I’ve long had a reaction to the claims by your typical racist chap that harps on about how black people look like apes.
The problem is that some black people do look like monkeys and apes, but this is in the same sense as the fact that there are people from all races who look like the FA Cup owing to a prominence of ear in the East and West of their head.
And in another similar sense, you then have those white people that look like chimpanzees; like my Northern Irish American-Film Lecturer: Ken Somethingsomething.
All in all, people look like things; it’s a human tradition.
Some look like dolphins, some look like insects; ultimately the fact that you look like our closest relatives throughout the Animal Kingdom (fellow humans aside) is probably a good thing.
This is just a thought I’ve had throughout the years, since meeting Ken.
And it’s not as though Ken wasn’t a handsome chap.
He had a desk-bound ruggedness, a man filled with poetical passion that let itself loose as he lectured the sweet-protestant-Jesus out of me and gave some rather fabulous ticks as he marked.
He was a ultimately an attractive man, if attractive men are you’re thing, and it was just the sheer shape of his face and the recession of his hair into full-blown male pattern baldness that made him appear more monkey-like than your average American-Film lecturer.
Also, for the record, male pattern baldness (MPB) is not a cause for unattractiveness.
Since we’re talking about it, yes, I do have an example.
Hunter S Thompson.
Thompson is an icon, a man who has transcended the mortal world and become a literal folk-legend; one of those historic men of whom there are countless anecdotes of his presence at scenes and his actions that caused scenes.
His works inspired generations, with 40 crucial years of extraordinary output that forged a new genre of literary journalism, and this is his writing alone. His attitude, the demeanour with which he strode the Earth is legendary.
He is amongst those men, such as his hero Hemingway, who made writing one of those very masculine occupations – not a world in which women were not equally capable – but one in which miners and welders and other such grizzled and anti-intellectual stereotypes wouldn’t be able to call them pussies.
Because Hunter S Thompson was not a pussy.
His into-the-fray technique of gonzo journalism evokes those terms that just feel masculine in this context. Much like my favourite Monty Python sketch in which good ‘woody’ words are discussed (not ‘tinny’ – “sorry old horse”).
Novelist (bit tinny…).
And Hunter changed the world from behind a type-writer and a cattle-prod, dousing the reader in the glory of the righteous crime of ‘not-giving-a-fuck-with-intent’ and wearing long white socks and with male pattern baldness.
And the male pattern baldness is only relevant here by its irrelevance.
Thompson changed the world, and my life, with utter and total freedom and male pattern baldness, and all whilst looking slightly like an aging chimpanzee.
And what I also adore is the fact that he took the helm of his head; echoing the essence of him being Master of his Fate and the Captain of his Soul by shaving his scalp and changing the world.
But still, I catch my Dad eyeing me fondly from the eyebrows-up, missing my hair that was his.
But to his fortune, he doesn’t look like a monkey. Or an ape.
They’re different, you know.
To begin with, you can call Australia: ‘Oz’ (not that you needed my permission). It seems to mean a lot over there, and reading further will divulge reasons why.
In Australia there’s not much to do but be very alone in Asia, pretending that you are a continent nearer to Europe that it actually is. And since it isn’t, you have to insist that you are Australian at every turn.
I can only imagine that it is very lonely being so far from the rest of the white people, and so acting as though you are a people unto your own is possibly simply a means of coping.
Or maybe it’s the heat.
Either way- referring to this place as ‘Oz’ is smiled upon by the more-recent of the local population.
In ‘Oz’ you also have the option of insisting.
Insisting on history and insisting on identity. In my opinion, although this might seem absurd to some, in life you need more than Steve Irwin to know yourself and get ahead.
The man is idolised. His figurine is adorned in gold and made for taking the pride of place upon the mantle-piece of all those that visit the continent, because…why wouldn’t you want to have a golden Steve Irwin on your mantle-piece? I do believe that was his true message: ‘buy me’.
I feel that the people of ‘Oz’ want to be associated with the man in the same way that most British people don’t want to be associated with the Queen- in case Americans ask if you know her.
However, there’s not a lot of Australians, so in his time, you probably did know him fairly well.
Australians know how to accept company. They are a nation built for two things: tourism and trying to find the other thing. When they’ve found it, you can be sure that you’ll be able to purchase a tea-towel that sums them up perfectly.
Australia also has Aboriginal people and, as a people, those Aboriginals really could not be more fucked. Even more fucked than Native Americans, which must really sting after a while.
In terms of a national outlook they really aren’t fitting into the traditional and successful European franchise. For example, just take the previous sentence- “in terms of a national outlook”- Aboriginal ‘Ozzies’ were never a nation- they were a bunch of people that came from a place, having no idea that there were other blokes at either end of where they came from.
