Magnum ad, LGBTQ+ visibility and a plea against dehumanising LGBTQ+ people

Reading about the controversy over a Magnum commercial  hit a nerve with me. They way both same – sex marriage opponents and supporters have conducted this “debate” on same – sex marriage has been pathetic.

The reaction Cooper’s beer being featured in ‘Keeping it Light’ same – sex marriage debate by both supporters and opponents was overall childish, especially the backlash after Cooper’s back – pedalled and expressed support for same – sex marriage.

The meltdown over Airbnb campaign where staff members were given an incomplete ring was also ridiculous. If there was any evidence that staff felt intimidated into wearing it, then that’d be wrong. But a quick Google search suggests that hasn’t happened.

Now, the Magnum ad. Two women who are in a relationship (could be lesbian, could be bi, or could be homo – romantic) was feathred sharing a magnum before getting married to another. This sparked a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board, with an accusation that it was ‘promoting lesbianism’ and shouldn’t be featured in children’s viewing timeslot. *Sigh*. These sort of complaints have been rightly condemned as a push to make the LGBTQ+ community invisible again.

 

People may have moral objections towards those in the LGBTQ+ community. But how about you change the channel when the Magnum ad comes on? If you want to drink Cooper’s then do, if not, don’t. It’s a beer, for crying out loud!

From same – sex marriage supporters, no one should have a (figurative) gun put to their head in a bid to get employees, etc to support same – sex marriage. This is not going to win supporters, in fact, it may do the opposite. Just take a chill pill and let people breathe.

 

On the Magnum ad, I think the controversy has sparked a long – worn and potentially harmful belief about the LGBTQ+ community. Make that two. First is the idea that the LGBTQ+ community should have no representation in the media – unless it’s to fulfil a male fantasy, I guess. The second, which I think is more harmful – is the idea that being LGBTQ+ is about genitals and sex rather than fully human. I believe this is what gets LGBTQ+ harassed, raped or murdered around the world. It’s these limiting ideas that have driven – and continue to drive – hostility in some religious communities.

LGBTQ+ people are people. They are more than their sex lives (or lack of). A kiss by a heterosexual/ hetero-romantic couple is just a kiss. So is a same – sex kiss. If either offends you, look away. But please do not reduce LGBTQ+ people to your stereotypes and caricatures. They are human – your brothers, sisters, siblings, friends, sons, daughters, etc. Well, they could be. This is what makes homophobia, bi – phobia, trans – phobia, etc so toxic – the way it leaves young people homeless, the way it breaks up families and even can lead to domestic violence. Regardless of your views on same – sex marriage, or even relationships, please look beyond the stereotypes. They are real human beings. It’s time they started to be treated as such.

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NAPLAN said to be written in text language and emojis.

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We’ve come to a new era of technology and communication. So why not…. English testing?

Well, news.com.au has reported that the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority have posted a series of “mini tests” on – line. One of the questions asks students to analyse screenshots of text messages, including ones that feature emojis. Students are also asked questions such as who sent the message and the meaning. Whether this will actually be a part of the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy), remains to be seen.

Not surprisingly, the mini practise tests have been condemned as “dumbing down” education even further. Last year, reports revealed that Australian high school students lagged behind many developed countries in math and science. More recently, it was revealed that 1 in 20 teacher graduates in Victoria had failed or didn’t attend compulsory literacy and numeracy tests. While reasons for non attendance may be legitimate, (i.e. sickness, circumstances with family, etc), it’s still concerning. Students should be given the best opportunities, and that teachers need to have proven adequate basic knowledge and literacy and numeracy and a way to communicate that to their students.

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Does education need to keep up with the times, including technology? I think so.  Technology is going to be a part of everyday life – including professional life – for most people from now on. Modes of communication, including texting and sending social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) messages are going to be important means of communication.  It wouldn’t hurt the education system to remain relevant and allow kids to explore their own communication styles and their meaning. High school English, at least when I was there, focused on analysing, not just books and films, but also advertisements from magazines and other image – based texts. In this day in age, it would only be natural that social media and mobile phone communications also be included due to its proliferation in everyday life. But and this is a big, but, I don’t think these should replace analysing and comprehending traditional texts. All students from Years Seven to Twelve should have adequate spelling, grammar, writing, comprehension (something I was always bad at) and analysing skills for more traditional texts. If analysing mobile messages and emojis to find  their meanings are incorporated into the curriculum, they should work with traditional texts and not replace them. This should be used to further enhance students’ overall skills in English, not further jeopardise them.

Also, if it becomes a broader part of the curriculum in high school, it should not be at the expense of students who struggle with basic reading, writing, analysing and comprehension. Surely, we don’t need more students falling through the cracks. Also, I think ACAA, the Department of Education and Training and other bodies should be held accountable for making sure that all schools in their States and Territories, meet and maintain a minimum standard of achievement for both the students and teachers. Because students deserve nothing less than the best chance to achieve their potential.

 

What do you think about reading and analysing text messages and emojis being assessed as a part of English? Leave your thoughts below.