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Australian Popular Culture and Media Studies


Rarely have intellectual debates in Australia been waged with such rigour, or vitriol.
Certainly, the ideological stakes are high. Notions of truth, journalistic ethics, polit-
ical resistance and the changing standards of literacy draw both heat and attention.
The success of Australian cinema and the thrust of the 2000 Sydney Olympics are
minor players in major political debates over culture. The media is the focus of
excited debate, with both tabloid journalism and the Internet remaining motifs and
metaphors for either democratization or demoralization of the body politic. This
review features the nine recurring contestations of the year: 1. The Popular Intellec-
tual; 2. Beyond the Black Armband; 3. Space, Place and Popular Culture; 4. Sporting
a Better Body; 5. The Real Matilda and Generations of Feminism; 6. The Internet:
Critique and Creativity; 7. National Screen; 8. Sounding Off: The Rhythms of Radio;
9. Tabloid Wars.

1. The Popular Intellectual

The internationally competitive university environment has resituated education

within a market economy. Vast consequences have resulted from this re-placement
of the older humanities-based disciplines. The ‘threat’ of both popular culture and
cultural studies is revealed in stark terms. Andrew Riemer’s Sandstone Gothic:
Confessions of an Accidental Academic provides a context for the contemporary
university system. Significantly, he explores how the British system has moulded
and inhibited the Australian tertiary sector. Through autobiographical modes,
Riemer is able to track the movements in research, administration and teaching. He
states—with great candour—‘we did not admit that we were dealing with young
people who, from our perspective, were fundamentally illiterate’. Similarly, he
argues that corporate-based management has denied the fundamental purposes of
university study. By tracing the trajectory of both an academic and an academic life,
Riemer acknowledges that ‘we were teaching the literature of a foreign culture …
principally because of our foolish conviction that our students spoke the same
language as the great figures of English literature’. Australian students are simply
having difficulties reproducing the standards and literacies of an earlier period in
Australia’s colonial history.

© The English Association


Andrew Riemer continues this investigation of cultural value in ‘The Cost of

Literary Excellence’ (Australia Quarterly 71.2[1999]). Expressing relief at
resigning from a university post, he is concerned that the only writers who can
mobilize critical writing are those who hold private resources or retirement benefits.
He is concerned about the long-term consequences of the poorly compensated
outlets for critical thinking and writing in Australia. While Riemer’s tone is
measured and considered, Mark Davis is more volatile and angered at the continuing
power of Australia’s literary elite. In ‘Assaying the Essay: Fear and Loathing in the
Literary Coteries’ (Overland 156[1999] 3–10), he monitors how a ‘small and
dwindling clique’ is attempting to maintain its relevance. The literary elite’s
exclusion of John Frow, Sylvia Lawson and Meaghan Morris, alongside cultural
studies and cultural journalism more generally, ignores the changes to the operation
of public space. Monocultural notions of value must no longer be accepted or
assumed. Davis suggests that the literary establishment is too frequently
genuflecting to European cultural values.
Simon Cooper continues this focus on the values of a cultural elite. In ‘Moral
Majorities’ (Arena Magazine 40[1999] 5–6), he focuses on the Howard
government’s censorship of Lolita. The prime minister overruled the censor’s
decision to release the film, linking its subject matter with his ‘zero tolerance’ stance
on crime and drugs. Cooper, however, revealed the contradictions of this statement
by connecting the prime minister’s moral stance with his attack on the residents of a
Sydney suburb who protested against the filming of Baywatch on their beach. In this
case, sexual promiscuity was not of concern. The only imperative was that an
opportunity for job creation would be lost. Cooper is able to evaluate the complex
relationship between the economic imperatives of globalization, and the
conservatism of nostalgic social values. More significantly, he demonstrates how
politicians mobilize the rhetoric of ‘ordinary people’, against the decisions of
‘cultural elites’. Obviously in such an environment universities as sites for critical
thought will be under much social and economic pressure.
There is a deep concern that the corporate values of the university system are
creating major trauma for scholars and the principles they are meant to uphold. Jane
Nicholls and Malcolm King, in ‘Blast for the Past’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 4–
9), express the social consequences of the university funding cuts, not only to
workloads or research, but to morale. The relationship between teaching and
research is stressed, but there is also an acknowledgment that affirming earlier truths
will not provide solutions in the current environment. Allan Patience argues a
similar line in ‘The Treason of the Universities’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 14–
23). Constructing a ‘practical sociology of intellectuals’, Patience argues that there
is a danger in the compliance or consent of academics, serving to freeze knowledge
and detach administrators from collegial responsibilities.
Obviously, the threat and promise of cultural studies is the marinade of these
debates. John Leonard confronts this issue directly in ‘Canons, Culture and
Pedagogy’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 10–14). Through monitoring the two
stark models of cultural criticism—conservatism and left liberalism—notions of the
canon are assessed. The problem of the article is that there is too great a conflation
of liberalism, postmodernism and cultural studies. Also, to defend literary studies,
he simplifies the intellectual trajectory of cultural studies, believing that it ‘owes
almost everything to its literary forebear’. Such a judgement ignores the role of

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history, linguistics, sociology, media studies, and environmental and computer

science within contemporary cultural studies. His fear of high culture being
embattled has created a reified understanding of both cultural studies and popular
culture. Leonard has also undermined the social imperatives of the paradigm and its
role in the education system.
R.W. Connell, best known for his attention to both masculinity and education, has
moved with great effectiveness between sociology and cultural studies. His ‘Social
Justice in Education’ (Overland 157[1999] 18–25) has affirmed the need for
educational directives to be more wide-ranging than a market-based agenda.
Connell’s imperative—to form oppositional curricula—reminds teachers that
education and social justice are conflated concerns.
Cultural studies is not only critiqued by literature academics and the market
orientation of the university. There is an unresolved and conflictual relationship
with Australian studies. These debates are monitored by Andrew Milner in ‘Can
Cultural Studies be Disciplined? Or should it be Punished?’ (Continuum 13[1999]
271–81). He argues that an Australian scholar’s relationship with the Birmingham
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies is highly ambivalent and contradictory,
being mediated through colonial refractions. However, Australian cultural studies
does provide a national emphasis often neglected in sociology, history, politics and
English literature. Milner does remain concerned, though, that the social variable of
class is being neglected within the Australian academy.
There is little doubt that Australian cultural studies and cultural studies in
Australia are separate formations. This is verified through the second edition of
Simon During’s edited collection The Cultural Studies Reader. While recognizing
concerns of the Asian and Pacific region, there are wider concerns probed. Some
chapters offer a pronounced Australian popular cultural emphasis, particularly those
from Meaghan Morris and Tony Bennett. Morris. ‘Things to Do with Shopping
Centres’ (pp. 391–409) demonstrates the use of feminist criticism in the intellectual
evaluation of malls, cars, highways, homes and motels. She argues that theory must
not—indeed cannot—remain in everyday life. Of far wider resonance, Tony Bennett
is ‘Putting Policy in Cultural Studies’ (pp. 479–91). He investigates the mode
through which interventions may take place within cultural policy, focusing on the
relationship between left-leaning critics and governmental structures. Particular
emphasis is placed on the Australian context, with the work of Tom O’Regan being
mobilized. The administration of culture is aligned with the administration of
knowledge, creating a new way of applying cultural studies theories.
Perhaps the most obvious challenge or threat to the liberal values of a university
education is information technology. The formation of ‘The Virtual University’
(Arena Journal 13[1999] 85–100) is a specific area of interest for Michael Arnold.
He suggests that ‘something worth watching is going on here’. The myth of the
virtual university is carrying all the rhetoric of just-in-time learning, study modules
and automated assessment. However, Arnold reminds us that the experience with
digital education is mixed, with empowerment being limited to consumerist choices.
Similarly, Patrick Moriarty asks that universities ‘Don’t Depend on IT’ (Australia
Quarterly 71[1999] 16–20). The parallel movements of downsizing and the
expansion of information technology has resulted in odd and confused
understandings of productivity. Moriarty asks how a university workforce, featuring

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an array of part-time and contract staff, will demonstrate loyalty to either

universities or knowledge.
Similarly, Michael Green intimates that technology-based education is not
satisfying for its consumers. In ‘Education without People’ (Arena Magazine
39[1999] 37–9), Green explores the popular accounts of the information revolution,
specifically stressing the social implications of technology. He states that ‘much of
our optimism about technology is based on the belief that science discovers,
technology applies, society adapts and humanity benefits’. Yet when science and
technology are not viewed as autonomous social formations, educational technology
can be investigated in a more interrogative fashion. The development costs are far
higher than anticipated. But with universities funding the technological imperative,
its rationale is not questioned. Michael Green reminds us to be watchful of the
‘wholesale computerisation of the knowledge industries’. Universities, while
affirming a desire to think critically, must place funding imperatives behind such a
Obviously, with such paradoxical treatment being granted to the mission
statement of universities, it is not surprising that there is much stress granted to the
role and place of both critical thought and history within contemporary culture and
the media.

2. Beyond the Black Armband

Through the late 1990s much debate surfaced about the right to write history, and the
truths and narratives to be granted primacy. An awareness of indigenous truths and
cultural differences in the media has summoned a burgeoning interest in popular
history. There has remained much criticism, particularly from conservative forces,
of decentring settler and colonial heritage. This debate is captured by the evocative
phrase ‘black-armband history’. Much of this work was triggered by the research of
Australian historian Manning Clark, and then critiqued by Geoffrey Blainey. When
John Howard was re-elected as prime minister in 1998, he adopted Blainey’s
interpretation, and affirmed the need for a more positive rendering of settler and
immigration history. This section of the review assesses how differences, created
through colonization and immigration, are handled within popular cultural theories.
Few historians possess the popular currency of Henry Reynolds. His presentation
of the other side of the frontier, the undeclared war in Australia’s colonization, has
altered the historical consciousness of the nation. Why weren’t we Told? not only
provides historiographical insight, but unravels the rationale of the popular books on
Australian history: what was left out and who was included. By disclosing the
ubiquitous violence of colonization, an innovative understanding of frontier conflict
has emerged. Reynolds places attention on reportage, letters to the editor and the law
and culture encircling the Mabo and Wik decisions. He offers an unravelling of
terms such as reconciliation and black-armband history. While admitting such
interpretations are distressing, Reynolds affirms that they ‘enable us to know and
understand the incubus which burdens us all’.
Triggered by historians such as Henry Reynolds, myriad readings of past cultures
surface. Klause Neumann, Nicholas Thomas and Hilary Ericksen have formulated
an edited collection titled Quicksands. The text is noteworthy, as it attempts a cross-

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cultural history—always the most difficult to write—while focusing on the moment

of first encounters. A wide-ranging disciplinary palate is activated in this collection,
incorporating literature, history, anthropology, sociology, legal studies and ecology.
Four sections structure the work: postcolonial histories, settler baggage, myths of
nature and listening and hearing indigenous/settler narratives. The editors’
Introduction (pp. xv–xxii) explores how settlers create an imagining as natives,
through both high and low culture. They recognize that the iconography and
transactions that constitute settler society have enacted a profound cultural
ambivalence in the present. Of particular note is Ross Gibson’s ‘A History of Quiet
Suspicion’ (pp. 39–55). He traces the narratives of origin and the mechanism
through which ‘the story systems’ are assembled. Through the use of photography—
and specifically family portraiture—immigrant histories can be added to the
iconographic database. While many migrants’ lives were unrecorded in official
histories, by changing media emphases the texture of difference and distinction may
be revealed. While wary of over-reading photographs, Gibson asks what alternative
practices are available if a diverse history is affirmed as being of political
importance. He ponders, ‘What does this silence communicate, ultimately?
Confusion. Fear, Hatred.’ Julian Thomas also addresses this ambivalence in ‘A
History of Beginnings’ (pp. 115–31). He demonstrates the odd understandings of
time within settler societies, particularly when plied against indigenous narratives.
This paradox creates a ‘contingency and ambiguity of history-telling’, and also
initiates the awkward relationship between heritage and history. The disposability of
the Australian past, with the nation being (re)made in daily newspapers,
demonstrates that history remains a work in progress.
With popular culture reforming and moulding national histories, cultural theorists
have been drawn to sites of ambivalence. Christopher Kelen activates an analysis of
the popular song, through ‘Waltzing Matilda’ (Island 77[1999] 8–14). He displays
that the social critique and humour of contemporary Australian society is highly
macabre, promoting a ‘revision of common knowledge’. Tropes of guilt and
resistance are slicing through understandings of black and white. ‘Waltzing
Matilda’, as a national song but not an anthem, relays a story of what did not happen.
The absence in the lyrical narrative is the swagman’s transgression. Kelen argues
that such songs allow settler Australians to ‘sing … these absences and this
forgetting’, thereby absolving themselves of the responsibility of remembering.
Clearly, Australians do not lack history, but it is the type of usable history that
remains under question. Stuart MacIntyre and Alan Barcan, in ‘History ain’t
History’ (Australia Quarterly 6[1999] 8–11), suggest that Australians have a
superfluity of narratives. They remain critical of the history portrayed in the popular
media, particularly film and television. Their great concern is that while history is
the marinade of popular culture, the teaching of the discipline at schools and
universities is under strain. They argue that, considering the large audience for
Albert Facey, Sally Morgan and Bryce Courtenay, historians should be encouraged
to ‘speak … directly to public and popular interests’, without being treated with
distrust by professional colleagues.
MacIntyre and Barcan’s directive is timely and significant. Well-written social
history, while solid, is not capturing a wide audience. An example of such a solid
analysis is Robert Manne’s edited collection The Australian Century. He describes
in the Introduction (pp. 1–10) the importance of social and political history in the

