Popcorn, peanuts, cigarettes, cigars, white flour, white sugar…, no choc-tops today…

Karla Dickens, 2019, Pin-up, mixed-media, 30x21cm, series: A Dickensian Circus, Image: nirin-ngaay.net, 22nd Biennale Sydney, 2020.

Or smothering the Othering… not in-Othering, just non-Othering…

Welcome! Come in, take your seats… What a gorgeous audience we have here tonight folks! You’re looking at Pin-up, a work by Karla Dickens, in part, a direct confrontation against the sexualisation of Indigenous women – one of the many Othering stereotypes! Tonight, for your reading pleasure, we pose the question, is the media-monster smothering the Othering, not un-Othering and just non-Othering? Versus my audience membership.

I’m not sure I’m very good at being an audience member. Don’t misunderstand me, I arrive before the feature, I don’t talk during the movie, or put my feet on the back of another theatre goer’s chair but I could never quite swallow all media content as though it were a giant Coke chasing masticated fake-buttered popcorn down my throat. (Kermode, 2012). I could never, do never, consume media content that way.  I’m not trying to ignite debate about the ingredients to a good audience member. Nor am I casting judgement about how people consume, gorge or fine-dine upon their media content. From where I sit, forced into the movie theatres’ front row not so long ago, the relationship between mainstream media, my audience membership and my existence, is at best confrontingly complex. It has been anchored down by chronic ethnographic spin and other assaulting misrepresentations of Australia’s Indigenous people (Hall, 1997, hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCarthy, 2017, McCausland, 2004, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, O’Dowd, 2012, Turnbull, 2010). AKA, me and my family. Bluntly honest, I don’t hold a measurable teaspoonful of trust for the all-you-can-eat buffet style multi-armed, multinational monster called mainstream media. Granted, it is possible, years living off-grid, with minimal or no meta-data traceable interactions with the media-monster probably hasn’t improved our relationship, (Gauntlett, 2018, Hall, 1997, hooks, 1992 & 2014, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, Orlowski (dir.), 2020).

However, rather than regurgitate my experiences, socio-historical, political or current examples of media assaults upon Australia’s Indigenous women, my people, Indigenous people the world over, let me name it. In part it’s called Othering. Othering to me is synonymous with genocide, colonisation, slavery and rape, (Hall, 1997, hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCarthy, 2017, McCausland 2004, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, O’Dowd, 2012). I realise this may be slightly uncomfortable and you may choose not to buy a take-away from here but I’m not trying to sell anything. When I look at mainstream media, free-to-air television for example, I’m simultaneously surprised and uncomfortable at how often in programming, I see brown-skinned women being depicted as just one of the citizens! She’s not the token black, not the untamed sexualised native and not the noble savage! She seems to be equal with everyone else. She looks healthy, happy, intellectually astute, peace-loving, community-caring, family-focussed, fun, forgiving and financially secure! (Gauntlett, 2018, hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCarthy, 2017, McCausland, 2004, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, O’Dowd, 2012, Turnbull, 2010).

I’m aware of my sugar-grain sized, notion about what’s been trending in media content over the last twenty years and my statements are super-sized simplifications but I’m asking myself, has mainstream media turned some corner of socio-cultural change and proactively enacting, un-Othering? What happened to the Othering? (hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCausland, 2004, Moreton-Robinson, 2004, O’Dowd, 2012, Turnbull, 2010). Then a few grains of my trust in the media still in my teaspoon, fall outside the cup of my self-serve questions, sweetening a tea stain on my bench, maybe the media-monster machine is not un-Othering, it’s just non-Othering, (hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCausland, 2004,Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004).

