Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Retarded Children

The other day, Gary Kemble (garykemble) and I got talking in the comments of a post about people inferring that Australian authors are considered lesser than international ones. He didn't think people were saying so, but I did.

It's true, though, in that I do think this. Whenever local lists are generated in this country, there's an almost B-Grade feel to them, as if they're listing an entirely different group of authors than the those that the international ones are existing on. Call it the retarded child syndrome, really: you know that a retarded kid isn't going to be able to compete with the normal kids, so you set up a different set of judgments for the poor sod and, now separated from the rest of the kids born with all their fingers and toes, you say, "They did pretty well for a retarded kid." Except, of course, you don't say retarded. You say mentally disabled. You say fucked up. You say Australian author. You know how it goes.

The question that I find myself with, later, however, is why this is done. It's not just a literature thing, but one of those things that covers the country. Australian music, Australian film, Australian bullfighting: Retarded Kids and Their Activities (though, of course, there are exceptions to these rules, such as Australian Cricket, in which the rest of the world is retarded, and Australians end up being bored and saying things like, "Sure, the team's good, but it's not very exciting to watch them. Maybe if the opening batsmen were replaced with teenagers from the cancer ward?"). Part of the answer is, of course, that within the country there is a mentality that you should support local things, because the international imports threaten the growth of the local industries. That was what the Australian Made pitch was done on, and to be honest, it's not one that I have a particular problem with. We should promote Australian things, simply because the industry--any, I'm not fussed--is one that can do with more audience.

But I wonder, also, if that same statement doesn't allow for Australian work to exist in a continual bubble of substandard content. You wonder--and by you, I mean myself--if, by being so distinct in its categories, the conversation of Australian work and International work doesn't impact on the people creating it, and the people producing it?

Especially with the bullfighting, y'know. Australian bullfighting has been coasting for years.
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