in order to see a (inevitably stylised) reflection of their own lives, or to be challenged, or stimulated; they’ll be waiting for Tea and the other cheerleaders to hit the changerooms. And that is not what Skins is about.

The mind boggles.

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27 Dec

markus-weldon imagebank

The Death of Tyler Clementi and What Used to Be Trust

30 Sep

L: Tyler Clementi; C: roommate, Dharun Ravi; R: another classmate, Molly Wei

“Roommate asked for room until midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Dharun Ravi’s Twitter message on 19 September says it all: behind the nonchalant air, there’s the whiff of perversion, of callousness and of the blatant disregard for the privacy of another individual (his rommate) who had specifically requested it.

Three days later the roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from New Jersey’s George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Though the development of events in the few days leading up to Clementi’s death still remain unclear, media reports speculate that the invasion of privacy by Ravi and fellow classmate Molly Wei in distributing webcam footage of Clementi having sex, and the fallout in the immediate aftermath, was the cause of Clementi’s suicide. So far, Ravi and Wei have been charged for the violation of privacy and face up to 5 years in prison under NJ law.

Fellow students’ accounts of Clementi say that he was a shy and reserved young man (apparently only 3 students out of 50 in his dorm knew him), yet active in music circles as an accomplished violinist. In the hours immediately prior to his death he was at a Rutger Symphony Orchestra rehearsal where Thomas Jung, who shared a desk with Clementi in the violin section, did not notice anything wrong. ABC News and the Star-Ledger of Neward also reported Clementi posting a message on his Facebook on the day of his death: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”.

Clementi’s reaction to the broadcasting of his sex life would seem, under the logic of a heteronormative community, rather histrionic if it wasn’t for the main fact upon which Ravi’s Twitter and all media reports that I’ve read so far pivot. That is, Tyler Clementi’s sexuality. Let’s pretend that sexual preference really mattered for a minute. If Clementi had been having sex with a girl, and Ravi and Wei had broadcast that across the Internet, I’d bet you the scandal would on a whole be less to the chagrin of Clementi. Heteronormative behaviour relishes the chance for display and affirmation of its perceived dominance. Just think back to that movie American Pie and Jim streaming a live feed of the exchange student, Nadia, undressing in his room. I found this poor quality clip (you get the idea):
It’s OK! It’s a hot girl being watched by guys. Chill. But does that make the violation of two straight people having sex any better? The media fetishizes and commodifies celebrity sex tapes into glorified, albeit salacious, publicity stunts. But at least we can trust the law to preserve our civil rights, or so we hope.

But this hasn’t stopped the gay rights group Garden State Equality making a martyr out of Clementi, whose death they consider to be a hate crime. At the end of the inaugural event of Rutgers’ “Project Civility” program, protesters gathered outside the student centre chanting “Civility without safety – over our queer bodies!” But I thought Clementi’s sexual orientation of “unclear”, NY Times? Not that it matters or anything. You can’t stop people, especially 18-year-old freshers, being speculative about others and also of themselves.

The worst justice done here is the appropriation of Tyler Clementi’s unfortunate death by political groups for a particular end, as a martyr for hate crimes against the gay community. Tyler Clementi’s death shouldn’t be about the death of a man speculated (key word here)to be gay. It’s the tragic death of a young man whose basic right to privacy was violated to the extent that it was intolerable.

But I’m taking the right of all individuals to civil liberties (in this case, sexual freedom) for granted in saying that because Clementi’s demons demonstrate that invisible barriers in familial, societal and cultural spheres can remain strongly ingrained, and that their risidual effects can remain as pervasive as ever in the mind of the individual.

Our law has the responsibility of protecting the civil rights of any individual whether they are female, male, intersex, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. And the crime perpetrated by Ravi and Wei, of blatant disregard of Tyler Clementi’s rights, is one that cannot be drawn upon lines of sex, gender and sexuality. This was a crime that shows the violent results of the abuse of privilege and power by actors, and the tragic results of such coercive forces on an individual who was denied any power to mitigate the actions – in this case, death. This is also about something even more fundamental to human civil society and morality: trust. What ever happened to it?

