Responding to Charlottesville

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 21st August 2017.

When I got to writing this article this week, I quickly realised I couldn’t write something that didn’t address the recent events in Charlottesville. However, I was also keenly aware that it was not necessarily my place nor within my capabilities to provide a response, beyond an expression of the horror, devastation, disappointment, and determination that so many have been expressing in the past few days. I know I am not alone in feeling helpless in the face of these events, and I know that many of us have been looking for ways to support the counter-protestors of Charlottesville, both in the work they have already done to fight white supremacists and neo-nazis, and in the work that they will doubtless continue to do in the future. I also know that many of us would like all the guidance we can get in helping us to understand come to terms with what has been happening and how best to move forward. With this in mind, I have decided to use my platform this week for two purposes: providing links to organisations that would greatly benefit from our financial support and whose work is invaluable; and providing links to excellent, spark inciting pieces written by those most affected by the rise of these racist movements, and those who have been fighting this fight for a long time.

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Whither Truth? An Ode to Fargo, or How Russia Stole the Limelight  

Anne Liebig|10th June 2017.

‘This is a true story.’ Every connoisseur of the Coen brother’s timeless classic Fargo and its equally cult-like series spin-off about small-town megalomania will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek quality of so blatant a lie. The sentence is repeatedly dangled in front of the viewer at the beginning of each episode as a propitious prop for make-believe, calling viewers to rejuvenate their sense for a suspension of disbelief and jump right into this mellifluent maelstrom of snow storms, ice deserts, and funny accents. If it is only popular entertainment, what does it have to do with our current post-truth political climate? 

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A Carnivalesque Turn of Events

Alberto Nanni | 20 February 2017

Politics have always been full of buffoons and this is no news. In America currently, being allegedly rich and charismatically outrageous seem more important than intelligence and integrity for political success. But is this something new? The newly elected president of the United States is not an isolated case. As an Italian expat, I can’t help but think that Trump has at least one renowned precursor: Silvio Berlusconi. And I don’t just limit their similarities to their orange complexion.

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Marvel’s America: Living in an Age of Oversimplification

Dylan Taylor | 6 February 2017

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans have “a lively faith in the perfectibility of man…They all consider society as a body in a state of improvement”. Such descriptions help explain our common stereotype as pragmatic idealists with a penchant for exaggerated emotions and an uncomfortable awkwardness in the face of negative, or even ambivalent, sentiments. Studies [1] have implied what many introverts could readily describe: America is a land where being quiet or reflective can induce strange looks or even pity. Being slow-to-judge—a trait so often honored by moral philosophers throughout history—is, to that subset of Americans which subscribes to a masculine, red-blooded vision of our tenets, seen instead as a sign of weakness and naiveté. This diluting of issues into binaries—weak or strong, moral or immoral, right or wrong—is a cultural tendency that has seemed to reach its apotheosis in the theatrical build-up to the new presidency and its traumatic fallout.

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I Meme You No Harm

Josh Simpson | 6 February 2017

Memes. We’ve all liked them, shared them, maybe even created them: those images, videos, and texts that are humorous (or at least attempt to be). They’ve replaced, in the online world, the editorial cartoons of print newspapers and journals. They are made to become viral in a time when “140 characters” seems more a description of our attention span than of Twitter’s prescribed limits and increasing amounts of information are crowding the real estate of our screens.

Let’s talk about the more serious aspect of memes (don’t groan). Do they desensitise us to the real issues behind all the jokes? Are they responsible for the recent proliferation of #fakenews and “alternative facts,” formerly known as lies?

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Television Light Lies on the American Lawn

Sarah Giblin | 23 January 2017.
In his first collection, Areas of Fog, Joseph Massey writes:

television light

lies on the

American lawn
I can think of no better way to encapsulate the omnipresence of the Presidential inauguration within mainstream media. A sense of resigned, abject, passive observation has permeated everything from the mundane to the grand. This is reflected in the ‘American lawn’ that ties the suburban white picket fences to the sweeping grounds of the White House, and the television light that ‘lies’ intimates the allure of submitting to docility that has accompanied the shock victory of President Donald Trump. It is often tempting to acquiesce when met with situations which seem hopeless; Barack Obama addressed this directly in his final press conference, ‘at my core, I think we’re going to be okay. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it’. In response to Massey, I only offer that this ‘television light’ rests not only on American lawns, but on lawns the world over.

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Donald Trump: Psychopath?

August 27, 2016 | Vicki Madden

To say that the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election has raised some serious questions would be a gross understatement. For many, this election has felt less like a battle for office than a battle for the American soul, thanks in large part to the non-stop demagoguery of one Donald J. Trump. As someone who spends a significant amount of time reading about history’s most famous psychopaths, the biggest questions on my mind as I scroll through the internet’s ubiquitous election coverage are these: 1). Is Donald Trump a certifiable psychopath, and 2). Would such a diagnosis jeopardise his bid to become the next American president?

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