I want to leave Australia for the next few weeks and come back around the end of February.
By then I shouldn’t see as many plastic Australian ‘flags’ fluttering stiffly from the sides of cars, or the Union Jack emblazened unevenly from items of clothings barely covering ample tanned and tattooed flesh at my local shopping centre.
It’s occurred to me that, for the first time, I’m dreading Australia Day. And that’s pretty sad. Although I was already concerned about jingoism two years ago, I’m even more disappointed now because the ‘sign’ of the Southern Cross has been appropriated into the bogan Aussie imagery and changed it forever. This is what I wrote in 2009:
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 ….
I bought that cup in 2007, but in the ensuing four years the cultural shift on the Southern Cross image means there’s no way I could wear or display it now without it signifying an element of the current “Fuck off we’re full” attitude. How has that happened – and, what’s next? What’s left? There’s not much to play with around the green and gold, and I suspect that the flag/southern cross shenanigans are more accessible as ‘traditional’ Australian images to latch on to for those who are doing the latching.
I’ll be watching, unfortunately, over the next few weeks to see what trends emerge.