G20 maddness

Well it was brilliant fun and totally crazy at the same time. I really want to write a lot about last weekend but I’m so feckin busy trying to move to another country that I don’t really have time. So instead, you can look at some photos here and read this great op-ed written for the Age, which they apparently nearly published but the editor vetoed. Pity.

The Age’s coverage of G20
by Anna Krien
annakrien at hotmail.com

In response to The Age’s coverage prior, during and post this week’s G20 protests I wrote this opinion piece intended for The Age newspaper. While there was a willingness to publish it in today’s newspaper (21/11), the head editor Andrew Jaspan stepped in and demanded it not be published.

The Age’s reporting of the past week’s protests against the G20, as well as its white picket-fence style mockery from columnist Jonathon Green (17/11), can be summed up with a discussion I had with a photographer from The Sunday Age as we leant against the plastic barricades in Russell Street with four tiers of police wearing reflective sunglasses beyond us. After watching him take several photos of a Hare Krishna man wearing a rainbow sarong and waving a crystal, I asked the photographer if that was the kind of photo he was planning to file to his editor. In typical tabloid digression, the photographer accused me of suggesting this particular man was an inferior representation of the protest. No, I replied, but it is a rather easy photograph isn’t it? Especially when right next to this particular photographer stood an architect, teacher, chemist and a writer, boringly clad in non-outrageous clothes.

Luckily this Hare Krishna fellow didn’t make the cut for The Sunday Age – because luckily, violence ensued, unbeknownst to the two thousand non-violent protesters who were crammed into one city block. Arterial Block’s behaviour reminded many fellow protesters of something, what was it? Oh yes – Friday night drinks perhaps? As for Commissioner Christine Nixon’s comment about Saturday’s protesting being the worst violence she has seen in Melbourne for the past six years, well some of my closest girlfriends have experienced worse violence during such Friday night drinks.

Before the press responds to this by rolling out its tired ‘what do you want – censorship?’ argument, I’d like to say that responsibility is not censorship and perpetuating stereotypes is not reporting. At the end of the discussion between The Sunday Age’s photographer and myself, he blurted like a pigeon losing its puff, “Well I’m just doing my job, aren’t I?” To which I can only say sadly “No, you are not.”

As for ‘colour’ writer Jonathon Green’s notebook on the general hilarity of the usual loonies and peace seekers who come out of the woodwork when something important is happening in this very city – and no, I do not mean the AFL Grand Final, rather just a few political heavyweights who talk over our heads like we’re children, plus token representatives from the third world. There is nothing skilful about satire that takes a stab at people who are unprotected by massive public relations bodies, not to mention a riot squad.

Lastly why laugh at the G20 protesters? Mock us? Spread hyperbolic rumours that we will be violent, dear media, were you trying to provoke us into a fury the week prior? Would you be more proud if your children did not care? Also you might add to each other – it’s amazing what these kids do in the face of such derogatory backlash and comment, I mean at least we (you) get paid for it. All this talk about the ‘militant youth’ trashing Australia – that is absurd. I have never met a people more passionate about this country. That is the country that is like some deformed creature locked in the basement, its identity denied while certain politicians parody it on a world stage.

After the protest (the peaceful one that was quite big, but not violent so you may not have heard about it) three friends and myself were thirsty. It was a strange moment when we realised there were four 7 Eleven convenient stores around us like the points of a compass. It was difficult to work out which one was closest – they all seemed so upon us.

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One response to “G20 maddness

  1. Great piece… reminded me of the feckless coverage of the S11 protests (so long ago now), where imagery was allowed to trump discourse and we arrived at the logjam – where to resist is to take on the last Aussie battler symbol – disaffection. Immediately since then, to stand up is to have no voice.

    We were told as teenagers that the media was complicit in the plans of government to distance issues from the people it affected. Surely it was teenage angst, surely there can’t be a conspiracy of circumstance and laziness that broad?

    The assumed right of the comfortable to criticize the inflamed has caused so much damage. A re-organisation of national debates, starting with some media ethics here and there, please.

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