Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bring Back Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Hogan

On the Gruen Transfer (an Australian TV show dedicated to television advertising) last night the panel bemoaned the fact that Australian tourism would never come up with another ad as successful as the ones featuring Paul Hogan in the early eighties. They were described as having a charm and a lack of self-consciousness that we could never manage nowadays.

The blokey, sexist, knockabout "charm" was enough to give most of us a cultural cringe, but what the panel didn’t go on to talk about (and fair enough, because it was a programme about advertising, not society) was that the Australia of Paul Hogan has largely disappeared. Not long after those commercials were made Australians finally caved in to global pressure to accept that being wealthy was more fun than being happy. Since then we have become just another western capitalist state, albeit with earth a shade redder than parts of the US, and some interesting marsupials. With the recent Wall Street inspired financial meltdown we’ve seen precious little of the “no worries mate” attitude that Australia traded on during those halcyon Hogan days, and plenty of worried wannabes eyeing their stock portfolios and BMW repayment schedules with dismay. Plenty worries… and they’re no longer your mate unless you’re a potential customer.

But let’s not despair, for despair is the weapon of the state and the lifeblood of the media. There are still pockets of resistance to the idea that wealth and happiness are the same thing, and these pockets are getting fuller. One day they will burst open and the social experiment that was Global Capitalism will join its nerdy older brother Communism on history’s scrap heap. When enough of us decide that we’d prefer to be governed by accountable, democratically elected representatives that have our interests at heart rather than the apparatchiks of free market dogma, then things will change, just as they changed in the Soviet Union.

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