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Chk Chk BOOM!
May 23, 2009 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Chk Chk BOOM! 'Clare the Kings Cross bogan' gets her 15 minutes of internet fame from an unintentionally hilarious eyewitness account of a shooting in Sydney's red light district.

Or perhaps it wasn't so unintentional.
posted by UbuRoivas (155 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
WTF? Is "wog" an acceptable word in Australia?
posted by doublesix at 4:02 PM on May 23, 2009


Since when did 'racist' = 'hilarious'?
posted by RokkitNite at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


technically, bogans aren't a race.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Watching that, I thought that "wog" was a similar term to punter in England. It seems I'm wrong, and I have to wonder why you would lie on camera about a shooting and be racist whilst doing so.

I could sort of understand (not be ok with, but understand) one or the other, but both?
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:09 PM on May 23, 2009


So, onomatopoeia is all it takes to get fame these days? In that case,

SQUORP!

Also, someone got shot. Where's the hilarious?
posted by zerokey at 4:10 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


WOG 247 up, 138 down

People from European or Middle Eastern background, usually closer to asia. Such as Italy, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey etc. Only drive done up cars or Skyliners, subarus or monaros, with PHAT soundsystems with subwoofers, with neon lights. Always wear clothes bought from Footlocker or InSport. Their Faviroute brand usually is champion and nike. Usually wear big puffy jackets and heaps of gold chains. Their haircut consists of the top long and all the sides and back shaven. Most used terms : FULLLY SICK MATE. OH MY GOD BRO! Their diets consist of Kebabs, pizza and cheap food. They secretly ador their mothers. On average a WOG carries 4.5 fones on them.

Habib: Aaaahh bro, i gott call hamadri, hes gotta check out this fully sick soundsystem i put in my HSV. Check this. It make My kebab jump like the hydrolics hamadri has.

Mostafa: OH MY GOD BRO!

Leb3: SICK

Mostafa: FULLY


I guess wog = superset of guido.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:11 PM on May 23, 2009


Bubb Rubb must be outraged.
posted by Pseudonumb at 4:18 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


leb, wog, lolracism.
Also I fail to see the "internet celebrity" part in that post, besides a claim by a yellowpress paper that it is so...
posted by kolophon at 4:19 PM on May 23, 2009


Did I hear that right? Ms Werbeloff "who is from Sydney's northern beaches" was just coming out a tanning parlor?
posted by rokusan at 4:21 PM on May 23, 2009


This is why all of the other continents made Australia go play by itself.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 4:24 PM on May 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I feel like a wog
posted by Dr-Baa at 4:24 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What?
posted by loquacious at 4:25 PM on May 23, 2009


She may turn out to be a stripper - that's what Kings Cross is for. It'd be great if she's a stripper on the quiet and this 'outs' her.
posted by milkwood at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2009


take a look at today's SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. this story is a fake.
posted by kitchenrat at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2009


maybe I'm too old, maybe I'm from the wrong side of the world, maybe I'm stupid...

but... not much of this makes sense....
posted by HuronBob at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2009


Chicka Chicka Boom!
posted by Sailormom at 4:47 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Australians are officially as fucked as Americans... "I saw the gun... it was a glock nine... it was awesome..."

Kings X is a melting pot of utter moronic activity.

RIP Australian culture (or lack thereof).
posted by a non e mouse at 4:48 PM on May 23, 2009


Better looking, but not nearly as descriptive as the witness to "Boo Got Shot."
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:59 PM on May 23, 2009


Bow chicka bow bow.
posted by bwg at 4:59 PM on May 23, 2009


WTF? Is "wog" an acceptable word in Australia?

It's like "guinea" in American English. Not the height of offensive, but you wouldn't bleat it to a TV camera.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:01 PM on May 23, 2009


Did that Sheila say "And then I ran away cause it was all I wanted to see" ...?

Is that some Australian slang for "all I could take," or did she actually stick around long enough to see someone get shot and then go "Well, I've gotten all the enjoyment out of this situation, I'm off"?

Also, she looks so much like a girl I dated about a decade ago it creeps me the fuck out. She was a complete nutbar too.
posted by Glee at 5:01 PM on May 23, 2009


A better Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,

and the victim, who looks like he's okay, but is apparently upset that she's getting all the attention.
posted by eye of newt at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2009


Media watch will have a field day with this...

Film crew and inexperienced journo are sent to Kings X to pick up a shooting story.
Arrive to see the usual drunk and drug fucked lowest common denominator crowd.
"Clare" decides to take the piss out of the journo.
Journo goes back to news room, and the producer decides to use the Clare footage because of its colourful language, to 'sell' the story.
Whole thing blows up in their faces.

Channel 9 maintain their status as Australia's answer to Fox news.
posted by a non e mouse at 5:11 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


BAUM BAUM ... chick ... chickachicka
posted by Flunkie at 5:22 PM on May 23, 2009


In case anyone else was wondering about "bogan," Wikipedia says it's "Australian and New Zealand English slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person who is, or is perceived to be, of a lower-class background." (I note that after the sentence "The origin of the term 'bogan' as a pejorative is unclear; both the Macquarie Dictionary and the Australian Oxford Dictionary cite its origin as unknown," some moron has added "Comparison might be made with the Scots Gaelic bòcan or the Manx buggane, mythological creatures with elements of mischief, nuisance and/or malice." Comparison might be made with your mother, jerkoff.)
posted by languagehat at 5:24 PM on May 23, 2009 [17 favorites]


In case anyone else was wondering about "bogan,"

I wasn't, but thanks. If you've got your notepad out, I use the term bogle in exactly the same way as bogan. Bogan probably comes from the River Bogan, and the people living along it.
posted by fire&wings at 5:34 PM on May 23, 2009


Kings X is a melting pot of utter moronic activity.

not true at all! pinnick, tabor, and gaskill are all quite capable and creative within their sound. if anything, they never got the chance that they deserved due to manager sam taylor's interference and the advent of grunge. while i don't care for everything that they have done stylistically, i appreciate their willingness to try.
posted by the aloha at 5:40 PM on May 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


So the wog didn't do it with the other wog's cousin at all then?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're still waiting word from the fully sick boys Peter.
posted by Sailormom at 5:55 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


bogan = bucan, L-hat. Not really, but the word was on my mind today. Teeth, innit?
posted by mwhybark at 5:59 PM on May 23, 2009


"Australian and New Zealand English slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person who is, or is perceived to be, of a lower-class background."

