It’s Time for the AFL to Fix its Women Problem

On Saturday June 29, 2013, two teams of women – one representing the Melbourne Demons, one representing the Western Bulldogs – took to the MCG to compete in what the AFL proudly proclaimed to be the first AFL sanctioned women’s game. During their on-field warm up, the stadium loudspeakers rattled off key statistics: over 136,000 women nationwide are registered players of Australian Rules football, including over 12,000 juniors in the Auskick program. 35% of AFL club members are female. What they did not mention was the number of females directly involved with AFL action in either a playing or officiating capacity: one, goal umpire Chelsea Roffey. A Google search of her name returns her Twitter account, and two Facebook groups dedicated to how “hot” she is.

The AFL has long been a bastion of horrendous gender imbalance. The June exhibition game was the centrepiece of the AFL’s “Women’s Round,” one of many self-aggrandising, back-patting, good-on-us examples of the AFL’s capacity to care for a week. (Others in the roster include Multicultural Round, Rivalry Round, Heritage Round, and the recent Lefty Round – a week dedicated to recognising the efforts of players who kick with their left foot, as opposed to their right). At best, this is lip service from the AFL; a way of recognising, but not including, enormous chunks of its supporting community.

Boys Vs Girls

Let’s look at the pathways in football for boys and girls. Gender intermingling happens on a surprising level in childhood development stages. Auskick does a remarkable job of making no distinction between gender and promoting inclusiveness and participation for children up to the age of 12. But from there, it separates.

For the boys, strong, dedicated junior leagues and talent identification can lead to potential elite players being identified, nurtured, and ushered towards the AFL draft, and an exceedingly lucrative career that, ultimately, has the potential to culminate in premiership glory on Grand Final day in front of 100,000 spectators at the MCG and a televised audience of millions worldwide.

For girls, the pathway ends in the established, but un-heralded, women’s state leagues. Untelevised. Unremunerated. Ranked, by definition, as amateur athletes. The pinnacle of which, as of this year, is an exhibition game played in the bowels of June. The fact that this is the only opportunity for women’s sport teams to play on the MCG is somewhat of a travesty. The fact that, in 2013, an all-female team of cooks competed on the MCG for an episode of MasterChef before teams of women were able to play football on the ground reduces it to farce.

What’s The AFL Doing About It?

The AFL, allegedly, has plans in place that will facilitate a nationally televised women’s league by 2020. But why wait that long? The Victorian Women’s Football League has been operating for nearly 30 years; why does it need another seven to integrate with professional bodies, and begin televising? The W-League — the national semi-professional women’s soccer competition — formed a mere five years ago. In 2013, one game per week is broadcast live by the ABC. Clubs carry the same colours, names, and insignia as their male counterparts, and administratively they both operate under the same banner. With participation numbers already in six figures, why then does the AFL — unquestionably the dominant professional sport in Australia — need seven more years to reach the same goal?

What’s to stop the AFL from working with Melbourne-based clubs at the end of this year, to establish a working six-to-eight team competition — all teams sharing colours, names, and brands with already established clubs — to begin operation for the 2015 season? What’s to stop them from running concurrent schedules leading up to September? What’s to stop them from holding the AFL-W Grand Final on the same day, at the same arena, as the men’s competition? What’s the point in denying players like Daisy Pearce the national recognition she richly deserves? Why is it taking so long?

The answer appears to be that the AFL isn’t in any great rush to adjust its current attitude towards rectifying its inherent gender imbalance. If it were, it would take greater strides sooner to fix a system that’s currently failing to discourage bad attitudes towards women.

Change Needs To Start At The Top

For the privilege of playing a game for a living, AFL players are afforded a number of luxuries. It’s an old-world, gentleman’s club kind of environment. The money, the athletic ability; these things grant the average player notoriety and enhanced social privilege. It gets you noticed. It gets you wanted. It gets you laid. (Particularly in football-mad Melbourne.) The Brownlow Medal count, the AFL’s annual best-and-fairest dinner, never fails to begin with a litany of bewildering nonsense as players parade down the red carpet with their partners (and are all quick to point out that it’s “their night”) before the women in attendance are universally posed a bafflingly objectifying question: “WHO are you wearing?”

