Guest WriterWriter By Jo Ranck for www.facebook.com/Love Activism
To see how our society copes with crisis, I went to Martin Place during the Sydney siege and I was appalled by what I saw behind the thin blue line…
On Monday, December 15 2014, I was on my way to lunch in Newtown, when I heard about the hostage situation in Martin Place. I was of course horrified and while on the ferry, I wrestled with myself on whether or not I should go, as I did not want to be part of the voyeur culture. But as an activist, counseling student and photographer, I utilized this opportunity to observe what sort of behavior goes on behind the scenes during an event like this.
I arrived at the first media vantage point near Martin Place at around 1130am. The police had locked down two blocks either side of Martin Place. In total there were three separate vantage points of which the media took advantage of; one on Macquarie St, and the second was on Phillip St. Where the most of the media vultures were positioned to best capture the unfolding “drama”. The third vantage point was on Elizabeth St. and this was where Ch. 7 and their Sunrise team happened to be bunkered in.
It all seemed business as usual for the media, at times the news folk even enjoyed time out, to schmooze and catch up with each other even though people’s lives were at risk. Of course, I hate the media sc[r]um, they’re like vultures, salivating at the prospect of live carnage. However, I was not at all surprised, given the Australian’s sharp decline, into Americanized stylized journalism, where “drama is the only bait” to gain media coverage. I couldn’t get over it, there were so many cameras just staring menacingly and unsympathetically at a lonely corner, only a stone’s throw away, from where a madman who was holding innocent people for ransom. Their anticipation was chilling, so many people banking on blood, otherwise why would they bother? It all comes down to the fact, that someone was going to rake in a profit, as people are seen as a commodity and a chess piece in someone else’s game.
It really was a “who’s who” of news loitering the streets. The important TV producers and presenters were scurrying around looking for any angle to report, as Sydney and the world were tuning in to devour the story. Because time is money and they need the scoop! Today, we had really crossed the line into American fuelled sensationalized fear mongering “reality television”-inspired journalism.
However, this was not the most shocking and disgusting thing that occurred behind the thin blue line. No. The most disturbing thing I witnessed, was seeing people take selfies during the siege, yes they wanted to publicize the fact they were there, obviously for some hollow likes on Facebook and/or for their own vanity??
I mean I almost lost it when I saw two teenagers using a go pro to take professional style selfies. These morons were going from vantage point to vantage point, smiling, posing, and taking picks. I just watched in disbelief, I couldn’t believe it. This was a tragedy in motion a horrific situation unfolding and the outcome at this point was uncertain, and if things did go badly which inevitably they did, they were capitalizing on a crime scene and someone else’s pain. It was like viewing mini Murdoch’s running around the place…enjoying the prospect of a “bloody outcome.”
And not only did I witness teenagers in the act, I saw grown ups doing the same thing, taking selfies seizing the opportunity to get their own sleazy fingerprints all over it. I even caught a man posing for a photo in the media scrum, smiling away, I just couldn’t fathom it, as to why they would want to be smiling for a picture while something truly terrifying was going on.
Imagine this trend growing and, once the barriers in Martin Place are gone, then more selfies to come, therefore reducing this event to a “theme park attraction.” It just shows how detached from the reality people are and how desensitized we are becoming to other peoples pain in a culturally starved Australia.
Also, this disturbing trend could one day grow, imagine a world where people feel it is ok to take selfies or pose for photos in front of a horrific car accident and/or burning houses. I guess it’s the byproduct of a world becoming more online centered, and increasingly digitally focused, thus we are losing our ability to read what’s appropriate behavior in certain situations. And it is apparent, that the news stations are feeding peoples hunger for violence and celebrity status 24/7. Plus, young people are playing more and more violent video games; therefore the lines between reality and fiction are truly becoming blurred.
Furthermore, Murdoch exploited the public’s reaction and pushed for an afternoon edition of the daily telegraph, without of course, even checking the facts. It’s a News Corpse reality, as they are all too delighted to manipulate a hostage crisis into a politically motivated act, as to justify depriving people of their civil rights in the name of new terror laws. Their reasoning is to create hate for Islam, lock up refugees, even though this incident has everything to do with a ‘fault’ in the judicial system rather than a IS or terrorist issue. Murdoch unashamedly sent out a tweet right after the horrific shootings took place, praising and congratulating his staff for capturing the “bloody outcome.’’ I mean it sounds to me, that he thinks people’s pain is for his own game. Therefore, how in the hell is his paper a good role model for the future? I guess, we are what we read?
