Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Epic Essay

I mentioned last time I posted that I’d watched the latest Star Wars movie. I focused on fandom stuff in that last post (and it continues to be a thing, ugh). Today I’m going to talk about the movie itself because why the heck not? After all, I positively gushed on here after seeing The Force Awakens.

This review will not be so gushy. It is also very, very, long. I debated splitting it, but in the end have not. So pull up a seat, grab a drink of choice and set aside some time with me.

I have some initial thoughts, and then will dive into the details (WITH SPOILERS). Sections are divided into “liked”, “difficult” and “awful”, with additional headings. You know we’ve got a problem when the “awful” section is the biggest section of the essay. In that section, I swear and talk about racism, sexism, abuse and queerphobia, too, as a heads up.

Let me start by saying, Sequel Trilogy creators, you had me in the palm of your hand after The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi was more difficult to like, but I focused on the good points. I hoped The Rise of Skywalker would be better…but the dominant emotion now is disappointment.

The Rise of Skywalker (TRoS) has been out for just over a month now, and I’m far from the only one with Opinions about it. I’ve gathered some opinions I like below.

So, what did I think of the movie overall? As Scalzi said (in the first link) it was largely entertaining to watch, if you didn’t think too critically. It’s the slightly-predictable movie that tugs at the emotions effectively and tries to tell a good story. It was an End Movie for its trilogy. However, it doesn’t do the best job at concluding itself (as Chuck Wendig, second link, points out) and character development and a coherent, nuanced plot is treated as secondary to “entertainment”.

It’s disappointing that it the story couldn’t have been told better…and a little differently. Like, looking back on TFA, I still recall it fondly. The more distance I have from watching TRoS, the more questions and difficulties I have with it. It could have been a film full of nuance and character development, but is instead a rushed film full of missed opportunities. I wish my expectations had been lower going in – something I never thought I’d say. *long sigh*

As a Star Wars fan, it’s possibly true to say that everyone has “their” trilogy, the ones that they saw in the cinema or were of appropriate age to remember them coming out. The Sequel Trilogy is mine, being just a smidge too young for the Prequels. The thrill of hearing that theme and seeing that logo and those words, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…” is still fierce. They had me right where they wanted me, hooked and eager for more, after The Force Awakens…and then the other two trilogy movies happened.

I really wish that they’d built a storyline and planned the whole trilogy right from the start. I also wish that they’d had a consistent creative team throughout the trilogy and included more people of colour on their teams. That would’ve helped prevent the current situation, where the trilogy movies don’t fit together as well as they could have, and representation is thin – a gloss at best, without substance. TFA and (especially) TLJ don’t pass the Bechdel test and TRoS barely does, for example. Character-wise, there is nowhere near enough time or space for character development to grow. Plot-wise, TRoS spends half its time backtracking over TLJ and rips along at such a fast pace you can barely process anything or catch your breath. They seem to have tried to bank on ambiguity (giving hints of everything) to give everyone what they think we wanted, leading to a narrative that overall lacks character resolution and pleases very few.

Another general gripe: it’s become apparent that the creators are relying on viewers consuming the tie-in media (e.g. comics, novelisations, extra tie-in novels) to make up for at times lazy storytelling and lack of character arcs. I strongly dislike this, as I don’t want to feel forced into consuming the extra stuff. I want to enjoy it for its own benefits, which is my current plan now. This approach is also undermined when they pick and choose what they want to include from the tie-ins. For example, a book called Resistance Reborn was written to explore the concepts of TLJ, bridging part of the gap between that movie and TRoS. I haven’t read it – or any tie-in stuff except Aftermath – yet, but apparently a lot of the threads it puts down aren’t picked up by TRoS. I guess because of how much of TLJ they retconned? Yet they crafted an entire narrative using comics and tie-ins to explain away Ren’s evilness. I don’t get it.

Also, TRoS could have been so much easier to watch if they’d toned down the bloody light-show effects. I have sensory issues, one of which is photosensitivity. When I’m exposed to flickering or very bright light, it’s very distracting and I can’t stop “noticing” it: It’s a constant irritant which I can’t ignore. How much of that movie do you think I spent with my eyes shut or squinting, trying to see past the flickers to the action? I missed out on the full experience of several important scenes thanks to the insistence of having flickering bright lights contrasting against very dark background. We were warned at the beginning by a notice on the screen and I knew buying the tickets, but there’s “brief flickering light effects” and then there’s what that movie did. Ew.

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What I Liked

We’re all in this together…

–> The thing I liked the most was the inherent message, spoken by Poe and Lando and others, about coming together and fighting together against the Big Bads of the galaxy. As well as Luke’s speech to Rey about facing your fears and doing what is necessary despite them. (I liked the fan-service X-wing Force-lift.)

Those plot points, as predictable/ cheesy as they were, landed well for me because sometimes I think we need to hear that “obvious” stuff, to remind ourselves that yes, we are actually stronger together. Of course, the Fandom in general isn’t paying attention to that at all right now (😤 *grumpy face*), as I mentioned the other day. It does feel like a bit of a pancea in that context. But I still liked it.

–> In a similar way, I liked the final battles of the movie – somewhat predictable, but also cool/ entertaining. And I’ve read Aftermath, so I really felt it when Snap died (thanks for that Chuck!). I liked what I could see of the last lightsaber and lightning battle, with the speechy bits.

Character developments

–> I also appreciated how they handled the aftermath of Leia’s death in the movie. I think Chewie was us, there. I really liked that they recognised that fans should have a “goodbye” scene. One of my favourite parts of the movie is the section when they’re mourning her, because it felt like the actors were speaking for us…about Carrie. ❤

–> The continuing friendship between Finn and Poe and Finn and Rey, as well as Finn, Poe and Rey finally getting some bonding screen time. Regardless of whether Finn and Poe’s connection is romantic or platonic (more on that later), their friendship is certainly deep and meaningful and should be celebrated. John Boyega has some lovely words on this. We need these examples of deep intimate male friendships on-screen and what we have is beautiful. I also appreciated the dynamic they tried to build between Rey and Finn. You can tell Finn wants to support Rey through the difficult stuff she’s dealing with during parts of the movie, though she struggles to let him in. Also, one of my favourite TRoS moments was the hug between the three at the end.

Extra things:

  • The musical score; as usual, lovely – and how could it go wrong, with John Williams as composer?
  • Little characters like Babu Frik and D-0 (the cone-wheel droid).
  • Rey’s struggle with understanding herself and her power, and the found family arc.
  • The fact that Finn’s Force-sensitive (about time!!).
  • Jannah and the other stormtroopers’ existence (about time!!).
  • Hux’s reason for being the spy: it felt in-character to me.

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What I Found Difficult…

A lot of the stuff in this section could have been in the one above, or unremarked upon, if they’d landed differently. For example, if they’d been introduced better or given more scope or nuance…or more time to land.

Slow down; too fast

–> The first difficulty is the pace of the movie. It was far. too. fast. We were flung this way and that, racing around the galaxy at such speeds there was barely enough time for plot to unfold and story-beats to land. This led to some of the difficulties with character arcs that are explored in this or the “Awful” section. It also left me struggling to keep up. It’s no wonder it took me a few days to process everything.

Examples of the pacing getting the way of character arcs included: Chewie (“He’s dead!” “No he’s not!” Apparently there were two transports in the air, but I didn’t notice them); Hux (“You’re the spy?” …. a handful of scenes later… *bang* “Tell Ren I’ve found our traitor.”), Threepio (“I choose to do this memory-wipe thing (after a lot of pressure), goodbye, friends.” … “Artoo’s brought him back up to speed, I guess?”), and D-0 (why’d they exist other than to be a cute plot device?). Also, the pacing of the film meant that, while they tried to include bonding moments between Poe, Finn and Rey, they didn’t always land effectively – or resolve (more on that in the next major section).

Btw, was I the only one that wondered if Threepio’s memory reset would give us a Prequel-era droid? It would have been interesting if they’d had time for that, and for Threepio to be gradually brought up to speed by Artoo across the rest of the movie, for example… and it might have given his arc more depth. It would have even provided a nod to nostalgia/ history, which is a theme they were going for, right?

Leia’s storyline

–> The second difficulty: Leia’s storyline. Now, I said upthread that I liked the aftermath of her death, and why. As for everything else, it was always going to be difficult, figuring out how to honour Leia and Carrie Fisher’s role in the films. The end of TLJ sets Leia up as one of the last major characters from the OT who’s alive in-universe…and then, after filming wrapped, Carrie passed away. This forced the creators to change tracks. IX could no longer be Leia’s film. While they largely did the best with what they had, and I do think they tried to be respectful, they could have done better.

I mean, for goodness’ sakes, why did she die in-film by using the Force to reach out to her son? This was one of the things that passed me by at first, but upon reflection, it feels wrong. Leia’s death is so passive and flat for a character as vibrant as Leia – who was introduced as a passionate seeker of hope and justice. Her end is in the service of another, male, character’s arc. Not only that, but her son’s arc – she’s become a movie mother dead for the sake of the plot. WHY?

There were more nuanced, engaging ways to honour Carrie that could have avoided those tropes. For example, I saw commentary from Fangirl Jeanne that suggested, as part of a mega what-if fix-it thread, how Leia could have died by actively defending the Resistance: they could have set up a last stand scenario, used other female characters – like Rose – to support this, and used camera angles to imply Leia’s e.g. shooting stormtroopers, without having her in the frame, using the shadow body-double that way. Instead, they gave us that simplistic end.

The Palpatine plot and Rey’s character arc

–> My third point of difficulty: the Palpatine thing. Re-introducing Palpatine was always going to be iffy. To be honest, I don’t know why they did it. It smacks of their idea of fan-service and the need for a Big Bad Force-user that wasn’t Kylo Ren. They could have handled it a lot better, if they’d really had to bring him in. Like, why identify him in the opening scroll? Why not devote some time onscreen to characters hearing the voice and searching, then discovering that it’s him and their reactions? Why not devote time to a Palpatine arc, referencing the Legends canon and the other trilogies? Palpatine cloned himself in the Legends canon, and there was that whole thing about Darth Plageius conquering death as part of the set-up of the climax of RotS – and Palpatine was more than just a cartoonish villain there. Done so hastily, here, it doesn’t make sense.

–> This shoddy introduction and lack of character arc for Palpatine then leads to Rey’s arc faltering. Here’s where it becomes obvious that there wasn’t a consistent, coherent story narrative across all three trilogies. If they’d really wanted a Rey Skywalker, that should’ve happened in TLJ. They could’ve done something from that about Rey needing to reconcile the good and evil parts of her family. Like, Leia has issues being related to Vader, but Luke thinks of him as redeemed… what would Rey’s view have been, when she can see how it affects Leia (see TFA) but can also hear Luke’s stories?

Then, they could’ve contrasted this with Ren’s struggle with the Dark…while also giving room for Finn to be the “no-big-name Force-sensitive”, and drawing on the expanded canon to remind viewers that the Jedi were more than just Skywalkers, anyway. (More about Finn later.) As it is, the Rey Skywalker bit took some people by surprise, finished the retcon of the “Rey from Nowhere” arc (one of the few good character arcs of TLJ) that the Rey Palpatine arc started, and felt rushed in, right at the end.

If they wanted Rey to be a Skywalker in a post-TLJ world, they should have built in more self-reflection from Rey. Here’s another space where they could have used other female characters to make up for the absence of Carrie Fisher, for example, Maz, to build more depth into this so we were ready for a Rey Skywalker by the end of the film. (Again, Fangirl Jeanne has some good thoughts about this in that epic fix-it essay.) It would have also meant that Luke wasn’t the only one Teaching Rey Stuff, so we’d have got some interactions between Rey and other women instead of just the “Old” White Guy Teacher.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Rey didn’t need a “powerfully dark” last name to struggle with the power of her abilities and the good and evil within herself. She could have just as easily remained “Rey from Nowhere” during most of the film. A great arc could’ve been written from this angle, where Rey has to choose to confront the Darkness within herself (that’s within all of us, just as the Light is) and choose to be who she is: the last “Jedi”/ trained Force-user. What does that mean for the galaxy? There are other untrained Force-users out there (like Finn) after all… A nuanced conversation could have been had. But this isn’t the film for nuanced conversations, so the narrative suffers for it.

The Redemption of Kylo Ren

–> Finally: Redemption arcs can be interesting if done well. But they require nuance, recognition of wrongdoing, and atonement, in a way that’s not usually easy to convey in a movie, especially one that’s got pacing issues. Therefore, Ren’s redemption doesn’t make a lot of sense, narratively – at the start of the movie, he’s still killing people, with little remorse, just to gain access to the place where Palpatine is. He “returns to the light” due to Rey (and Leia) – which, I mean, *vomits*. Seriously? (More on that in the “Awful” section.)

I enjoyed the cameo from Han Solo/ Harrison Ford in Ren/Ben’s mind (probably replacing what Leia and Carrie’s role would have been) after that fight. However, it’s been revealed that Han wasn’t a real Force-ghost, just a manifestation in Ren’s mind, sooooo….effectively, Ren/ Ben was talking to himself? Did he ever actually admit fault/ ask for forgiveness to anyone living (e.g. Rey)?

Or was everything just “presumed” forgiven because he helped his stalker crush win a fight against the Big Bad and healed her before fading away into the Force? Ongoing forgiveness and growth is another thing altogether – and that’s the thing that would have given Ren’s arc some actual redemption. Want an example of a redemption arc that works? Take the redemption of Zuko, a tortured-soul villain in Avatar: The Last Airbender. As Hoai-Tran Bui explains in this article from slashfilm.com, Zuko shows how a villainous character can be forced to examine who they are and change, through the hard process of recognising their mistakes, owning up to them, and atoning for them.

It’s not easy, because redemption – real redemption – isn’t. They could’ve done something like that with Ren – if they’d allowed the screen time for it. I’ve read that some of his past actions are downplayed or explained by other means through some of the tie-in comics and books – but we really should’ve seen the explanations onscreen for a coherent redemption arc.

For a coherent redemption arc, Ren should have started the movie with less killing and more regret, then should have faced the consequences of his past misdeeds, verbally acknowledging he’s stuffed up – an extension of what’s already in the movie. Then he dies heroically sacrificing himself, maybe. Or he lives and is punished for his deeds justly, in some sort of way that means he could help rebuild what he broke. Maybe being unable to use the Force in the meantime – and staying well away from Rey.

Instead, he’s “absolved” through assisting with the fight with Palpatine then gets to fade away into the Force with barely any self-reflection. If they were going to do such a poor job, they should’ve just built him into this movie’s Big Bad (in a scenario that ignores Palpatine) and then had Rey capture/ kill him, with no redemption at all. I’d actually prefer that – it’s what I hoped for after TFA in the beginning: a strong female character whom I identified with kicking the male villain’s arse, and the male villain having chosen to be evil. But no: “Bendemption” was enabled – because Kylo Ren is white. Which leads me to…

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What I thought was Awful:

Reylo and why I hate it

–> My biggest gripe and “UGH” moment for me? The Reylo kiss. The fucking Reylo kiss and its surrounding context: “redeeming” Ren through Rey and giving a hetero ‘ship between the white “former” villain and the white female protagonist. To explain why, I need to take us back to TFA again. During the whole of that movie, I loved Kylo Ren’s characterisation – he’s a desperate neo-Nazi fascist incel type, who has no qualms attempting to force himself into others’ minds and flies into explosive, violent rages at the slightest provocation when he doesn’t get his own way. He’s a bully and an abuser. He’s torn between good and evil, yes, but he wants evil to win. He kills his own father to ensure that (a choice I loved – such a great plot moment). I left the cinema after TFA hoping we’d eventually see Rey take him down. I did not want this guy redeemed.

Then TLJ happened. It tried to humanise Ren by giving him the backstory of Luke having a moment of doubt and trying to kill him. Bit OOC from what we thought of Luke, there, but eh, we’ll chalk it up to Snoke’s influence, hm? Or unreliable narrating, given it was the villain speaking. It also began laying the groundwork for reconciliation/ redemption and ‘romance’ by the way Ren and Rey interacted – and the space that Ren had to tell his story. (See stitch’s post, When White Villains Get Woobified.)

That plotline was one reason I left the cinema after that movie more than a bit unsettled, begging the universe to not turn this into a “girl/ woman saves boy/ man by loving him” type arc. That shit is toxic and wrong. Perpetuating that myth is dangerous. Still, I had hope – Ren still seemed more like a guy with a one-sided stalker crush than actual romance material.

However, Rey and Kylo Ren’s joint character arc in TRoS changed that. Now, we can technically say, “Reylo is canon”. Yuck. Out of all the things to be unambiguous about (because a kiss is a pretty direct signpost), they chose the reylo relationship. I know, I know, it was just one kiss, but seriously. At the start of the movie, Ren is shown killing his way through a planet on his way to investigate a dark presence.

You’re expecting me to be okay with him and Rey kissing by the end of it? Not to mention, not long before his redemption, Rey fought him, stabbed him and healed him. Then he “returns” to the light as the result of her actions and the actions of his mother. I’ve addressed that upthread. As his final moment, he and Rey kiss before he dies and fades away. Ugh.

I really, really hate this arc. Kylo Ren should have ended the movie dead or imprisoned, without a Happily Ever After. Kylo Ren is not (as TLJ and some reylos would have us think) a victim. He is an abuser. Loving someone is not enough to turn them “back to the Light”, and it’s fucking dangerous that the latter movies suggest this!!! The more I think about it the more uncomfortable I feel. I know he faded away into nothing, but the fact that the kiss and foreshadowing happened at all is concerning.

It means that I and others, who identified with Rey in TFA when she pushed back against his mental assault (“Get out of my head!”) and when she defeated him at the end of that movie, can’t enjoy TRoS-Rey as easily, because to our eyes, a victim ends up being shipped with the man who was once her abuser.