Hmm. That doesn't really catch the full flavour of it. It'd be like defining "redneck" as "American slang for poor person", which covers some, but not all of the cases. Bogans wear black jeans and spend their teenage years driving their cars irresponsibly around Upper Hutt or New Plymouth or West Auckland, for example.
posted by rodgerd at 6:04 PM on May 23, 2009


“The fatter wog said to the skinnier wog: 'Oi bro, you slept with my cousin'. And the other one said: 'Nah man, I didn't for shit, eh' and the other one goes: 'I will call on my fully sick boys, eh'. And then pulled out a gun and went chk-chk boom!"

"We have interviewed her and she has not witnessed the shooting," said acting Kings Cross Police crime manager, Detective Inspector Matt McQueen. "She has admitted to making it all up and has not witnessed the shooting."

Not enough gutter mind here. Adding play her off, keyboard cat.
posted by nickyskye at 6:22 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


It must be daylight there in Australia.
posted by ericb at 6:30 PM on May 23, 2009


languagehat, I love it when you do your thing.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:31 PM on May 23, 2009


Wow, even Metafilter wants me to step away from the computer and go outside this weekend.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:33 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I once had a co-worker from Australia, now here in the U.S. if you saw this guy and were asked to say what his ethnicity was you would say "white" or you would say "Australian" because he still spoke with an Australian accent. But apparently in Australia he said he was considered a "Wog" because his family was like part Greek and lived in southeast Europe (like the Czech Republic or Slovakia). According to him being "white" in Australia meant being British or something like that. An Italian or Greek wouldn't, according to him, be considered "white"

He further opined that Australia was "Just a very racist place."
posted by delmoi at 6:42 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well. That was alot of information about Australia.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 7:14 PM on May 23, 2009


Delmoi - you've trotted out that anecdote at least once before, to justify your third person generalisation that all Australians are racist.

Is that it?
posted by a non e mouse at 7:21 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He further opined that Australia was "Just a very racist place."

Well, it is populated entirely by criminals. Like Florida.
posted by rokusan at 7:32 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just for reference:

1. Hmm, One of the guys I work with is Australian
2. One of my co-workers is Australian. If you saw him you'd think he was white
3. And the less imaginative: Australia sucks.

What was that you were saying about racism?
posted by a non e mouse at 7:33 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Link for 1 again.
posted by a non e mouse at 7:35 PM on May 23, 2009


Media watch will have a field day with this...

that's what i think makes it funny. people overseas who are taking her at face value & thinking "omg aussies are teh racist!" are probably missing the fact that she's almost certainly taking the piss out of the camera crew.

her whole "i'm gonna call on my fully sick boys" schtick is directly lifted from a number of live & televised comedy shows where aussies of mediterranean descent parody themselves - shows like Acropolis Now, Wogs out of Work, and Fat Pizza.

the fact that she gets it wrong & puts on a maori accent instead is just icing on the cake, not to mention the strong possibility that being out in the Cross at 3am and not drunk means she was probably coking off her tits, a nice enough looking girl in a tattoo parlour and all...
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:38 PM on May 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Maybe she's a Scientologist.
posted by spock at 7:41 PM on May 23, 2009


She's definitely very Sydney though, unintentional or not
posted by dydecker at 7:47 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Delmoi: According to him being "white" in Australia meant being British or something like that. An Italian or Greek wouldn't, according to him, be considered "white"

Same's true in Sweden (and I'd bet in most of Scandinavia). Non-western Europeans aren't considered "white". Not sure it's intended to be racist per se (although using a label like "white" in conversation can, in itself, be pretty telling).

"White" has a pretty specific meaning here and it pretty much is "fair skin, blue/grey/green eyes, blonde/light hair." I guess Greeks and Italians would be considered "southern European" or "Mediterranean".
posted by Glee at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2009


yes, very Sydney.

they should make her a cultural ambassador for the city.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:55 PM on May 23, 2009


Ok I've watched that vid ten times now (...she's pretty funny!) and she's totally taking the piss. And how. Watch her face as she say's "chk-chk boom".

Funny!
posted by Glee at 8:04 PM on May 23, 2009


Regarding the word "wog", wikipedia makes the following claim:

Wog is a word with definite and widespread currency in contemporary Australian English, and for the most part it is rarely considered to be the sort of racist slur that it remains in other parts of the Anglosphere.

Also, I may have a somewhat incorrect grasp on the term (having grown up with a good number of Australians around, but never having been to Australia) but that woman doesn't look awfully bogan to me. Not exactly a class act, but too... I dunno, urban or modern to be properly bogan. I can't quite explain it.
posted by Dysk at 8:13 PM on May 23, 2009


Delmoi - you've trotted out that anecdote at least once before, to justify your third person generalisation that all Australians are racist.

Well, this time it was to specifically explain what "Wog" meant.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on May 23, 2009


Glee: I can only speak for Denmark, but whiteness isn't exclusive to Danes, Scandivians or even Western Europeans in Denmark. If you're of caucasian complexion, you're white, even if you're from Russia, Italy, or Poland.

