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The attention economy and influencing of influencers

By Sharon Brettkelley in RNZ on  21 May 2024

Dr Sabrina Moro, who lectures in media, film and communication at Otago University, says anyone who has an influence has some level of responsibility.

"Obviously I'm not asking celebrities to be experts on this question, but they have the capacity to orient the (discussion) towards these issues.

"It's not a coincidence that in justice campaigns we have celebrities who are asked to be spokespeople for those campaigns. I think all of these forms of activism are valid."

How does #Blocked2024 work?

"If celebrities are blocked, they can't make as much money – it's tapping where it hurts," she says. That particularly applies to influencers.

She says there have been some celebrities who have responded, posting links to donation sites  – Lizzo is one example – but it's unclear if that's because they want to speak out, or because their PR teams tell them to.

As far as the social media activists are concerned, Moro says it's easier to block a celebrity than showing up week after week to your local protest or writing to your representative.

Read more…

R1 News

20 May 2024

Dr Sabrina Moro talks to 91FM Radio One about 'Blockout 2024'

Blockout 2024: Why celebrities are getting cancelled over their views

By Chelsea Daniels in NZ Herald 16 May 2024

University of Otago researcher, Dr Sabrina Moro told The Front Page “Blockout 2024″ is a movement that aims to protest celebrities’ silence on the war on Gaza.

Read more…

The Panel with Scott Campbell and Jennie Moreton

9 April 2024

Olivier Jutel speaks on Radio NZ about the axing of Fair Go.

Listen to Olivier Jutel on The Panel

BAFTSS Practice Research Awards 2024

8 April 2024
Videographic Criticism Honorable Mention II

'The Responsive Eye, or, The Morning Show May Destroy You' by Catherine Fowler (University of Otago) is "A refreshing and innovative approach to a video essay. The work re-asks the questions posed by the #MeToo movement in a bold and thought-provoking way. The video essay addresses the question of the representation of sexual violence in art and offers unexpected visual and intellectual solutions".

Read more about the BAFTSS Practice Research Awards 2024

Would requiring a dividend fix the 'uncompetitive' TV market?

By Susan Edmunds in Stuff 1 March 2024

Any Government attempt to require TVNZ to pay a regular dividend is likely to decimate the broadcaster without meaningfully levelling the industry playing field, commentators say. …

Otago university lecturer Olivier Jutel said the Government releasing TVNZ from demands to pay a dividend released some of the pressure to compete in a cut-throat market. “Imposing the dividend is saying there’s no greater value for news than the market place.”

He said initiatives like the Public Interest Journalism Fund, which was used to support media through Covid-19, could be a model for how a competitive pool of funding could be used to support independent operators.

Jutel said it should not be expected that the Three audience would automatically shift to TVNZ. “I’ve always thought TVNZ was slightly more aged as a demographic… you see Colin Meads advertising life insurance. TV3 is more Gen Y, elder millennial. It’s more playful with its content. There’s a distinction in that with demographics and the advertising model. It’s possible those people don’t just go to TV One and the ad dollars don’t just go to TV One.”

Read more…

Newshub closure: NZ's 'media apocalypse' and the public relations democracy of distrust

By Bryce Edwards in NZ Herald 1 March 2024

Democracy is the loser whenever a major media company disappears. We’ve seen a total consensus about this in the past two days – politicians, academics, and journalists have commented on the demise of Newshub, pointing out that a reduction in journalists reporting on and investigating current affairs and politics does not serve the democratic goal of an informed public. …

There is now huge pressure on the Government and Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee, to help the media sector to survive. Part of this could involve some sort of revived Public Interest Journalism Fund. This is being advocated for today by University of Otago media studies lecturer Olivier Jutel. He is reported as believing the controversial fund “could be a model for how a competitive pool of funding could be used to support independent operators”.

Read more…


Not a sequel: Barbie – the panel discussion

By Hamish McNeilly in Stuff 14 August 2023

You’ve bought the doll and you’ve watched the movie, now you can take part in a discussion on Barbie.

Barbie: Possibilities and Impasses – a pop-up discussion – features three University of Otago academics and will be coming to a (small) screen near you.

Dr Rosemary Overell said the impact of Barbie was far-reaching: “We recognise that Barbie has been this massive hit, it has almost revived going to the cinema.”

Read more…

#MeToo: pourquoi a-t-il fallu qu'Hollywood parle de violences sexuelles pour que l'on écoute enfin les femmes?

by Maélys Peiteado in marie claire 15 October 2023.

Octobre 2017, dans la foulée de la publication d'une enquête du New York Times qui relaie les témoignages glaçants de plusieurs femmes accusant le magnat d'Hollywood Harvey Weinstein de viols et d'agressions sexuelles, l'actrice Alyssa Milano se fend d'un tweet encourageant les victimes de violences sexuelles à se manifester à travers le monde : "Si vous avez été harcelée ou agressée sexuellement, écrivez 'me too' en réponse à ce tweet".

Pour comprendre en quoi le fait que #MeToo ait été porté par des stars hollywoodiennes a fortement contribué à la popularité du mouvement et donc à la démocratisation des dénonciations de sévices subis par les femmes, Sabrina Moro, maîtresse de conférence à l'Université d'Otago en Nouvelle-Zélande et chercheuse sur les liens entre célébrité et médiatisation des violences sexistes et sexuelles, répond aux questions de Marie Claire. Entretien.

Read more…

A light-touch approach far from heavy enough

By Olivier Jutel in Otago Daily Times 13 September 2023.

Parliament’s inquiry into cryptocurrencies is based on hype and wish fulfilment rather than the proven track record of crypto and Web3, Olivier Jutel writes.

Without much fanfare, last month the finance and expenditure committee published its report, "Inquiry into the current and future nature, impact and risks of cryptocurrencies". It recommends a pro-growth approach including a regulatory light touch, inter-governmental working groups for blockchain adaptation and spreading the gospel across the education sector.However, a lot has happened to the global crypto economy in the two years since this report was commissioned

Read more…


Professor Catherine Fowler: The greatest film you've never seen

From Saturday Morning on RNZ

It’s a film some people say is like watching paint dry, others say it will change your life.

This month 1600 film critics and academics voted Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels the greatest film of all time, knocking Vertigo from the top slot.

The 1975 film by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman is a three hour, 21-minute-long film following the daily routine of a widow, whose chores include making the beds, cooking dinner, and turning the occasional trick.

Otago University film and media professor Catherine Fowler has been studying the film for 30 years and tells Kim Kill she’s over the moon the film was recognised.

The Sight and Sound poll, which only takes place every ten years, creates a kind of canon for the decade to come, Fowler says.

“Previously, so we’re talking the past 50 years, the canon had been very stable, it had not moved.”

Citizen Kane, Vertigo, Tokyo Story and 2001 A Space Odessey have always shuffled around in the top spot.

