The Null Device

Antipodean scum

There's an opinion piece in The Age's blogs about how the rest of the world is sick of travelling Australians, who, after long years of being regarded as lovable, are getting a reputation as the "New Yanks":
Firstly, we're suffering from a serious case of overexposure. The fact that Australia is so far away from anywhere else used to mean that not many of us made it to foreign shores. Now, not only do we have air travel, but we have extremely cheap air travel, meaning that any wanker who can manage to scrape together a few hundred dollars can go and prop up the tittie bar industry in Phuket for a week or so.
We're now seen as the arrogant, loud twats who complain when everything's different to how it is back home. Australians always had a reputation for liking a party, but now we're the obnoxious drunks, abusing the bar staff because their English sucks, whingeing that we'd kill for a Carlton Draught instead of this crap we're being forced to drink.
Though to be fair, crap Australian domestic beer is a notch above crap British domestic beer. A Carlton Draught or Toohey's may not compete with the best of the Czech Republic (or, for that matter, a pint of Samuel Smith's Old Brewery), though it's decidedly more drinkable than Carling (which has a monopoly on live music gigs over a certain size) or Foster's (which nobody in Australia actually drinks; much like various TV soaps, it's a product made primarily to be passed off to foreigners).

Another reason for Australia's declining image could be its politics. Whilst Australia has traditionally been such a minor player on the international stage to evade notice, the present government's determination to be a cheerleader for everything that pisses off liberals, from the Iraq war to blocking the Kyoto protocol, may have created an impression of Australia as the Big Red State Down Under. And then there is the rise of a rather ugly strain of muscular nationalism among young Australians these days (witness all the flag-waving, the stereotyped chants of "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" — incidentally, is there a more aggressively mindless national slogan anywhere? — and other generally boorish behaviour), which may be a cultural artefact of the Howard Culture War and the vanquishment of the more thoughtful (if sometimes woolly) liberal/cosmopolitan Whitlamite values of the previous few decades by an atavistic right-wing jingoism — the values of idiot certainty backed with force.

But yes, here in London, the stereotype of an Australian about town seems to involve drinking vodka by the bottle, cracking onto every available-looking female, talking loudly about how much everything is better in God's Own Country, and passing out in one's own vomit in the gutter outside Walkabout at 3am.

Meanwhile, readers have posted their own anecdotes about Ugly Australians to the article:

As an aussie living in London, I find nothing more embarassing than walking past the pub on my local high street (the slug and lettuce in fulham for any fellow londonites- aka the 'sl*ts and legless') where any night of the week you'll find it packed by 8pm with slaughtered aussies singing along to ac/dc, bryan adams or - way too frequently- country roads drinking snakebite and black (lager, cider and blackcurrant cordial). You'll also find the aussie bar maids and mates will stand up on the bar with their tops off on regular occassions. And people wonder why we're getting a bad rep abroad...?
I agree completely... My friend from Montreal started calling us 'pigeons' because we are everywhere... not that like the comparison but I would have to agree with him.
As I read this article I was having flashbacks of living in the Lakes District and attending an Australians-only party (shows how good we really are at assimilating). One of the head honcho Aussie jocks was running around the village with an Australian flag draped over his shoulders and a plush crocodile under an arm, shouting 'Crikey!' to the unimpressed townsfolk.
As a long-term Londoner I have to fully agree with Damien that John Howard has done more to harm the image of Australians than any drunk in Earl's Court or Shepherd's Bush. He has made Australia so isolated with his unquestioning (and unthinking) blind allegiance to Gerorge W. and his attacks on basic human rights that Europeans now believe that Australians care about nobody but themselves. Until you guys vote John Howard out and rejoin the rest of the world nobody wants you!
Which reminds me of a joke I heard. There's a Londoner, an Australian and a South African having a drink in a pub. The Australian finishes his drink, throws his glass in the air, pulls out a gun and shoots it. "In Australia, the lucky country, we're so rich from our natural resources, we never need to drink from the same glass twice", he says. The South African finishes his drink, throws his glass in the air and shoots it. "In Sarth Efriker, we're so rich from our diamond mines, we never need to drink from the same glass twice", he says.

Then the Londoner finishes his drink, and says, "in London, we've got so many Australians and South Africans, we never need to drink with the same ones twice." And with that, he pulls out a gun and shoots them.

There are 2 comments on "Antipodean scum":

Posted by: mianfei newcafe.org Sat Apr 7 07:48:47 2007

Calling Australia the "Big Red State Down Under" is utterly correct.

Australia and Red America are sharply distinct in politics from all other OECD "nations" in many ways:

- much higher religiosity - higher ferility rates - much lower living costs - lower taxation - much less belief in (and much lower quality of) public social services - poorer ecological standards - lower farm subsidies - higher levels of charitable giving and volunteering

Those in the rest fo the world who lament Australia and Red America for their appalling environmental policies and high ecological footprints should be careful. For all their much higher energy consumption and ecological footprints, Arthur C. Brooks has shown that people in Australia and Red America are actually much less selfish and more empathic than anywhere else in the developed world. (Brooks in his "Who Really Cares" pitifully fails to give data for Australia, but based on other figures I would imagien levels of charitable giving to very high in Austr

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/acb/ Sat Apr 7 11:29:09 2007

Australia isn't as religious as America, though; the American phenomenon of the church as centre of communities (which manifests itself in things like Unitarian Universalism, a church atheists and agnostics can belong to) doesn't have a parallel in Australia (and for all the media about US-style megachurches like Hillsong, they're still by all accounts a fringe phenomenon in Australia). And the theory of evolution is similarly not considered controversial in Australia (though it was in Bjelke-Petersen's Queensland).

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