The Good Place Season Three

The Brainy Bunch are back for a new season in Netflix’s ‘The Good Place’.

‘The Good Place’ follows demon architect Michael (Ted Danson), Janet Janet (D’Arcy Carden), Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) as they journey through the afterlife to become better people.

Now if you remember, season two finished off resetting everything that has happened so far and putting our four favourite humans back on earth to try setting them on a path to a better afterlife.

Michael and the Judge have agreed to save Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason at the moment of their original deaths in order to see if they can become better people with the knowledge they could have died.

This causes a small spike in the amount of good all four put into the world, they face their flaws to try to become better people… for about six months.

Things start going wrong as they always do in life; it never feels like the amount of good you have to give is enough for anyone, and if you aren’t getting noticed – what’s the point? After a while our four humans fall back into their ‘bad’ lifestyles and Michael can’t help but intervene.

After things go off the rails for the humans, Michael concludes that the only reason they started to get better in the afterlife, was because they were altogether for support. Michael gives them all a little nudge, and at soon they are all together again – a nice happy ending, right? Wrong!

With Michael and the Judge’s original plan failing, the gang try to find another solution to their inevitable eternal damnation, investigating just what The Good Place is, who has gotten in, and how did they get there.

Each episode this season always feels packed to the brim with lessons about philosophy and ethics, something the first two seasons have revealed as the main themes for the show. Chidi and Michael often guide the others through these lessons about morality and the reasons behind why something can be inherently bad or inherently good.

If you have enjoyed the struggles thus far of our friends as they search Earth, the afterlife and Janet for morality – you will be happy to know ‘The Good Place’ still has surprises for you.

 


Words by Joel Tuckwell

 

Joel is a twenty-two year old with a passion for art and animation. He likes to think of new ways to do things and works with computers. One day he hopes to have a pet pig named Pudge.

Thrones! The Musical Parody

If, like me, you have spent the past year and a half sitting around wondering how to fill that Game of Thrones-shaped void in your life, I cannot recommend Thrones! The Musical Parody highly enough to carry you through to April.

Set in the home of Linda, a freshly divorced Game of Thrones virgin, but more importantly the person with the best TV, a group of friends quickly try to catch their pal up on the past seven seasons’ worth of content before the premiere of the final season.

Over the course of 75 minutes the cast takes Linda and the audience through the 70-odd characters essential to the plot; a vast array of deaths; the complex (and often sexual) relationships between characters; the many titles of Daenerys Targaryen; more deaths; the power struggles and ever-changing internal balance of good and evil; and of course, the deaths. The songs were well-written, witty and infectious as well as brilliantly delivered; you’ll want to download the soundtrack immediately. Some personal favourites were ‘Stabbin’ and ‘You Know Nothing’ although if I stop and think about it, I can keep adding to my list of favourite songs in the same way that I keep adding to my list of favourite GoT characters.

Although the set was minimalistic, the actors were able to be inventive and resourceful with their props, creating memorable wardrobe choices and taking us from Linda’s living room to Westeros in the blink of an eye. They offered a hilarious take on what has occurred so far on GoT and further explored what may be yet to come.

The endless puns and jokes in the show will be best appreciated by fans of Game of Thrones, but the delivery and dexterity of the cast can certainly be appreciated by all. Go to this show for a good belly laugh, catchy songs that will remain in your head for weeks, and one more hit of Game of Thrones before the final season.

 


Words by Kirsty van der Veer

Five stars.

Thrones! The Musical Parody every day (except Mondays) until March 17. Tickets available here.

Israel’s Eurovision Win is Problematic But So is Attacking a Musician

There’s no denying that this year’s Eurovision winner is a controversial one. While some fans argue that politics have no place in the annual song contest, others have voiced their outrage that a nation currently committing human rights atrocities is now slated to host the competition in 2019. The conflict between the Israeli government and the State of Palestine is an important international issue and one that should not be brushed over, even when it comes to something like a glitzy, light-hearted song contest.

