A well written critical look at Sydney’s ‘event culture’ and the corporatisation of our experience. Some very good points about social inequality in Sydney!
“The story of James Packer’s VIP- only casino on one of the world’s most beautiful pieces of land at Barangaroo is surely the story of this city and its approach to urban equality. As the rest of the city is faced with impending lock-downs, mandatory sentences and the inability to buy a drink from a bottle shop after 10pm, the transnational elites gambling at Barangaroo casino are to be exempted. The proposition of the NSW Police determining my fate on a night out is a far scarier prospect than the statistically decreasing prospect of any ‘king hit’. As Adam Brereton wrote in the Guardian recently: ‘the way we drink (and take drugs) is, and will always be, about how much freedom we have to assemble.’ Or as HG Nelson once asked: ‘where are the sniffer dogs on the ARIA red carpet?’
So amongst the moral panic, explicit violence and constant service failures, there is a human bravery in catching public transport to Centennial Park from Hurstville, Cabramatta, Parramatta or Cronulla on a Sunday night for Tropfest. And what were the brave confronted with when they arrived? In the first instance they were bombarded with the loud assertion from a man in a hat that this WAS ‘the greatest and biggest short film festival in the world!!!!’ (Cannes, etc. anyone?) They were intoned to cheer at nothing so that TV sound crews could create the illusion of atmosphere. After spending too much money for a drink, they settled onto their picnic rugs only to have to endure eight short ‘films’ from Qantas extolling their virtues as our national airline and the ‘uniqueness’ of our land. The audience were then commanded to ‘tweet!’, to ‘hashtag!’ to ‘experience!’, as long as whatever they did fit the orchestrated imagining of ‘fun’ and ‘frivolity’. (My friend’s tweet that Qantas should have commissioned short films to follow the lives of the thousand workers just laid off never made it into the discussion). They were then forced to witness a piece of postcolonial military propaganda, a film that reduced the Afghani people (evacuated of all agency or history) to a reminder of our own good luck to be at Tropfest.”