I do wonder whether I have the intestinal fortitude for consuming 21st Century media-monsters without a grain of sugar or whether I should allow my audience membership to expire gracefully like a silent film, digitised, archived and tea-stained into only Google’s memory. However, now that I’ve peeked at 21st Century media, I might be able to peel back some layers of Othering and turn media’s super powers toward good and not evil! (hooks 1992 & 2014, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, Orlowski, (dir.), 2020). It’s the era for superheroes not superstars and Sister GlitterNullius pictured, will help find the way! … aah… Could someone lend her a map? (hooks, 1992 & 2014, McCausland 2004, Moreton-Robinson (ed.), 2004, O’Dowd, 2012, Shifroni, 2012).

Juundaal Strang-Yettica, , 2021, Sister GlitterNullius: Kaleidoscope for telescope? Video Still: Justin Hewitson, Kandos NSW.

Thanx for stopping by & we hope to see you soon!

Your Friend, In & Out of Plastix,

Juundaal Strang-Yettica AKA Sister GlitterNullius X, March 2022.

Reference List:

Gauntlett, David, 2018, Ten things wrong with the media ‘effects’ model, davidgauntlett.com, accessed: 06-18.03.2022.

Hall, Stuart, 1997, The work of representation, in Representation: cultural representations and signifying practices, Sage & The Open University, London, accessed: 05-18.03.2022.

hooks, bell, 1992, Black Looks: Race & Representation, Routledge, New York, USA.

hooks, bell, 2014, Black Looks: Race & Representation, 2nd. Ed, Routledge, New York, USA, https://www-taylorfrancis-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/books/mono/10.4324/9781315743226/black-looks-bell-hooks: 05-14.03.2022. 

Kermode, Mark, (2011), Kermode Uncut: The Moviegoers Code of Conduct, bbc.co.uk/5live, distribution: YouTube:, accessed: 08-16.03.2022.

McCarthy, Carrie, 2017, Fiona Foley: Horror has a face, Art Almanac, article, blog post, 29.11.2017, https://www.art-almanac.com.au/fiona-foley-horror-face/, accessed: 13.03.2022.

McCausland, Ruth, 2004, Special Treatment: The Representation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People in the Media, Journal of Indigenous Policy, Iss.4, p.105-114, unsworks.unsw.edu.au, accessed: 11-15.03.2022.

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen, (ed.), 2004, Whitening Race: Essays in social  and cultural criticism, Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, ACT, https://search-informit-org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/book/10.3316/informit.0855754656, accessed: 14.03.2022.

O’Dowd, Mary, 2012, Embodying the Australian Nation & Silencing History, Arena Journal, January 2012, Iss.37-38, p.88-104, ISSN:1320-6567, accessed: 06-14.03.2022.

Orlowski, Jeff, (Dir.), 2020, The Social Dilemma, Lissa Rhodes (Prod.), docudrama, distribution: Netflix, accessed: 7-9.03.2022, accessed:15.03.2022.

Shifroni T, 2012, Integrating Indigenous Culture & History into Popular Australian Media: An analysis of the 2012, Australian film, The Sapphires, WordPress blog, posted: 24.10.2018, https://tamarshifroni.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/integrating-indigenous-culture-and-history-into-popular-australian-media-an-analysis-of-the-2012-australian-film-the-sapphires, accessed: 14.03.22.

Turnbull, Sue, 2010, Imagining the audience in Cunningham, S & Turner, G (eds.), The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd ed., Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, Sydney, accessed: 06-18.03.2022.

Images List:

Dickens, Karla, 2022, Ready, Willing & Able, is a complex, layered example of Indigenous confrontation with the impacts of Othering, https://www.karladickens.com.au/wp-content/, Pin-Up, 2019, from the series A Dickensian Circus, nirin-ngaay, 22nd Biennale of Sydney, catalogue, 2020 accessed: 14.03.2022 & 02.04.2022.

Strang-Yettica, Juundaal, 2021, Kaleidoscope for Telescope?, Cementa Residency: Sister GlitterNullius addresses the hypocrisy dilemma that is all things colonialist, capitalist, consumerist & christianity and contemporary Indigeneity, in the Anthropocene, 2021, Videographer: Justin Hewitson, Kandos NSW, funded: CreateNSW, https://juundaal.com/.


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