Cruelty isn’t entertaining 

Leaving her confines twice a day during peak season, dressed up in her finest, her adoring fans gather around Anne so that they can get a few happy snaps with the star of the show. At night, she is beaten, stabbed, spat on. Her bruised and battered body flinching from the blows, her arthritic body aches but the shackles around her ankle hinders her escape. This is the life of Britain’s last surviving circus elephant and despite calls for her release, Bobby Roberts, the owner of Super Circus, has refused to let his “beloved” Elephant go claiming that “she is part of the family” (Greenwood & Elillcot 2015).

Anne’s story is not unique, many exotic have, and still do, endure a similar fate. Shoved into small crates and cages for long stretches of time as the circus travels from town to town they show the signs of stress only synonymous with non-domesticated animals. Pacing back and forth, head shaking, or broken teeth from biting on cage bars. They are forced to perform for large, loud crowd’s multiple times a day fearful of the punishment they will receive if they do not. And while the push back to ban the use of any animal in circuses, there are still a handful who hold onto the tradition.

While there are no longer any performing elephants in Australia since 2007, two circuses, Stardust and Lennon Bros, still use Lions as part of their shows. Glenn West who is the manager of Stardust is adamant that the lions in his circus are very well looked after even going so far as to say they have a better life than some lions kept in zoo’s as he states that he “believes that a lion in the circus is a 100 times happier than any zoo lion because they get new experiences all the time and they get handled and cuddled,”(Stirton 2015) . However, despite West being determined that his lions are kept in the best conditions and treated with respect and care many Councils in Australia are refusing to allow the circuses to set up in their towns. But West still believes that his lions are happy, and that they enjoy performing for those that come to watch the shows.

The lions, like those seen at the Stardust circus, are often bred in captivity, some 21 generations old. But these are still animals that have yet to be fully “domesticated’ and still hold onto their natural predatory, instinctive traits which has, occasionally, lead to the deaths of those that train them. In 2013 Alexander Crispin, a 35-year-old trainer at a circus in Suarez, Mexico, was attacked and killed during a performance. That night one of the tigers decided to break from his normal routine and lunged at Crispin, knocking him to the ground (Ramos 2016). Despite the efforts of other handlers to scare the tiger off, Crispin died of blood loss. In 2010 Killer whale Tillicum, who was the star attraction at SeaWorld and, later, the Documentary Blackfish, brutally attacked and killed his trainer Dawn Brancheau during one of his daily shows. The attack sparked a major investigation, as well as massive protests demanding the release of these whales from captivity.

Fortunately, there is hope for change, organisations such as PETA and other animal-welfare communities, and the incredible impact that documentaries like Blackfish, Circuses have either volunteered or been forced to surrender animals to conservation parks. Such documentaries have led to the popularity of circuses and theme parks using animals as entertainment for audiences to die out and legislation’s have also begun to change banning the use of whales and other exotic animals in performances, and captive breeding has since been halted all together for Killer Whales.

Hopefully there will come a time where there will no longer be cages and barriers holding animals in fabricated African landscapes and those that wish to see lions, elephants or even a whale must venture out into the wilderness to see these beautiful creatures where there were always meant to be. In the wild.

References:

Ramos, A R 2016, 10 Animal Trainers Viciously Killed On The Job, April 26, viewed 27 March 2017,http://listverse.com/2016/04/26/10-animal-trainers-viciously-killed-on-the-job/

Greenwood, C & Ellicot, C 2015, Anne’s agony: Battered, kicked and stabbed, the desperate plight of Britain’s last circus elephant, The daily Mail, August 12, viewed 27 March 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1370050/Britains-circus-elephant-Anne-Battered-kicked-stabbed.html

Stirton, S 2015, ,Animal cruelty, or man’s best friend? The complicated ethics of keeping lions in Australian circuses, Novermber 16, viewed 27 March 2017,  http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/animal-cruelty-or-mans-best-friend-the-complicated-ethics-of-keeping-lions-in-australian-circuses/news-story/ecefeec3e227724141a464a93ad84ac5

Chattoo, C B 2015, Breaking Down the Impact of “Blackfish”,January 5, http://cmsimpact.org/social-impact/breaking-down-the-impact-of-blackfish/

 

 

 

Takenoko-A Game review by the Pink Protagonist

 

Takenoko, a stunningly illustrated action allocation, tile placement, strategy game. Where players must ‘cultivate’ plots of land to grow bamboo for a very hungry little panda. This beautiful set was the brain child of French game designer Antoine Bauza, released in 2011 and illustrated by Nicolas Fructus, Joel Van Aerde and Yuio, and branded by Asmodee Games. The game has also won the Ludoteca Ideale (Italy) in 2013, the Nederlandse Spellenprijs Nomination in 2012, and the Geek Minor League 2nd Place 2015.

