2 February 2009

January 26

Drove into Melbourne about 6pm on Australia Day eve, cruising past the banks of the yarra, our assorted ratbag activists commenting on how pretty and clean the city is. Quickly followed by 'give me Newtown to look at any day.' They've got a decidedly urban grunge aesthetic those two.

People all down the riverside park setting up for barbeques the next day. The trend in Australia day over the last few years has seen more and more symbolic nationalism with a kind of diffuse and slightly unsettling focus. It seems that lots more people feel it necessary to get decked out in the flag in some way - shorts, tops, thongs, bikinis, draped as a cape (what are you, some kind of ocker super-hero?), flying on car antennas (putting the ass in class, that one), and worn as body paint.

The whole spectacle was dubbed as "morbid jingoism" by my colleagues on this trip. Can't say I diagree personally. I'm only 33, right, and from my relatively short living memory, this business is not some immutable part of Aussie tradition. We never got into flag-flying as kids. Australia day holds no real special memory of any kind of nationalist holiday, perhaps just a barbeque in one of Adelaide's many parks with a smattering of family freinds, but that was a fairly normal kid-friendly activity right through from October to March.

Perhaps Mum can set me straight on this, but I'm sure our lack of jingoistic fervour was not just a product of our suburb's chardonnay socialist leanings - I don't remember any particular fuss about it, even during high school years, where there was a slighly more bogan element. (Click "comments" to leave a note, here, technophobes).

Anyway.. see what I mean below. Early Sydney Big Day Outs always falling on Jan 26 probably sparked a trend of boozy teens trolling the flag, until organiser Ken West spoke out about it in 2007. The subsequent Howard years surely stoked this flag-waving business.

Photo from here: http://www.australiaday.com.au ... wtf?

Photo from wikimedia commons (Cronulla riots)

1 comment:

BSharp said...

From MUM:
I agree with your film mates there has developed a jingoism re Australia day. yes and we didnt go out of our way to celebrate, wave flags when you were growing up.

My theory is that in The Howard years there was a huge push for the wrong kind of patriotism. The day wasnt always celebrated on the 26th . Now it is and the Howard Govt, Made it almost compulsory for LG (local government) to have celebations tied to their Citizenship ceremonies.