My cap would be glad of a copper or two

In my childhood, one of my fondest memories is the joy of popping into a Video Rental Store (ask your parents, children) and grabbing the VHS for Mary Poppins. Again. My adult self giggles in retrospect to be honest, because god knows we rented that goddamn tape from that little store so many times throughout the years that my mother may as well have bought me a tape of my own long ago. Maybe she simply liked the tradition and consistency of my grabbing the tape as she looked through the “boring adult” section of new releases.

And my favourite character? Bert. I mean, come on, who couldn’t love that chimney sweeping, art making, one man big band scallywag? I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the affect he had on my young life. He made me realize that you need not be ashamed of your work- as long as you’re passionate about it, that the process is the joy, to have a sense of humor about yourself, and probably most importantly- money matters little.

I’ve struggled with that in adult years, as I found out slowly but surely that Walt Disney had not engineered our lives, and that money in  fact matters  a lot. We need it to eat, we need it to keep warm, and, like it or not- it’s what people use to define you as a professional or amateur artist. Is he making a living or not?

Well- it depends what you mean by “living”, I suppose. I need art to live, like anybody; and my art cannot, could not, would not live without me. Is that enough?

Should it be enough?

I found myself wondering this as I came down from the stage of my first comedy show in Melbourne. I was excited just to be on the poster, and to get on stage, and I knew, if successful, money would come. Or not! It didn’t matter.

Well put simply? It was wonderful. I hadn’t practiced in months and it was my first time being a comedy show MC. I’m not going to lie, I felt I probably sucked a little, but made up for it enthusiasm. The acts were varied, strange, bouncy and quick as a whip, warm and dry… it was so wonderful being the ringmaster of that crazy circus… and I learned a lot.

I thanked the audience for coming, and pick up my bag to leave. All of a sudden, the host, Lawal, and the guy that brought me on board to the show, shoved some money into my hand. This was not expected. We had agreed this would be pro bono. An experiment… Yet there was the money, being placed into my hand.

“You did a wonderful job”, Lawal said. “Thank you.”
I was flabbergasted.
“Holy fuck mate, no, thank you” I said, putting the cash into my pocket without a word of protest.
“It really means a lot.”

He clapped my shoulder, smiled and went to talk to someone else. I could feel the cash burning in my pocket. Was I a professional now? What did it all mean?

Did I deserve this? Guilt began to rear it’s ugly head.

And then, my favourite worst cockney accent of all time popped into my head.

No remuneration do I ask of you, but me cap would be glad of a copper or two!”

Pride took its place as I made my way to my car. Who can say it better really?

 

This Does Not Justify Abuse

It is the 4th of September 2009, and I am carting my suitcase with all the belongings I can fit inside down Dodwell Street, turning right like I had on so many school mornings, on the way to the bus station. Today, I have tears streaming down my face.This is not, as much as I’d like to admit it- the first time this has occurred. But the suitcase is new. My father’s voice rings in my ears as I plod down the asphalt, I remember with a shiver, as he walks into the room.

Entering without knocking, he demands to know where my latest performance of”Sweeney Todd” DVD was- I told him the truth- I had no idea. The performance was filmed but the show had been lost to the sands of time. I had tried every person available who would talk to me to track it down, to show off my first leading role on the stage- but to no avail. This was the time where a rational mind would shrug, and move on to more important things. This was not acceptable. My young memory does not lend itself to the entire statement my father made; but I remember the words “I’m sick of it!” before he punched me in the face for the final time.

It is the 24th of September 2008, I stand on the Great Wall Of China, breathing in the chilly air and posing for a photo. I have been listening to Muse’s “Apocalypse Please” on my CD player as the fog slowly dissipates and I climb slowly higher to reveal the breathtaking landscape beneath me and the lyrics scream “AND THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEND! THIS IS THE EEEEEEEEEEEEND! OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORLD!”. It is one of the most surreal moments of my young life. I am celebrating my 18th birthday, all expenses paid by my family.

It is  August 2003. I am in Japan eating fish with a loving and nurturing host family who have the most adorable toddler of all time, and who put up with my weird habits of visiting the Official Sly Cooper Website, checking for announcements of the latest sequel of a video game of my favourite Anthropomorphised Raccoon Thief- at all hours of the night. I drink green tea and almost get conned by african american cap dealers and get a whole concert hall of Japanese school children to waggle their eyebrows at me back and forth as we wait in a state of boredom for the friendship ceremony tributes to finish.