To be Danish, however, that is different. To be Danish, your parents need to be Danish. Apply that logic the way it usually is in Denmark, and you're not Danish if any of your ancestors in living memory have ever lived anywhere else.
posted by Dysk at 8:23 PM on May 23, 2009


sorry, guys but you're actually wogs. The wogs start at Calais, according the English.
posted by dydecker at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


that woman doesn't look awfully bogan to me.

"bogan" can mean different things to different people. in this case, she has a particularly broad, nasal accent that many would consider bogan, irregardless of how she looks or dresses.

other notable bogans would include former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, cricketer Shane Warne, and the quintessential bogan, Paul Hogan.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:32 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brother Dysk: Yeah "western Europe" might've been too narrow (although I rather often hear Russians, Poles, even the Finnish, labelled -- if labelled at all -- as "slavic" rather than "white". Apparently, we really need to compartmentalize.).

Re: "Danish", "Swedish" is the same. If your family haven't lived here for 23 generations, you're a dirty foreigner and regarded with suspicion. (Last sentence not universally true, but sadly true enough in various parts of society.)

UbuRoivas: how would "irregardless" be considered? BURN!
posted by Glee at 9:33 PM on May 23, 2009


"Shock! It's almost as if the evolution of newsertainment has left the audience not taking any of it seriously." - Fake Stephen Conroy on Twitter.

I'm convinced she thought it'd be hilarious to tell a fake story to some over-eager journalist. It seems pretty similar to people telling silly stories to anthropologists, I reckon - if someone comes into your area, is clearly out of place and yet really excited to be there, it'd be pretty tempting to tease them a bit. Plus you get to be the centre of attention for a bit.

But I hope seeing herself all over the news makes her realise how she comes across to other people: racist and ignorant. Mediterranean and New Zealand accents aren't that close! And wog is not a nice word, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by harriet vane at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2009


I thought the "It was awesome" guy was pretty hilarious, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on May 23, 2009


How many bogans died to bring us this information?
posted by ooga_booga at 10:36 PM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's less racism and more that ethnic groups like Greeks and Italians in Australia keep very close communities -- I live in a very ethnic part of Melbourne and am surrounded by Greek bookstores, Italian supermarkets and the like, and the area is full of people who've been living here 20-30 years and don't speak a world of English.

It's great most of the time (especially food-wise) but it can get irritating: for example I had a middle aged Italian guy screaming at me the other day cause I assume he wanted to use the air hose at a gas station I was using, but his frustration was all in italian.

So that can cause some tension, especially as like every country we've got our equivalents to the American Mexican border patrol types.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 11:01 PM on May 23, 2009


Io preferirei sentire frustrazioni del popolo in qualsiasi altra lingua di "whingey strayan".
posted by a non e mouse at 11:34 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


==="bogan" can mean different things to different people. in this case, she has a particularly broad, nasal accent that many would consider bogan, irregardless of how she looks or dresses.
other notable bogans would include former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, cricketer Shane Warne, and the quintessential bogan, Paul Hogan.
===

I disagree. What you are describing (and particularly those 3 people) was traditionally known as ocker. Although that word is somewhat deprecated, bogan doesn't replace it. Bogan has a dimension of simpleton or naivete, generally speaking, which is not the case with ocker. Bogan is often a datapoint perjorative: deployed to describe a person in a single situation where they've acted stupidly and not just as a general descriptor for someone's character. [I agree that this is open to some disagreement though: the times they are a changin'.]

And delmoi, you repetetive irksome doink, my ex-girlfriend - born in Australia - had Greek heritage and she referred to herself, her family and church friends as wogs. It's definitely not the racist epithet it once was, but of course, it's one of those words where the tone and speaker's origins and attitude, as well as those of their audience, confers a variable level of insult on its meaning (but it's usually zero). There are a shitload of people here with Greek/Italian background who use 'wog' as a casual, uncharged word.
posted by peacay at 11:42 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Given that it was a place called Kings Cross where people get shot and it was full of Australians I got confused and assumed it was in London.

Anyway, I'm with the New Zealanders on the whole Australians thing.
posted by Artw at 11:59 PM on May 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Of course sometimes it all goes wrong.
posted by Artw at 12:04 AM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Whingey strayan" sitter väl men resten va ju fetjidder a non e mouse. Och om chk-chk-Carla faller under den beskrivningen vet e fan -- jag tror fortfarande att hon 'bara' skämtade; du menar säkert hela jävla kontinenten. Bor bara krimmon och pundare där ändå. Vitt slödder m.a.o. Skojar.
posted by Glee at 12:05 AM on May 24, 2009


Silly boys, that's all Chopper had to say, and poor little Sammy got blown away.
posted by Artw at 12:22 AM on May 24, 2009


'Bogan' is a word invented by sheltered middle-class people who think anyone who works with his or her hands must be retarded.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 12:28 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, how long did you live in Australia, to become such an expert on it?
posted by mattdidthat at 12:51 AM on May 24, 2009


and lived in southeast Europe (like the Czech Republic or Slovakia).

He's an expert on European geography too, apparently.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:59 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have heard people proudly refer to themselves as bogan in much the same way as wogs do. And here's the science: ‘Bogan’: Polite or not? Cultural implications of a term in Australian slang. Or the PDF if you prefer.
posted by moody cow at 1:02 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


regarding racism in Australia, here's a couple of anecdotes.

My Korean girlfriend and family moved to Sydney when she was 8 years old. Her and her sister were bullied and assaulted almost everyday at school because of their Asian heritage. Her parents who had set up a number of retail businesses had their storefront windows smashed in 4 times in 1 year before the patriarch couldn't take it anymore and took his family to Canada.

