Satire Matters

The age of Trump, fake news and turmoil within Australian politics has spawned a gold rush for satire. From Abbott eating raw onions spawning #oniongate to the coverage of Australia’s oppressive gun control laws, satire has provided us with some entertainment and unfortunate truths through a worryingly riotous period in the worldwide political landscape.

The recent online media phenomenon that has caused traditional legacy journalism corporations such as Fairfax Media to drastically cut budgets and jobs, has allowed satirical publications to grow exponentially through platforms such as Facebook. Reaching an audience on social media roughly 4 times smaller than that of the ABC, the Betoota Advocates coverage of political events often generates a similar amount interest in its timely and witty coverage of political events. Their ability to engage with the online audience can be seen below in the Betoota Advocates coverage of Malcolm Roberts citizenship debacle.

The Betoota Advocate                                        ABC News

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.30.36 PMFeaturing fictional news pieces, comedic sketches and not being aligned with traditional journalistic practices, satire can easily be written off as having any real ability to inform or cause debate in the community. However, the line between what can be considered journalism and satire is narrowing with online publications such as the Betoota Advocate, The Chaser and The Shovel providing social and political commentary whilst using key journalistic traits to develop their stories.  A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center even found that the US audience favoured Jon Stewart, formerly of The Daily Show, was amongst their ‘most admired’ Journalists. Jon Stewart denied he was a journalist, however, the shows political and news coverage undoubtedly transcends that of a simple comedy act. John Oliver, from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, is another example of a comedian teetering on the boundary of satire and journalism. Dissecting topics such as global warming and public health care, Last Week Tonight has a clear objective of holding those in power accountable for their actions whilst along with advocating for social issues.

John Oliver advocating for gun control on The Daily Show, before he launched his own satire show on HBO

Although shows such as John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and the Daily Show may be blurring the lines between news and entertainment, the Pew Research Centers research also reminds us that satirical shows do fall short of what we think of as news and traditional journalism. Studying the Daily Show, the Pew Center found that the show was ‘highly selective’ in its coverage, missing key newsworthy events and aired critical coverage of the Republican party three times as often as the Democrats.

Therefore taking into consideration that whilst satire may well contribute to our intake of news, it is not always an objective and complete source. Satire may instead be seen as a subsidiary source that provides comedic commentary on contemporary political and social issues. With satire flourishing online and continuing to place an emphasis on its journalistic qualities, it is clear that it may well be seen as a form of news rather than entertainment.

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Why do we wear clothing? Living with mental health difficulties as a young adult

 

Lucy first began to experience mental health issues at age 17, during the lead up to the year 12 final exams. A manic episode led to misdiagnoses of bipolar disorder from her local GP. As a result, she was prescribed high dosages of anti-depressants without being referring to a mental health specialist.  Over the next 7 years, Lucy continued to battle with her mental health, often seeking out information and consultation herself.

 

‘I had this genius thought to myself, why do we need clothing?… I took off my clothes and started to chase my friends around my home’

 

With over 4 million or 17.5% of Australians currently suffering from a mental health disorder (ABS,2015), Lucy’s experience is one that many Australians encounter at some point during their lifetime. The manic episode that Lucy encountered was a rare case in which her phycologists now believe was likely brought on by anti-depressants. This manic episode led to the misdiagnoses of bipolar, a condition that is characterized by extreme moods being low (depressed) and high/excited (manic) (Beyond Blue, 2017).

 

 ‘It became normal for me to be crying for hours every night in bed by myself … I think that’s when I realized that I had mental health difficulties’

 

Registered Psychologist Mathew Aquilina, says that manic episodes like the one Lucy experienced ‘could occur in the context of anxiety, psychosis, and mood disorders not limited to Bipolar Type 1 or 2’ which would ‘generally be the result of a cumulative effect of underlying stress, trauma, or otherwise unexpressed emotion’. In some cases such as Lucy’s, psychopharmacological substances could be the cause, however, was rare and ‘would likely occur following the prescription of an unsuitable medication or combination of such.’

 

‘You can live a normal life… and I hope that gets emphasized more as we go on to talk about mental health in the community’

 

One of the hardest things Lucy had to deal with was the stigma surrounding mental health and the and the lack of support networks available to her. Lucy believes had she have been referred to mental health specialist and had more support from those around her, the recovery process would have a lot smoother. Mathew Aquilina believes that being proactive and asking someone suffering if they ok from is a pivotal way that friends and family can help their loved ones, ‘avoid telling people to “stop” having their mental health difficulty, and expecting them to always seek help or recover themselves’.

After her own 7-year battle, Lucy has now completed a PhD in Psychology, looking to help others suffering from mental health difficulties.