“Our view of cinema is changed when we sit through [Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels],” Fowler says.

The film is not only legend but sitting and watching it in totality makes you feel like you’ve lived through something, she says.

Read more…

"Disinformation" didn't bring us Donald Trump

By Olivier Jutel in Jacobin September 2022.

The current malaise about tech platforms and the effects they are having on democracy has come to be understood primarily as a question of disinformation. Government agencies, Silicon Valley NGO s, and research centers have been crucial in channeling collective disgust at unaccountable tech oligarchs into a single-minded preoccupation with (alleged) “truth.” From Russiagate to January 6 and COVID denialism – all these are deemed to stem from problems of “epistemic terrorism,” Facebook acting as a “hostile foreign power,” or Russia hacking our minds. Instead of instituting public-interest regulation and bringing out the antitrust blowtorch, a revolving door has been established between the national security state and platforms. Only the disinformation experts get to peek into the algorithmic black boxes that govern the internet. While the prospects for regulation have always been slim, we would do well to avoid reinforcing the dismal Cold War science of disinformation studies.

Read more…

Opinion: Sun, sea and sandboxes: What are the crypto innovators testing in the Pacific?

By Peter Howson and Olivier Jutel in Thomson Reuters 4 February 2022.

In normal times, the Pacific nation of Palau was a magnet for tourists. Palau’s population of 18,000 welcomed around 100,000 Yachties each year in search of remote un-spoilt beaches and pristine reefs. To protect the oceans for scuba diving tourists, most of Palau’s waters were designated off-limits for commercial fishing. Pre-covid, all of Palau’s eggs were in the tourism basket. Today, facing prolonged covid restrictions, that basket is empty, and Palau’s cash is drying up.

Diversifying the economy without mass-tourism is a pressing priority for Palauan President, Surangel Whipps Jr. Like many Pacific governments, Palau is trying desperately to avoid defaulting on sizable loans. Whipps has even started selling Non-Fungible Tokens ( NFT s). But these are not CryptoKitties, or pics of the First Lady’s hat. These are digital Palauan ID cards.

Read more…


Revisiting satellite space research

By John Gibb in Otago Daily Times 15 March 2021.

Satellite researcher Associate Professor Hugh Slotten is looking forward to boldly researching where he has gone before, at the Smithsonian Institution Air and Space Museum in the United States.

Professor Slotten, of the University of Otago media, film and communication programme, has received a second prestigious US award, amounting to more than $US100,000 ($NZ139,000), to support a year’s research at the Washington DC museum.

Communication satellites had always been intertwined with political intrigue, but since the end of the Cold War, more developing countries were involved, some eventually launching their own satellites, he said.

"It’s definitely more complex."

Read more…

Invercargill's united front, media skepticism and aversion to negativity

By Matthew Rosenberg in Otago Daily Times 10 September 2021.

New Zealand’s southernmost council has rallied to achieve outcomes set out for it by the Department of Internal Affairs. But there’s a strong sense of skepticism in the south towards the media, and the coverage of their embattled mayor. Matthew Rosenberg reports.

On the topic of media, elected officials love nothing more than driving home an old cliche: it’s either your best friend or your worst enemy.

Dr Brett Nicholls is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago’s Media, Communications, and Film department who has some concerns based of his understanding of the situation.

Nicholls makes the point that the relationship between media and power has always been tenuous, but is concerned by the thought of direction being given to media by those in positions of influence.

“How are you supposed to respond to this? ‘Oh we’ll do a few positive stories about building footpaths or something?’,” Nicholls joked.

“Powerful people are entitled to their views on things of course. But one of the things we have to be sure of is that the press maintains an independence from power.

“This is the only way it can actually critique power.”

Thomson, Shadbolt, and Amundsen aren’t alone in taking issue with the media. Behind them, a line of other council-adjacent individuals have also had a swing.

Read more…


"Fomo" carries a cost for social media users'

By John Gibb in Otago Daily Times 15 October 2019.

Fear of missing out drives many people to keep using social media, despite the loss of privacy and commercial manipulation.

University of Otago media, film and communication lecturer Anne Begg was commenting in a talk on "social media surveillance'' at a "Digital Expo''in Dunedin yesterday.

"What does it cost users to have free access to social media?'' she asked several times during her talk, to about 40 people.

She joked that smartphones now had more information about people's lives than they had themselves.

Dr Begg did not have a Facebook page.

"I'm a bit of a dinosaur. I come from an older generation. I value privacy above everything else.''

Read more…

"Scarfies" 20 years on

By Elena McPhee in Otago Daily Times 20 July 2019.

Two decades have passed since the release of the film Scarfies gave the rest of the world a glimpse of Dunedin student culture, writes Elena McPhee.

Twenty years have flown by since cult black comedy Scarfies depicted the darker side of student life in Dunedin, but the iconic flat on Brown Street – and the influence of the film itself – is still part of the city's consciousness.

Feature film Scarfies, directed by Robert Sarkies and including rain, rugby, drug dealing and torture, was released on July 22, 1999.

University of Otago media, film and communication senior lecturer Dr Davinia Thornley said she thought the film played a vital role in "how the rest of the country understands Dunedin".

The film was part of an international wave of movies in the mid-to-late 1990s that were darker in tone and focused on groups of people being thrown together.

Interestingly it was very similar to Shallow Grave, a British black comedy which has a very similar situation as its premise, looking at three or four flatmates - and the movies were almost simultaneous, Dr Thornley said.

"There's a lot of violence and mayhem."

She thought the culture at the university had changed since the film came out: students were more likely to be engaged and have opinions on social issues.

Read more…

'Thrilled' to do Dunedin Pussy Riot show

By David Loughrey in Otago Daily Times 9 March 2019

Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot is set to bring both its raucous rock act and political message to Dunedin.

The band, which has been performing in New Zealand and Australia, will play a gig in Dunedin next weekend, and turn up at the University of Otago for a public discussion.

"Art, Protest & Power: In Conversation With Pussy Riot" will be "a conversation on the power of art, spectacle and transgression in these chaotic, media-saturated times".

A film about the band, Act & Punishment, will be shown, followed by a discussion.

Eight members of the band are understood to be attending.

Lecturer Rosemary Overell said her department considered how media worked in terms of socio-cultural politics.

"We're interested in how Pussy Riot have used various forms of media to talk back, or present a counter-discourse to patriarchy.

"They're one of the most significant global feminist groups at the moment.

"It's almost going back to 1970s types of feminist political performance, disruption of public space."

She said that varied from the "commodified" feminism presented by the likes of American performer Beyonce.

"Pussy Riot are doing something almost more extreme."

Read more…


Making connections

By Bruce Munro in Otago Daily Times 18 August 2018

Three decades after the demise of telegrams, voiceless communication is on the rise again.

