Who belongs where?

asylum

The question of ‘who belongs where?’ has really been highlighted in today’s media and its focus on the poor and inhumane treatment dealt by the Australian Government to asylum seekers and refugees entering Australian territories. How can we decide where someone does or does not belong? Our fear of ‘the other’ is nothing more than prejudicial racism and a violation of basic human rights. In SBS Q&A episode, panel member and musician Nitin Sawhney deems the Australian government’s ‘fear of foreigners’ surpasses their concern for the welfare of those seeking asylum and how they are being stigmatized. At a time when “there are more displaced people in the world than since the end of second world war” (Gordon 2014), we feel it just to turn them away from safety or punish them with off-shore detention for trying to reach it? Fellow panel member and well-known comedian Angry Anderson blames the press and their ability to dehumanize refugees in their relaying of biased news that instills fear and clouds opinion. He believes, as do I, that without proper, unbiased education on this issue, people cannot truly understand it.

This article on ‘who’s driving the asylum debate discusses the insistent nature of the Australian Federal Government in their depiction of asylum seekers to its mediated sphere and population. They continue to associate asylum seekers and refugees with words like ‘threat’, ‘illegality’ and ‘burden’, such a negative construct has been contracted through the media, reinforcing this pessimistic perception. It outlines how the refugee council of Australia even expressed concerns that “the media has helped to produce a climate of fear that was being used to legitimize the introduction of draconian policies” (Klocker & Dunn 2003).

Australia’s foreign policy is nothing more than a xenophobic social structure depriving asylum seekers and refugees, who are fleeing life-threatening conditions, from a secure environment where they are able to regroup and rebuild their lives in safety. An excellent example; the new budget and its cut of overall foreign aid by a staggering $1 billion, a completely surprising and totally not spiteful 40% cut of aid to Indonesia in particular (please excuse my sarcasm) while the Refugee Council of Australia saw a loss of $140 000 of government funding PedestrianTv 2015. In light of current events, which dealt the harsh capital punishment to Australian drug smuggling ‘Bali 9’ pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the 28th of last month, caused total uproar amongst the Australian population and saw governmental pleas and offerings to retract the sentence in response. But how could we expect Balinese leader Jokowi to spare our criminals the death penalty for drug smuggling when we cannot do the same for innocent foreigners? “You can’t abuse human rights in defiance of international law and then criticise others for doing the same” exclaimed ABC reporter Sunil Badami. 

“Substitute the words “people smuggler” for “drug smuggler” and ask yourself this: how is Indonesia’s unjust, hard-line, domestically focused mistreatment of foreigners any different to ours? Australia too has refused to acknowledge the humanity of foreigners; Australia too has mistreated people in defiance of international law; Australia too has defended its policies using hyperbolic language – all on the basis that punishing a few will save many more.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-29/badami-our-selective-compassion-has-come-undone/6431266

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References

-Aslym Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Facebook page

<https://www.facebook.com/Asylum.Seeker.Resource.Centre.ASRC/photos/pb.341910905847062.-2207520000.1431654917./898575116847302/?type=3&theater&gt;

-Klocker N & Dunn K, 2003, ‘Who’s driving the asylum debate? Newspaper and Government representation of asylum seekers’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 109, pp.71-92
Date accessed: April 7 2015

-Campbell E, 2015, ‘Asylum seekers experiences in Australia between 2012-2014: The structural-Personal Interaction Process’, School of Political Science and International Studies
Date accessed: April 2 2015

-Q&A Episode, SBSchannel, 2012, ‘Australians on Asylum Seekers and Multiculturalism’.
Date accessed: April 4 2015

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Viewing suffering: education or violation?

As human beings, I think we feel almost compelled to view suffereing to forget about our own. Mediated images or videos of suffering draw a lot attention for distractive reasons, however, there is a clear ethical pull in painful images and in my opinion, I feel it is one of the most effective ways to grab attention and spread awareness. Suffering is something that many people cannot truly understand unless they can see it.

Are we violating privacy by viewing someone elses suffering? Or is it worse to ignore it?

Photos of suffering and pain have been evident throughout history and used for a number of purposes, selfish and otherwise, but they have allowed for historians and society to better understand events that have passed and make their own judgments and form opinions with a more informed background and better contextual knowledge.

Not the animals!

After watching  4 corners footage of Bloody Business on the trade of Australian cattle to Indonesia, I began researching the aftermath. The initial reaction was widespread disgust, it caused a lot of uproar and a petition was handed to federal parlimanet to ban this live animal export, however, it was denied. Since, this issue seems to have died down and years later almost forgotten about.  The allowance of this continued trade enables denial and ignorance, not just in the host country, but here in Australia too. We’re allowing one species to be killed for the consumption of another. Who got to decide which life is more valuable?

Another fantastic example of Australia’s complete ignorance and self-centred nature is their shark culling attempts.

Surveillance of Self

Social networks are at the very core of uberveillance and as a consequence our priorities are shifting, cleverly blurring the lines between privacy and socialization. It has become a ritualistic habit to reveal our lives to the online community, who are willing and able to survey these actions with a reciprocal judgment or label to follow. As Ariel Dorfman points out, “social media users gladly give up their liberty and privacy, invariably for the most benevolent of platitudes and reasons.”

wifi

Have we really been to the gym if we didn’t check in with a photo or location? Did we really go to work if we didn’t post a depressing status about Monday-itis? Apparently not. Writer for Teen Vogue, Melissa Walker, says “reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras”, what matters most is not how you see yourself but how others see your life to be via the many ways you display it in the online mediated sphere.