The other thing that’s wrong about this and why it sickens me, why it’s dangerous that the movie suggests “love conquers abuse”? Aside from the message it sends people in vulnerable relationships, especially opposite-sex ones…it also sends that same message to children. Children pick up our context subconsciously…and The Rise of Skywalker tells young children that if someone’s mean to you, being nice to them might fix it. You think I’m exaggerating, but I am not.

–> The kiss also threw a bone to the reylo shippers, many of whom went wild. They like that it’s canon (and often are really annoying about it), and many are refusing to engage with other fans about reylo in a critical manner. Many are also continuing to be absolute dicks by sending hate to other fans and actors, for example, black fans and John Boyega. I addressed some of this in my last post, but it’s still ongoing and they are doubling down.

Due to the fact that many reylo shippers are white women, they’re hiding behind the “sexism” and “misogny” cards when people try to critique their view. They use it to deflect from their racism, too. I hate it!!! It’s really upsetting to realise that the fandom I love is not the fandom that exists – at least, not in a majority way. Otherwise, the reylo ship and its associated toxicity would’ve been called out by more than just actors like Boyega who are directly affected by their actions, it wouldn’t be supported by mainstream fandom publications, and it would have remained a fringe element with no kiss.

Finn’s (lack of) character arc

–> But then, pigs might fly. Something became clear with TRoS that I somewhat missed in TLJ: Star Wars has a problem with racism, and it’s not just a niche minority of toxic white fanboys. It’s fangirls, too, as the discourse around reylo has illustrated. It’s also written into the creative decision-making surrounding the films, especially the last two. For example, in order to prioritise the “Bendemption” and Reylo arcs…they made Finn’s character arc invisible/ non-existent.

I will be upfront: I missed Finn’s arc decreasing in TLJ because I’m white, so I didn’t pick up on the microaggressions and sidelining. I knew it seemed to repeat his TFA journey from a slightly different angle and was frustrated by that. However, I didn’t see some of the things that were racist but played for laughs. I also didn’t realise how yuck some of the plot/ character arcs were: Finn being “taught” that fighting for “those we love” matters, for example…and the scenes with the stablehand kids. (See resources I linked the other day for more.) The trend of minimising Finn continues in TRoS, and becomes blatantly obvious.

Finn is Force-sensitive, but the only nod to that is him feeling Rey’s death plus that one line of conversation with Jannah. It had to be confirmed after the movie’s release. Finn could have trained with Leia and been her protegé in the way that Rey was almost Luke’s. Finn could have had a chance to flex his intellect and use the knowledge of the First Order for good. Instead, Finn’s reduced to a comical character a lot of the time.

They wait until the second half of TRoS to have Finn positively interact with any other dissenting stormtroopers. This is right near the end of the trilogy, so nothing can really be explored. Imagine if they’d used this as a plot point from the beginning/ TLJ? Imagine if Jannah had been introduced earlier? I’d have loved to have seen more of her, too (more on that in a minute). The fact is that Finn has never been allowed to show much angst over the fact that he’s fighting against people that were once on his side.

He doesn’t know all of them of course, but he knows (or, he should know) that they’re just like he was. Forced to fight because they’ve been trained and conditioned to see the First Order as the best and only organisation that is Right. Finn knows what it means to be a child captive and soldier, forced to grow up in a very specific environment. But is that explored? Not a bit. The only stormtroopers Finn meets defected of their own accord and it’s handwaved away with “a feeling”, a.k.a. the Force. The Force helped Finn to rebel and escape maybe, but it’s a bit of a cop-out to suggest only ‘troopers with the Force could do the same. It doesn’t say much for human nature, free will and conscience, does it? Again, a wasted opportunity.

Finally, he had one of the more cringeworthy lines of TRoS: the “Rey, I’ve got something to tell you!” line, which is one that never. gets. resolved. on-screen. They try to build it up – Poe acts annoyed after, when questioning Finn – but Rey calls them on, and then it’s never. mentioned. again. This led to fan speculation that he was telling Rey he loves her. However, this was nixed by TRoS director, JJ Abrams, in a Q&A.

Apparently, Finn wanted to tell Rey he had the Force. Honestly. If that was the case, why didn’t they resolve it on-screen? Also, if that was the case, the scene should’ve been shot differently, to avoid the obvious conclusion. It makes me think that that scene was originally meant to be a love confession, and then the creative team decided to do the reylo-kiss-and-die thing instead, so cut any resolution of that arc. Leaving us with speculation and little substance onscreen. (After all, two whites kissing is easier to sell than an interracial relationship to some people, despite the fact that Finn has been in Rey’s corner the whole way, including during TRoS, and Ren has decidedly not been.)

This shows, to me, how little they care about Finn’s interpersonal connections. So much is set up in TFA about friendships and so on that isn’t easily followed through, across the trilogy. I wanted more Finn and Rey goodness overall…and there was a lack of Finn and Poe in TLJ too. (Rian Johnson’s been quoted as saying that he separated Poe and Finn in TLJ because they “got along too well” and it would’ve been “really boring”.). In TRoS, Finn’s friendships and overall character arc are hampered by the too-fast pace of the movie and the issues already mentioned, despite the amount of screen time given to him.

Rose Tico (with additional thoughts on Jannah and Zorii Bliss)

–> That’s not all, however. We need to talk about Rose Tico. Rose and her actress, Kelly Marie Tran, deserved so much better than what she got. After being what I’d call a “main supporting actress” in TLJ, with plenty of character development and growth available for TRoS, she is instead reduced to a bit-part role, spouting one-liners. That is fucking ridiculous and reads as the people in charge caving in to the noxious sexist & racist hate that Tran was subjected to after TLJ. Her downgrade is inexplicable, plot-wise, and was a huge disappointment. Rose had so. much. potential.

In TLJ, we get hints of this, as her arc revolves around showing Finn what’s worth fighting for (in itself a rather sexist arc). Beyond that, she has personal reasons to hate the First Order and she’s a kick-arse mechanic. I wanted to see all of that explored. It’s also problematic in that the connection that TLJ developed between her and Finn – that culminated in a kiss at the end of the movie – is completely unremarked upon in TRoS. Like, I know that kiss happened last year in-universe, but where’s the continuation or closure?

Adding Jannah (whose whole arc is a dangling plot thread) as another nonwhite female character for Finn to interact with does not excuse the banishment of Rose Tico. Her absence from the film is a glaring hole. Why didn’t she go with them to search for the object, hm? They might have needed her expertise – and it would’ve been fun to see her and Jannah interacting. Or they could’ve included her in other ways, if they’d bothered to tell a broader story. Instead, nada.

–> I also want to take a minute to talk about Zorii Bliss. I thought her character in TRoS could have had a lot of potential – the appearance, perhaps, of a female character using her feminity in empowering ways. I mean, look at the suit – and the fact that Zorii never takes the mask off (a conscious choice that the actress, Keri Russell, leaned into, even on set). However… that’s not quite what we got, was it? While the hints were there, Zorii’s main role in the movie was to be someone Poe used to know, giving Poe a female love interest…and giving Poe a Past.

Poe’s Past

–> A past as a spice runner. I cringed when I heard that line. Poe’s past, up until this point, has already been well-fleshed out. Before the release of TFA, Poe’s actor Oscar Isaac developed his own headcanons about Poe’s backstory: Poe’s from Yavin 4 in part because those scenes were filmed in Guatemala, the same country where Isaac was born. The creative team heard about this and decided to lean into that, releasing comics that made the imagined backstory canon. ❤

Before TRoS, we knew Poe as a Rebellion-era baby (he was born sometime after the Battle of Yavin/ first Death Star), whose parents fought in the Rebellion. He defected to the Resistance from the New Republic Navy and was known as a good pilot. We’d last seen him go through his own crisis of conscience in TLJ, failing and relearning how to be a leader. I disagreed with a lot of Poe’s arc in that movie because of how it took the Poe of TFA – warm-hearted, supportive, respectful – and turned him into a machismo-man type (his interactions with Leia and Holdo are weird – he’s disrespectful to both of them and it stinks).

However, the “learn from failure” bit was interesting and should have been built on. Instead, we get an irritable, reducive TFA-lite Poe, tagging along without much development…except to add unnecessary backstory. In Star Wars, “spice” is a euphemism for drugs. The creators saw fit to give Poe – who is played by a Latinx actor – a drug runner backstory, shoe-horning it in around the rest of the gorgeous backstory.

This is despite the fact that Oscar Isaac has made efforts to avoid being racially typecast (See the backstory link above) – he’s previously rejected roles that “perpetuate the stereotype”. I think that it’s disrespectful to Isaac, as well as racist, that the creators added the backstory. As one commentator put it, “no wonder Isaac seemed kind of disgruntled while promoting the movie”. You have to ask why the filmmakers did what they did. It’s probable that if it had been mooted from the beginning, Oscar Isaac would likely not have played Poe at all.

FinnPoe and the same-sex screen-kiss

–> My final complaint for this review essay is this: TRoS and its creators could be said to be perpetuating queerbaiting. Abrams, in an interview before the film’s release, confirmed two things: one, that FinnPoe wasn’t going to happen, and two, that there would be a same-sex kiss onscreen. Reader, the latter was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kiss. It also came right after the last of several intense moments which occur across the film that could be read as FinnPoe. I think that juxtasposition was intentional.