All expenses paid by- take a guess.

Our parents, if they are right for the job, will do the best they can with the child and tools they have. They will try to make you strong, smart, and independent. They will test you, and above all they will support you. My parents did those things, because they believed in me. Countless concerts, rehearsals, lessons of instruments, karate, rugby, holidays, restaurant bills- the list goes on.

It is December 2008. I am being told “You are scum” by my father, on a bus to Rome. This vitriol stems from my lack of hearing his request to pull my seat up, to give him more leg room. With headphones on. Yet, I tried to take it with a brave face and absorb the beauty of my European trip, all expenses paid by my family. And the trip “was” beautiful, I met a love of my life there. I kissed her in the darkness and held her hand at a Welsh Lake which will be ingrained in my memory forever. I ate cotton candy with my brother Kirby at the Eiffel Tower, and I basked in the warmth and smell of mulled wine with my mother in Rothenburg.

But this does not justify abuse.

I was homeless.

I depended on the friendship of friends for a long time, and it has affected my trust and need for companionship and parental figures ever since. I am a insecure depressed individual who appears brash and arrogant because that is all I knew how to be in my family. 

There are two things however, I do not mention on a regular basis about my history of abuse in my family.

The first is this: My father was not the only guilty party. He does not deserve that blame alone.

The second: My mother, who I love as dearly as my father, despite everything- did nothing to stop the abuse happening in my family. And while hers was of a less emotionally harmful variety, she was no stranger to abuse when things got heated. Name calling and gaslighting was, sadly, a common technique.

She never made my father get therapy like I requested.

She never physically intervened when my father and I fought.

She never once called the authorities.

Because to her, she never saw it as abuse. She likely still doesn’t.

It is this month of May, 2016, and my family and I have fought again. This time, it is about opening my mouth. I had posted an article about abuse, estrangement and mother’s day, where I lamented that no matter what I was never going to be close with my mother. She read it, despite my privacy settings specifically stating that she ‘couldn’t’ and began a furious tirade I had not seen in some time. A tirade of how ungrateful I was and how much she had done, she demanded I take it down and publicly apologise, and what do I REALLY think of her?!

This, as it turns out, was a long time coming. See, as hard as it is to imagine. My family still has issues understanding my resentment. Despite the, y’know, homelessness. They consider it a rough patch in an otherwise healthy relationship. Despite, y’know, the beatings.

What do I think of her? As it turns out it’s what I think of my entire family.

I will never ever forget the things they’ve done. They’ve shaped me, helped me become the person I am. They’ve instilled in me a sense of pride in my work and a passion for helping out the little guy. They’ve tried their best to understand my passions.

But not once, for a second- do I believe they have tried to understand my pain and disappointment. Through their actions, and I say they for a reason- I was left to fend for myself. They have been willfully ignorant, happy to resort to emotional blackmail stating “All The Things They’ve Done” like the things above, to justify their current behaviour.

And, at the end of the day, have made no effort to change.

At the end of the day, they beat their child.

Not once have I heard an apology from them for initiating it, or for letting it happen, and continuing to justify it.

They did many things, and I love them despite their failings.

But this does not justify abuse. And I refuse to keep my mouth shut, just to make them comfortable.

I just can’t do that anymore.

A Professional Update!

Hello friends! I’ll be honest- I’ve got no issue writing down stories here, but updating as an actor here is kind of a new thing for me. Still, I’m excited about a bunch of things coming up, so I thought I’d spread that enthusiasm like fairy dust.

First, I made my first film appearance in a year playing the android Lukas in Thomas Carroll’s Terminal Kingdom. It was an incredibly interesting experience, doing mocap, and I can’t wait to do more work!

I know, I know, something something, you seem a little blank.

Jamoke, The Radio Play I had a wonderful time playing the second banana Devon, will be recording again on the 19th! Exciting stuff, and it gets me closer to one day voicing for animation. Dreams in the making! You can listen below:

I also have an audition for a comedy show! 5 bucks to guess if it’s paid or not.

