25 January, 2011

australia, who do you think you are?

over the past few weeks i have given a lot of thought to tomorrows national holiday. australia day, synonymous with bbqs, beers, fake/real flag tattoos and the wife beater. sad really, i have no real inclination for celebration. why? i mean, it's our nations day of celebrating uuuummmm yeah we commemorate the...., well that is to say, there is triple j's hottest 100 and yeah.... ok so i had no idea what the day was meant to be about and i assume not many others do either so i researched. the day is in an effort to pay tribute to the arrival of the first fleet in sydney cove in 1788, when the british hoisted the union jack and claimed the land under their sovereignty. wooooohhh!

this act is the reason why various aboriginal people declared the day, 'invasion day'. seems fair enough really but, my problem isn't with history so much as it is with the present. the day is seen as nothing more than a bank holiday in the sun and an excuse to get completely trashed and bitch about angus and julia stone's song 'jet plane' reaching the number 1 position of the hottest 100 (yest that's my ominous prediction btw). not that there is anything wrong with such past times, especially the last, but it does indicate how this country is missing something. a sense of national identity.

another criticism of the indifference that occurs on australia day is the fact that it falls during the school holidays. some teachers believe that due to this children are not as engaged as they are with other national holidays, like anzac day, and have no real concept of the importance of such an event. this lack of engagement in my mind has cemented the one dimensional hedonistic self image of australians. we like sport, having a laugh with a drink our hand and chilling on the beach. surely, there is more to us than that?

be it a result of our countrys short history, or our connection to britain and the united states, we haven't been given a chance to really branch out on our own. no civil wars or wars of independence, we haven't had the opportunity to grow as a nation by ourselves. not that wars are good things, but they do see change and a rallying of people behind a cause. we are still a member of the commonwealth because we seemingly can't be bothered or want to become independent knowing if we do, we can't win gold medals in sport at the commonwealth games. sad really.

getting back to my original gripe. australian tattoos have become a bogan trait. either through un-originality or a lack of understanding many aussies will proudly show off their 'patriotic' ink whilst subtly trying to say they have gone through pain for their noble homeland. now THAT pisses me off! mostly because i'm quite convinced that they have no idea what it means to be an australian. i know this, because i'm not even sure what it means anymore. but, having 'australia' or the apparently 'un-british' part of the flag (the southern cross) tattooed with abandon across your ass is about as offensive to me as burning the flag right in front of my eyes.

ok alright so, maybe it isn't all that bad, but it no longer posses the ideals it once encompassed. a symbol of perceived patriotism and egalitarianism was hijacked by racist thugs and well, the brand seems to have been irreparably damaged. blogger henry stones described the average southern cross tattoo holder in a smh article as possessing many traits, including: "you call rum and cokes 'rumbos' and you drink a minimum of two cartons a month"; "you have started a conversation regarding matty johns' innocence" and "you have a rat's tail".

perhaps a bit harsh, still it is concerning. this is how we show we care for our country? widespread apathy i fear will be the theme for tomorrow and whilst being wholly depressing is also scares the bejesus out of me. what's going to happen when the day comes we have to stand up for what we as a nation believe in, and can't think of a single thing worth fighting for?