Friday, January 19, 2007

Rage against the Australia Day machine

Australia Day LIBERTIES

A friend recently pointed out this ad which had been printed discreetly towards the back of our local community paper. He raged against the offensiveness of the subtext, especially the trite use of the word LIBERTIES, enlarged and footnoted. I agree with him.

If you can't see the image, it is photo looking down upon a circle of thong-wearing feet. The main line reads:

As an Australian citizen,
I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose Democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and LIBERTIES* I respect,
And whose laws I uphold and obey.

The footnote reads:

*That a pair of thongs can be worn wherever you are,
whatever you’re wearing on at least one day of the year.

Does this mean that David Hicks can wear thongs where he is? Can the guards encircling our detainment centres stroll about in thongs to mock those poor people inside who don't have the freedom to wear them?

In the lead-up to another embarrasssingly jingoistic Australia Day, I urge you to respond to this ad in the comments: do you like it, or hate it? why? Or share some other examples of recent cringe-worthy Government advertising.

Cross-posted at Sarsaparilla.


comicstriphero said...

Tell you what, I'll wear some celebratory thongs when I have the freedom/liberty to marry my wife and receive equal status under the laws of this land.

Anonymous said...

I first misread the ad's text as
"whose rich and LIBERTIES I respect,"
This stuff is so contrived and yet so insidious - somehow I don't think I'll be sipping martinis at the Park Hyatt in me thongs. Unless this is a new government decree, an act all Oi OI OIs shall have to perform once a year.
Though you have to laugh at the cracked pavement - a beautiful visual of our crumbling public infrastructure.
LIBERTIES - liberties - how American - wouldn't rights read better in light of the Aust constitution. & in the small type at the bottom - it seems we're to celebrate Aust Day by visiting a website. And someone got PAID to prpduce this drivel?

TimT said...

I get mighty annoyed at the Vic Government's approach to advertising. They're currently telling every Victorian to cut back on the amount of energy they use up, because of the amount of CO2 it produces. They're essentially unsubtle attempts to induce paranoia in the public.

Australia's got its problems, but as I approach my 30s (yep, I'm still a young-ish lads), I get more patriotic. This really is a nice little country, with a good way of life for most people. We've got problems, yep - so let's try and fix them!

Then again, I am sounding a little crazy. Maybe it's just the chocolate icecream speaking.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yeah Tim, you'd take those sort of ads a bit more seriously if they were actually making coersive efforts with industry as well, wouldn't you?

BB -- I was going to mention the cracked pavement; glad you got there first :)

Hear, hear, CMS. You get short shrift as a citizen, don't you?

Mummy/Crit said...

Well, I've decided to leave the country for Australia day this year, and I don't think I'll be taking my thongs. I still think there's a place for national pride, it's just a question of how to avoid the jingoism.

TimT said...

I take them very seriously, just not in the way the Vic Government wants me to take them. I don't appreciate government attempts to scare me, and I don't appreciate government attempts to manipulate me, or others.

Claire said...


What, is being Australian like a religious experience now? We all chant along to the 'values statement' and all will be right with the world.

I think the ad man is from the same stable as the boonie/cougar/bundy ad men.

Why does the Autsralian Government - Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs have promotional responsibility for Australia Day?

I bet not many people wear thongs to this citizenship ceremonies LOL.

Anonymous said...

I guess what really got up my nostrum was the sense that this pathetic piece of trivia (yes someone was paid to produce this, and presumably a number of other options for a committee to choose from and recommend to a set of line managers to approve, and maybe the Department Secretary, some Ministerial Advisors, and maybe even the Minister) sits alongside the proposed citizenship test (which presumably is laden with implicit Ozzie Values) and the sedition laws (which limits our rights to object to such matters). Yes, my dear old brother tells me I must be losing my ozzie sense of humour (in the process he rebuked me for my "shearer's language", which tells you something) I but sense the skewing of the debate around Australian Values (such as this advertisement) suggest there's a lot more to lose yet...

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that a very nice and eminent anthropogist friend of ours commented that only in Australia do we wear our thongs on our feet...

Anonymous said...

do we have the LIBERTY to wear or thongs on our feet, that is...

Anonymous said...

and Aki asks don't I have spellcheck on this thing?

Ampersand Duck said...

Tell Aki the best spellchecker is a dictionary beside the keyboard.

Boysenberry said...

Personally, I never knew that I had to affirm that I'm Orstrayan. Funnily enough, I don't feel diminished for not having done it.

I'm wondering how many people will stand up, mouth the affirmation, and totally fail to consider:
- What the democratic beliefs are that they share;
- What rights they have;
- What liberties of others they respect; and,
- What laws they've chosen to not uphold.

Carson said...

oh gourd I don't know where to start.
Firstly; I hate it.
But where to begin on why I object to this sort of thing?
Could it be
a)typically cyncical targeting of "middle orstraya"? as opposed to the group I'm certifiably a member of ie: the 'leftist latte-swilling elite'? (And yet I do still wear Birkenstocks count ;)
b)as Bernice already pointed out- the strangely american terminology..a bit ironic really
c)the sledgehammer-like subtext of the "obeying the laws" line. By which I assume those disobedient 'naughty terrorist types' don't/can't/ought not to wear thongs?
d) My current feeling of ill-will towards "Australia - my home"... how hopeless it is to work steadily and meaningfully in the Arts in it, & increasingly thinking of moving OS to escape precisely this sort of crapola.

Anonymous said...

But which dictionary - i fly Concise Oxford, probably about a 1972 edition. With my address scored in the front in a very childish hand of mean-spirited ownership.

Mary Bennet said...

It might be funny if it was an ad for thongs - like the Sam Kekovitch anti-vegetarian lamb ads. I don't think I've ever seen a thong ad.

At least now I understand why there's been such a brouhaha about the Big Day Out banning flags. It's not just an extremely slow news week.

Anonymous said...

I'm wearing thongs right now and I take them very seriously. I've even done dance classes in thongs (black, paltform ones - in a workshop on rhythmic footwork with some rockstar teachers. Worst idea ever, but when you're asked to step in at the last minute to make up numbers...).

I've been asked to at least 2 (going on 3) Australia Day BBQs and I have mixed feelings - I want the socialising, but fucked if I'm going to do the Australia Day thing. For all the usual reasons.

Anonymous said...

I just hate that they're spending tax dollars on ads. Any ads, no matter how good. Pollies want to cough up to make themselves look good thats fine my me, but they should be using _their_ money, not mine.

The government should be spending money on... actually, given the specific government and what they'd spend it on, maybe I should take the ads and call it a win.