Bruce Munro talks to telegraph workers about communications before telephones triumphed, chats to Snapchatters who constantly communicate but rarely call, and asks, is it OK that we are going back to a future of less talking?

Messaging is the more respectful option in Millennial and Gen-Z telecommunication etiquette.

That, combined with the incessant contact social networking allows, explains why talking less is happening more, Mikayla Cahill says.

Cahill (23) is studying for a master's degree in media, film and communication, at the University of Otago. Her honours thesis topic was Instagram.

"Voice messages might be declining,'' she says.

"But … the fact that most people are now online throughout the day [means] contacting them in a variety of non-intrusive, gentler ways, like private messages, is faster and convenient.''

Is the decline in speech a bad thing?

Not really, Cahill believes.

"Especially when you consider that the majority of our communication is non-verbal.

"Language is only a small part of how we interact and understand each other.

"Almost everything is non-verbal communication. There's body language, the types of music we listen to, the places we go in public, the types of clothes we wear - all of these communicate things about us to other people.''

"Thumbs up'', "winky face'' and "heart eyes'' to the bright future of the proud tradition of voiceless communication.

Hieroglyphs, here we come!

Read more…

On Demand success sees Love Island Australia and UK shows beat Heartbreak Island

by Kate Robertson in 9th July 2018

Kiwis are lapping up Love Island UK and Love Island Australia, with the shows collectively pulling in more than 4.1 million streams for TVNZ On Demand.

TVNZ does not broadcast either of the series on TVNZ 2. Instead, it posts the programmes on its On Demand platform.

With a cult-like following, which TVNZ says has grown week on week, University of Otago Media, Film and Television Lecturer Dr Rosemary Overell says the shows' success can be put down to two things: its ability to offer a sunny holiday from people's own lives, and the way it offers up characters they can see parts of themselves in.

"Our lives are quite disjointed and we have precarious jobs. One way for us to feel complete or whole might be to connect with or identify with these kinds of projects that seem to offer simple solutions to the angst we might deal with in our everyday lives," Overell says.

"Another way could be to look at it productively, where people identify with the characters, and can then work through their own personal relationship problems, or think through things in their world that's via a connection in the television.

"You can also talk to people about characters you do and don't like, moving from the specific of the programme to thinking about something like gender politics or heteronormativity [the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders with natural roles in life] in our world outside the television as well.".

Dr Overell notes the importance of taking these shows seriously, because people are watching them, and their influence is very real.

"There is an inclination in mainstream culture to write-off reality TV as not serious or not real, or not talented, but I think reality television is a really important site for that idea of productivity and how we work things out about our world, especially for young people," she says.

Read more…

However nasty it gets, we keep on lapping up the reality TV

by Lee Umbers in NZ Herald 30th June 2018

Standing in the Fijian sunshine alongside seven other beauties, she heard the host announce: "The least popular girl on Heartbreak Island is … Ella."

The 20-year-old Auckland commerce student, the youngest on TVNZ's brutal reality show, was understandably distraught.

The 16 contestants, vying for $100,000 in prize money, had based their decisions on three photos and a brief bio.

The scene left many wondering: has reality TV reached peak nastiness?

Otago University media and communications lecturer Dr Rosemary Overell thinks the appeal of these types of shows is people can relate to situations to their lives.

"These programmes, no matter how harsh or cruel, are continually popular with [viewers].

"I would suggest everyday life for many Kiwis is relatively harsh or cruel – people living in cars, huge student loans - so a programme which might offer a view of something more brutal may appeal."

Read more…

Life as a prominent politician's child

by Katie Scotcher for Checkpoint / Radio New Zealand 15th June 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford will be welcoming their first child any day now.

Following the birth, the new parents are expected to pose for photographs outside the hospital and take questions from the media.

But what will it be like to grow up as the child of the Prime minister?

Otago University senior media lecturer Catherine Fowler said the birth of Ms Ardern's child was exciting, but the global hype would be nothing like the birth of the latest royal baby.

She said she thought it would be a test case for New Zealand media.

"There should be space given to her to not be perfect and even to fail - I would like to think that as an ordinary woman she can tweet about what's going wrong, as well as what's going right, and not be taken down by the media for that," Ms Fowler said.

Read more…

The Block, My Kitchen Rules return, Project Runway makes a come back

by Brittany Keough in NZ Herald 10th February 2018

t's the television genre we love to hate but can't get enough of - and Kiwi audiences are in for yet another bumper year of reality TV.

The Block NZ, My Kitchen Rules New Zealand, the Australian version of My Kitchen Rules and Married at First Sight NZ were all in the top five most watched series on free-to-air TV last year by Kiwis aged 18 to 49, with hundreds of thousands tuning in to each episode.

University of Otago media researcher Dr Rosemary Overell said making local TV shows was often risky because the television production industry was very small here and so it made sense that New Zealand broadcasters were copying formats that had been successful overseas - like cooking and dating shows - to make our own versions.

"It plays to the idea that [reality shows] are relatively cheap to make but that also viewers enjoy them. New Zealanders have enjoyed watching the foreign version of these programmes so it makes sense to localise them and almost have a bigger audience.

"Whenever it's your people in it you can identify. You'll go 'they're from a town I know', which you don't get when you're watching the American version, you don't get all those jokes."

Read more…


Why Kiwis are lining up to star on reality TV

by Lee Umbers in NZ Herald 29th October 2017

Looking for love? Want to prove your DIY or ­kitchen supremacy? Or have you always fancied a break from real life on a tropical island, pitting your ­survival instincts against a bunch of strangers?

Or do you just want to be famous?

Each week, thousands of ­Kiwis turn on the small screen for a dose of home-made and international reality TV. And more Kiwis than ever want to take part - tens of ­thousands of would-be Kiwi ­contestants are lining up for a shot at fame in the 2018 local season.

And that doesn't surprise Otago University media and communications lecturer Rosemary Overell, who says the long queues to take part in reality shows are reflective of society.

"The entertainment industry has always sold the fantasy of the Dream Come True with a little sacrifice - think of open auditions in classical Hollywood, shopping mall talent quests, radio call-ins," says Overell, who with a colleague is writing a paper for the university on reality TV and its relationship to older genres like documentaries.

"What I do think is noticeable is how this drive to publicly reveal oneself is commonplace throughout Western late capitalist society. Twitter and Facebook are full of #TMIs (too much information) and oversharing. It is normal to mediate one's whole life on social media - the endless check-ins at pubs and cafes, the shares of purchases and updates to relationship status.

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Spectre of Communism still haunts

By Bruce Munro in Otago Daily Times 15th October 2017

A century on, few traces remain of the October 1917 Revolution. So, did it count for anything? Bruce Munro puts that question to two Marxist academics and asks them if it's time to give up on Communism.