Poor buggers. They just don’t fit there anymore, and regrettably, they have to, and…currently…they never will.
This is extremely similar to the First Nation people of the US- everyone but them assumes that they aren’t around anymore.
So here’s an evil truth- the Aboriginal should be dead for the ease of the actual Australian people (Aboriginals are NOT Australian in the same way that the French are not German- they are simply near one another).
The injustice should have finished by now, the lingering of the race is against the benefit of the Australian progression and that progression is to sell, sell, sell the national identity. It would be much easier to sell some of that identity if the Aboriginals were all gone so that (1.) they could indulge much more heavily in the bullshit that equates to a paying audience and (2.) people wouldn’t see how poorly the Native people are currently handling themselves.
This is common knowledge- if the native people weren’t around- it would be much easier to get along with them. Aside from what is listed above, you have to consider that if the True Locals were already dead and gone, the white people wouldn’t feel so guilty, and they could make up some mysterious shit about who they were and how their souls are still ‘blood in the land’, ‘voices on the wind’ or ‘semen in the billabong’. You can make what you want of the dead. They’re dead- fighting back is a little beyond them.
As for the actual Aboriginal folks, I think they may be even a little more doomed than they were prior to the recognition of their ‘cultural contribution’. Before the assimilation of their art and history in the European selling machine- they were seen as a sub-race requiring decimation on the grounds of there not being enough room…in Australia. Following this process, the True Locals are now seen as a people…well…not quite a people- more of a ‘cultural aspect’ that offers the chance to demonstrate aspects of modernity, such as political correctness, and flogging didgeridoos.
Ultimately, the Aboriginal Natives of this continent are a property of the Australian nation. Not slaves, but their image is owned as much, and used in the Australian identity to suggest that there is more to it than is really there. Aboriginals are their own, and are much left to their own historically crippled devises, whilst their history and culture are assimilated into the Australian output that can be snuggly fitted onto that afore-mentioned tea-towel.
The insects are also really something else on that continent.
They regard you.
When I was out walking one day, a bug paused to let me pass before it went off on its way. I’m not saying that this beetle-like little boulder of a bug was being polite, but it had the worldly know-how keeping out of the way of the bigger guy.
Not that it would have been squished if I’d have trodden on it. It would probably have made a rude gesture and walked away from me, swaggering as it actually seemed to. That’s the kind of intelligence that comes with size, normally because the brain just follows along in the fashion of the rest of the body. This is in the same way that elephants and dolphins are witty- owing mostly to the rest of them being fairly large.
Humans, however, are ahead of the fashion curve in terms of brain size- clever enough to presume a beetle might have good manners.
It is undeniably odd that to reach this country, you have to cross many social, cultural, political, religious, geographical and actual borders- the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
It is strange to pass through a country that forbids music and dancing, to then arrive in a nation extremely similar to your own, just…as it is…on the ‘other side’.
I think that the problem might be that Australia doesn’t contain enough Australians. Perhaps if there were more people, and perhaps if there was therefore more history- there might be a little more of everything that I’m looking for here: The Confidence of Culture. The balls of history being in your favour and fearing no future that could be worse than the worst that most societies have already suffered.
Australia has strived through colonisation, exploration, immigration, racial injustice, ethnic cleansing, two world wars, yet throughout all this the overwhelming suggestion from the national Australian demeanour is the insistence on their being something in the culture worth your time and money of visiting and, once again, that bloody tea-towel. As opposed to their being able to relax to the degree of self-assuredness that comes with having a hell of a past that has a ‘you’ve probably heard of me’ attitude (e.g. the entirety of Europe), Australia has an attitude of swelling itself up to appear storied and historical, therefore bringing about a means by which actual stories and history do not happen.
Aside from this one.
Imagine if there’d never been Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee movies.
Maybe you’d be thinking that Australia was that country near where ‘Lord Of The Rings’ was filmed.
So, I guess entirely, what I’m saying is…watch out ‘Oz’…New Zealand is coming.
But, if I were to permit this nation of good, bright and adventurous people one reason as to why this is how they are, it would be TIME. Or rather the lack of it.
TIME is the thing that made Britain a little country that was known simply for being a place that Julius Caesar wanted to have for himself.
So, after only a few hundred years of colonised history, when ‘Oz’ has a couple hundred more- it will be a place that no longer feels such a desperate need to ask you to visit.
I truly hope that one day I shall hear a recent-local of Australia utter the words: “Yeah it’s a kangaroo. So fucking what?!”
P.S. You are a beautiful country, filled with fun, clever, hard-working and exciting people. Keep it up and you’ll rule your world, like the Aboriginals one did.