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build-up to the centenary of Australia’s federation. He remains interested in how the

culture and sentiment moved from the British empire to other allegiances. The book
investigates this movement, with particular attention placed on the tensions resulting
from social change. Brian De Garis’s chapter ‘Federation’ (pp. 11–46) traces how
the federation of Australian states was assembled. John Hirst, in ‘Labour and the
Great War’ (pp. 47–79), exhibits how a worker’s government led Australia through
the First World War. While these historical studies create the fabric of the book, the
most useful chapters to scholars of the media are found in the latter stages of the text.
Robert Manne discusses one of the most controversial moments in Australia’s
history, ‘The Whitlam Revolution’ (pp. 180–223). He presents this period of
cultural revolution, in the realm not only of race, sexuality and gender, but also of
popular culture. Similarly, Paul Kelly studies the other Labor ‘revolution’, triggered
by Paul Keating. In ‘Labour and Globalisation’ (pp. 224–63), Kelly shows how this
controversial prime minister mastered both the market and the media. The final
chapter in the book, written by John Hirst, traces the movement ‘Towards the
Republic’ (pp. 293–312). He asks what an independent Australia would look like,
particularly when placed within the history of republicanism.
The difficulty remains in fathoming an apparatus for remembering a more
complex, textured past. Scott Bennett has instigated such an attempt through White
Politics and Black Australians. The book offers a study of how Aboriginal
Australians access a democratic political system. Many modes of equality are
investigated, including legal, political and economic disparities, while also seeking
the equality of opportunity. Notions of national interest are a focus of the text.
Chapter 9 offers a challenging analysis of ‘Aborigines and the Media’ (pp. 175–93),
assessing the coverage given to indigenous interests in nineteenth-century
newspapers and contemporary film. The text is current, showing how the John
Howard years have triggered major changes in editorial sympathies to social
change. Also considered is how the shifting nature of news on television and ‘photo
opportunities’ has increased the negative coverage of self-determination and
indigenous management structures.
One of the great difficulties facing scholars of media and popular culture is how
to find original material to attain alternative historical paths through a national
history. Part of this work has been conducted by Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus
in The Struggle for Aboriginal Rights: A Documentary History. The book
reproduces a wide range of historical sources, including letters, leaflets, pamphlets,
flyers, posters and recorded speeches. It brings together indigenous voices, spanning
the 1830s to the present. This is the only documentary collection dealing exclusively
with an Aboriginal perspective, encasing over 200 documents. Asserting that ‘other
Australians know little of such histories’, the authors provide a shape to indigenous
politics, moving beyond the activism of the last two decades. Therefore, political
agency and activism are formulated as historical, rather than timeless, entities.
While most of the documents and sources are from south-eastern Australia, the text
provides an extraordinarily evocative presentation of how differences were
discussed, particularly the desire for equal rights as British subjects. For those
interested in the history of newspapers and radio, Attwood and Markus have
established how the media have handled reconciliation policies and land title claims.
Obviously current debates about the media and culture are punctuated by
questions of race. The great scholar of Australian indigenous media Marcia Langton

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has addressed the reasons for such an interest, in ‘Why “Race” is a Central Idea in
Australia’s Construction of the Idea of a Nation’ (Australian Cultural History
18[1999] 22–37). She affirms that racism has been the singular threat to civil society
through the twentieth century. Langton tunnels a passage through black-armband
histories via the project of reconciliation. She reminds her readers that ‘Australia
cannot use the highlights of its history as a backdrop … and also … ignore as
irrelevant the darker side of its past’. While Langton focuses on indigenous rights
and roles in civil society, she (not surprisingly) neglects an interrogative
investigation of whiteness.
Miriam Dixson has filled the absence in Langton’s work through one of the most
controversial and stimulating texts of the year. The Imaginary Australian: Anglo-
Celts and Identity—1788 to the Present surveys the roots of identity and the
relationship between ethnicity and the nation. She argues that Anglo-Celtic
Australians, often simply referred to as the mainstream, are either idealized or
demonized. Dixson also argues convincingly that until the ‘ambivalent legacies’ of
Anglo-Celtic Australians are understood, national identity will remain elusive and
superficial. Both the Australian bureaucracy and the media are determined as vital
social influences. The Anglo-Celtic male, particularly as performed through
cinematic narratives, demonstrates the mark of both Chips Rafferty and Paul Hogan.
Dixson shows that the nation that lives ‘in people’s minds’ cannot be revealed
through poststructuralist theory, but necessitates a measured use of Lacan and
theories of the imaginary.
A central moment in the construction of an Australian imagining is the Anzac
myth. The hopeless battle fought in the Gallipoli peninsula during the First World
War was a pivotal moment of nation-building. John F. Williams has written Anzacs,
the Media and the Great War. The book has a clear task: to explore whether or not
the Anzac legend is a media invention. It is a profoundly complex task to separate
the events of a war and how these events were recorded and circulated in
newspapers. This text is brilliant in its depth and complexity, creating a highly
convincing case study. He demonstrates how risk-taking behaviour, anti-
establishment values and charisma, supposedly born during the Gallipoli campaign,
have become characteristics of Australian political leadership to this day. What
grants the text its intellectual power is the cross-national examination, revealing
how the campaign was reported not only in the Australian but the British and French
papers. Through this analysis, Williams demonstrates that it was the media that
groomed a post-war nationalism centred upon the Anzac myth. The inflated
chauvinism and exclusivity aimed against the English Tommies formed the basis of
the Anzac cult. The conflation between sport and war served not only the short- to
medium-term objectives of wartime propaganda, but has bubbled through popular
culture since that time. The book is well illustrated, offering the startling portrayal
of Germany in the nationalist, xenophobic journal of the day The Bulletin. Yet it is
the popular configuration of history constructed by C.E.W. Bean, the official
reporter for the Australian forces, that created the ‘physical generalizations
suggesting the superiority of the Australians over their British kinsfolk’. Because of
the distance from Europe, Australians were far more dependent on newspapers for
news than other participants in the war. This reified narrative has entered the realm
of popular memory. Williams reminds readers that Anzac Day has both socially
conservative and imperial origins.

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If Dixson and Williams’ revisionist histories have an absence, then it is

recognizing the complicity of Anglo-Celtic women in the imperialist/colonial/
postcolonial project. Such an absence is even more significant when charting the
media career of Pauline Hanson, one-time federal politician and a public figure
responsible for returning the language of hostility and blame to race relations. Fiona
Probyn, in ‘“That Woman”: Pauline Hanson and Cultural Crisis’ (Australian
Feminist Studies 14[1999] 161–7), explains why a white woman’s voice was the
necessary trigger for a media ‘crisis’ in colonial history. The coverage of her
policies reached such a point that, as Probyn has suggested, ‘the media began to feel
ashamed of its own fascination with her’. The ‘maternal racism’ meant that even
Hanson’s critics were sucked into her lexicon to discuss matters of history, nation
and difference. It is no surprise that Hanson framed the Anglo-Saxon male as a
victim, not only of women, but of anti-discrimination policies.
Such an argument was also realized within Radhika Mohanram’s Black Body:
Women, Colonialism and Space. She expounds on how place is used—how
blackness functions—to create a cartography of the body. Of particular relevance is
Chapter 5, ‘Place in my Place: Embodiment, Aboriginality and Australia’ (pp. 122–
48), where popular histories are unravelled. The relationship between knowledge
and identity is discussed, drawing affiliations with the history of the body. This text
offers a vigilant consideration of embodiment in postcolonial studies.
Such an embodied emphasis is also mobilized in Alan McKee’s ‘Accentuate the
“Negative”: Reality and Race in Australian Film Reviewing’ (Australian Studies in
Journalism 8[1999] 139–57). This piece displays how Australian newspaper film
reviewers interpret cinematic representations of aboriginality. McKee discloses how
the language of realism is serving to stifle alternative readings of indigenous culture
and survival. Focusing on the reviews of Blackfellas and The Fringe Dwellers,
McKee shows how a popular aesthetic discourse is creating a rendering of
indigenous Australians as a ‘negative social problem’. McKee suggests that the
solution to this paradox is that journalists should stop claiming filmic images as the
reality of Aboriginal Australia.
These film reviews are still operating within a colonial consciousness. Leela
Gandhi offers Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction to introduce the
intellectual history encircling this highly controversial paradigm. The aim of the text
is to delineate the academic and cultural conditions that mobilize this body of
theory. Once more, there is a questioning of who has the right to write about
colonized cultures. As Gandhi suggests, ‘postcolonialism is caught between the
politics of structure and totality on the one hand, and the politics of the fragment on
the other’. The directive asked of the Western academy, through the critique of
humanism, is to formulate an ethical paradigm for the institutions of knowledge.
The desire for an ethical body of knowledge must have a popular basis. It is in the
realm of popular culture where the degree of change can be measured. Kingsley
Palmer’s Swinging the Billy: Indigenous and Other Styles of Australian Bush
Cooking presents the tradition of bush cuisine. The text unravels the misconceptions
about ‘bush tucker’. More than a cookbook, it conveys the diverse ways and
contexts of preparing food. There are two parts of the text: traditional indigenous
Australian recipes and those for bush cooks. The book conveys a management of the
environment through fire. Written by an anthropologist, and peppered with
photographs, it is a catalogue of cuisine and travel. The line between respect and

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appropriation is criss-crossed (un)comfortably, but it is a considered presentation of

cooking in the bush.
Food has been one of the new interests for cultural studies. In Australia an
attention to cuisine opens a discussion of both (post)colonialism and
multiculturalism. Jean Duruz, in ‘Cuisine nostalgie?’ (Communal/Plural 7[1999]
97–109) researches how an interest in the everyday can also interrogate the spheres
of politics and economics. This article effectively conveys the link between food,
place, memory and identity. Duruz smoothly adheres the discussion of tourism and
travel-writing to food, in an attempt to ‘re-map … remembered food cultures’. Yet
an insidious fear is also presented through food as the ‘meanings of multiculturalism
can be emptied of migrants’. Cuisine can become a surface manifestation of
acceptable differences, rather than a performance of deeper structural change.
Besides food, tourism is a site that advertises a society. Wenche Ommundsen
addresses tourism and ethnic diversity in ‘Strictly Australian’ (Social Semiotics
9[1999] 39–48). This contribution demonstrates that Australia’s cultural diversity
has now become a marketing mechanism for the nation. This ‘touristic
multiculturalism’ makes appeals to cultural authenticity, while also feeding into the
exotic discourse. Multicultural events are now an integral part of tourist
consumption. This pen-picture for the nation does not reveal the complexity of
migrant’s lives, or the experience of displacement. Addressing this complexity is
Mandy Thomas’ Dreams in the Shadows: Vietnamese-Australian Lives in
Transition. This book discovers the context of Vietnamese immigration, including
homes, sites of social value and links to the homeland. Exploring the meanings of an
origin to those in exile is the task of the text. Attention is also placed on how the
imagery of boat people changed Australia’s notion of a refugee. The study is
focused on the Vietnamese in Sydney, who had their origins in Hanoi. The
Vietnamese population has been highly visible in public discourses of
multiculturalism and immigration. The high unemployment rates and
(comparatively) low levels of English proficiency have made them vulnerable to
attack. The text emphasizes the media reports about Vietnamese, from their arrival
to the present. The rootedness of Vietnamese families has created what Thomas
terms a ‘creolisation of space in Australian cities’. With attention to the hybridity of
images and iconography, she asks that we move beyond stereotypes and towards a
differentiation of identity.
David Walker possesses a similar aim in Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise
of Asia 1850–1939. This book is a powerful and profound investigation of the
relationship between Australia and the Asia–Pacific region. The xenophobic motifs
of ‘the awakening East’ and ‘yellow peril’ are tracked, exploring the consequences
of Australia coming to nationhood at the time of Asia’s growing power. The popular
literature of Asia charts publications in Australia about Japan and China. The
invasion narrative was commonly deployed through The Bulletin, but was also
discovered generally through colonial newspapers. The text offers a researched
investigation of how ‘the East’ has held meaning throughout Australia’s history.
Australian cultural theorists are pondering the source of belonging. The crisis in
citizenship has shaped a reinterpretation of civic identity and civil society. The
sources of identity—indigenous, Anglo-Celtic and post-war immigrants—has
provoked convoluted relationships between the three. The next section scrutinizes
how space and place is enmeshed in popular culture.

