What has been occupying us for the past month(ish), from books to podcasts to recipes and beauty products.
BBC’s Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV (Talani)
This month I am endorsing someone elses’ recommendation (are there rules for this kind of thing?) Basically, in the 16th June episode of Shameless entitled An It Boy’s Photo Scandal (you can find this episode here) journalist and co-host Michelle Andrews recommended a podcast by BBC, Unreal, which provides a critical analysis of reality TV over the past 25 years.
As somebody who paid a little too much to own the first season of Paris Hilton is my New BFF on DVD during lockdown last year, I was very excited by this recommendation. Unreal is hosted by journalists Sirin Kale and Pandora Sykes and unpacks all the ethical concerns that arise in the reality television format, starting with the first season of Big Brother right up until Love Island. One of the most interesting episodes, ‘The Wild West Years: There’s Something About Miriam & Who’s Your Daddy’ analyses some of the most troubling shows to emerge in this genre. There’s Something About Miriam was a competition dating show where six men were competing for the affection of trans woman, Miriam Riveria. Miriam being trans was treated as a “twist” that the contestants weren’t aware of – and resulted in widespread criticism and the contestants suing the show’s creators. The premise of Who’s Your Daddy involved an adult who had been put up for adoption as a child needing to pick out their biological father in a room of actors who were pretending to be her father to win a cash prize of $100,000. As a Kardashian stan, the episode Climbing the Ladder: Keeping Up with the Kardashians was also interesting, including their take on the progression of Kim as the fashion icon we know her to be today. You can find the series here!
Queer: Stories from the NGV collection (Lilly)
I for one, as a Melbournian of 6ish years, don’t spend nearly enough time at our wonderful gallery - the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). But I vow to correct this!! My recent expedition to the NGV was for the current exhibition QUEER: Stories from the NGV collection. It makes for a truly dreamy Sunday afternoon activity - catching the tram down St Kilda road, saying hi to the digital birds on the front lawn, having a half-way pit-stop for scones and tea at the Gallery cafe.
You’ll want to set aside a couple of hours to really delve into the pieces, because they span a wide range of eras and media. It consists of pieces pulled from the NGV’s regular collection, curated specifically to tell the queer stories behind each artwork. There’s a mix of art with proudly queer subjects and themes, and others with more subtle queer coding, revealing the queer stories of the artists themselves. There’s probably more than one piece that you’ll recognise, without having previously known the queer story behind it. You’ll definitely learn about a historical figure or two that you didn’t realise was (probably) queer…! (No spoilers.)
Some of my highlights included the breathtaking Gumnut gown by Marrithiyel designer Paul McCann, and several HIV/AIDS themed collages from Australian artist and political activist, David McDiarmid.
If I hadn’t already convinced you - it’s free! The exhibition runs until 21 August 2022, so be sure to make time over the next two months.
Please be aware that the collection contains themes and language that may be triggering or confronting to some queer patrons.