I mean these sociopaths run amuck, causing political instability and hate, and I am not talking about the gunman, I’m speaking of Murdoch and other sensationalist media outlets. Therefore, they are helping to create a generation of hollow selfie-obsessed people, born and bred to be opportunistic, and think “survival of the most famous?” These media outlets are propagating lack of empathy and love in time of crisis, fuelling the selfie-obsessed generation. Murdoch manipulates public opinion with his shock jock style reporting. Murdoch’s mentality: print first and ask no questions later.
What are future generations going to think when they visit museums and see archives of selfies and over-dramatized media files? Truly, they are going to think that we haven’t evolved out of the dark ages. Also, we’re no better than the Greeks or the Romans as bloody scenes are broadcasted around the globe, without real understanding or thought into why they happen, just like how audiences reveled in watching gladiators’ kill prisoners, without knowing why these poor souls were locked up in the first place.
As Russell Brand puts it: “[the media] can’t chose the way a story begins or ends. That’s the problem with the way these stories get reported. You sort of get these blasts of information that necessarily reduce a complicated story.” And when it comes to time and place for selfies and or what we post on social media, we should also ask ourselves are we taking advantage of a situation? Also, if you wouldn’t like to be held at gunpoint, then maybe it’s not the right situation to be taking a photo at, because maybe this isn’t Stereosonic, and maybe people’s lives are in real danger and maybe this isn’t a game of mine-craft.
So what’s the remedy to our selfie obsessed culture: think for yourselves, be empathetic and question the Telegraph headlines, which are politically and socially motivated. Be aware. Then decide what direction to take based on what sort of society we wish to create. And if you took a selfie during the Sydney Siege, rethink posting on Facebook or other social media outlets. Joe Ranack
Positivity through despair
Positivity , compassion and love have risen up out of the darkness created by this siege, I have seen many Facebook posts hating on Muslims, that have been “shut down” by forward thinking Australian’s which is amazing to see. During the 9/11 crisis, there was none of this. Yet today we are seeing an emergence of compassionate thinkers, whom are spreading the truth and compassion behind the Media’s Fear mongering and propaganda tactics. I was so impressed with some of the responses from the public, for example #ILLRIDEWITHYOU Where a Muslim woman riding on public transport feared for her safety and thought it may be best to take off her Head piece. People riding with her said no “put it back on the ill ride with you” causing an Instagram frenzy thousand of hash tags. (Social Media Working in reverse for a change) Its amazing acts of kindness and love like this that will change the world as we know it. Through our darkest hours we must unite, focus on what makes us HUMANS similar and repel the negative, use love and compassion as our weapons. People are realizing now that the main stream media is mostly full of shit run by a few select people.
Alternate media are booming worldwide. We have many whistle blowers coming out, protests in almost every country, citizens are asking questions, we are on the verge of a revolution. Humans are sick of war and oppression, its 2014 time to stand up for what’s right, make changes now to support the futures of our children. Every bad situation can have a positive outcome, it’s all about mindset. Stay Positive… Nate Max
A bit about the Author: Jo Ranck
I see the future is what we make of it. Never grow up and never surrender. I am a political comedic activist who’s stirring the pot on social media and in physical form, demanding positive change in all aspects of Govt., environment and society, plus a budding journalist, doco maker, master’s student, performance artist, PR unprofessional, photographer, and environmentalist. I believe education on important issues are key; and one of the scariest things facing our future is Murdoch and CSG, because I believe our humanity needs reinvigorating and Murdoch seems to be at the center of all things wrong with the world, plus without clean air, water and land our future is lost. I have also run many successful comedy events, I have been to almost every activist anti-government rally this year, and I have visited protector camps in the Leard and Gloucester. One of my biggest achievements was not washing my hair for two months while on the road. Plus, I buried my head in the sand in Bondi, in front of Bondi rescue holing and anti-gas sign and it went viral. This inspiring, the mass head-burying that occurred around the world, which also went viral. I should really get a blood test, that a lot sharing?>?
The anti-CSG movement that has most inspired me was the success of Bentley, as the people of Northern Rivers fought off Metgasgo and saved there their land from CSG Hell. Right now, I am helping with the Gloucester campaign; they are fighting against CSG frackers AGL. I take great photos, and actually get paid for that. I started Love Activism last year, www.facebook.com/loveactivism as a sort of youth ad agency of NGOs, important causes and not-for-profits, as I believe young people were not being spoken to in a relevant and meaningful way and this is important for democracy and our future. I believe campaigns should actually be effective and not just lip service. Basically, I enjoy making great art while saving the world.