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3. Space, Place and Popular Culture

Space has been a minor site of theoretical investigation within popular cultural and
media studies. Michel De Certeau’s writings have occupied a small but significant
node of research. A major contribution to these debates is Ruth Barcan and Ian
Buchanan’s edited collection Imagining Australian Space: Cultural Studies and
Spatial Inquiry. This text would make an ideal honours textbook on space, with each
chapter concluding with revision questions.
Barcan and Buchanan’s ‘Introduction: Imagining Space’ (pp. 7–11) asks why
readers and writers rarely ponder space. By working through René Descartes, Liz
Grosz and Judith Butler, significant terms such as cartography, abstraction and
transcoding are introduced. By focusing on both the bodily experiences as well as its
social meaning, a history of space is activated. The aim of their project is to theorize
how Australian cultural studies creates and moulds understandings of national
space. Chapters in the book convey this aim. Paul Longley Arthur revels in the
‘Fantasies of the Antipodes’ (pp. 37–46). He explores the Antipodes as an anti-
London geographical space, but also as a productive, postcolonial vision. Bob
Hodge works with post-contact narratives through ‘White Australia and the
Aboriginal Invention of Space’ (pp. 59–73). Hodge applies social semiotics to
investigate how two strategies of space mobilize language, readerships and
communication. The role and place of maps in Aboriginal cultural productions are
placed against the semiotics of suburbia. Ruth Barcan moves out of comfortable
family life to survey ‘Privates in Public: The Space of the Urinal’ (pp. 75–92). The
mundane, but interesting, site of men’s toilets is encircled by the assumptions, laws
and customs of bodies and sexuality. Social behaviour and spatial realities are
intimately intertwined. One of the great difficulties within theories of space is the
level of abstraction. Barcan’s work on the urinal provides a detailed, surprising
focus. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between the law and nakedness, while
also revealing the ‘urinal culture’, an odd linkage of humour and scatology. A far
subtler cultural site is the focus of Susan Martin’s study. ‘The Gender of Gardens’
(pp. 115–25) demonstrates the ideological volatility of these spaces, resonating with
the concerns of femininity, class and empire. Stephen Muecke has an interest that
enfolds more tightly around the garden. ‘Outback’ (pp. 127–43) presents a study of
the Australian back yard. With the front door opening out to public culture, the back
yard is part of a claiming of space, and claiming colonized land. Also fascinated by
emotional investments in place, Peter Read continues his interest in popular
memory. He explores the language of lost places in ‘Drowned, Moved, Transferred
or Rebuilt?’ (pp. 159–68). He stresses the role of memory and experience in creating
a place. His case study is of the towns destroyed through acts of government, such
as the flooding of the Snowy Mountains. Similarly, Ian Buchanan shows the deep
cultural investments of place in ‘Non-Places: Space in the Age of Supermodernity’
(pp. 169–76). He argues that we live in an era of generic spaces, hotels, airports,
malls, freeways and fast-food outlets. Yet supermodernity is coded through excess,
generally an excess of emotion. For Buchanan, significant questions are asked about
the objective and subjective experiences of space. A site of bizarre excess is
Brisbane’s Kodak beach—an artificial beach positioned on the South Bank. John
Macarthur is interested in such ‘Tactile Simulations’ (pp. 177–92). He demonstrates
how easily a beach is reproducible, through the use of sand, palm trees and

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lifeguards. By focusing on popular architecture, that may be poorly planned or

constructed, relationships and simulations of spaces are revealed. The diversity of
this collection, and the calibre of its writing, make it an important contribution to
theories of popular culture and Australian cultural geography.
The unifying interest of space theorists in 1999 is the sites of memory and
nostalgia. Colonization—and its scarring of the landscape—remains an emphasis.
However, highly ambivalent narratives and stories are told. The ideological and
historical wars over memory and space are well researched in Geoffrey Sherington
and Chris Jeffery’s Fairbridge: Empire, Child and Migration. The migration of
children from the United Kingdom has attracted a wide array of press and media
reports. The lost children of the empire have triggered much newspaper copy but
few scholarly discussions of how the politics of space and time are tracked through
such stories. While most media reports base their work on oral interviews, there has
been little systematic exploration of the official documents and photographs.
Sherington and Jeffery have conducted this difficult work, using the Fairbridge child
migration scheme as their focus. They analyse the role of child emigration, within
the narratives of imperial rescue. They also re-create the mindset of many of the men
who promoted these schemes. With little understanding of working-class survival
strategies, they assumed that the only way to create a better life for children was to
remove them from this environment. The British children who arrived in Australia
were generally living on farms, being schooled in agricultural development. The
tragedy is that most still had a living parent. This caused much of the media
controversy around these schemes through the 1980s. Without grasping the
changing understandings of both imperialism and childhood, the decisions made by
those supporting child emigration seem cruel, arrogant and personally debilitating.
However, Sherington and Jeffery re-establish the context for these highly
controversial decisions.
Irish migrants have presented both resonances and distinction from the narratives
of British colonization and population movements. Where the Irish travel, music and
dance follow. Such a semiotic passage is explored by Tara Brabazon and Paul Stock
in ‘Bored of the Dance: Not in this Irish World’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 10–
17). These writers explore the changes to Irish dance and the notions of Celtic
revival. The focus on ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’ provokes a study of how
Irishness travels. The multi-media success of the recordings, videos, T-shirts and
Internet sites has created a simulacra of migration. The comfort of migrating without
leaving the couch or concert hall creates nodes of differences in history, language
and dance. Whether these virtual differences promote a greater understanding of the
social dislocations of immigration is highly debatable. The article serves to
demonstrate what happens to Irish dance and music when it is carried through
popular culture.
There is also a trace of colonial ambivalence in publications circulated during the
first half of the twentieth century. Glen Ross has monitored ‘“The Fantastic Face of
the Continent”: The Australian Geographic walkabout magazine’ (Southern Review
32[1999] 27–41). The magazine was founded in 1934, offering the vestige of a
colonial dreaming. Published by the Australian national travel association, its aim
was to attract wealth to the country in terms of visitor spending. Although based in
Melbourne, it was very successful because, as Ross suggests, it was ‘able to narrate
the disparate Australian peoples, places and cultures’. The images of white men and

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women probing the outback fed into scientific discourses of discovery, claiming,
categorizing and labelling. Indigenous Australians only had one role in such
colonial narratives: the noble savage. The contestations between different
knowledge systems were repressed. The magazine’s success was based on the
invention of Australia as a ‘white, healthy, modern society’. The desire to repress
the ambivalence behind the discoveries was both successful and profitable.
Postcolonial theories work effectively in the spaces of discomfort, paradox and
confusion. In the centenary of Noel Coward’s birth, Tara Brabazon uses the
anniversary to activate a study of the playwright not only as a popular cultural
figure, but as a colonial traveller. In ‘Noel Coward’s Singapore Sling’ (Southern
Review 32[1999] 72–85), his trips to the Antipodes are highlighted. As Brabazon
states, ‘his intensely English story provides a path through Anglo-Saxon ethnicity in
Australia. By exploring the textual residues of his life, we can discover how
Englishness travels to other locations and adapts.’ More than a biography of
Coward, this article evokes the colonial consequences of his words, songs and
Anthropology, as an academic discipline, was the intellectual arm of colonization
through much of the nineteenth century. There has been an increasing tendency
through the last thirty years to bring anthropology ‘home’ to study popular culture
and everyday life. Indeed, the discipline is ideally suited to work with the
disruptions in everyday life. John Morton, in ‘Anthropology at Home in Australia’
(Australian Journal of Anthropology 10[1999] 243–57), places attention on national
culture, rather than the study of the other. He affirms the need to conduct fieldwork
in the area of the ‘cultural familiar’. In this way, the self–other relationships are
decentred, and new methodological problematics may emerge. With such a
refocusing of interests, anthropology and cultural studies may create an
interdisciplinary dialogue into the concerns of everyday life.
Class, as a variable, is rarely considered in theories of space. Attention to social
and economic inequalities is not denied in Geoffrey Bolton and Jenny Gregory’s
Claremont: A History, studying an affluent suburb of Perth, Western Australia. The
book is a strongly written social history, with an alert inflection of everyday life.
Incorporating original letters, maps, photographs and newspaper articles from the
Perth Gazette, clear emphasis is placed on transportational systems and leisure
practices. Wider trajectories—of suburbia, war, peace and social stability—inflect
this local history. The importance of sport, particularly Australian rules football, is
an integral part of this history. While recognizing that ‘Claremont’s sense of identity
was stamped by its environment,’ there is much attention placed on the social
systems of education, sport and leisure. This text is a well-written, fascinating study
of a ‘comfortable’ middle-class environment, and how economic differences inflect
the landscape.
The comfort of middle-class life can easily be disrupted. It is very common in
Australian crime fiction that the safety of suburbs is transformed into the bloody
horror of a chilling thriller. Sue Turnbull remains fascinated by the notion of place
in Australian crime fiction. In ‘Are we there Yet?’ (Meanjin 58[1999] 5–60), she
reviews the crime novels set in Australia. Framing the readers of the genre as
‘armchair tourists’, she stresses how character and place entwine. Her interests and
commitment to the genre is clear: ‘I want detail. I want to feel those suburbs, smell
that beer, hear those trams. I want to know that Australian crime fiction has finally

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found its place.’ Fathoming the dirt and violence behind the shiny surfaces of
suburbia, crime fiction probes the ideologies that have formed safe spaces.
The textualization of space re-creates and reimagines places for distinct political
purposes. The ideological volatility of the landscape renders it fascinating for
theorists of popular culture. The beach has remained a site integral to the Australian
national imagining, and therefore highly contradictory and contestable. All these
social forces were activated when Baywatch wished to relocate to a suburb of
Sydney. David Studdert monitors these debates in ‘Bondi, Baywatch and the battle
for community’ (Arena Magazine 42[1999] 28–33). The most impressive element of
this article is his great attention to the word ‘community’. Highly overused in our
era, Studdert shows how the attributes of virtue and nostalgia are squeezed into the
signifier of community, serving to deflect attention away from globalization and
greed. Such words allow an expression of ‘the cramped imagination of white
European Australia’. The two sacred sites of settler populations—the sporting field
and the beach—both perform a desire for community and belonging structures
beyond homogenizing global forces. When the residents of Avalon protested the
notion of becoming part of a global Baywatch community, the prime minister
attacked them for their reluctant commitment to job creation. Through such an issue,
the right and left—globalism and localism—intertwine in a convoluted, and
frequently random, fashion. The notion of a real, viable third way of ‘doing’ politics
may be based on notions of community. Beyond Pauline Hanson’s monocultural
past and global virtuality, the relationship between popular culture and place will
provide political resolutions to social problems.
Cultural geography and cultural studies always triggers a captivating intellectual
dance. The politics and conflicts over space are alluring intellectual attractions. For
Australian scholars, there is a productive desire to investigate the paradoxes of
colonialism, the safety of suburbia and the movements of popular culture. The next
part of this review infiltrates the backyards, gyms and ovals to investigate the
discourses and corporeality of sport.

4. Sporting a Better Body

In the year preceding the 2000 Olympics, it seemed that sport was everywhere. The
multiple football codes vied with cricket, hockey, swimming and cycling for press
coverage. The saturating television exposure—on free-to-air, cable and satellite—
initiated a wide array of readership possibilities. Clashes of teams were also clashes
of genders, classes, races and ethnicities. Performances of successful masculinity
and femininity were promoted, and national cultures were taught.
Body-building—and building a better body politic—are confluent cultural
manifestations. Anna Carden-Coyne has found ‘Classical Heroism and Modern
Life’ (Journal of Australian Studies 63[1999] 138–49) through the analysis of body-
building in the early twentieth century. The physical culture movement, of which
body-building is the most visible manifestation, is a convergence of classicism and
modernism. It is therefore not surprising that it was highly successful in Australia
through the 1920s and 1930s. This period saw a boom in body-building schools and
gymnasiums. While appealing to ancient aesthetic standards, this boom had a more
immediate trigger. The decline of post-war masculinity—and a desire to rebuild it—

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became the goal. There was, as Carden-Coyne suggests, the notion that ‘returned
solders were part of this degenerative pool’. Body-building became a mechanism to
reconstruct civilization after the horror of the First World War. An Australian
inflection on the global body-building movement was a democratizing effect and,
perhaps most importantly, created a culture of masculine self-examination and
mutual inspection. Such practices are obviously continued through men’s
spectatorship of sport.
The viewing of masculine bodies within the sporting discourse is most obviously
realized through surf culture generally, and the lifesaver particularly. Grant Rodwell
activates a controversial reading of beach culture in ‘“The Sense of Victorious
Struggle”: The Eugenic Dynamic in Australian Popular Surf-Culture 1900–50’
(Journal of Australian Studies 62[1999] 56–63). He reads alternative ideologies
alongside the lifesaver icon. The practice of sun worship, and the benefits of surf
culture for men and women, are framed by Rodwell as possessing clear nation-
building qualities. He monitors ‘the healthy, virile masses gathering at Manly,
Bondi, Coogee’, and suggests that there are alternative methods for reading
Australian beach culture.
The eugenics movement feeds into myriad moments of national and popular
culture. Obviously, the Olympics are a pivotal part of this trajectory. Helen Jefferson
Lenskyj looks at ‘Sydney 2000, Olympic Sport and the Australian Media’ (Journal
of Australian Studies 62[1999] 76–83). She remains focused on the role of
competitive sport for Australians, stating that ‘it is hard to imagine a newspaper or
news broadcast that does not include coverage of sporting events’. This study is
forwarded through a textual analysis of how newspapers handled governmental
decisions, the corporate sector and environmental groups in the months leading to
the Olympics.
A wider study of the Olympics, as an event and spectacle, is produced through
Richard Cashman and Anthony Hughes’ edited collection Staging the Olympics:
The Event and its Impact. Cashman describes it as ‘The Greatest Peacetime Event’
(pp. 3–17). A comparison between the World Cup and the Olympics is presented,
with particular emphasis placed on the shifts in symbols and ideas. He assesses the
reasons for the Games’ significance, particularly in terms of commercialism and
professionalism. Also studied are the criteria that constitute an Olympic sport. Kevin
Dunn and Pauline McGuirk suggest that the Olympics are an amalgam of ‘Hallmark
Events’ (pp. 18–32). As an international phenomenon that promotes globalization,
localism and nationalism—seemingly concurrently—the spectacle possesses clear
economic, cultural and political dimensions. The cocktail of expansive
communication technologies and financial deregulation has remoulded the physical
environment of western Sydney, particularly Homebush—the focal point of the
games. Reg Gratton stresses the role of ‘The Media’ (pp. 121–31) in the
contemporary Olympics. As the world’s biggest scheduled news event, sporting
events are moulded for television. Australians, in particular, are inveterate
consumers of televised sport, and with the new combination of free-to-air broadcasts
and cable transmissions, there will be a greater tempering of the Olympics for the
screen than ever before.
While Dunn, McGuirk and Gratton emphasize the social waves that passed
through the city to prepare it for global television, Angela Burroughs looks back to
the controversies involved in ‘Winning the Bid’ (pp. 35–45). Addressing the

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allegations of corruption through the bid system, she suggests why Sydney’s bid was
successful, and how to reform the process in future to ensure (or at least minimize)
the impact of vested interests. While there is a desire to erase corruption, there is an
increasing imperative for both marketing and sponsorship. The Olympics were
originally framed within the parameters of amateurism, but Amanda Johnson shows
the push to ‘Marketing and Sponsorship’ (pp. 132–9). The ticketing and licensing,
and tiered sponsorship, are obscuring notions of sporting competition with
marketing success.
It is obvious that international attention and capital have moved through both the
Olympics movement and the Sydney Games. Frank Farrell’s project in the edited
collection is distinct, desiring to research national resonances in ‘Australian
Identity’ (pp. 59–69). The commitment to the Olympics movement, demonstrated
through Australia’s presence at every modern Games, provides an ideal site to show
how the Olympics slot into national identity. Perhaps what has made the Australian
Olympics so successful in terms of social justice has been the vigilant and
considered integration of ‘The Paralympics’ (pp. 170–80) into the palette of events.
Anthony Hughes shows how sport offers a way to detach the stigmas attached to
notions of disability. By overcoming discomfort in watching different modes of
sporting success, the notion of a singular athletic physique is attacked. Obviously
the relationship between the Olympics and Paralympics will trigger long-term
changes to national sport. Richard Cashman recognizes the ‘Legacy’ (pp. 183–94).
Suggesting how the Games would be remembered, and mourned at their conclusion,
Cashman shows the long-term consequences and commemorations of peak sporting
Staging the Olympics is an example of sports theory that will produce an influence
far beyond the conclusion of its focus event. Through placing attention on the media,
spectatorship and disability, the book has much to offer popular cultural studies. If
sports historians have a flaw, it is that their case studies are frequently very narrow,
and fixated with the minutiae of detail. Obviously the scale of an Australian home
Olympics has roused a powerful and integrated study.
While the Olympics and the World Cup remain in an elite list for worldwide
televisual audiences, Australian rules, rugby league and union football supporters
display a distinct mode of spectatorship. June Senyard explores the construction of
class and gendered identities that were formed in the football crowd over the last
century. ‘The Barracker and the Spectator’ (Journal of Australian Studies 62[1999]
46–55) offers a history of sport as a way to ‘enfranchise’ the urban populations into
consumerism. The place of pleasure in the public sphere is disclosed and negotiated
through the sporting crowd. However, Senyard reminds us that class-based
differences exhibited in the modern city are reified through the sporting spectacle.
Similarly, the markings of race have dominated modern discussions of football.
Russell Wright’s ‘Skin Taunts’ (Arena Magazine 42[1999] 18–19) shows how the
values of a community are revealed through the role of Australian rules football in
popular culture. Particular case studies are used, particularly the conflict between St
Kilda’s Peter Everitt and Melbourne’s Scott Chisholm during the 1999 Australian
rules football season. How the governing bodies disciplined on-field conduct and
validated anti-racist campaigns demonstrates much about the relationship between
politics and sport. As Wright suggests, ‘there is no reason to assume that the playing
arena is privileged social space where all ethical values and codes of behaviour are

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left behind’. The way in which racism in sport is handled demonstrates that the
practice of ‘sledging’ indeed has limits.
It has become a standard of televised football programmes in Australia that a male
member of the expert panel will need to don a frock at some stage during the
broadcast. Obviously masculinity on display is also under scrutiny. Kelly Farrell is
drawn to this contested zone in ‘(Foot)ball Gowns: Masculinities, Sexualities and
the Politics of Performance’ (Journal of Australian Studies 63[1999] 157–64). She
commences the study with Ian Roberts, a rugby league player, publicly declaring his
homosexuality in 1994. She monitors the corporeal inscriptions of both gender and
sexuality on the body of this player. While he accepts the abuse and vilification as
part of the game, Farrell proves the profound significance of ‘the place of sexuality
in the construction and maintenance of Australian national masculinity’. Australia’s
national cinema can critique and question the boundary between heterosexuality and
homosexuality, as seen in films such as Priscilla, or dip into kitsch through Strictly
Ballroom. Sport, however, remains more patrolled in its renderings of masculine
ontology. For Farrell, the difficulty is how actually to resist hegemonic masculine
Magazines always present the glossy surfaces of the culture. The explosion of
men’s magazines in the last ten years has been matched by a growing academic and
popular interest in masculinity. Both these interests converge for Margaret
Henderson in ‘Some Tales of Two Mags: Sports Magazines as Glossy Reservoirs of
Male Fantasy’ (Journal of Australian Studies 62[1999] 64–75). Sport punctuates
sexual differences, and the audiences of sports magazines reinforce the genre-based
divisions. The two publications explored by Henderson, Tracks and Two Weeks, are
surfing and motorcycle magazines respectively. Both evoke ‘the language of
violence, technology, motion and aesthetics’. She demonstrates that through the
conduit of language, sport and popular culture is both aligned and contested. While
the case studies are highly specialized and narrow, Henderson’s work does provide
the basis for a more wide-ranging investigation of sport magazines.
There is a clear hierarchy of sports in Australia, as in all countries. Yet cricket has
remained the most likely candidate to be nominated as the national sport. While the
currency of Bradman, Lillee, Marsh and the Chappell brothers has entered popular
consciousness, Gideon Haigh has researched one of the less discussed eras of
Australian cricket. His The Summer Game: Australian Test Cricket 1949–71 is
located in the period between Bradman’s Invincibles to Chappell’s boisterous XI of
the 1970s. While the tied test between the West Indies and Australia is sometimes
mentioned, the larger history has not been written. This era was a time of great social
change, with Australia headed by Robert Menzies, a prime minister obsessed with
cricket. Publishing much more than a book filled with stories, anecdotes and banal
detail, Haigh follows the building professionalization, medicalization and
management of cricket. The role of Richie Benaud in lifting Australian cricket out
of administrative ineptitude and falling test attendances is particularly highlighted.
Importantly, Haigh has not relied on a chronological narrative to convey this history.
The tropes of each season are mobilized. The increasing politicization of cricket,
through South Africa’s apartheid system, was attended by increasing
commercialization and movement onto television. Concluding with an excellent
bibliography and a list of the tests played from 1950 to 1970, this book is a valuable
addition to sports theory, history and popular cultural studies.

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While Australian cricket is filled with Bradmans and Benauds, the era of the
cricketing hero is subsiding. Douglas McQueen-Thomson, in ‘The Corruption of
Heroism’ (Arena Magazine 39[1999] 5–6), suggests that the scandals around betting
have disrupted the establishment of sporting legends. The game of cricket has been
particularly suited to the creation of heroes, with the ideologies of fairness and
honour carried with the white clothing and the baggy green cap. There remains a
need to resolve the relationship between Australian egalitarianism and sporting
The connection between building a better body and building the nation are only
increasing in their resonance. However, the calibre of sports scholarship is high, and
offers new insights into theories of the nation, race, class and masculinity. The next
section adds an alternative, resistive strand to this review—feminism.

5. The Real Matilda and Generations of Feminism

Australian media studies and popular culture possess a long and credible
engagement with feminism. As 1999 is the year celebrating the centenary of some
Australian women gaining suffrage, it is a pivotal moment for considering the
successes and challenges of feminist theorizing of culture. To mark this significant
anniversary, a fourth edition has been released of Miriam Dixson’s The Real
Matilda. It is a book of exploration, testing the limits of identity and initiating
women into discussions of national identity.
Dixson’s text has changed the way in which Australian history is written and
researched. Arguing that Australia is a masculine culture, she remains interested in
how the colonial influences have shaped culture. The Real Matilda is a book not
only about national culture, but about the role of women in Australian history. With
special attention paid to the Irish and convict women, notions of domesticity and the
home are challenged. The problems faced by Australian women are addressed,
pondering why so many choose exile. From Miles Franklin to Germaine Greer, it is
clear that the mode of Australian misogyny has created what Dixson has termed
‘some narrow styles of man–woman relations’. She argues that the physical and
psychic violence against women is performed most clearly in the media. There is
both hope and a fount of resistance: ‘whether in the bureaucracy, media, the teaching
and helping professions or management, the new elite women are usually genuine,
and sometimes passionate about their feminism’. Between contestation and
collusion, there are emerging ways for women to create space and culture.
Many of these budding formations are enmeshed with notions of citizenship.
Patricia Crawford and Judy Skene have edited a collection of texts titled Women and
Citizenship: Suffrage Centenary. In the Editorial (pp. ix–x), they comment on ‘an
ambiguous centenary’ derived from white women attaining the vote in Western
Australia. The meanings and consequences of the franchise, and exclusion from it,
are assessed against the rights of informal citizenship and the capacity to change
lives. The book handles the black/white division and stresses the absences in
representation. Joan Eveline and Michael Booth investigate ‘Images of Women in
Western Australian Politics’ (pp. 29–47). Two political figures are their focus: Edith
Cowan, Australia’s first female parliamentarian, and Carmen Lawrence, the first
female premier of any Australian state. This chapter explores how gender, as a

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variable, impacts on the public construction and consumption of political figures.

They argue that ‘the “public” construction of feminism is bound up with the
representation of these prominent female figures particularly through caricature’.
They situate the political cartoons in the context of how women’s suffrage
campaigns have been discussed throughout the century. The role of the independent
woman exercising her vote was seen to be usurping the role of both men and the
The difficulties of women being politically active are intensified because of their
close correlation with suburbia. Deborah Stevenson, in her ‘Community Views:
Women and the Politics of Neighbourhood in an Australian Suburb’ (Journal of
Sociology 35[1999] 213–25), suggests why it difficult to study spatially determined
solidarity. The lack of research in community-building strategies for women who
are encased within a suburban situation renders Stevenson’s study of great
Because the suburban home is saturated in the ideologies of domesticity and
privacy, it is difficult to textualize and understand women’s experiences. Susan
Martin has configured one way to read women’s lives, through researching the
complex theories of readership emerging through Australian women’s fiction.
Through ‘Ladies and Grocer’s Wives: The Crisis of Middle-Class Female
Subjectivity in 1980s Australian Women’s Fictions’ (Westerly 44[1999] 61–73),
Martin suggests how colonial Australian novels produce a rendering of space, class
and gender. The invisibility of women’s labour in these popular novels
mythologizes the domestic sphere and reinforces the ideals of ladylike behaviour.
She argues that ‘the ideology of the middle-class female subject is difficult to fully
disrupt or completely stabilise’. Importantly, she shows that the colonial
environment in Australia creates a far more contradictory classed and gendered
subjectivity than was viewed in English women’s novels of the same period.
While the best feminist research in popular cultural and media studies is
conscious of how other social forces inflect the investigation of women, there has
been much written about the notion of generations and waves of the movement.
Chilla Bulbeck, in ‘Simone de Beauvoir and Generations of Feminism’ (Hecate
25[1999] 5–21), addresses these issues directly. The popular feminism of the third
wave, with attention to the popular culture and digital media, is plied against the
institutional feminism of both femocrats and women’s studies academics. Bulbeck
has argued, though, that this reified representation is deflecting attention away from
major structural concerns. As she suggests, ‘successful women are also expected to
have bodies—good bodies—and they are still expected to enjoy using them with
men’. Bulbeck has rendered the political consequences invoked through
generational feminisms.
Obviously one of these major issues remains—The Politics of Reproduction.
Rebecca Albury’s study of this debate focuses on the Australian feminist campaigns
about reproduction, and how stories of fertility are passed through communities of
women. Placing attention on the slogans, banners, women’s magazines, radio and
television, she investigates how reproductive choices such as IVF are represented
and discussed. The construction of women as mothers, particularly through
television commercials, limits the cultural practices associated with femininity. For
Albury, advertising provides ‘a series of condensed representations of feminine and
masculine bodies’. While the struggle for safe contraceptives has been won, the

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popular advice about contraceptive and reproductive choices remains far more
volatile. Popular notions of good mothering are pervasive. Albury’s book conveys a
scholarly, wide-ranging interdisciplinary analysis of the images, choices and
discourse of reproduction.
The difficulty within the generational model of feminism is that the archetypal
third-waver is framed as immersed in popular culture and hyper-individualism and
possessing greater knowledge of Charlie’s Angels than Dale Spender. Susan
Hopkins has shown that such popular knowledges do have potential. Through ‘Hole
Lotta Attitude: Courtney Love and Guitar Feminism’ (Social Alternatives 18[1999]
11–14), she shows how a ‘certain feminist stance’ can be rendered fashionable. The
girl-powered bands that have peppered the independent music scene have changed
both pop and feminism, creating new relationships between the two. While Hopkins
does not overstate the politics, neither does she undermine Courtney Love’s role in
creating options and opportunities for the young women in her audience. She also
notes the specific responses to Hole’s tour of Australia.
Obviously a study of popular culture has much to offer contemporary feminism.
However, there are major aspects of critique and query within such research. Wendy
Parkins raises some of these concerns in ‘Bad Girls, Bad Reputations: Feminist
Ethics and Postfeminism’ (Australian Feminist Studies 14[1999] 377–85). Of most
interest in this article is the question of ethics. She remains concerned with the
highly individualist modes of libertarianism being promoted by the major forces of
third-wave feminism in Australia. Attention is particularly directed to Catharine
Lumby. Parkins suggests that simply because a text or idea is popular, it does not
mean that it is beneficial or useful for Australian feminist politics. It is a convincing
argument, and the desire to affirm feminist ethics makes this article timely and
This awareness of ethical concerns is even more pivotal when moving to a
discussion of the digital media. Feminism has triggered a reassessment of historical
assumptions and futurist trajectories. While the generational waves may fragment
the public representations of the movement, there is much potential in the
deliberation of both popular culture and the new media. The review’s next section
continues this interest in digitization and the Internet, mobilizing new theoretical
and political opportunities.

6. The Internet: Critique and Creativity

Studies of the digital media are spliced between utopic and dystopic frameworks.
Many of the sharp-edged critiques have a clear feminist inflection, continuing to
ensure equity and social responsibility in the media. However, there has also been
much discussion of information literacy and the potential of cyberculture to mould a
new public space.
Australian feminism has played a major role in cyberfeminism, with theories of
cyborgs and digital futures saturating the intellectual vista. Susan Luckman makes a
broad sweep of this issue in ‘(En)gendering the Digital Body: Feminism and the
Internet’ (Hecate 25[1999] 36–47). The Internet has been compared to the
Gutenberg Press in the scale of its influence and its capacity to trigger new media
forms. While marketing the digital era has entered a utopic phase, Luckman

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suggests that cyberfeminism provides ‘a popular avenue for contemporary feminist

interventions in technologically mediated structure of power’. The sexism and
misogyny of computer-mediated communication necessitates an overtly critical
approach. While cyberfeminism is an emerging phenomenon, it does reveal a way to
monitor and activate cultural, social and political transgressions.
Luckman’s sketch of this new intellectual terrain has been continued by Susan
Hawthorne and Renate Klein’s edited collection Cyberfeminism: Connectivity,
Critique, Creativity. These three terms structure the book and reveal the three
directives of the text. In their Introduction (pp. 1–18), the editors survey the myriad
ways in which the connective adjective ‘cyber’ is being used. Tracking the
Australian feminist history of cyber creation, most notably the VNS matrix, they
recognize that critical interpretations have been lacking. They create a book
focusing on connectivity, mediation and the activist potential of the Internet. They
realize that ‘the cyborg may not be a future of liberation, since it does not create an
embodied and localized ethic’. While the book affirms the potential of hypertext as
art and the new electronic creativities, the editors also emphasize the need for
community and communication. This directive is conveyed through Bandana
Pattanaik’s chapter, ‘Home and the World: The Internet as a Personal and Political
Tool’ (pp. 19–32). Responsible for setting up the Spinifex Press web site, she
presents how professional communication has changed through email, and the
consequences of its immediacy and insistency. However, the growth in feminist
connectivity over the last three years has surprised her, and has been particularly
important for affiliating women throughout the Asian and Pacific regions.
While it is easy, and frequently appropriate, to recognize and mark the potential
of the web, Scarlet Pollock and Jo Sutton have also remembered its inadequacies.
Through ‘Women Click’ (pp. 33–50), they express concern at the level of
connectivity available for women on low incomes. In ‘the fight for access to
resources’, they worry about the consequences for women as governments release
less documentation on paper and more through the web. They argue that we must re-
language the imperatives of Internet-based communication: participants must
replace consumers. Such concerns are also pivotal for teachers in women’s studies
courses. Laurel Guymer’s ‘Online Teaching’ (pp. 51–79) asks educators to be
conscious of isolation, disability and the process of women becoming connected to
a wider community of scholars. Joan Korenman continues this discussion through
‘E-mail Forums and Women’s Studies’ (pp. 80–97). She explains the role of email
lists in her teaching, demonstrating not only how to manage them, but the problems
she has faced.
While email is immersed in discussions of professional communication, the web
has also been a site of burgeoning leisure-based industries. In ‘Everyday Use:
Women, Work and Online “Play”’ (pp. 98–118), Alesia Montgomery shows how
cyberspace can transform women’s identities and relationships. She shows how
computer-mediated communication disrupts and creates new temporal structures
and opportunities for leisure. The border crossing between different spheres is
creating innovative understandings of work and leisure.
The great strength of Cyberfeminism is the desire to actualize strong critiques of
the digital assumptions and promises of the era. Beth Stafford tracks the movement
of knowledge systems through ‘Information for People or Profits?’ (pp. 137–56). As
a women’s studies librarian for twenty years, she explores the consequences of

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transforming libraries into information service centres. Her concern is that women
and gender issues will not be adequately serviced by online products. She reminds
readers that information is not the issue: interpretation and critical thought remain
the aim. Stafford convincingly suggests that ‘total dependence on electronically
accessed information would further disadvantage those who are already
disadvantaged’. Donna Hughes exemplifies this premiss. In a disturbing chapter, she
researches ‘The Internet and the Global Prostitution Industry’ (pp. 157–84). She
explains how digital technologies have actually simplified the global exploitation of
women and children. From bride-trafficking to men’s postings of their sexual
experiences, Hughes discovers that there is much that is violent, graphic and
politically damaging to women on this new frontier.
There are remarkable parallels between the colonization of landscape in the
nineteenth century and the colonization of the digital frontier the following century.
Renate Klein monitors these movements in ‘The Politics of CyberFeminism’ (pp.
185–212). She recognizes the recurrent motif of frontier mythologies from the Wild
West to the World Wide Web. She is concerned about women’s fragmented self,
bodily technologies and the role of indigenous peoples in the cyber future. This
emphasis is continued through Susan Hawthorne’s outstanding chapter, ‘Cyborgs,
Virtual Bodies and Organic Bodies’ (pp. 213–49). She is concerned that ‘reality is
up for grabs’. How marginalized women will manage this movement in self and
community is her major imperative. She argues that the great attention placed on
cyborgs and virtual bodies is politically misguided, with virtual reality described as
‘male-defined, male-generated and male-limited’. Well written and argued,
Hawthorne offers a marked critique of the market-dominated media.
The final section of Cyberfeminism, while building from the interrogative
analysis of the preceding section, activates the creative possibilities of the web. Jose
Arnold explores ‘Feminist Poetics and Cybercolonization’ (pp. 250–77). Desiring to
incorporate women and their interests into cyberspace, she wants cybercolonization
to be more equitable than Western colonization. With the models of textuality and
discourse changing, reading and writing are being changed through the new
environment. Arnold suggests that women will gain much by ‘exploring the new
territories of cyberspace’ through textualizing and sharing their lives in new ways.
Kathy Mueller also places attention on emerging modes of communication through
‘The Nickelodeon Day of Cyberspace’ (pp. 304–37). Drawing links between the
frenzy for cinema and the frenzy over cyberspace, she realizes that ‘its strongest
impact is on the subconscious, rather than the conscious’. She sees great creativity
and possibilities through role-playing in cyberspace, but recognizes that feminists
require a more sophisticated and motivated mobilization.
Through reading Cyberfeminism, it is clear than many of the concerns through
twentieth-century feminism are being replayed and renegotiated through the digital
realm. While critical functions remain, the creative potentials of the Internet can
emerge in a way that is socially responsible and politically aware. Anna Munster’s
question ‘Is there Postlife after Postfeminism?’ (Australian Feminist Studies
14[1999] 119–29) demonstrates what will happen if these social justice concerns are
not embedded into scholarship of the new media. She demands more genealogical
approaches to technology, providing a bridge between humanism and
cyberfeminism. Munster suggests that framing technology through instrumental or
autonomous approaches will not assist the directives of feminism.

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Some of the most productive discussions of digitization apply Munster’s

directive, placing the new media in larger histories of technology, space and time.
Martin McQuillan has assembled an ‘Information Theory’ (Continuum 13[1999]
139–52). Proclaiming the telephone as a synecdoche for technology generally, he
argues that it unsettles the border between self and other, subject and object.
Technology is unsettling to social structures because it ‘destabilizes the experience
of the trace’, while also probing the limits of writing. Mobilizing Derrida, he
explores how technological functions like email reorganize philosophical
understanding of space and time.
This historical disjuncture raises profound copyright concerns. Donald Theall
plays with the spirit and liberatory potential of computer-mediated texts through
‘The Carnivalesque, the Internet and Control of Content: Satirizing Knowledge,
Power and Control’ (Continuum 13[1999] 153–64). He is troubled by how an
institution can use the legal threat of a copyright violation to suppress humour,
critique or controversial views of the corporate sphere. Similarly, filtering software
is encouraging a moral panic. Theall argues that much of this anxiety is
accompanied by ‘a genuine lack of knowledge … of what the Internet is’. The
medley of media cannot be inserted into a simply chronological tracing through
older technologies. Matthew Horton is similarly optimistic about the theoretical
possibilities of digital spaces. He reveals ‘The Internet and the Empowered
Consumer’ (Media International Australia 91[1999] 111–23), showing how new
forms of commodification and entrepreneurship are emerging, with economic
activity mediated through the Internet. He argues that the Internet must not be
studied within one definitional framework. Like hypertext, there is no root or
primary text of Internet history. Therefore, in studying e-commerce there will be
continual inflections between producers and consumers.
Consumerism is based on a desire: for beauty, wealth, success or happiness.
Hypertext challenges how text is consumed, and readers are formed. Belinda Barnet
activates an encompassing study of the hypertextual environment through ‘Storming
the Interface’ (Continuum 13[1999] 187–203). Technologies have always
challenged embodied desire, but she suggests that hypertext radically alters how the
self is constituted in and through the reading process. As Barnet states, ‘we need to
recognize that the reader determines the shape of the technology as much as it
determines her, and that this is not just a matter of counting links or hurling hosannas
at an embodied “multiplicity”’. Her aim is to hold a text’s function open, so that the
hypertextual environment can become a productive landscape.
Technology-based theorists desire that the World Wide Web, and the hypertext
transfer protocols, be granted theoretical freedom and the capacity to cut away prior
histories of earlier media. However, for most media theorists, there is much to
discuss in terms of shifts between cinema, television and the computer screen.
Adrian Miles demonstrates the capacity of such a study. In ‘Cinematic Paradigms
for Hypertext’ (Continuum 13[1999] 217–25), he constructs a genealogy of
hypertext, demonstrating that clear discursive links exist between the domains of
film and hypertext. Miles describes ‘the Web’s colonization of hypertext’, while
desiring the development of a methodology that accurately discloses the disruptive
power and performance of the hypertext link. He remains dogged in his
determination that hypertext and cinema convey resonant modes of ‘writing’,
particularly when compared with the linearity of book-enclosed text.

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Perhaps the greatest problem confronting the theorist of the Internet, World Wide
Web and hypertext is how to overcome the polarizations of interpretation. Whether
demonized or valorized, digitization tenders a profound change to interpretations of
the media. Yet without considered investigations of localism, nationalism and
globalization, research into e-commerce, e-journalism or e-education will remain
vacuum-sealed from historical and geographical approaches, which are currently
dominating Australian cultural studies. The stark separation between Internet
studies and film studies is revealed through 1999 publications, with Australian
cinema scholars fixated in the nationalist frame.

7. National Screen

Since the Glitter series—Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla and Strictly Ballroom—were

released to great national success, film theorists have proclaimed the 1990s as an era
of filmic renaissance and unprecedented international fame. It is no surprise that
1999 signals a year of reassessment for Australia’s filmic history, and the
methodologies used to assess it.
Every few years a major reference book is released that is an absolute necessity
for those working in the field. The Oxford Companion to Australian Film is such a
volume. It is a guide to the people and ideas that have punctuated cinema. Featuring
a thousand entries, and written by a hundred scholars and writers with interests in
technical, theoretical and policy matters, there are detailed entries of key figures and
institutions. The major films are discussed, not only with summaries, but with
credits. There are also longer critical and historical themes discussed, including
sound, documentaries, short films, music, distribution and animation. Interviews are
also featured with such figures as Geoffrey Rush. With an excellent bibliography,
superb photographs, effective cross-referencing and a full list of Australian Film
Institute winners, this book is indispensable. It is impressive because it is able to
balance Australia’s long history in film against the recent international success.
Film is such an evocative medium because it evokes an array of approaches and
avenues of knowledge. Raffaele Caputo and Geoff Burton’s edited collection
Second Take: Australian Film-Makers Talk features an evocative spectrum of
approaches. Sections focus on the work of Jane Campion, the price and
consequences of Hollywood success for Australian film-makers, the British role in
Australia’s national cinema and the marginal framing of documentary film. The
editors, in ‘What do Film-Makers Dream About?’ (pp. 1–6), desire to reinvigorate
‘a playful energy’ to filmic thought. They also affirm that the filmic renaissance is a
result not only of governmental funding, but of critical engagement and innovation
from writers. This book offers a new form of filmic publication: Australian film-
makers who are prepared to contribute to written discussions of the national cinema.
George Miller tells the tale of Babe (pp. 30–41), and two interviews with Jane
Campion are featured (pp. 47–69). Bruce Beresford also tells ‘How I Failed to Make
a Green-Lit Movie’ (pp. 95–101), conveying the difficulties for Australians working
in the Hollywood funding system. In terms of film-making, this text makes an
important contribution, a conflation of writing and direction.
If there is a trope to the year’s cinematic history, then it is a fascination with what
makes a national cinema. Brian Yecies researches ‘National Cinema’ (Metro

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119[1999] 20–1), focusing on sites of resistance to Hollywood’s market dominance.

Of most interest is how Australian cinema is defined, via funding, cast, production
or audience. Ian Craven is also drawn to this topic, stressing ‘Australian Cinema
towards the Millennium’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 1–14). He argues that while
there are many histories of filmic revival, it is the 1990s films that most obviously
pose challenges ‘to the critical and theoretical paradigms through which the work of
Australian filmmakers has come to be understood both within and without the
academy’. He also argues that Australian cinema has had a long history of
surveillance, monitoring and redefinition.
Part of this monitoring has emerged from successive federal governments. Nigel
Spence and Leah McGirr explore ‘Patterns of Production and Policy’ (Australian
Studies 14[1999] 15–36). Providing an overview of the Australian film industry in
the 1990s, the article stresses feature films and the associated television production
industry. The success of Shine (1995) demonstrates that twenty years of industry
experience has been valuable. With governmental support, international distributors
have bought Australian product. They review the two major motifs of the industry:
national interest and quality. They remind readers that governmental support is
crucial to any revival, indeed any film that terms itself Australian.
Australian cultural studies has maintained a strong interest in cultural and media
policy. Such an impetus has created fluid movements between film and television.
Matthew Pearce has introduced the ‘Policy Discourse and the 1982 ABT Pay TV
Inquiry’ (Media International Australia 91[1999] 149–61). By reviewing the 1982
Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) pay television inquiry, he explains the
complex—some would say confused—broadcasting policy discourse within the
Australian government. The continual contestation of ‘the pubic interest’ has meant
that the ABT, and later the Australian Broadcasting Authority, occupied the role of
both power-broker and judge. Pearce has reviewed this complicated series of
decisions and documents to demonstrate how the ABT handled the scale of the pay
television debate.
The unfortunate consequences of Australia’s pay television market is that it has
only reinforced the concentration of media ownership into the hands of Rupert
Murdoch and Kerry Packer. Mike Minehan has researched how this apparently
clumsy governmental framework has evolved. In ‘Pay TV in Australia and the
Concentration of Media Ownership’ (Media International Australia 92[1999] 91–
101), he traces a history from the acquisition of pay television licences to the
collapse of diversification. The unwillingness of governments, from Malcolm Fraser
to Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard, to restrict the power of existing
media proprietors has created a series of ‘media mates’ whose influence is
practically immeasurable. Such a concentration necessitates the importance of
critical theorizing of policy and Australia’s screen producers and productions.
The two major arms of Australian cultural studies—cultural policy and textual
analysis—are both drawn to a consideration of national ideologies. While policy
theorists are waging wars with media moguls, textual analysts evaluate how
Australia’s diversity is being represented, promoted or ignored through cinematic
product. Nigel Spence and Leah McGirr show how heterosexuality operates in
Australian film. ‘Unhappy Endings’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 37–56) explores
why very few Australian films have presented naturalistic depictions of romantic
love. While British and American films are dominated by romantic comedies,

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Australian film-makers are drawn to other topics. However, Spence and McGirr
construct a survey of the narrative and thematic developments from Monkey Grip to
Love and Other Catastrophes. It is clear, however, that a displacement of these
concerns has allowed the success of—globally speaking—strange cinema. Emily
Rustin, by focusing on ‘Romance and Sensation in the “Glitter” Cycle’ (Australian
Studies 14[1999] 133–48), shows how these films ‘revel in artifice’, and deny the
solid, realist codes of the 1970s Australian Film Commission genre. Fixated on
Abba, ballroom dancing and drag, the colour scheme, acting style and direct-to-
camera commentary integrate Australian film into nostalgic popular culture, rather
than presenting pseudo-documentaries about the realities of romance or sexual
A characteristic of the post-Glitter 1990s is that finally there has been a complex
presentation of romance, love and sex. Much of this success is derived from a
probing construction of male characters. Philip Butterss reveals the process of
‘Becoming a Man in Australian Film in the Early 1990s’ (Australian Studies
14[1999] 79–94). Tracking the radical shift in Australian masculinity, from Jack
Thompson to Paul Mercurio, Butterss equates the change in iconography with the
alterations in the workplace and the home. Such societal movements obviously have
challenged Paul Hogan and other traditional icons of Australian masculinity.
While feminist theorists mark the misogyny and sexism of Australian society,
post-1970s cinema has been fixated with the feminine. Also, women working in the
cultural industries of film and television have been far more visible than in America.
Julie Bailey, in Reel Women: Working in Film and Television, presents interviews
with women in the industries, conveying the diversity of backgrounds, career paths
and working environments. While the book is concerned with both equality and
social justice, it also reveals the highly convincing argument that half of the
workforce should neither be ignored, nor displaced from positions of power.
Social justice on both sides of the camera has been a focus of critical attention. An
interesting narrative turn through the 1990s has been an emphasis on an isolated
individual, who is labelled either disadvantaged or disabled, but is able to attain a
quirky, unexpected success. A fine article addressing this complex issue is Liz
Ferrier’s ‘Vulnerable Bodies: Creative Disabilities in Contemporary Australian
Film’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 57–78). Her list of these texts is remarkable
enough in its scope: from Shine to Starstruck, from Sweetie to Proof, and Cosi to
The Piano. When considering the range of these films, a significant question
remains why so many narratives are drawn to these individuals framed as different
and distinct. Ferrier suggests that the success of these texts is because they repeat
‘popular myths about creative expression in the 1990s, repetitions which present
creative, and compulsive, self-expression as a legitimate expression of the
competitive performance ethos of the late twentieth century’. These vulnerable
bodies are washed in the ideologies of isolation and creativity—tropes common in
the creative history of the Antipodes.
As always, these acceptable differences in Australia deny indigeneity and
blackness. Alan McKee analyses ‘Ernie Dingo’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 189–
208), one of the very few indigenous actors with national visibility. His mode of
marking in the public sphere is what McKee termed ‘nice politics’. Dingo has a great
ability ‘to provide a body onto which … reconciliation could be imaged’. His

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authenticity is tempered by humour, but he—like Cathy Freeman—is carrying a

massive representational burden.
It is highly ironic that filmic whiteness has been discussed with greater reflexivity
than blackness. David Callahan addresses this oddity directly in ‘His Natural
Whiteness: Modes of Ethnic Presence and Absence in some Recent Australian
Films’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 95–114). The obvious trigger for his research is
The Castle, the tale of a working-class Australian family overcoming impossible
odds to protect their home. A convincing argument is assembled, with Callahan
arguing that European and Asian ethnicities have been so important for Australian
film-makers as they have allowed a decentring of the conflict between indigenous
peoples and the colonizers. While class warfare can be the terrain of humour, ‘it is
too early for white filmmakers to assay comedy in the relationship between white
Australians and Aborigines’. Stephen Crofts focuses more directly on this
problematic in ‘The Castle’ (Australian Studies 14[1999] 159–74). Working well
with the convergences of television and film, he discusses the visual style of The
Castle. Most significantly, though, Crofts demonstrates how fifteen years of media
cynicism about politics was deployed to create a blast of anti-establishment, anti-
big-business rhetoric. Similarly, Bea Goldsmith places The Castle in a wider history
of suburban iconography in Australian cinema. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front?’
(Australian Studies 14[1999] 95–114) stresses the disruptive tendencies of
Australian film. Films such as Romper Stomper and the Idiot Box are hybrid
formations, kneading anomie and abjection into the narratives of national cinema.
Discourses of belonging and the desire for community have billowed an arch over
1990s national cinema. Such a need is also revealed in Babe, the major international
success of the decade. Tara Brabazon’s ‘A Pig in Space?’ (Australian Studies
14[1999] 149–58) works with the ‘problem’ of the landscape in Australian film.
Denying suburban and urban spaces, Babe is an unexpected vectorial shift. She
argues that the motif of the landscape is exhausted, with Babe’s farm being located
outside a national frame. Brabazon states that ‘this little film went a long way, but to
make that journey it had to ditch a longstanding national cinematic obsession’. Such
an argument is also postulated by Rochelle Siemienowicz. ‘Globalization and Home
Values in New Australian Cinema’ (Journal of Australian Studies 63[1999] 49–55)
argues that the nation and landscape have been displaced. Films such as The Castle
offer a departure from homelessness and alienation. Siemienowicz highlights the
danger of suburban values becoming the stock style of national cinema. Isolationism
and xenophobia may result.
A minor strand of debate in 1999 is the reception of Hollywood films within the
Australian context. Helen Meekosha is interested in how American texts convey
messages about bodily competence. ‘Superchicks, Clones, Cyborgs and Cripples’
(Social Alternatives 17[1999] 24–8) asks what cinema teaches us about disability,
difference and being a good citizen. Stressing the social function of film, and the
meanings conveyed through corporeal identities, she questions how the disability
movement in Australia can mobilize popular culture.
No discussion of 1990s cinema could be complete without a mention of Star
Wars: The Phantom Menace. Tara Brabazon attended a suburban screening of the
film, and explores how popular memory operates for Generation X. ‘We’ll always
Have Tatooine’ (Youth Studies Australia 18[1999] 1–16) discusses the Star Wars
phenomenon in Australia, presenting photographs of the fans, and concludes with a

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discussion of why cultural theorists must be proactive in the mechanism of

preserving digital memory. She states that ‘cultural studies scholars must maintain
an active interest in the construction, archiving and preservation of these ephemeral
It is unfortunate that (too) much archival attention is placed on the visual
components of popular culture. Frequently, an attention to sound is lost. Philip
Brophy draws attention to filmic sound in Cinesonic. The text has four sections: film
scores and sound design, voice and speech, music and modernism and histories of
song and sound. Wide-ranging topics are featured—operating in a broad
international filmic culture. The most remarkable chapter is Brody’s ‘I Scream in
Silence: Cinema, Sex and the Sound of Women Dying’ (pp. 51–78). His writing
focuses on the scream of women in cinema. Frequently, it is a mechanism to avoid
a visual presentation of graphic, violent sexual intercourse. Brody recognizes its
ambiguity, revelling in ‘the signifying scream’.
The palette of Australian film is widening beyond the ochre red of the outback
and the turquoise waters of Bondi. Yet the attention placed on the isolated
individual, the loner separated from society, is a troubling trope of the film and
television industries. The next part of this review closes the analytical, cinematic
eye, and turns up the volume.

8. Sounding Off: The Rhythms of Radio

Australian popular music, like other cultural industries, has been troubled by rapid
legislative changes. Without the visible international success of film, music has been
more vulnerable to policy movements. Shane Homan evaluates ‘Australian Music
and the Parallel Importation Debate’ (Media International Australia 91[1999] 97–
109), assessing the passing of the Copyright Amendment Bill (no. 2), which became
law in June 1998. It was an attempt to remove the neo-oligopolistic practice of
multinational recording industries, and reduce the price of compact discs for local
consumers. The overlay between the cultural and the economic permeates debates
about Australian music, creating a war between government and industry.
Effectively though, this debate was soon sidelined with international retail chains
making product available on-line.
Before the governmental intervention in popular music, Australia had a far more
volatile cultural history. John Whiteoak’s text Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music
in Australia 1836–1970 presents the history of musical practices in the Western
world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Focusing on Melbourne’s
musical scene, he researches a wide array of musics—from concerts, circus, theatre,
dance halls, cinema and the church. He traces the influence of African American
music, through ragtime and jazz. Emphasis is placed on the life and music of Percy
Grainger and others who blur the line between composition and improvisation.
What grants the book its strength is the attention placed on the context of
performance. The pianist’s range, from the dance bands to the cinema, provides a
sense of the musical diversity during the last one hundred years. Whiteoak’s book is
the only text in this area, and the only book that manages this historical depth.
Similarly, Kay Dreyfus has researched another under-investigated area.
Sweethearts of Rhythm is the only scrutiny of Australian women’s dance bands.

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Remarkable photographs and interviews demonstrate strong intellectual detective

work. The boom period of women’s bands was during the Second World War, when
male musicians joined the armed forces and women filled their ranks. The women
were well paid, but their success was temporary. After the war the era of the dance
band was dying. When the men returned, women were banished from the scene.
Dreyfus is able to trace how these women managed their lives through the time of
social transformation.
Women have also been excluded from most on-air positions in Australian radio.
An exception has been Helen Razer. Jackie Cook’s investigation of ‘Razer’s Edge’
(Media International Australia 91[1999] 67–81) explains her appropriateness to the
youth market. She stresses her vocal performance and the radical gendering of her
style. While some term her a ‘Courtney Love clone’, Cook suggests that Razer
actualizes a radical, gendered politics through her radio talk. Importantly, she was
part of JJJ, the national broadcaster’s youth network. Katherine Albury surveys
‘Making the National Youth Network’ (Media International Australia 91[1999] 55–
66). She outlines the shift from being a radical Sydney station to a national
broadcaster. Of particular interest is the construction of a national youth audience
through ‘subcultural capital’. She asks whether the station’s audience is determined
more by age or through attitude. With its increasing conservatism through time, no
longer is the station ground-breaking. Instead—in a national framework—it poaches
traditional radio formats.
In the desire for authentic, subcultural capital, local and community radio is
always more socially relevant. Michael Thompson introduces ‘Some Issues for
Community Radio at the Turn of the Century’ (Media International Australia
91[1999] 23–31). He argues that the greatest threat facing community radio is new
technologies. Although the sector is guaranteed through federal legislation, there is
an emphasis on ethnic, indigenous and print-handicapped groups. University
stations have been harmed by the reduced level of support. This is of particular
concern for young musicians as these stations provided significant access to an
audience by working against rigid musical formats of radio. Peter Collingwood
investigates this range of radio networks in ‘Commercial Radio 1999: New
Networks, New Technologies’ (Media International Australia 91[1999] 11–21).
After the Paul Keating Labor government deregulated commercial radio, it was
open to networking. Unfortunately, this process has served not only to consolidate
the major networks, but also to reduce the differentiation of radio. This has also
allowed the cross-media transmission by powerful and popular radio figures such as
John Laws. A talkback personality, he dominated morning radio in Sydney, but
became networked to over seventy stations around the country. His influence has
been analysed by Gillian Appleton in ‘The Lure of Laws’ (Media International
Australia 91[1999] 83–95). His audience incorporates ageing Australians desiring to
blame societal changes on disempowered groups in society. Appleton considers the
Laws programme from the listener’s viewpoint.
In the case of radio, new technology has had a major role in diminishing diversity.
This is particularly serious, as Barry Berryman has shown in ‘Converging Signals’
(Media International Australia 91[1999] 43–54). Radio, as the oldest arm of
broadcasting, ‘is still the medium that people turn to in times of emergency’.
However, as national radio networks slot into well-defined genres, the web is
challenging old stations through streaming technologies. Berryman presents a

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sharply focused assessment of these new options. The difficulty is that radio remains
under-researched. Yet Helen Molnar and Helen Wilson remind readers that radio is
undergoing major innovation. ‘Radio—New Technologies, New Networks’ (Media
International Australia 91[1999] 5–10) presents a brief overview of Australian
radio, and how it is placed into everyday life. Its reinvention through the Internet
will shake up the industry, particularly in terms of funding opportunities.
Sound punctuates the empty spaces of life: elevators, cars and shopping centres.
But radio and popular music remain significant accoutrements to any understanding
of the digitization and the method in which the Internet is impacting on other media.
The final component of this review focuses on the tabloidization of popular culture.

9. Tabloid Wars

The most significant debates of 1999 have revolved around notions of cultural value.
It is not surprising therefore that journalists, journalism and journalism theory have
been the site of the most vitriol, triggering personally damaging articles and books.
The central text for understanding the political stakes in this debate is Catharine
Lumby’s Gotcha: Life in a Tabloid World. The author has a history of writing
accessible articles and texts capturing a popular feminist inflection. Gotcha is based
on some of her doctoral research, but is highly readable and aimed at a wide public.
The aim of the book ‘is simply to show that many conventional assumptions about
how and why people consume the media are well-suited for analysing culture
today’. She explores the changes to the media, and how these alterations have
shaped public life. Myriad debates from cultural studies in the last fifteen years are
revealed in the pages. Notions of the active audience, textual poaching, popular
reality and motifs of citizenship are all summoned. It is clearly a ground-breaking
study of the popular media generally, and journalism and popular culture in
particular. However, it does have flaws. There is too seamless a connection between
culture and politics, without defining either of their applications with seriousness
and clarity. She has framed popular culture as ‘a place where conservative male
commentators and young left-wing female columnists increasingly collide’.
Certainly, she stresses that texts and readerships ‘interact’: they are neither duped
nor fooled by the popular media. However, when reading much of the book, with the
movements between broadsheets and tabloid, real TV and (hyper)real TV, the
question of ethics in the era of celebrity is left hanging. While assessing the nature
of ‘globalising gossip’, she prudently separates the interests of the public with public
interest. While diagnosing the problems and characteristics of the era, the solutions,
the semiotic tonic, are not revealed. Lumby is justified in affirming the populist
notion of audience activity, intelligence and media literacy. But allowing the market
forces to determine the boundary of the public and private sphere and ethical
journalistic practice is not adequate. Such a laissez-faire attitude is particularly
negligent if the cultural critic desires social change.
Lumby has great skill in invoking myriad media, characters and incidents to
verify her theory. Similarly abled in moving between the media is McKenzie Wark.
His Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace mingles the celebrities of popular culture
with the celebrities of cultural studies. Kylie Minogue and Paul Keating duel with
Catharine Lumby and John Hartley. The book investigates the failure of the Labor

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Party through the 1990s, and the desire for a Blairite third way. Wark believes that
much of the Left’s decline can be blamed on ignoring popular culture. As with his
other books, the concept of the vector is summoned, fathoming connections between
cyberspace and urbanity. He places much stress on popular politics as revealed
through community radio, zines and web sites. The ambivalent politicking of these
texts offers much potential for Wark, particularly as he maintains a solid critique of
suburbia throughout the book. The Internet appears to offer the great hope in the
escape from the suburbs, also creating a new type of public sphere. The book’s
failing is a characteristic of Internet-studies-based theories: too little attention is
directed to the inequalities not only perpetuated but reinforced through digitization.
Wark’s theses have been further explored by Peter Botsman through ‘How Media
Killed the Political Star’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 16–22). He explores how
Australian politics radically changed after the communist conspiracy trials of the
1950s. With the media and politics changing, new relationships form between the
two. As Botsman states, ‘there are more words, pictures, analysis, guessing,
intelligence and thought put into the coverage of a political leader’s life, words,
gestures and appearance than any other media subject’. Bob Hawke placed much
attention on political image, while the current premier of New South Wales, Bob
Carr, is a trained journalist. Peter Botsman verifies that it is an imperative to monitor
communication strategies.
Lumby and Wark are two of the most important voices in Australian cultural
studies. Considering their mobilization of fifteen years of theories, premises and
assumptions, it is not surprising that their work in the field has been generally
welcomed. Perhaps the most incisive and subtle evaluation of their arguments is
from Graeme Turner. In ‘Tabloidization, Journalism and the Possibility of Critique’
(International Journal of Cultural Studies 2[1999] 59–76), he demonstrates that
cultural studies has difficulty attacking tabloidization because of the paradigm’s
populist heritage. Turner enquires into the role cultural criticism plays in the
analysis of contemporary television news and current affairs programming. The
reconstitution of the media and audience, or the celebrity and viewers of talk shows,
has activated a major shift in cultural movements. Turner asks that cultural studies
not present a ‘default investment in the popular’, but is active in scrutinizing that
which is labelled as journalism.
Their most vigorous critics have not emerged from this inter-/anti-disciplinary
paradigm. Instead, journalist educators have vigorously—and aggressively—
defended their (sole) right to write about journalism. Stephen Stockwell has
produced a review of this debate—a difficult task considering the volatile major
players. ‘Beyond the Fourth Estate: Democracy, Deliberation and Journalism
Theory’ (Australian Journalism Review 21[1999] 37–49) frames the debate in terms
of professional vocationalism versus cultural studies scholars, or Keith
Windschuttle versus John Hartley. Stockwell realizes that the actual practice of
journalism is removed from Windschuttle’s notion of the journalist’s role as
informing an audience of immutable truths. The challenges posed by Pauline
Hanson’s One Nation political party demonstrates that not enough thought or
reflexivity was activated about the consequences of media behaviour. Stockwell
affirms the need to reconnect journalism, citizenship and democracy.
Keith Windschuttle was granted the right of reply in ‘Journalism and the Western
Tradition’ (Australian Journalism Review 21[1999] 50–67). He attempts to

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construct a history of journalism in Western culture. The resultant chronological

narrative still remains fixated on the ‘Media Wars’ debates and his philosophical
jousts with cultural studies. He desires that this paradigm no longer be paired with
journalism. He wants a journalism education ‘re-positioned within the academy’, so
that it is more reliant on ‘the traditional liberal arts’, rather than cultural studies.
John Henningham verifies Windschuttle’s position in ‘Proud to be a Journalism
Educator’ (Australian Journalism Review 21[1999] 181–96). He refers to ‘the
cultural studies brigade’ as colonizing the field of media studies, affirming the
importance of empirical methods in the social sciences and some humanities. He
desires a clear separation of journalism education and cultural studies, terming the
latter ‘ideological propaganda posing as scholarship’.
The other major player in these ‘Media Wars’ is John Hartley, who replies to
these attacks in ‘Why is it Scholarship when Someone Wants to Kill You?’
(Continuum 13[1999] 227–36). He remains focused on exploring the relationship
between journalism (and) theory, rather than placing these concerns in disparate
boxes. He situates these debates within the contemporary university system, but also
notes the major changes in journalism. He articulates an interest ‘in feminised,
juvenated, sexualised, suburban, domestic and commercial forms of media … But
for the realist-modernist journalism educator, journalism is a violent profession;
truth is violence; reality is war—and therefore best conveyed by violent metaphors.’
Therefore, to affirm singular standards of journalistic practice, truth and ethics is to
misunderstand both contemporary life and the present university system. Such an
argument is also forwarded by Susan Forde’s ‘Journalistic Practices and Newsroom
Organization in the Australian Independent and Alternative Press’ (Australian
Journalism Review 21[1999] 60–81). With Australia’s high concentration of media
ownership, and a shrinking diversity of media outlets, the Internet and infotainment
are increasingly important avenues of news. She focuses on the independent and
alternative press industry, stressing news values, journalistic practices and the
attitudes to freedom of the press. The combative nature of the independent press
remains increasingly necessary as media power is being held by fewer players.
The reason that Windschuttle wishes to align journalism with history, literature
and philosophy is so that concerns with ethics and truth can be more overtly
revealed. However, 1999 was also the year when journalistic traditions were
questioned. Roger Magnusson, in ‘Media Rites’ (Australia Quarterly 71[1999] 34–
41), probes how journalistic acquisition of information is justified on the basis of a
professional obligation to confidentiality. Magnusson probes the relationship
between the public interest and confidentiality, stating that ‘if a free media is
fundamental to a free society, it follows that journalists themselves should not be
immune from scrutiny’. Similarly, Derryn Heilbuth remains concerned with how
cultural diversity, globalization and changing technologies impact on journalistic
practices and the ethical dilemmas faced by journalists. In ‘Prize or Punishment’
(Media International Australia 91[1999] 163–71), he questions the value of
undercover reporting, suggesting that the ends do not justify the means.
While some reporters operate under cover, others are drawn to the shiny surfaces
of the culture. One of the most successful notions raised by Hartley and Lumby is
that journalism has changed because it has been feminized. This marinade has
increased the influence of the popular and the private. Rosslyn Reed also explores
‘“Celebrities” and “Soft Options”: Engendering Print Journalism in the Era of Hi-

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Tech’ (Australian Journalism Review 21[1999] 80–92). She reveals how the current
environment and organizational history have created dilemmas for women
journalists. These divergent allegiances are made even more complex considering
the gendered discrimination activated at an organizational level. She reviews the
division of labour in journalism, through the hard and soft tasks of daily news, sport,
features and the social pages.
Women occupy an ambivalent position in the tabloidization of the news. While
being increasingly empowered through the pen and keyboard, other women are
disempowered through the actions of the ink and newsprint. Sybil Nolan has shown
how ‘Tabloid Women’ (Meanjin 58[1999] 165–77) have impacted on feminist
politics. Focusing on the journalistic treatment of Germaine Greer and Catharine
Lumby, she shows why these figures have gained a visibility rare in the feminist
movement. However, the consequences of their arguments for the lives of women,
and the role and voice of women in the media, remain more ambivalent and
concerning than the volume of their cross-pollinating messages may suggest. These
problems are also viewed in ‘The Digital/Life Moral Panic’ (Media International
Australia 92[1999] 43–54). Christina Spurgeon is concerned with the self-
regulation of sex and nudity in the broadcast media. Through tracking the moral
panic, she asks why the show Sex/Life was cancelled as crass tabloid television,
while the arrival of Baywatch was seen to offer economic growth. For Spurgeon,
these concurrent cases show how ‘the moral management of populations has come
into direct political conflict with national economic strategy’. Obviously this moral/
economic division will only increase in its complexity through the burgeoning
information economy.
While women have been consumed by this tabloidization, so have children.
Leonie Rutherford is disturbed by ‘Consuming the Child’ (Southern Review
32[1999] 292–301). She asks why the child’s body is being spectacularized through
Australian fashion spreads, magazines and advertisements. Her work explores why
children’s bodies are being eroticized through the media, realizing that ‘the
commodification of the child persuades us of the purity of the pleasure we take in
purchasing what is marketed to us’. There is obviously an economic inflection to the
commodification of feminine spheres. Ironically, men have also been targeted,
particularly through the explosive growth of ‘The “New” Men’s Magazines’ (Media
International Australia 92[1999] 81–90). Tony Shirato and Susan Yell believe that
these magazines offer important sites for the complexities of contemporary
masculinities to be analysed. They research Ralph, the print-based home of the lad.
Offering an updated ockerism, the magazine provides an example of masculine
It is not surprising therefore, that theories of journalism and the media have also
been drawn to a direct discussion of money. John Hinkson watches John Laws, and
the charge that he valued his pocketbook over the truth. In ‘The Laws of Money’
(Arena Magazine 42[1999] 5–6), he reviews the cash for comment scandal,
pondering whether media personalities can stand outside money and commodities.
He also ties such questions to the current universities’ (in)ability to offer
independent commentary. The social meanings of money are also well theorized by
Valerie Wilson. In The Secret Life of Money, she aligns cultural and business studies
research to present the gendered nature of capital. By relating money and pleasure,
money is framed as conveying distinct means in terms of both race and class.

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Clearly, in such an environment, journalistic ethics, in terms of payment, advertising

and entertainment, must be critically monitored.
There is much scholarly work to be conducted on the history of journalism in
Australia. One of the finest attempts at such a complex, controversial field is Ann
Curthoys and Julianne Schultz’s edited collection Journalism: Print, Politics and
Popular Culture. In her Introduction (pp. 1–9), Curthoys situates print journalism
into Australian life and the colonial process. She places the flow of print into both
politics and popular culture. However, she also recognizes the changes to
journalistic work practices, styles of writing, look, layout and the technologies of
production. Aware of the intellectual firecrackers resident in current journalism
theory, she states that scholars must combine ‘the very different traditions and
strengths of the older discipline of history, English, political science, and sociology
with the newer ones of communication and cultural studies’. Curthoys offers a short
but effective historiographical study. Clem Lloyd evaluates the role of ‘British press
traditions, colonial governors, and the struggle for a “free” press’ (pp. 10–19).
Researching how the British traditions restrict press freedom in the Australian press,
he is critical of the application of civil and criminal libel actions. Also extremely
innovative is Denis Cryle’s ‘Old Tales, New Techniques’ (pp. 56–69), which traces
how historians of the popular press discuss industrial and technological
developments, urban infrastructure and social change. He grants a texture to the
colours and controversies of popular journalism in the 1890s and 1930s. The great
Australian writer Sylvia Lawson labels nationalist writing as a ‘Print Circus’ (pp.
83–96). She questions how to write about such a historically charged, socially
energetic text such as The Bulletin. The need to comment on the misogyny, while
also monitoring the paradoxical reading and writing positions, requires an
intellectual precision ideally suited to Lawson’s abilities.
The text also features a chapter by Kathryn Evans, sampling ‘The Shadow of the
Photographer’ (pp. 131–43). She conveys the working reality of Australian press
photographers with the history of press photography in the 1930s, the decade of the
pictorial magazine. Evans suggests how images are integral to forming the ‘popular
senses of news’. Australia, like Britain, has a strong history of journalists
uncovering political scandals. David McKnight probes ‘The Investigative Tradition
in Australian Journalism 1945–1965’ (pp. 155–67). Being drawn to undercover
methods, and melodramatic releases of sensational material, he asks if ‘the exposure
of surprising new information on matters of public interest ever actually change
anything’. Such a rhetorical question is answered by Prue Torney-Parlicki’s ‘The
Australian Journalist as Historian’ (pp. 245–58). Recognizing the Australian
journalistic tradition of historical writing, particularly in times of war, she suggests
that there are many methodological issues to be explored in the link between history
and journalism. This edited collection offers a safe dock for such research to be
When the history of the journalistic present comes to be written, it will invariably
be focused on how the country’s press galleries handled the political issues of the
Australian scene. Margaret Simon’s Fit to Print will be a significant record of this
time. Focusing on the Canberra Press Gallery, she reveals the codes of news
reportage. Through four sections—watching, telling, feeling, selling—she calls for
a reinvigoration of political journalism. Through the alliances and compromises, she
realizes that ‘there were only two types of ambition in Australian journalism. There

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were those who wanted to leave and write novels, and those who wanted to be editor
of The Age.’ She also presents a counterflow to her narrative, asking how the private
life of politicians is handled within the gallery reportage, and how female journalists
manage this environment. This short book provides a powerful corrective to Keith
Windschuttle’s idealistic presentation of journalism’s history.
Elections are always sites of political and journalistic hand-wringing. Such a
reflexive exercise is undertaken by Murray Waldren’s Future Tense: Australia
beyond Election 1998. The aim of the text is to investigate how editorial frameworks
are created and stories produced. There was a sense during this election that the
major issues were obscured, and social alternatives unrealized. The book has been
written by journalists from The Australian, the national paper. The most famous of
these is the political journalist Paul Kelly. In his ‘The Paradox of Pessimism:
Australia Today—and Tomorrow’ (pp. 1–35), he tries to grasp why the standard of
living is high but the national mood is uncertain and depressed. Kelly fathoms a
‘culture of complaint’ that blames politicians if happiness and fulfilment do not
result through life. Yet there remains a crisis in Australia—one of leadership.
Dennis Shanahan investigates ‘Flunking Leadership 1’ (pp. 57–66), asking why
Australians are far more focused on sport and holidays than judging political issues.
The active dislike for the politicians and the electoral process is believed by
Shanahan to place the stability of the nation ‘under threat’. Yet the most
surprising—and entertaining—of the essays is Shelly Gare’s ‘Too much Truffle Oil:
Baby Boomers and the Generation War’ (pp. 227–30). A clever focus on ‘the
gorgeous, spoiled darlings of the 1960s’ has revealed a shift from making a living to
quality of life and lifestyle. The generation raised on sun-dried tomatoes, pesto,
balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and fresh pasta are beginning to enter an
‘Age of the Nervous Baby Boomer’. Economic instability has confused clearly
determined generational politics and initiated new demands from the political
system. Future Tense provides a collection of sharp essays. If the collection has a
flaw, then it is the lack of blame or questioning of journalists’ behaviour.
While baby boomers are questioning the price of sun-dried tomatoes, they are also
probing the values of young people. Simon Cooper’s ‘Youth, Guns and Automatic
Responses’ (Arena Magazine 41[1999] 5–7) is troubled by the relationship between
youth, society and violence. Attention is placed on the Internet, video games and
industrial music. Popular culture becomes a ‘negative influence’. Cooper denies the
celebrations of popular culture presented by critics such as Mark Davis, believing
that it merely offers a flip side of the conservative argument, that film, television and
popular music has little value. Of particular concern is the interactivity of video
games and their role in creating active consumers of both goods and information.
However, cultural critics must guard against judging too rigidly young adults’
consumption of the media. As Vanessa Evans and Jason Sternberg have shown in
‘Young People, Politics and Television Current Affairs in Australia’ (Journal of
Australian Studies 63[1999] 103–9), the youth as folk devil ideology is surviving on
television news. This degradation has a context. John Howard’s treatment of youth-
based issues is described by Evans and Sternberg as ‘institutional discrimination’.
The alienation of this group from the political process means that a significant
collective in the culture will be unable to participate in the development of political

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If any truths are revealed through the tabloid wars, then it is that the relationship
between media and society requires sustained intellectual treatment. Michael
O’Shaughnessy has presented such a study in Media and Society: An Introduction.
Offering definitions of both the media and media studies, semiotic theory is well
utilized, as is attention to postmodernity. It is obvious that this book is a result of
teaching, demonstrating not only a depth of knowledge, but an understanding of
how to convey complex ideas in clear language. International material is covered,
but there is a primary focus on Australia. He also shows why it is imperative to study
the media.
While journalist educators and cultural studies scholars wage wars over truth,
ethics and writing, it is obvious that while the Australian political system may be
lacking spice, universities are sites of debate, critique and interpretation. Such a
function is necessary as national histories are unravelled, national cinema is growing
and feminism is challenging the commodification of the body politic. Australian
popular culture and media studies remains a volatile, diverse palette of paradigms
and possibilities.

Books Reviewed

Albury, R. The Politics of Reproduction. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 209. pb A$35
ISBN 1 8644 8906 5.
Attwood, B. and A. Markus. The Struggle for Aboriginal Rights: A Documentary
History. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 375. pb A$29.95 ISBN 1 8644 8584 1.
Bailey, J. Reel Women: Working in Film and Television. Australian Film Televizion
and Radio School. [1999] pp. 408. pb A$30 ISBN 1 8763 5104 7.
Barcan, R. and I. Buchanan. Imagining Australian Space: Cultural Studies and
Spatial Inquiry. University of Western Australian Press. [1999] pp. 218. pb
A$34.95 ISBN 1 8762 6837 9.
Bennett, S. White Politics and Black Australians. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 228.
pb A$24.95 ISBN 1 8644 8703 8.
Bolton, G. and J. Gregory. Claremont: A History. University of Western Australia
Press. [1999] pp. 244. pb A$39.95 ISBN 1 8762 6839 5.
Brophy, P. Cinesonic. Australian Film Televizion and Radio School. [1999] pp. 266.
pb A$25 ISBN 1 8763 5108 X.
Caputo, R. and G. Burton. Second Take: Australian Film-Makers Talk. Allen &
Unwin. [1999] pp. 342. pb A$27.40 ISBN 1 8644 8765 8.
Cashman, R. and A. Hughes. Staging the Olympics: The Event and its Impact.
University of New South Wales Press. [1999] pp. 226. pb A$32.95 ISBN 0 8684
0729 1.
Crawford, P. and J. Skene. Women and Citizenship: Suffrage Centenary. University
of Western Australia Press. [1999] pp. 266. pb A$20 ISBN 0 8642 2923 2.
Curthoys, Ann and Julianne Shultz, eds. Journalism: Print, Politics and Popular
Culture. University of Queensland Press. [1999] pp. 331. pb A$29.95 ISBN 0
7022 3137 1.
Dixson, M. The Imaginary Australian: Anglo-Celts and Identity—1788 to the
Present. University of New South Wales Press. [1999] pp. 224. pb A$24.95 ISBN
0 8684 0665 1.

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Dixson, M. The Real Matilda: Woman and Identity in Australia—1788 to the

Present. University of New South Wales Press. [1999] pp. 318. pb A$24.95 ISBN
0 8684 0737 2.
Dreyfus, K. Sweethearts of Rhythm. Currency Press. [1999] pp. 128. pb A$29.95
ISBN 0 8681 9452 2.
During, S. The Cultural Studies Reader. Routledge. [1999] pp. 610. pb A$51.85
ISBN 0 4151 3754 3.
Gandhi, L. Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp.
200. pb A$24.95 ISBN 1 8644 8431 4.
Haigh, G. The Summer Game: Australian Test Cricket 1949–71. Text Publishing.
[1999] pp. 356. pb A$27.38 ISBN 1 8764 8534 5.
Hawthorne, S. and R. Klein. Cyberfeminism: Connectivity, Critique, Creativity.
Spinifex. [1999] pp. 435. pb A$24.95 ISBN 1 8755 5968 X.
Lumby, C. Gotcha: Life in a Tabloid World. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 280. pb
A$16.95 ISBN 1 8650 8073 X.
McFarlane, B., G. Mayeer and I. Bertrand. The Oxford Companion to Australian
Film. Oxford University Press. [1999] pp. 583. pb A$87.50 ISBN 0 1955 3797 1.
Manne, R. The Australian Century: Political Struggle in the Building of a Nation.
Text Publishing. [1999] pp. 333. pb A$27.38 ISBN 1 8758 4721 9.
Mohanram, R. Black Body: Women, Colonialism and Space. Allen & Unwin. [1999]
pp. 250. pb A$35 ISBN 1 8644 8561 2.
Neumann, K., N. Thomas and H. Ericksen. Quicksands: Foundational Histories in
Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. University of New South Wales Press.
[1999] pp. 288. pb A$32.95 ISBN 0 8684 0633 3.
O’Shaughnessy, M. Media and Society: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.
[1999] pp. 311. pb A$38.34 ISBN 0 1955 0788 6.
Palmer, K. Swinging the Billy: Indigenous and Other Styles of Australian Bush
Cooking. Aboriginal Studies Press. [1999] pp. 79. pb A$19.95 ISBN 0 8557 5317
Reynolds, H. Why Weren’t We Told? Viking. pp. 264. pb A$30.60 ISBN 0 6708
8741 2.
Riemer, A. Sandstone Gothic: Confessions of an Accidental Academic. Allen &
Unwin. [1999] pp. 224. pb A$19.95 ISBN 1 8644 8626 0.
Sherington, G. and C. Jeffery. Fairbridge: Empire, Child and Migration. University
of Western Australia Press. [1999] pp. 287. pb A$39.95 ISBN 1 8762 6827 X.
Simons, M. Fit to Print: Inside the Canberra Press Gallery. University of New
South Wales Press. [1999] pp. 128. pb A$19.95 ISBN 0 8684 0649 X.
Thomas, M. Dreams in the Shadows: Vietnamese-Australian Lives in Transition.
Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 220. pb A$35 ISBN 1 8644 8862 X.
Waldren, M. Future Tense: Australia beyond Election 1998. Allen & Unwin. [1999]
pp. 280. pb A$27.40 ISBN 1 8650 8034 9.
Walker, D. Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia 1850–1939. University
of Queensland Press. [1999] pp. 312. pb A$32.79 ISBN 0 7022 3131 2.
Wark, M. Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace. Pluto Press. [1999] pp. 372. pb
A$24.95 ISBN 1 8640 304 5.
Whiteoak, J. Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1839–1970.
Currency Press. [1999] pp. 368. pb A$43.95 ISBN 0 8681 9543 X.

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Williams, J. Anzacs, the Media and the Great War. University of New South Wales
Press. [1999] pp. 288. pb A$37.95 ISBN 0 8684 0569 8.
Wilson, V. The Secret Life of Money: Exposing the Private Parts of Personal
Money. Allen & Unwin. [1999] pp. 224. pb A$19.95 ISBN 1 8644 8633 3.

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