There are GIFs and fanart and fanfic of those scenes all across the internet. We knew it wouldn’t happen. But to have it not happen so blatantly sucks. I maintain that the two characters with the most chemistry onscreen were Finn and Poe. Both John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have indicated that they would’ve been fine with playing it that way. Indeed, Isaac has been particularly vocal about it – and has called the studio out on not doing it. (Which, actually, has fuelled some fan theories about the reasons behind the spice runner backstory controversy.)

Finn and Poe had some beautiful lines together in TRoS, and throughout the trilogy. It’s always felt like the subtext was there for the taking…if the creators allowed them to lean in just that little more…

Examples of deep male friendship are lovely. However, there are so many examples of canonical male friendship out there already. We really, really need canon queer characters in mainstream (i.e. not explicitly queer-coded) film/ film franchises – like Star Wars, Marvel and Harry Potter. Why couldn’t the queers have this one? It doesn’t have to involve negating their female love interests, despite the “nothing gay to see here” feel of the introduction of Zorii – I happily headcanon either/ both of Poe and Finn as bi. 😉

I have to wonder, though, how fucking long will it be until we get a same-sex kiss in a mainstream film that involves two main characters – not just two bit-part ones? Two characters that have such dynamic chemistry together? Two characters whose friendship is so strong outside of the romance, and romance would’ve just added an extra layer? It’s called representation for a reason. Two bit-part characters kissing in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene is not good enough.

*

And, finally…

That’s my wrap-up. That was a lot to unpack.

While this film has been a disappointment, I still love TFA and the Star Wars universe. I will still cosplay as Rey (now with yellow lightsaber!) at the next Con I go to. I will still participate in fandom. The next thing on my to-do list about fandom is to find all the Sequel Trilogy tie-in books and read those. I’ve got to find my character backstory that the films didn’t have time for somewhere, after all.

As for the canon? Well, I’ll just have to, as Chuck Wendig said once, point the cannons at canon and make my own fun. In the spirit of that, I’m pulling together a list of headcanons and fanfic that make me feel good about the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. I might share those on my Twitter at some point.

For now, thanks for staying with me through this epic ride through Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Review of Come From Away

Last night, I watched Come From Away, the musical, now showing at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne in its Australian premiere. Oh my goodness. Pure magic. It’s surpassed Lion King as my favourite musical. I think everyone should go see it, so there’s a ticketing link at the bottom of the review.

12 cast members (playing at least two main characters each, towns- and plane people), 6 standbys (understudy for four roles each), 10 band members (most playing at least three instruments each). A beautiful musical score and lines that delivered. One hell of a show. Go check it out!

For those who don’t know, Come From Away is the based-on-truth story of the locals from of Gander, Newfoundland and the “plane people”. Gander coordinated the billeting and care of 6,579 people on 38 planes, diverted there when American airspace was closed for five days on September 11, 2001. The musical tells the story of some of the townspeople and “plane people” (what the locals called the plane travellers) stranded there. The musical gets its name from the words used to describe any visitors to Newfoundland – “Come from aways”.

I have been anticipating watching this show for months and it did not disappoint. The show was poignant and humorous and demonstrative by turns. Full of pathos and sheer humanity. It handles difficult subjects sensitively and meaningfully. I would watch this again, definitely (and I just listened to the soundtrack today actually). All the feels!! I laughed, I cringed, I teared up…and at the end of the show I burst into tears and leapt to my feet applauding. It was amazing!

Official Broadway Cast Recording of “Welcome to the Rock” from Come From Away.

The songs are all pretty good. Welcome to the Rock is a great intro. There are so many poignant songs – singing of people’s desperation, fear and hope. Blankets and Bedding; Darkness and Trees; Prayer; Something’s Missing, to name just a few. Just when you feel like you can’t take any more of it, some humour is inserted (e.g. Screech In) or a solution found. They’re still giving me goosebumps, tears and/or excitement today.

I also enjoyed Nick and Diane’s song, Stop the World. I believe my favourite song, amidst stiff competition, is Captain Beverley Bass’ power song: Me and the Sky. Her story is awesome. (If you want to hear her tell it, listen to this: This is your captain speaking, from ABC Conversations.) The other favourite would be Blankets and Bedding.

Go get tickets to see the show. Do it now, you will not be disappointed. Come From Away Melbourne.

Carly Findlay’s memoir, Say Hello

Hi there! Last month, I went to Carly Findlay’s book launch. The atmosphere was lovely and I came away with a copy of her book. I then spent the next few days devouring it.

A book rests on the edge of a tram window-ledge. It is facing up, the front cover reads in orange and black writing, "Say Hello Carly Findlay   How I became my own fangirl: a moir and manifesto on difference, acceptance, self-love and belief" Beside the words is a picture of Carly, who has a red face and dark curly hair. She is smiling and wearing an orange skirt, white top and pink tank top with colourful flower designs.

Carly is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist, writing about disability and appearance diversity issues. She is a proud disabled woman, living with a rare skin condition, ichthyosis. She is an awesome person and I’m glad I’ve met her.

Her memoir, Say Hello, details her life growing up with ichthyosis and how she has come to be proud of her disability and to own it. She speaks honestly of the ups and downs of living with her disability. The highs of family support, fandom, finding her community, loving herself and disability pride – and the lows of people’s ableism*, their pitying attitudes and intrusive questions.

N.B. Ableism = discrimination and/or prejudice against disabled people.

On her website, Carly writes about her book:

“….

There was no one in media or books who looked like me, or to tell me it’s ok to not want to change my appearance, and I didn’t know whether I’d find love – love with another or love for myself. I had to write that book. To be the person Little Carly needed. In Say Hello, I want to show parents who have a disabled child that there is no need to grieve a life lost – because their child is alive and can live a great life with love and support. I want to show readers how to be proud of their identity and their appearance, and love themselves even when the world has told them they have to hide. Representation matters. I hope this book is the start of more people with ichthyosis telling their own story – to shift the focus from the exploitative media we are seeing a lot of. Representation matters because shapes the way ichthyosis is seen, and lets people with ichthyosis see themselves. Disability literature must be disability-led.”

http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/

I related to parts of this book – being the odd-one-out sucks, and escapism through fandom, then finding my people, those who get me, have been saving graces. However, I should say too that my disability is invisible, so I have had more privilege than Carly. For example, I don’t get asked “what happened to my face?” regularly when I’m out and about, and people don’t flinch away from me or avoid touching me. Carly speaks candidly of these sorts of instances in Say Hello. She has faced plenty of discrimination and casual ableism. It sucks and, as Carly details in the book, is exhausting. People, stop it. PSA: check your attitudes and your privilege, drat it, in thinking about, seeing and interacting with disabled people. Stop making assumptions on behalf of us. We’re just going about our daily lives, ‘k? We’re not your bloody inspiration! Seriously, back off. 😡

Carly is unapologetic about her disability activism, politics and pride. From Carly and others like her, I am learning to be the same.

I encourage everyone to read Carly’s book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an angry memoir in parts (with good reason), as well as being laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warming. Thanks for writing it Carly. I can’t wait to read what you write next!

Buy Say Hello from Booktopia (paperback) and Apple Books (ebook), as well as department stores and bookstores in Australia and New Zealand. Carly is also doing a book tour. Having already visited Melbourne and Sydney (and with the Brisbane event sold out), she’s going to Perth, Albury Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Adelaide as well. See her website (http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/) for details.

Fandoms, Updated

Hi all. In the first few months of this blog, I posted about my fandoms. It’s a category all of itself on this blog because I’m a voracious reader who also watches a few different shows/ movies from time to time. I thought it was time to redo the actual fandoms post, instead of just editing the original – as I’ve done a few times.

Image taken from the header of this post via Google. Image is white writing on black text and reads: keep calm and join fandoms

Potential spoilers in the links and also a content note as I have to mention why I’m glad the Dr Blake Mysteries was removed from the ABC.

The link to the original is here. In it, I describe my love of Harry Potter (JK Rowling), Tortall and Emelan (Tamora Pierce), and a huge list of others, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure.

I’ll get to the old favourites in a minute, but first I want to celebrate two new ones. The first one is a series which has its first book in my original fandoms post. I’ve now read the second and discovered that not only is there a third book due out this month, but that the collection has a name: introducing the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. The two books so far are A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit, and the third book that’ll be released soon is Record of a Spaceborn Few. I can’t wait! Becky Chambers has a really good way of worldbuilding her stories, and the story of how she became published is interesting. Books in the series have won some prestigious awards as well.

The second series I am adding to my Fandoms wall is, as promised, The Chaos Walking. I gushed about it a bit under a month ago, but I really like the character development of Patrick Ness’ stories, and the way he asks questions about human nature.

I’m going to also promote The Moorehawke Trilogy here, because while it was first placed in the “read once, really liked it, searched for more” section of this post, seeing it on the list made me realise I hadn’t done the final part of that. Celine Kiernan has other works out too, and judging from my memory of Moorehawke, they should be good.

Now, onto the “old favourites and other things” section of this post.

