Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Survival Day - Having a Voice

You know that movie ‘Liar Liar’ with Jim Carey in it, where he spends the whole movie trying to force himself to keep his mouth shut and not blurt out the truth. Man I feel like that a lot of the time. Don’t you ever feel like there are times when you should just keep my mouth shut, but moments arise when your patience is fading, your irritation level is rising, you start grinding your teeth, biting you lips, and massaging that crink in your neck. Then before you know it your mouth takes on a life of its own and anything from ‘What do ya mean?’ and ‘As if’, to ‘That‘s crap‘, ‘What the F*****?, and Bulls*** comes out.

There are certain days and events in Australian history and on the national calendar that without fail every year have me sitting in front of my TV blurting obscenities at the screen. Survival Day (Australia Day) is one of them. Hmmm maybe it’s the tokenistic representation and lack of genuine respectful acknowledgement and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture in the day that annoys me.

Every year the overt patriotism of mainstream Australia really freaks me out. I have never even been there but I feel like I am in deep southern Texas, Mississippi or Alabama. 2008 was a perfect example. I was living in a country town that seemed quaint, quiet and cute until I woke up on Australia Day. I didn’t really want to turn on the TV but my curiosity and addiction to the news got me. I scanned the footage with a fine tooth comb bustin’ to spot a black fulla on TV. No luck, except for a 1 second mention and quick as a flash image of a traditional welcome somewhere.

Already annoyed I ventured up the road to get the newspaper. Why I bothered I don’t know. I knew there would be nothing in it. I was living in hope. As soon as I got out my front door it hit me in the face like a giant bitch slap. The local Australia Day hoohar was in full swing. I’d never seen so many Australian flags. They were sticking out of every window, every cowboy hat, every cow, every car antenna, every shop front, up every flag poll and out of every red neck orifice you can image.

I felt really uncomfortable. I was the only Murrie on the street at that time. There were Murries who lived in the town, but they had either left for the day, or did what I was about to do and retreat back into my house.

The day and night was filled with the reverberating sounds of distant guns shots, weird animal noises, yeee haas and backyard bbqs belting out drunken karaoke renditions of Shannon Noel and Johnny Farnham songs. I don’t know, but there was something way too ‘Deliverance’ about it all for me (Deliverance a 1972 drama film produced and directed by John Boorman. Principal cast members include Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox, Jon Voight, and Ned Beatty . The film is based on a 1970 novel of the same name by American author James Dickey). So I sat inside the safety of my little country cottage avoiding the news and crossing my fingers that the next door neighbours pet goat wouldn’t disappear over night.

18 Days Later…….13 February 2008

I wasn’t expecting to feel emotion or upset by Kevin Rudd’s Sorry speech. As I watched and saw the reactions of the crowd, the Elders, Uncles and Aunties and my brothers and sister on the screen my eyes couldn’t help but well up with tears. As soon as the speech ended my Jim Carey moment arrived and manifested itself physically. I yelled at the TV grabbed my little Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag off my wall, went outside stuck it the roof my little red Nissan Micra and drove repeatedly up and down the 3 km stretch of the main drag of the local town. To the astonishment and stares of the locals, I waved at them as I drove past and beeped the horn, then disappeared into the distance and drove out of the town. There was one little Murrie voice in town that morning, mine.

Welcome to my Womba World

1 comment:

  1. What is with those bloody awful red white and blue Aussie Aussie Aussie tshirts in Big W and KMart? It's like we suddenly turn into fervent US patriots! (If Obama wasn't sworn in today I'd be even more worried...) Every time I see them I steer my kids in the opposite direction and remind them (some would say rant frothing at the mouth) that Australia Day is actually Survival (Invasion) Day and want to go home and read them (they are 4 and 8) The Rabbits by Shaun Tan... (a kids book which is an allegory about invasion). As a white woman i try to do my best to let them know that there is an alternative history and an alternative future. Now where is that book?...