Thursday, 26 April 2012

I Don't Like The Shining

I can't be the only one that has ever experienced a moment which forever changes how you look at someone. Most people can easily talk about that day when they realised that they're parents weren't perfect. I never really had that moment, I might have but I probably just forgot it. However, I can remember the night that actually made me realise that not only are my parents not perfect, but they can actually have serious problems.

My dad has always been quiet and passive. He's a lovely and funny guy but he could never really take control of a situation by himself. My mum has always been there to deal with their problems. The only thing my dad had to do was go to work, come home and cook dinner for all of us.

A few years ago my dad decided to start his own company called Site Zero. It did something with servers or databases or something like that. My dad was really good at the technical side of the company but he was never good with clients. He would go out and get clients, set up whatever they wanted but would always have trouble getting paid for his work. My mum and him decided to get a business partner, Richard, who could run the 'business' side of the operation while my dad focused on the 'technical' stuff.

Long story short, Richard was an asshole. He bullied my dad for months. My dad was blamed for everything wrong with the website, business and clients. This guy's nature ranged from passive agressive, to just aggressive. My dad took all this abuse and didn't know how to respond. If I ever meet Richard again, I would call him a 'cunt' and let him know that he hurt one of the nicest people I know.

All of this abuse culminated in an evening during the middle of my eighth grade Easter holidays. My twin brother and I were pretty bored that school holidays. I can't remember much from that week besides the fact that I had some homework that I was putting off.

My dad comes home from work like usual but today he's a lot more excited. For the last few weeks my dad actually had a spring in his step and wanted to actually do things with everyone. Usually he was content with coming home and watching Spicks and Specks while drinking a beer. My mum was doing a late shift at work so it was just the three of us for the evening.

He decided for us that we're going to watch a movie. He had rented out the Shining and kept talking about how it was such a great film. I believed him. I had heard that Stanley Kubrick was pretty good at directing and was actually a bit excited about watching it. It turns out that there's a bit of miscommunication. He was glued to the screen and seemed to be watching a totally different movie than what me and my brother were watching. He mentioned a few times throughout it just how it is such a meaningful film. He was slightly too focused and excited about the whole situation. I did the only thing I could think at the time to diffuse the intensity in the room and started doing some of my homework.

However, it only got worse. It got to a point in the evening where my dad started to mention something about a 'hidden meaning' or 'truth' to The Shining. He was gleeful at the fact that he had seen something in the film that no one else had noticed until then. He was intent on making me and my brother aware of this too. At this moment I was actually scared of my father. My dad has always been too predictable and now he was this person in our living room who had spotted an underlying truth that explains everything about the universe in a very good psychological horror movie.

I called up my mum in the middle of her shift and told her about what was going on. It took her a while to get home but when she arrived, she was just as shocked at what was going on as me and my brother. She went absolutely ballistic at my dad for trying to push a horror film - it was a legitimately horrifying film - onto me and my brother. That was when my dad decided to go all out and try to explain to her exactly what he was doing. He never managed to explain himself. It was just key words like 'truth', 'meaning' and 'life' thrown together to sound like a philosophy lecture. This was when my mum immediately moved the conversation to another room and out of earshot. After about ten minutes of yelling and ranting they emerge from the room and my mum explained to us that they're going to take my dad to hospital.

I found out later that my dad has an undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder. The stress had simply gotten to him and he just slipped from reality. In retrospect it was a pretty minor manic episode. Things could have gone a lot worse if we didn't pick up on it at the time. I learned that during his university years he became so stressed he saw a portal to hell.

It only took one visit the hospital to diagnose him and get him on the proper regime of pills. He took a few months off from work and stayed at one at this resort styled complex for people with mental health issues. My mum and father contacted a lawyer and managed to make SiteZero pay for all his medical bills and time off for a hostile work environment.

That evening jarred my opinion of my father. I knew he wasn't the greatest dad in the world but I never thought he could have problems just like anybody else. His disorder totally turned my family's life upside down and it will never go back to the way it was. I don't think less of him. I actually think he's better than he was before. That event completely shattered him, but he managed to rebuild himself and move on.

Edit: This assignment got a 5 overall.

An R18+ Rating Is On The Horizon

This is an article I've written for a journalism assignment. I had to simply write a few articles 200-300 words long with a primary source and image. This was the easiest article because it is all information based and my contacts were extremely helpful.

Screenshot from Bioshock (2007).
An R18+ category for video games looks very possible as the Australian senate will be looking over classification legislation in coming weeks.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 aims to create an R18+ Restricted category for video games.

Australian residents currently only have access to games rated at MA15+. Games that include content that exceed these standards are refused classification and banned.

The bill was introduced on February 15th 2012. The next day, it was referred to a committee for an enquiry. The committee came back with a report recommending that the House of Representatives pass the bill. The report cited research since 2009 stating that there is 'overwhelming support for an R18+ Restricted classification for computer games'.

Tim Colwill, a writer for and creator of R18+ Games Australia, supports the bill in its entirety.

“It's important for Australians to finally be treated with respect and support by the classification system,” he said.

Jason Clare, Minister for Home Affairs, made similar remarks adding "It also makes Australian laws more consistent with the rest of the world".

This bill will allow adults to make choices without restrictions and children will now be properly protected from adult content.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell, a long time supporter of an R18+ category for video games, has already planned ACT specific legislation for when the bill passes the senate.

