Archive for the ‘Aarom with a View’ Category

Aarom With A View: The Bomber

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

How a popular, promising magazine was failed by its public, fell into radical criticism and became a monster.

Stories (over 260,000,000) addressing the Rolling Stone Magazine’s decision to feature Dzhokhar ‘The Bomber’ Tsarnaev on its front cover for the August edition are proliferating faster than the My Little Pony-inspired Awkward Raver video footage. In fact, any media worth their spray of hipster slag projectiles have been spitting scorched judgments wildly, not to mention the permanently frowning mainstream media, forgetting to mention New York Times’ cover had already featured the same photo without criticism. In fact, many big players like Time Magazine, News Weekly and — cover me in crazy juice — even Rolling Stone have also featured killers on their front covers in the past. Just not Islamic ones… Sidestepping the despicable roles that xenophobia, racism and religious intolerance have played in the extremely persecutory responses, a large problem with the tidal waves of commentary is that the media has generally lacked the expulsive power (aka balls) to explode a few bombs of their own. Rather, most have taken the all-too-predictable route of ‘Oh how dare they make it cool for others to idolize violence, make him a martyr, glorify terrorism etc,’ and other critique variants that occasionally flaunt edginess yet ultimately play it safe. Here we are though, placed firmly in the opinion gutter of Aarom With A View, so let’s put on the gloves and throw the questioning uppercut; Why does western society give such a fuck about some dude that only killed a few people?

Before fists are clenched so tight you might hurt yourself, let’s use one small example to provide a little context. If you’ve been playing the Try/Sly/Gin&Dry/Lie July game then I’m betting you drank booze the last few weekends. Or you likely drove. You may even have driven after consuming more than the legal limit of silly juice – something your friends didn’t seem to care about because, well, Northbridge was just a bitch to get a taxi. If you answered yes to the latter question then you’re engaging in practices that have resulted in enough fatalities over the last 15 years to trump any acts of terrorism by one zillion percent. You’re just another bloody idiot if you have a few too many (risking accidentally driving into innocents, babies etc), but if you explode bombs then you’re terrorist. And if you’ve been living under a rock this past decade or so, being called a terrorist is like being called a ‘murderous cunt’ times 1,000. News flash: if you drink and drive then you’re risking being as deadly as a bloody terrorist.

Now, back at the rumble ranch, it’s easy for this line of argument to get sidetracked and responses to veer off into the wrong gutters. On track again, and there are clearly a number of points in this Rolling Bomber incident that aren’t debatable. The most important:

1. Rolling Stone will indeed effectively encourage many to idolize violence and legitimize ‘terrorism’ by putting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, aided by the fact that a) kids ? selfies and b) the dude is better looking than your usual local ‘terrorist’.

2. It was tasteless and disrespectful to those injured by the blasts.

3. The editorial decision was no doubt spurred by falling magazine circulation figures and profits – the more controversial, the more free exposure (bad press is good press, right?).

Trick is, the same days that America and much of western civilization spent much of their time getting up in arms over three people being killed and 264 being injured in Boston, Pakistan and Iran experienced an earthquake that caused at least 10 times more fatalities and left upwards of 26,000 people without shelter; dozens were killed in an industrial explosion in Waco, Texas; Ghana saw at least 17 illegal miners die when their mine collapsed; and let’s not even started on the facts that approx 5,000 were killed in the Syrian conflict, 712 civilians and security personnel died as bloodshed escalated in Iraq and 1,127 people lost their lives in a building collapse in Bangladesh just in that same month of April. Of course the external horror stories go on and on and on…yet did these make the news that month? Only very brief mentions in comparison, if at all. Instead most ‘news’ consumers were glued to their screens, their anger united and focused during April at these young terrorists’ actions (it should be noted they were described as terrorists right from the beginning), forgetting about all the ongoing world problems that consistently result in greater mass fatalities of innocent people. Poverty, disease, religion, homelessness…there are so many alarming global woes that need to be addressed and given aid to, yet instead much of the world is too busy spending billions and billions on counter-terrorism, to the point where the US is secretly spying on their allies (how quick that story faded).

So, as preposterously unethical and stupefying as this decision by Rolling Stone was, the lack of the media’s ability to make more meaningful criticisms needs also to be severely spanked. Most of the media, from tabloid tale-tellers to progressive persecutors, too oft only follow up on what’s deemed to be the most hit-worthy angles on the news, sharing the sorts of opinions that they know their target audience will respond to in a positive way. Many are still making valid points, but they’re wasting their potential to actually engage with such commentary in far more socially, politically and culturally substantial and consequential ways.

In that way, they deserve to share a greater load of the guilt than what Rolling Stone is now baring. What’s also scary is most have criticized the cover without having even read the story. Rolling Stone was one of the great journalistic innovators, it’s long length, in-depth feature writing revealing more about not only music, but life, culture and politics than most magazines in its heyday. As Rolling Stone stated as they dropped ‘The Bomber’, “The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” Yet the magazine has become victim to a changing shift in consumers’ attention spans — a new generation of meme-moochers, yolo-yelpers, hashtag-heroes and shorts-slurpers, all demanding their quick and quaffable fix of superficial news. Chances are, you didn’t even get to the end of this opinion piece – it’s too long for the average internet attention span (apologies).

