The Outback and Bad Publicity

Is any attention good attention?

We can’t begin to talk about the issue of good vs. bad publicity without mentioning Ms Miley Cyrus. The past few years have seen this star embark on one of the most outrageous and successful publicity campaigns of all times, starting with her infamous performance at the VMA’s with Robin Thicke in 2013. Her performance generated over 306 000 tweets per minute (Robinson, 2013), which were overwhelmingly negative. However, she managed to get an extra 100 000 followers on Twitter and it kick started the following years of raunchy videos and the release of a new album. Mily Cyrus has also used her fame to advocate for youth social issues like Homelessness and mental health through her Happy Hippy Foundation. So whilst the majority of publicity towards Miley Cyrus is negative, in this case, is negative publicity good publicity for her, her fans, her career and her foundation? It would seem so.

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Miley being Miley. Source

‘Without the outback, Australian cinema might have been interchangeable with any number of other national cinemas. With it, Australian filmmakers have used the landscape to forge an identity that is of the land, while still seeking to understand its enigma’ (Shirley, 2011).

The same issue can be applied to Australian films.  ‘Our national cinema plays a vital role in our cultural heritage and in showing us what it is to be Australian’ (Bowles, 2007). Australian films seem to have an obsession with representing Australian culture and Australia through vast deserts, the outback and an ocker stereotype. This idea of Australia was introduced when Crocodile Dundee was released, promoting these stereotypical ideas (Middlemost, 2015). But the question stands, is this the sort of image we should be promoting to the world (and especially America?). And even though these films and characters are getting attention, is this publicity good publicity?

A classic Australian film with strong emphasis on landscape and the Outback is Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It emphasises the stark contrast in cinematography of the ‘drag queens, heightening the apparent inappropriateness of the figures which occupy the landscape, and to highlight its dominance over them’ (Thomas, 1996).

20 years later and Tracks is released. It’s a biographical film based off of the memoir of Robyn Davidson. This film depicts a strong and independent female lead and her connection with the earth as opposed to the contrasting image of drag queens in the desert. This film made around $500 000 domestically and over $4million worldwide (Box Office Mojo, 2016) illustrating this wild, untamed and nature of the Outback to the rest of the world. The film generated a lot of money in the box office, however there is also a strong correlation with Outback adventure films like Tracks and Wolf Creek and pop- culture tourism. With the promise of a ‘life changing experience’ (Frost, 2010) the above films promote not only Australia but a lifestyle. But as Shirley points out, an issue with emphasising the Outback in films is that it neglects different groups and perspectives of people that live in Australia (Shirley, 2011), ones that would be overlooked by tourists.

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Tracks

Tracks, however, does include very important voices that have often been omitted from Australian films, those of the First Australians and women. Despite the fact that many people roll their eyes at the thought of another film set in the Outback, it has provided Australian films a pivotal role in our nations film success. In conclusion, it seems that any attention and publicity Australian films can generate is good for the industry and many others like tourism. However, to avoid a calamity of a publicity stunt like Miley Cyrus, I believe we should play to our strengths as a film industry whilst steadily challenging what is on screen and what is missing. Regardless I believe landscape and the Outback will always be an iconic character in Australian films.

 

 

References

Bowles, K 2007 ‘Three miles of rough dirt road’ :towards an audience-centred approach to cinema studies in Australia’, Studies in Australasian cinema, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 245 – 260

Box Office Mojo, 2016, ‘Tracks (2014)’, Box Office Mojo, viewed 3 January 2016, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=tracks2014.htm

Frost, W 2010, ‘Life changing experiences. Film and Tourists in the Australian Outback’, Annals Of Tourism Research, 37, pp. 707-726, ScienceDirect

Robinson P, 2013, ‘Why twerking Miley Cryrus thinks there’s no such thing as bad publicity’, The Guardian, 30 August, viewed 2 January 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2013/aug/29/twerking-miley-cyrus-no-bad-publicity

Shirley, B 2011, ‘The Outback on Screen’, Screen Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, viewed 4 January 2016, http://www.nfsa.gov.au/research/papers/2011/12/06/outback-screen/

Thomas, AJ 1996, ‘Camping outback: Landscape, masculinity, and performance in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 97

11 Things To Do in Melbourne

After my amazing girls long weekend away to the amazing city of Melbourne, I’ve come up with my ultimate to do list in this spectacular city.