Did you guess unpaid? Good for you! Pay yourself 5 bucks. C’est la vie.

AND! I have an audition for Macbeth here in Melbourne. Hugely excited to tackle Shakespeare again… we’ll see how it all goes!

That’s it for now, I’m gonna write an update on a audition I had recently later on today, so stay tuned for that. Or maybe go watch some TV or something, I’m not the boss of you.

Cheers!
-Jack

What if I’m full of it?

4/04/16: A quick note. Depression Lies. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are willing to repeat that they’re on my side ad nauseum, and I am forever grateful. If you need to talk, no matter who you are, please don’t hesitate to contact me. This is an entry about my inner fraud police.

1st of April, 5:30 PM: At this moment, I am sitting on a train bound for Melbourne Central, audio book in my ears, deep measured breaths in my chest, eyes squinting… From allergies.

Yeah. Allergies.

Today has been a weird sort of one. I woke up with tangible nightmares that kept me glued to my bed. They were chronological, like a story, and they all had to do with what a failure I was in life. I remember flashes of previous jobs, loves and friends, all reminding me about the pointlessness of anything. I’ve had these sorts of dreams since I was small, and am lucky in that way, I suppose; even when my brain is being a shithead, it wants to do it in a storytelling way. I felt compelled to continue them to somehow find a happy ending. I wanted to go back to sleep, and the prospect of spending another day with the horrendous bitch of a woman, who was the head of the Toddler Room in the Child Care Centre I was training in, only sharpened my resolve. If I wanted to be belittled or ignored, I would at least do it in the safety of my home.

8:10 AM: I send an email to let them know I won’t be coming in for my four hour window, I feel too shitty. That part wasn’t a lie. But I used the term “ill”. Because “I feel depressed” still seems like bullshit.

It’s a few weeks ago, and after announcing I’m going to see a psychologist, the one doctor I had the courage to call didn’t call me back for two weeks. Our two minute conversation was, paraphrased: “Hi, I don’t do bulk billing” “Oh, well I can’t afford it otherwise, I don’t have a health card yet-“ “Oh, I’m sorry.” “Yeah. Okay. Bye.”

I didn’t have the bravery to try searching again to find another doctor. Since then I’ve rode the wave of happiness that came with initiative and depression that followed quickly thereafter, like a dickhead still raving at 6 AM, long after the party is finished.

I know in my heart, I should continue the search. But I don’t. Like an addict, I am easily able to take minimal effort and claim it’s not meant to be when it doesn’t work.

In truth… I am mostly afraid of seeing a Doctor because I fear them telling me I’m full of shit. “There’s nothing wrong with you and you should’ve gotten out of bed and rode the tide of your shitty day, crippling nightmares or not.

I doubt myself every day, and I doubt my own assumptions about my mental health even more. I feel my own pretentious crap swirl around me every time I feel the need to take a “mental health day”. What makes me think I fucking deserve it?

And the one person who can verify this… I am afraid to see. I am afraid to be judged. I’m afraid I’m literally full of shit.

4.30 PM: I have slept all day, hating myself all the while. I force myself to do at least one adult thing. I call Victoria Roads to try and get my Victorian license and be a legit bill paying adult.

4.45 PM: Hang up the phone in frustration as I fail to remember the one address out of 14 that I lived in in 5 years that my QLD license was registered to.

5 PM: Deal with my shame as I tell Issy, my partner in everything, the truth. I didn’t go because I felt sad. She was shocked and disappointed. Or maybe just the latter.

Now: I text her, telling her I love her for being the one person I can trust to kick my ass when it needs to be kicked, and I will never lie to her, no matter how ashamed of myself I am. She texts me back, with no judgement saying: “How can I motivate you better to get up in the mornings?

What a trip it is to hear your thoughts, your feelings spoken, to see them heard, and most of all, for them to be taken seriously. Validation, vindication… Catharsis… And breathe.

My audio book seranades me. I take deep measured breaths, and I squint my eyes. They well up slightly.

From allergies.

Making It Work

(I wrote this as a gift for one of my closest friends in the world, Kerryn Taylor, an ex, a friend, an acquaintance, an irritation, and finally a confidante. She knows me like few do, and I wanted to use my new passion for writing to make her a birthday gift. I hope you like it, dearest).

