Representation of Belonging

Anxiety about one’s status within a group may result in self-imposed isolation. However, such isolation can facilitate independent thought.

A thought-provoking video from English teacher, Bianca Hewes, as a model representation of belonging. Students also had to write a rationale of their representation. See the task. See Bianca’s rationale for the video in the comments below 🙂

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Occupy Wall Street: A “Work of Art”

An article by Eve Ensler, Reader Supported News
11 October 10

The occupy movement began mid year and has persisted with varying enthusiasm across many parts of the world. It can be seen in the light of belonging: as a protest movement or as a sign of disenfranchisement. The 99% evokes the silent majority which politicians have called upon in former times, the people power of the Philippines in the waning Marcos era and the more recent events of the Arab Spring.

Eve Ensler’s article describes her visit to the occupation and also quotes a variety of participants she met.

This is how Ensler interprets what she sees:

Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision.

In a culture obsessed with product, the process of creation is almost unbearable. Nothing is more threatening than the moment, the living breathing ambiguity of now. We have been trained to name things, own things, brand things and in doing so control and consume them. Well, the genius of Occupy Wall Street is that so far it is not brandable and that’s what makes its potential so daunting, so far reaching, so inclusive, and so dangerous. It cannot be defined and so it cannot be sold, as a sound bite or a political party or even a thing. It can’t be summed up and dismissed.

This is a very articulate opinion piece about Occupy Wall Street which describes it as a community, and a movement to be celebrated. Since this was written there has been much more written, spoken and filmed which could be worth exploring for a variety of views and interpretations.

Are we there yet?

By David Levithan

This is a book about brothers who are years apart in age, but possibly living on different planets when it comes to attitude.

Elijah is 16, enjoying the last years of high school and very laid back; Danny is 23, organised, and overthinking a promising career. They were good mates way back but not these days. By some trickery their parents engineer a joint holiday for the two in Italy – who could say no? Soon Elijah has fallen for Julia, a fellow traveller, and the brothers see little of each other. Then Julia meets Danny and the real challenges begin.

This book is a meditation on what it means to be brothers at home, abroad and in life’s journey. And it’s a good read.

 


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Angry Boys

Angry BoysThere are many belonging threads to this comedy series from the irrepressible Chris Lilley, but my favourite is the one about the brothers, Nathan and Daniel Sims from Dunt in South Australia.

These two survivors from Lilley’s previous creation, We Can Be Heroes, are at first glance as far from the truly literary as you could imagine. Yet in many ways they represent themes and ideas common in literature and mythology. Twins, doubles, doppelgangers, shadows, reflections, opposites, the daemons of Pullman’s His Dark Materials – all allow authors to represent the duality of human experience and human nature.

Nathan and Daniel are identical except that Nathan is deaf. Daniel volunteered his eardrum to replace one of Nathan’s, which would have made them completely identical. Ironically, the operation failed. So Nathan remains deaf and silent; Daniel is loud and controlling. Daniel uses Nathan to have fun – tricking him and facilitating Nathan’s risky and antisocial behaviour. But at a certain level Nathan is out of his control.

When life changes occur Daniel opposes loudly – notably when his mother gets engaged and when she decides it will be for the best for Nathan to go away to a school for the deaf. But Nathan is joyful for his mum and cautiously happy at the prospect of going away to school.

It his reaction to the prospect of Nathan going away which finally shows that Daniel loves his brother and depends on him. It seems in many ways that Daniel will not be wholly himself without Nathan. Being a twin is a powerful symbol of belonging.

33 Postcards

Pauline Chan’s deceptively sweet drama about a young Chinese orphan’s search for belonging and acceptance is underscored by gritty realism and a precise eye for the daily rhythms of Sydney life. Sydney Film Festival website

Catch this film at selected cinemas from 3rd November 2011, or watch for it on DVD.

RN’s Movie Time reviewed 33 Postcards and also interviewed the director, Pauline Chan, who gives an insight into the film and talks about the differences between Chinese and Australian film industry practices.