I myself have been to Australia and although I was never overtly discriminated against, I could definitely feel a frisson when people looked at me ( I'm not 'white' ). The oddest situation that I witnessed was while playing craps at the Casino and the dealer refused to take bets from my Asian friend. No explanation given.

Not in any hurry to go back to Australia. That being said I found the Kiwis to be the warmest and most welcoming people. Go figure.

Also in my travels, I've found Aussies, especially in groups of 3 or more rather scary and brutish. I've only ever been in 2 bar fights in my life ( I never started them ). Once I was attacked by 4 Aussies in a bar in the Philippines and once by 3 Aussies in a pub in London.
posted by dawdle at 1:11 AM on May 24, 2009


[I agree that this is open to some disagreement though: the times they are a changin'.]

for mine, there's a large crossover between ocker & bogan. for example, no (inner-) urban person would unselfconsciously sound like an ocker unless they were a bogan.

try to tell me that the very second she opened her mouth, you didn't instantly guess she was from either Pinriff, the Shieyah, or the Insulah Peninsulah*.

* naturally, massive rising inflections need to be applied here for proper understanding
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:14 AM on May 24, 2009


My google fu is failing me, but has any other western country banned the immigration of non-whites so late as 1973 as Australia did ?

For the record I like Mel Gibson, Crocodile Dundee, Foster's beer and that redhead who was married to Tom Cruise. Oh yeah and kangaroos too.

G'day Mate !
posted by dawdle at 1:20 AM on May 24, 2009


your google-fu must really be failing, because while the white australia policy was officially killed in 1973, it was never a ban, but a restriction on immigration by non-whiteys. and the restrictions were gradually eroded from WW2 onwards, such that australia took (either proportionally or absolutely) more refugees from the vietnam war than any other country, and today my workmates are overwhelmingly from non-european backgrounds, eg indians, lankans, indonesians, filipinos, chinese (from the mainland, HK, malaysia etc), plenty of vietnamese, koreans, burmese, iranians, lebanese, egyptians...about the only people we don't have a whole lot of are africans, because they're all settled in melbourne & adelaide.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:32 AM on May 24, 2009


right so until 1973, if you weren't white immigration to Australia was restricted. AGAIN all based on the colour of your skin. Thanks for the info.
posted by dawdle at 1:35 AM on May 24, 2009


There is a town a few hundred clicks north west of Sydney called Bogan Gate. I often wonder who left it open.
posted by Kerasia at 1:45 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


AGAIN all based on the colour of your skin.

meh. can't tell where you're from, but from your questions, the US is a reasonable guess. not exactly a country that can get on any kind of high horse about racism, historically. apart from the whole african-american thing, US citizens of japanese descent were locked up during WW2, even if they'd been in the country for generations, right? but whatever, the past is the past & the people you're talking to were - for the most part - probably not even born yet in the period you're talking about.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 AM on May 24, 2009


not the US. I reside in Canada and am of Asian descent.

I brought up the White Australia policy because I was shocked to learn that it wasn't abolished until 1973. I found that quite late and I reasoned that the overt racism is a vestige of that policy's acceptance by the older generation of Aussies who are still alive today and wield considerable political and economic power and influence over Aussie culture and attitudes. Hence the popularity of Pauline Hanson and those of her ilk.

I should further expand my feelings towards Aussies. I've never met AN Aussie I didn't like. It's just when you put a bunch of them together they become boorish in my experience.
posted by dawdle at 2:05 AM on May 24, 2009


Not to be confused with bogons, which also seem to be in a high energy state during this event.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:07 AM on May 24, 2009


even Lonely Planet mentions racist attitudes towards Foreigners in their Australia publications btw.
posted by dawdle at 2:07 AM on May 24, 2009


and UbuRoivas, yes obviously I am making broad general statements and giving only anecdotal evidence. And by virtue of your presence on MEFI and the ethnic composition of your workplace I don't suspect that you are racist.

I'm just relating how I and those around me have experienced racism in Australia.
posted by dawdle at 2:11 AM on May 24, 2009


ah, but pauline hanson & her supporters are all bogans, so they don't count. likewise, these boors that you talk about. they really should be rounded up & sent to labour beautification camps in some godforsaken place where nobody lives, like tasmania for example.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:14 AM on May 24, 2009


^
You missed the obvious chance to have a shot at NZ then, for shame.

the fact that she gets it wrong & puts on a maori accent instead is just icing on the cake, not to mention the strong possibility that being out in the Cross at 3am and not drunk means she was probably coking off her tits, a nice enough looking girl in a tattoo parlour and all...


But I'm glad someone else noticed this. I was listening to her and I was like 'what, Maori are "wogs" now? Or "wogs" speak like New Zealanders?"

No-one got any love for that guy with the glasses, and his girlfriend trying to drag him off camera?
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:54 AM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


the older generation of Aussies who are still alive today and wield considerable political and economic power and influence over Aussie culture and attitudes. Hence the popularity of Pauline Hanson and those of her ilk.