The cold blue light of the computer monitor bathes me as I type away. I am angry. No, I am furious, in a way that only teenagers can be about matters that matter little to none in adulthood.

“Dear Kerryn, I hope you understand how much you’ve hurt me…”

We met in 2007, where my geek flag was just beginning to show in true form. I was awkward, gangly, and didn’t know the social dances. She was 14 (Shut up, I know it’s weird), a budding photographer, and cosplayed,  she loved anime to an obsessive degree, Kingdom Hearts and Dance Dance Revolution.

After a dose of long glances and my lack of courage in following through at Supanova 2007, where she dressed as Demyx-

I finally took the plunge on MSN messenger, before it became another nonfunctional backdrop in my past.

“Wanna go out sometime?”
“Aw! I’d love to!”

I still remember our first date. ‘My’ first date, ever. Butterflies does not cover it, when I saw her in her WWF t-shirt (fun fact kids, WWF was what wrestling used to be called!), jeans and checkered vans. It was perfect to me. We saw Kung Fu Panda, and  believe ir or not, we didn’t kiss until afterward. I snuck up behind her at the snack bar, and all of a sudden… there it was. It was tender, sweet… it felt right. Many more kisses later, we decided we would go steady, or if you like, the Australian equivalent, “Put the sheep in ya swag” or something.

A myriad of sushi, lying in the grass and smiling, reading manga, and discussing our “cosplays to come” flashes across my mind as I remember our 6 months together, where we were still figuring out who we were but were glad of the support of someone to watch us transition. I even had her as my date at my high school formal, in which she looked beautiful, I looked okay, and the whole event sucked. We spent the whole time listening to Muse on my CD player outside.

It was a happy, exciting, teenage interest.

But like most teenage interests, they will either last forever inside you, transform, or disappear completely. I was convinced for a time that our relationship would be the latter.

Our relationship was one of firsts: First kiss in the rain, first holding hands and walking through the city, other pedestrians be damned, (we were that annoying couple), first DNM over music Greenday and pop punk for her, and my passionate emo tendencies, and our first teenage like activities in dark movie theatres.

However, first relationships mean that, at least for me, it was the first time trying to grasp the concept that the world does not revolve around you, and that meant serious lack of empathy. There was tears, frustration, and our eyes rocketed towards our skulls so often towards the end of our relationship, that I’m surprised they’re not lodged in our skulls. It would take us both a long time before we were happy with who we saw in the mirror each day, and it showed.

I broke it off. It hurt, but not as much as I thought it would, for either of us… because I think we knew instinctually we didn’t fit like lovers should. Let me put it to you this way… When I asked her “What am I to you?” She responded “You’re my Edward.”

Yup. This Edward.

Not gonna lie, folks… Huge boner killer, for a teenager who “didn’t” want to be seen as an abusive badly written statue. In her defense, she was a teenager, and you’ve done some stupid stuff in teenage hood too I bet. But if I’m honest, I’ve never quite forgiven her for that slight.

I think I knew we wouldn’t last after that.

The relationship ended, but we didn’t lose touch. The pain, and fear of losing her forever came further down the line.

She had gotten a  new boyfriend. A boyfriend that I’m going to call Jerkface. This, unfortunately was the beginning of a long hiatus from each other.

A series of emails to each other read like this, mind you, I’m paraphrasing:

J:”YOU AND YOUR BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU I’M ALLOWED TO HAVE MY OWN LIFE.”

6 months later.

J: YOU AND YOUR NEW BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU HE’S WONDERFUL.”

3 months later:

K: I was an idiot, I miss you.

J: Please, stop shutting yourself out.

K: I’ll try.

3 months later.

K: REMOVE MY FUCKING PHOTOGRAPH FROM DEVIANTART. YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME CREDIT.

J: YES I DID.

K: NO, YOU DIDN’T FUCK YOU.

J: WELL FUCK YOU. DON’T TALK TO ME ANYMORE!

K: FUCK YOU MORE! AND GLADLY!

J: (dammit).

On and on it went, where we dug ourselves deeper into our respective holes, shouting at each other “Dig up, stupid!” But eventually, Teenage Pride and the relationships destroyed along the way led us back in to each others lives… But it wouldn’t happen for a few years yet.

My first memory that sticks out of our reunion period is at a Hog’s Breath cafe in maybe 2013. For those not in the know, they’re these ridiculous steak cafes which charge you an obscene amount for beef. Give me a Hard Rock Cafe any day.

I arrived early, and soon after she came and embraced me in a way only the truly close or emotionally inexperienced can (trust me, if you don’t know what a GLOMP is, look it up).

We were in our 20’s now, and it had been at least a few months since I had seen her. She had a new boyfriend, Matt, a man of resounding plaid cloth and bearded like the pard. Matt was awesome, a man I considered a friend straight out of the gate. We talked Batman and ended up cracking each other up within 5 minutes of  meeting each other… But it was more than that. They were happy. Happy to the point that I knew if they didn’t fuck it up, they’d be together forever.

She was so different. She had garnered a new love for comics, was more open, honest and was finally pursuing her dream to be a Forensic Photographer. She glowed. She seemed to finally have taken my advice to love herself as much as I once did. She had changed so much.

And I? I dunno. I’m the worst at self analysation, my own worst critic. I can only hope that I was on my way at that point from the selfish lazy prick I had been as a teenager, to just a lazy prick. I set achievable goals.

Come 2015, right before I left town for Melbourne, I knew that we’d be in each other’s lives forever when she and Matt stopped me and as a couple, after having a lovely goodbye dinner, and handed me $100 to help me with my transition into my strange new land.

I was blown away by the generosity. Little did I know how much that generosity would save my life.

November 18, 2015. The day of my big move to Melbourne Town. I pack my PS4 into my suitcase, thinking it would be just under the weight I’d paid for on the flight, and let’s face it, I wasn’t waiting 2 weeks to play my game. I get into the airport, put the suitcase on the weighing machine and… it was 10 kilos over.

$25 per kilo meant that it would cost me $300 extra just to get on the plane or abandon all my possessions. I had to  be at the gate in 15 minutes. SHITFUCKSHIT! I didn’t have that kind of money!

Except I did. The $100 they gave me made me just able to make up for my stupid mistake. That $100 saved my life, and I am so grateful that Kerryn, or as I call the couple-blob that is Kerryn and Matt- Mart- exist in my life. I love you guys.

Today, we live in separate states, but I talk to her quite regularly still. I’d be lying if I said I went to her with everything, but like family, I know I can always count on her, and she me.

We’re planning to get tattoos together next time I come to town. Matching Mary Poppins tattoos. It’s that internal “WTF?” reaction you felt as compared to our internal squeeing, that reminds me why our relationship is fucking awesome.

I love you loads, my friend. Thank you for being you.

-Jack

Brotherly Tolerance

The year is 2001. I am 10 years old, my brother, Kirby is 8, and my first dog, Shadow, is 5 and still with us. I am in Kingscliff NSW, in a Caravan Park I can no longer remember the name of. The days are long, fresh, and filled with childish abandon, where the hardest decision was to take another lap around the park on my bycicle, to try and con my Mum out of another dollar so I can go play pinball, or to go swimming.

Kirby, sporting his ginger curls, almost like an Irish afro, long before he grew ashamed of them and kept his hair to a buzzcut, shouted merrily “LET’S GO CLIMB TREES!”

I looked to my mum. She was the boss, even though my dad liked to think he was. You know the phrase “Behind a great man is a woman?” that’d be true for her if the man was wearing a leash.

She smiled and nodded. “Just be careful!”

That was more directed at me than at my little brother. I was the bigger brother, it was my responsibility to keep Kirby safe. But in my history, I was categorically bad at it. In fact, I am 100% serious when I say it would likely have been better for us if the roles were reversed. I am impulsive, sensitive, and emotional. He is logical, with a thick skin and is very much the glue that has kept our family together through our drama.

So off we went into the green brush of Northern New South Wales, which interestingly enough, is not that far from the beach. I always say, if you’re filming a movie which requires multiple locations, Jungle, Beach, City, Shithole… You can find it all in Australia. Particularly the latter, but I digress.

Suddenly, a gigantic tree revealed itself, like a bogan Whomping Willow. We grinned and began our ascent.

Kirby has always been the more socially able of the two of us, which is hilarious considering our respective choices in careers. I, a fledgling actor, he a very successful personal trainer in business with our Dad, running bootcamps with equal dose of encouragement and asskickery that they deliver together.

Kirby in these days was always the one to go swimming with Dad, he on his boogie board and my father on his surfboard, while I would climb up the cliffs, alone. I liked the feeling of being the only person on earth as I scaled my Everest- add that to my love of being on a platform and I guess it certainly explains a lot. But when Kirby decided to indulge me and participate in an activity I enjoyed, I appreciated it quite a bit then, and a lot more so now.

Slowly, but surely we climbed and climbed, grabbing branch after branch on this seemingly endless trek. Up and up we went, Kirby below me, and I, his carer, and the person he trusted the most, above.

This story is about when I broke that trust.

As I stopped for a break at about 15 feet up, I felt something brush my foot. It was Kirby’s hand. His tiny, trusting hand, grabbing the branch to pull himself up to me.

In doing so, he touched my foot.

I didn’t like that. I never liked being touched, as a child, teenager, and adult; unsolicited. This has led to many altercations, some funny, some horrid. One involved a costume assistant on a film set and my bundle of anxiety and fear of her as she snuck up on me, and grabbed my waist to tuck in my shirt… But that’s a story for another day.

Kirby had touched my foot. In my verge of puberty, “THIS IS MINE” focused brain this was crossing the line. I tried to claim my territory, like we had both done a thousand times in the car. We shoved. We pushed. We had full on fist fights.

This time, I slammed my foot on his hand, gripping the branch. He dropped. He screamed.

Crack. Thud.

My world stopped.

The ambulances came some time later, Kirby had cracked his skull open, he was lucky to be alive. For years, I always wondered if he hated me. I knew for certain he didn’t trust me as much. Really, I should be glad I hadn’t been the accidental murderer of my own flesh and blood, but all I felt was guilt, loss and self hatred.

I held onto it for years. In petty future squabbles Kirby would use “YEAH WELL, YOU CRACKED MY HEAD OPEN” or some version as his Manum Opus for years to come, and as far as I was concerned, I deserved it.

I had asked for his forgiveness many times, as a child does, not truly knowing how badly I had betrayed his trust. Then, he would forgive me as a child does… Not really meaning it.

No matter what though, no matter how many times I approached the subject, and went through the song and dance I call “Jack, Don’t Worry About It”, I did. I was supposed to be his protector. I had failed. It tore me up.

The year is now 2008. I am 17, Kirby is 15, the last year of the Irish Afro, and our dog is dead. We are in a Vietnamese restaurant my mother loves to celebrate the visit of my Aunty Jenny and my two cousins. It is a happy affair, despite my poor table manners and my father’s love of talking slowly to our Asian waiter, who clearly didn’t need it, spoke perfect English, and was quite offended.

After our meal, I exited the restaurant, and for some reason Kirby and I were alone outside. I took a deep breath.

“Listen man…”

It all poured out. My guilt after all these years, my belief that I thought he secretly hated me, the fact “I” hated me for my idiotic, selfish act that could have killed my only brother.

“Jack… It was years ago.”

“I know. And I know it’s stupid, but I just wanted to say I was sorry again. I don’t expect you to forgive me or whatever, but I wanted you to know.”

“It’s okay, mate.”

Kirby was a man of few words. Has been ever since he thought that’s what a man should be. Now it’s part of his charm. He clapped my shoulder and smiled as we stood and waited for Mum pay the check.

Even though I’d heard it before, this time it was different. Maybe this time, I was just ready to hear it.

“Thanks, man”, I said with a smile that hopefully didn’t show how grateful I was. Men didn’t show their feelings after all, we show it through how hard we can clap each other on the arm.

HA! Had you going didn’t I? Remember, I’m the black sheep artsy one of the family. I’m sure I cried or something.

About a year later, I would leave the house after my dad hit me in the face for the last time, taking what little possessions I could cram into one suitcase and hitting the road. I didn’t talk to Kirby for a long time.

But you know, whenever I feel guilty, I remember that clap on the arm, his “It’s okay mate”, and I know that even if he doesn’t understand, he will always be in my corner, and that means more to me than he will ever know.

“Ready Freddie?” my mum said to me as she passed me on the way to the car.

