Release the cultural handbrake

Release the cultural handbrake
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Looking at the paper, you’d think we were in crisis. Or two. Or three.

We’re currently dealing with a political crisis, an immigration crisis, a financial crisis. Seriously? The only true crisis I can see is our national identity crisis.

Our national identity has slipped from the grip of its citizens and into the hands of the media. Sure, the Aussie public were the ones who laid the foundations of a hardworking, sports-loving, beach-going nation of battlers (and then relaxed with a cold can of VB), but they’ve long since evolved.

Unfortunately, those of us in the media haven’t. And it’s enough to make a Jim Beam Racing Team fan spit out his Monster Energy in disgust.

We’ve perpetuated the myth of Australian stereotypes long beyond their expiry date. Portraying ourselves as ‘hardworking’ is a bit rich considering we barely lift a finger to update our crusty old national identity.

Are we really a nation of sports lovers? It’s debatable at best.

Around 50% of Australians are literally weighed down by their lack of enthusiasm for sport, and the other half that make it to a sporting fixture muster a mid-strength moan at most.

This summer, I heard 2,000 Sri Lankan cricket fans drown out 40,000 Aussies at the SCG. Surely a nation as obsessed with winning as Tom Waterhouse tells us we are wouldn’t let that happen.

And why is it that the world still sees us as Summer Bay beach dwellers? In this sun-kissed nation, sales of Vitamin D supplements have skyrocketed in the past 10 years as Aussies slip-slop-slap their way to a case of rickets.

Yet that image is one we continue to impress on anyone who’s listening (and there’s no protection against that).

It seems the only ones battling in Australia these days is us. Fighting desperately against the tide of truth, pushing ice-cold beer and mortgages whilst Australians nation-wide happily enjoy glasses of Sauv Blanc in their rented apartments.

Whether it’s fear, or laziness or indecision that’s stopping our industry from embracing something new, at the end of the day it’s up to us. We’re in a privileged position of power and influence; it’s our responsibility to help Australia forge a relevant national identity.

We live in a culturally rich, vibrant and diverse nation; let’s start portraying it that way.

Oh, and someone let Sam Kekovich know. 

Rich Brophy is a copywriter at Jack Watts Currie. This piece was originally published in the May 24 issue of B&T. 

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