I'm sorry dawdle but you have completely 100% arse-about. Hansonism was reaction against the multicultural agenda by those who wield the political and economic power. Hansonites were disaffected and powerless, that was the basis of their issue. As for popular, there are no overtly racist political parties with any representation anywhere in Australia. Hanson was a flash in the pan that got less than 1 percent of the vote in Victoria and not much more than that in Sydney - more than ten years ago. Trying to pin Hanson on all Australians indicates someone who doesn't follow Australian politics much at all.
posted by wilful at 3:20 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hansonism was reaction against [the multicultural agenda by those who wield the political and economic power]

parsed that for you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 AM on May 24, 2009


The White Australia policy was pretty much a result of the WW2 hostilities with the Japanese, followed by the Macarthy-esque fear of communist China. It didn't help that we had two decades of conservative rule to cement it.
In Australia, the cold war was much more concerned with the Asian domino theory and the fear of a billion Chinese than the Russians. Not that we weren't scared that their nukes would rain on us too.
In the 1950s, the 'Yellow Peril' was a marshalling point for any conservative feeling insecure so far from Britain.
In WW2 we had plans for falling back behind Brisbane and Darwin (and Perth, I learnt this week) when the Japs invaded, and there were more bombs dropped on Darwin than Pearl Harbour.
Since the 1970s there has been a pretty huge culture shift. I remember growing up where the 'wogs' from Italy and Greece were the bottom of the pile. In the late 1970s this switched to East Asians, and especially Vietnamese boat people. The complaint was they don't assimilate.
This decade it has been muslim immigrants getting the same treatment.
Typically it takes a generation for the 'new Australians' to become just Aussies with interesting food, and I suggest the experience of Italian or Greek immigrants not speaking English is now vanishingly small, limited to some of those who came in the 1950s and are now at retirement age. Certainly, I've never met a child of Mediterranean immigrants who didn''t speak English, much more likely they had to be dragged to Italian school on a Saturday to pick up some Italian.
While there are suburbs where there are concentrations of one particular nationality, I don't really see them as enclaves, its not like you can't do your shopping in English in Cabramatta, even if most of the shop keepers are Asian.
posted by bystander at 3:40 AM on May 24, 2009


dawdle: I brought up the White Australia policy because I was shocked to learn that it wasn't abolished until 1973. I found that quite late and I reasoned that the overt racism is a vestige of that policy's acceptance by the older generation of Aussies who are still alive today and wield considerable political and economic power and influence over Aussie culture and attitudes. Hence the popularity of Pauline Hanson and those of her ilk.

Sorry, but that's completely wrong. Pauline Hanson was the anthesis of people who wield political and economic power. She positioned herself as an "everywoman" who was standing up for the everyday Aussie who felt marginalised by the social and political changes that had occurred in Australia in the last few decades of the 20th C. She connected with a working class who were struggling to make ends meet and wanted somebody to blame and immigration was an easy target.

Additionally, let's note that Hanson was elected in 1996 before the majority of her extremist views came out, and that's the only election she ever won. She's run six more times, both at a state and federal level, and lost each time. One Nation, the party Hanson founded, fared a little better, but they've also fizzled out now.

Pauline Hanson is a blight on Australia's political history, no doubt about it, but her star flashed briefly. To hold her up as an example of entrenched Australian racism is both inaccurate and insulting to the vast majority of Australians who thought she was full of it.
posted by Georgina at 3:44 AM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the comment that a casino dealer wouldn't serve an Asian! Come on, players of Chinese ancestry outnumber European ancestry just about any night of the week at Star City (ten minutes walk from Sydney's China town).
There are plenty of racists in Australia, but the racism is a lot more insidious than some sort of customer service apartheid. Well, except for the clowns opposing a muslim shcool on Sydney's fringe as it will be a "training ground for terrorists".
posted by bystander at 3:46 AM on May 24, 2009


players of Chinese ancestry outnumber European ancestry just about any night of the week at Star City (ten minutes walk from Sydney's China town).

they also had (maybe still have, i haven't noticed) a free bus service that ran from the CBD via Chinatown to the casino. the bus was painted red, and the route number was 888. something tells me that the casino knows exactly which side of their bread is vegemited.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:07 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given that it was a place called Kings Cross where people get shot and it was full of Australians I got confused and assumed it was in London.

I think it would be Earls Court if it was in London.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:09 AM on May 24, 2009


Pauline Hanson was the antithesis of people who wield political and economic power.

hm, maybe not quite. she was more of a liberal party experiment that went wrong.

knowing that the labor voters in her working-class electorate would never vote in a liberal (read: republican, in american terms) but might vote for an independent candidate spouting populist rubbish, liberal prime minister john howard "expelled her from the party" so that she could run amok as an independent, and hopefully split the labor vote enough that the liberal candidate might get across the line first.

she was very much a creation of the man who held political power at the time, but never twigged that she was just a pawn in wedge politics, and never a true player in her own right.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 AM on May 24, 2009


I thank this thread for teaching me more about Australian racial history. It's fascinating to me to see how immigrant nations regard multiculturalism.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:59 AM on May 24, 2009


UbuRoivas: liberal prime minister john howard "expelled her from the party" so that she could run amok as an independent, and hopefully split the labor vote enough that the liberal candidate might get across the line first.

As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, that doesn't jive with the facts. Hanson was expelled from the Liberal Party after the Australian Electoral Commission had closed nominations for the seat, so she was still listed as the Liberal Party candidate on the ballet and no other Liberal candidate could be named. The AEC's page for the 1996 election (do a "find" for Oxley) shows that the seat was a fight between Hanson and the Labor candidate, Les Scott. No other candidate got above 6.08% of the vote, and that was David Roy Pullen, a Democrat.
posted by Georgina at 5:03 AM on May 24, 2009


Somewhat depressing the very shallow understanding of Australia and Australian culture displayed here by others. Apart from Canada, I would challenge you all to find a more successful example of people from a vast range of cultures and backgrounds living peacefully and prospering together. Not to say we're perfect by a long shot, but we've made a fair go at it.

