No Way! Okay, Fine by Brodie Lancaster

Reviewed by Clare W. Brook

I’m feeling almost in touch with all that is modern having just read No Way!  Okay, Fine by Brodie Lancaster.

Brodie is a dedicated young professional film, television, and modern music commentator, writing for publications such as Rookie, Pitchfork, Junkee, Film Fatales and Rolling Stone.  Her debut book, No Way!  Okay, Fine, is a memoir of her twenty-seven years in fourteen separate essays that reference the pop culture she understands so well to interpret her life.  Whereas so much of human life is fundamentally the same – birth, maturing, working, family – how we experience these things is determined by the beliefs and main concerns of our culture.  And in the western world that culture shifts a little with each generation.  Brodie is a skilful writer, so the text alone would be enough to tell her story but is further animated by cultural references to music, film, television and the Internet.

The essays cover a wide range of perspectives: coming of age in Bundaberg, her urgent need to get out of Bundaberg and her efforts not to fall into a state of ennui when now visiting Bundaberg.  For Brodie home is Melbourne, where she went to university, and forged a successful career, after working for a short time in New York.  She writes so well about different aspects of pop music, comparing One Direction concerts to the more male dominated punk and rap clubs.   The pop concert is about welcome, belonging, joy and connection, unlike punk and rap no one has to fight for credibility.   Framed via feminism literature Brodie has a lot to say about how she and women generally are judged via their appearance and demeanour and what the rest of the world says about it.   She is quoted as saying: ‘I identified early on that my role in relationships was the sidekick, the platonic female cast member in an all-male production, or the friend who was relied on selectively when other options were unavailable. I was the comic relief or the stand-in, never the lead. I knew this, I felt it, I wrote it down, but I didn’t dare say it aloud because that would prove that I cared and caring wasn’t cool.’

Though one might think that common human decency and reasonable manners would also be a suitable framework, it seems that this is not so. The down side of the Internet is that it enables an ignorant slice of the population to be cruel while remaining anonymous in their cowardly virtual world.   Brodie is honest about her experiences and feelings on this issue, and although she expresses her views with humour, I could not but help feel sad that many are made to suffer so unnecessarily.   She is doing her best to bring kinder and wiser perspectives into the world, most importantly leading by example.

Brodie is willing to laugh at her own double standards when it comes to judging musical taste, apparently, liking obscure bands indicated how ‘cool’ you were, whereas, liking One Direction meant you could not be taken seriously.   In this Brodie became a convert, eventually becoming an adoring fan of One Direction, and having the courage to write about it in detail.  The outcome has not been the anticipated career suicide, but recognition as the go-to girl for opinions when the band split up.  As well as being amusing, she delivers a sound message on judgement generally.   I have to admit it pricked my conscience as far as assuming a person’s taste will explain who they are.  We all do it, but as Brodie points out, it’s a shallow approach.

Reading this book you get to know Brodie Lancaster and she is worth knowing.   No Way!  Okay, Fine is a Millennial’s memoir and tour de force of Western World popular culture.  I would recommend it for older readers, as a window into the modern culture and showing how this generation might shape the world, whereas other Millennials would enjoy the ‘oh me too’ aspect.

No Way!  Okay, Fine

By Brodie Lancaster

Hachette Australia

ISBN 978 0 7336 3599 1

$32.99;

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