"For the first and only time in history, a popular movement of workers and peasants overthrew an absolutist monarchy and attempted to build a socialist society," Prof Roper says.

He is supported by Dr Rosemary Overell who is a lecturer in media, film and communication at the university and also identifies with the Marxist moniker.

"It marks the first significant attempt at putting Marx's ideas into practice,  applying them to a population," Dr Overell says.

Read more…

NZ's first screenwriting conference begins

by John Gibb in The Otago Daily Times 28th August 2017

About 140 people are converging on Dunedin and the University of Otago for New Zealand's first international conference devoted to screenwriting, which starts on campus today.

Conference co-organiser and New Zealand Writers Guild acting president Allan Baddock said the four-day event was likely to add to Dunedin's reputation as a Unesco City of Literature.

The university department of media, film and communication and the guild are co-hosting the ''landmark'' four-day event.

Conference co-organiser Dr Davinia Thornley, of the department, said the conference was ''incredibly exciting'' and the line-up was a ''who's who'' of New Zealand screenwriting.

Read more…

Screenwriting success requires Olympic effort

by Shawn McAvine in The Otago Daily Times29th August 2017

The effort to get a screenplay to the silver screen is similar to winning an Olympic gold, a Dunedin scriptwriter says.
The University of Otago and New Zealand Writers Guild are co-hosting the four-day Screenwriting Research Network International Conference in Dunedin.

The conference was launched at the Te Tumu events hall on the university's campus yesterday.

Read more…

Culture of selfies explored at summer school

in Otago Daily Times 21st January 2017

A University of Otago summer school paper is proving there is more to the "selfie" photo trend than just mindless camera flashes and lip pouting.

Department of Film, Media and Communications lecturer Dr Owain Gwynne said students taking the paper were encouraged to upload their own selfies to a class blog, as well as discussing the cultural implications of the trend which has become synonymous with narcissism and celebrity.

Read more…


Horror research conference starts today

By Margot Taylor in Otago Daily Times on 16th November 2016

The blood and terror of the modern horror genre is being dissected at a University of Otago conference this week.

The media, film and communications department conference has attracted keynote speakers from as far afield as Texas.

New Research on Horror conference co-ordinator Dr Paul Ramaeker said while horror tropes, including vampires and werewolves, had been around for a ''long time'', the genre had experienced a resurgence in popularity because of changes to technology and society.

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Stock photography promotes sexism

by Kim Knight in New Zealand Herald 8th October 2016

The modern world is pretty confusing. How, for example, do you tell the difference between a policeman and a policewoman?

Clue: only one will be carrying a whip.

The world, according to stock image libraries, is strangely thin and overly sexual. It is populated by mainly white people who can afford a dentist, a manicurist and all the "ists".

"Stock photos are premised on an economy of images," says Dr Holly Randell-Moon, from the University of Otago's department of media, film and communication. "When people are looking to illustrate copy, what they want is an image that quickly economises the ideas they're talking about. That means stock photos rely on stereotypes."

Read more…

The Importance of Queer Film Festivals in New Zealand

on The Wire on 31st May, 2016

Broadcast on 95bfm and hosted by Mack Smith, this discussion featured Dr Holly Randell Moon.

The Real Housewives of Auckland cast under 'controlling' image agreement

by Gemma Hartley in NZ Herald on 9th May 2016

The cast of The Real Housewives of Auckland are not allowed to alter their appearance - including the look of their faces, hair colour and weight - without the written permission of the show's producer, it has been revealed.

The six-strong line-up was revealed this week and boasts two former models, a socialite, two businesswomen and a broadcaster who have agreed to let the nation into their high-society lifestyles.

"The producers of the programme obviously want to take control of their products," said Dr Brett Nicholls, senior lecturer in media, film and communication at the University of Otago.

"What's interesting is the weight clause. Controversial for sure, it isn't promoting a healthy image to its female audience.

"Reality TV has always premised around the idea that you have an individual behaving like themselves.

Read more…

Foreign Policy School focuses on the impact of news and social media on global politics

on LiveNewson 20th April 2016

This year's University of Otago Foreign Policy School will bring together an impressive line-up of national and overseas speakers to explore the complex and evolving interaction between states and “old” and “new” forms of media.

Co-director Dr Brett Nicholls says the School's theme is prompted by the shifting relationship between the state and established media, as well as the shifting role of news media in society today.

“We want to examine how, whether located in geographical and economic centres or peripheries, the complex interaction between politics and media has been changed by the increasingly blurring line between top-down and bottom-up flows of information,” Dr Nicholls says.

Read more…

Conversational Intercourse With Intellectuals: Rosemary Overell

by Lucy Hunter in Critic17th April 2016

When Rosie was hired she was the youngest ongoing academic staff member at the university. She was 29. Now 32, Rosie says she was “Just lucky. I went from finishing my PhD to getting the job.” She moved from Melbourne where she studied to Dunedin three years ago.

The job was much more full on than Rosie thought it would be, but it is her dream job. “It's the job I wanted since I was in high school. She says her academic friends in Melbourne fantasise of someday getting a job at Melbourne Uni, “but it will be when they're 50 and some old person dies. They're happy to sit there and work as casuals for years and years and years. But the problem with that is you never make much money, you get caught in a cycle of being laid off half the year, and you can become quite embittered by that. It's a fairly myopic way of seeing academia, if you stay at one institution that you studied at, do your PhD there and then work as a casual.”

Read more…


Anti-porn movement slammed

by Carla Green in Otago Daily Times 25th November 2015

Despite many people's disbelief, the feminist pornography industry is thriving, a visiting American academic says.

Prof Constance Penley, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, spoke at the University of Otago yesterday as one of the keynote speakers at trans/forming feminisms, a conference hosted by Otago's media, film, and communication studies department.

Read more…

Cash Cropping on Culture

by Mandy Te in Critic Te Arohi 13th September 2015

Discrimination tends to be experienced only by certain groups of people. Some people will never endure professional, social or economic discrimination because of what they look like, where they come from or the origins of their ancestors. Those privileges are not necessarily realised, but they are there. Red cards where people don blackface, concerts where people wear the bindi, and festivals where people wear Native American headdress — people from majority groups can just put these things on and easily take them off, as if they're costumes and not a part of someone's culture.

Often, those with white privilege don't understand that what they're doing is offensive. When asked why that is, Department of Media, Film and Communication lecturer at the University of Otago, Rosemary Overell, said she believes people don't understand what they're doing is wrong because “in the West, we grow up saturated in a culture which regularly appropriates from 'Other' cultures. It is often couched in terms of 'appreciation' — 'I appreciate Indian culture so it is okay to wear a bindi to a rave' etc, or even a touristic discourse.” She thinks that the recent blastings artists like No Doubt, Lana del Rey, and Miley Cyrus have received for their appropriation from non-Western cultures have increased awareness of the issue.