The game retails on Amazon for $54.99, but can cost anywhere between $44.66 on Ubuy Australia to $97.80US+TAX on eBay. You can also buy the expansion Takenoko:Chibis, the mother and 9 children of the original panda gifted to the town, and a collector’s edition for $76.95 on ebay.com. You can even buy a statue of the little panda for $85.99 at TopToy.com.au if you are so inclined.

The board game comes with:

  • 28 Plots
  • 36 Green Bamboo sections
  • 30 Yellow Bamboo sections
  • 24 Pink Bamboo sections
  • 20 Irrigation channels
  • 9 Improvements
  • 46 “Objective” cards
  • 4 Individual boards
  • 8 Action chips
  • 1 Weather die
  • 1 Panda
  • 1 Gardener
  • 1 Rule Booklet

Game Play:

Game play can take between 20-45 minutes depending on what strategy each player chooses to take, and the number of player (2-4). The final round is triggered only when one of the players gains the emperors bonus card after having collected 7 (if 4 players), 8 (if 3 players) or 9 (if 2 players) objective cards. The person with the most points collected is declared the winner.

At the beginning of the game each player is designated an individual board where they “store” their irrigation rods, action chips, bamboo and improvement cards. Three objective cards are handed out which they must keep hidden from the other players (though they can look at them at any time). Each of these cards asks the player to perform different tasks to gain points. These can be to arrange the tiles in a certain pattern, has the player  ‘grow’ a certain number of bamboo shoots (max 4 per tile), or has the player ‘feed’the panda eat a certain number or colour of bamboo shoots. They are also given 2 action chips, the patterns on these chips corresponding to the patterns on the backs of their board.

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Each round players rolls the weather dice and perform two or the five action tasks they have picked on their board (move panda, select a tile, move the gardener, place an irrigation rod or pick up an objective card). The weather dice is not used in the first round, only the tasks are performed. If a player chooses to collect a tile, they must select 3 tiles from the pile only placing one down on the board and putting the discarded tiles to the bottom of the pile. If a player chooses to move the panda, they can move him only in straight lines and only one tile at a time, this is the same for the gardener. However, if the panda lands on a tile with bamboo, and there is no improvement tile protecting the bamboo from being eaten, then he “eats” a single piece of bamboo which the player keeps until they’ve completed their objective. If the gardener is moved, then a single bamboo shoot grows where he lands if the plot is irrigated. If there is an improvement on this tile then two shoots will grow, and if all the plots surrounding that tile are the same and irrigated then a single shoot will grow on all of those as well. If the player wants to use an irrigation rod, then they place it down between the tiles. For a tile to be considered irrigated they must be connected to two fully irrigated plots. All plots that are directly linked to the irrigation tile are automatically irrigated, as are the tiles that have a improvement tile. Finally, if a player chooses to select a card, then they can select one from each of the objective cards.

16939428_788904417952794_6331258446733376490_nAfter the first round, each player also rolls the weather dice. This dice has 6 different symbols on each side that determines the ‘weather’. The sun symbol means that the player must perform an extra action, however it must be different from the two actions that they have selected. The rain symbol means the player adds a bamboo shoot to one of the tiles, however this tile must be irrigated and if there is a fertiliser improvement on this tile then two shoots can grow. The wind symbol allows for the player to pick one action that they play twice instead of having to play two separate actions (they do not play the alternative action). The storm tile allows the player to move the panda to any tile on the board without having to move in a straight line. Wherever the panda lands, if there is bamboo then the player takes a single shoot. The cloud symbol allows a player to pick from any of the improvement tiles, they do not have to play these right away and can keep them to use later in the game. IF these tiles have already been used then they can pick any of the other symbols. Finally, the question mark means a player can pick from any of the other 5 weather symbols.