The cover was judged furiously before the feature’s content had even been revealed. It could actually be a rather insightful and thought-provoking piece, yet its potential messages were immediately crushed. They say never to judge a book by its cover, and we should all fear the lugubrious looking picture being painted by consumers abusing this age-old adage. From memes to memos, the public wants to slurp the most outrageous news as quickly as possible, and react instantly, reflecting a disturbingly diminished amount of thoughtful engagement. Shit, even Playboy’s articles decades ago provided more cerebral opportunities than a day’s worth of world Facebook status updates.

Sure, it didn’t help that Rolling Stone editor Christian Hoard tweeted, “I guess we should have drawn a dick on Dzhokhar’s face or something?”, yet this tweet was born from his obvious frustration at the changing state of media consumption where the majority of society would rather read about a terrible rapper and a clueless bimbo giving their baby a stupid name than actually having to use their brains when reading a powerful story. Furthermore, Rolling Stone putting The Bomber on its front cover is still receiving more meaningful criticism from far too many media trendsetters than Rudd’s new policy to send asylum seekers to a country where even our own government warns Australian travellers to “Exercise a high degree of caution” – and a move likely to lead to 1,000s of times more deaths and tragedies than ‘The Bomber’ ever caused. Yes, it truly is a grim state of affairs, and we too have ourselves to blame.

In response, here’s a quick letter to send, post on social media or rally those with short attention spans:

Dear media and leading opinion makers,

Please take your privileged positions more seriously and play your part in creating real change in the world, rather than just pandering to your own audience’s likelihood of ‘Like’ing your weak, easy spins on the ‘news’. Otherwise we’re all fucked. And not in a Kim, Kanye and North West kinda way. #trulybrainfucked  In return, I promise to follow, share, subscribe or buy your views, and to think about them. #letsdothis2gether

With grave sincerity,

The Future

Aarom with a View: Shitty Behaviour

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In the first of an ongoing series of rants, man-about-town Aarom Wilson gives us a piece of his mind — it’s Aarom with a View (the whole existence of the column is really just an excuse for that gag). Anyway, article number one is about, um, number twos.

Poo StereosonicWhen Life Is Noise sillily accepted my offer of a column where I would just talk about shit that annoys me, I certainly didn’t envisage writing the first one about, quite literally, shit. But as it turds out, Stereosonic landed in Perth last Sunday like a solid one dropped from an aeroplane through (stinking) hot weather, some rather disgusting antics lodging firmly in our brains. Cutting through the festive atmosphere of the day, the post-festival media circus’ crap-flinging saw Town Of Claremont Chief Executive Stephen Goode alleging the council has photos of festival goers ‘defecating, urinating and vomiting’, outside the venue.

Well, look, out of 30,000 plus people and no bathrooms on the outside of the venue, you’re probably going to expect a few trees watered and maybe the odd vomit or two. Not that it should be condoned, but it’d be a more than decent bet ol’ Goode two shoes has at least been involved with mates at some point in the past where these things have occurred in public after a few too many. Sure it may have been before cameras were invented, but here’s again betting they didn’t make a new story about it. And considering only eight arrests, 60 move-on notices, 27 drug busts and two convictions actually resulted from the 30,000 potential gurn horror stories, it’s actually not too bad a result. Not good, but admissible.

But ‘people’ (not one person) crapping for all to see, really? Whilst the Claremont Council are a particularly prickly bunch when it comes to having fun in their hood (take Soundwave’s battle with them as a perfect case example), if these allegations are actually true then, holy shite balls, it’s difficult not to wonder whether humanity may actually be devolving. What’s next, dumping loads on James St before hitting The Paramount?

Now, this scribe doesn’t so much mind if people defecated in such venues because they’ve basically elected to go to a venue that really has nothing interesting about it. Thing is, despite the laws of logic pretty much always dictating there will be more dick/shitheads the bigger any festival is, there actually are people who are actually interested in seeing many of the acts at these festivals. In fact, if you look at the upcoming line-ups, no matter what your thoughts are on the festivals (or least their reputations), there are some pretty good options for those whose tastes are aligned with the sorts of delicacies proffered by Life Is Noise. Southbound has the likes of The Flaming Lips, Flume, Beach House, Best Coast and Sbtrkt; Big Day Out has Foals, Animal Collective, Hunting Grounds, Sleigh Bells and Deathgrips; Laneway has Alt-J, Shlohmo, Perfume Genius, Nicolas Jaar and Yeasayer; Summadayze has Disclosure, Hudson Mohawke, Carl Craig, Scuba and Araabmuzik; and so the list of examples goes on, each with at least the most part of a day’s-worth of worthy ear options.

Stereosonic this year also had the likes of Nina Kraviz, Adam Beyer, Joris Voorn and more playing, but it’s shit like this that puts people off attending such festivals. While some aspects of the barrage of abuse covering Facebook on the day of ‘Steroidsonic’ was hipster bullshit (why do you care if punters are wearing fluoro singlets – shouldn’t they be free to wear whatever the fuck they want?), once you start shitting on the dancefloor or the surrounds, well, we have some serious issues.

So please poople people, stop giving festivals a bad name. If you can’t control your poo distribution, you’re not the kind of person who should attend festivals, where toilet lines are sadly the norm. And in case you’re still not quite getting it, here are a few golden (brown) rules:

1. Don’t shit where people can see you.

2. Don’t shit anywhere that you shouldn’t.

3. Don’t act like a shit.

It’s that simple people. There’s no excuse for not understanding, even if you really do have shit for brains.