It’s the little things that can unnerve

This morning’s edition of The Courier-Mail (Queensland newspaper, owned by News Limited) features an article by Ainsley Pavey that mentions how the former partner of a millionaire has won a big settlement partly due to the fact that the partner undertook significant housekeeping duties during the relationship.

The judge’s ruling gave that as the reason for rewarding the settlement.

Pretty cut and dry, and not too shocking in this era of multi-million dollar divorces, etc.

However this is the headline: “Millionaire’s former gay lover wins a slice of his fortune for being housekeeper during their relationship.”

When I mentioned in yesterday’s post that homophobia in media is a problem that can be addressed now, this is a prime example. I do not know Ms. Pavey, but I will make a fair-minded assumption that she’s not intentionally homophobic, and that the copy editor who proofed this article was not governed by trafficking in homophobia in order to bolster sales. Rather, I’ll just assume that they had a deadline and that for whatever reason old offensive lexicon fell through the cracks. Maybe it needed some extra pizzazz beyond “property developer and ex-partner resolve 3 year legal battle.”

(Disclosure: I have a subscription to the Courier-Mail and I’m for Queensland too…except at State of Origin, but even then…)

The headline says “former gay lover.” Apparently having money puts you above sexual orientation, but being the financially dependent partner is another matter entirely.

The headline and article also uses the word “lover” and “ex-lover” throughout.  While the gay community has used the word “lover” in the past, present-day discourse actually uses the word “partner” to refer to those in a long term relationship. Given that the Australian government has had legislation for de facto partnerships (inclusive of same-sex ones) for quite some time, and the general practice is to use the word “partner” instead of “lover,” the article infers an inequality between same-sex partnerships (who can’t marry) and heterosexuals who choose not to. Again, perhaps the person who proofed the article hasn’t bothered to ask any of the gay people they know as to what the proper term is. It’s not an offensive question though, feel free to ask.

The article then launches into the standard summary of the judge’s findings.

Now, this is up for interpretation based upon how familiar one is with how gay men have been treated in media through the ages:

Now, with that build up before getting to the actual basis of the judgement (the judgement is oddly enough a sign that same sex relationships are equal), the article immediately distances itself from any gay readers.

To a reader that may not have as much knowledge of gay representation on film, the archaic phrasing of “former gay lover” is in itself off-putting. To a reader, particularly one who is aware and knows openly gay people, this particular article recalls the “bad old days” when to be openly gay in Queensland was a crime.



The Pitfalls of re-branding

The Met logo, the previous umbrella brand for ...

The Met logo, the previous umbrella brand for metropolitan transport in Melbourne, in the 1980s and 1990s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes in this country, it seems that are outbreaks of rebranding. Outbreak is how I describe them, because they seem to occur like an unplanned plague.

Recently the seemingly benign Metlink became PTV (not personal television, but Public Transport Victoria):

Metlink/PTV is like the MTA in New York.

A vast sum of money is being spent by the Victorian government to splash this new logo all over Melbourne and Victoria. Why? I don’t know?

I never heard anyone complaining directly about Metlink, and since transport here is operated by franchise operators on behalf of the Victorian government, any criticism has been directed at the operators not the governing body.

So why do we need PTV?

There’s been very little hoopla about it, except amongst the app world where the redesigned PTV app met with such hate that the original was brought back.

But, I think the app debacle is a metaphor for a greater disconnect between those in power (and wanting to stay in power) and the greater populace at large.

Without a doubt, the rebranding has been focus grouped to the death, but I suspect it was done with the view that there was going to be a rebranding no matter what, because some apparatchik wanted to leave their legacy/save their job.

Now, the newspapers are going through a rebranding. Fairfax is cutting staff and refocusing on digital and changing from a broadsheet format to a tabloid format.

This really means nothing to me, as I made my switch over to the digital format with the tablet. (Yes, I’m one of those evil early adapters.) I can really only speak on how the app works.

Only a couple of days ago, my The Age & Sydney Morning Herald apps got updated and migrated into the Newsstand section of my tablet computer. I have to enter in my Fairfax account details and get…pretty much the exact thing that I had before.

Not to be outdone, News Limited is doing the same thing with the Herald Sun.

Yesterday, my Herald Sun app updated and a perfectly functional app where I happily paid for a subscription does not function. It looks very sleek, but I can’t get anywhere past the lovely facade.

I understand the enthusiasm for “reinvigorating the brand,” but that enthusiasm/fear of becoming irrelevant must be tempered with actual practicality, otherwise you become even more redundant in the end.