Critical + Opinion Writing

Matilda writes about the arts, popular culture and feminism. You can find links to all her work below, catalogued by publication.

Daily Life

Labelled as ‘trashy’, ‘soapy’, even ‘a sham’, the responses to this series speak worrying volumes about the way male critics (and male audiences) perceive work that chooses to centre itself on women’s lives and interests.
— What male critics' dismissal of Big Little Lies says about women's stories, for Daily Life.

Read more here.

The idea that women are causing the downfall of feminism by calling out men’s bad behaviour is not just offensive, it’s illogical. How can we expect anything to change if we cannot interrogate the power structures that oppress us?
— Feminists call out men for behaving badly and it's good for feminism, for Daily Life.

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With the right to offend, who are we really protecting? The reality is, some people are allowed to speak out more than others; some voices are louder; some speech is ‘freer’.
— Five common defences for the 'right to be offensive', for Daily Life.

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The Guardian AU

The Wrong Girl is light, funny and broadly appealing, well-targeted toward a swath of young female viewers who were likely getting their romcom jollies from streaming services like Netflix and Stan.
— The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster Blake's bestseller brings Australia into the TV romcom revolution, for The Guardian AU.

Read more here.

SBS

As we rush out to buy the latest memoir from Mindy, Tina, Amy or Lena, it’s worth asking: why don’t we afford local female TV talent the same cult status?
— Comment: Who are Australia's feminist TV heroes?, for SBS: The Feed.

Read more here.

JUNKEE

Matilda is a prolific contributor (and occasional staff writer) at Junkee. This is a selection of her favourite work for the publication; you can find a full list of her Junkee work here.

I had the distinct feeling, from the recent slew of Beauty and the Beast trailers clogging my newsfeed, that Disney was schilling me the film equivalent of a pleather knock-off handbag and calling it Gucci.

The new Beauty and the Beast may not be Gucci exactly, but it’s no knock-off. It’s its own distinct and surprising creation — a totally joyous one at that.
— Beauty and the Beast (2017) is unfussy, unadulterated joy, for Junkee.

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There is just too much at stake to write off this sort of behaviour as “boys will be boys”, or to ignore the very clear lesson we are being taught (whether unwittingly or not) by Married: that men’s misogyny is ingrained, and when it breaks out it is encouraged by other, like-minded men.
— Married At First Sight is revealing some very gross truths about men and the pack mentality, for Junkee.

Read more here.

The internet is a difficult place for anyone to navigate. No matter how our newsfeeds are curated into ever-tighter sociological circles, at some point we’re all bound to come across something that we don’t want to see, hear or read. But for a trauma survivor that difficulty is magnified 10,000 times.
— No, I don't want to watch a rape survivor reconcile with her rapist, for Junkee.

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It’s memes like this one that encourage the kind of stagnant, deplorable environment that breeds vitriolic responses to a woman’s terror and misfortune. A woman was threatened; her life was in danger. What the fuck is funny about that?
— The reaction to Kim Kardashian's robbery reveals some of our most insidious problems with women, for Junkee.

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If Luhrmann’s career is as theatrical as his output, then The Get Down is his 11 o’clock number: grand and show-stopping, though imperfect. [...] But those moments of brilliance, the absurd drama and prophetic pathos at which Luhrmann excels, are well worth the “wackness” that surrounds them.
— Breaking down the magnificent camp and the disappointing crap of The Get Down, for Junkee.

Read more here.

The genius of the show is sewn into the fine line it treads: critiquing the socio-political incorrectness of reality dating shows while also manipulating those very same gender, racial and mental health issues for its own gains. As a result, the show is so rich it’s dessert-like. [...] Like any indulgence, it can be tough to deduce exactly how satisfied you’re feeling after.
— Inside the politics of UnREAL, for Junkee.

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But when I chat to Noah over the phone, he seems startlingly different to how we’ve come to know him on-screen; now he’s a more careful, quieter comedian.
— Interview with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah, for Junkee.

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Perhaps this is why Outlander, which has just started its second season on Foxtel, has become the poster child for a relatively new kind of sex onscreen. This is sex that is dominated by the female gaze both on-camera and behind it.
— Outlander is an extraordinary case study for pleasurable and nuanced sex on TV, for Junkee.

Read more here.

As a prominent Aboriginal feminist, Liddle has also become something of a poster-woman for intersectional thought. In her speech, she jokes that the first time someone labelled her as “intersectional”, she had to look it up.

“It’s fascinating,” she says, “because I don’t mean to be intersectional but purely because of the place I occupy in society I am. I don’t know any other way to be.”
— Interview with Arrernte activist and writer Celeste Liddle, for Junkee.

Read more here.

The series is surprisingly, deliciously good: a mostly restrained, meticulous exploration of the O.J. case that proves his 1990s trial was not just a referendum on race and fame for last century, but for this one as well.
— American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson is fascinating and deeply relevant TV, for Junkee.

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This is disturbing — not just because the real-time dystopia of our refugee crisis would fit comfortably in any blockbuster saga, but also because, in that timeless fable of ethical terror, we Australians wouldn’t be the heroes – we would be the villains.
— Australia's treatment of asylum seekers is so bad it could be ripped from dystopian fction, for Junkee.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is both a zany one-hour comedy and an accomplished musical, feels like a hybrid of all the best elements from TV musicals past and present. The result is both jaw-dropping and intoxicating.
— Introducing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: A new musical comedy you'll actually love, for Junkee.

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Spiritually, and structurally, Transparent is a drama, one that draws your eye like a fiery car crash: horrific but undeniably, sickeningly entertaining.
— On 'Transparent' and the new TV 'comedy', for Junkee.

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As the only person who can stop Kilgrave, Jessica’s heroic ability and her will to overcome his abuse grow in tandem. Perhaps surviving rape has strengthened her, but we don’t need to see the abuse to know its impact.
— On 'Jessica Jones' and female trauma on TV, for Junkee.

Read more here.

The Beautiful Lie is determined, it seems, to examine all the chaos of contemporary romance and domestic life. There’s a grandness and tragedy that still resonates with Tolstoy’s text. ‘We always want to come out the victor, but there’s going to be fallout.’
— Interview with Australian actor Sarah Snook, for Junkee.

Read more here.

This moment, whereupon I groaned audibly (much to the chagrin of the two imperiously sighing men behind me), marks the peak of ‘The Intern’s uncomfortably sexist mansplaining.
— On 'The Intern' and feminist filmmaking, for Junkee.
If we take our cue from Lam’s rallying cry, that La La Land is a ‘terrible film’ that will ‘win Best Picture at the Oscars anyway’, we can see that the world of arts criticism is diminishing, blurring, changing. Some of the change is great (increased platforms for new and diverse critical voices, for example), and some of it is less so.
— Lampooning La La Land: blurring criticism and opinion in the mainstream, for Kill Your Darlings.

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Working in a bookstore often means you become a conduit for the secrets and stories of the local patrons.
— Simple pleasures, for Kill Your Darlings, Issue 26.

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It’s getting harder and harder to be that critical link from engagement to understanding in art. I can’t hope to shape conversations about our country’s artistic contributions, large and small, if there’s no art to discuss and nowhere left to have the discussion.
— Worth fighting for: How defunding the arts hurts more than just artists, for Kill Your Darlings.

Read more here.

In trying to appeal to both the teen viewers and the adults watching with them, Tomorrow has stumbled on a discord. When teen television caters for every niche, an ‘apply-all’ series, without a strong voice, feels morbidly unfocused.
— Whiplash: Tommorrow When The War Began and the state of Aussie teen TV, for Kill Your Darlings.

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Even the play-acting of ‘family’ reveals the true bond in this hodgepodge group – all of them clustered around Josh, their unlikely patriarch.
— On 'Please Like Me' and the Aussie TV family, for Kill Your Darlings.

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This is ‘women’s fiction’, to be sure, but in the most honest and celebratory sense of that derided and bombastic category.
— 'Short and Sweet: Women and girls in the stories of Katherine Heiny and Tegan Bennett Daylight', for Kill Your Darlings.

Read more here.

Released from the constraints of transposing a whole novel into two hours onscreen, Lawrence has been gifted space. With it, he reinvents, reimagines, and produces a considered, surprising work.
— 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1', for Kill Your Darlings.

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Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage.
— 'Insufferable assholes and grown up 'Girls', for Kill Your Darlings

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Overland

The new ‘True Detective’ is so derivative, so bloated with delusions of grandeur, it’s missing the levity that makes homage joyful. It seems embarrassingly unaware of itself, and so dated its first draft was probably a cave drawing.
— 'Overboiled and over it', for Overland Journal.

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To me, Amy is a rare female depiction of a character that is frequently portrayed on page or screen – and that is always, unquestioningly, male. Because of that, Flynn’s story is important.
— 'The "Gone Girl" Problem', for Overland.

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Going Down Swinging

The grief of losing that sense of belonging is what ‘Glitch’ chews on.
— 'Good Grief: How Loss in ABC’s Glitch Leads to Magical Thinking', for Going Down Swinging.

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Throughout the heart-flattening ‘Fury Road’, where wit and invention crash into spectacle, I didn’t feel shut out. This is a film that welcomes women viewers.
— 'A Place for Women in Hollywood Action Blockbusters', for Going Down Swinging.

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Gluck’s embattled ‘Annie’, released in time for Christmas, is now suffering from multiple critical wounds.
— 'Nostalgia with a price tag', for Going Down Swinging.

Read more here.

The Herald Sun

The notion that a woman must give up her life for a man is archaic and troubling. And yet, this is the girl teenagers idolise.
— 'Bella lacking strong points as a role model', for the Herald Sun.

Read more here.

Time Out Melbourne

The sheer ingenuity and insight from a performer in her late teens is compelling.
— Yve Blake's 'Am I Good Friend', for Time Out Melbourne.

Read more here.

Fantasise or Perish

Whimsical and wise . . . it is that rare Shakespeare adaptation that convincingly repositions the Bard’s work for the now.
— MUSC's 'As You Like It', for Fantasise or Perish.

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The classic mistake that companies can make with the classics is to mount them without a sense of ‘what?’ and ‘why now?’ The heart of the production should cut like glass.
— 'Classics Mistakes: FLW Theatre's "A Streetcar Named Desire", For Fantasise or Perish.

Read more here.

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You're Dripping Egg

I’m used to being tricked by Dunham. In my mind, she sets traps for her potential critics to tumble into.
— 'Girls' season two, for You're Dripping Egg.

Read more here.

OTHER

Listen to Matilda discuss HBO's Big Little Lies (and male critics' dismissal of entertainment for women) with Daisy Rosario on New York's 60dB here.

Listen to Matilda's presentation on the roles and responsibilities of news satire TV at the Wheeler Centre's Breakfast Club, as part of Next Wave Festival 2014, here

Listen to episodes from Matilda's podcast, me & all my friends, here

Read Matilda's interview with Giselle Stanborough on her artistic practice, here