I quit my job at the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria earlier this year, mostly to focus on my music career, but to be honest partly due to burnout from working in a field where somedays you just feel like you’re drowning in a neverending sea of violence and misogyny and misery and that nothing you can do will ever actually make a difference to begin to drain that ocean. And I wasn’t even in a frontline role. And since then, I have been very much on the backbench when it comes to taking part in the incredible feminist campaigns and anti-violence work that is going on in this country and across the world, and (again to be honest) I feel like I’ve really needed that break.
And then it’s funny the things that set you off, what little infection will flare up after you think you’ve been long inoculated against rage and shock.
This afternoon while researching performing/composing opportunities I came across this year’s Tropscore competition – an offshoot of the world’s largest short film festival, Tropfest, Tropscore offers a chance for up-and-coming film composers to score a preselected short film. This year, the film is called ‘Remote’, (written and directed by Miguel Nooñan), and like many short films, it comes with a twist and a double entendre – the everyman protagonist, Carlos, driving his ute through the remote (see?) Mexican desert is doing so to dig up his buried alive wife to rip the gaffa tape off her mouth and ask her where the remote (geddit?) is. Woman-in-refrigerator/buried-alive-wife (in the credits she doesn’t even get a name. She’s just ‘Wife of Carlos’) just blinks incredulously. Cut to Carlos driving away in his ute, yelling ‘Bitch’! And scene.
This kind of casual misogyny contributes to a culture of minimisation, trivialisation and acceptance of domestic violence. It makes a punchline out of the fact that 22% of Australians think that domestic violence can be excused if people get so angry they lose control.
This should NEVER be acceptable but particularly in a year when 63 WOMEN have already been killed violently (mostly at the hands of their current or former partner) this is just fucking outrageous. I am LIVID.
Given APRA AMCOS’ support for the music industry campaign #notON, their implicit endorsement of ‘Remote’, Tropscore’s selected film this year (as Tropfest partners in the Tropscore initiative), is especially astounding, but sadly indicative of the cognitive dissonance that underscores much of Australia’s cultural (mis)nderstanding of violence against women.
My first instinct was to call out what I saw as a bullshit decision to promote this film through the Tropscore comp (which I did):
— Jennifer Kingwell (@jenkingwell) September 23, 2015
… While my second instinct was to start a petition calling for the boycott and/or removal of ‘Remote’ as this year’s Tropscore film.
HOWEVER after conferring with my fellow witches/feminists/composers, we have chosen a different course of action. We’re calling for creative dissent against violence and misogyny by submitting your femmo/anti-misogynistic audio pieces to Tropscore to say that violence against women is #notremotelyfunny.
More info about submitting here – applications close 8 October so hop to it, my sestres! I’ll be getting mine in in the next few days…
LOVE. CREATE. RIOT.
This post originally published on Jennifer Kingwell’s blog.
UPDATE: APRA AMCOS have released a statement in relation to #notremotelyfunny saying;
‘We understand the concerns raised with the film selected for composers to score for the 2015 competition, and we are aware of the sensitivities that this film raises. The film was a Tropfest 2013 finalist and was screened, in full, on SBS the evening of the festival.
The film was selected for Tropscore 2015 for its suitability – its long sweeping frames and lack of dialogue – and the director had approved the film being re-scored.
We acknowledge that certain scenes in the film may challenge some people, notwithstanding the darkly satirical nature of the film.
Given the level of domestic violence experienced in Australia, we could and should have approved a more appropriate film choice.’
Jennifer Kingwell has responded on her facebook via a comment on her original post, voicing her disappointment in the simplicity of their response, their obvious misunderstanding of the problem at hand and rightfully pointing out that the problem is not that we are “‘challenged’ by ‘sensitivities’, nor are we such dopey shrinking violets that we can’t understand or deal with ‘dark satire’ when it does, in fact, occur.”
Hi APRA|AMCOS, thanks for your statement, although I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed and concerned by much of it. The problem is not that people are ‘challenged’ by ‘sensitivities’, nor are we such dopey shrinking violets that we can’t understand or deal with ‘dark satire’ when it does, in fact, occur. I thought from talking to Dean earlier that APRA would have a more nuanced response so it is disappointing to see a statement that actually appears simply to justify the decision to use this film (because no one complained in 2013…. So we shouldn’t speak up now?) and only considers this a mistake because DV is getting reported so frequently now. Feminists can deal with dark humour. They are, in my opinion, some of the world’s best practitioners of it. What we can’t deal with is misogyny and violence against women getting offered up as ‘entertainment’ and then being told that we’re too sensitive & that we just don’t get it. If ‘Remote’ were a film where the perpetrator were the butt of the joke, it might be different. But the entire premise of the ‘humour’ is that the woman deserved what was coming to her because of a petty infraction. That’s not a joke to the thousands of women who get beaten over the smallest things – burning the dinner, staying out 5 minutes too late, not answering the phone in time. That’s a reality. And turning it into a joke is not ‘dark satire’, that is just laughing at their expense. And worse? It normalises and entrenches the idea that women ‘have it coming’, one way or another, and it is not a point that’s wasted on the perpetrators of this kind of violence, who believe that their behaviours and actions are entirely justified and normal – otherwise why would everyone be laughing?’
ANOTHER UPDATE: APRA AMCOS released a statement yesterday announcing the removal of ‘Remote’ from their Tropscore competition;
‘APRA AMCOS wishes to unreservedly apologise for any distress caused by our association with the film Remote, selected for this year’s Tropscore competition. We acknowledge that, given the level and impact of domestic violence in this country, the film should have been rejected from the Tropscore selection process from the outset and a more appropriate film selected for composers to score.
Tropfest and APRA AMCOS have, as of 25 September 2015 11.15am, immediately withdrawn Remote from the 2015 competition.
An alternative film will be selected for the competition in the coming week and the existing entrants offered the opportunity to re-score the new film, with an extended entry deadline.
We thank the community for their forthright feedback and trust this action is a suitable outcome.’
Jen has responded on her blog to this statement with an open letter to APRA AMCOS and Tropfest.