Men in society are largely expected to atone and reform for misogynistic behaviour if (and only if) they are caught and called out on it. But it’s different in the football world. The St Kilda Football Club has had two extremely similar rape charges levelled against two of its players recently. One  against “club legend” Stephen Milne, and one against the (at the time) recently-acquired Andrew Lovett. Milne was dropped from the senior side for a grand total of three weeks. He has since been reinstated and continues to play top tier football, despite the charges still pending. Conversely, Lovett’s contract with the club was immediately terminated. The difference between the two players? Milne had played some 260-odd games for the club, whereas Lovett, who was cleared of the charges in 2011, was yet to step on a field for the Saints, and had somewhat of a reputation for bad off-field behaviour.

The disparity between the punishments demonstrates that the longer the career that a player racks up, the more bulletproof they become in the eyes of both the public and club administration. If Andrew Lovett had been a tenured 200-game player with the club, and a permanent fixture in its best 22, would he have been afforded the same benefit of doubt they gave to Stephen Milne? Based on the evidence down at St Kilda, you’d be inclined to suggest yes.

A football club’s priority number one is to protect its public image at all times, and they know where their supporters loyalties lie. But when a club legend is backed at all costs in order for the club to save face — portrayed as a good and honest man, despite the gravity of charges laid against him — the result is an adoring public that turns its vitriol against the other half of the equation: the complainant.It’s a shockingly cavalier attitude, which breeds a culture of victim blaming and misogyny that goes unchecked league wide. This lack of a strong voice on the issue trickles down to fans. Football players, like it or not, are role models. And if a role model doesn’t provide a model of social equity, what happens to the people who follow them?

What’s The Real Source Of The Problem?

A big part of the problem stems from a fundamental lack of education and support. For young players entering the draft, life becomes a whirlwind if their name is read out by an AFL club. At 18 years of age (and in the cases of players such as Jaeger O’Meara or Jesse Hogan, at 17) they are taken from Year 12 students to professional athletes literally overnight. Playing contracts are lucrative from day one, and become even more so over time. In 2011, a player selected in the first round of the draft was immediately awarded a base salary of $59,200 per annum. This is propped up by senior match payments of $2,900 per match, with bonuses earned for the amount of senior AFL games played in their first year. A first round selected draft pick who manages to play 12 games in his first year (admittedly, no mean feat) stands to rake in somewhere in the vicinity of $102,100. And that’s a figure contractually obliged to grow year-on-year, thanks to the AFL Player’s Association’s particularly shrewd negotiating abilities when it came to the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement.

More to that, it takes young men out of home for the first time in a lot of cases — often from rural and insular communities — and relocates them in big cities that are sometimes thousands of kilometres away from friends and family. That’s not to say that the system merely dumps boys in to the deep end and demands they swim. On the contrary, AFL clubs have long held systems and structures in place that see drafted rookie players live with older members of the club lists, or with more mature mentors who can continue to teach them essential life skills. In the case of Melbourne legend Todd Viney, whose son Jack is a current first year player with the Demons, his house has taken on a number of rookies as boarders, effectively extending the period of time they live in a family environment.

But this program of mentorship doesn’t necessarily equate to breeding better males. After all, it’s young players being taught by established players who only learned from the same broken system. It’s a cut that runs deep. When fielding audience questions during a recent charity luncheon run by the AFL Player’s Association, Hawthorn legend Robert DiPierdomenico was asked by a female member of the audience for a picture. His knee-jerk response? “Clothes on, or off?”

It was a quip made with jovial boys-will-be-boys intentions, but one that smacks of the rampant male privilege associated with this cult of personality. There needs to be education, constant and ongoing, for all players entering the AFL. As much work as the AFL does for the under-privileged, for immigrant and indigenous communities, and for the disaffected, the same needs to be done for victims of sexual and domestic assault support organisations. Along with the requisite media training, clubs need to focus dedicated attention on teaching and developing players’ awareness of the impact of “off-handed” quips, gaffes, and misused language in general. The AFL needs to do more to support and back organisations andmovements, and help eradicate a culture of victim blaming and casual misogyny. They need to work towards getting more women involved at football clubs, in administrative, operational, and officiating roles. And they need to do this for the simple reason that they, by virtue of dominating such a vast percentage of the Australian media landscape, are a voice that is impossible to ignore.

