Mel Campbell

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Melissa "Mel" Campbell (born August, 1977, Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian journalist, author, podcaster and cultural critic. She is a co-founder of Is Not Magazine and the online pop-culture magazine The Enthusiast.


Campbell studied creative advertising at RMIT University, then pursued a Master of Arts degree by research at the University of Melbourne. Her research concerned the Australian cultural figure of the bogan, which she argued does not refer to a social class, a subculture or an aesthetic, but rather is a consensually imagined figure that arises in Australian media and public debate when Australian national identity is perceived as fragmentary or under threat. As part of her research, Campbell has written and spoken on the Jaidyn Leskie murder case,[1] Ned Kelly,[2] the television series Upper Middle Bogan[3] and the phenomenon of "cashed-up bogans".[4]

Campbell's other academic interests include fashion and popular music. Her paper about the non-verbal vocalisations of Michael Jackson[5] won the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's Postgraduate Prize in 2003.[6]

From 2009-11 Campbell tutored in online journalism at Monash University. In 2016 she taught Advanced Feature Writing in RMIT’s Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing, then returned to Monash University to teach in the Master of Communication and Media Studies program.[7]

Journalism and criticism[edit]

Campbell is a freelance journalist who writes about popular culture, advertising and branding, media (particularly online media trends) and everyday life. Publications to which she contributes include The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Junkee,[8] Crikey,[9] Guardian Australia[10] and New Matilda.[11]

Between 2006 and 2007 Campbell was pop culture editor at Australian alternative women's magazine YEN.

From 2007-8 Campbell was deputy editor at Triple J's monthly music magazine, jmag. She continued to write and review for the magazine on a freelance basis.

From 2008-13 Campbell was the film editor at ThreeThousand, an online subcultural guide to Melbourne, as well as its sister sites around Australia: TwoThousand, FourThousand, FiveThousand and SixThousand.

In 2013 through Affirm Press Campbell published her debut book Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit, a non-fiction investigation of clothing size and fit.[12] In an interview at Crikey, Campbell said, "…clothes are so personal. They’re part of our persona, and the feelings of shame and humiliation we feel when we get them wrong [are] very personally felt. You need to lift the lid on that."[13]

Creative projects[edit]

With Stuart Geddes, Natasha Ludowyk, Penny Modra and Jeremy Wortsman, Campbell co-founded Is Not Magazine in 2005. An independently published, bimonthly magazine in the form of a 1.5m x 2m bill poster, Is Not ran for eleven issues (and several special issues) before the five co-founders declared it officially defunct in August 2008.

"We wanted to make a community around this magazine and reinvigorate public space," Campbell told The Age in 2005. "It changes the way you approach reading, because there's no logical place for you to start. We love the way that it's physical. You look up, you bend down, we've got spaces … where you can make contributions of your own."[14]

In 2008 Campbell formed the creative partnership Infinite Ape Media with fellow journalists Andrew Tijs and Daniel Zugna. Their first publication was an online magazine of culture and the popular arts called The Enthusiast. Launched in January 2009, The Enthusiast published news, features, opinion and review. The website shut down in 2014.

Campbell co-wrote her debut work of fiction, a romantic comedy novel titled The Hot Guy, in collaboration with film critic Anthony Morris. The book will be published in June 2017 by Echo Publishing, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing.[15]

Blogging and podcasting[edit]

Campbell began her personal blog, A Wild Young Under-Whimsy, in March 2004. She also maintains a fashion blog called Footpath Zeitgeist, where she posts research for and discussion about her published work on fashion.

Campbell has contributed to Crikey's politics blog, The Stump,[16] and is also a contributing editor at feminist blog The Dawn Chorus.[17]

In 2016 Campbell joined the hosting team of the fortnightly literary and culture podcast The Rereaders, alongside regular hosts Sam Twyford-Moore, Stephanie Van Schilt and Dion Kagan. "Steph and Dion laughed when I referred to this podcast as "the famous Rereaders", but to me it really is like that movie Rock Star where Mark Wahlberg plays a tribute band singer who's invited to join the band for real," Campbell said in December 2015 when her role was announced. "Guesting on the Rereaders back in November was so much fun. And I'm looking forward to hanging out more with these guys in 2016, talking about my favourite topic – culture."[18]

The Incredible Melk[edit]

For the 2004 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Campbell created the satirical character The Incredible Melk, a human resources consultant-turned-hip-hop MC. Her comedy cabaret show The Incredible Melk's Booty Pageant was commended in that year's Fringe Awards, and she performed a revised version at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Reviewer Helen Razer described the show as "a confusing delight", writing: "Performer Mel Campbell has constructed a complex man-eater at ease with language and pop culture."[19]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 2 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "The order of Australia". Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  3. ^ Campbell, Mel. "Opposite Ends of the Freeway: 'Upper Middle Bogan' and the Mobility of Class Distinction". Metro Magazine. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Perhaps there's a little bogan in everyone - Opinion". 2006-06-08. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  5. ^ "Informit - Context: Journal of Music Research - Saying the Unsayable: The Non-verbal Vocalisations of Michael Jackson (Humanities & Social Sciences Collection)". 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  6. ^ "International Association for the Study of Popular Music – Australia / New Zealand". Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  7. ^ Campbell, Mel. "Teaching". Mel Campbell online portfolio. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "Mel Campbell contributor page". Junkee. Junkee Media. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "Mel Campbell". Crikey. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  10. ^ "Mel Campbell contributor profile". Guardian Australia. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  11. ^ [2] Archived 14 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Out of Shape". Affirm Press. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  13. ^ Robin, Myriam (20 June 2013). "When things don't fit: An interview with Mel Campbell, author of Out of Shape". Crikey. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "Coming to a wall near you - Arts - Entertainment". 2005-05-20. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  15. ^ Adsett, Alex (3 August 2016). "The Hot Guy acquired by Echo Publishing". Alex Adsett Publishing Services. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Mel Campbell | The Stump". Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  17. ^ "The Chorus « The Dawn Chorus". 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  18. ^ "We are thrilled to announce that we have a new Rereader". The Rereaders Facebook page. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "The Incredible Melk - Reviews". 2005-04-14. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 

External links[edit]