I separated Harry Potter and both of Tamora Pierce’s series from the rest because I think that they’re the ones I keep returning to. HP was my first major (second remembered) fandom and I love it for that, and the depth of many characters, and the idea of the magical world existing beside our own. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to critique it, when I see ways it could be better.

Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Emelan worlds are put here because they’re fun mediaeval fantasy – that has lots of diversity, magic, and deep world-building. The Tortall world has had some new books come out relatively recently: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide and Tempests and Slaughter (book 1 of the latest series, the Numair Chronicles). I engage with her series’  critically as well, when I need to.

Some of the series on the original list I liked more when I was a teenager than perhaps now. I’ll still enjoy them if I pick them up but perhaps some of that is nostalgia.  LIke Rangers Apprentice, Deltora Quest, Rowan of Rin series, Rondo trilogy, Saddle Club, Warriors, and books by particular authors like Roald Dahl and Jackie French.

Some titles on the list, I’ll keep being involved in the fandom even if they’re not my primary ones at present. Most of the ones on the list fall into this category: Star WarsStar TrekHunger Games, DivergentTo Kill a Mockingbird, LotR and The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, Doctor WhoChronicles of Narnia* and Call the Midwife. Also to a certain extent it includes ones I read/watched once and liked, and maybe looked at the other works by the authors for a time: Earth’s Children series,  New Tricks, Vera, Dr Blake Mysteries*.

Two in that list have asterisks next to them because as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy my fandoms with a critical eye, and for those two, in particular, there are parts of their stories that are uncomfortable. With Narnia, it’s CS Lewis’ treatment of Susan in the later books that gets my goat (as well as certain preachy elements). With Dr Blake Mysteries it’s that, while the show was fairly decent (especially series 1-3, and parts of series 5), the actor who played Dr Blake (Craig McLachlan) turned out to be Not Nice behind the scenes. (There was a big expose on that at the start of this year/ end of last year.)

 

What now for Manus?

Urrrrgh.

I bloody hate this situation.

I’ve made phone-calls, including to Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection). I’ve also sent an email to my local member, Bill Shorten MP (Opposition Leader) and Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Immigration).

See that below. This sickens me…. and I feel so hopeless and helpless about it.

Check out the statement from Shadow Minister for Immigration here:  http://shayneneumann.com.au/news/immigration-and-border-protection/former-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ A lot more mealy-mouthed than I’d hoped for. Luckily I saw it when looking up his contact details and could address the icky bits in my email (they’re the bits in red). In the email, when I speak of the “current situation” I’m referring to the situation today. The angle I took was influenced by a phone-chat I had with a staffer from Shayne Neumann’s office.

 

Dear Mr David Feeney MP, Mr Shayne Neumann MP and Mr Bill Shorten MP,

My name is Clare Keogh and I am a young university student living in [suburb], Victoria. I am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island that has been unfolding for several weeks and escalated today. I am also keeping the people detained on Nauru in my thoughts, as they should not be forgotten either.
I know that the current situation is not Labor’s doing and that the centres, when Labor restarted them, was intended to be used for regional processing rather than indefinite detention. 
 
However, the fact remains that the current situation is not the responsibility of PNG but of Australia. There have been reports of AFP involvement in today’s crisis on Nauru, after all. 
 
By what right are the men’s phones being seized? By what right are their few belongings being taken and destroyed? By what right have their only means of getting water and shelter been destroyed? By what right has their access to even the most basic medical aid and food been removed? Why has Behrouz Boochani been arrested?
 
I understand that, as you are in Opposition, it makes it harder to make concrete change. But you and your colleagues should speak up about the situation still. Perhaps you are advocating for them behind closed doors. Can you explain, concretely, how? 
 
I am particularly concerned by some of the information that has been presented in the statement produced by Mr Neumann an hour ago: 
 

The situation at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if Malcolm Turnbull was clear from the start about refugees’ access to essential services at the alternative accommodation in PNG.

Turnbull has a moral obligation to work with PNG to deescalate tensions and guarantee the ongoing safety and security of these people.

Labor accepts that the former Manus Island RPC has closed as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court of PNG.

The men at the closed centre need to relocate to alternative accommodation – such as East Lorengau – to access security, health and welfare services.

Footage and reports from advocates who have visited the East Lorengau site make clear that the “alternative accommodation” at East Lorengau is not ready. No water, toilets, or showers. No power. Inadequate shelter for the tropical conditions. No security and no safety. The locals do not want them there. After all, Manus Island is a tiny part of PNG, with scarce resources for the local population.
 
Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why is the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices? 
 
 
Nauru is also a small place that is struggling to care for all of its people. Yet today I heard news of a new contract being given to Canstruct to build more facilities (described as “garrison-type”) for those held there. There are children and vulnerable women on Nauru. Can nothing be done for them? 
I thought Australia was better than this. It makes me sick at heart to think of this going on, when it would be so much cheaper and more humane to fulfil our international and moral obligations and either bring them here or resettle them in another country who are willing and able to take them – like New Zealand – while working with other countries in the region to create a viable long-term solution. 
 
The idea that these measures are in place to “save lives at sea” or “protecting Australian borders” is rubbish. There are far cheaper and better ways of preventing people risking lives on boats to Australia, like investing in real regional dialogue and processing, providing support and resources to countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the boats set out from. 
 
The current situation is a punitive measure created to encourage asylum seekers to think that going to Australia is worse than staying where they are. Now that has led to desperate people being treated like animals, denied even the most basic human rights. 
 
Please do something. This is a major sticking point for myself and many others in terms of voting. More than that, making a stand is the right thing to do. Have some political courage, listen to those who are experiencing the crisis, and act, please. The situation has gone on for far too long! 
 
If you reply, please don’t use an automated response but something real. 

Marriage Equality Essay

Last year (in 2016) I took a subject as an elective called Sex, Gender, Identity. It was an introductory subject that encouraged us to explore different aspects of those three things and how “the personal is political” (original quote author unknown). The final assignment for the subject was an essay which we could choose the topic from a list. I chose to examine marriage – the feminist critiques and marriage equality movement. The resulting essay gained me the highest mark I’ve ever received on an assignment. But more importantly, the research I did educated me about the topics and reaffirmed my stance on the issue. Below is an edited version of that essay. Please read.

I’ll note that I’m in a privileged position in writing this article. I’ve been raised in a heteronormative environment, I’m cisgender and in an opposite-sex relationship. These are my opinions backed by evidence collected from academic sources as well as personal ones.


Marriage: an institution which involves formal recognition of the union of two people, conferring legitimacy on an intimate relationship (3). This formal recognition usually grants a range of social, religious and legal benefits, rights and responsibilities (3) and has existed in some form for centuries (14). At the moment, the most easily-recognised and legitimised marriage is monogamous and opposite-sex – it’s still considered the norm. Challenging this norm, same-sex marriages have begun to be recognised in many countries after the hard work and activism of advocates. For many, this is a positive step for LGBTIQA+ people and society as the gains are seen to outweigh potential negatives. However, other activists are not as sure, as they take a more radical view that marriage should be either changed completely or left behind together. I investigated these two competing discourses and drew conclusions for this piece.

Firstly, the positives. 🙂 It has been suggested that access to marriage is tied, metaphorically and/or physically, to full citizenship rights in society (9). Also, as the phrase, “equal before the law” suggests, in democracies, the law is a place where all citizens should be equal (8). Hence, marriage is seen as a pathway to acceptance and legitimacy, a way of demonstrating that what people feel for each other is real and valuable. A chance to throw a big party and show how much they love each other. The exclusion of LGBTIQA+ people could be and has been argued to be an intolerable discriminatory practice. It has been suggested that in order for LGBTIQA+ rights to advance, all formal barriers to full equality must be overcome (2)(4) before or while other steps are taken – like fixing anti-discrimination laws (10). Due to the prominence of marriage in society, it can be seen as symbolic of other rights and some have argued that governments which do not afford equal respect of and protections for both LGBTIQA+ and heterosexual intimate relationships enable and participate in systemic homophobia and heterosexism (4). It has also been argued that this inequality harms LGBTIQA+ people in substantial, material ways – from subtle exclusion to violence (1)(2)(4). I agree with this – I’ve read very compelling personal accounts from people over the last few weeks and before that (not to mention hearing the lived experiences of my friends) which demonstrate the truth of it (6) (11). I also agree with the contention that one way of combatting the harms is to work towards full equality, including in marriage, for all regardless of sexuality. Research shows that there are particular social, legal and psychological benefits to this.