Read more…

You just love our weather

by Carla Green in Otago Daily Times5th September 2015

You may not know it, but you love reading about the weather.

Weather stories make the online top-read story list of the week - or top-read stories of the month, if they are about snow, or anything record-breaking, no matter how banal the record.

The Otago Daily Times' most-read online story so far this year is not about politics, or scandal, or corruption, or scandalous political corruption.

''In some respects, it's a 'we're all in this together sort of situation','' Dr Davinia Thornley said.

Dr Thornley is a lecturer in the University of Otago's media, film and communication department, and one of the many things she studies is media audiences. That is you.

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Digital Love Affairs

by Maya Dodd in Critic Te Arohi 12th April 2015

Call me old-fashioned, but becoming “Facebook Official” (FO) has never really appealed to me. I dated a guy who was adamant he would never stay with a girl who wouldn't make the relationship FO. Let's just say, whatever spark we had fizzled out very quickly. I just don't understand how people enjoy broadcasting their relationship to the rest of the world, but, hey, each to their own.

Dr Rosemary Overell, cultural studies researcher and lecturer at the University of Otago, is interested in how social media works as a platform for creating relationships and believes that the increased use of such sites has made social lives much more flippant. She explains how the broadcasting of one's relationship by making it FO is a cry for social approval and that this desperation for said approval is formalised and intensified through social media platforms such as Facebook. It is a classic case of overcompensating, where users are “attention seeking and want validation from other people that they are worthy.”

Overell says that she herself has experienced the psychological issues associated with the publicised breakdown of relationships on social media. Following the slandering she received, she decided to remove herself from Facebook entirely — a decision she now sees as liberating. Demonstrating a restraint that many of us lack, she deleted the app from her phone and has since discovered that it had been a colossal time-waster. Once swayed into downloading Tinder (but adamant that she never actually used it), Overell says she is reluctant to persue a new relationship via the internet. However, she acknowledges that today it is increasingly common for people to use dating sites such as Tinder and Grindr, and that this way of dating is becoming much more acceptable. In the early 2000s personal advertisements were seen as creepy and sad, but now, through social media, they are no longer something to be ashamed of.

Read more…

The trouble with the all-male Ghostbusters reboot

On The Final Cut with Jason Di Rosso on ABC Radio National 13th March, 2015

Media scholar Rosemary Overell discusses the gender controversy around the two Ghostbusters reboots. Wasn't the female version enough?

Listen here ….

No escape from reality: More TV goodies this year

In NZ Herald by Cherie Howie on 1st March 2015

Couch potatoes face reality TV overload, with more than 250 primetime hours hitting our screens this year.

Kiwis are already being fed a steady diet, with Our First Home and The X Factor NZ going head-to-head three nights a week. With help from Australia's MasterChef and The Bachelor, those glued to the screen were exposed to almost 14 hours of reality TV last week. And brace yourself New Zealand … more is on the way.

The Bachelor NZ will premiere on TV3 this month, with the network's other offerings for the year including former TVNZ staple MasterChef NZ and a fourth season of The Block NZ.

While some might wince at the onslaught, it's good news for reality TV addicts such as Dunedin academic Rosemary Overell.

The University of Otago media and cultural studies lecturer watches up to 40 hours of the genre a week.

"It's pretty much all I watch … I find it more real and authentic. I grew up watching soaps, but once you go back to that it seems so stagey. I think real dialogue and the banality of it … is much more endearing."

She was enjoying The X Factor NZ, but her favourite was Big Brother Australia. Overell said the troubled on-screen romance of contestants Anthony Drew and Tully Smyth even helped her navigate her marriage break-up in 2013. "I did kind of look at my life through the lens of these people I didn't even know."

Reality TV has changed the way we see ourselves, and even the words we use, she said.

"I hear it with the students, [phrases like] 'You're fired' and 'Make it work'."

Read more…

The Middle Earth legacy

In NZ Herald by Russell Blackstock on 22nd February 2015

It is 12.30 on a Wednesday afternoon and the Green Dragon Inn is buzzing.

Excited tourists from all over the world are supping mugs of "Southfarthing" ales and cider, custom-brewed for visitors to Hobbiton.

They are at the end of a tour of their favourite movie set, near Mata­mata, Waikato, which includes a walk around the famous themed village with 44 picturesque Hobbit holes.

Dr Rosemary Overell, lecturer in film and communication at Otago University, says experience gained from marketing the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies should be invaluable in attracting more overseas visitors.

"Interest in Sir Peter Jackson's fantasy movies will eventually wane a bit, so landing Avatar is an opportunity that should be capitalised on to the max," she says. "The Hobbit films featured a lot of New Zealand scenery and attract people who like to drive around, but Avatar offers a different experience.

"It is set on a fictional planet and will appeal to fantasy and sci-fi fans who will instead want a high-tech day out in a central location.

"The Avatar movies will be massive and should be the platform for investment in a related theme park in Wellington to rival sophisticated entertainment operations in Europe and the United States.

"It would be crazy not to seize and build on this opportunity."

Read more…

I ain't afraid of no feminist killjoys - the Ghostbusters nostalgia 'crisis'

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 2 February 2015

Last week, director Paul Feig announced that the protagonists of Ghostbusters 3 would all be women. While some have heralded the female follow up as a feminist coup, others – including many fans – have complained that feminising the 80s classic is at best a gimmick and at worst close to sacrilege.

Slated for release in July next year, the film will star actors Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy.

Like most blogosphere battles, the Ghostbusters debate also indicates broader cultural concerns, in this case particularly around what “feminism” and “feminist media” means in the contemporary West.

Read more…

Welcome to the new telly smorgasbord

In NZ Herald on Sunday by Russell Blackstock

February 1, 2015

The arrival of global entertainment giant Net­flix in New Zealand next month is sparking an unprecedented battle for TV eyeballs.

With 57 million subscribers in 50 countries, the internet television network serves up more than two billion hours of entertainment content to its customers every month, including original series, documentaries and feature films.

Dr Rosemary Overell, lecturer in media at Otago University, says the changing ways we watch TV could have a long-term impact on families. Time-shifting technologies, on-demand menus and myriad viewing platforms encourage people to watch alone, she says.

"Television used to be a shared experience for families. People would get around the TV set in their living rooms to watch favourite programmes together and talk about them afterwards, but that is significantly diminishing.

"Nowadays mum and dad are watching on the sofa and the kids are on their computers," Overell says.

"Previously, families who watched a lot of TV together would even get frowned on for being being couch potatoes, but even this view is now falling into the area of nostalgia and being remembered fondly by some."

Read more…

Nightly Interview: Davinia Thornley

On Channel 39: Dunedin Television

January 23, 2015 - 6:45pm

Dunedin has just won its bid to host an international screenwriting research and networking conference.

It'll be the first time the conference has been held in New Zealand, and it's expected to bring hundreds of overseas delegates to the city.

University of Otago senior lecturer Davinia Thornley made the bid, and she's here to tell us all about it.

See the interview here.

City to host screenplay conference

By John Gibb in The Otago Daily Times

Dunedin and the University of Otago have achieved an international coup by being named as the hosts of the Screenwriting Research Network Conference in 2017.

The conference bid was made by Davinia Thornley, a senior lecturer in that department, with backing from Enterprise Dunedin, Tourism New Zealand and the Conference Assistance Programme.

Dr Thornley, who will lead the conference, praised the strong backing she had received, including from Tourism New Zealand, which had supported her trip to Germany to make the successful bid.

Staging the conference was a coup for Dunedin. and she was ''very pleased'' to have gained the hosting rights.

This was an ''important gain'' for Dunedin on ''artistic, cultural and academic'' fronts.

Read more…


The fall of the house of dotcom

By Russell Blackstock in The NZ Herald

He's gone from folk hero to a lonely man rattling round in his mansion and now Kim Dotcom is facing a return to prison.

"Kiwis are generally suspicious of characters who come to live here in a blur of ostentatiousness," says Dr Rosemary Overell, lecturer in cultural studies at Otago

"Because of his obvious wealth, at first Dotcom was regarded as being a bit 'up himself', but his battles with the Government soon turned him into an anti-hero.

"Even though he is rich, he was seen by many as being the victim of unfair harassment and that struck a chord with the public."

Dotcom became so popular among young people that students began writing about him in their final assignments, Overell adds.

"He was seen as being this internet freedom fighter and computer game champion who was taking on the big bad boss John Key.

"The authorities played into Dotcom's hands and soon he was being seen as being 'one of us'."

Read more…

Reality TV wrestles for our hearts and minds

By Russell Blackstock in The NZ Herald

In 2004 Kiwi television viewers lapped up a diet of live local sport, documentaries and free-to-air movies.

Fast forward a decade and tastes have changed ¬ significantly, with an insatiable appetite for fact-based and competitive reality shows.

"We are now also seeing a rise in Kiwis 'binge watching' their favourite programmes," says Dr Brett Nicholls, senior lecturer in media, film and communication at the University of Otago. "They will go to an on-demand service and watch an entire series of Game of Thrones over two days. Some will even brag to their mates that they have taken a few days off work to watch as many episodes of Breaking Bad as they can.

"This is something people could never have done 10 years ago. There is so much content available now it is ridiculous."

Nicholls believes television is enjoying a boom time in New Zealand but that TV stations are having -trouble keeping track of the numbers watching because of the variety of delivery systems.

Read the full article …

Podcasts: Japanorama - Extreme Metal

on 107.5 switch radio, Birmingham, UK

This podcast explores the world of Japanese Extreme Metal. This week's guest is Dr Rosemary Overell.

Aotearoa Māori book award finalists

Judges have announced finalists in five categories in Massey University's Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards 2014.

The awards have been held annually since being initiated in 2009 to formally recognise Māori literature.

Te Kōrero Pono – Non-fiction

*    Ara Mai he Tētēkura: Visioning our Futures – edited by Paul Whitinui, Marewa Glover and Dan Hikuroa (University of Otago Press)
*    He Kōrero Anamata: Future Challenges for Māori – edited by Selwyn Katene* and Malcolm Mulholland* (Huia Publishers)
*    Extinguishing Title – Stella Coram (Common Ground Publishing)
*    Living by the moon – Wiremu Tawhai (Huia Publishers)
*    The Fourth Eye – edited by Brendon Hokowhitu and Vijay Devadas (University of Minnesota)
*    The spirit of Māori Leadership – Selwyn Katene* (Huia Publishers)

OUSA Women's Week: Women in Academia Panel

Hosted by OUSA Women's Group on 2nd October 2014

As part of OUSA Women's Week we bring you this academic panel of lecturers from a variety of disciplines to discuss the issue of women in academia and to share their experiences.


Katharine Legun - lecturer, Sociology
Carla Lam - lecturer, Politics
Rosemary Overell - lecturer, Media and Communications
Annabel Cooper - Associate Professor, Gender
Bernadette Drummond - Professor, Paediatric Dentistry
Christine Jasoni - Senior Lecturer, Anatomy and Structural Biology

Read more…

Miranda Kerr goes geisha in Vogue … and that might be OK

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 29 September 2014

Miranda Kerr sparked controversy last week when she appeared in Japanese Vogue dressed in a kimono. Critics in the blogosphere and The New York Daily News wondered whether her donning traditional Japanese dress was “cultural appropriation”. Read more…

Debating 'Dirty Politics': Media, Politics and the Law

Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book has not only had a big impact on the current New Zealand general election campaign, but also raises many very important questions about the way in which politics, political communication and the legal regulation of such takes place in New Zealand.

This academic symposium brings together various experts in the fields of Media, Politics, and Law to debate and discuss these questions in a scholarly setting. The event will be live-streamed, and hopefully help enable a nationwide discussion. Author Nicky Hager will be part of the debate.

You can watch via the University of Otago YouTube live-stream:

To take part in the Twitter discussion during the live-stream, please follow @HagerDebate and use the hashtag of #HagerDebate

Featuring commentary from

Dr John Farnsworth

Dr Brett Nicholls

Dr Holly Randell-Moon

Dr Rosemary Overell

Watch the video …

Hello and welcome to my Soft Grunge wonderland

in Critic Te Arohi by Alex Blackwood

Whatever Soft Grunge is, it seems to have originated on Tumblr around 2010. The hideous progeny of original Grunge and the Internet, Soft Grunge, unlike its parent, is less about music and all about image. Grunge, on the other hand, has a rich and complex history and ideology, avoided fashion and was anti-image. It is the beginnings of mainstreaming the Trans Movement; it is the child of punk and metal.

But I am wasting my words, because as experts xoxoriotgrrrl and Otago University's Rosemary Overell inform me, Soft Grunge is not something definable – as is the nature of Tumblr and the Internet itself. In fact,
the Soft Grunge aesthetic is fluid, without bounds, and above all, democratic. xoxoriotgrrrl reminded me, “Nowadays there aren't any solid movements because everything is just too constantly interacting and influenced by each other;” Soft Grunge is a product of the information age.

As one blogger wryly remarked, “if you show me a black person on a soft Grunge blog, I will pay you five dollars.” Yet there are hints of Hispanic visual culture, as Rosemary pointed out, “I also find it interesting her play on a Hispanic identity too … by taking the name Del Rey and [the video clip for] 'Ride,' and then the flower crowns.”

