This year’s TEDx Youth talks were definitely worth talking about. Georgie McCarthy, copywriter by day, jouster by night from creative agency Common Ventures gives B&T the lowdown on what we need to know.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
If you want to do anything that gets the people going, you have to know who you’re talking to. People in advertising know this, but perhaps Joe Blow over there didn’t get the memo. In her TED talk, Ollie Henderson, a self-classified slashie (model/activist) discussed the rise of her brand, House of Riot and the impact it’s had on the fashion world, and the peasants world (that’s us FYI).
She knew that Gen Y were socially conscious, and she also knew many followed celebrities and models like a bad smell. So she did a Vivienne Westwood and turned fashion into activism, creating T-shirts with prints like ‘Sexism Sucks’ and ‘Save the Reef’. They’re cool, oh-so-en-point and as a Gen-Yer I really want one so I guess Henderson’s doing something right.
DON’T LEAVE THE ECONOMY TO ECONOMISTS
Comedian and professional eye-opener Eliza Owen was both parts hilarious and terrifying in her talk about why Gen Y should learn about the property market themselves, and not leave it to what their parents or morning show economists tell them.
The average house in Sydney costs a sneaky $945,500. Good god. But according to our parents, that’s nothing, because in the early 90s their property boom was even bigger than the one we’re experiencing now, and look at them. They own property (or multiple properties) and they’re basking in how much their red-brick nothing is worth now. The problem, as Owen points out, is that property analysts (and the general public) think in percentages. Property growing by 20 per cent in 1992, is not the same as property growing by 20 per cent in 2015 because homes are worth much more today. So tell your mum, tell your dad, tell the government. Life’s not all Snapchats and retweets.
LOOK TO THE LEFT
That was about as doom and gloom as it got, because then it got really, really shitty. In a good way. Hamish Skermer is awesome. Not only because he rapped for the first five minutes of his talk about poop, but because he’s doing something really different with the loveable waste. He’s taken a terrible product (portaloos) and changed it for the better, creating a cleaner, more eco-friendly portable toilet that composts your festival shit and helps the environment. His company Natural Event travels to festivals around Australia, and has just been commissioned to send over 170,000 of these loos to the Holy Grail of shitting-en-masse to tunes – Glastonbury. Skermer proves that just looking at a subject in a new way, can change shit for the better.
HATERS GONNA HATE
Abdul Abdullah is an Australian artist, well-known for his Archibald winning portrait of Anthony Mundine. His work is often confronting and confrontational, particularly his series exploring Australian and Muslim identity. Through his photographs, Abdullah challenged the media’s depiction of Islam as radicalised monsters, and of course, many people took it the wrong way, calling it propaganda and offensive while Abdullah claimed it was just an exploration of ideas. But hey, that’s art (and Australia) for you. The biggest take out of Abdullah’s talk was that if you’re ever going to push boundaries and make people feel uncomfortable, prepare for backlash. Because when people are scared, they get aggressive, no matter how often you try to explain yourself. It’s always going to be an uphill battle when people expect sweeping landscapes and you give them harsh social commentary.
YOU’RE OVERTHINKING IT
Mark Twain once said, ‘some of the worst things in my life never happened’ and as a habitual overthinker, nothing has ever rung as true to me as that quote, or Dylan Alcott’s high school drama.
Alcott talked about his early life, growing up as a chubby, awkward kid, who was also in a wheelchair. It didn’t affect him too much, until he didn’t receive an invite to his friend’s birthday party. For weeks Alcott despaired about not being invited, and for the first time, felt like his disability was a burden. Fast forward to the party night, and Alcott decided he’s going to attend, balloon invitation or not. Turns out, the friend was delighted Alcott turned up. Apparently the friend was nervous about all the stairs in his house and didn’t want Alcott to felt bad.
It’s so easy to be sucked into your brain’s doomsday way of thinking, and I guess the best way to combat that is to ask questions, no matter how personal. Just like Alcott wants more people to ask questions about disability to clear up the stigma and awkwardness people feel about their situation.
Also if you’ve ever seen a guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing at a festival, it was probably Alcott. What a hero.
NO SCRUBS IS THE TINY DANCER OF OUR GENERATION
I dare any Gen Y-er to hear TLC’s classic ‘No Scrubs’ on the radio and not turn it up. It’s got everything you could possibly want in a hit – a catchy chorus, constant repetition in case you missed the chorus and loads of ‘I’m not taking your shit boy’ sass. It was the perfect end to TEDxYouth@Sydney, so thank you Bad Bitch Choir for your finger-wagging, empowering rendition of a 90s epic.