Apr 3, 2011

English assignment: Australian cult Fandom

Throughout this assignment I have had to see Australia through the eyes of someone who wasn’t born and raised here. I have had to look at this country as a foreigner and wonder about the stereotypes, the clichés and the overall view of Australia’s appearance, attitudes and lifestyles. It’s like I am a substitute teacher at a school being told which kids to watch out for. “Yeah that Australia is a bit of work. You might want to keep an eye on that one, what with its laziness, racism, alcoholism and its annoying habit of joking about drop bears, which are a serious thing.” Come on teachers don’t pretend you never warn the subs about us.

When you love something enough, you can be made oblivious to its flaws, or you just tolerate them a little more than those who don’t love it like you do. For example, the Star Trek fandom is impossibly huge despite the fact that the acting is corny, the fight scenes are terrible [Example of terrible fight scene] the special effects are a different kind of special and the stories seem like they took the first script, put it in a blender, took it out, put it back together and gave the planet in the episode a different name. I know it’s easy to insult a show that was made so long ago but I honestly don’t understand how its fandom can still grow when it has the graphics of Avatar, the camera work of Inception, the fight scene choreographers of Pirates of the Caribbean and the writing of Sherlock Holmes to compete with.

Before I go completely off track allow me to put an obscure segway here that relates Star Trek to the moral and ethical issues of Australia. . . . I look at Star Trek fans and think “Do you like it because someone has to like the ugly kid in the family?” while there would be some people looking at me and think “So you’re alright with underage drinking, planned racist gang attacks, and pushing away every refugee that knocks on the door?” in reference to the country I love. Are these ethical issues like the bad graphics and terrible fight scenes of Star Trek? Have I just been raised into it for so long that the flaws are covered with the rug and a good old Aussie ‘She’ll be right’ attitude?

When I was told to write and critique moral and ethical issues in Australia, I got started and I realised that the fact that Australians are mostly OK with their moral and ethical issues is a deadly issue in itself. I’m not trying to insult my country or diminish it’s -for want of a more impressively literate word- awesomeness. I am trying to say that the cloud of awesome is drifting to cover quite a few ugly things.

Australia has never had a war on its home land yet Australians have participated in so many. How can a country that’s never been host to a war be at the centre of such terrors as the Cronulla riots? Lebanese Muslims so much as set foot on the sandy beaches of Cronulla and they could be beaten to death. I hate writing harsh truths that put Australia in a light so bad you can’t even see the positive but sometimes we have to ask the hard questions. Is this beautiful country full of such friendly neighbours really this bad for foreigners? Is this haven of mateship and brotherly bondage a fantasy to those who are different? If appreciation of differences is too far fetched then can we at least settle for acceptance?

Even someone who has never picked up a bible could probably recite the old “Love your neighbour as yourself” reference. We are all human we all have family, friends, problems, emotions, pasts, futures . . . . We aren’t all that different. How long will it be before all Australians can see the world as equal? How long will it be before everyone can see the Australia I see? If it is digitally remastered, given a new writer, new actors and a good fight scene choreographer, can we come out with a better Australia remake than the Star Trek one?


Note: I haven’t actually seen the Star Trek movie, and I’ve only seen one or two episodes of the original but I was enjoying the comparative metaphor with Star Trek and Australia so I brought it back for the conclusion. Hope you appreciated it.

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