GOOD evening fellow ‘Astrayans. Late in 2013 I “dragged” my 90s-novelty-star self out of the collective unconsciousness, and in true Jungian style, rebirthed my Pauline-ness on Facebook. What a year 2014 has been.
Following the 2013 election I’d been producing a variety of visual memes using PM Toned Abs and my cartoon character Corgi St Bernardi, but this year, my followers and I moved into more direct action. It’s been a drag riot, just like Stonewall in 1969, except more virtual.
Over a three-day period, I created a series of visual and information memes using her words, and asked people to take the case directly to Opera Australia via social media.
The issue exploded into the public consciousness, and I stayed awake most of the weekend. There were late night phone calls to the Georgian activists, directed campaigns towards major sponsors, research and translation that uncovered the dishonesty with which Iveri had answered our charges, and finally, her eventual sacking after the weekend.
The next campaign that I led was against the World Congress of Families conference in Melbourne. This conference was a centralised collection of some of the world’s major homophobes — including people who were involved in drafting both Nigeria’s “kill the gays” laws and Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws — and proponents of discredited “abortion causes breast cancer” theories.
This campaign was a slow builder that escalated over two months. Initially, I got my followers to RSVP for all of the tickets, a prank that the organisers never recovered from, as we were from then on informed about each of their moves to new “secret” locations, the news of which I would “break” with humorous visual memes.
As a result of our direct actions against each proposed venue, a series of small victories began to give the campaign a narrative drive, and I tried to write that narrative as a complex comedy series, despite (or perhaps because of) the serious issues involved. People really felt involved in this campaign, and shared the victory when we finally forced the government ministers out of the conference.
What I’ve tried to do on Facebook is to set agendas with specific outcomes, written with narratives that can include people in a way that demands specific actions. I’ve tried to take it beyond classic feel-good “clicktivism”. While information is spread via likes and shares, the likes and shares are never seen as an outcome in themselves.
People are asked to contribute to direct online action against our foes, engaging in culture jamming and associated offline protests. Taking the fight directly to the targets of the action within the social media context — rather than simply commenting indirectly or obliquely referring to them via petitions — establishes the social media space as the actual zone of conflicting ideas. These existing conflicts are then catapulted into the expanding infotainment arena of Junkee, Buzzfeed and so on, due to the easy availability of free text, free imagery and an abundance of memes. The infotainment sites are subsequently mined by journalists from the diminishing major news corporations, and thus the campaigns become “news”.
Also this year I’ve had a major involvement in campaigns against the Australian Christian Lobby conference, so-called “dating coach” Julien Blanc, and an attempt by Fred Nile to introduce a “stealth” abortion law.
I think what all of these campaigns have taught me is that the way ahead in 2015 for LGBTI activism is to ally ourselves with people affected by other forms of discrimination, because it’s the same people attacking us — the Islamophobes, the misogynists and the homophobes are all the same people, and they all wear the same dirty old cardigans.
So thanks to all of my friends and followers for a great year, and I hope that Santa is good to you.
**This article was first published in the January edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a hard copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.