Friday, July 09, 2010

Comedy Channel is not being funny - or fair

At some time, we will have to revolt.

We will have to shout from the  corporate balance sheets that "we are not putting up with it any more."
For, increasingly, we are being short-changed - and being as compliant as penned sheep.
It is not simply the packaging in supermarkets - what was once 200grams at $5 is now 170 grams at $5. Same size packaging, just less inside.
We barely noticed as this was inflicted on us. The cynical manufacturers knew it would be so. And they sheared off a fatter profit margin and made their shareholders a bit richer. Of course, once you have achieved that increase of profit, the expectation is that it will continue. Profits must never level out. They must always grow. And so the market manipulations and deceptions continue to be inflicted on hapless and hurried consumers.

As if it wasn't enough for the television industry to cut costs by increasing its quota of cheap reality shows with no writers or production values, it now looks at the profit margin engendered through that strategy and realises that even a constant diet of people cooking in their kitchens cannot get beyond basic cheap so, to keep those profits rolling in, what they need to do is to make fewer shows but run them over and over again. But don't call them repeats. Re-brand them as "encore", that word of acclaim which audiences call when they don't want a brilliant performance to end.

So 100 TV cable TV channels now are running the same old shows over and over and over. The cheapest possible shows with the greatest exposure.

They are sure we are such compliant morons that we will think this is what there is, we will forage among the slim pickings and in desperation to fill the tired and lonely hours, will resign ourselves to a diet of ancient leftovers.

This is cruel and cynical corporate behaviour. It is as if the people who own and run our television have no need to watch it themselves and do not care what consumers think of them. Well, why should they? They are entertained watching their money growing.

The Comedy Channel dropping the Late Night Legends - the American talk shows, Letterman, Leno and Jimmy Fallon - is the last straw. It was an abrupt drop with the explanation that the shows were "not performing" to their satisfaction. They had not been on for long and most of Australia was just getting to know them. One assumes the real reason was that those hugely popular daily US shows cost money Foxtel doesn't want to pay - when they could be paying almost nothing for tired old reruns.

With ever-limited choice in what to watch, the hapless public will watch the same thing rather than nothing at all.
Unless people protest - write, cancel subscriptions, withdraw advertising -  I imagine the dumbing down and cutting of content will continue.
There is no industry competition. The corporation has the upper hand - and it expects us to lie down and take what it doles out.
The sad thing is that we will - and pay them for it as we do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Burqa bizzo

When I was in Muslim countries, I was expected to dress modestly in keeping with the traditions of the culture.

When in tries to fit in. Or so it was before the Islamic disapora.

I might be wrong but I believe that Muslims are the first people to come to live in our country and openly disapprove of us. It's hard to forget the cleric who described Australian women in summer attire as "meat left out for the cat".

There are now a lot of Muslims in Australia. They are spread widely and evenly through the urban population, but they don't blend in. The women's dress makes them instantly recognizable. Their range of religious habit goes from a token headscarf to abaya, those long drab button-up overdresses, and huge hijab around their heads.
The full burqa or niqab face covering is rare here but it is seen.

However, it now is in the news and and we are all forced to think about how, exactly, we feel about this sort of dramatic separation from the rest of the community.  As a liberated country, we don't conform. We display our diversity with everything from muted conservative garb to a mass of tattoos and piercings. We are proud of our freedom to self-expression.

This should, of course, including the Muslims. Yet, by dressing differently, Muslims are dividing us.

And, thanks to political correctness, we feel inhibited and compromised about expressing reservations. This automatically makes us racist.

But I am getting to the age when one speaks one's mind. And I have to say that I am disturbed by the sight of Muslim women shrouded under burqas.  They rouse a confusion of emotions in me. I am intimidated by them. I feel they are spying on us, shunning us, and hiding in plain sight.  I also mistrust that they are actually female. I have no way of knowing.

The thing that most disturbs me is that the Islamic rationale that women are covered from head to foot because of the belief that they are too tempting to be seen. They need to be protected from their own sexuality. Just the sight of their hair is such a provocation that men may completely lose control.

What does this make of Islamic men? They have such crude sexual urges that they cannot  safely see women in public?

This religious dress code, therefore, not only oppresses and insults the women, it demeans men.

It makes no sense to me at all.

Photo: CharlesFred, Flickr

Friday, May 07, 2010

Back to bones

The fashion industry strode forth for, what? All of five minutes? In including larger models and fashion sizes for real women. And let's face it. Today's real women are larger than they used to be a generation or so ago when average height was about 5ft 4in and ideal measurement were  judged at about 34, 24, 34. Current generations are tall and strong-boned with less pronounced waists than the girls of yore. To be small, they have to go down to the bone.

Thus has today's fashion created the school of emaciated, Auschwitz bodies. Poor skeletal girls with protruding bones and hollow thighs. And this body form accepted as a model form for the fashion runway drove girls to seek starvation as a beauty treatment. It is old news, how dangerous this was as standard and ambition and it was generally celebrated when the larger models started coming into vogue.

But it did not last. The vapid designers and their neurotic industry craved the bones on the coathanger body for their shows - and the larger models are out on a limb, once again unwanted, according to today's news reports.

If they want to get back into the fashion world, they will have to starve.

And we return to teens striving to find beauty in emaciation and eating disorders.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The bike debate

It has been suggested that cyclists require training and that bikes be registered for the roads.
If ever a suggestion was welcome, this one is it.
Those goodie two-shoes greenie cyclists have become a terror on the roads.

Cyclists are quick to blame drivers. But there is no protecting them from themselves and they cause a lot of stress among car drivers. 
They can be divided into two distinct groups - the people who ride to work and those who have some illusion that commuting is a sport.
The former are just hapless good souls who happen to ride bikes to work or university.
The latter wear skin-tight synthetic racing costumes. They dress up to get on their bikes - wearing garb which may reduce wind shear by some vital fractional degree on their way to work.
These are the cyclists who like to put themselves apart from the rest of the road traffic. They speed in slow traffic and do not heed traffic conditions. They can't bear to put their foot on the ground at a traffic light but have to ride to the front of the queue and teeter dangerously ready for a race start on the change of lights. The do not give pedestrians right of way. They regularly ride though pedestrian crossings. In other words, they do not conform to the road rules which apply to traffic - rules which they would respect were they in their cars. They have double values and a culture of blame.

During some shocking gridlock traffic jams due to closed roads, I witnessed a racing-clad cyclist speeding towards a jammed intersection. He showed no sign of slowing for the obstacle of stationary traffic across his path which rather surprised me. I think he was assuming he could just swing through a gap. When a motorist, not seeing the approaching cyclist, allowed his car to creep forward a few feet, he narrowed that gap and the cyclist was going too fast to accommodate the change. He rode directly into the side of the car at high speed - flying over the bonnet and landing heavily on the road. It was very nasty. Everyone was distressed. An ambulance was called. Haunted, I have thereafter pondered the practical and legal implications of this accident. The car was in the wrong place but it was almost stationary. The cyclist technically had a right of way but, in my opinion, he did not use caution in changed road conditions.

It seems a bit sad to lumber schoolkids and family cyclists with tests and paperwork for registration and licenses. But how else are we to make racing city cyclists conform to the road rules?

Perhaps by restricting the wearing of those awful synthetic racing garments to velodromes and genuine road races?