Aussie Character seen from afar

It was time.

After nearly four years of writing adventures and quirk-filled penmanship on Scenic Writer’s Shack, it was finally time to offer some special prime roast on the platter.

I speak of course of a guest post.

Who better to write that post than my Los Angeles-based blogging compatriot, author Stacey Bryan https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com/ Stacey has never ventured to Australia so I thought it might be interesting to ask her views from afar of the land Down Under.

Here’s what she wrote –

When I received an unexpected invitation from the world-famous Scenic Writer’s Shack to share some perceptions about Australia from an American’s point of view, the first thing I immediately thought was, “Now, THAT’S a knife.”

This thought didn’t come guilt-free, though. It stank of sludgy shame and hot, putrid regret. And unfortunately (or not; I’m not sure anymore) it wasn’t a solo thought.  A string of similar notions clamored inside me, so if I felt bad or guilty about “Crocodile Dundee”,  more of the same would follow for  “Razorback,” “Wolf Creek”, “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” “A Dingo Took My Baby” movie, and of course… ”Mad Max.”

We can never forget about “Mad Max.” And if we did, we would be very wrong to do so.

Why, you ask, does ‘bad’ or ‘guilty’ even have to come into play? If I’ve never met anyone from Australia and have never been there myself, isn’t pop culture the next best way, besides the news and documentaries (and, okay, yeah, books), to learn about such a distant and unfamiliar country? And since nobody’s gonna (snore) watch a documentary or (gag) read a book, then we must depend on pop culture for our knowledge, right?

Yet guilty feelings persisted as I realized that while I knew all about Paul Hogan’s big knife and Mel Gibson’s fat tank of gas and John Jarratt’s head on a stick, I knew nothing about the black box flight recorder, the development of WiFi, and the electric drill (information recently revealed to me by a little birdie) and all of which are just a few of the amazing inventions that have come out of Australia that everyone in the world uses every day!

And I definitely did NOT think of the genesis of feature-length films when I thought of Australia. I live in L.A., the home of Hollywood, for god’s sake. We took everyone out of silent movies into sound. We discovered magic hour. We invented the dolly zoom and the Steadicam.  

Yet I was floored to discover that what’s believed to be the world’s first feature-length movie, “The Story of the Kelly Gang” was shot in and around Melbourne in 1906! Wow! In America, W.D. Griffith’s  three-hour epic, “Birth of a Nation,” the longest movie made up to that point, came out almost a decade later in 1915, so the land Down Under totally had us beat!

So I’ll just give in and say that, in honor of movies, between giant man-eating boars, dingoes consuming infants  (“A Cry in the Dark”; I finally looked the title up), fiendish serial killers absconding with clueless tourists in the outback, and roving maniacs all violently vying for “guzzolene”… how inviting did Australia seem to me? Not very!

And the sharks. Let’s not forget about the sharks. They’re probably hyped up by the news so it only seems like every beach on the continent is swarming with those toothy leftovers from dinosaur days, but I’ll take my chances with heat stroke. I don’t need to swim in the ocean.  I’d rather keel over onto my face from severe dehydration in the middle of snapping shots of the Opera House than to be torn savagely limb from limb while, cherry on top, also simultaneously drowning.

On the other hand, swerving abruptly in another direction entirely, I’ve always been drawn to the history and stories of the indigenous population. I couldn’t get too judgey over what I perceived as Australia’s dark past involving  the original inhabitants, because the United States was obviously one of the biggest perpetrators of negatively-consequenced colonization. I think I just made that term up.  I always knew that we had that in common: more often than not playing the villainous role in the epic story of our countries’ recent pasts.  

I’m not sure where Australia stands today in trying to heal those wounds, but I can tell you for sure what the U.S. is doing for our Native American population, and that’s basically just shooting them the bird, whether literally or symbolically. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s giving someone the middle finger. In case you don’t know what the middle finger is, it’s an uncouth gesture that more or less means “I don’t care about you, and if you walked off a cliff right now, it wouldn’t impact my day in the slightest. I’d still get a Frappuccino at Starbucks and would probably meet up with friends later for drinks and tapas.”

But I loved the concept of Dreamtime and Dreaming and walkabouts, and I loved the word digeridoo and their unique, haunting sound, and when Stephen Hawking started using machines to talk and ended up sounding almost exactly like a digeridoo, even that eerie fact never tainted them for me. There seemed to me an alluring metaphysical sheen shining on and around all things and ideas of this nature, making Australia appear magical in a sense, imbued as it was, most especially through its original inhabitants, with profound elemental wisdom and deep-seated cosmic obeisance.  

Ha! I guess it’s not ALL about pop culture after all. Like Men at Work and vegemite sandwiches. (Almost forgot to throw that in).  I did glean a few real-life facts over the years. What, by the way, IS a vegemite sandwich? Without looking it up, I’m gonna guess it’s similar to Spam. What is Spam? you ask.  A precooked canned meat that they SAY is pork…but would you be willing to bet your life on that? I wouldn’t.

Note: The ‘Vegemite sandwich’ lyric comes in at the 1 minute 15 second mark.

Ultimately, I’ve decided that in my next life I wanna come back as a kangaroo. I can’t wait to be a joey, hanging out in Mom’s front pocket, warm and safe. Far away from the beach and all those swimming murder machines.

I’d be a millennial version of a Joey, though. I wouldn’t move out after a year or less—no way. I’d still be living there, nice and safe, in Mom’s pouch, until at least my late 20s. Possibly early 30s. ‘Cause kangaroos rock, and what epitomizes Australia more than a kangaroo? Nothing. Nothing epitomizes it more.

Well, except Dreamtime and digeridoos and the great sweeping expanses of the mysterious Outback. And, of course, another shrimp on the barbie. (I couldn’t resist) I shouldn’t say that, though, ‘cause I found out that Australians hate that expression and actually, shrimp are called prawns.

So scratch that last one. Just tuck me into Mom’s pouch and leave me be. What a great way to start life out. Apart from being invited to appear in the illustrious Scenic Writer’s Shack, I really can’t think of anything better.

A heart-stopping sign-off to savour if ever there was one! Thank you so much for penning your deliciously-worded thoughts Stacey. In gratitude I bestow upon you honorary Australian citizenship for the length of time this post features on Scenic Writer’s Shack. You deserve much more. And speaking of more, if you’d like to read more of Stacey’s writing you can HERE and HERE.

12 thoughts on “Aussie Character seen from afar

  1. Quality read on a Friday afternoon after work, especially when you’re learning things about the country you’ve lived in your entire life! Us Aussies have done alright!!

    In saying that, it’s on my bucket list to visit LA and NYC, which I see as almost must-see cities, along with Paris and London (and much more). While I’m waiting though, I guess pop culture will keep me entertained until I see the real deal.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That I think was precisely Stacey’s point; that in the absence of real-life travel experience, pop-culture can stand in as a partial-educator (be it laced with stereotypes however).
    Glad you enjoyed the read.

    Like

  3. This was a lot of fun to write, ’cause cliches abound with Australia, just like the ones for Los Angeles.
    Before my husband moved here with me (he’s from Brooklyn) he thought everyone was like Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and every waiter was an actor/screenwriter.
    Unfortunately, he was right.
    He hates it here and it’s his dearest wish to get out.
    But for those who want to visit, it’s probably a good time. Although get ready: Hollywood is pretty sleazy and will probably depress you.
    Glen, I loved all the accompanying visuals you added, especially the beautiful Dreamtime stuff!
    Hubby actually gave me a book of art called The Dreamtime Book by Aislie Roberts and Charles Mountford. Amazingly crazily beautiful work!
    Anyhoo, thanks for the invite!

    Liked by 2 people

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