Flat White

What’s woke this week

15 August 2019

4:25 PM

15 August 2019

4:25 PM

I’ve been away from the world of woke for a while and it’s depressing to see just how well it’s gotten along without me. But now I’m back and the last week has thrown up some worthy woke stories from the worlds of art, fast-food straws, advertising and at least one woke celebrity hoist, methinks, with her own petard.

The Emperor’s new funding

In the world of modern art, the emperor has no new clothes, he’s still starkers. And with assistance from Australia Council for the Arts and other arts funding bodies, along with your publicly-funded ABC, Screen Australia and Screenwest he’s also stark raving mad. The ABC’s mini-documentary series Art Bites: Biogenesis allows you to “meet the radical artists who are redefining nature, the body and life itself through the genesis of unique living biological artworks”. Now there’s an opportunity you couldn’t pass up.

Beguilingly filed under ‘Science’ on the ABC website, the article about the artworks and the shorts themselves will have you reaching for the TV remote, or possibly the nearest bucket.

You can meet Dr Tarsh Bates (no relation to Norman) who has “created a living piece of ‘bio-art’ by putting thrush on agar and feeding it with her own blood, controlling its growth pattern using a stencil-like template.” She apparently even speaks lovingly to her creation “I hope people can see how extraordinary you are … that they grow to love you as I do. That they can see that you’re not such a bad companion after all.”

Or you might prefer the gold-cast version of her own faeces produced by ‘artist’ Helen Pynor who wants to “reimagine and redeem one of the disowned processes of our bodies”. Don’t we all?

Another ‘artwork’ is by ‘biotechnical artist’ Guy Ben-Ary. He is described as a researcher living “his childhood dream of being a rock star by growing his living brain cells in a petri dish wired to a giant musical instrument that ‘jams’ with famous musicians around the world.”

Mr Ben-Ary is quoted as saying, “As a child, I wanted to be a rockstar. But I never learnt how to play.” Clearly what he has learnt to play with great success is the arts funding system.

The Biogenesis series director and writer Steve Alyian wants to “highlight changing scientific perspectives, such as the importance of microbes in our body, and encourage discussion about difficult subjects”. Maybe we could kick off with a roundtable about funding for the arts and your ABC.

Macca’s straw poll

In Britain McDonald’s efforts to boost its environmental cred haven’t quite gone to plan. The company replaced all its plastic straws with paper ones, but before the woke self-congratulatory back-slapping could begin the sorry, soggy verdict from customers was in. The new paper straws were not exactly fit for purpose, disintegrating before you could say “Two all-beef patties… ” or slurp down your chocolate thickshake.

Not to be deterred, McDonald’s reinforced their paper straws but there’s still a problem. While the materials are said to be recyclable the thickness of the straws makes it “difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers.” In other words, the new paper straws can’t be recycled and have to be placed in general waste. And those bad, old plastic straws? They were recyclable.

No jokes, please. We’re British.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week banned two TV advertisements under their controversial new gender stereotyping rules. The terrible transgressors were Philadelphia cheese for its depiction of a couple of clueless dads momentarily distracted by food and Volkswagen for an ad that allegedly showed men doing adventurous things and a woman sitting quietly with a pram. Surely not. It’s 2019.

What was the ASA to do when swamped with a total of three complaints about the Volkswagen eGolf ad? Given the view of ASA investigations manager Jess Nye that gender stereotypes cause ‘real-world harm’ it obviously had no choice but to rule:

By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical caregiving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.

And according to the ASA the dad who left his child on a restaurant food conveyor belt perpetuated “a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children and would place them at risk as a result of their incompetence.”

Blackface backflip

Recent action by the woke police has caught one of its own in its vast and officious net. One of the world’s wokest comedians, Sarah Silverman, this week revealed on The Bill Simmonds Podcast that she was recently fired from a movie role because producers saw a clip of a 2007 episode of the Sarah Silverman Program in which she appeared in blackface.

Never mind that racism itself was the target of the skit, it was blackface, which is enough to get you ‘cancelled’ in 2019. Silverman highlighted the current critical climate as a kind of self-perpetuating ‘righteousness porn’ but, of course, because it’s 2019, she also had to explain that she has changed as a person and now understood that wearing blackface is “never OK”.

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