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Issue 1, 2018

Volume 81 Issue 1: And So It Begins

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News

  • Andrew Little Proposes Criminal Justice Overhaul

  • Wellington Comes Out for Pride Festival

  • Disarmament Portfolio Brought Back

  • Charles Wooley Spends 60 Minutes Fixating on Jacinda’s Conception

  • Obama & Clinton to Visit NZ

  • Waitākere ranges closure

  • Salient May Split with Pitt Spit as Budget Takes Hit

  • Jaime Whyte Under Fire for Controversial Opinion Piece

  • Michael McCormack Elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia

  • Kick-off to the NZ Festival: Kupe

  • Don’t Guess the Yes Campaign Launch

  • Polsoc Hosts Women in Politics Event

  • Briscoes Lady, First of Her Name, Breaker of Maternal Ties

  • Rave & Behave Campaign Super Effective & Engaging

  • Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Draws to Close

  • Amy Adams Yet to Master the Art of Pulling Out

  • Features

  • Charter Schools

    The Cases For and Against Charter Schools

    Did you know New Zealand has our very own military school? I didn’t, until a few months ago. Just like that episode in The Simpsons, it has been giving kids fancy uniforms, berets, and teaching them foot drills alongside their maths and english. Vanguard Military School is the most well-known “partnership school” in New Zealand. […]

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  • Website Cover Photo1

    Jacinda’s Pregnant (Now Everyone Freak Out)

    The news shook the nation. Granted we’re a small nation, so it doesn’t take much. When McDonald’s brought back Georgie Pie, let me tell you, Facebook went off. The news of Jacinda’s pregnancy reached me via text one morning at work — just a simple suggestion from Boyfriend to check the news. Within an hour, […]

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    Doors & Windows

    Our Parents Were Not Given the Tools to Understand Queerness

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  • Hey You – Take a Hike!

    Being a university student means days of focused study. You go to lectures, listen, write, and type. You put on your lab coat, pick up your pen, open your laptop. The library becomes your second home. Flash cards and essays spill out of your bag. You learn something new every day.   This is all […]

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  • Charter Schools

    The Cases For and Against Charter Schools

    Did you know New Zealand has our very own military school? I didn’t, until a few months ago. Just like that episode in The Simpsons, it has been giving kids fancy uniforms, berets, and teaching them foot drills alongside their maths and english. Vanguard Military School is the most well-known “partnership school” in New Zealand. […]

    by

  • Website Cover Photo1

    Jacinda’s Pregnant (Now Everyone Freak Out)

    The news shook the nation. Granted we’re a small nation, so it doesn’t take much. When McDonald’s brought back Georgie Pie, let me tell you, Facebook went off. The news of Jacinda’s pregnancy reached me via text one morning at work — just a simple suggestion from Boyfriend to check the news. Within an hour, […]

    by

  • Website Cover Photo2

    Doors & Windows

    Our Parents Were Not Given the Tools to Understand Queerness

    by

  • Hey You – Take a Hike!

    Being a university student means days of focused study. You go to lectures, listen, write, and type. You put on your lab coat, pick up your pen, open your laptop. The library becomes your second home. Flash cards and essays spill out of your bag. You learn something new every day.   This is all […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • How Cable Television Ushered in the Golden Age of Modern Television

    Free from the constraints of ad revenue and network executives, cable television, through a subscription-based and commercial-free avenue, brought a new type of long-form storytelling, which elevated television to a position alongside film — no longer its tackier younger sibling. Unlike network television which generally earns its revenue from the commercials that feature in between and during shows, cable is available behind a paywall, and is only available to the customers paying for it. Such a format means that cable television and the shows it produces are not subject to the wider censorship and content requirements that the more publicly-viewed network shows are.

    In the late 1990s, television networks began developing a formula for easily digestible, one-off reality shows, medical dramas, and police procedurals, where the success of a TV show was dependent on its ratings rather than its quality. The network industry was centred around widely accessible television that didn’t challenge, offend, or confuse the viewers but ensured high levels of viewership, both for the shows themselves and the commercials which were running simultaneously. While this was happening, the minds behind cable television were taking an altogether different approach to their content.

    With cable television not constraining itself by adhering to network television’s views on censorship, viewers were treated with stories spanning an entire season or series, with darker, grittier characters, and conflict taking centre stage. The level of creative and narrative freedom given to showrunners provided more room for strong character development, complex plot progression, and high-level tension, in part accommodated by an absence of commercials. This content-focused approach brought a level of depth not yet seen in the realm of television. Underpinning the freedom given to creators and the stories they tell is the paid-for subscription and commercial-free format of cable television, which allows for more attention to be given to consumer demands and interests, and in turn, rewards audience loyalty. HBO and other cable networks saw the value in producing quality content that a certain number of people would be willing to pay for. From HBO’s The Sopranos and The Wire, to AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and more recently, FX’s Mr Robot and Fargo, the focus put on unheroic protagonists, whose potentially questionable motives are able to be explored and explained, has ushered us into a golden era of modern television.

    The Sopranos, debuting in 1999, set a benchmark for quality television, and ultimately deconstructed what a television show could be. Juxtaposing violent mob life with emotional family drama through the eyes of crime leader Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini in a career-defining role), the 6-season long show produced an epic series that neither network television nor film could match in either narrative or scope. The show provided social commentary on the US’s different cultures, generational gaps, and religious thought in a manner that elicited a strong human emotional response from its viewers. And despite such commentary, it was a show fully capable of offending and distressing viewers; a type of show that would never have suited the broad and accessible content dominating network television. Yet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who could turn it off, evidenced by its unprecedented acclaim and consistently high viewership numbers.  

    The risk HBO took in producing this show paid off, obliterating the walls constructed by network television for the benefit of quality programmes. For cable shows, of which there a large number now, the only real benchmark is that the work is good enough, so the customers come back.

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  • Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love

    Make Way For Love is the excellent second album from up-and-coming Kiwi gem Marlon Williams. This release follows his stellar self-titled debut from 2015, which outlined a disposition for new-school approaches to fundamentally old-school musical stylings in the country/singer-songwriter sphere. Williams possesses one of the most characteristic and stunning voices in contemporary music (might seem hyperbolic, but have you heard the guy?).

    Make Way For Love begins with the relaxed “Come To Me”, which sees Williams take a more restrained approach vocally in favour of a more alt-country direction – certainly different to much of the first album sonically. “What’s Chasing You” is one of my early favourites, positioning Williams’ Orbison-esque melody against an upbeat, almost Flying Nun twee inspired set of guitars and drums. It’s groovy, and the hook is an absolute earworm.

    Happy vibes aren’t really a commonality throughout Make Way For Love, however, as the record tells the story of Williams’ tumultuous relationship and break-up with fellow Kiwi starlet Aldous Harding. The two combine for a duet in the later stages of the album, entitled “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”. Even though their vocal takes were recorded independently of each other, the chemistry shared between the two throughout the track – in addition to an astoundingly dramatic arrangement – positions this track as the emotional epicentre of the album. The second half of the track sees Williams strip it back to the basics: just his voice and a softly strummed guitar. He sounds isolated, anxious, and distraught as he questions what he’ll do with himself now he doesn’t have her around. Whilst the break-up song or album is not a new concept, Williams creates a sense of genuineness through his vocal delivery that stirs all sorts of emotions in a listener – not unlike Jeff Buckley’s more intimate material. This style of singing/writing pops up numerous times on the album, and tracks like “Beautiful Dress” and “The Fire Of Love” serve as further highlights in a similar vein.

    All in all, Make Way For Love is a truly brilliant record. Williams wears his heart on his sleeve, and in doing so, adds another dimension to his music which was perhaps left vacant on his first record. I admire the scope of the record too – filled with longing ballads and seething critiques of love, he manages to flank these more negative or saddened songs with ones of hope. The title track, which concludes the record, could be likened to the odd feeling of happiness one experiences when they realise, despite the magnitude of the dissolution of a relationship, that everything might just be okay after all.

    4.5/5

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  • RNZ Mediawatch

    A significant number of the podcasts I talk and write about could be loosely classed as “guilty pleasures” (although I must admit, I feel no shame). However, RNZ’s Mediawatch is no such podcast. It is all pleasure, no guilt.

    Mediawatch is an RNZ programme presented by Colin Peacock that can be found both on the radio and as a podcast.  The focus of the podcast is to provide a critical look at how current events are being covered, managed, and reported by the New Zealand media. As well as this, international media and technological advancements that are relevant to New Zealanders are often discussed. The episodes can range anywhere from 4 to 40 minutes and come out on a weekly basis.

    Mediawatch is not only an easy way to keep up with current events, it’s a great way to remain critical and actively engage in topical issues. By analysing how a variety of media outlets have covered the same issue Mediawatch exposes the bias, holes or misleading nature of any of the coverage. The programme itself is relatively unbiased and adopts a fact-based tone, rather than one driven by opinion or agenda. By the end of an episode the listener is left to draw their own conclusions and develop their own opinion.

    In media studies, the idea that “media is like water” is often referenced. Just as fish cannot see the water they swim in, people are often blind or oblivious to the functioning of the normalised systems they are immersed in. News media has traditionally been heralded as a form of “truth”, an unbiased reporting of information. However, in a “post-truth” age plagued with concerns of “fake news” it is important to question what we consume. This is what Mediawatch offers, and it does so merely by observing New Zealand media outlets, companies, and regulators, and broadcasting the findings. Mediawatch lifts the curtain so that we, the general public, can see the gears turning and check that our news media is functioning responsibly.

    This may all sound very dry and boring but friends, I assure you, Mediawatch actually makes for pretty chill listening. The episodes are fast-paced, lively and an easy way to stay informed!

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  • In Between

    This week there are some gallery doors closing, and others opening. It is hard to arrange thoughts when you’re in between, so here are some magnetic events and exhibitions to fill in these spaces.

    Hardening at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, until 10 March, free entry

    Aliyah Winter stands in a white garment, in an echoing landscape. It feels echoing, but there is no audio to tell. Her solo exhibition revisits the history of Dr. Hjelmar von Danneville, and the implication of Miramar and Matiu Island in this history, considering representations of gender and sexuality.

    Teju Cole: Blind Spot, in conversation with Paula Morris at Circa, 10 March, $19 + booking fee (from New Zealand Festival website)

    Teju Cole is a writer, photographer, and art historian, and he synthesises these things in his book Blind Spot. In every image, Blind Spot makes an object out of the gap from one thing to the next. The images are sparse, fugitive, but the absence of definite subject makes it more present by proxy. His accompanying text is a drill bit in your brain; persistent, steely silver sharp, and brilliant.

    Luke Willis Thompson at Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, till 15 April, free entry

    Kathy Noble wrote of Luke Willis Thompson’s work that “art of this nature can be easy to celebrate and easy to criticise”. This “nature” is very loud, and also very stealthy. Willis Thompson has occupied the gallery with three large-scale video works that ask a lot more questions than they answer, seeking some sort of “form for political silence”. This is a silence that is, perhaps, the most deafening.

    The Language of Things: Meaning and Value in Contemporary Jewellery at The Dowse, till 24 June, free entry

    The objects that we adorn ourselves with, that we protect ourselves with, are so intimately entangled with our body. These are things that can be simultaneously precious and worthless, that are sometimes not even a whole object when severed from us. Yuka Oyama is part of this show, whose work explores the temporary homes that objects can provide for us, especially in lives that are never of any static location.

    He Tohu at National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, permanent exhibition, free entry

    Here are three important documents together: He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the Women’s Suffrage Petition, in an exhibition rich in content and design. He Tohu offers an opportunity to understand the consequences of each of these papers, and reflect and challenge our own relationships to them.

     

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  • The Oscars in Film (Nominees, and Possible Winners. Who Knows?)

    The Old: Skyfall (2012)

    4/5

    By Emma Maguire

    2012’s Skyfall opens with a frenzied chase across The Great Bazaar in Istanbul and with James Bond being shot in the shoulder, seemingly falling to his death. The trouble starts from there.

    Nominated for five Oscars and winning two of them (for Best Original Song and Best Sound Editing), Skyfall was a break of the mold for the Bond films. After fifty years of the franchise, there still aren’t many better.

    MI5’s been infiltrated by a mysterious hacker with a connection to M’s past. With their headquarters destroyed and a target on their back, James Bond must return from the dead in order to save the day. (Which he does do, thankfully, otherwise it’d be a pretty boring movie).