Why Not Be Better?

The AFL, with its wide-ranging influence and wealth of resources, could be blazing a triumphant trial in the all-too-important battle to build better blokes and foster a kinder, more tolerant community. Instead, they remain content to exist in a comfortably sexist world that treats rape culture on a scale of relevance, seemingly dependent on how many games the accused has played. In an increasingly progressive society, sport has always had the capacity to be pioneers for more humanist and less inherently privileged attitudes. It’s high time the AFL saw this responsibility as a badge of honour, and not an annoyance.

This article appears on Junkee.

Seven Songs that Might be Used During the Election Campaign

Politics and popular music go together about as well as an ice cream in the desert. But that hasn’t ever stopped politicians from trying to connect with the masses through the majesty of song, particularly when election campaigns roll around.

The Whitlam Government famously employed ‘It’s Time’ – a jingle written specifically for the campaign — to help topple a Liberal Party that had been in power for 23 years. Bill Clinton’s affinity for Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ was a consistent feature throughout his presidency. And when George W. Bush used the Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’ without the band’s permission, it compelled Dave Grohl to get vocal about his support for Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, and look how well that turned out.

The point is, music has the potential to speak the words that a campaign sometimes can’t find. With the looming federal election staring us all down, here are seven songs that could well be perfect fits for our current class of campaigning.

Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – ‘Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy)’

Palmer United Party

Clive Palmer. Mining magnate. Pie enthusiast. Mental gymnast. After launching the Australia United Party, Clive found himself in a tough spot. That name simply wasn’t projecting the message he was after. It didn’t grab the public by the scruff of the shirt and yell his platform right into their gobs. It needed a change. Now known as the Palmer United Party, Clive is setting about showing Australia his vision for the country. And that vision is Clive Palmer.

Sure, the nation at large might think he’s a complete loony, but Clive’s spinning that around: he’s owning that label! And what better song to do that with than Billy Thorpe’s classic hit? What better way to project the ‘us against them’ vibe that Clive so desperately wants to cultivate? And, most importantly, what better song to unite Palmer’s voting base? You know, both of them.

Split Enz – ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’

Liberal Party

Desperate to ram home his fervent ‘Stop the boats’ message, Tony Abbott entrusts his campaign team to find him a song — ANY SONG — with the word ‘boats’ in the title. He’s well aware of the media’s propensity to latch on to keywords, and he wants to put that word in front of as many people’s eyes as possible.

It’s a solid strategy, except that, without realising it, he’s subtly highlighted the plight of asylum seekers travelling for weeks and months across raging seas in less-than-adequate transportation. When the media points this out to him, Abbott initially responds with restrained silence — he’s a man of peaceful aggression, after all. Then his spin team goes into overdrive. He didn’t actually mean the boats! He meant the Labor Party! THAT’S the real leaky boat.

Divinyls – ‘Boys In Town’

Julia Gillard

Used as Gillard’s final middle finger to the party that built her up only to tear her down, Julia rides out of Canberra and into political retirement with the cries of the late, great, Chrissie Amphlett — another iconic Australian redhead — poignantly summing up the treatment Gillard herself received during her Prime Ministership.

Tired of being “just a red brassiere to all the boys in town”, Gillard, like Amphlett, screams “Get me out of here!” And away she goes, off to enjoy her life with partner Tim Matheson, a bloke who, despite all media speculation to the contrary, secretly harbours the ability to split wood with his bare hands.

The Replacements – ‘Unsatisfied’

Kevin Rudd

Prior to last week’s spill, this was K-Rudd’s private anthem for three years running. Through countless media interviews, he’d deny that he wanted the job of Labor leader back. But when you looked deeper, right into those pale, wispy eyes, you could tell that the mere sound of those words was tearing him up inside.

When the cameras switched off and Kevin went home for the day, he’d trudge solemnly up to his reading room, close the door, swing the needle onto Side B of Let It Be and let Paul Westerberg scream the words he wished he could in public. “I’m so! I’m so! Unsatisfied!” We all knew you were, Kev. There was never any shame in hiding it.

War – ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’

Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Andrew Wilkie

With the end of a long and at times trying partnership, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor publicly extend one last olive branch of friendship to their fellow sitting independent, Andrew Wilkie. With all the poise and grace of your 78-year-old grandad hitting the dance floor at a wedding after three sherries, Rob and Tony call a press conference to ask Andrew to finally join their ‘Best Friends Forever’ club. They promise Andrew barbeques and camping trips and days spent gazing up at the clouds talking about their hopes, dreams and fears. It’s kind of sweet and endearing in the dorkiest way possible. Wilkie, for his part, merely rolls his eyes in exasperation, before turning back to his computer where he’s in the middle of the eighty-seventh draft of his pokie reform legislation.

Kylie Minogue – ‘Better The Devil You Know’

Labor Party

The Labor Party’s campaign is in tatters even before it’s begun. Leadership instability, factional infighting, sitting members resigning at the speed of light. So it’s important for the party to focus on what their real message needs to be: they’re far, far better than the alternative.

Just like Kylie Minogue’s 1990 hit, they told the Australian public that they wouldn’t leave us no more, and we took them back again. And now we don’t want no more excuses, because we have indeed heard them all before, at least a hundred times, maybe more. So, this campaign, the Labor Party will tell us that if we forgive and forget, then they’ll say they’ll never go. After all, it is true what they say: it’s better the devil you know.

Lily Allen – ‘Fuck You’

Green Party

Through all this bickering and pissing and moaning and backstabbing, the Green Party has been, somewhat uncharacteristically, rather silent. Maybe they’re just biding their time, waiting for the right moment to launch an almighty campaign that could well see them on level pegging terms with Labor at the conclusion of a disastrous federal election. Or maybe they’ve seen the writing on the wall and simply decided it’s better to sit this one out? No matter the reason, they’ve got every right to let Canberra know exactly how they feel. And what better way to get all that vitriol out in one magnificent burst than with a catchy pop banger. The Greens may well realise that we’re heading down a socially dark path, and if that’s the case, fuck it, we’re all gonna do it dancing.

This article appears on Junkee.

Six Reasons Why You Need to Watch “Under the Dome”

You’ve seen it advertised. Don’t pretend like you haven’t. Channel Ten has been putting promo in every spare nook and cranny it can find, and trailers for it have been making their way onto streaming services all over the web.

Tonight comes the premiere of the much-hyped drama series Under The Dome. The show is set in the town of Chester’s Mill, which suddenly finds itself trapped by an invisible and impenetrable dome, cutting the townspeople off from the rest of the world. As the citizens become gripped with panic, a small group bands together to try and restore peace and civility, and find out what’s caused the mysterious dome, and how to escape it.

Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s advertising taken to extreme levels, or maybe it’s mild psychosis settling in, but I swear I’ve been having dreams that feature this dome recently. But what on earth is the deal with it? And why should you care?

1. Stephen King is writing it.

Boom. There it is. That alone should be enough to get you on board. The man knows a thing or two about suspense — and this is certainly not his first attempt at having one of his works adapted for the screen. Are they all classics? Absolutely not. But you’d be hard pressed to find any ‘Best Of’ critics lists that didn’t include either The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Meor The Shining. The story itself has been bouncing around inside King’s mind for the better part of four decades, and was finally released in novel form in late 2009, to widespread acclaim. Neil Gaiman is a fan of it, too.

2. Stephen King isn’t directing it.

King is many things: Prolific writer, master of high-concept, deft controller of literary tension. But of the many strings on his creative bow, the directing one is the weakest. Like all screenwriters, actors, sound technicians, caterers or just about anyone else who’s ever worked in the film industry, King has long held ambitions to step behind the camera. In the early ’80s, he not only got this opportunity, but he got to do it from a script that he himself wrote, adapted from a short story that he himself wrote. To cap that off, he was handed a cast headlined by Emilio Estevez — fresh off the sets classics like Repo Man and The Breakfast Club.

But thanks to King not really knowing what he was doing (coupled with a self-confessed raging white powder habit at the time), the resulting film, Maximum Overdrive, continually ranks as one of cinema’s all-time great stinkers. And King has not directed since.

The flip side to this is that the fellow they hired to direct the first episode of Under The Dome, a Danish lad by the name of Niels Arden Oplev, just so happens to be fantastic, having helmed the excellent Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. So visually, the show is in much safer hands.

