Monday, June 26, 2000
I had to write an essay for my sister for her Film Studies class (I'm too nice, too smart, and too patient in waiting for my fifty dollars). It was about the Australian film The Castle, exploring why, despite the film's success in Australia and the creators' attempts to make it more US-friendly by replacing Australian cultural references with American ones, it still flopped over there. Here's one thing that occured to me pretty quickly:

"To Australians it might seem bizarre that American audiences would even require "cultural transfers". After all, Australians have been consuming unadulterated American material for decades. However, precisely because of our unlimited exposure to American culture, Australian audiences are better equipped to deal with unknown cultural references and themes in American films, to absorb them and to adapt to them. In much the same way that Australians accept new technology much faster than most other members of the West, we are more open to sudden influxes of new ideas about art, fashion, language and culture from foreign sources.

The conventions which govern American cinema, whether it is the burnished hero in an action film or the drawn-out relationship of two photogenic New Yorkers in a romance, have become the unrealistic and yet utterly prevalent stereotypes for human behavior in Australian culture. While we do not necessarily apply these idealized American codes of behavior to our own lives, we unconsciously place them on pedestals and refer to them as if they were in fact real. This tolerance has however developed through necessity (a lack of, or perhaps at some stage inferiority of, Australian cultural content to substitute) and for Americans, so used to being the cultural trendsetters, a wall of insularity still exists between themselves and outsiders. Since they have never needed to repeatedly interpret the codes of another culture on their screens, they can’t do so as naturally or unconsciously as Australians can."

This is not to bemoan the absolute dominance of American culture within Australian society. As I've said before, I don't have a problem with it. My thoughts tend to run the other way: it makes me proud that Australian society (or at least metropolitan Australian society) is so flexible, so willing to learn from outsiders, and yet can still come up with a film like "The Castle", which is ineffably, definitely Australian. This sort of cultural dualism is a good thing in my opinion; it allows us as a culture to be more open-minded and diverse, and it challenges us to question our concept of Australia. Watching "The Castle" and, um, "Terminator 2" or "You've Got Mail" back to back invites a dialogue, an acknowledgement of the differences and similarities. What could one culture learn from another?

Once you realise that cultural dualism isn't defeat, the dialectic conflicts of assimilation vs. anti-assimilation or high culture vs. low culture being discussed on Mike and Tom's sites respectively seem both a lot less pressing and a lot more fascinating. Why should everything be reduced to an either/or position when you can have so much more fun flirting on the borders?


Post a Comment


everything here is by tim finney



mail me... here



Jamesy P

Patrick Cowley

It's About (Lopazz & Casio Casino's Maxi Mix)

Glass Candy
Sugar & Whitebread

Beats International
Dub Be Good To Me (Smith & Mighty Remix)

Depeche Mode
A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)

Girls Aloud
Wild Horses


Bobby Valentino
Gimmie A Chance

Freeform Five
No More Conversation (Richard X Remix)


House Is A Feeling


A Wild Young Under Whimsy

And So This Is Christmas

Anthony Is Right




Bowling Ball

Breaking Ranks

Chantelle Fiddy's World of Grime

The Church Of Me

Cis Don't Like It Easy

Clap Clap Blog

Country Glamour

Cucina Povera

DJ Martian

Doubt Beat

Everything's Usable



Freaky Trigger

Freelance Mentalists

Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker

Gel & Weave




The House at World's End


I'm So Sinsurr


Josh Blog


">Lex Scripta

Home of Matos

Must Try Harder

New York London Paris Munich

Orbis Quintus

The Original Soundtrack

Pearls that are his Eyes

Pearsall's Tunes

Philip Sherburne

Pop Life




Quicksilver Shapeshifter

Radio Free Narnia

Sasha Frere-Jones

Shards, Fragments & Totems

Silver Dollar Circle





Spliiiish (Atommick Brane)



Vain Selfish and Lazy

Why I Stopped Smoking


Words, Words (??????): A Catalogue of Errors

Worlds of Possibility



February 2004

January 2004

December 2003

November 2003

October 2003

September 2003

August 2003

July 2003

June 2003

May 2003

April 2003

March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

December 2002

November 2002

October 2002

September 2002

August 2002

July 2002

June 2002

May 2002

April 2002

March 2002

February 2002

January 2002

December 2001

November 2001

October 2001

September 2001

August 2001

July 2001

June 2001

May 2001

April 2001

March 2001

February 2001

January 2001

July 2000

June 2000

May 2000



Daft Punk


Ian Pooley


Artful Dodger

The Loft