Monday, 19 May 2014

Louis CK, Fat Girls & Crippled Guys

We need to talk about the scene above. Written and directed by Louis CK, the scene is the final act of an episode of his show, Louie in which the female protagonist, Vanessa has pursued Louie all episode long. She does this casually at first, but by the middle of the episode throws herself at him in a naked attempt to get Louie's attention. Prior to the scene above, Louie finally agrees to go out for coffee with Vanessa after several weeks, as a sort of pity date. The final seven minutes of the episode are played out in the scene above.

If you replace the 'fat girl' references in the monologue with the words 'crippled guy', Louis CK may well have recreated the transcripts from all my moments of emotional devastation.

You know what the meanest thing is you can say to a crippled guy? "It doesn't matter that you can't walk." I mean, come on, buddy. It just sucks. It really really sucks. You have no idea. And the worst part is, I'm not even supposed to do this. Tell anyone how bad it sucks, because it's too much for people... But if I say it, they call the suicide hotline on me.

I mean, can I just say it? I'm crippled. It sucks to be a crippled guy. Can people just let me say it? It sucks. It really sucks. And I'm going to go ahead and say it. It's your fault... Why do you hate us so much? What is it about the basics of human happiness, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having girls chase after us, that's just not in the cards for us? Nope. Not for us. 

How is that fair? And why am I supposed to just accept it?

And on it goes. Every line, every pause, every juxtaposition is like an auteur's gut punch. Because yes, I have given that speech, (or at least some version of that speech) at least 25 times. And Louie's character being Louie's character, knows that the only way to end this discomfort that he's feeling at the end of Vanessa's monologue is to take Vanessa by the hand and get her to shut up, so he doesn't have to think about how uncomfortable he is any longer.

I imagine the laymen's interpretation of this scene's ending is that it offers a pleasent, if unsatisfying conclusion as Louie takes Vanessa by the hand and tells her the 'So The Fat Lady' joke, as they walk off into the distance. I, on the other hand, perceive it differently. There is no acknowledgement that Vanessa's words have sunken in at any point, rather that Louie is pleased that he withstood the tirade.

I believe this is intentional on the part of Louis CK, the writer. He knows that Vanessa's 'rant' makes the viewer uncomfortable. and he acknowledges this by contrasting it to his own body issues earlier in the episode. He knows that crippled guys and fat girls fight bigetory everyday, and yet we are, and will continue to be, powerless to do anything about it.

The guys will always lust after the skinny girls, and the girls will always think that 'crippled guys' are too difficult and damaged. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Disease of More: How the NBA Explains Australia's Economic Culture

I'm a big fan of NBA Basketball. Three years ago I began re-watching the game, and in particular the playoffs, just like I did in the NBA's 1990s heyday. But perhaps more than watching games, basketball is my favourite sport to read about, mainly through the writing of Bill Simmons and his website Grantland. Simmons and his writing made me fall in love with the game of basketball again like I had when I was a kid.

I began my re-entry into NBA Basketball by reading Simmons's encyclopaedic tome The Book of Basketball. In the first chapter Simmons begins by paraphrasing six- time championship coach Pat Riley, and more specifically Riley's concept known as 'The Disease of More'
I read Pat Riley's book Show Time and he talks about 'The Disease of More'. A team wins it (the NBA Championship) one year, and the next year every player wants more minutes (on the court), more money, more shots. And it kills them. 
The Book of Basketball is 752 pages long, and that's the paragraph I took away, memorised and applied to my life, henceforth.

These past couple of days as the Federal Budget has been handed down and as its reverberations have been felt, 'The Disease of More' has been ringing in my ears, because every institution, every policy, and every program that looks after the collective has been cut by the Abbott Government. And it is not the Prime Minister's fault. It is ours.

We must take responsibility for our democracy.

A decade ago we gleefully accepted John Howard's tax cuts in 2003-04. when we didn't need them, all in the name of 'fiscal discipline'. And because that worked out so well for him, he kept on handing them out. Rudd won the economic battle during the 2007 election by handing out $31 million dollars of tax cuts, while claiming Howard was irresponsible for planning to hand out $32 million. Then when Rudd secured office he handed out more money to generate stimulus so Australia could stave off the Global Economic Crisis. After more than two election cycles of tax cuts, the voting public expected them as a given, rather than treating them as a nice bonus. 'The Disease of More' had set in.

Such economic decisions have a pretty straightforward cause and effect. If the government chooses to give money to individuals in the form of tax cuts, then logically less money is going to be put toward government operated services, such as schools, hospitals and welfare programs. This is 'The Disease of More' on a macroeconomic level. When Australian society won the 'Championship' of economic policy (by generating an unprecedented 16 years of continued economic growth) its people expected more money as a reward, even though the formula for economic (i.e: Championship) success had not changed from the years or even the decades past.

Conservatism preaches 'The Disease of More'. The poor, the disadvantaged and the socially isolated, otherwise known as 'the lower class' are the bench players of the Australian economy. So while the starters, (or the 'middle and upper classes') are fighting for more points, (cash) and more minutes, (ways to climb further up the economic ladder to earn even more cash), the bench players don't even get court time, because the starters are hogging the ball and there is no team work. The economy is no longer of championship calibre.

Voters know that Tony Abbott is the beacon of modern Australian ConservatismBy choosing to vote for Abbott and his government at the 2013 election, we as a nation have endorsed their attempt to pursue 'The Disease of More'. Because of this we are punishing the most vulnerable in society with our silence. Abbott can now cut essential programs and services with a clear conscience because we have chosen to let Abbott phase out the role players in our society.

Australia was once the 1969-1970 New York Knicks of economic performance and now the nation has become the 2005-2006 New York Knicks.

We only have ourselves to blame.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Budget: People With A Disability Silenced Once More.

Perhaps more than any other budget this one effects me personally. Among the many cuts the Prime Minister has made, the Government has decided to cease funding for ABC Ramp Up, for which I have been a contributor since it was created 3.5 years ago.

Again this is a reminder to the public, and most importantly to people with a disability, that this Government in particular treats people with disabilities as the stowaways of society. The cessation of ABC Ramp Up is the clearest signal yet that the Abbott Government does not care about people with disabilities, does not respect our values, and considers the contribution of people with disabilities to be unimportant and most cruically, irrelevant.

Though I disagree with about 85% of its content, Ramp Up is the most important service for disability education in the country. It provides a diverse array of views, discusses a range of topics both mainstream and taboo, but most importantly provides insights to inform readers who are not disabled.

If anyone thinks that any comprehensive disability reform will see the light of day under the Abbott Government, this is the first and perhaps the most important nail in the coffin to say that dream is dead.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Linkage, Volume I, 2014

On the weekend I attended TCF's wedding, it was a delightful event, perfectly suiting the personalities of both bride and groom. As I was finding a place at my table a wedding attendee, who I had not met previously, remarked that she followed my blog and was disappointed that my posts were growing infrequent. My looming thesis deadline is becoming my own personal version of Moby Dick.

My confidence is low, sleep is sadly lacking causing mistakes and missteps both personal and professional. The reason I have time to blog tonight is that the thesis is currently static. I've hit yet another dead end, and I am waiting for some help, which will come tomorrow or perhaps the next day. It cannot come quickly enough.

So consequently here are a few things I can recommend so far in 2014.
Most of the above has come from my Twitter page, if you like Twitter as much as I do, and haven't followed me, please do so.