    Skyfall is unique to the Bond franchise because it actually attempts to humanise Bond. James Bond is very rarely a three-dimensional character on screen. He’s a badass dude with a gun who hits on a lot of women, but we never get to see him be vulnerable or anything other than stoic. Skyfall changes all that. Bond must return to his ancestral home to fight the Bad Guy of the Week, and we get to see him break down and cry. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a character that we tend to see as untouchable and ‘more than’ human.  

    The New: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    5/5

    By Meg Doughty


    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a testament to grief, rage, and motherhood as we have not seen it before, in all its gritty, grounded, Molotov-cocktailing glory. In a strange, darkly potent way, it also seems to be the feminist film we didn’t know we needed. Frankly I could end the review there, however, the drive to rave about the film’s superb performances (lookin’ at you Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell), and the homecoming of real female people to the silver screen is too strong.


    Mildred Hayes, the protagonist you were never meant to like, goes on the gruelling journey to hold the police of Ebbing, Missouri accountable. Her teenage daughter was horrifically murdered, and no arrest was made. Firstly, this film makes it super clear in the first ten minutes Mildred Hayes is not to be f**ked with, and in this way she is not the traditional film mother. Ground-breaking fact number one; Three Billboards has a female, middle aged lead, who is a mother, and is rightfully raging (and at no point are we subjected to a brooding, somehow muddy, smudgy eyelinered, tank top wearing revenge mum).

    Number two; she is not supposed to be likeable. Women in film to hold screen time have had to be likeable or smushed into the virgin/mother/whore character tropes Hollywood is so fond of. The women of Three Billboards are real women, or clever commentaries on how women have been portrayed by Hollywood previously in those three archetypes. Women do appear in the forms of “the dim but pretty secretary”, and “the much younger girlfriend”, but these roles draw attention to themselves as stereotypes, ridiculed by the hyper-reality of Mildred Hayes. They make it blindingly obvious just how intense our suspension of disbelief has been when it comes to seeing actual women on screen.

    Thankfully, Mildred Hayes is the refreshing kick in the nuts, or vagina, that cinema desperately needs to demonstrate how to write interesting, real, ~lady~ humans. My advice: watch Three Billboards, and wonder how a 300-word review could be enough.

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  • Opium Eater: Ennui

    Closing off 2017 was the release of “Ennui” from prominent Wellington Metal Band, Opium Eater. Having recently signed with Sydney-based “Art As Catharsis” records, this album was the springboard they needed into the international market.

    “Ennui”, meaning “a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement”, lives up to its name. Ambitiously taking on the task of musically recreating frustration, Ennui utilises “doomscapes” (audio landscapes built from emotional despair) to generate audio textures that overlap and create something beautiful.

    Each track, although heavy, contains segments of interesting melodic work, and jangly guitar riffs. “The Effect Of A Tragedy On Its Spectators” utilises space and showcases Opium Eater’s ability to diversify, while also giving the listeners a break from the intense Shepard tone-driven introduction track, “Collapse”.

    The title track “Ennui”, and “Babelsteps”, are what made me really enjoy this album. Definitely two of the more commercial tracks, there’s something quite special about them, and the riffs can get stuck in your head if you’re into metal/doom, or anything slow and headbang-worthy.

    My one problem with the album is the track “Post-Tense”. While a nice song, it sticks out amidst the rest of the album. It could almost belong on a Radiohead album, if Thom Yorke decided to dye his hair black and get bangs. That said, the vocals and guitar riffs are brilliant.

    Rating: 4.3/5

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  • How to Write an Album in 12 Hours

    Directed by Liam Kelly.

    I have a particularly good understanding of the theatre making process, but when it comes to writing an album, not so much. What if there was a way to combine the spontaneity of the music with the display of theatre, and the collaboration of band members and audience alike? Oh wait, there is a show like that! It’s called How to Write an Album in 12 Hours!

    #HTWAAI12H is a devised Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) show directed by the multi-talented Liam Kelly, and I was fortunate enough to see it in January as part of the Victoria University’s Summer of 77 mini festival. Each hour, the band, The Undercuts, had to write and perform a song based on their own hourly challenges (i.e. drop a beat, swap instruments, create a song in silence, etc.), as well as material from the audience, which was then released on Facebook half an hour later by Oliver Devlin – amazing!