3. Brian K. Vaughan is the series developer and co-writer. BRIAN K. VAUGHAN.

You hear that? That’s the sound of every Comic-Con attendee the world over weeing themselves a little bit at the mention of that name. Vaughan is the series developer and, with Stephen King, co-wrote practically the entire show. Vaughan’s experience in the world of comic books and graphic novels is extensive and extremely impressive. Y: The Last ManEx MachinaRunaways? All products of Vaughan’s creation. He’s also penned issues for just about every superhero under the sun, in both Marvel and DC camps. But his prior work is not just limited to the realms of comics. For three seasons, Vaughan wrote and edited for a little TV series with a niche audience you might have heard of: Lost. Helming a series that has both fantastical elements, as well as impossible intrigue, tension and mystery? Under The Dome is in the right hands here.

4. The Simpsons Did It

The similarities between Under The Dome and the major plot line of The Simpsons Movie are well documented. It’d be impossible to NOT draw comparisons between the mysterious dome that appears around Chester’s Mill, and the enormous, town-sealing bubble that got dropped over Springfield.

Both sides have vehemently denied taking influence from the other, with King going so far as to publish excerpts from his original manuscript written in 1979 to prove his originality. At this stage it’s absolutely plausible to simply write this coincidence off as a case of great minds thinking alike — and in any case, if it was good enough for The Simpsons…

5. You love disaster porn

We all like seeing stuff crash or blow up. It’s in our nature. It’s the reason why Roland Emmerich gets to make films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, and it’s the reason why World’s Wildest Police Videos remains a ratings hit. We are, to our very core, a species of rubberneckers. We can’t help it.

And when a small town is suddenly cut off by an invisible and impenetrable barrier, things are going to crash into it. The centrepiece of the trailer features a truck smashing into it at full speed. And it looks AWESOME. Birds, cars, trains, planes, all of these exist in the world ofUnder The Dome, and none of them are going to be safe from horrific, fiery, magnificent collision. Plus there’s that whole intriguing narrative thing, too.

6. Channel Ten is fast tracking it

So confident are Channel Ten that Under The Dome will be a hit that they’re not making you wait months on end for a local screening date (or force you to seek out other, less legal means of acquisition). The show will go to air on Australian TV mere hours after originally hitting US screens. Whether or not this is a smart move or simply blind panic is yet to be fully determined; Ten has had poor results from fast tracking in the past, whereas Channel 7 continues to tightly control its international programming successfully. The bottom line is that if the show takes off, Ten will be claiming fast-tracking to be a success, and more shows will follow. Reducing gaps in broadcast dates across international borders?  Yes please.

This article appears on Junkee.

Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” is Secretly the Greatest Protest Song of All Time

In time, history will look back upon the post-millennial era as a time of great social and societal upheaval. The benefit of hindsight will clearly identify those walking among us who are the great heroes of this tumultuous time. The problem there is that the benefits of powerful words and actions cannot be felt retroactively. It is imperative we seek them out now. But in a world that’s entrenched in a digital revolution, finding clarity in a sea of infinite information becomes problematic. It becomes increasingly difficult to identify a single important voice when an entire planet is screaming at a wall. And thus it’s far too easy to overlook works of mass importance. With a keen enough eye, great songs of protest can be identified, even from seemingly unlikely sources such as mildly successful turn-of-the-century pop hits.

Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” is a loving allegory for societal equality. Far beyond being merely a guaranteed filler of dance floors the world over, Be Faithful represents a bold, and oft-unrecognised, early champion for a populace born out of compassion and inclusion, and not out of intolerance and segregation. In a mere three minutes and twenty-six seconds, Scoop rebels against a conservative, God-fearing ruling class, and promotes radical ideas of peace, love and equality of class, gender and race.