Yi

Changing Lanes – 19/09/2010

24 Sep

Were I suffering from even the slightest depression Changing Lanes would’ve sent me over the edge. Everyone was taller, hotter, and had nicer clothes than I did. As you would expect from a festival that was so cool that it hurt, the ratio of people:SLR cameras was about 1:27,000. It seems like having so much pretty acts as a pheromone for photography.

Whilst the line-up was significant, I got the distinct feeling that no-one was really in it for the music; for the group I was with, at least, the best part of the day was spent in the pub next to the main stage. Despite the forgettable nature of many of the acts, Tame Impala played a solid closing set, continuing their tradition of managing to make three or four songs last the duration of their entire allocated stage time.

…more photos after the cut
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Things Josh Hates: Tavi

22 Sep

I hate Tavi.

For those of you who (fortunately) don’t know, Tavi is the fashion world’s Bieber. With an extra dash of Harold and Maude. She’s tight with Wintour, personal attaché to Lagerfeld*, and just finished a collaboration line with Rodarte. And I hate her. Why?

Because she’s just not that good.

Now, I’m willing to admit that the little green monster may be playing a little bit of a role in this. But it’s more than that.

I spoke in a previous post about how I hate plus-sized models. Tavi, in my mind, belongs to the same school. She’s judged with a different standard because she is different, and art should not allow that. We shouldn’t be subjected to collections from Rodarte that are, frankly, crap, but have to pretend to think that they’re amazing because they’re designer is different.

Did I mention she's terrifying?

Now don’t get me wrong. There are child chess prodigies that I think are amazing. I’ve played with 12 year olds who can blast out Rachmaninov’s 4th piano concerto with the best of them. And I respect them; perhaps even pay them more respect due to their youth.

But I will not respect someone who, due to a combination of pity and dumb luck, has risen to a position that many talented, hardworking people never will. Whilst the adage that the cream always rises to the top may be true, it appears that there’s a lot of other crap up there too.

*Yes, I am equally nauseated by the thought of Lagerfeld around children.

Equally terrifying.

Hipster Hate.

15 Sep

I mean, I understand it’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but I honestly think comparing hipsters to Hitler is maybe taking things a little far.

Say what you want, I’d rather be one of these guys…

Even though the girl was on a reality TV show with Paris Hilton

…than one of these guys.

-Josh

More Clover, Moore!

14 Sep

One minute in.

Yep, that’s Sydney’s Mayoress with the Mostest, Clover Moore, protesting against the cultural icon that put Sydney on the map alongside other great metropoli such as Ogdenville and North Havenbrook; the Monorail.

Sometimes I try to  imagine a time before the monorail. When Sydneysiders didn’t have the option to pay $5 to travel between places of little to no interest in a longer time than it takes to walk. Now, this was well before my birth, but I’m pretty sure that such a time is unimaginable today even to those who were alive before its introduction. People had to suffer the indignity of catching buses or trains. Or even walking. Gosh.

I think of those dark times whenever I glide from the Novotel Darling Harbour to Paddy’s Markets in my noisy, rusting steel coffin. Which is never.

It takes a special kind of council (depicted below) to have the foresight to install a multi-million dollar network that doesn’t go to Central Station or Circular Quay. Or Oxford St, or the Museum/Hyde Park area. Or anywhere really.

But who cares about that? Because evertime I ride the monorail, I feel like I’m in the future. Or at least a late-eighties image of the future. And by ‘every time I ride’, I don’t mean to say that I’ve ever ridden it. I just imagine it would be like that, if I ever, I dunno, broke my ankle in Market City and really wanted to get to the Galleries Victoria. And there was a bus strike. And a train accident. And there were some Monorail-enthusiasts that I was meant to be entertaining.

Josh

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