Last night I was on Skype with two friends in London, they were both asking me when I plan on returning to the UK (no idea). One of them asked me if I considered myself to be English. My answer, of course was, “No. I’m a F**king Aussie, Mate” He was asking if Australians consider themselves to be English because we are still a constitutional monarchy with the Queen still on our coins and our head of state*. I found his question to be a little insulting, sure my language preferences on computer devices is usually set to English (UK) rather than English (US), and the Union Jack can be clearly found on the Australian flag but what goes on in England and with the Queen and her parliament has really little to do with what actually goes on down here. With the exception being during ashes season.
This post was originally going to be part rant part reflection on what it means to be Australian in the year 2014. It turns out that being Australian is actually a very complex thing. Our media is saturated with American and English TV programs, movies and music. Even our reality TV programs are all extensions of shows from overseas. I’m of the opinion that it is hard to hang on to a traditional sense of what being Australian means when we are influenced quite heavily by the going ons in other countries.
I was also going to talk about how I speak ‘Strayan. Which ultimately means that I wear thongs on my feet, footy could refer to almost any sport than involves a ball and the possibility of that ball being kicked at some stage, and words like sook, vegemite, bottlo and tradie are used regularly and often. I know that I don’t always enunciate very well and that I tend to ask for a glass of ‘wata’ instead of a glass of water, but I know for a fact that I can speak better english then some English people I know. And how I don’t think my accent and choice of words is enough to build a national identity around.
I was then doing a little internet browsing and found Star Wars Downunder. It is a fan made star wars film set on a fictional Australia like planet, and follows Merv the Jedi on his quest to have a quiet one. Its part star wars parody part beer commercial. The production is pretty impressive for a fan made film and is worth watching just for hearing all the australianis and their interpretation in the subtitles.
*I should point out that his question was more about when a person might develop a different national identity after immigrating to a different country. His point was more specifically about when did the Australian identity emerge. That is a question I can’t really answer, it would be such an individual experience that would be hard to try and generalise.