“Yes I come from the land down under. No, I do not ride kangaroos to school, no I do not greet everybody with G’day, nor do I say strewth, and there is no such things as ‘drop bears’ as koalas are not bears and they do not ‘drop’. Oh and that thing that you are trying to pat is a Goanna and they are feisty so step away.” This was the conversation that I had with an American tourist who proclaimed to have watched every “Dinky di Owwzee (Aussie) film” – namely A Cry in the Dark
Internationally, there are many films and television shows that like to squeeze in every Australian stereotype including heavy drawl that is a ridiculously fake Australian accent. So it is frankly disappointing when we have to witness the same stereotyping in our own films and shows which is best known as “cultural cringing” (Triple J, 2009).
So could this be why our film industry is lacking Australian audiences? In some part yes, Australians are sick of being constantly portrayed as “convicts – delinquents, struggling outsiders … trapped in a harsh environment they barely understand” (Vidler, 2005) whereas Americans in their films are portrayed as, “an individual with strong character can undertake a daunting task, overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and become a great success” (Vidler 2005).
But as discussed over in this post, the number of moviegoers are rapidly diminishing worldwide. But Australia seems to be hit the hardest with statistics exemplifying that, Australian films made $38.5 million at the box office, which is an overall share of 3.5 per. Compare this to the figures in 1986 where Australian films made 44.4 million which equated to 23.5 per cent share.
“With a few exceptions – a Sapphires here, a Red Dog there – local features have been dead meat at the box office for at least five years” (Barber 2013) but feeble cinema turnouts do not necessarily mean Australians do not want Australian-made stories. Barber (2013) explains that the success of quality Australian television shows – such as Offspring, The Slap, Please Like Me and Underbelly – shows that audiences are keen for more.
So may be this is the answer to the film industry’s woes – find a happy medium, something that showcases Australia beautifully but is not so stereotypically draining.
Barber, 2013, ‘Better to fund high-end global TV than back Australian films’, The Guardian, viewed 27 September, http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/oct/11/australian-film-funding-failure-tv
Vidler, 2005, ‘Hating Aussie film?’, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 27 September,http://www.smh.com.au/news/The-Tribal-Mind/Hating-Aussie-film/2005/04/11/1113071903327.html