And like the rest of Soft Grunge, and in complete opposition to original Grunge, where is her battle? What is she fighting for? What ethics and morals does she promote? Nothing. Rosemary said, “she's kind of almost just flat, and that's her thing … she's got the fake name, fake hair – fake lips is also a big thing. I mean [she's] heavily produced, all about image, you know, sort of detached.” That's fine, Soft Grunge's lack of a fight doesn't make it a bad thing, the glorification of self-harm and depression and drug abuse and eating disorders is the problem.

Rosemary puts it so well: “ that kind of DIY feminist politics has been evacuated and replaced by a cuteness which, arguably, I'm not saying necessarily does, rehearses particular ways of thinking about women as infantised sex objects, right? … It has taken the 'grrr' out of Riotgrrrl … It has a mix of hard and soft, but to me, the upping-the-anti of the Baby Spice element really undercuts any kind of hardness that this revival of some form of radical feminism could have had. In fact, LDR … hardly [goes] out there, saying fuck you to patriarchy; she is playing right into it.”

read the full article here …

Cats or dogs?

Presented by Natasha Mitchell on ABC Radio National "Life Matters" on 23 June 2014

Next month the first 'Cat Cafe' will open in Melbourne. Coffee, tea - and cats! So why are we attracted to cats or dogs and what's the appeal of a cat cafe? What does it say about contemporary urban life?

Are you a cat person or a dog person? The RSPCA reports that more Australian households own dogs, while cat lovers rule the internet with endless videos of their favourite felines.


Beatrice Alba

Rosemary Overell

Listen online.

Australia's first cat cafe: stroke of genius or needless fluff?

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 11 June 2014

Australia's first cat café is set to open in Melbourne next month. Based in Queen Street, the cat café's owners were inspired after visiting a cat café in Japan. Though the phenomena began in Taiwan in the late 1980s, cat cafés are popularly associated with the urban megapolises of Tokyo and Osaka. I recently visited such a café in Osaka, making me reflect on why such spaces are popular in big cities. Read more…

Sunday School: Hauntology

On Radio One 91FM with Paul Ramaeker and Aaron Hawkins on 18th May 2014

THE ADVISORY CIRCLE - Logotone 1 - Decisions
THE ADVISORY CIRCLE - Now Ends The Beginning
WHITE NOISE - Love Without Sound
ST ETIENNE - Memo To Pricey
PRAM - Meshes In The Afternoon
BROADCAST - According To No Plan
BOARDS OF CANADA - Turquoise Hexagon Sun
BURIAL - Wounder
JOHN MAUS - Streetlight
listen online …

Boots Riley videocast

at Moot Court on 16th April 2014

Click here to see Boots speak on 'Hip Hop and the Class Struggle'

Political activist raps about the issues

Scarfie land / Channel 39 Dunedin Television on 17 April 2014

Withdrawing labour to make a change is just one of the things American rapper and political activist Boots Riley raps about.

The artist is in Dunedin for three days, lecturing and performing.

But it won't be your typical rap performance, with Riley trying to push home a series of political messages. click through to video …

Boots Riley @ the Music, Media and Politics symposium

Alison Cumming in Otago Alumni News on 17th April 2014

Boots Riley, prominent American hip hop artist, spoke to an overflowing crowd in the Richardson Building's Moot Court last night.

As the keynote speaker at the Department of Media, Film and Communication's 'Music, Media and Politics' symposium, Riley addressed the crowd on the topic of 'Hip Hop and the Class Struggle' - speaking on the history of radicalism in the United States since the 1960s, the Occupy movement, and workers' rights. Read more…

Rap artist advocates labour as a tool for change

Nigel Benson in The Otago Daily Times on 17th April 2014

Hip-hop artist Boots Riley raps with the crowd at Moot Court, in the University of Otago Richardson Building, yesterday.

The controversial American rapper and political activist regaled a packed court with his public lecture, ''Hip-Hop and the Class Struggle'', as part of a media, film and communication department symposium. Read more…

Nightly interview: Rosemary Overell

On Nightly News / Channel 39 Dunedin Television on 15th April 2014

Tweeting, death, and Peaches Geldof took the attention of a Dunedin academic recently.

Dr Rosemary Overell has been writing about the relationship between social media and the big sleep, and she joins us to explain. click through for video …

Peaches Geldolf and the new, hyper-experience of mortality

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 8th April 2014

This morning I woke up, rolled over and, as I always do, scrolled through my twitter feed. Owen Jones – a British socialist – tweeted his shock that Peaches Geldolf, 25, had died. I immediately checked for a hashtag and went about trying to find out more.

Predictably, Twitter was in overdrive with a constantly refreshing feed of #RIPpeaches and other hashtags. There is something awfully banal about this kind of memorialisation. The deaths of celebrities have always been mediated, but the ascent of social media has produced a kind of hyper-experience of mortality, which I engage in, but also find unsettling.  Read more…

TEU hip hops Boots Riley into Dunedin

TEU in The Tertiary Education Union on 3rd April 2014

So, why has TEU's Twitter feed been awash with discussion and excitement about hip- hop legend Boots Riley? It seems TEU's Otago University branch has collaborated with student radio station Radio 1 and invited Rolling Stone's best hip hop artist of 2001 to Dunedin for a public lecture and a performance. And excitement about his visit is growing. Read more…

Gwar is over? The subcultural politics of thrash metal

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 26th March 2014

The singer of “extraterrestrial” thrash metal band, Gwar, was found dead on the weekend. Known as Oderus Urungus, Dave Brockie founded one of contemporary metal's most controversial groups. Spanning the 1980s to the present, Gwar encapsulate some of the subcultural politics of a genre, which remains peripheral to popular music – rendered “evil” by puritanical parents and hopelessly “uncool” by hipsters. Read more…

QS Rankings. Electronic Textbooks. Flat Sponsorship

ED Staff in ED Blog: Tertiary Education News and Views on 27th February 2014

Electronic Textbooks: Otago Uni's Erika Pearson has led an innovative electronic textbook project.

Interest in textbook

John Gibb in Otago Daily Times on 27th February 2014

An innovative electronic textbook project, led by University of Otago academic Dr Erika Pearson, has sparked interest from people in a dozen countries.
''It's wonderful. It's great to see that people are using the project right off the bat,'' Dr Pearson said this week. Read more…

Diary of an online socialite

Marika Hill in on 16th February 2014

A new survey has found half of young people born in the 1980s and '90s spend more time socialising online than in real life. Marika Hill asks whether that's healthy while Jess Etheridge reaches for her smartphone.

7.30 AM OK I'M awake! My iPhone's alarm clock app goes off. I roll over, eyes still closed, and slap my hand around, trying to grab my phone.