Marriage can reinforce partnership bonds, facilitate parenting and generate levels of social support for those who participate (7). LGBTIQA+ participation in marriage widens the scope of marriage norms, as non-traditional roles and practices are expressed, intentionally or otherwise (1)(7), providing additional choices and freedoms. For example, with children. It could be said that the very presence of LGBTIQA+ people and families in so-called public spheres changes and destabilises the unconsciously accepted heteronormative view (1) of society. Hmm, maybe that’s why the conservatives get so grumpy about it. Well, they can suck it up, because change is a thing that happens. Changes to societal views of family and so on include what is seen as normal by children – everything from the gender of their parents and/or extended family members, to how gendered or egalitarian their household is. Research shows that in observing and learning about these practices and by educating each other, children become directors of change (1). After all, we’re products of where we come from, influenced by the personal world(s) we inhabit. And if those worlds are more equitable, so much the better. The presence of children also highlights discriminatory practices which occur within the current system which privileges marriage, particularly heterosexual marriage, over other relationships (4). To many LGBTIQA+ people, the idea of only being allowed something separate-and-different to marriage does not work if it’s not seen as legally and emotionally equal to it. Even if/when marriage alternatives were given equal rights, benefits, protections and obligations as marriage, it can be argued that LGBTIQA+ people are still discriminated against simply because they’re still unable to choose between marriage, a civil partnership, or something else (14).

But what about the feminist/queer case against marriage? Feminists have criticised marriage as being oppressive to women due to patriarchal structures of power for many years (14). These power structures are those which reinforce a socially conservative breadwinner model (5) – an opposite-sex relationship of mandated monogamy, working husband and dependent wife bearing the brunt of housework and child-rearing (9). If you think about it, this model has been – and still is – at the core of public policy for some time (5)(15). Non-traditional families – such as single parents, mixed-race partnerships, and LGBTIQA+ families – challenge the model. You can tell this from the way conservatives react. However, I’ve read concerns about whether the model is really being challenged (15). There’s an argument that marriage equality campaigns are being turned into binary debates of for and against. These leave little room for valid critiques of the social and economic institutions of marriage, and how the societal privileging of marriage marginalises other intimate relationships (9)(13). The argument continues that while the potential benefits of marriage should be recognised, the next or concurrent step should be to push for those rights to be expanded to all intimate consensual relationships. There’s a risk, activists argue, that not doing this would go against hard-fought-for feminist freedoms (12) and create a new tiered system within the LGBTIQA+ community of the socially acceptable marrieds held above the rest of the queers. This could lead to a reinforcing of conservative heteronormative marriage ideas, merely expanded slightly.

Despite this, there’s no question that many LGBTIQA+ people do want to get married (4), even as they recognise its pitfalls. Marriage as an institution isn’t necessarily seen as a good thing – but the equality before the law is (2). Marriage is a complex institution and we should resist the urge to press it into one box or another (5). If and when marriage equality becomes reality, then the contradiction of being separate-but-equal (13) is removed. It then becomes a choice for all, heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ alike, as to whether we’ll participate in marriage and how we could or would change the institution for the better. As it currently stands, some of the population have only a restricted choice and how is that choice then free or fair? Alongside this, we can then work for the expansion of legal and economic protections, currently enshrined in marriage, to all relationships so that all intimate consensual relationships are valued (5). We could even go further and ensure that welfare rights are fair for all regardless of relationship, employment and monetary status (5). This then challenges the conservative understanding that defending the rights of women, LGBTIQA+ and other marginalised groups undermines committed caring relationships. At the same time, it dismantles the patriarchal heteronormative one-size-fits-all approach and works towards a more caring society, away from the outdated universal breadwinner model to a universal caregiver one. In this latter model, LGBTIQA+ people would be just as accepted for caregivers and caregiving as heterosexuals (5). This opens up possibilities for greater awareness on and attention to other intersectional issues. After all, attending to one issue does not prevent us from working on others and “those of us who are interested in fighting for justice and the flourishing of sentient beings in any of these contexts should be interested in fighting for justice in all of these contexts” (4, p. 77).

 

In other words, I’m in favour of marriage equality, as I’ve previously discussed. Btw, for me, my religious beliefs influence that view positively, as I’ve mentioned before as well. I’ll be unpacking that side of the argument soon too. If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

 

References (these got a little muddled when rewriting this into a post, but I’d really encourage you to check them out):

  1. Bernstein, M. (2015). Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the LGBT Movement. Gender & Society, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 321–337, DOI: 10.1177/0891243215575287
  2. Bevacqua, M. (2004). Feminist Theory and the Question of Lesbian and Gay Marriage. Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 36–40, DOI: 10.1177/0959-353504040300
  3. Budgeon, S. (2009). Marriage, in Encyclopaedia of Gender and Society, O’Brien J, (ed.), vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 505-508.
  4. Callahan, J, 2009, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Why It Matters—At Least for Now’, Hypatia, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 70-81.
  5. Ferguson, A, 2007, ‘Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma’, Hypatia, vol. 27, no. 1, pp.39-57.
  6. Gadsby, H. (2017, August 17). “Probably a good time to repost my anti-plebiscite piece…” Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhannahgadsbycomedy%2Fposts%2F10155675309518000
  7. Green, AI, 2010, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Lesbian and Gay Spouses Marrying Tradition and Innovation’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol.35 no. 3, pp.399-436. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/stable/canajsocicahican.35.3.399
  8. Harrison, JB, 2015, ‘At Long Last Marriage’, Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, vol. 24, no. 1, pp.1-60.
  9. Josephson, J, 2005, ‘Citizenship, Same-Sex Marriage, and Feminist Critiques of Marriage’, Perspectives on Politics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 269-284.
  10. Lawrie, A. (2017, July 29). A quick guide to Australian LGBTI anti-discrimination laws [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/07/29/a-quick-guide-to-australian-lgbti-anti-discrimination-laws/
  11. Lawrie, A. (2017, August 9). 2,756 Days. Frustration and love [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/08/09/2756-days-frustration-and-love/
  12. Marso LJ, 2010, ‘Marriage and Bourgeois Respectability’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp.145-53, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990572
  13. Merin, Y, 2002a, ‘Chapter 2: The Changing Institution of Marriage and the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 6-60.
  14. Merin, Y, 2002b, ‘Chapter 10: Alternatives to Marriage and the Doctrine of “Separate but Equal” ’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 278-307.
  15. Wilson AR, 2010, ‘Feminism and Same-Sex Marriage: Who Cares?’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 134-145, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990560
  16. Young, C & Boyd, S, 2006, ‘Losing the Feminist Voice? Debates on the Legal Recognition of Same Sex Partnerships in Canada’, Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 14, pp. 213–240, DOI 10.1007/s10691-006-9028-8.

 

Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Weaponized White Womanhood

Please read this, especially those, like me, who are white women in fandom who think/ thought of fandom as “having problems, but still a great space for all to create our own worlds etc.”. We have to do better and ask ourselves – who is the “all” we speak of? What real-world biases are we bringing in to our creative spaces?

We need to start paying better attention. We’ve had the privilege of not noticing fandom racism. We have to start noticing because others don’t have that privilege when it’s aimed directly at them.

Stitch's Media Mix

Content notes: As with a majority of my pieces, this one focuses closely on antiblackness including the antiblackness inherent in weaponizing white womanhood to excuse dogpiling and slandering John Boyega as a misogynist, as a potential sexual predator, as a bunch of other gross and untrue things. I talk briefly about some examples of Rey/Kylo fics from the fandom’s past including non-graphic (I believe) mentions of sexual assault and include links to a recap of one and an image of the other.


White women have most (if not all) of the actual observable power in transformative fandom spaces.

White women are the image of the typical “fan” in Western transformative fandom spaces.

They are frequently the most popular Big Named Fans (BNFs) in online spaces, the people who dominate discussions about and displays of Being A Fan. If you’re in transformative fandom and you see a particular set of headcanons…

View original post 5,507 more words

The Importance of Fandom and Fan Creation

Content note: we’re going to touch on transphobia, racism and sexism in this piece. Also, it’s a long post, FYI. Don’t let that deter you though. I’ve used some section breaks (***) to note where sections start and end and, I hope, short enough paragraphs for readability.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have noticed that I love fandom. Fandom = all fans of something (in a broad or narrow sense); or the state or attitude of being a fan. This can be about anything – sports, fashion, celebrities, or fiction such as a certain book or television series or film.

I have an entire category of blog posts on this site devoted to it. Fandom was instrumental in my child and teenage years in providing me with a belonging space and a space for my creative ideas to expand. Through identifying with characters in specific fandoms and using them to explore different scenarios based on what happened in their stories, I felt connected.

Fandom has largely been a positive experience for me. However…we’re going to go a bit deeper than that today.

If you were to go look through the Fandom category of this blog I linked above, you’d find two posts where I list my fandoms: “Fandoms, or I’m a Fan of…” and “Fandoms, Updated“. I have a lot of them, some more obscure than others. There are nuances on that list, as I like to engage with my fandoms critically. Friends, it’s time for another update of those lists.

Almost three weeks ago, two Fandom-related events happened:

  1. The author of the Harry Potter series fully showed herself to be a transphobe. I discovered this on the morning of the 20th of December, AEDT.
  2. The latest Star Wars movie was released after great expectations. I cosplayed as Rey to watch it at the movies on the afternoon of the 20th of December.

***

I’m a major Harry Potter fan. It was my second fandom and one that has endured through the years. I know that it – and the fandom around it – has shaped my sense of self and how I see the world. For example, I describe myself as a Hufflepuff – loyal, hard-working, and kind. I identified strongly with Hermione and Harry in the books. I’ve spoken about this in my Fandom posts and in other posts such as Happy Birthday Harry.