Scoop’s first target is that of the money-driven class system. Long before the Occupy movement railed against the so-called One Percent, Fatman Scoop had identified that the majority of resources goes to a privileged minority. Indeed, the rich getting richer. He calls for peace, calm and unity. “You got a hundred dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he exclaims, immediately singling out the wealthy. “You got a fifty dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he continues, urging those with means and aspirations of greater personal wealth to identify themselves. “You got a twenty dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he pleads, urging the middle class to make themselves known to the congregation. “You got a ten dollar bill? Put your hands up!” Here, perhaps identifying a childhood spent living below the line, Scoop demands those suffering the pitfalls of poverty be heard and counted. He identifies that class division is present, and in one deft swoop asserts that money should not be a tool of division, rather it should aid and benefit all. It should exist not as a goal or symbol of status, rather as a blessing of which all should feel the benefits. It should assist the greatest number, not only by way of food and housing, but also in public infrastructure –  “Engine, Engine Number 9. On the New York Transit line. If my train falls off the tracks, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.” By demanding people from all walks of life raise their hands in unison, Scoop demonstrates to the world that money might be green, but we all bleed red.

But his vitriol and protestations do not end there. Far from being content to rest on his laurels, Scoop reveals his feminist ideologies: “Single ladies! I can’t hear ya! Single ladies! Make noise!” This is a furious battle cry for the females in his life. Tired of patriarchal oppression, Scoop implores them to not simply be a head in the crowds. Rather, he realises the need for women to boldly claim their identity; to state that traditional ideals of relationships and marriage do not necessarily apply to everyone; to assert that choices and responsibilities for monogamy and sexual behaviour rest with the individual, and should not be subject to ridicule, shame or public dissection. Later, he questions the media’s proliferation of unattainable beauty: “If ya got short hair make noise/If ya got more hair on your head/If you got long hair on your head/From your ear to your sleeve/Even if you got a weave.” Scoop reverts here to the role of gentle reassurer. It’s clear he’s speaking directly to those who feel disaffected and disenfranchised by society’s prioritising of aesthetics. No matter what you might look like on the outside, everyone is beautiful. Fatman Scoop knows this. And he hopes, in time, you will learn this too.

Scoop even dances with philosophy, positing the question “What’s your zodiac sign?” – a query he repeats thrice. He leaves this lingeringly open ended, opting to not provide an answer. And, in doing so, he challenges his audience to think for themselves. What IS your zodiac sign? Why do we put so much stock in them? Are our fates pre-determined in accordance with the periods of our births? Or do we, as a people, look too much for answers in arbitrary star positioning, often at the expense of our own self-reliance? It’s clear that, in asking this, Fatman Scoop is presenting himself as one of modern society’s great thinkers, worthy of holding in regard alongside luminaries such as Kant or Heidegger.

Fatman Scoop saves the crux of his message for perhaps his most impassioned stanza. As his masterpiece slingshots out of one verse and into another, Scoop roars “To all my niggas who wanna hit it from the back” with all the conviction and fire of a nuclear explosion. The common man may make the erroneous assumption that Scoop is merely making a light-hearted shout out to his more promiscuous contemporaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if it’s for a brief split second, Fatman Scoop leans heavily on the word “my.” And it’s this possessive, fatherly nod to his masses that defines Fatman Scoop’s revolution. As the figurehead for a social uprising that perhaps the world simply wasn’t ready for at the time, Scoop preaches togetherness. He is the Pope at his pulpit. The hero we need, and the one we deserve. To paraphrase The Fresh Prince, he is the driver, and we are all on a rap ride. Every single one of us. Together.  Fatman Scoop’s vision for the world is one of love, respect and compassion. As Be Faithful rumbles to a close, he repeats over and over “Stop playing. Keep it moving.” And he makes no mistakes in this insistence. Life is perpetual motion. We must never sit still. We must never allow ourselves to idle. We, as a people, must continue to move forward in order to realise Scoop’s dream. He insists that all of us be faithful, not only to each other, but also to ourselves. And it’s that that provides the most compelling of Scoop’s arguments for equality. If only more of us had recognised the hidden messages of Fatman Scoop and took up arm-in-arm for the Crooklyn Clan, then maybe, just maybe, we’d all be a little bit better off.

Perhaps it’s not too late just yet. Perhaps we all just need to be faithful.

This article appears on Junkee.

