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Issue 8, 2018

Issue 08 Volume 81: The Dark Underbelly



  • VUW Procrastination Study Off to a Slow Start

  • Uber Drivers to Stop Work for Day

  • Restructuring of Bachelor of Arts at Auckland University

  • Trump Eyes Korean Peace

  • Milkgate: Vic Books Staff Unhappy With Change in Milk Brand

  • Trump’s America

  • Who Wrote It Better?

  • Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No! It’s an Ingenious (no, really) Amalgamation With a Safety Sub-Plot by Air New Zealand

  • Eating An Entire Wheel of Brie Now Self-Care

  • Not Above the Law: Update #1

  • Parallel: Vic Students Pioneer Parking Start-Up

  • Fairer Fares Part of Wider Transport Changes

  • ACT Party Fundraiser Gives Tantalizing Glimpse Into Neoliberal Hellscape

  • Eye on Exec

  • Updates on Kylie Jenner’s Baby

  • Queer Coverage: Local, National, and International LGBTQIA+ News

  • Political Round-up

  • Gift Card Expiration Date Apparently a Political Issue

  • Features

  • Waikeria Prison: The Implications of Expansion

    Some 800 years ago, Tainui people navigated the waterways from Kawhia to Te Awamutu and made homes in the region known as Waikeria. This land, in the northern King Country, is now filled with dairy farms — and a prison. About 56% of New Zealand’s total prison population is Māori, even though Māori people only […]


  • What the Shit?

    CW: nauseating content, don’t read post-meal if you have a sensitive stomach Two hours and 10 km away from the Moa Point Wastewater Treatment Plant and I keep getting whiffs of that smell. I’ve washed my hands twice, given my clothes a thorough sniffing, checked my notebook and backpack for rogue splatterings, and have come […]


  • They Are Watching You

    You probably use social media. You probably procrastinate on social media. You probably talk to a lot of people on social media. You probably read most of your news on social media. I do. Social media, and more specifically Facebook, have become part of the fabric of society over the last fifteen years. At least […]


  • Waikeria Prison: The Implications of Expansion

    Some 800 years ago, Tainui people navigated the waterways from Kawhia to Te Awamutu and made homes in the region known as Waikeria. This land, in the northern King Country, is now filled with dairy farms — and a prison. About 56% of New Zealand’s total prison population is Māori, even though Māori people only […]


  • What the Shit?

    CW: nauseating content, don’t read post-meal if you have a sensitive stomach Two hours and 10 km away from the Moa Point Wastewater Treatment Plant and I keep getting whiffs of that smell. I’ve washed my hands twice, given my clothes a thorough sniffing, checked my notebook and backpack for rogue splatterings, and have come […]


  • They Are Watching You

    You probably use social media. You probably procrastinate on social media. You probably talk to a lot of people on social media. You probably read most of your news on social media. I do. Social media, and more specifically Facebook, have become part of the fabric of society over the last fifteen years. At least […]


  • Arts and Science

  • The Joe Rogan Experience – Episode 1021


    In this episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Joe Rogan and Russell Brand attempt to unpack some dense subjects such as finding spiritual well-being in western capitalistic society, mindfulness, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    While listening to this conversation I was in a perpetual double take. Brand’s latest pursuits such as meditation, writing a book on addiction “Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions”, and hosting his own podcast entitled Under the Skin, differ from the rock star image he has been well known for. The conversation does discuss some worthy questions. After my first listen, I recall thinking that this was one of the best podcasts I had heard. However, upon my second listen, I realised I didn’t think much of the content.

    I think I was taken in by it initially because both host and guest are good communicators and are quite eloquent – Brand exercises a large vocabulary and has a knack for knitting his sentences together. Yet, the topics that arise are oldies and I am reluctant to say that Brand’s perspectives are goodies. For instance, he notes that global capitalism has allowed for mass human cooperation, however he vehemently criticises the underlying incentives – those being humans’ most primal desires, that of survival and avarice. He imagines an alternative world where the spiritual side of existence is incentivised; a society in which human cooperation strives for some kind of spiritual bliss, similar to (so we are told) what one may experience on a DMT trip – what Brand calls “oneness”… which starts to sound a bit lava lamp, dungaree, bowl cut, and perhaps not very well thought out.

    The conversation inevitably moves onto Trump. Apart from the usual criticisms audiences have come to know and love and be bored with, Rogan is led by Brand into a critique of the political systems that are in place in America and Britain at present. In particular, they mull over whether the centralization of power, not just in politics, but from the Agricultural Revolution to industrialization, has benefited people en masse. (There is of course a debate nested in here about whether the individual was better off in the hunter-gatherer state, and how to quantify this). Both men postulate that perhaps humans are inhabiting systems that they cannot handle. Brand pays lip service to the hackneyed Marxist idea that capitalism will reduce people to cogs in a machine and chisel the souls of workers to dust. The fact that communism has failed in the vast majority of nations that have experimented with it is brought up by Rogan. Brand, like many a student socialist in the prosperous corners of the world, parries these legitimate case studies with the line: “they didn’t do it properly”.

