We’re bloody average, but so are these foreign hot shots
Before our necks had even cooled, the latest foreign dignitaries to hit Australia have got us all hot under the collar again.
Our Mary and her husband Prince Fred conquered Canberra yesterday, just as the Ba-rockstar President of the United States did last week and the Her Maj less than a month before.
Australians swoon when foreign royalty or might-as-well-be-royalty hit our shores. And over the past couple of months we’ve been swooning like 12-year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert.
Royal magic has been on tap for everyone: a stiff wave from the Queen for the oldies, Obama- and Karadasha-rama for the youngsters, shots of Mary and Frederick’s latest bub in Woman’s Day for middle-aged ladies at the hairdresser.
Our foreign VIP-mania says a lot about us as a country. It’s not, as many would argue, that we feel our culture is inferior to the rest of the world. It’s that it seems like we get left out of the global conversation unless we’ve got a Big Name here.
There is another reason. In Australia, public figures must be average. They’ve got to talk like the average person. They’ve got to act like the average person. If not, they get derided as elites, as out of touch, as ‘not like us’, as un-Australian.
So what we have is a landscape of public figures who are wholly unimpressive in their dress, in their words and sadly all-too-often, in their deeds.
This of course creates something of a void. A void we fill with foreigners. This doesn’t just happen with distinguished visiting dignitaries like Obama, the Queen and the Empress of All Things Both Super and Duper, Oprah Winfrey.
It manifests itself in the music we buy, the films we see, the TV we watch and the phrases that eke their way into our language.
In the latest ARIA singles charts there are only 3 Australian songs in the top 50, I don’t think an Australian film has made it big since Crocodile Dundee and your average under 30 on the streets these days says “yo” instead of “hello”.
All of this brings me to why we have a little old lady who lives in a big English castle as our head of state.
We find it almost unthinkable to even contemplate that a single Australian could be above-average enough to sit at the world’s big kids table.
The irony is the Windsors, with all their foibles, are in many ways one of the most average families in Britain. Barack Obama for all his impressive bluster is just your average president. Oprah Winfrey has made a career out of being your average billionaire.
And what is Princess Mary if not your average Tassie chick who took few comportment lessons and struck it big at a Sydney pub during the 2000 Olympics?
The cultural cringe as we know it is over. We’re not throwing ourselves at demigods. In worshipping foreign “superstars”, we’re actually applauding those very average parts of ourselves that we value a lot.
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