Eurovision is definitely not free from politics. Examples like Finnish singer Kristia Siegfrid kissing one of her female dancers in 2013 to protest a lack of same-sex marriage legislation, to Armenian group Genealogy calling for international recognition of the Armenian genocide in their song entry in 2015, show that Eurovision is no stranger to political performance.This year was no exception when it came to politically themed songs. French entrant Madame Monsieur’s song ‘Mercy’ told the story of a refugee child born on a humanitarian ship. Italian duo Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro sang an anti-war song about international wars and terrorism. And Danish viking acapella group Rasmussen sang about non-violence and Magnus Erlendsson, a viking who refused to fight in battle. Other politically charged moments included the depiction of a gay couple dancing in Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s song ‘Together’ (Ireland), and Lea Sirk’s empowering song ‘Hvala, ne!’ (Slovenia). Even the winning song ‘Toy’ advocated to stop bullying. Oh, and let’s not forget the protestor who got up on stage during the final and snatched the microphone from UK singer SuRie.

Political and social issues are the bread and butter of arts and culture. We create art that reflects our beliefs and concerns about the world around us. We cannot separate music, or any art form, from world politics or social issues. So what does this mean for this year’s winning contestant and, more importantly, what should we – the viewers – think about this?

I’m going to take a page out of fellow Adelaide writer Taeghan Buggy’s book and say that we, as consumers of art and media, have an ethical responsibility. In the same way that we should call out sexual abuse in media, we should also voice our concerns about the social and political implications of Eurovision. Already there is a fair amount of debate about who should be allowed, and who should be disqualified, from participating in the contest. Russia was banned from Eurovision in 2017 and many people have a lot to say about letting Australia and Israel compete despite not being part of Europe.

Israel’s participation is problematic on two levels. The lesser is that Israel is not a part of Europe, but we can easily overlook this. But the second, harder to swallow issue, is that Israel is a nation with terms like ‘apartheid’, ‘militancy’ and even ‘genocide’ attached to its reputation. And not without due cause. If Eurovision was willing to bar Russia from entering the competition last year because of its problematic relationship with the then host nation, Ukraine, wouldn’t it be equally appropriate to bar Israel from competing at all considering its own issues?

Where do we draw the line for who can and cannot compete? Should nations engaged in conflicts either on an international or internal level be barred from the competition? Or should we, as many fans argue, leave politics at the door and just enjoy some good music?

There is no easy answer to this and in many ways I am something of a fence-sitter. On the one hand, I do believe that nations that are perpetrating acts of violence and persecution should be held accountable by the media, including popular media like Eurovision. But on the other hand I don’t think that we should judge artists by the actions of their government. Eurovision holds an important place in the European arts world and all musicians should have the right to perform. I also think that our feelings about certain nations should not be used as fuel for abuse towards artists from that country.

Israel’s contestant Netta has had a lot of abuse thrown at her through social media since the very moment she was named the winner of Eurovision 2018. Following the #Eurovision tag on Twitter this morning it was clear that three main types of insult were made against Netta. The first, and most prevalent, was that she represented a nation with a deplorable human rights record and was, therefore, unworthy of winning Eurovision.

The second, and also predictable, response was calling Netta out for her appearance. A great deal of hostility surrounded Netta’s weight and general appearance, which was at odds with most of the other female contestants. She’s a bigger woman and at the very end of the voting she was neck and neck for the title with the ‘conventionally’ attractive Eleni Foureira from Cyprus. Naturally, plenty of Eurovision fans started calling Netta every fat-shaming term in the book, from ‘cow’ to ‘fat bitch’ and all the variations in-between. The last form of insult was calling her ‘chicken girl’ or posting pictures of plump chickens to represent her – a jab at her clucking sounds throughout her song.

While I personally find Israel’s win problematic because of the atrocities taking place against the State of Palestine I am never for attacking Netta as an artist and a human being. There is no moment in any circumstance where fat-shaming should be considered acceptable. Personal attacks on any artist, any human being, is incredibly distasteful. Not only that, but it does nothing to bolster an argument. If anything, it does the opposite. So, by all means get riled up about Israel hosting next year, start a discussion on whether or not Eurovision should allow a problematic country to not only compete but host, but don’t degrade your legitimate arguments with juvenile attacks on Netta’s appearance.