And yes, whoosh, she was taking the piss, the national past-time. It's the art of getting someone to take you seriously and then in reacting, unwittingly display their own prejudices, preconceptions and egocentricities.
posted by Sitegeist at 5:04 AM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I thank this thread for teaching me more about Australian racial history.

cue my favourite immigration story: post WW2, the govt had a "populate or perish" policy, having been scared shitless by the prospect of japanese invasion. so, the plan was to take boatloads of immigrants from europe. only, the first ship that arrived picked up people from greece, lebanon, egypt, and so on - all swarthy, mediterranean types, barely seen here before.

the public reaction wasn't great, so a senior public servant was sent to europe to scout out what kinds of people could be sent over next, to get the public enthusiastic about this non anglo-celtic immigration thing.

the guy reported back that balts fitted the ideal perfectly, so they loaded up a ship with healthy young people from estonia, latvia & lithuania, and made sure that the press were all present at the docks to photograph the event.

naturally, the skippies were overawed by the beauty & vitality of their new baltic overlords - the latvians, especially - and thanks to this fantastic PR coup, the path was paved for the rest of the migrants to come over, and bring with them their recipes for tasty pizza, yeeros, baba ganouj and baklava.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:16 AM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


As for the video, it sort of brought to mind the interlude in the video for "Forget About Dre".

"All I know is, I'm up in my room listening to my Will Smith CD when all a sudden I see these flames shootin' out ..."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:24 AM on May 24, 2009


Isn't that just like a wog wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight.
posted by bwg at 6:06 AM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool. My bullshit alarms were ringing on the second viewing.

My best buddy has this VERY annoying habit of disagreeing with 99% of the things I say with zero thought, especially when there are other people around. It's like frikking high school debating with him, the pro and the con teams.

So I called "pisstake" and of course he immediately says "real!" I have already sent him my self congratulatory email enquiring who, exactly, is his daddy. :)



Erm, some reasons? a] She changes from cocky eyewitness, to scared innocent girl, to girlie bimbo "you're welcome" all to quickly. b] "Fully sick boys." Who talks like that? C'mon. c] She demonstrates a head shot. The fella got shot in the legs.

Still, magnificent work on her part to seize the moment.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:18 AM on May 24, 2009


I was also confused by her adoption of a Kiwi accent. Still, this Pom can tell the difference and that has to be worth something.
posted by ob at 6:21 AM on May 24, 2009


Also, someone got shot. Where's the hilarious?

Drunk Jake and his drunk girlfriend at the end [I think she meant to say "you've said enough"]. And the "glock 9 awesome" dude. And the photoshops, check the last 3 or 4.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/slideshow_ajax.aspx?sectionid=9016&sectionname=slideshowajax&subsectionid=153560&subsectionname=clare
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:24 AM on May 24, 2009


I was shocked to learn that [the White Australia policy] wasn't abolished until 1973.

The policy was an embarrassment. It's worth pointing out that the coalition that was in power before 1973 had held the majority since 1949. For seventeen of those twenty-three years, a single man had been Prime Minister. Political thought and process had stagnated. The opposition was a joke.

But if you really want to despise us, then do so for what we did to aboriginal Australians. Prior to 1967 they were constitutionally an invisible people. Before '62 they couldn't even vote. Equal pay? They were lucky to be paid at all in many instances.

Australia is not a violent place. There are ignorant and intolerant assholes here, but it's not by accident that people migrate to Australia even from wealthy western liberal democracies in order to live without fear of violence. I'd rather be drunk and alone at night on any street in Australia than in their overseas equivalent.

Sometimes it seems like all Australian tourists are shitheads. But then, you wouldn't notice the many non-shithead Aussies because they mind their own business. Should it surprise anyone if a group of yahoos drunk in a bar in Pattaya don't exactly comport themselves like diplomats? It's a bar. It's Pattaya.

Look, if you're hell-bent on disliking Australians, go ahead. It really doesn't bother me. We probably deserve to be reminded of our suckitude from time to time. But at least find good reasons to do so. All this anecdotal and third-party rubbish makes me, quite frankly, embarrassed for you.

Also, anyone claiming to know the exact definition of 'bogan' is deluding themselves.
posted by Ritchie at 6:39 AM on May 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hi, me again. "Wog" lost it's racist power almost overnight when this play started packin' them in in the late 1980s. In at least one state there was even some debate about BANNING the play if it used that title! Good gravy.

A lesson for all you "hey, let's all gather around me and take offence together!" crowd. I've even had wogs introduce themselves to me as wogs.

HOST: And I'd like you to meet Sandy Francesca.

ME: [with a racist "wow, you don't look like a wog" look on my face] Hi!

SANDY: [reading my mind] Yeah, I a wog. Well actually I'm half wog, my dad's a wog. From Florence.

Of course, if you say it with enough venom in your voice...

posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:41 AM on May 24, 2009


"it's"?

Oh dear. I hate it when I do that. Irregardless, my post stands!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:45 AM on May 24, 2009


Ignorant me jumped to the conclusion that "wog" was short for GOLLIWOG?

I was disturbed until I started reading the comments but I'm still confused.

Carol Thatcher was vilified for using the word "golliwog" on TV
but... forget it.
posted by Hammond Rye at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2009


> And yes, whoosh, she was taking the piss, the national past-time. It's the art of getting someone to take you seriously and then in reacting, unwittingly display their own prejudices, preconceptions and egocentricities.

Yeah, but see, that's an asshole thing to do. It's what we call "trolling" online, and it's despised for good reasons. One particular MeFi Aussie springs to mind—I name no names, because I like the guy—who did this so automatically and in such unsuitable contexts that he teetered on the verge of bannination before he finally was brought to realize that he should dial it back. That's not OMG CENSORSHIP, that's learning to live in society. Save the piss-take for where it's appreciated, your local bar and your group of pals; out in public, with people who don't share your piss culture, it just makes you look like a jerk.

This is a fascinating thread, and I've learned a lot about Australian history and culture. Thanks, Aussies!
posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


» Yeah, guy with glasses did good ("There was no need for it."!), but the girlfriend obviously just tried to hog his screentime. If you do you need to drop gold like "It was awesome" guy there at the end.
posted by Glee at 7:09 AM on May 24, 2009


Ignorant me jumped to the conclusion that "wog" was short for GOLLIWOG?