    Brand and Rogan navigate their conversation effectively and entertainingly, however there is a lack of clarity in some of the terms used, such as “the system(s)”, “oneness” and “current structures”. For the first-time listener, endeavour to always think critically about what is being said – even if you find yourself nodding and grinning while it is being spoken. Brand’s heart is in the right place I’m sure, but I could not help but think after my second listening that he has come quite late to the party. It is helpful to know that Brand is currently at university and seems to be only now discovering Jung and Marx.

    The podcast is grounded to some extent by Rogan. He acknowledges that he and Russell are “clubbing at the world’s problems”. The conversation’s real value is of course that it will spark reactions — like writing reviews.  


  • My Design, On Others’ Lives

    My Design, On Others’ Lives is the eagerly awaited first full-length project from Kiwi artist Estère, and it’s really bloody good.

    This record – some of which was previewed in an EP released at the back end of last year – follows her 2015 self-titled EP, and a series of performances throughout New Zealand and abroad. Her self-described “electric blue witch-hop” draws from facets of neo-soul and jazz, among other genres, and is pulled together by a magnetic voice and an ear for quirky, earworm-esque melodies.

    My Design, On Others’ Lives begins with the concise “Vietnam”, before a series of seemingly faultless tracks take us through the first half of the record. Of particular mention are the Ibeyi-like “Grandmother”, stone-cold banger “Pro Bono Techno Zone”, and “Ambition” – the hook from which has been stuck in my head for the last week. These songs see Estère delving into facets of her heritage, and discussing her family, while having her say on the difficult global political landscape we’re all finding our way through at the moment.

    The second half of the record builds on this in a sense, placing a microscope on these facets of Estère’s experience. “Rent”, again featuring a massive chorus, is probably a track that could resonate with many student-types, as she discusses the all-too-common experience of having to being satisfied with one’s residential situation, while seeing paying rent as an achievement. Topical and relatable, as well as super catchy. I especially love the octave jump in the chorus, which really highlights the power in Estère’s upper vocal register.

    “Nomads” follows, and is definitely one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. Everything, from the effortlessly cool vocals, through to the swagger of the arrangement, ties together brilliantly – every element of the track compliments the rest of what is going on sonically. Vocally, Erykah Badu strikes me as an influence throughout the album, and I feel that influence here in a more prevalent sense.

    The album concludes with “L’ouiseau dans l’etoile” (a French-language track, honouring her father) and “Guilty”, both of which continue the stream of unpredictable, yet catchy, tracks delivered through Estère’s confident and quirky vocal delivery. Sonically, this album somehow maintains a coherent vibe despite drawing from everything from 90s R&B through to techno or jazz. Largely, I think Estère’s vocal delivery aids this process, but the brave choices in the production always seem to marry up with the melodic choices as well. I just find this to be an immensely rewarding album – on face value, you’re presented with earworms galore, while repeated listening leads to finding something new in the arrangements every time.

    I’ve been raving about My Design, On Others’ Lives to my mates, and I reckon you should too. This is an idiosyncratic, sprawling delight, tied together by honest and confidently delivered lyrics. In a year that is already proving to be strong for New Zealand music, Estère’s debut might just be the best of the lot so far.


  • New Things for May: Some of the Same Places

    If you miss me, let me know at MEANWHILE, until 19 May, free entry

    Natasha Matila-Smith, Talia Smith

    As MEANWHILE have noted in their press release for this show, there is a sense of isolation that tends to characterise the contemporary experience. Natasha Matila-Smith and Talia Smith’s exhibition will interrogate how sociopolitical factors influence this, and how absence of intimate satisfaction is seen as a failure within capitalist framework. Matila-Smith’s text Waiting for love in library aisles in Enjoy Public Art Gallery’s online Occasional Journal supports the premise of this exhibition, and echoes the confessional style of If you miss me, let me know.

    Cavewoman at Hopkinson Mossman, until 26 May, free entry

    This is only the second exhibition that Hopkinson Mossman’s Wellington space has hosted, showing Milli Jannides’ painted works. They are immensely vibrant, with thin washes of paint layered over the top. These washes seem to behave more like silk or gauze than paint though, spilling across the image unpredictably. It’s some sort of internal dream world that is caught on the canvas. These are paintings that are not distinctly contemporary in their aesthetics, but contain a very current urgency.