Playing the game:

After I finished cooing over the adorable little figures, and admiring the brilliantly illustrated tiles I found the game, at least initially, a little confusing to get my head around. This came down to the fact that the rule book has been translated, very badly, from French to English. But also because of the number of actions each player needed to perform each round, the rules when it came to growing bamboo and irrigation as well as exactly how the characters moved. Fortunately, with a little bit of help from someone who had played the game before joining us to help, we could get started.

While playing the game, I decided I would collect an objective card for each round so that I could gain the most points possible, while robbing the other players of the chance to get extra cards themselves. Once I had collected enough cards I took to the task of completed them. I was lucky that some of the other players were aiming for growing bamboo and creating tile patterns as this also benefited me, and meant I didn’t have to focus so hard on these objectives. After a few rounds you could tell that everyone had selected their strategy to win the game. When the final round was triggered, not by me, we finished up with me being declared the winner as I had the most points.

After we completed the game I realised that my group had not been playing it 100% correctly as we did not ensure that all plots were properly irrigated, but also that the plots needed to be irrigated for the patterns to be used.

Overall thoughts:

I LOVED this game. After finally understanding the rules and how to play it was quite a lot of fun. Also, it was the first time I had ever played a game where you built the board as you went along instead of there being a board there already. I also liked how there was a background story for the game which added just another layer to the overall feel. I would be more than happy to play the game again, and think if I was to purchase it myself I would actually by the collectors addition with the extra-large pieces so that I can admire the artwork better.

 

 

My life isn’t for YOUR entertainment

One Nations Pilbara candidate David Archibald states in the journal Quadrant that “single mothers are lazy and responsible for a “rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly” (Stephens, 2017). A statement he stands by to this day. He is calling for all welfare to be cut for all single mothers as he believes that they are simply too lazy to attract a mate (2017). His statements drew nationwide criticism, including One nations Pauline Hanson, a single mother herself, who tweeted “To all the fat lazy politicians & fat lazy journalists in the fat lazy media playing fat lazy, PC, identity politics- The answer is no.” (Hanson,2017)

Maybe I am silly, or vain, or just plain crazy. But I don’t consider myself to be ugly, or even remotely lazy, but I didn’t really think that the moment I became a single mother, my soul purpose in life was to go out and seek a new “mate” ASAP. I honestly believed that raising my kids not to be assholes, seeking ways to improve my situation through studying and finding employment was what I, as well as any other parent, might be aiming for when you’re essentially living on the poverty line.

The vilification of anyone who is a recipient of welfare has always been fair game. Everyone is placed into a different category, scrutinised as a collective group rather than have their individual circumstances considered. The government uses people on benefits as the scapegoat for cruel budget cuts which pushes them further and further below the poverty line, pedalling these cuts as “incentives’ for the recipients to go out and seek work. The media also enjoys a good crack at anyone living in poverty. With headlines like: Single parents told: ‘Get back to work’(Morton 2012) or Teen parents targeted in welfare crackdown (Kirk 2011) you would think being a single parent was a criminal offence and not someone who might very well be a victim.

Shows like ‘Struggle street’ showcasing a select group of families. Their lives carefully edited, cropped and tailored to fit neatly into the stereotype of the welfare recipient. Loud, crude, fat, taking drugs, drinking, smoking with extra-large families, broken marriages, or not married at all. These are the people that the media wants us to see, the ones “mooching off our hard earner tax”. These poor people, paraded around on our TV screens for the viewers to judge and scrutinise, likely sold a lie that they might be able to change their situation if they agreed to do the show. Many of whom probably didn’t poses the capacity to fully comprehend what would happen due to mental illness, their addictions and even a brain injury! Struggle street further dehumanise these victims of a broken country who does not care about the poor all for the ratings.

This isn’t the first show of its kind; Benefits street follows families living on Birmingham Street. Like ‘Struggle Street’ each family has been carefully selected to fit into the stereotype of the “typical” welfare recipient. A drug addict, a thief, and a small family where the parents don’t work. Even ‘Real Stories‘ did a documentary called ‘Benefits Britain‘ documents the lives of families in Britain who live on the dole. In Britain, this kind of TV series is extremely popular, being dubbed a kind of “poverty porn” where viewers get to watch the real lives of those struggling to keep themselves afloat in a world that only wants to mock and condemn them because of the hand they were dealt in life, as a form of entertainment.