An Open Cover Letter to Every Employer I’ve Contacted Over the Past Three Months

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in application for the vacant position you currently have within your creative industries business. Where I found the advertisement is totally contingent on what you’re looking for in a prospective employee. If you want someone who’s writing their fifth application for the day and it’s not even lunchtime and who’s bordering on losing hope of ever attaining true happiness, I found it on Seek. If you’re looking for someone who sat down to write this but ended up drowning in a sea of pop culture journalism for six hours, then I found it on Pedestrian. And if you’re after someone who not only enjoys unnecessarily extending jokes but abusing cataloguing systems as well, then #ifounditontwitter.

I have obtained the tertiary qualifications that qualify me to perform the tightly specific task you are advertising. I want to assure you that, whilst I did spend far too many years and far too much money studying the sector as a broad academic whole, I did focus intently on the narrow alley of knowledge that you’re adamantly looking for. I think. Maybe. It might have been covered one week. Or maybe someone mentioned it in passing. I’m not sure. Truth be told, I was probably drunk or hungover. Though I did become exceedingly proficient in both of those – A feat of which I am immensely proud.

I must admit I am at somewhat of a loss when it comes to your request for someone with “1-3 years experience.” This mainly stems from the fact that I’m yet to encounter any similar employment opportunities that specify 0 years experience. I’m pretty sure I can go ahead and assume at this point that there is a finite pool of suitably qualified candidates. Is it like some sort of secret club that I just don’t know about? Do they have an awesome tree house headquarters? Do I need a special passphrase to get in? Or do things work more on the basis that there’s always one more job than there are qualified people, and everything operates on a constant cyclical basis, like a never-ending game of Duck/Duck/Goose for adults? But that’s clearly preposterous, because at some point those in the secret club with 3 years experience are going to suddenly have 4 years experience, which renders them unsuitable for the job. Is it fair to assume that at that point the pool is replenished with more people of 1 years’ experience, and those who now have 4 years’ experience are swiftly shipped off to Carousel?

But then how does one obtain this mythical first year of experience? Is it really just an elaborate lie used to scare off tyre-kickers? Or is it more of an existential construct where you do not simply obtain the first year of experience; the first year of experience comes from within; it comes from understanding that modern society is the product of a fractured collective consciousness; that the human ego is the only thing standing between mankind and achieving utopia; that only when you understand this can you truly know peace and love and humility, and that then, and only then, will the twelve months of experience necessary to apply for this job present themselves to you, and you can know and attain them? Perhaps you can shed some light on this for me in the interview.

I notice you’ve used the words “funky” and “guru” in the job description. I’m not entirely sure what they mean in this particular context, but I’m going to go ahead and repeat them here, because when it comes to being funky, I am a bit of a guru.

The ten seconds I spent browsing your website before writing this gave me very little information as to what you, as a company, actually do. But this isn’t going to stop me from inferring that whatever it is you do is exciting and relevant to both my training and aspirations. That thing you did? I’m impressed by it. That client you worked with? Bravo. Those award logos you’ve got plastered on your home page? I’ve definitely heard of them.

I possess a solid, borderline-obsessive knowledge of football, which can be utilised to help your Dream Team get over the line this year. I know enough about TV to bluff my way through conversations about Game of Thrones, despite not having watched the series or read the books. I’ve got enough dorky Dad jokes under my belt to keep the entire staff rolling their eyes at me for minutes on end. Knock knock! Who’s there? I don’t know. Someone funny. Maybe one day you’ll find out.

Here’s the part where I tell you why I feel this position would be an excellent fit for me. It’s not because it’s a chance for career advancement. It’s not because of any genuine want to work in the industry. It’s not even because of the opportunity to engage and expand my network. It’s because I’m in desperate need of a reason to wear pants. Over the past few months, jeans have suddenly become special occasion wear. The radius from my bedroom in which I feel comfortable wearing pyjama bottoms has shockingly increased beyond the boundaries of my own house. Don’t get me wrong. I’d have my now-untouchable Tetris high score tattooed on my chest if I could afford to do so. But when you seriously consider hitting Rainbow Road’s shortcut on all three laps to be your greatest personal achievement for the month, things have to change. So yes, the position in your company in your industry does provide opportunities for career advancement and network expansion in a sector that I genuinely want to work in. But more importantly, it provides me with a reason to regularly wear pants again. Please, give me a reason to wear pants.



Kind regards,

Cameron Tyeson.

This article appears in varying forms on both Junkee and The Vine.