1. Brighton Beach Huts. Only a 15 minute train ride from Flinders Street Station, is Brighton Beach. From the station, you can make the quick walk to the beach where you’ll get exquisite views of the Melbourne city skyline and get to see the quaint, beautiful and bright beach huts. And once you take your photos, you can venture up to the main street of Brighton and enjoy some shopping and beautiful cafes.

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2. Chapel Street. Get the train to either Windsor or Prahan and just wander that street my friends. Perfect for day and night. Great little boutiques, funky bars, unique restaurants and a cool vibe that resonates with King Street in Newtown, Sydney. (Note: the bar tenders at Taco Bill are really attractive).

3. The Lion King. If you’re a sucker for musical theatre like I am, and if you great up singing Hakuna Matata, you’re in for a dream come true kind of night. When we went, a little boy was bouncing up and down and cackling to himself in his seat and it just made me even more happy and excited.

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4. Cookie. I don’t really know how to describe this hidden tower of bars and restaurants but it’s awesome! Located on Swanston Street, from the outside you wouldn’t even look twice at the entrance. But up every flight of stairs, there’s a different bar, club or restaurant. The best is saved til last… the ROOFTOP BAR! We drank a jug of sangria whilst listening to some awesome music and looking out over the dazzling city.

5. Degrave Street. Located off of Flinders Lane is the incredible little street stuffed with amazing cafes! One part of the street feels like you’re in Paris, other half on the other side of Flinders Lane feels like you’ve just stepped into Japan. It’s so diverse, with little boutiques and bars, we felt so lucky we didn’t have to travel far to get some amazing food and shopping done.

6. The Great Ocean Road. You can read about our adventure on this spectacular piece of coastline here. If the picture below doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

The magnificent 12 Apostles
The magnificent 12 Apostles

7. Take a tram ride. The CBD of Melbourne is lined with trams. And the best part is that they’re free! It’s a fun, easy, quick and free way to get around to all of the hot spots that Melbourne has to show off.

Wandering the streets
Wandering the streets

8. The National Gallery of Victoria. A big and beautiful gallery located just off of Federation Square, is a great way to see some beautiful Australian art and also spend a rainy cold winters day.

9. The Yarra River. Stroll along the river and soak up some sunshine (well, maybe if you go in Summer). It’s a gorgeous river dotted with cafes and a great bicycle track. Around Melbourne there’s also bikes you can hire for a few hours (similar to Barclays bikes in London), so you can ride along the river and get a different perspective of the city.

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10. Hosier Lane. Another hidden gem of an alleyway that is completely covered in street art! It’s funky and fresh and makes for some absolutely amazing photos! Oh, and there’s some Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc artwork aswell. What’s not to love?

Hosier Lane
Hosier Lane

11And if nothing else… just wander around the streets. You’ll never know what cool bar or amazing coffee you’ll stumble across.

Anything I’ve missed? Where would you want to go if you visited Melbourne? Let me know in the comments below!

xxx A

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Voluntourism: Are you really helping?

http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2010188&c=setreg&region=2

I recently came across this article and found it incredibly interesting and something worth addressing. Whilst I completely believe in equality, education and helping those less fortunate, it was interesting to read that in some cases, can have negative impacts on individuals and communities that they are trying to help.

“No one is saying volunteering is a bad thing, but people need to be really well informed … and know which skills they bring to the table”

I think responsibility and the main focus of volunteering shoul be at the core of a project. Not advertising things as a package and all the amazing/once in a life time things you get to experience, when the main purpose of your presence is to improve the lives of others. And that improvement should not be short lived. Strategies need to be implemented to guarantee longevity of projects and overall profit to the local community and people that volunteers work with.

I also never quite understood young adults travelling to some countries in Africa to build houses or schools when they have little or no construction skills. Are you really going to benefit a community who basically has nothing by building a ‘house’ when you have no knowledge or experience in doing so?

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Poverty tourism

The article below suggests that before embarking on a volunteering experience overseas, one should first look at themselves and see what skills they really bring to the table. By volunteering in your local community first, you can gain experience and knowledge of what you’re good at doing and improve your skills before taking them overseas.

I have volunteered in my local community in many different ways and would love to do the same one day overseas. I believe my skills and strengths lie in talking, listening, understanding and taking the time to get to know people and would therefore love to teach english overseas. However, I would only do it with a program whose intentions are true to their practises and genuinely want to make a positive difference in the world.

http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/gap-year-the-pros-and-cons-of-voluntourism-20141220-1282f6.html