The stereotype: Crocodile hunters and their sheilas mix it up on beautiful beaches, the Great Barrier Reef and the outback.
– How they want to be perceived: Responsible, competent, global.
– Actual perception: Australia is famous for its sports, food, friendly nature and as a backdrop in pop videos.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald the description above is the way Australians are perceived, the way they actually are and eh sterotype that surrounds them. This article written in 2006 was in response to Tourism Australia’s “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign. It is quite a lengthy article which touches on the issues of identity and really provides insight into the question
“How do Australians see themselves, and how are Australians seen in the world?”
The article outlined the lucky stage that Australians have found themselves on. Australia has a well known brand and perception of sea, sun and sand. Although the country has many more layers to it this is a perception which is quite positive. The Australia that is represented in the clip is very cliché stereotypical. This stereotype is not bad and that is why it is played on in the film. Australia in the campaign is presented more humanly with people, pubs, iconic places, beer, parties, the beach and animals. This is a perception of Australia which was defined in the article and hence the clip itself.
The article interviews people who are visiting or have visited Australia and asks them of their initial thoughts about Australia would be and how it had changed. One respondent said “Skippy, Home and Away, Neighbours and Crocodile Dundee.” The use of popular culture to identify one country is seen here, the associations carried in popular culture and the exaggeration of certain stereotypes can influence the way others identify a country and how individuals identity themselves. The use of profane language like “bloody” and “hell” although disgusted and disappointed others it got the world talking and that was what the clip was made for. Talking about language and slang the distinct use of these words resonate with Australians as it is something which is commonly heard and used. It is a reflection of Australia and the Australian people and that is something which is touched on in the article.
The fact that majority of the people portrayed in the campaign featured were Anglo-Saxon Australians the perception of multiculturalism which is a big part of Australian Identity was not presented. This concept of a white Australia is further fuelled as the only other people presented in the clip were Indigenous Australians. Even then those Australians are portrayed in their stereotypes, I’m sure that Indigenous Australians do more than tribal dances, they have careers and hobbies that stray away from what is depicted. This concept of stereotypes is a main focal point of the article criticising it on not portraying the real Australia.
Another stereotype of Australia having dangerous animals is discussed when one the characters says “we’ve even got the sharks out of the pool.” The article literally talks about Tourism Australia playing on stereotypes to frame Australia in a certain light even if that excludes the true nature of the country. The ad plays on what people believe rather than what is the actual truth and that is where the backlash begins. The article defines Australia as what is not seen in the clip and although it doesn’t question the authenticity of what is portrayed says that there is so much more to Australia then meets the eye.
Overall I think the article helped me answer the question “How do Australians see themselves, and how are Australians seen in the world?” In particular how we are seen in the world (which is what I discussed above). On another level it answered the question the first part of the question and that is that Australia as a 3 dimensional place in terms of country but character of the individual. It also portrayed Australia as a friendly and open country that has a lot to offer in terms of people and experiences. It gave the impression that Australia has a very positive stereotype reinforced in people’s minds and a place which is safe and a place which lives up to expectations.