Dean’s Address – 2015 Formal Assembly

While writing this speech it occurred to me that it is only two years until I’ll be standing here talking to you for the very last time. Time is flying and we are making the most of it. We have many a student to celebrate in a few minutes. But first, tradition tells us that at this point in the year we need to review the year through my choice of role models that have failed to show us the light in 2015. In Y9 2013 we laughed at Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian for failing to be successful role models. And last year in Y10 we looked at the failures of Jaydon and Willow Smith, FIFA, and Aaron Cruden. These were opportunities to review the year, find out a little bit more about what I think about popular culture – and a chance to share a bit of wisdom as well.

CaptureThis year I’m going to start by taking down the Academy Awards. Now this might seems like a surprising starting point – why would the media studies teacher, lover of film and cinema, be planning on taking down the most significant annual awards ceremony that celebrates these very things. Sure, it’s an inferior award ceremony to the Noscars, but this isn’t the reason.

43 million people watched the Academy Awards from more than 200 countries around the globe. For 87 years, the Oscars have been a celebration of filmmaking. And the message it puts across, however unintentionally, is hard to miss: Certain voices matter more than others. The hashtag that went viral during the Oscars telecast this year was #OscarsSoWhite Here is an image of all the actor and actresses that were nominated for acting awards in 2015:

Since the first Academy Awards were held in 1929, just 7 percent of winners in the Best Actor category have been black men. Halle Berry’s 2002 win for her performance in “Monster’s Ball” made her the first black woman to win the Best Actress award. And there has not yet been a second.

The lack of diversity at the Oscars has really started to bug me, and I’m not alone. The internet has been vibrant in it’s critique of the Academy Awards for it’s snubbing of diversity, and Chris Rock in particular wrote a very insightful open letter to Hollywood titled “It’s a White Industry”.

It is not like there were any shortage of candidates. Selma, with an almost exclusively African American cast was one of the best films I saw this year. But the diversity problem doesn’t end there, women are constantly being overlooked by the Oscars. The industry is dominated by white men, causing significant issues with the representation of minority groups in the films that are produced. We need more diverse voices in mainstream cinema and the Oscars are not helping.

Another person not helping – and that’s a more general comment – is our second fail model of 2015. This person was going to be Donald Trump – but unfortunately he himself was trumped by another who announced his candidacy for the 2020 US elections this year. That is of course, Kayne West.

Kayne is someone who is confused why Keeping Up with the Kardashians hasn’t won the Emmy for best drama, who calls his ego his Achilles heel, and proclaims he is a proud non-reader of books. Sounds perfect for president.

Kanye being elected would make Kim Kardashian First Lady. But actually this isn’t the worst part of about Kayne West’s run for president. The worst is that he has apparently inspired Lindsay Lohan to also run for office in 2020. Being inspired by Kayne to run for president, is like watching Mr Dangerfield play basketball and getting inspired to play in the NBA.  

Those are my 2015 fail models because I believe in 2015 they are making the wrong choices. You guys are growing up so fast and it’s an honour to work beside you and help you to make so many positive choices. The big wide world is coming at you faster than you think and provided you make good choices and good decisions then who knows what you will be capable of achieving. Today we acknowledge the culmination of good decisions and choices. From maintaining successful levels of personal excellence to contributing your services in various ways around the school. I’m proud to be your dean and it’s a pleasure to celebrate success with you today.

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