The ‘selfie’ for example, is a heavily appearance-focused instrument endorsing self-surveillance through promotion of an egotistical self-image which leaves things like self-discovery and spirituality to go out the window, and yet, photos that appear spiritual – #selfieswithnature:

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and quotes that sell self-discovery-ish stuff:

tat

flood social media feeds everywhere.

Are we over-sharing? Callie Schweitzer from Time.com declares that “so much of life is too complicated and messy and complex to be portrayed publicly” let alone correctly understood, yet it’s put out there anyway. Famous every-day Youtube Vlogger Anna Saccone even shared her child birth with her Youtube followers. Bit much don’t you think? Reality TV Star and Selfie Queen Kim Kardashian has released a book titled ‘Selfish’, ENTIRELY dedicated to photos she has taken of herself, and yes, people are actually wasting time and money to read it. Although selfies may not be the culprit in giving up important and private information to our online following, they do however, speak to this necessity of making “the self into an object of public concern (Giroux 2015).” And is this any healthier?

Is this constant monitoring and documenting of our lives just plain narcissism or is it a natural response to the world’s growing need for uberveillance and exposure? Is it a story-telling tool to show off who we are and the experiences we’ve had or a mere cry for acceptance and external gratification?

Straya Mate!

“Language and culture are interwoven. Language is firmly embedded in social relationships and language is a part of the struggle over the production of culture with cultural reproduction confirming and legitimizing the existing social order.” (Hanks 2005)

In their article ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Kell and Vogl (2007) discuss how formal linguistic skills are well established amongst international students travelling to Australia, but their inability to engage with the local, conversationalist style dialect disables the ability of adjusting to the social and cultural norms of their new country.

This satirical video created by the Australian band ‘The Rabens’ shows just how great a vernacular divide we have here in Australia when it comes to slang:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6sn8u0GjQ0

Although humour is the obvious motive behind this short clip, it does show how wide a gap is present between Australian colloquialisms, and the formal language taught indefinitely to international students. However, in Kell and Vogl’s article they state alternative ways in which such students have overcome these social barriers, voluntary or paid employment being one of the most effective methods – “one of the students stated that the call center she had worked at had helped her enormously both with confidence in talking English and with an opportunity meeting other English speakers.”

In order to make the most of this global cross-cultural integration, especially in terms of international university students; they must attempt to bridge the divide between their first language and their new language and the cultural and social standards that follow

New Media Capitals

Image

While Hollywood clearly dominates the global plethora of filmic entertainment, we are seeing how the growing effects of globalisation have given rise to an emergence of transnational mediated flow to and form all over the world (Curtin 2003) 

“Traditionally, television studies have been resolutely national, focusing on a medium contained within the regulatory, political and economic environs of the nation-state”

Australian owner of international mediated corporations ‘Newscorp’ and ‘21st Century Fox’, a major successor of new media capitals, has established a joint-venture company based in Hong Kong after forging allegiances with past Chinese Propaganda official, rising to the top of STARTV’s mainland satellite programming. Sky Italia, BskyB and Germanic Sky Deutschland are further international initiatives that Murdoch has invested into new patterns of television flow! (Curtin 2003) 

Although we are still irrefutably seeing the Westernisation that is present in all forms of media, it is clear that emerging media capitals are expanding the global audience’s dissatisfaction with the typical ‘American sitcom’ and the shift in their cultural attitudes and perspectives.  

What values?

With the current digital revolution, we have witnessed a progression from strictly print news as niche content, to radioed, televised and online news as a result of social media and online reporting websites.  We are seeing a global shift in the “collection, processing and decimation” of news today, and it is this shift that has allowed for news to travel to such a global audience bringing international disputes which may have once gone unnoticed, to be publicly uncovered.

While news mediums across the world, and especially those in Australia are seeing a concentration of media ownership, the notion of their audiences as ‘passive consumers’ is slowly deteriorating leaving a “transparent media scape” behind. The ability to hold such corporations accountable for the stories they release is growing alongside the ability to detect biasness and imbalance; however, the choice of where these stories come from is rapidly declining. 

In the journal article on ‘An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’ (Lee-Wright, P) it is established that “Al-Jazeera’s reputation in the region was won through its apparent freedom from proprietorial bias, and its willingness to engage in dialogue with its audience.” In a survey of trustworthiness from ‘Journal Practice’, figures of 59% trusted Al-Jazeera as a news source while only 12% for Channel 1 Egypt TV and 4% for Niles News. However, this pooling of information and footage was occasionally criticised for its “tendency to homogeneity”, losing focus on major demonstrations and letting politics cloud its coverage however, Al-Jazeera’s chief political analyst Marwan Bishara who explained how the mainstream news media “began to fixate on the role of social media, ignoring other social and political factors (that Al-Jazeera picked up on)… While important, there is no need to sensationalise the role social media played. Facebook won’t organise, people do. Twitter won’t govern, people will.” (Bishara 2012)

This interview with Wadah Khanfar, the former director general of the Al-Jazeera shows their attempts of balance and how they struggled as a majority media conglomerate to deliver an ethical story.

 

-Lee-Wright, P, ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, Jomec Journal (date of publication, volume and page number not stated)

http://highteamediaedit.wordpress.com

  

Further food for thought:

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/02/17/wadah-khanfar-former-director-general-of-al-jazeera-to-speak-at-mit-media-lab/