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The Australian Image In Blue Back English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1630 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Whether this is true or not, the reality is that the traditional Australian identity is no longer a real Australian image, and because of that Australians are facing an identity crisis. Thongs, Beach, sun, bush, beer or Kangaroos, images such as these have been used to describe Australia for decades, however do they truly give the imagery of the Australian national identity? The typical Australian male has been described as “tall, suntanned, blond and blue-eyed, short on words, get drunk with mates, laid-back (she’ll be right, mate)”. Though when we observe the Australian society many of these images disprove reality in the 21st century, there is no sign that trying to stop this issue, instead, more and more contemporary texts are made that way nowadays to earn global interest and recognition. People need communities of similar people, they need acceptance, and nations need unity for peace. Hence, the uniqueness of Australia landscapes and cultural identity is not only reduced but is even more emphasized in Australian texts.

I have chosen a combination of two visual texts and one written text: The film Crocodile Dundee, Tourism Australia’s marketing campaign: “Where the bloody hell are you?” And novel Blue back by Tim Winton to demonstrate my point of view about the statement that Australia texts are unambiguous and self-aware of its own landscape and culture identity.

Film is a medium, which is able to transpose across cultures and nations. Often the only aspect of certain events and cultures is explored through film. Therefore the way certain cultures or events are portrayed greatly influence the way they are beheld. This is especially true of Australian films of the last few decades. Australian films contain imitation of the ‘Australian Identity’ that is seen across the world, but are these stereotypes healthy to the image of Australia? For instance, the film Crocodile Dundee directed by Peter Faiman has influenced the way foreigners think about Australia and Australians. In the film, a statement that accurately describes Dundee is: ‘…and drinks deeply on occasion. Though he is the world’s best confidence man…’ this description represents his toughness and daily behaviors, which is believed to be applied to all Australian males by foreigners. ‘Crocodile Dundee’ is similar to the typical Australian today in his use of slang. He uses words like ‘weaner’ or ‘shealer’ and shortens some common words. Also, in the film, The ‘typical Australian’ is here referred to as a man because this writing is quite old and back then the male was considered more important than female and this is one of the things that has changed in Australia over time. Therefore, the images and scene it portrays in the film only focus on a small part of the truth about Australian and Australia’s culture background, thus, its self-awareness of Australian landscape and cultural identity of the film give to overseas viewers weren’t exceptionally true and mainly focused on the things commonly known to foreigners. The Australian identity is a great asset, a national treasure one might say. As I mentioned earlier Crocodile Dundee contains the Australian stereotype but is extremely exaggerated. The character in the movie has been intentionally exaggerated for the purposes of comedy. Crocodile Dundee has exaggerated the Australian identity. Stereotypes are not an accurate portrayal of identity, but rather take the key aspects of this identity and emphasize and promote them.

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The image of ‘Michael’ in Crocodile Dundee has many similarities to the average Australian today but also illustrates how Australians have changed and how most are quite different now. Some Australians such as ‘Crocodile Dundee’ that spend most of their life living in the outback could be the same in the way that they are used to harsh conditions through their life and can make the best of hard situations like camping under the stars or using bush fire but this is obviously not typical of the urban Australian. I believe there probably was a lot of truth in this description at the time. Dundee is very rough and adapted to living in the outback where conditions are harsher than in cities or rural areas. In my opinion this image represents a person living in those tough times and who was shaped by his surroundings making him the person that he was. Though the exclusion of urban Australian is quite significant in this text, it is still essential for the movie to be filmed that way to achieve and satisfy the international value towards Australians to win their audiences acceptance.

Similarly to the above purpose, there is the catch phrase: “Where the bloody hell are you?” of Tourism Australia’s marketing campaign encouraging tourists to visit Australia by adopting Australian landscape and culture identity. The advertisement features images of Australians preparing for visitors to their country. It begins in an outback pub – the barman says that he’s poured a beer; moves on to a young boy on the beach – he says he’s got the sharks out of the swimming pool; and then to girls watching Sydney Harbor fireworks, who says that they’ve turned on the lights. The commercial ends with a girl wearing bikini stepping out of the ocean asking “So where the bloody hell are you?”

In short, it features images of Australia, not only through its great scenic attractions of rainforests, beaches and Opera House, but also through the impact of the words “bloody hell” in the final question. It is said that the advertisement with its catch phrase shows stereotypical characteristics of Australia such as ‘informality’, ‘casualness’ and ‘friendliness’. Also, ‘the bloody hell’ is commonly used in everyday conversation in Australia. The ultimate self- awareness of this campaign left the impression to viewers to imagine that typical Australians still look like the ‘bronzed Aussie’. The beach replaced the bush as the dominant icon of the Australian way of life mid last century, and bronzed Aussie male image replaced the bush bloke. The idea of the text represents is clearly showing the most extreme and magnificent parts of Australia to attract global tourists.

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Furthermore, In Tim Winton’s novel, Blue Back, shows a strong sense of belongingness and cultural identity of Western Australia. Due to the author’s grown up background, where he was born in Perth, his experience is very different to other Australians who are living outside of Western Australia. His use of conventions in the novel strongly shows his own life experience as a Western Australian. Because of these special emotions, hence readers of the novel get even stronger message from the author through his detail description of Australia landscape and culture identity. His Beautiful, evocative descriptions of Western Australia landscape are to be found throughout the novel in the words used to describe the natural environment. There are many examples of Winton’s wonderful use of language. For examples: ‘Sunlight caught the windows of the shack above the beach so that every pane of glass looked like a fire’ ‘A cloud of bubbles swirled around him, clinging to his skin like pearls.’ ‘The shellfish grew round and silver like shiny hubcaps.’ ‘He stayed just behind the breakers and was showered with their spray and saw the great, strange land through the wobbly glass of the waves. He saw the sun melting like butter on white dunes.’ ‘The sea grew tormented. It buckled and swelled and bunted against the cliffs and headlands, Surf hammered the shore and chewed it away.’ Tim Winton use metaphors on more than one occasion to show the experience of the sea, which is likened to flying and the sea is likened to the sky. These conventions are used to show the beauty and uniqueness of Western Australia landscape, clearly proves to readers the reasons why his heart belongs to the land.

The sense of family is strong within this novel but it goes beyond the genetic bonds of family relationships. In the novel, people’s lives are very isolated, basic existence that causes them to rely on each other for almost everything. Not only their physical needs but also their emotional needs that must be met by the other. Their relationship is strong and unerring. Stella, Abel’s future wife, comments on their ability to communicate without words. Dora says: “It’s the fish in us…We don’t always need words”. It is like that they are part of the environment and they care for it so deeply. The environment that surrounds them is also part of their extended family. When Abel is away at school Dora is not lonely because the land is like a friend to her, she feels fulfilled through her relationship with the land. Again, it is against the wider reading of Australian family relationship in foreigner’s minds and foregrounding the uniqueness of Australian relationship between people and landscape.

Though some of the Australia identity is like an outmoded myth, they have influenced the way the world views Australia and how Australian view themselves. People believe that no matter how stereotypical and outdated their images are, they should not be discarded and forgotten, but puts even more efforts to promote them as they are the national treasure and spirit that gathers Australians together as a whole nation.


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