Emails, texts, tweets, Instagram likes, snapchats, Vine notifications have come through in the night. Twitter is always the first social network I check. Seeing what people around the world are talking about gives me an idea of how the day is going to go. If people are complaining a lot, it has an impact on how I feel. If someone tweets about kittens, I know it will be a good day. Read more…

Announcing the Creative Commons Media Studies Textbook

Matt in creative commons: aotearoa new zealand on 13th February 2014

Read more…

Otago-led Open Access Media Studies textbook goes live

Richard White in Open Otago on 13th February 2014

The Media Text Hack Group is proud to release v1 of the hacked Media Studies Textbook, following a highly successful remote collaboration with participants from across New Zealand and Australia.

The project was spearheaded by Dr Erika Pearson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media, Film and Communication University of Otago. As Pearson explains, “the textbook is designed to be used by students in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. To this end, the textbook includes nearly fifty entries on a range of topics and issues common to curricula across the region.” Read more…

Conference on digital cultures

by The Hindu on 7th February, 2014

Department of Communication and Media Studies of Bharathiar University will organise a conference on February 7 and 8 on 'Digital Cultures: Intersections of Tradition and Modernity.'

According to a release, the conference is being organised in collaboration with the Association of Communication Teachers, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It will be held in six sessions, and will be inaugurated by G. James Pitchai, Vice-Chancellor of Bharathiar University. Vijay Devadas, Head, Department of Media, Film and Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand, will be the special guest. Over 40 papers will be presented. Read more…

Lorde vs Miley - where young feminism meets old class bias

Rosemary Overell in the conversation on 30th January 2014

Earlier this week, New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O'Connor – AKA Lorde – won two Grammys, including best song for the sleeper hit Royals and – almost – topped Triple J's Hottest 100 (her song Royals came in at number two, Tennis Court at number 12 and Team at 15).

Amid the breathless celebration of the 17-year-old's music lies an  implicit positioning of Lorde as a positive alternative to the “raunchy”  sexuality of other young female pop stars, such as Miley Cyrus. Read more…

Focus on internet spying

Dene Mackenzie in Otago Daily Times on 30th January 2014

The ''massive scale'' of worldwide internet surveillance provides the backdrop to an internet surveillance conference starting in Dunedin today, organiser John Farnsworth says.

The conference is being held at the University of Otago and has former Mega chief executive Vikram Kumar as one of the keynote speakers. He recently resigned from Kim Dotcom's Mega to run Mr Dotcom's Internet Party, which opposes internet surveillance. Read more…

Big brother will continue to watch you

in Otago Daily Times on 20th January 2014

In response to worldwide revelations last year, New Zealand hosts its first internet surveillance conference at the University of Otago at the end of January.
One of its organisers, John Farnsworth, outlines the background. Read more…

Learning from others: Textbook sprinting in New Zealand

Clint LaLonde in on 13th January 2014

I'm picking up steam on researching and planning a possible textbook sprint here in BC as part of the open textbook project. While I am still in the research stages of how this thing might work, I'm feeling more confident that with the right people involved we can pull off a textbook sprint.

Just before Christmas I had a chance to speak with Erika Pearson at Otago University in New Zealand. In November, Erika ran a textbook hack to create a first year Media Studies textbook and during the course of our chat I got a better understanding of some of the logistics involved in pulling it together. I am appreciative of her time and willingness to share, and look forward to the cookbook they are planning on releasing later this spring on how to organize a textbook sprint. Here are my notes from our convo. read more ..


Peer into the Darkened Recesses of Metal's Transgressive Nature

by Craig Hayes for Pop Matters 11th August 2013

Academic interest in heavy metal went public in the early '90s with the publication of Deena Weinstein's Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology, and Robert Walser's Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. In recent years, books such as Hideous Gnosis, Metal Rules the Globe and Turkish Metal: Music, Meaning, and Morality in a Muslim Society have dug deep into varying aspects of the genre. On the distant horizon, yet to be published, lurks Metal Music Studies -- a journal solely dedicated to unpacking metal's many layers with a multi-disciplinary approach.

Empowerment is certainly a topic that sits at the heart of Rosemary Overell's essay on gender constructions and representations in the death metal and grindcore scenes in Melbourne, Australia. Through interviews and exposition, Overell transforms the notion of brutality in the grindcore scene into one of "affective intensity", offering ethnographic evidence to counter the argument that metal is inherently masculine.

Read more…

Indian market enticing

John Gibb in Otago Daily Times on 6th October 2013

Dunedin firms should pursue growing trade opportunities with India, University of Otago's Vijay Devadas says.

Dr Devadas is head of the university department of media, film and communication, and is co-convener of a two-day conference this week, which is celebrating a century of Indian cinema. Read more…

Assoc. Prof. Vijay Devadas talks on the Urewera Raids legacy

On Radio One 91 FM Dunedin on 11th October, 2013

Assoc. Prof. Vijay Devadas talks to Olivier Jutel about the legacy of the Urewera Raids on 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'

The Ideas of Edward Said: East, West: Cultural Counterpoints

Radio New Zealand Concert Series on 19th September - 17th October 2013

The influential and sometimes controversial writings of Edward Saïd (1935-2003) cover political and cultural history, literature and music. Amongst many other things he founded, together with Daniel Barenboim, the West-Eastern Divan, an orchestra made up of musicians from several Middle East countries.

Five programmes presented by John Drummond and Vijay Devadas, both of the University of Otago. hear more …

Patwardhan's celluloid genius

In The New Indian Express on 8th August, 2013

If anyone comes across the movies directed by documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, they can easily identify with the film which portrays the condition of their society.

The reason behind this is, all the films of Patwardhan have the voiceless, marginalised and exploited. His films move the society to new levels, said Dr Vijay Devadas, Head, Department of Media, Film and Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand on Wednesday here.

Dr Vijay Devadas who is also the editor of the international journal 'Borderlands,' has been invited to make a presentation on the theme, 'Toward a New Commons: Hardt, Negri and the Political Documentaries of Anand Patwardhan' in the 'Media and Society Seminar Series 2013-14' organised by Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Madras. Read more…


Sarkies film's contribution applauded

by John Lewis in The Otago Daily Times 20th May 2012

"Don't listen to what they say. Go see."

If New Zealanders took more notice of the Chinese proverb frequently shared by University of Otago media, film and communication senior lecturer Davinia Thornley, maybe Out of the Blue by Dunedin film-maker Robert Sarkies would have received the critical acclaim it deserved.

Dr Thornley said the 2006 dramatisation of the November 13, 1990, shootings of 13 people at Aramoana, should be seen by more people.

The film had been overlooked in New Zealand - not only because of the film's subject matter, but also because of what she called "national genre confusion", Dr Thornley said at a free public lecture at the University of Otago Richardson Building this week.

Read more…

"We are now also seeing a rise in Kiwis 'binge watching' their favourite programmes," says Dr Brett Nicholls, senior lecturer in media, film and communication at the University of Otago

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