If you believe that yourself or someone you know may be suffering from mental health difficulties, Mathew Aquilina recommends ‘visiting a GP, asking for a Mental Health Care Plan, and finding a psychologist or mental health professional in the local area’. Resources such as beyondblue, Life Line and Head Space are all also freely available to offer support and guidance if needed.

 

 

References

Aquilina. M Aquilina 2017, Email 13 Oct

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, National Health Survey: Mental Health and co-existing physical health conditions, cat. no. 4329.0.00.004, viewed 13 October 2017, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/C0A4290EF1E7E7FDCA257F1E001C0B84?Opendocument

beyondblue 2017, Bipolar Disorder, viewed 13 October 2017, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/bipolar-disorder

Black Dog Institue 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Headspace 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://headspace.org.au/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrLSNkbby1gIVAX-9Ch3JVwUXEAMYAyAAEgJynfD_BwE

Lifeline 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://www.lifeline.org.au/

 

 

 

 

 

Footsteps

 

 

Footsteps, a short Emotional History (EH) piece, was developed around the human emotions of fear and surprise. A short audio piece of 2 minutes, the main aim of ‘Footsteps’ is to draw the listener in with an intriguing narrative whilst building suspense through the use of background ambience tracks and editing of speech. The EH piece features a Women who recounts the night she, as a young teenager, is confronted by an intruder in her house.

 

The interview track was kept largely unedited with only pauses and breaths manipulated. Adding pauses and keeping breaths helped add a ‘natural rhythm’ to the dialogue, this was discussed in Lyssa Mudd’s Editing Sound’ (2017). To structure the interview, I went through the multiple times and highlighted key moments and quotes that the interviewee said. I also asked the interviewee to include a few extra details such why she wasn’t sleeping and probing deeper to discover if there were any details that could add to the conclusion. I then prompted the interviewee to use them in the final take. An example was the ending line ‘the only trace he left was a pair of shoes at the back door’ which although the interviewee didn’t believe it was an important detail and originally left it out of the story, I believe it added to the mystery and ambiguously to the story.

 

Sounds in audio storytelling need to ‘completely inspire an image in the mind of the audience’ Ben Burt explained on the Arts Edge Podcast (2011). Attempting to capture this image in minds of the listeners, my editing incorporated a suspenseful background track, pauses in speech along with silence to attempt to heighten the emotions felt whilst listening.  In Audio Storytelling in Today’s Visual World (2016, p. 24), Jenny Ek in explained that ‘there is no need to use the same object for the sound rather ensuring the use the object that which will represent it best’. I used this concept to mimic footsteps, recording a screeching door and editing it with a large room reverb. The pronounced echo from reverb added to the surreal moment of the intruder coming towards the room.

 

The main issue that came apparent when recording, was the background sounds around the recording location. A motorcycle revving its engine next door along with my housemate opening the door made multiple takes unusable as it detached the listener from the story. Luckily, I was able to capture a great take without obtrusion from outside noises on the 5th or 6th attempt. Probing out information, I was also wary of home much to prompt the interviewee, morphing the truths from an already great short story.

 

Overall I believe that the EH audio piece was a success and will have the desired emotional effects on the listeners. Had I have worked with the background audio further and collected additional audio samples, a more suitable connection between the blood-curdling scream section and the background audio would have been established. The main takeaway I gained from this assignment is to capture a large variety of sounds when recording to ensure the audio piece does not finish with any ‘missing pieces’, especially those connections that tie together narrative and emotion.

 

 

References

Are16ocean, 2012, Suspense Ambience, 3 February, FreeSound.org, viewed 20 August 2017, https://freesound.org/people/are16ocean/sounds/144981/

Burt, B & Furst, D 2011, D.I.Y. Old-Time Radio: Telling stories with sound, Podcast, 24 October, ARTSEDGE: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network, viewed 26 August 2017, https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/d-i-y-old-time-radio/id474001652?mt=2

Cadere Sounds, 2014, Horror Cinema 2, 10 March, FreeSound.org, viewed 20 August 2017, https://freesound.org/people/CadereSounds/sounds/222549/

Ek, J 2016, Audio Storytelling in Today’s Visual World The necessary components of a successful soundscape for an audio play, Arcadia, pp. 24, Viewed 26 August 2017, http://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/120200/Audio+Storytelling+Jenny+Ek.pdf;jsessionid=20028696D979BCF7F4DD283CD55B65B5?sequence=1

Mudd, L 2017, Editing Sound, B-Side Radio, Viewed 25 August 2017, http://bsideradio.org/learn/editing-sound/