    One of my friends described the role of the audience as “actively relaxing” – I couldn’t agree more. It felt like we were in someone’s lounge jamming together (and I can’t really “jam”). The set had the band on a small stage and the audience had couches, bean bags, and pillows to sit on, and a food table in the corner. They had a “banana chair” for an audience member to sit in if they had an idea and the band wasn’t paying them attention. Their album cover was set up the opposite side of the room on an easel for anyone to add to its art.

    My favourite aspect of this show was its inclusion. The Undercuts and Kelly were so warm and welcoming, actively speaking to the audience to encourage suggestions. It didn’t feel like the band was making this music on their own – everyone in the room was making it and everyone was invested in it, which made it even more fun.

    I came to the hour of “phone”. The Undercuts called forth an audience member to ring someone and ask who they had a fight with most recently, and what the context of the fight was. We rang two people with the first audience member, and it went to voicemail. The next audience member called three people, all of the calls went to voicemail, but five minutes later she received seven texts. A comment was made about how we as a society might not pick up the phone, but will write a message later. A conversation started about the last fight she was in, which was more like someone going cold on her and freezing her out. Ghosting. And thus the song was sparked, my personal favourite.

    Each member of The Undercuts are extremely talented in their instrument, and open in their discussion with the audience and themselves. Zoe Joblin was simply bangin’ on the drums, and Pippa Drakeford-Croad, lead singer, is a lyrical genius with the pipes to fill Studio 77 and genuinely quite entertaining. Everyone should be proud of this show, and everyone, not just musos, should see this show!

    Each song was named with the audience, as was the album, One Night Band, which is available to listen to for free on Soundcloud (I downloaded Soundcloud specifically so that I could listen to them!).

    And the best part is that the show will be back for the Fringe Festival, Sunday 11th of March from 12pm to 12am at Meow! Be sure not to miss this awesome experience!

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  • Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis

    I have tried to read various economics books over the years, with the idea that I really should educate myself about this force that causes both anguish and glee. However, I have often found the writing of economic “experts” unclear and tangled with inadequate examples.

    Yanis Varoufakis is an expert, as  an economics professor and the former Finance Minister of Greece. However, his writing is far from inaccessible. While his other books have long insufferable titles, with words like “Europe,” “establishment,” and “austerity,” his book Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (recently published in English) is a far more approachable explanation of economics for confused young people.

    As the title indicates, the book was purportedly written for Varoufakis’ fifteen year old daughter, Xenia, who asked him one day about why inequality exists . My curiosity could not help but be drawn in by the personal details; memories of holidays together, or possessions shared between father and daughter. This premise makes for some awkward constructions however, with odd blends of the personal and universal, with lines like “Greece, my country, and the country you consider your own even though you live in Australia,” jarring the reader.

    However, Varoufakis doesn’t linger on his daughter. She’s just an excuse, a vehicle — perhaps a gimmick. Instead, this slim book is focused on clearly and concisely explaining the economy to people who do not think they have a stake in it.

    While the book is short, it does make for some dense reading, with sweeping statements like “The triumph of exchange values over experiential values changed the world,” which are then followed by considerable elaboration without time to process. Yet Varoufakis almost never confuses, and presents a way of thinking about money, currency, consumerism, and financial crises that all fit together simply.  From the first chapter he is precise and engaging in a way that I did not realise economists could be. This is mainly due to Varoufakis’ use of multiple stories and anecdotes, from The Matrix to Oedipus Rex, to make emotional connections to the economy.

    Talking to My Daughter About the Economy feels like it is written for people who might see the creation of an entirely new global order, as Varoufakis tracks moments of incredible change, like the first agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the most recent global financial crisis, and ties them elegantly to the economy. He even touches on the inevitable future, and explains how Bitcoin works (in a way that actually makes sense!), and its advantages and disadvantages in a few brief paragraphs.

    Other economics books I’ve read seem to place far too much faith in capitalism and trickle down effects. A strength of Varoufakis’ book is that it aligned with my views considerably more, and the rage that Varoufakis feels at capitalism, what it has done to the planet and his own country specifically, simmers constantly.

    The final message of the book is one of hope. It is vital, Varoufakis says, as a young person, as an inheritor of the earth, to decide “whether you adapt your behavior to suit market society’s needs, or become obstinate enough to want to adapt society to your own ideas of what [it] should be like”.

    The economy may be screwed, but in Varoufakis’ eyes, the actions of this generation mean there is still some hope for the future.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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    Editor's Pick

    This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

    : Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided