“three horrible Australias that substitute for the Australias we actually live in.”

by

Australian Art : In the suburbs, and below them
from Club Troppo by Richard Tsukamasa Green

Australian art (in the form of literature and film) is afflicted with three horrible Australias that substitute for the Australias we actually live in.
The first is the fake hinterland. The small country town, the drover, the bush. Australia has always been mainly urban, but this doesn’t rid us of the idea that the rural is an authentic part of a nation’s soul, and the city a false one – so we end up with a literary bush that represents neither Australia, nor even the bush that exists. We should be thankful I guess. This distrust of the urban led to pogroms elsewhere, here it just led to shitty literature.
The second is focus group suburbia. Apparently the same demographers that control political campaigns also write dramas for television. They’re understanding of the country is as strong, and as fruitful in both contexts. The resulting product is for an average Australia in suburban Sydney or Melbourne that doesn’t exist, and is resolutely (and carefully) boring.
The third is determined to address the chronic underrepresentation of middle class white people on TV. They’re there to remind you that the self conscious Fitzroy/Newtown monoculture is fascinatingly distinct, despite all evidence to the contrary. To remind you that all one needs to know about an entire society is found in a shallow pond of wealthy lawyers.
The portrayal of these Australias share a few rules;

  • One can only learn about Australia through Big Issues like drugs and murder and adultery, regardless of the limited role they play in the lives of most people.
  • People can only express themselves to each other through confrontation, which always them to exposit their viewpoints and motivation without them having to actually be developed characters.
  • Under the Australian Film and Drama Act (1992) they must also do this in full sentences with pronounced full stops – speaking like a human being would be inauthentic…
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