I thought it was, too. A lot of wogs have curly hair like golliwog dolls and it might have come from that - but I'm only guessing. Slang has a tendency to get bastardised and change meaning like that when skipping countries over long distances.

Take the interesting history of the Aussie slang term BLUDGER, for instance [bludger = lazy person].
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:11 AM on May 24, 2009


The Carol Thatcher story is one giant facepalm. First she gets indignant that a racist remark she made was leaked, as this "breached the privacy of the Green Room", then she issues a non-apology via her Blackberry (?!) where she explains she didn't mean "golliwog" in the racist sense but in the humorous sense. Would an apology, at this point, from someone so demonstrably clueless even mean anything? Still, I did like this part:
[Comedienne Jo] Brand is the subject of a separate complaint to police from the British National Party after she joked on another BBC programme about sending excrement to people on a leaked list of members of the far-right group.
Yes, the same BNP who cry "censorship" any time someone takes the to task for some of their more colorful public remarks. I don't understand how they could even take Jo Brand's remarks seriously. It'd take her weeks to launch such an operation.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:13 AM on May 24, 2009


--people who don't share your piss culture..--

The piss culture is what keeps the economy afloat.

The piss-take culture is what keeps the spirit afloat.
posted by peacay at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2009


I've found Aussies, especially in groups of 3 or more rather scary and brutish.

Yeah, those Aussies. Watch out. Once they get together in groups of 3 or more and they start partying hard.
posted by eye of newt at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2009


MSTPT, aren't you an American who lives in Iceland? How on earth can you care so much about Margaret Thatcher's useless daughter to have retained all that detail?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:02 AM on May 24, 2009


Wogs Will Walk. (Indo-Brit masala disco rock)
posted by kittyprecious at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2009


How on earth can you care so much about Margaret Thatcher's useless daughter to have retained all that detail?

I read the article? It's been known to happen.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:38 AM on May 24, 2009


In case anyone else was wondering about "bogan," Wikipedia says it's "Australian and New Zealand English slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person who is, or is perceived to be, of a lower-class background."

Wookiepedia says "Bogan" is what ancient force-sensitives called the dark side of the Force. In case anyone was wondering.
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2009


Ah, I missed the link. I thought you were conjuring all that stuff from memory -- which seemed rather odd, though somewhat spectacular as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2009


Yeah, but see, that's an asshole thing to do. It's what we call "trolling" online, and it's despised for good reasons.

Offline, John Safran [previously] is one of the best current exponents of the pisstake - see especially John Safran v God, where he goes around road-testing various religions. At one point, he was trying to sign up for the American Nazi Party (or Ku Klux Klan?), asking "Does it matter at all that I'm Jewish?" & in another episode, he goes to one of those crazy-ass southern churches and does the whole possession & speaking in tongues thing. Great stuff. It's not unlike Sasha Baron Cohen, except for the fact that he's not actually playing a character.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:18 PM on May 24, 2009


Yeah, but see, that's an asshole thing to do. It's what we call "trolling" online, and it's despised for good reasons.
When it's your entire modus operandi then yes, you're just being a dick. But when you reserve it only for those who takes themselves far too seriously—as in this case the news media itself—then it's a very useful antidote to anti-social behaviour (that of self-aggrandisement). It's all in the art of how you use it.

And speaking of art, it's much harder to do in face to face conversation than online, where you're simply putting some words up on a screen. People resort far too much online to trolling, but when it's done with art and finesse it's still a useful device.

And now to stray into cultural stereotypes myself. In general, it seems that US Americans will just call someone out as being 'an asshole', while Australians, Kiwis and Brits prefer to play the person along so as to hoist themselves on their own petard.
posted by Sitegeist at 2:49 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but see, that's an asshole thing to do. It's what we call "trolling" online, and it's despised for good reasons.

I agree, it doesn't translate well online, but she probably wasn't thinking about YouTube (or was she? I have no idea. Kids these days with their Myspace and their Twitter).

My theory is that the pisstake culture comes from a cultural love of a good tall story, and the idea of raconteur as a bar-room folk-hero.
posted by Ritchie at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2009


Oh, and speaking of wogs and King's Bloody Cross, if you want to expand your repertoire of Australian references beyond Crocodile Dundee and that red-haired actress, you might like to see if you can track down a copy of the novel They're a Weird Mob.
posted by Sitegeist at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2009


Something about the video is disturbingly mesmerizing, its ugliness, especially now the truth is out about her decit. Her physical beauty, a model's slender features combined with the way she callously tells the story, her tone as if it were a racist joke she memorized and then the sound effect of the gun going off, chk chk boom, as if it were not about a human being of flesh, blood and an actual life, who had just been agonizingly shot moments before.

Then there is that look at the end, as if she were going to cry, turning away. Then the polite, cheerful "You're welcome." It made me wonder about her lack of character, now the story is out she faked knowing anything.

Curiosity about her use of language prompted me to look up "fully sick".
Lebonese [sic] slang for "this is great" or "of high quality". This is interesting reading: Fully sick is an unfunny meme started by a cereal advertisement .

Chk Chk Boom blue.

But this was an excellent interesting thread.
posted by nickyskye at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2009


yes, disturbingly mesmerising - especially considering that even non-fatal gunshots are so rare here as to become front page news almost by default.

it's not as if they're such everyday things that people have become blase & indifferent in some kind of compassion fatigue way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:04 PM on May 24, 2009


BTW, for Australian english, it's arsehole.

Oh and sorry for my earlier post, written while rather tired, not making any sense.
posted by wilful at 5:20 PM on May 24, 2009


tired, my arse. you'd taken in too much piss; admit it!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2009


sorry, tired and emotional is the euphemism of choice.