In many ways I can see the appeal of having Netta as the winner of Eurovision because she doesn’t fit into the traditional mould of a female Eurovision performer. She stands out not only because she isn’t conventionally attractive (read– thin), but because she has a strong stage presence that relies on her strength of character, her no-bullshit attitude and a playful demeanour rather than cheap stock-and-standard sex appeal.

I won’t say that Netta herself isn’t problematic– the arguments about appropriating Japanese culture are definitely worth voicing – but on the whole I think we can safely say that she does not warrant the slew of venom aimed at her by the media.

She represented Israel – doesn’t that make her complicit to the country’s current problems? If she was opposed to Israel’s current social and political stance towards the State of Palestine wouldn’t she refuse to compete under Israel’s banner? I won’t purport to know enough about Netta to know the ins and outs of her political leanings. For all I know she might be a supporter of Israel’s militant behaviour. But whether she is or not has no bearing in my feelings about Israel’s win.

A musician is not a government body. Musicians and artists are not the ones on the forefront of violent or military action. We should not direct our anger at a singular musician, regardless of whatever her views might be. We should be angry about the lawmakers who make apartheid and militancy possible.

We can celebrate Netta’s win because she has earned her trophy. She gave a strong performance (though clucking is perhaps not to my taste) and won the popular vote. There’s no use squabbling about how the whole thing might be rigged, or how the voting system is a mess. At the end of the day Netta has won Eurovision and there’s nothing we fans can do about it.

Does that mean we should just be happy about Eurovision going to Israel next year? Of course not. The host country has a lot to answer for and we have every right to boycott the competition if we wish. But let Netta have her victory, not as a representative of Israel but as a musician who has worked hard to perform on the stage of Europe’s biggest music competition. As human beings we owe her that much at least.


Photo: Andres Putting via Eurovision.tv

Words by Lisandra Linde

Lisandra Linde is an Adelaide-based writer of fantasy and creative nonfiction. She tweets at @KrestianLullaby

Ethical Media Consumption: Is it Just a Question of Conscience?

 

It is likely that you have come into contact with media content involving some of the following people: Rolf Harris, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, or Harvey Weinstein. Even if you haven’t, you probably recognise their names. You might even realise why they’re in that list; all of them have been embroiled in sexual harassment or abuse accusations. Some of them have even been convicted of it. Since the tidal wave of voices speaking out against Harvey Weinstein and his subsequent disavowal from sections of Hollywood, there has been groundswell of kickbacks and new allegations from all sections of the media industry. It’s clear that the Hollywood machine is finally beginning to take a public stance against sexual harassment and abuse within the industry. There have been some questions about whether this is only due to the weight of the public eye, but it is an important step nonetheless.

Yet in the wake of these reveals of sexual harassment claims, where does that leave us? Can we still watch, buy, and engage with art and media featuring people who have been accused – or found guilty – of sexual harassment or abuse? Is it even morally right to do so? Criminal justice research indicates that the certainty of punishment following a criminal offence is what matters most when deterring crime. Following this train of logic, by allowing actors, comedians, or artists to be cast, headlined, or promoted after allegations come to light perpetuates a culture of no ramifications. This encourages the continued silence of victims because no consequences have been laid at the feet of the perpetrators. Allowing perpetrators of sexual harassment to appear in new works diminishes – even approves – of their crimes. If this is so, what can do we do about it? On a question of feasibility – forget about moral reasoning for a moment – it is easier to blacklist a solo producer of content. Louis CK and Rolf Harris, the nature of their crimes aside, can easily be avoided and their work shunned. But for actors and producers, more questions pop up.

A movie or a television show is ultimately a collaborative process – and one where not everyone involved has a say about who they must work with. Blacklisting works involving actors or producers who’ve been accused of assault consequently means sidelining the other actors on same project. Often, they happen to be emerging actors whose careers need the support of audiences the most and who can’t afford to turn projects down. This is where we enter a moral quandary as audiences. Do we support the emerging actor, and by association also support the Weinstiens, Allens, Depps and Spaceys of Hollywood? Or do we shun the perpetrators of harassment and abuse and sideline the emerging actor at the same time? The answers hinge on a question; does patronising productions associated with these aggressors condone their past actions and if it does, what do we do?

