Thanks for a long and interesting response. I should say that I was feeling a tad grumpy when I posted those two trashings of my birthplace, and while I do believe in what I said, you are right that it is ungracious to say all this stuff, and of course there is much to like about Sydney. There are far worse places to live and the plus points - climate, natural beauty, food, laid-back attitude - are hard to beat. After my twin outbursts above, it may not make any sense (even to me) but I do feel loyalty to the place; I was on tour (in the UK) with a band when the Bali bomb happened and there was a big fuck off Aussie flag (mine) on stage behind the keyboard rig every night for the whole week (from the night of the bomb til the memorial service the following Sunday) and the gesture was heartfelt.
So, just cutting and pasting some random stuff from your reply:
The ABC and SBS: absolutely. They would be the pride of broadcast media in any country. I don't think there is anywhere else that has a national terrestrial TV
network that is almost exclusively foreign-language. You got me there. On the other hand: "Australians have just as much access to international news and left-wing media as any other person in the western world." Not in print, matey. Look at The Australian, surely the most vile mainstream publication in the English language. Fine if it was a fringe title but it's the only national broadsheet. I may come back to The Australian, some of their headlines (I hinted at this before) make me break out in a rash.
"So if some people want to pronounce Buenos Aires differently to other Australians, it should have no impact on the 'livability' of the city of Sydney." Yeah sure, but I'm talking about TV
newspeople, commentators, they should know better. It does have an impact on the livability of the city if you roll your eyes in horror at the lack of intelligence on the TV
news every night (Americans who get Fox News will know what I mean) - the TV
should know better than you, you watch it to be informed, not to fight the urge to throw your shoes at the screen.
"12 year old girls usually like bubble gum pop no matter what country they live in (yes, even yours)." Too right mate, and this is true especially
of the UK - everywhere else, it's called Australian Idol, American Idol etc. In the UK it's just Pop Idol, the Ph7, the GROUND ZERO of truly awful music.
, enough cutting and pasting. Briefly on The Australian (paper) before I have a random ramble. This kind of sums up why the Aussie media is so bad, and so representative of a greater malaise (lack of debate, information). In August 03, when I was there, there was a Palestinian attack of some sort in Israel, the usual affair, the Israeli dead numbered somewhere between 3 and 15 (probably all civilians) including the Palestinian bomber. A few days later, Israel sent tanks and god knows what else into a Palestinian village and blew up houses, killed about 30 people, all civilians - the usual disproportionate response. The headline (top of front page) covering the Israeli reprisal was, "Wounded Israel takes its revenge." That headline was a really despicable example of partisan journalism (as was the article) for reasons that should be obvious, regardless of any personal feelings about the conflict. The Australian is, as mentioned earlier, the country's only broadsheet and portrays itself as (a) upmarket and (b) a kind of "all things to all men" vibe a la USAToday. There is a responsibility to remain neutral on issues, and to inform, not wear an extreme political philosophy on it's sleeve and (in this case) sanction Israeli tank attacks on refugee camps. The likes of the Telegraph and The Mail in the UK are right wing papers and may hold pro America, pro Israel views every bit as strongly as The Australian but they couldn't ever get away with a headline like that in a billion years. It wasn't the sentiment, I need look no further than non-av right here on a.net for that, for a respectable newspaper to be so blatant
about it! It reflected worse on the readership than the paper itself, that they would willingly swallow such a bias without comment made me wonder what the readership don't know about the rest of the world. If there was a left wing (and I'm not talking about the Socialist Worker, I mean the Guardian) equivalent, the reportage would be a huge amount more honest. (Damn, finally given the chance to let rip on The Australian and I'm struggling. Let's move on.)
What winds me up about Australia is two things: the first is that there is no nation on the planet that will so cheerfully surrender it's national interest. This is the IRAQ bit of the debate (but goes back to Vietnam and even WW1) - of all the countries to participate in the attack, Australia? Speaking of headlines, last Christmas there was a full page headline (I mean, the whole page was just the following words): AUSTRALIAN WAY OF
LIFE CHANGED (or was it GONE) FOREVER. Further reading showed that a poll had come up with the result that the majority of people asked were of the opinion that the threat of terrorism (as a result of the attack on Iraq) meant the old days were gone. And this is true - I never thought I'd live to see rubbish bins removed from Wynyard station because of terrorism. London in the 80s, with N Ireland on the doorstep, perhaps. But Wynyard Station? Whaaaat? Just for the chance to participate in the mass killing of 100,000 (and counting) innocent people thousands of miles away?
The other is that the Cultural Cringe is indeed alive and thriving - the whole society is a copy of America (and some elements of Europe), and the country seems to measure itself by the comparison to others, to the point that certain social ills that have no local motivation seem to be springing up - well, they have gangs in LA
, right? I know this will sound truly psychotic but now that Johnny has chucked Australia's national interest to the wind in the name of America The Beautiful, with the terror warnings etc, I almost sense in some Aussies a degree of pride, that Australia is finally important enough to be on terrorists' radar. Hmm, it looks even worse in print than I thought it would. I can't put into words, but the whole place feels like a copy of something that is happening elsewhere for real. That The Matrix was filmed in Sydney is a truly delicious irony.
I think that may be the core of the problem for me - Australia is a lovely place where nothing bad happens, and nothing original ever happens ever (music etc), people are born, get a good education, the jobs they want, they marry, reproduce, retire, die. The lack of challenge or struggle makes it all so damn boring. How can you learn ANYTHING about the human condition if you never have to face a challenge beyond, "I want that car / girl / house / promotion?" But why should that be bad? Isn't that what we've all been striving for everywhere else for the last few millenia? Indeed it is. I'm not one of those idiots who thinks war / the ghetto / suffering is romantic, but I'm beginning to think people are at their best when confronted with hardship of some sort, I know from my own life that the best lessons and the real character-building has all sprung from the most horrific times, I don't think I've ever learned anything important when I've been happy. I think that's it: I have seen the future in suburban Australia and it's a really long life of mindless friction-free consumption of corporate shit (food, TV
, financial services) that teaches us nothing about life and humanity. Like I said at the end of the first post: it's so fucking pointless
. My problem isn't Sydney, it's that human suffering is bad, and the result of removing almost all of it is even worse
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz