I don’t know why I do it, but occasionally I read news.com.au. Perhaps it’s a perverse desire to be outraged and offended by Rupe Murdoch’s linkbait or more likely the early signs of dementia.
So this Melbourne Cup morning I read that:
“Melbourne Cup day is one of those excellent days of the year, like Christmas and New Year’s and Anzac Day, when it’s socially acceptable, if not compulsory, to drink just a bit too much. Because we’re Australian, and that’s how we express ourselves.”
The article itself postulated that Melbourne Cup was Australia’s real national day because we like to binge drink, have gambling problems, like abusing horses, and have a low commitment to working. I’m surprised it forgot to mention that it was also an opportunity to express our admirable ability to be overtly racist by bemoaning the lack of Australian (or New Zealand) winners in the last decade.
With fine publications like News Ltd to shine a light on our national identity and help us understand ourselves as a nation it is no surprise that we have a reputation for being racist, sexist boors. What’s disturbing is that the media celebrates an Australian identity subsumed in a inebriated, flag-draped, greedy blur rather than starting a debate about identity and the inherent flaws of nationalism.
The Age is no better, spouting trivialities on the Melbourne Cup live-blog.
“‘Madam, put your shoes on,’ the gate keeper said. Pleading, she got through holding her heels in her hands. Now they are supping coffee in the Members Lawn at one of the best spots for a sunny day.”
Perhaps it’s naivety but I want more from the country I am currently living and raising my children in. I want a country which is pluralist, intellectual, diverse, modest, contradictory, hardworking, and fun. Events like the Melbourne Cup, Australia Day, and ANZAC Day are an opportunity to interrogate our place in the world as individuals and as part of a global community, and more importantly to question the status quo of greed, excess, faux-pride, and frivolity where a man wearing a shiny polyester suit with vomit on his shoes and a perky Panama hat is celebrated rather than ridiculed.
Maybe I’m a spoilsport, but that that is my feelpinion on this sunny Melbourne morning.