However, over the past four or five years, I’ve become more aware of the uncomfortable parts of the books and fandom. See Harry Potter and the Canon-Fanon Thing for an early example. I honestly thought I’d addressed it more than this, but apparently not.

Basically: Harry’s world in the books still echoes the ‘real’ world – it’s set in a boarding school (echoes of the posh British boarding school trope), has racist undertones regarding the goblins and elves, and there is next to no representation of black or queer characters in a positive manner. Most of the representation came later, after fandom asked. (For example, if Dumbledore’s gay, which I do support, why did it have to be “hinted at” instead of mentioned?)

Also, looking at the new Fantastic Beasts movies – are the Goldstein sisters Jewish? No clue from the first movie….and the revelations about Nagini (she’s a shapeshifting Asian woman rather than a snake) turned me away from watching the second one. Also, the women in the books often don’t have the most well-rounded or fleshed out characterisations. Fandom has had to do a lot of our own exploration of these characters to “fill them in”.

We haven’t had to do as much with the male characters – though we often still do, as there are still problematic elements we want to address through exploring them. I used to think the books were “nuanced” in their character development. Now, I’m not so sure… and I feel that it’s strange that the fandom “catchphrase” is the “after all this time? Always.” line that’s taken from a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape and is actually, in context, kinda creepy.

Then there’s the author herself. Over the timeframe I mentioned above, she’s become more obvious in her biases and prejudices. (See the canon-fanon article for an example.) There have been rumours that she was a transphobe for some time, through the form of her liking things on Twitter or following certain people there, explained away by her PR team or herself. Then on the 20th December, she actually tweeted her own transphobic views and refused to back down.

I had begun to separate her from her books and the fandom for some time before that, discussing it with friends. I think it was sometime in the first half of 2018 that I made this decision, but I didn’t share it on here. Sorry about that. I think that a number of fans were hoping that she’d realise her folly at some point and back off. Or they didn’t know how to deal with the “hinted” transphobia and other concerns and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite what many trans people and other minority groups were saying. Sorry about that. There can be none of that now. She’s shown herself publicly and has in fact doubled down on her comments since.

This is particularly infuriating because – as I mentioned above – for many Potter fans, the Potterverse made us feel welcome. Including trans fans. It’s upsetting to see the creator reject that. So, we reject the creator…but keep the fandom. A lot has been said about that in the past few weeks. I stand with trans and non-binary people, especially those who are fans hurt by the recent comments. I am sorry that the Harry Potter creator has said those things and I reject her premise. Trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are people, and so on. You are loved and valued.

***

As for the Star Wars movie: I’m planning to write another post after this where I get into the good and bad stuff in a bid more detail (i.e. with spoilers). For now, I will say that – as you can see from my Force Awakens post, I was really keen on where the Sequel Trilogy was going after the first movie. The ending movie? Not so much. It was an ending that gave us one version of how those threads could’ve tied together, with Last Jedi in the middle, but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed that that is the canon ending we get.

There are multiple reasons about that. Chuck Wendig, who’s written for the “new” Star Wars in the form of a tie-in book trilogy set between RotJ and TFA, has some thoughts over on his blog that I agree with a lot. I’ll expand more on that angle in the TRoS-themed spoliery blog post. What I’m going to mention today is: SW fans, we have multiple problems within our fandom.

Namely, racism and sexism. The sexism can be seen in the way some fans have interacted with Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) over the course of the films. Fans compared Rey to a Mary Sue after TFA and got really angry at Tran after TLJ – they’ve made social media engagement so toxic that both Tran and Ridley have deleted their public social media accounts (Ridley in 2016 and Tran in 2018). Tran’s role in the films has also been impacted by racism.

The racism in the Star Wars fandom is a big problem. This is present in the people working on the films (how else do you explain how Finn’s story-arc has diminished each film, as well as the disappearance of Rose, and possibly the lack of thought about Poe’s “new” backstory in TRoS?), but it’s feral in the fandom. The fans have been absolutely toxic to Finn and his actor, John Boyega. Boyega has received so much hate for daring to exist as a Star Wars actor and be black, all through the films. To quote an article on gizmodo from a couple of days ago,

” The larger point is that throughout almost the whole of his run as one of Star Wars’ central characters, Boyega—like essentially all of the actors portraying Star Wars characters who aren’t white men—has been the recipient of an inordinate amount of what seems to be outright hatred for having the audacity to simply be themselves in public spaces.”

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/01/john-boyegas-post-star-wars-honesty-is-a-good-thing/

A lot of that negativity passed me by – I knew it was a thing, but I’d largely grumbled then dismissed it as toxic white fanboys. In the past week, I’ve been forced to realise that there are many toxic white fangirls, too. They don’t like Finn and they don’t like John Boyega. He exists and he “gets in the way of” their ship of Rey and Kylo Ren (bleurgh). He calls them out on their shit, as well. This has been present from the beginning and throughout filming (see John Boyega tells fans to stop harrassing cast and John Boyega explains his assertive stance on toxic fandom and the article I quoted above).

A lot of what I know in detail about this has come from me reading other more-well-informed fans’ posts about the issue(s), especially in the wake of John Boyega’s comments on Twitter over NYE. Please read them. They explain things better than I ever could.

We need to ‘fess up to the dark side of Fandom – how it carries the -isms of the real world into it. We need to examine that critically and call that out. Or else we risk the enjoyment of fandom being ruined for fans who aren’t cishet white people. We need to do better.

Edited to add this last bit because I acccidentally published an earlier draft:

So, Fandom can be absolutely wonderful, when we make the stories ours. I will always be grateful for that. But we need to think critically when we do so, because our own biases get in the way of making Fandom inclusive and enjoyable for all. Otherwise, participating in Fandom can suck.

2019 Soundtrack

It’s that time of year again – the time when I look back over the past year and decide what were the songs that mattered to me. Previous soundtracks are pre-2015, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The first soundtrack post is also an exploration of how I engage with music.

Firstly, songs from AIV2019:

  • Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre
    • despite being on the list last year, it gets another ‘honourable mention’, because we sang it in the concert as well as while floating in the sea at a social event.
  • Magnificat by Kim Andre Anderson
    • A beautiful work that set the words of the magnificat (Mary’s glorious speech from Luke’s Gospel), in Latin, to music. The work was six pieces long, with different tempos, a soloist and choral soloist (from the choir), and was very fun to sing.
  • Stars by Eriks Esenvalds
    • A beautiful work that set the words of a poem by Sara Teasdale to musical accompaniment made by tuned wine glasses, filled with specific amounts of water. These glasses were played by running a wet finger around the rim of the glass, and the amount of water in each glass corresponded to a different pitch.
  • Sure on this Shining Night by Morten Laurisden
    • A beautiful song musing about the beauty of faraway stars. It has some lovely lyrics, for example, “I weep for wonder, wand’ring far alone… / for shadows, on the stars…”
    • This song is included on the list, however, because at the AIV camp revue the Perth University Choral Society (PUCS) performed a filk of it – keeping the tune and pacing, but with alternative lyrics. To give you a hint, the title was “Sure on this Friday Night”, with the alternative title “Maccas Run”. We then performed this to the conductor later, just for laughs. Loved it!

Moving away from AIV, the next songs are a set of three about being true to myself. That was one of my themes for 2019, building on previous years. I haven’t shared all of that journey with you, but I think I’ll be ready in 2020 to do so. Starting now.

You see, I’m bi – and probably demi, too. Not to mention doubly disabled, having Dandy Walker Syndrome and being autistic. I’ll share more of my journeys of understanding those parts of myself with you in other blog posts. Now, onto the songs:

  • Brave (Sara Bareilles)
    • This song was first in my 2017 list, but it became more powerful for me in 2019. This song is a song that Sara wrote for a friend who was worried about coming out of the closet. Sara wrote it to encourage the friend to feel safe with her. This song is huge for me.
    • In 2017, I identified with Sara, though I was beginning to identify with the nameless friend. Now, I identify with both. I came out about my sexuality to my “choir family” at AIV, telling my truth as an intro before I sang Brave to them. I then repeated the song as a solo performance at the semester 1 LaTUCS concert. While the intervarsity choir community definitely isn’t perfect, without their support, it would’ve taken longer to discover who I really am, I think.
  • Welcome to My Truth (Anastacia)
    • A song about being true to yourself, despite everything that gets thrown at you, and living your dreams. It’s about finding the courage to take off the “mask” you’ve been wearing as a disguise, to show and be proud of your true self.
    • I heard this song when I was about to come out as bi to other important family in my life. It reminded me that whatever the outcome, I know myself and my dreams – and what I don’t know, I’m finding out for myself.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
    • LaTUCS sang this song as part of our semester 1 concert. (We also watched the movie later.) I identify strongly with parts of this song for similar reasons to the above song.
    • It’s a well-known song, but if you really listen to it, it’s also a song about pain, rejection, loss – and choosing what matters to you and how you recover from it. In a way. I certainly took it that way when we ran through it at choir the week after I’d had a particularly important conversation that led to a rejection of part of my identity by others.

