Return of the cultural cringe?

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Remember those ‘good’ old days when we Australians had this terrible cultural cringe about our own inadequacies? At least those in charge of the arts thought so. The best example was that of the theatre – a major production could not go ahead unless a ‘name’ was imported from the US or Britain to play the lead.

It seems those bad old days are not so far behind us as we all thought.

Not long ago, the Red Roughy aka Prime Minister Julia Gillard, embarrassingly grovelled to the US Congress, tearfully exclaiming that the US can do anything, like some sort of overly-excited six-year old having just met her favourite member of The Wiggles.

Then we had Oprah bring her show to Australia. Oh, the things this was going to do for the Australian economy. Nay-sayers were howled down. This was Oprah, people – Oprah!

Except now the figures are starting to come in.

The Australian taxpayer coughed up some $5 million to bring Oprah and her show out. Heavens knows how much Oprah, her organisation and the television network made out of it all. But it wasn’t just Oprah, it was the grand lady herself along with 92 companions. Read the list of freebies handout out to them during a short, three-day visit to Melbourne alone.

But this was Oprah, people – Oprah! The tourism dollars were going to start flooding in. Why, the tourism places were going to have to start buying new wheelbarrows to be able to cart all their takings off to the bank! This was going to be the biggest tourism bonanza since Paul Hogan conned the Seppos that we all waste good shrimp by throwing them on a barbie instead of the snags and chops! Oprah – Oprah!! squeeeeeeeeeeeee

Except – US tourism has actually dropped since then.

In other words, the Australian taxpayer was sold a super-size lemon. Perhaps not quite as big a lemon as the millions thrown away on a ridiculous bid for the FIFA World Cup. But that’s another rant for another time.

Now this is not a dig at Oprah. Why wouldn’t she make the trip? After all, it wasn’t costing her damn thing. I doubt we shall ever know exactly what the Oprah machine made out of it all. But it was Australian authorities who thought it was such a brilliant idea that they just threw money at her.

Just like the bad old days, now we are apparently unable to sell the touristic delights of our own country without someone being imported to do it for us. And now, just as then, it is a load of crap.

I am left wondering, just who on the Australian side of things made money on the deal? Obviously not the tourism industry!

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