Film: Oranges and Sunshine & Mad Bastards

Two new Australian films are excellent candidates to observe through the lens of belonging. Both are quiet, thoughtful films, leaving you lots of thinking time.

Oranges and Sunshine is about the gradual revelations through the 1980s of hundreds of unaccompanied child migrants who were sent – illegally – to Australia from Britain, particularly during the 1940s to 1960s, although it was a practice apparently begun much earlier. Children were often told, incorrectly, that their parents were dead, and the parents that the children had been adopted into a better life. Sadly, the truth was that many suffered institutional abuse, quite apart from the loss of family and identity.

The film looks at the story through the eyes of British social worker Margaret Humphreys, who became a passionate advocate for the adults who told her their stories. David Wenham and Hugo Weaving give masterly performances as two of those grown up children, but it is seeing the effect on Humphreys, who takes on the trauma and who has to balance her good work for them with loyalty to her own family, that makes us think about what was lost and what can be found again. Can you ever belong again after you have been made to feel that you are nothing?

There is an Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) study guide for Oranges and Sunshine, free to download for the first 18 months, then inexpensive from their online shop. And it is even available as an iPad app. ATOM Film Study Guides

Mad Bastards Trailer from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.

Mad Bastards doesn’t sound like what you would call a quiet film, and there is certainly yelling and crying and violence. Yet much of the film observes the pain in the faces of the characters as they move through their lives trying to make some sense of it all. Primarily we are looking at a man seeking out his son after thirteen years of neglect. TJ is an Aboriginal man but must journey into country not his own. Meanwhile his son has been sent to a camp run by elders to avoid juvenile detention. The boy’s grandfather warns TJ off before knowing who he is – being both a policeman and a good man he knows the type. His painful journey is weighing up the bad influence of a “mad bastard” against the importance of the boy having a relationship with his father.

The mother is also an important character in this story as is the shadowy other child – an older daughter – who looks on from the sidelines in fear. We don’t hear any more of her story here.

Demise of the Dictators

Fouad Ajami is a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. In this article, Demise of the Dictators, from Newsweek of 14th February 2011 he puts “the Arab revolution of 2011” into perspective.

He begins:

Historians of revolutions are never sure as to when these great upheavals in human affairs begin. But the historians will not puzzle long over the Arab Revolution of 2011. They will know, with precision, when and where the political tsunami that shook the entrenched tyrannies first erupted. A young Tunisian vegetable seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, in the hardscrabble provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, set himself on fire after his cart was confiscated and a headstrong policewoman slapped him across the face in broad daylight. The Arab dictators had taken their people out of politics, they had erected and fortified a large Arab prison, reduced men and women to mere spectators of their own destiny, and the simple man in that forlorn Tunisian town called his fellow Arabs back into the political world.

Ajami’s eloquent piece ends thus:

From afar, the “realists” tell the Arabs that they are playing with fire, that beyond the prison walls there is danger and chaos. Luckily for them, the Arabs pay no heed to these realists, and can recognize the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that animates them. Arabs have quit railing against powers beyond and infidels and foreign conspiracies. For now they are out making and claiming their own history.

Interesting choice to quote a George W. Bush speech in his last point.

Ajami , Fouad . “Demise of the Dictators.” Newsweek, published 6 Feb. 2011. Web. Accessed 27 Feb. 2011. <http://www.newsweek.com/2011/02/06/demise-of-the-dictators.html>.

Other articles of note on the people’s uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya also consider the issues at the heart of the matter: the desire to live a safe, free and happy life:

Stealing Libya’s Revolution by Michael Mullins, Eureka Street, February 28, 2011.

Egypt’s Revolution Belongs to the Young People, Not the Muslim Brotherhood by H. Boulard & S. Chafik, AsiaNews, February 7, 2011.

The Springtime of the Arab World by Samir Khalil Samir, AsiaNews, February 24, 2011.

morgestraich & latärne by dongga BS at Flickr.com