I’ll be honest, I don’t really read Australian narratives anymore.
Half the time I don’t even notice they are Australian.
The main reason for this is because of the fact that trends in film and narrative are what push forward our expectations. Particularly for an exercise I did for university, the narrative we were reading was all about Australia – but I didn’t feel it. Stories which include warfare remind me of America, anything about terrorism (as racist as it sounds) reminds me of Islamic countries, and stuff including the Queen and royalty just reminds me Europe. Even if it’s just a narrative about Indigenous people I relate it to African Americans rather than Aboriginal Australians.
It is from this that I feel like there’s a loss of cultural identity when it comes to countries who aren’t in the ‘spotlight’ because of a trend. Sure, we have films about Australia’s origins and the treatment of Aboriginals, sometimes Australia makes a cameo as a country where characters travel to or connect with, but I personally feel as though we are still ‘outsider’ comparative to other countries.
If I were to make an Australian film based upon today’s age of Australians, I believe there wouldn’t be much difference to what typical American films are about. Perhaps the main differences are just the environment and how the people speak, but otherwise there’s not much to go off.
However, I am not saying that Australian artists should give up just because of the American industry. I am saying that we need something more modern to connect to that distinguishes us from them, as well as originality in the narrative – I don’t want the typical high school drama that Americans have because the reality is that we don’t have them. Give me the experience of our city versus our multicultural west, give me the experience of someone who stumbles across a Big Red, or even someone having a road trip from Sydney to Perth. Show us the red sands, show us the Opera House, make my home as magical as the countries on the other side of the world.
Perhaps it is because I am from this country that I don’t expect it to make a special narrative. The origins of which a film is made determines how an audience interprets and approaches it, yet even then, it is rare for countries outside of major first world countries to make a massive appearance for screenings. For example, there are some great Indonesian films that many of my friends would love but they will never see purely because they haven’t seen the advertising for it – that is, unless the bigger film industries help push it forward.
Now this is not to put the blame on all countries, but it is obvious that there are subjective approaches when it comes to film. In terms of narrative, I feel that it is unconsciously the case purely because even when I am writing a story, I tend to refer to other countries rather than my own because it’s part of our education system. Not saying that the education system is to blame, it’s just because it’s easier to write about countries you’ve learnt about when you’re younger.
But if you are aspiring to write an Australian narrative, please hit me up because I’d love to read it.