mercoledì, gennaio 04, 2012

Cultural defensiveness

I was doing well here, after how awfully shitty India is threw my Western comforts into stark relief, but then we went to fucking Shepparton. I can't tell you how much I hate that town. It could be worse, I guess, because it's quite cosmopolitan and you can get a decent Indian or Thai feed there. But in a certain sense that makes it worse because all of the ethnic types give the older Australian population an opportunity to show what racist cunts they are.

Sometimes I feel like I've never been in a country - and this includes the European countries where I've lived - that was so defensive about the preservation of its culture in the face of immigration. Sometimes I think I'm a retard for feeling that way, since foreigners are such a huge political football in Europe, helping propel tonnes of far-right parties into power or at least into higher shares of seats.

But thinking about it more carefully, I think I'm actually right. Politically speaking the Australian parties putatively of left and right have both entered rabidly into anti-immigration dialogues, even as both quietly continue to allow mass immigration movements in law for those foriegners privileged and educated enough to qualify for visas, since this place is so strapped for labour and skills.

But you should see the fucking fuss over the boat people here, for example. You have the same quantity trying to get into Australia in a YEAR that goes to Italy in a NIGHT, and yet here it's this fucking political catastrophe that was resulted in all sorts of disgusting, inhuman measures like outsourcing refugees to Malaysia, which hasn't signed on to the refugee convention, and tragedies when these boats sink in the middle of nowhere and dozens of people die. And even with all the deaths, there is such a high proportion of people here, very ably represented by all the major political parties, bar the Greens, who are incapable of seeing refugees as actual refugees, and seeing the problem as something with a humanitarian dimension - they're all set on moving here and making us where burqas for the fun of it, I suppose. If you contrast this with the standard European dialogue on refugee processing, not only is the number of refugees causing the handwringing there exponentially higher, but commentators still worry about issues, like, oh, the FUCKING INCARCERATION OF CHILDREN.

Anyhoo. Possibly the general Anglo-Australian culturally defensive dislike of immigrants looms as disproportionately disgusting in my mind because I feel that generally European countries have some sort of culture to defend. I don't think Australians have a culture to defend. Not anymore. They might have once. But now the cultural references are so strongly American - even more strongly than they are in Canada. People dream of taking a roadtrip down Route 66, and they're apeshit for American cars, and the bad boys copy the biker lifestyle as faithfully as they know how . . . One of the games of "Actual Physical Brain Problem or Australian?" I played lately was on the train from fuckin' Shepparton to Melbourne, where the woman sitting next to me audibly spent 15 minutes wracking her brain, trying to remember a quote from Abraham Lincoln that she had stuck to her fridge at home.

They go in droves to the States for holidays, I guess partly because it's cheap, but the comments I keep hearing from them is that as soon as Americans figure out they're Australian, they just go crazy with hospitality. It is beyond them to understand, I suppose, that Americans have an actual culture of hospitality, and tend to be really nice to everyone, because mentally Australians seem to be 90% of the way to being Americans themselves (Islanders call them Pacific Americans because of a perceived shared arrogance), and yet they do NOT have a culture of hospitality. They don't have a fucking culture. It's a fucking vacuum that they're trying to defend from all the immigrants. Still, I suppose in its own way, that's worth defending; nature doesn't produce a perfect vacuum every day.

BTW, a fuckton of young Australians go to Whistler. The odds are good that when I'm talking to an older Australian and they find out I'm Canadian, they'll tell me their son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew has been or is there. At that point I make every effort to look mildly charmed, as one does when one's country is flattered by the presence of someone from another country, and I neglect to mention how much everyone in BC hates young Australians because of their disgusting drunken incontinence and tendency to trash everything, including apartments, they lay their fucking overentitled hands on. I also don't tell them that their incontinence is so epic that herpes is now known across the Rockies as "The Australian Cold".

Fucking immigrants.

4 commenti:

e.f. bartlam ha detto...

You are killin' me the last couple of days.

In regards to cultural defensiveness....I'd just like to point out that only real Culture to be found in the u.s. Is in The South.


Dread Pirate Jessica ha detto...

Oh, there are little islands, right? I mean New York produced cantaloupe halves with cottage cheese; that's not the product of a cultural vacuum, surely. Australians will brag about pavlova and it is fucking good, but it's just an Eton Mess with a few more kinds of fruit in it.

e.f. bartlam ha detto...

It's hard to argue with cottage cheese.

Alright then...I'm willing to grant pockets of culture but, draw the line at a Culture.

Dread Pirate Jessica ha detto...

I'll take your word for it, since cumulatively I've spent no more than a month or so in the States, including shopping trips. But my guess is also that if you spent a little time in Australia the northerners might start looking positively folksy by comparison.