    Art, Craft and the AIDS crisis: a panel discussion at The Dowse Art Museum, 26 May at 2pm, free entry

    This panel discussion will be held in conjunction with Simon Gennard’s Sleeping Arrangements, which considers the intersection of queer intimacy and identity with the 1990s AIDS crisis. This panel will look at creative responses to the epidemic which challenge mainstream perceptions. It will be a really valuable discussion, especially for understanding the motivations and contexts that the artists implicated in Sleeping Arrangements were working within.

    Super Design at Embassy Theatre, 28 May, 30 May and 4 June, student price $15.50 + booking fee

    This is part of the annual Resene Design and Architecture Film Festival programme. Super Design, directed by Francesca Molteni, is set against a backdrop of 1960s terrorism and political violence in Italy. Despite the tumultuous social conditions, this was a fruitful period for Italian design, where the energy of political unrest could be transformed into creative innovation. Super Design focuses on the 19 members of the Italian Radical Movement of Architecture and Design, and their role in propelling Italy towards the design reputation it is know for today.

    Rooms found only in the home at Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, until 24 June, free entry

    Somehow, love and loss are often counted among less important things in contemporary art, and someone told me that this is because contemporary art is meant to be prickly and uncomfortable and precarious. In Rooms found only in the home, Marie Shannon forms a deeply intimate environment, where her relationships with her partner, her son, other artists, and friends are navigated through thoughts of distance and hypothetical ideas. There’s an ache that you get in your jaw when trying not to cry, and I found this feeling on the bottom level of the exhibition, because love and loss demand to be counted among the most important anyway.


  • True Detective: A Comparison Review

    Season one – 4.5 stars, season two – 2 stars

    True Detective’s first season is a strange and compelling crime tale that thrusts a pair of detectives on the hunt for a serial killer. While TD is about many things, the show stays grounded by focusing on two lead detectives, Martin “Marty” Hart and Rustin “Rust” Cohle, played expertly by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. Utilizing non-linear storytelling, the show bounces between two time frames featuring quite different narratives, one set in 1995 following their attempt to stop a murderer at large, the other in 2012 where they are interviewed about the case.

    The strained relationship between our two flawed main characters becomes a major theme in the series. As they drive through the South together, Rust often spouts nihilistic musings to his partner Marty, who is quick to dismiss them. It’s a good representation of their characters; Rust is a brooding alcoholic, Marty an unfaithful family man. The two personalities clash, and it only serves to make both their personal and work relationships more intriguing. Season one manages to interweave the conflicts within its characters’ personal lives into the wider story, managing to elevate them to a level of equal importance as the ongoing murder mystery.

    Along with the characters, the first season’s setting and style plays a big part in its success. Largely set in Louisiana, TD’s version of Southern USA is a lonely, decaying world. Gothic horror creates an unsettling environment, which only seems to devolve as Marty and Rust descend further into the mystery.

    Season one’s highest point comes at the end of episode four, in a brilliant scene featuring a shot that lasts for six minutes. The characters must escape an undercover mission that has gone horribly wrong, in what could be the most tense and exciting segment of television ever. While the show is sometimes sedate and hard to follow, viewers who tolerate the show’s slow-burn nature will be rewarded with satisfying payoffs, both subtle and action filled.

    Following season one, expectations for what the second season of True Detective could bring were immeasurably high. Unfortunately, season two proved unable to reach its predecessor’s heights, failing to win over fans and critics alike.

    The non-linear, dual narratives which gave season one such an edge to its storytelling are no longer present. Viewers are instead treated to a story which played it straight, following events as they happened. What the audience saw is what they got, and what they got was cramped, dull, and confusing. Almost from the get-go, the series seemed bogged down in its own self-seriousness and angst. The character arcs (and portrayals) were nowhere near as satisfying, with many of the second season’s protagonists ending up feeling like people you’d barely met. This misguided focus on its generally unlikeable characters, mixed in with an overly-complicated plot which forced viewers to connect the dots a little too often, made the show suffer.

    The mystery of first season was further propelled by the Louisiana setting, incorporating it to the extent that it felt like a character in the show. The dry and concrete-heavy LA-styled setting of the second series traps the show in a generic American cityscape. The style and tone generated in season one is clearly lacking in the sophomore season, the primary reason being the disappearance of powerful collaborative role of Cary Fukunaga (who helmed the director seat for the entirety of season one). Left to his own devices, show creator Nic Pizzolatto’s weaknesses and strengths were not handled effectively, causing his vision for the second season to feel both rushed and flat, and leaving viewers waiting for the narrative to fulfil its potential.

    With season three reportedly being set across multiple timelines and moving to an Ozarks setting, and Pizzolatto being given the time to craft his narrative, the series seems to be hinting at a return to form.


  • Foreign Soil

    Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke


    Maxine Beneba Clarke’s brilliant 2014 short story collection Foreign Soil is centred around the idea of African diaspora. The stories follow a diverse range of characters as they journey through life, either interacting with or from the perspective of someone of African descent. The diversity of people and places through their age, gender, and ethnicity, is what made me fall in love with this collection.