In 2019, I trialled going to two intervarsity choirs each week during semester. While I don’t think I’ll do the same this year (it was a bit much for me to continue on a regular basis), it was still fun.

  • MonUCS songs:
    • One of the MonUCS songs I did was Song of the Dragonborn (Skyrim: Main Theme) (Lindsey Stirling, Peter Hollens).
    • We did plenty of others, including a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem, but that’s the one that sticks in my head most.
  • LaTUCS songs:
    • Songs sung by LaTUCS this year included:
      • Counting Stars (OneRepublic),
      • Northern Lights (Ola Gjello),
      • What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong),
      • True Colours (Cyndi Lauper), aaaand:
      • The Four Chords Song (Axis of Awesome).
    • Do yourself a favour and check out the latter here. It’s cool.

Edited to add: I can’t believe I nearly forgot the Come From Away soundtrack. I’m going to put Welcome to the Rock and Me and the Sky in here too.

That was my soundtrack for 2019.

In 2020, I hope to stop procrastinating and purchase songs on my to-buy list, keep singing in LaTUCS, go to QIV2020, attend other choral concerts and singing opportunities, and keep developing my appreciation for how music moves me. In that light, I thought I’d end by quoting a blog post I wrote back in October.

I have several passions …. [including] music; listening to it, relaxing with it, and performing it.

Last Friday’s [Brahms] concert was fantastic. It was hard work – I wasn’t as relaxed as I was in other concerts. But I feel really happy about it all the same. The reason for that is …. a number of people were there who’d personally either bought a ticket from me, or came at my recommendation, because I was singing.

Afterwards, they were of course the people whose opinions I cared about the most. So to see their happiness and excitement at what we’d performed – pardon the pun, but it made my heart sing. When someone else gets a thrill from watching me do something I love and do it well – it makes me very happy. It fills me up, completely.

Partly, it’s because it is a gift that is shared. I am forever sharing “me” through my passions. But society’s rules and expectations, the way that quirkiness is looked down on because it’s different, meant that I struggled with fitting in for a long time. Anxiety, especially social anxiety, is a leftover gremlin from that. Finding LaTUCS, then the rest of the choir network, helped me become more comfortable in being “me” – because in the choir(s), we’re united through a love of music and a love of sharing that through choral singing. Regardless of our differences.

Being able to share that with the people I love, my friends and family, is wonderful. So I say to you: support your friends in their passions. Go see us perform, or ask us about our current project. Watch us light up and understand: It means the world to us. Often, we’ve spent a long time hiding or minimising our passions and ourselves. Being supported and seeing our friends enjoy what we do? It makes us feel seen. And loved.

Taken from “Reflections”: October 7th 2019. https://myzania15.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/reflections-2/

Reviewing the past…

I thought I’d schedule this as I’ve been reflecting lately about milestones.

Everyone is doing that “10 years: then and now” thing on social media, posting photos of themselves and reflecting on where they were in 2009 compared to now, in 2019. People are getting sentimental about the fact that it’s another decade passing.

Really, though, as much as I like number categories, especially round ones, anyone can celebrate decades passing and milestones. It doesn’t have to be neatly packaged into dated decades. We can celebrate the little and big things all the time.

Humans love time and rhythms. It’s why we love doing the “look back” thing, I think. It’s also a form of processing. I like to remember things – heck, I keep a daily journal because of that (and for processing them).

Just remember, we aren’t our successes or failures – and each person’s story is different. It’s what makes us who we are.

Having said that, I’ve written down some milestones below. There are many milestones I could pick out. I’m young and have been fortunate.

“Little” ones include going to some lovely musicals and participating in lovely choral performances myself, as well as trying new things, like fencing, BodyPump/ gym and the SCA.

Other (bigger?) ones include:

  • joining my university choir (LaTUCS) and travelling interstate to attend my first intervarsity choral festival;
  • meeting my partner there;
  • becoming LaTUCS vice-president then president
    • through these and other roles, learning how to better work in professional teams with people in real ways that uni doesn’t always teach you, including some hefty conflict management.
  • beginning to move out of home, learning how to best take care of myself and what works for me.

This year/ in the past twelve-ish months, I:

  • finished uni and then graduated with a double degree in Bachelor of Health Sciences and Masters of Occupational Therapy Practice
  • moved in with my partner in Melbourne
  • got a job in a specialisation of Occupational Therapy that I really love: Paediatric OT, working with autistic kids.
    • As of Friday the 20th, I’ve officially had a full year of employment as well as four school terms of work. Awesome stuff.
  • bought a car together with my partner and made great progress with getting my drivers licence (I’m hoping I’ll get it in the new year)

Throughout it all, I’ve done a heckton of development in understanding myself, including my disabilities, my sexuality, my faith and mental health – and from that, I’m learning what self-care works for me and how to get it.

I’ve struggled at times, but fortunately I’ve usually had supports around me or have gained access to them. I’ve come through okay.

I hope you have too.

Here’s to the past, the present and the future, for all of us.

Happy New Year.

On our way…

Hi all. Just a short note to say happy holidays, whatever that looks like for you. I’m heading off on a road trip with my partner and family to Townsville for a few weeks. The road trip will take a few days. I have posts planned (scheduled or mental drafts.) See you on the flip side.

Australia is on fire. Politics suck.

Not the most cheery headline, is it?

It’s true though.

You might have noticed that, over the past few years, my angry political posts have dropped off. At the beginning of this blog, I’d post one fairly frequently. The thing is, those usually took time and resources (I like to link to others’ writings). As time’s gone on I feel like my bandwidth for that has decreased. Especially this year.

After all, writing about politics is hard when, as a progressive person, everything feels like it’s either taking a backwards step, or is just plain miserable. Writing about it too much makes me miserable too. I still get angry, but I don’t know what to do with those angry feels so it turns into anxiety about the future instead.

Fun. I’m not alone in this, I think. Knowing this is good.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m losing hope in the political system and our ability to change anything. At all.

I don’t know where we can go from here, Australia. We re-elected this tool of a government (why) and now, somehow, we have to resist them for another two years until election time again? And then what? I honestly thought that we’d turf them out this time?

I try my hardest to remember that I’m not alone in this and that “drawing together” in good supportive ways (rather than jingoistic conservative nationalistic ways) is what’s needed. Fighting together against those who want to tear away everything that matters and stop us from building a better future. But still….it’s hard.

I almost don’t want to post this, because it feels too depressing.

I’m going to go write something else to cheer myself up.

Life update

How are we doing?

I’m writing this on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness for those, because the rest of the weekend is busy – the week has been too. I’ve had choir rehearsal three times since Tuesday, a work end-of-year event last night, and the first carols concert today. Tomorrow is the big concert – if you’re attending the Monash Carols by Candlelight event at Jells Park, you’ll see me as a soprano as part of the choir. Should be fun, if a bit exhausting. I’ve already scheduled Monday as a crash day. I love singing and carols but I need my downtime too, especially when all the events are on the same weekend. What’s your favourite carol?

Throughly fed up with politics at the moment. Australia is led by a fascist government. If you’re in the UK, vote so Labour will win – politics is not a bloody popularity contest!!

It was International Day of People with Disability on Tuesday, a day to “to promote understanding of the issues facing people with disability, and to push for change”. On that theme, if you want to read a couple of young people’s perspectives on their disability, check out Ben’s and Carletta’s stories from the Every Australian Counts website.

I’m relaxing this lazy Saturday afternoon by listening to Queen videos. If I had a time machine and money, I’d go attend famous musical performances, like Live Aid. That reminds me… I need to create my 2019 song playlist.

The holidays are nearly here, meaning that in two weeks I’ll have completed a year of work! I’ve learnt a lot during that time. #proud

Hope your lead-up to the holiday period is smooth, that you have enough time off, and your holidays are relaxing!

Seasons in Melbourne & surrounds

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I was interested in the idea of a local seasonal calendar and how I’d found something like that (changing seasons). It wasn’t quite right though – a Gariwerd calendar, not one for the Kulin Nation. I kept my ears and eyes open for one that was, because it is on the lands of the Kulin nation peoples that I was born, grew up and work (Wathaurong) and live now (Wurundjeri).

Recently, my local church, Brunswick Uniting, did a presentation on the “seven seasons of the Kulin Nation” as part of our “Season of Creation” liturgies over September/ October. So I’ve finally found a proper seasonal calendar that the peoples of the Kulin Nation would likely have followed. Apparently it was right under my nose the whole time at the Melbourne Museum. I think I’ll have to make a trip there soon.

The calendar of seasons for the Kulin Nation peoples, with approximate months, is below.

  1. Biderap: Dry season; roughly Jan-Feb
  2. Luk: eel season; March
  3. Waring: Wombat season; April to July
  4. Guling: Orchid season; August
  5. Poorneet: Tadpole season; September-October
  6. Buath Gurru: Grass-flowering season; November
  7. Kangaroo apple season; December.

For all of these, the corresponding months are approximate, varying year to year. For example, I think Buath Gurru started a week or two ago, judging by the sudden uptick in mine and others’ hayfever symptoms.

For further details and other interesting information, see the following links: