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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Aussie Bashing

By A.J. Llewellyn

It ain't easy being an ex-patriate Australian. In 1988 when I went to the Department of Immigration to complete the last stage of my Green Card application, the guy behind the desk thought he was being hilarious by asking me how I planned to celebrate actually getting the cherished, hard-won card.
"I suppose you'll throw a shrimp on the barbie, right, mate?"
Considering this man held my entire future in his hands, I pasted a smile on my face and laughed. I should have won a bloody Oscar as well as my green card because I acted a) as if I'd never heard this joke before and b) bit down on the urge to scream that we don't call them shrimp in Australia. We call them prawns.
By and large, being Australian has helped me in the US, I will admit. People ask me where my cute accent is from and they always ask me questions, such as what language do we speak [English] but the misconceptions are still there.
And from what I saw last night, likely to remain indefinitely.
I watched the Nia Vardalos comedy "My Life in Ruins" and cringed at the stereotypical portrayal of an Aussie couple traveling through Greece.
They swilled Fosters beer night and day in the movie. I'd like to know where and how they managed to get all this beer since it's not actually available in Greece.
I've always managed to shock new friends by NOT ordering beer for breakfast. Visitors are stunned when they open my fridge and don't find crates of Fosters...or empties in the bathroom. Surely I bathe in the stuff, right?
As I sipped my late night tea, I silently seethed as I watched "My Life in Ruins" but I'll admit, Americans, British and Canadians all got jabbed too, but at least none of them were portrayed as mindless drunks.
I'd also like to know why REAL Australian actors couldn't have been found to play these doped dingbats, but that's by the by...I'd also like to know where the screenwriters came up with their Aussie slang. I'd never heard ANY of the expressions used in this movie.
Aussie bashing is sort of fun for Aussies themselves, but just once I'd like people NOT to act surprised when I tell them Australia isn't just one gigantic beach with a bit of desert in the middle.
I've had people refute my claims of Australia's great snow skiing - FACT - and also that our criminal past as a penile colony is over 200 years ago - FACT - and that we have four seasons too - FACT.
I love my origins, I really do. I have to say though that in spite of the fact many of us do enjoy a beer, some of us, ahem, prefer a Mai Tai.
What about you? What misconceptions about your own country or culture bother you the most?

Crikey Mate!



Ruth said...

Ah, Darlin, I grew up in the mountains in the midst of what people refer to as "Hillbilly Territory"..... you think Aussie bashing is bad,look up the myths surrounding hillbillies and you'll find that we were one of the first "trashed" (other than Native Americans)factions in this country. I am sick to death of hearing how those people were dirty, inbred, retarded individuals who couldn't possibly have the mentality to do anything other than scrabble in the dirt.

The movies often portrayed them as incredibly stupid, yet there were some heroic people who came "outa them thar hills". Simply because they were a soft-spoken reclusive people who were wary of allowing strangers in their midst, it didn't make them the stupid, sorry individuals portrayed. If you want to see just how inventive these people truly could be, search out the Foxfire series of books written by the high school students of the area (Rabun Gap, Rabun County, Georgia).

Yes there was moonshining (I grew up next door to one who tells how to make the best in those books),but they also started the racing industry and could survive when others went hungry and had no idea how to do so.

CynStorm said...

My dear AJ, I was so happy to know the truth behind some of the Aussie myths! I love Australia and would love to live there during winter here (Canada). It would be the perfect arrangement I beleive :-) As far as myths, Canadians get our share, being French Canadian, I feel I get a little more. Like that I don't really speak French because I don't have an accent. Maybe because I learned to speak English at an early age so I could function in a predominatly english society. When I speak French, I don't have an english accent, but a Qu├ębec accent and that's a whole new set of stereotypes. :-) The term "frog" gets on my nerves, but I suppose I could be called worse. :-) Both my children speak French and English, but go to French school. You are right though, we make fun of ourselves, yet don't like it when others do it. Loved this post!

Your Cobber,


sherry said...

I'm from Kentucky and I can remember from when I was younger and watching soaps (Ryan's Hope) that all women from Kentucky wanted to be was bare foot and pregnant this is so not true. Also that we're pretty much inbreed ignorant hicks. I guess no matter where your from there's always going to be someone who will have something nasty to say about you or some put down or joke.

AJ Llewellyn said...

Ruth, I know what you mean regarding hillbillies...and yup,. I think you have it worse than Aussies!
Cyn, Aussie men would love you!
I can't believe you know the word cobber!!! ROFL!
Sherry...I think Kentucky and Australia get pretty much the same ignorant jibes...
thanks for the comments everyone!

Tamsyn said...

I think there are always misconceptions about other countries. Because of the "anime/manga" culture in Japan, many people think that ALL Japanese knows about the titles/characters of the popular anime/manga!

Lynn Crain said...

Well, being from the Las Vegas area as well as being born in southern Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, I can certainly relate to this blog. And say, Arghhh!

I'll ever forget the plane ride coming home where a woman looked at me astonished when we were talking about going to church. She looked at me and said with a very surprised tone in her voice, "You mean they have churches and schools in Las Vegas?" I looked back and answered, deadpan, "And houses and parks, believe it or not."

Now, the hillbilly thing is something I poke fun at quite a bit myself mainly because while I'm relate to those people there is no way I think like them. I used to tell everyone, "You want to see some of my relatives, watch Earl."

Don't get me wrong as some of my relatives are great people, some of them aren't. I think they must have a cog loose or be very inbred which has been found to be part of the problem in some parts.

Still, I have to sympathize with your whole scenario...I mean...after all, we're all showgirls in Las Vegas, right? LOL!


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