The Art of the Australian Insult


Mean Mr Rudd
April 4, 2009, 2:04 am
Filed under: Cultural Cringe, International relations, Politicians | Tags: , ,

Revelations that Kevin Rudd made a flight attendant cry drew mixed responses from readers of the Sydney Morning Herald.

“In an eight- or nine-year-old, this behaviour would be acknowledged as that of a spoilt brat. In a prime minister it is inexcusable,” argued Elizabeth Chandler of Mount Victoria.
“Let the man eat meat,” suggested Allan Gibson of Cherrybrook.

Vicki Stewart Forster wondered why anyone was worrying about the story in the first place:

“The world has been in financial meltdown for a couple of years and we have troops fighting on two war fronts, but what do our news headline focus on? A cabin attendant with hurt feelings.

Isn’t elephant-hide skin a prerequisite for this job?”

Gordon Drennan of Burton, South Australia, argued: “Kevin Rudd’s pattern of behaviour reflects very poorly on his real character. The way he expected his staff to work hours far beyond what was reasonable. Multiple instances of abuse of subordinates. A reputation for dummy spits.”

While Mike Reddy of Vincentia was unimpressed that the question had been asked in the first place:

“The journalist who quizzed Mr Rudd about an alleged example of his bad temper was plainly trying to embarrass the Prime Minister in front of a London press conference.

Undoubtedly this was a success. But I think the reputation of the Australian media suffered greater damage. Serious journalists of the world must have been scratching their heads that on the day the G20 summit passed resolutions that may help the world recover from its greatest economic challenge in 75 years, the Australian media dredged up gossip from months ago.

Australia has often struggled against perceptions of it being a colonial backwater and cultural desert populated by uncouth people with funny accents. Tabloid journalism of this sort can only underline those unfortunate perceptions.”



We haven’t grown up
March 27, 2009, 4:51 am
Filed under: Cultural Cringe, International relations, Politicians | Tags: ,

Two responses to Kevin Rudd’s visit to Barack Obama in Washington, in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australian PMs should be banned by law from going to Washington (“New best friends have a great meeting of the minds”, March 26). It doesn’t matter which side of politics. All the obsequious forelock-tugging from our side and the condescending head-patting from theirs is sickening. It makes us look foolish and it’s embarrassing. It seems as if we haven’t grown up from the colony we were; we’ve just changed our masters.”

Gordon Drennan Burton (SA)

“President Tinkerbell tells the world that everything will be OK if only we believe that he will take away all the bad and only leave the good, and that all our debts can be solved by just printing magic money. Doesn’t really sound like a long-term plan, does it?”

Glenn Meeves Kings Park

And one in The Australian:

“Praise of Kevin Rudd’s handling of the financial crisis by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is like Eddie the Eagle praising Rudd’s skiing.”
Rod Bates
Beckley, West Virginia, US



Come the Big Prawn
March 25, 2009, 4:29 am
Filed under: Cultural Cringe | Tags:

“How dare Frank Scahill (Letters, March 24) assert that the Opera House is Sydney’s Big Prawn. First, the Opera House doesn’t sell fuel. Second, the acoustics of the Prawn are far superior.”

David Grant Ballina



Decorative dolls for the pleasure of men
March 12, 2009, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Cultural Cringe, Entertainment, Sex, Social class | Tags:

“I think you are trying to turn us in to decorative f*** dolls for the service and pleasure of men.”

Northern Territory sparkette and Ladette to Lady contestant Sarah Brunton, to the headmistress of the finishing school attempting to, well, finish her. She also called an aristocrat an “inbred tosser”.

Good for her.



Malcolm’s not laughing

Malcolm Turnbull might possess many admirable qualities, but, sadly, a sense of humour is not one of them, judging by his criticism of Australia’s then greatest comedy exports (and others) in the late 80s. As The Australian quotes him, writing in The Sunday Times on January 31 1988:

“It is no accident that many of the older generation of Australian performers and writers, like Barry Humphries, make a living out of denigrating their own people. Dame Edna, Les Petterson, John Pilger and Clive James are symptoms of an inferiority complex deeply imbued in older Australians who were brought up to believe that Australia was simply an outpost of empire. It will be some time before we see an end to the phenomenon of the expatriate Australian who sneers at his countrymen in the drawing rooms of London and New York and lectures them when he returns for a few weeks on the beach during the northern winter.”

Ten years later, in March 1998, his views had hardly shifted:

“Humphries has made his living from caricaturing and denigrating his own country in a pretty gross and sickening way…I think he’s done a lot of harm to Australia.”



Whingeing Aussies have no class
August 21, 2008, 9:11 am
Filed under: Cultural Cringe, International relations, Sport | Tags:

“So we British stole our medals and our coaches. When are you guys going to lose gracefully? And we are supposed to be the biggest whingers. At least when England or Great Britain lose they admit they were beatn by better teams on the day.”

Keith of the UK writes to the Daily Telegraph in response to moans about how Australians who trained or coached other Olympic teams were “traitors”. Lily Murray of Glebe agrees;

“Were Australian coahes pressganged into coaching the Brits? On loettery funding and gambling addiction – this coming from a nation that has 20% of the world’s poker machines. Show some Australian class and generosity and just say “well done Brits but we’ll beat you next time”.

Peter Flyyn of Dapto has a different viewpoint:

“The fact that the most notorious British tabloid is crowing about taking more gold medals than Australia, shows a cultural cringe on their part. That they feel such a thrill at passing a nation with a third the number of people is an enormous compliment (albeit inintended). “



Lost in suburbia
August 15, 2008, 5:51 am
Filed under: Cultural Cringe, Culture, Lifestyles, Social class | Tags: ,

“Life in Australia is neither urban nor rural but suburban. If your ambition is to live on Ramsay Street, where nobody has ever been heard to discuss a book or a movie, let alone an international event, then Australia may be the place for you.”

Germaine Greer, 2004, quoted in today’s Australian. Earlier this month, Catherine Deveny, writing in The Age, declared:

“I can’t tell you how often I were living in some outer suburb, content with signed and framed football jumpers on the wall, no bookshelves amd a coffee table covered in remote controls, happy to read romance novels over my Cup-a-Soup. At least I’ve have some peace. In the immortal words of Radiohead; no alarms and no surprises.”