In 2016, Australia had  181,000 job vacancies, 738,900 people unemployed, 1,095,975 people underemployed, 2,990,300 people below the poverty line (Freedom From Poverty 2017). Yet anyone without a job, like the single mothers,  are told they’re lazy, they’re not trying hard enough. Our welfare system is meant to be the safety net for everyone. But with so little support, it is no wonder that the cycle of poverty continues and it is only going to get worse. These people’s lives, my life, is not something that should be abused for the entertainment of others. We are people with real problems like everyone else. We love, we laugh, cry, we have families, aspirations, hopes and dreams. We are humans too not TV show characters.

References:

Stephens, K 2017, One Nation candidate sparks outrage, after describing single mothers as ‘too lazy to attract and hold a mate’, Feburary 1st,  viewed 19 March 2017, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/kids/one-nation-candidate-sparks-outrage-after-describing-single-mothers-as-too-lazy-to-attract-and-hold-a-mate/news-story/b04bf9207686410eeba5cf0c3732cae2

Morton, R, 2012, Single parents told to ‘Get back to work’, Mamamia, May 7, viewed 19 March 2017, http://www.mamamia.com.au/single-parent-pension-and-payments-should-single-parents-work/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-05/teen-parents-targeted-in-welfare-crackdown/2704204

Freedom From Poverty, 2017, March 17,https://www.facebook.com/endpovertyinoz/ : ABS ‘Job Vacancies, Australia Nov 2016’ –http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6354.0, ABS ‘Labour Force, Australia Feb 2017’ –http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0, ACOSS ‘Poverty in Australia 2016’ –http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty/

The smile is a mask

The smile is a mask

(Trigger Warning. Contains images of violence)

She holds up a sign up ‘’Help me. I don’t know if I will get to see tomorrow.'(Styles, 2013). This is but one face of the many victims around the world, many suffering in silence, abused by their domestic partner. It was the worst year of her life documented in selfies.

In a world where it seems important to document one’s life on social media it is often hard to realise how prolific domestic abuse is when everyone only shows the happiest parts of their life. Yet in Australia alone, over 300,000 women experience physical violence (Our Watch) every year. While this issue isn’t new to anyone, with the significant rise of ‘Feminism’ it has certainly been brought back into the lime light. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any dramatic changes in the way in which victims are being treated.

Meagan Tyler pointed out in her article, No, Feminism is not a choice, ‘Feminism has resulted in in a perverse kind of victim-blaming. Blame yourself, you obviously made the wrong choice (2015). This rhetoric has been utilised as a way of silencing victims over and over, ‘if they’re that bad why don’t you just leave?’.

As much as I agree with Tyler on her feelings towards feminism, I also believe that the resurgence of feminism is allowing those who have always attempted to speak up all along they have now had their voices amplified 10-fold. Victims are speaking out, showcasing the realities of abuse on their Instagram, Twitter accounts, even their Facebook pages.  Rosie Batty, a mother who lost her own child at the hands of her abuser in 2014, has given victims a public voice demanding that the leaders of our country stand up and do something about it. Her website, http://www.neveralone.com.au/, gives victims a place to go to seek help, but also allows access to information about the  variety and complexity of abuse.

In the video above, a Serbian woman documented a year in her life by taking a selfie every day. Her face smiles at the camera, she seems full of life and happy. As the video continues we see this smile fade, and at the end it is covered in blood and bruises as she holds a sign begging for help.

These snippets of life as a victim confront the viewers demanding interaction, demanding something be done. They beg for change. A series of posted selfies have opened up possibility of dialogue for people to talk about their own experiences and with it a new hope for change.

References:

Styles, R 2013, Harrowing video montage ‘documents Serbian woman’s year of domestic violence’ but could it be a fake to promote awareness of attacks on women?, Daily Mails Australia, 23 March, viewed 11 March 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2297625/Harrowing-video-montage-documents-Serbian-womans-year-domestic-violence.html

Tyler, M 2015, No, Feminism is not a choice, The Conversation, 30 April, viewed 11 March 2017,http://theconversation.com/no-feminism-is-not-about-choice-40896

https://www.ourwatch.org.au/Understanding-Violence/Facts-and-figures