January 27, 2004 | Peter

Australia Day and Hookesy

I live near the Swan River where each Australia Day there is a ‘sky-show’ of fireworks at night. It is mostly an advertising stunt by various Perth media, but it regularly attracts some 300,000 plus people on the night. Nothing else approaches this kind of crowd in Perth.
I missed the show as usual, so I strolled down to the riverside to check out the aftermath. It looked just like a battlefield with mounds of detritus, a carpet of glittering glass shards and plenty of bloodstains, but no actual bodies, and this is after the initial clean up. Rubbish litters the river and branches were torn from trees and bushes.
Apparently there was a near riot, with the media claiming about a thousand people involved and many injuries including cops. The cops claimed they were going to crack down on the public drinking that characterises the night. Yeah, right.
So what does this display of popular participation tell us about Australia and Australians?
Well, we like to be entertained – no way else you’ll get all these people to turn up – and preferably for free. We don’t give a toss about the environment. And we are a bunch of junk food scoffing drunks who don’t mind a bit of biffo.
It isn’t quite that bad, but surveying the truly impressive amount of junk – including lounge suites and various other large items of furniture – and blood left behind, you’d never guess it.
Oh, and everything not moving was plastered with stickers by the local right-wing nationalist bunch trying to make a comeback. We’ll see if the council prosecutes them for littering. I will say that their posters are the least aesthetic I’ve seen in ages. No colours, no eye-catching logo, dull slogans – these guys need serious help from an advertising agency.
Speaking of Oz Day and out dubious self-perception, I think this is why David Hookes’ death caused so much consternation. Hookesy was how Australians like to think we are – blokey, bit of a larrikin, easy-going, risk-taking but also really talented. The fact that we are more and more nothing like this is why we feel his going so much.
It’d be nice to think his stupid death will generate a debate about the strong violence of Australian male culture, let alone the inherently violent character of the burgeoning ‘security’ business. Hookesy played cricket like it was a game, fun, and it would be good to see this spirit re-enter the increasingly business-like character of sport. And violence, especially when people train to perfect their skills at it, has minimal place on the field and none off.

Posted by Peter at 8:23 pm | Comments Off on Australia Day and Hookesy |
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