The Australian arts set are the biggest benefactors and contributors to the “cultural cringe”. Not being taken seriously by the public allows them to carry on not being entertaining or imaginative all the while getting back at the ordinary Australians they have despised their whole lives. Only, no one is paying attention and forces the paradox of whether something is insulting to Aussies, if no Aussies are there to watch it. Probably. But normal Australians aren’t going to put much thought into the productions their producers clearly haven’t either. Instead they’re wondering what American shows they can watch on Netflix.
We all know such types who turn painful inputs into creative outputs. There’s that kid who couldn’t catch a ball if his life depended on it, now in an indie rock band writing songs about braindead jocks. That frumpy girl who was teased by the popular ones is now performing the vagina monologues at the State Theatre smeared in excrement with projections of Manus Island playing in the background. Deviation from the norm has many faces, but it usually finds its way to the ABC studios and possibly with a Logie in hand.
The first generation to exhibit such resentments were the “New Nationalists” coming of age at a time in our history where all certainties were up in the air. The collapse of what Donald Horne called “Britishry” in the minds of the politicians and intelligentsia in the mid-1960s allowed for the exploration of a new identity shorn of ethnic attachments. This partnership of the arts and politics reached its high water mark under Whitlam and once the tides receded the only lasting result was the absence of an identity under multiculturalism.
Those earlier artists were not completely subversive. Often the lampooning was done with great affection for the object of derision, take for instance The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. Barry is a loveable yobbo whom most Australians could identify with — a statement that becomes harder to make as the younger generations become indoctrinated further to hate Australia and Australians.
Going by recent remarks, perhaps this earlier generation have realised what it was that they helped unleash. Barry Humphries, creator of Barry McKenzie and Dame Edna Everage, has been the target of self-important nobodies on social media this past year. His crime? Lamenting the fact that the Australia of only two decades ago, let alone the one of his youth, has been destroyed by leftist malefactors. His most recent attempt in keeping the larrikin spirit alive by taking little Wally to task was met with confusion by the humourless Twits. Natch.
The successors of the New Nationalists do not poke fun at Australians with any tenderness at all. There is only deconstruction. Peter Drew and his “Aussie” posters pick up where the New Nationalists left off, with multiculturalism. Multiculturalism/multiracialism is used to cast doubt on there being such a thing as an Australian. You see, the presence of non-Whites in Australia’s past is an argument that those non-Whites stepping off the plane this very second too are Australians. Ironically his choice of Monga Khan, an Afghan cameleer undercuts his argument as it is an implicit support for the White Australia policy, highlighting its moderate and prudential character; Khan got into Australia under the workings of the policy. White supremacy it was not, rather, it merely sought to preserve the majority European character of Australia.
The chickens really have come home to roost with one subset of the contemporary arts set, non-Whites with a chip on their shoulder. Regular listeners of The Convict Report will have heard about many of these people, such as Randa Abdel-Fattah. Their objective is in changing the representation of Australia in television and film away from those of the historic nation to more recent arrivals. The reasons appear to be a mix of a lack of empathy with Whites on screen and hostility towards Australians. SWPLs and those further left welcome this without any objections about positive portrayals of non-White identities. You’ve got to give it to White leftists, their universalism truly is particularistic in all aspects — White identity bad, universalism good; brown identity good, universalism good?
The new ABC series Cleverman, which seems little more than an Indigenous reboot of X-Men ((((J.J. Abrams))) must be behind a curtain here somewhere), is getting the SWPLs very excited. To them, the series is cathartic in the anti-border protection message they read into it, as well as the usual Culture Wars narrative. If they were not so blinded with ethnomasochism they would see that above all it is a story about the importance of identity. Speaking about his motivation for creating the show, Ryan Griffen said:
Whenever I would tell people that I was Aboriginal, they questioned it immediately: “What percentage are you?” or, “Yeah, but you’re one of the good ones”. Others would flat out deny my claim of my heritage until they saw my father, and then those questions were laid to rest. But for my son, he won’t get that opportunity; people will look at me, and still ask him the same questions.
I wanted to create an Aboriginal superhero that he could connect with, no matter what others said. I wanted a character that would empower him to stand and fight when presented with racism. Just like the old dreaming stories, Cleverman would be able to teach moral lessons; not only for my son, not just for Aboriginal people, but for many more out there as well.
One wonders whether such lessons of being empowered by one’s ancestors and their tales is meant for White Australians. Regardless, the premise of Cleverman is what the arts set should have been following all these years; the affirmation of identity and not its tearing down. It’s not all bleak. Current and future generations growing up with such negativity will spawn those capable of channelling their pain into our own forms of pulp fascism.
Cleverman premieres tonight (Thursday 2nd June) on ABC at 9:30pm.