    Throughout Clarke’s stories, there is an abundance of rounded characters that you cannot help but be invested in. You desperately want them to achieve their goals and succeed, but not all stories end in a happily-ever-after, which leaves the reader jarred and disappointed, but in the best way possible.

    My favourite story was “Gaps in the Hickory”. The story follows Delores in New Orleans, and mother and son Jeanie and Carter in small-town Mississippi. It starts off slow, and you are drip fed little points of information, making you feel almost like a detective trying to figure out how these points of view connect. This story touched me because it described real danger, yet this fear within the family did not stop two women from protecting their loved ones,  not only their own family but from the small-town and small-mindedness that surrounded them.

    Another highlight in the collection was the story “Shu Yi”, which followed a biracial girl, Ava, trying to escape being bullied by her peers. The perfect decoy arrives: Shu Yi, an Asian girl with poor English. It is strongly suggested by the Ava’s mother and teacher that she should befriend Shu Yi. It reminded me of my primary school days, when all I wanted to do was fit in, and being an exchange student’s buddy is not part of that. I felt ashamed as I remembered those feelings, and my heart broke.

    The titular story “Foreign Soil” is another gem: it starts off as a love story between a biracial couple, Ange and Mukasa, who relocate from Sydney to Uganda. I think this story is particularly clever because it starts off as a classic romantic comedy set up but ends sharply steeped in reality. Clarke does not feed us our expectations.

    Each story is unique and stands in its own strength, but together they are a cohesive text. You could easily read one story, put the collection down and come back to it in a month, even though you probably won’t want to. The first five stories focus on young people’s experiences — children, teenagers, and young adults. The following six are more focused on adults — wives, husbands, widows, and single mothers. The overall tone is thoughtful and purposeful, even in the more playful stories, calling us to reflect on how we think and interact with race throughout our lives.

    Clarke is a master craftswoman and a fierce storyteller, and I highly recommend this work for anyone who’s tired of reading stories about middle class white people. This book has both quenched my thirst for post-colonial literature, and simultaneously fuelled the fire to read more.  



  • Doc Edge Film Festival

    “Let’s Talk about Sex”

    Director — Lisa Burd

    4.5/5 stars

    Julia Sloane (Real Housewives of Auckland) throws us into a world of sexuality in New Zealand. It’s bizarre to sit down and watch a documentary on diversity helmed by the very woman who called someone the n-word on national television, but I set aside my misgivings and continue watching.

    From exploring sex shops, to discussing homosexuality with her vaguely-conservative parents, Julia takes us on a journey of discovery around several sexual communities within NZ that I didn’t even really recognise. Admittedly, I’m not super fond of the shocking amounts of homophobia that her parents exhibit (that is cast aside as a product of “their time”), but that is quickly challenged by the diverse nature of the guests that speak within the piece itself.

    In a vignette closer to home, Julia visits Wellington’s most elite brothel, Funhouse, and speaks to Madam Mary, the owner of the establishment, as well one of her escorts. It is an insightful look into the world of legal sex work in New Zealand, and definitely challenges misconceptions about the industry that I’ve personally held.

    And yeah, it is an arousing piece. A lot of this documentary is about finding pleasure and pushing oneself to treat sex as more than just a mindless fling — to find eroticism in the simplest things and to challenge our own boundaries. It feels good to see this sort of content discussed openly on screen.

    In all, Let’s Talk about Sex is a fascinating documentary, utterly lascivious, and a damn good watch.


    Director — Don Argott

    5/5 stars

    Believer is a fascinating look into the Mormon Church and its struggles to accept LGBTQIA+ people. Dan Reynolds (the lead singer of Imagine Dragons) and Tyler Glenn (the lead singer of Neon Trees) attempt to reconcile their faith with their acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people — and in Glenn’s case, his own sexuality.

    This documentary follows several months in Reynolds’ life as he facilitates the creation of a new music festival in Salt Lake City — the LoveLoud festival — designed to bring together people of all faiths and sexualities to learn about each other, and hopefully change for the better. The suicide rate in Utah is quite high, and that is thought to be because of the prevalence of Mormons and the limitations within their faith.

    Reynolds discusses his own journey to acceptance, from being a Mormon missionary as a youth and openly preaching hate against the LGBTQIA+ community, to meeting his partner, and then coming to recognise the amount of sway and influence he has to his LGBTQIA+ fans because of Imagine Dragons. It becomes obvious that one of the things that helped him grow as a person was the love and care he found for his fans.

    As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a fan of both Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees, a lot from this documentary resonated with me. It’s heartfelt, heartbreaking, and set to a rad soundtrack of Imagine Dragons songs.

    You’ll cry. A lot.


  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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