“Yeah.” I said and climbed into the car, cramming into the car with my brother and cousins.

We played Corners all the way home.

See The Best- Fuck The Rest.

Today I installed my new keyboard and so I am happy to report I am typing away happily without fumbling around, like an Australian politician trying to decide if gays should marry.

Classic comedy aside, though- I want to talk about something that’s bothering me- “Best Of” algorithms. The simple version is the most popular posts get on the top of your feed, so everyone can see it.

Facebook was the first to take part in this with its newsfeed putting the “best” posts out there. This is abhored by many, and many go out of their way to work around this- because quite frankly what the website thinks is the best and what you’re interested in often doesn’t align. Sadly, now twitter and instagram are going to be implementing a “Best Of” too.

This is a terrible, terrible idea.

The internet is a sanctuary. A place where the socially awkward could put out their comic or music or fetish art of darth vader and a gnome, and through the internet, it had a chance.It gave us a megaphone, we were for once on equal footing. We got our ideas together, put them out there, crossed our fingers, reached out to who we could and hope it got people’s attention.

Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. It’s all messages in bottles,hoping someone picks it up and reads it.

But when it did click? It was amazing. Take for example this here comic:

You knew exactly what this was, didn’t you. (If you didn’t I’m really surprised you’re reading my blog)

When The Force Awakens came out, this was the comic that made the rounds and was on EVERYBODY’S facebook pages. All the feels, etc.

Now, as you can see, the artist released this first on tumblr, which has yet to do “Best of” algorithms. It is a chronological order of post, with no favouritism given. Classic internet, essentially, and while it’s debatable how much that affected its popularity, never less the comic flourished and popped up everywhere!

Now let’s compare that to a post on my facebook page, with a meagre but respectable 462 fans, recommending the immeasurable Melbourne actor Laura Jane Turner (who you should give a look at). My post reached 9 of those fans.

Not 90. Not 19.

9.

This is because of FB’s algorithm.

This is Diet Internet, and it tastes fucking disgusting.

To put it bluntly, facebook’s algorithm for pages of any kind AND personal profiles is at best broken and at worst, a horrible example of corporate greed.

It wasn’t, once.Facebook gave everybody the same footing. Then DietInternet popped into the market, and FB invested, hard. Soon, fans couldn’t see their beloved idols work. It was hidden. They had hidden it behind a paywall.

You have to pay to reach your fans who want to hear from you.

Think about it this way. You’re a comedian, you build a following, a dedicated audience, you get them to come to the gig, in a free venue! Awesome! They all arrive, are excited to hear from you. You’re about to hit the stage when the owner of the venue grabs your arm and says
“I’ve put your audience in seats that are soundproof unless I push this button, and I won’t unless you pay me $10”
“…Uh, okay, for like the show?”
“HAHAHA… No. For each joke you make.”

What do you do? They’re there. They want to hear you. You’re broke, but maybe you’ll recoup costs eventually? Moving them all will be such a hassle, maybe just try and make it work.

Is this unfair? Not necessarily. You chose that venue after all. Is it however, pretty goddamn despicable? You bet.

And now, instagram and twitter are following facebook’s lead. Having popular people continue to be popular making their popular post super popular, while those who could really use the soapbox to take off will struggle.

Sadly, I don’t think it’ll stop at “Best Of”.

Next, you’ll see a paywall.

Then you’ll be encourage to pay.

Then you’ll be penalized not to pay.

Then you’ll cough up when you have to, to sell that comedy or like the Star Wars comic above. You will pay, because you have nowhere else to put your stuff.

To put it honestly? I have no solutions.

Once upon a time, if you put something out there, it had a chance. It had as much of a chance as anybody- because the internet gave us all the same megaphone. In our world today connection is so much easier. Putting your work out there and finding your audience is a steady workload of promotion away.

Now it’s about being popular, or coughing up the cash.

That should not be enough. Work should not go under the radar just because they don’t have the funds to reach an audience, especially an audience that has already come to see them at the venue.

But, sadly, that’s the direction social media is going down.

This is utterly despicable and ultimately out of our control. We are getting a free service, and we have no choice but to swallow the bitter pills they give us, or move on.

The internet is becoming less and less equal.

And now I’m sad.