Friday, November 27, 2015

Expat Observations: Cultural Cringe and Tall Poppy Syndrome

Despite the success of Australians in many different fields, the cultural cringe is still alive and well. The only proof you need is to look at the various award shows or sporting events celebrating Australian achievement that for some reason need to have an international guest to make it relevant and valid. Just this year alone we have had the following visitors to our shores:
There is so much talent in Australia and it makes me mad that they don't get the opportunity to showcase themselves on a national stage because slots are being taken up by someone from overseas. This sham was exposed brilliantly in 2006 when the late Joan Rivers presented with The Today Show's entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins at the Logies and questioned why she was there.

The other side of this equation is the unique Australian phenomenon of tall poppy syndrome. They will celebrate the international success of our Nicole, our Hugh, our Cate and our Russell, but if any of them appear to be acting like they are better than everyone else then they will be chopped down to size in the media.

The latest victim of this is Bindi Irwin, who just won the US version of Dancing With The Stars. On the panel show The Verdict this week, former Australian Senator Amanda Vanstone actually said after clips were shown of Bindi, "Give me a break. She's not the only kid whose father has died. My father died when I was young; it happens to lots of kids. It doesn't make her special." This is possibly the meanest thing anyone has ever said about her. While Bindi's positivity and passion for wildlife is celebrated in the United States, I feel like if she had competed in our version of Dancing With The Stars she would have never won.

Many Australians would rather cut you down than celebrate your successes. It's an unfortunate national trait and one that can deter people from making a huge effort and expressing their pride at accomplishing something big in their life.

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