Monday, March 27, 2006

Australia: I Love a Plundered Country.

Watch the Video

Satire remains a powerful tool of critique and criticism it seems. When the Australian Tourist Commission screened its latest TV advertisement in Britain recently there was an outcry and it was withdrawn (it used the words "Bloody Hell"...Shocking stuff hey). Some great publicity was had, and it came that the withdrawing was withdrawn. Now there has been a withdrawing of a satirical mashup of the same ad (view above in altered form; it was the music copyright that forced the withdrawal) after complaints by the Australian Tourist Commission. What got me was the stereotypical cliches of the first ad (see it HERE). And as Andrew Mueller recently pointed out in the Guardian (18th March); "the only jarring note is the Aboriginal dancer cooing that her people have "been rehearsing for 40 000 years" - in between, she could have added, having their country pillaged and looted by the ancestors of the people she is encouraging to visit".
The depiction of stereotypical identity (the barbie, the beach, the bush, the blacks....bla bla bla) brought to my mind Derek Walcott's description of being Caribbean in the eyes of the tourist, the performance of it according to what the tourist wants or expects to see:

"So visitors to the Caribbean must feel that they are inhabiting a succession of postcards. Both climates are shaped by what we have read of them. For tourists, the sunshine cannot be serious. Winter adds depth and darkness to life as well as to literature, and in the unending summer of the tropics not even poverty or poetry (in the Antilles poverty is poetry with a V, une vie, a condition of life as well as of imagination) seems capable of being profound because the nature around it is so exultant, so resolutely ecstatic, like its music. A culture based on joy is bound to be shallow."

The darkness that lies at the heart of Australia is depicted satirically in the Downwind Media mashup; ethnic violence, dispossession, drugs, and detention without trial. The saddest thing is that it is coming from the real.

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