When responding to this question, we need to accept that as consumers of media we have the power to discourage a culture that creates safe spaces for abusers to hide, thrive, and be publicly lauded. To do this, hard decisions must made about the media we consume. Encouraging a culture where abuse allegations are taken seriously means hitting Hollywood in its pockets; boycotting movies and being loud about the reason that we’re not seeing the new Woody Allen production is because of his alleged – and murkily horrificchild-abusing past. Tweet that the reason we’re not seeing the new Fantastic Beasts movie is because they cast Johnny Depp, an actor who managed to avoid a court case about his alleged emotional and physical abuse towards his now ex-wife Amber Heard in 2016. In order to support an industry that doesn’t excuse sexual abusers, it appears that we need to blacklist these actors and producers. No matter how it plays out, we must be resigned to the inadvertent negative fallout against actors who had no choice in being cast alongside alleged perpetrators, and hope that this does not amount to more than the positive change that shunning these perpetrators will do.

Action begets action. Movement begets movement. Change starts with individuals making collective choices – and through the power of the people, Hollywood will have to change or die. Fortunately, there are good people out there using the power of their own fame and personal pull to input changes. Just see Brett Ratner being pulled from the Wonder Woman sequel through a collective decision from director Patty Jenkins and her team behind the Wonder Women movie. These are positive steps forward for the industry and for cultural attitudes towards abuse. But if positive change is monetarily motivated, what happens when our decision to watch or not watch a film has no monetary consideration?

If the DVD is already bought and in private possession, the question becomes one of ethics not logistics; can we still watch and enjoy their past works knowing that they’ve abused their positions of wealth and power? Should we watch it and boo whenever they come on screen, throwing popcorn and muting their lines? Should we not watch what they’ve starred in, shunning old favourite movies even at the expense of not re-watching the five other amazing actors who haven’t been accused or found guilty of abuse? There’s a line of reasoning here that asks if the DVD is already owned, does watching it hurt anyone? Well… no. No one profits, no one gets paid, and yet… it feels that continuing to watch the work of abusers and sexual harassers also supports them and their art.

If this is so, don’t watch it. This is a hard thing to do. There are movies I adore and have watched so many times that I know the lines off by heart. Yet watching them now, knowing what I do about the one actor in that otherwise faultless cast, the movie itself has been soured. It’s desecrated. Watching it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and maybe that’s a good thing. The other option is sitting there with that knowledge whilst I watch them, doing something akin to going, ‘Gee’ I know Rolf Harris was a paedophile who abused kids, but ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Jack’ is a banger you can’t not listen to’. Hopefully that thought sits uncomfortably with you because it does with me.

Perhaps the key to ethically consuming art and media lies in deciding how much we want to support a culture within our arts industry where perpetrators of gendered abuse, violence, and harassment have no safe harbour. Once the revelations about an actor’s abuse or sexual misconduct becomes known, it appears that the only ethical thing to do is boycott their work and be collectively loud about why. To do otherwise is tantamount to approval of their actions. But when it comes to their old work, the ethically correct thing to do cannot be dictated by an online article, but worked out according to the demands of the individual moral compass. But at no time should we forget their history or what they’ve done. To do so diminishes the violence of their crimes.

Can art, no matter how good, truly mitigate the actions of a person who takes advantage of their power and privilege to abuse or harm? Perhaps it shouldn’t, even if we can separate the art from their artist. No statement involving, ‘they sexually abused someone’ should have a ‘but their work is amazing’ with a ‘and I support them’. Perhaps we can appreciate their art alone but, to do this ethically, it should be done with the understanding that they must not be lauded for it, given safe spaces, or let their past be forgotten until their victim says so. They might be a great actor or a fantastic artist, but there are better ones out there – both morally and artistically.

The takeaway from this is that collective movement starts from individual choices, and our individual choices about the media we consume has an effect, for good or for ill. It’s down to us, to you and to me, to decide what type of effect we want to have on the media industry.


Words by Taeghan Buggy

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Taeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene.