Jeez I’ve been struggling with this. I think it’s fair to say that, according to lots of people, I live near a kind of Aussie bogan Pleasantville – let’s call it Boganville. That gives it a slightly hibiscus feel, without the civil unrest – well, not this week anyway.
Not this week, no-no-no, because every man and his bull terrier-staffy cross was so wrapped up in Australia Day flags, that they wouldn’t have been able to extricate themselves from their utes and hotted up V6s adorned with mini flagpoles fluttering stiffly – and very un-aerodynamically, which is a bit of a no-no, I would have thought – while parked in the shopping centre car park.
Anyway, there’s just something about this flag display that makes me feel uncomfortable. And I’m relieved I’m not the only one – visit Yakovich on YouTube for starters.
I even had to look at the definition of jingoism and jingoistic, because you tend to hear those words during news stories on Australia Day, and guess what – it’s exactly appropriate: “flag waving: an appeal intended to arouse patriotic emotions [linked with] chauvinism: fanatical patriotism.”
And that explains my discomfort. My bogan neighbours are flying their flags and wearing their flag singlets almost with an air of defiance: “I dare you to challenge my flag wearing/flying, and if you do, you’re obviously not an Aussie and you can fuck off back to where you came from.”
So perhaps, in a most unfortunate way, there is underlying racism in being a ‘proud Aussie.’ Oh dear.
The only person I let off the flag-flying hook is our neighbour down the road, who has one of those big front yard poles and, unsurprisingly, the Aussie flag has been flying high all week. But! He/she shows good humour with a variety of flags on offer: during the Olympics we enjoyed the Olympic rings, Aussie flag and even the Chinese flag! Then during the footy finals his team allegiance fluttered for all the world to see. But what really made me smile was coming home one day and seeing the skull and crossbones flapping cheekily in the sea breeze. Now that’s flag flying for fun.
But having said all this, I have a navy blue coffee mug which has the Southern Cross constellation on it. And looking at it this week made me think about whether this is jingoistic consumerism 🙂
But no, it’s not the flag and all its cultural signifiers that I identify with (including the Union Jack), but the patch of earth I live on in relation to the sky above, and how – as Australians – we can be anywhere in our country and see this reassuring celestial pattern. Having travelled in the northern hemisphere where it’s not visible, to see the Southern Cross means that I am home in this great southern land.
Wearing a bikini top with the cross on one side and the two pointers on the other doesn’t make me feel any more Australian – if anything, just a little unbalanced ….
ps if you flew a flag or wore the singlet this year without any fanatical patriotism attached, good for you; I hope you had a wonderful Australia Day.
pps because I don’t want to offend anyone (I’m such an ESFJ), if you’re over 60 and reading this, and fly your flag proudly because of what it represents to you and those who have represented our country in any manner of overseas endeavour, well good for you too.