“This bill will provide the government greater ability to regulate the distribution of these games, and will provide adult purchasers with more information to determine whether the product is something they truly want to view or use,” a spokeswoman on behalf of Minister Corbell said.

There should be more information in the next few weeks as the bill moves closer to the senate.

Edit: I updated the article because I got an email from Jason Clare, Minister for Home Affairs after I uploaded it to the blog.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Commercial Media Reflection

The sixth journalism lecture was on the topic of commercial media. If I'm just thinking from memory, it wasn't a particularly interesting lecture. Mr. Redman covered how Australia commercial media is interconnected. I wasn't aware that so much of the media aren't independent to each other. Most of the popular and commercialised media are owned by just a few major media conglomerates. Whether it be television, newspapers, magazines, radio and online content, they usually lead back to the same company name.

Money needs to come from somewhere so most of the media outlets make money from either advertising or subscription based services. The Australian commercial media is constantly running a fine line between  maintaining their commitment to providing unbiased news and accepting advertising. Media outlets generally self regulate to keep themselves from corrupting their social responsibility to provide unbiased and insightful content. They're are also independant statutory bodies in place for when it's unclear whether  content is researched or simply paid for.

I don't really have much more to say than that. The commercial side of media doesn't interest me at all. In fact, some aspects of it infuriates me. I didn't get into journalism to learn about business, political opinions and advertising. In saying that, public media only resonates with me slightly more.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sound Reflection

It's six in the morning. Two days ago I walked into Woolworths and found that Mother was on sale. I've been up all night watching Supernatural and I don't plan on actually sleeping for the next twelve hours either so I thought I would try catching up on some blog posts.

The sound lecture was surprisingly interesting. The lecture wasn't actually a 'lecture'. It was a downloadable mp3 file of two interviews cut together one after the other. The people who were interviewed seemed to be radio personalities who use the medium of sound every day. I'm pretty sure the hosts were interviewed for the purpose of teaching journalism students about how 'sound' relates to journalism. I've never actively thought about just how distinct the medium of sound is compared to forms of media such as television and print.

Some of things I learned seems obvious when pointed out. For instance, radio is an intimate form of media. You're only using your sense of hearing so you have to focus on what's being said. You can't rely on other senses to to understand and process what is being said.

Overall, the lecture was engaging and made me think about journalism in relation to sound.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

I'm Going to Supanova

Over a week ago, I was having a lot of trouble with finding articles to write for my Reporting course. With a few ideas in mind, I emailed some people about using them as contacts. At the time I wrote the blog post, no one had emailed me back so I was worried about meeting the deadline. Since then, everything has turned around.

A few days ago, I got an email back from the publicity manager for Supanova. He informed me that there's going to be a media pass waiting for me at the Gold Coast. I'm incredibly excited about this opportunity to attend this amazing event as a journalist. The manager was even nice enough to give my friend, Rhys, a media pass, because he's going to be following me around with a camera. 

I really want to go all out on this assignment. I'm going to be recording the event and some interviews so I can make a three minute video due in May. I've been brainstorming, because I'm irritatingly limited to recording with a smartphone only. I'm currently organising getting my hands on a few items: a recently developed smartphone, microphone, microphone to iPhone adapter, extension cable, and an external audio device

I've never filmed, recorded, and edited an event like this, so this is a new, but scary experience. By the date, I should have everything I need for Supanova. I'm beginning to think about how I'm going to approach the event as a journalist. I'm going to film interviews with the event organiser and the attendees, the main floor, the panels and the exhibits. Both the article and the video will focus on the exhibits, activities, the fans and the atmosphere of Supanova. Closer to the date, I'll write a blog post detailing my plans further.

Here's a video from Supanova in Melbourne from last year.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Photography Reflection

It's time for another one of these reflective posts. I actually have fun doing these because I can practise writing. You don't probably think it's that interesting, but I have to do it. The photography lecture was pretty straight forward; we learned about the history of photography, digital capture and upload, digital manipulation and some of the basic tips for capturing a good photo. This lecture actually made me think about how I am going to approach photography as a journalist.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't include photos of how journalism relates to me in my blog posts. I'm a hypocrite, because like everyone else, I expect all online news to include photos. I like articles to have at least one relevant photo to the written content. I believe that images give readers context for what they're reading. Most of the photos in the articles I read are screenshots from video games.

I don't include images in my posts mostly because I find it hard to find images that best suit this blog. At this stage, my approach to journalism is browsing reddit while in my underwear. However, that's not the only reason I don't take and upload photos.

Even though I can write a few decent paragraphs, I'm not used to photojournalism. I don't have the technology to take photos that are relevant to what I write about. I plan to invest in a smartphone with a better camera than my current one and a screen recording program for capturing online content.

If I'm going to become a journalist in any sense, I'm going to have to commit to photography to connect readers to my content. I think that if I produce my own images for articles, it would add more personality to what I write. Of course, for some writing projects I won't be able to produce photos. However, I will include relevant images when able. I'm going to write real articles soon instead of just reflecting on what I learn doing lectures.

I'm not going to be a world class photojournalist, nor do I want to become one. For this blog, I will probably be taking screenshots or linking movie trailers. However, I should be able to snap a few photos with my iPhone when the time arises.