Have we done enough on the wog thing? Wog is really such a mild word, I married a wog, last week I had a bit of a wog that kept me in bed a day, it's quite hard in my job to get W.o.G. perspectives (whole of Government).
posted by wilful at 5:46 PM on May 24, 2009


i hope for your sake that the wog that kept you in bed all day was the same one you married.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:53 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh no doubt! What with being off from work and on compo with a bad back and all.
posted by Jenga at 9:42 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thank this thread for teaching me more about Australian racial history.

But they haven't even brought up the blackbirding!

I was also confused by her adoption of a Kiwi accent. Still, this Pom can tell the difference and that has to be worth something.

The result of generations of breeding for the ability to distinguish which street in which pissant villiage in Yorkshire someone comes from based on the subtle distinctions lost on anyone anywhere else in the world.

(Those of you who think I am joking have never seen the small volume I bought my wife which is a linguistic analysis of the major dialects of Yorkshire English.)

Also, anyone claiming to know the exact definition of 'bogan' is deluding themselves.

The fact it apparently differs from Aussie to NZ doesn't help.

A lesson for all you "hey, let's all gather around me and take offence together!" crowd. I've even had wogs introduce themselves to me as wogs.

My apparently-white-but-with-Tongan-ancestry coworker is happy to refer to herself as a coconut, but you wouldn't catch me (actually white) using the term to refer to Polynesians and Melanesians.
posted by rodgerd at 12:21 AM on May 25, 2009


Exactly. I've had people proudly introduce themselves to me as bogans, but that doesn't mean that I go around using that word to describe people I barely know!

I had no idea there were regional variations in definition of bogan until I met the guy who is now my brother in law, who's from Brisbane. We had to agree to disagree on the issue.
posted by harriet vane at 1:26 AM on May 25, 2009


Apparently rogerd is actually 'enry 'iggins.
posted by Ritchie at 1:42 AM on May 25, 2009


As a Scot living in London, I have been referred to as a 'porridgewog' before.
posted by johnny novak at 3:14 AM on May 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Clare the Kings Cross bogan gets a mention in Federal Parliament!

As my federal member of Parliament says (faster than you can say chk chk BOOM) "Good work, Albo, good work putting the money in for the pavilion for the cricket club; we welcome it - well it would be nice if you voted for it..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:43 AM on May 25, 2009


As a Scot living in London, I have been referred to as a 'porridgewog' before.

Good Lord! By who? That's terrible! And genius!
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2009


An interview with Clare Werbeloff.

Aussies love to muck around with each other. They love jokes and I just thought Australia would get it.
posted by eye of newt at 2:31 PM on May 25, 2009


well, she seems like a nice enough girl, and with a fine sense of humour to boot.

in totally unrelated matters, does anybody know what the cooter counter is up to?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:02 PM on May 25, 2009


Apparently Sol Trujillo thinks we're racist too. As an example:

When Mr Trujillo's resignation was announced recently, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave this simple response: "Adios."

"Many Australians have come up to me and they've apologised, because they're embarrassed by that kind of behaviour," Mr Trujillo told the BBC.


My heart bleeds. Poor little fellow, it's clear that the PM can't stand Mexicans.
posted by wilful at 5:24 PM on May 25, 2009


Obviously, he failed to notice the Ruddster's penchant for addressing people in their native tongue - the Chinese at APEC, for example.

He must've been distracted at the time by the puzzle of how to make his taco shell stand upright, or something.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:36 PM on May 25, 2009


With your chk-chk and Boom and chk-chk and Boom,
Oh Clare, We hardly knew ye.
posted by Glee at 5:54 PM on May 25, 2009


Hmm.

When I left my last job, the English Creative Director said "Seeya, mate". I didn't even get $30 million like Sol did, which makes it even worse.

That fucking racist pommie bastard!
posted by a non e mouse at 7:15 PM on May 25, 2009


I have a relevant anecdote, woooh! This never happens.

Okay so I was working in northern China for a mining company as a field assistant (geologist's errand boy). The geologists were mostly Australian with some Brits and the entire labor force was Chinese. One of the Chinese translators that worked with us was an absolutely fantastic 20-something girl that spoke like someone who grew up with English as their first language. Intelligent, gorgeous, successful.

I was talking to her on the way out of the country, after my contract had expired. She had a Australian boyfriend for a period of time and was thinking of staying in Australia for a while, but was hesitant to do so because she felt race would be an issue. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to tell her that everything was cool, she'd be fine, but my memory kept skipping back to all the less than spectacular moments I'd encountered with all the 'bogans' (generally used as a classist term in my British family). Being egged outside a restaurant, reports of Asian uni students being attacked at night on the public transport system, ect.

I didn't say anything :(. One of my best friends is Asian and well, I can't say there's no issue and it makes me feel so bad that there is.

To me, it seems to be a demonstrated flaw in the egalitarian nature of Australia, that it generates unease when encountering those who aren't already in the group that treat each other equally. Most overcome it, but some take a perceived flaw in the newcomer and run against it. That's like the nicest spin I could put on it in my 20year old brain, but maybe we are racist and that should be condemned.
posted by Submiqent at 6:51 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for your interesting and considered comment Submiqent.

I would like to take issue, to an extent, with : "..maybe we are racist..".

Perhaps I'm overly sensitive to generalisations on this here message board because we Aussies are a minority, but there's also a very very slight sting to my own character because I'm included in those kinds of broad brush descriptions.

I guess I've also got more of an optimistic take on the larrikin spirit or piss-taking culture or soul of the crowd or whateveryoumaycallit, because I truly believe that the majority of people are actually warm and open and welcoming, as I think is the case in most populations or countries. The stories of train bashings are awful of course but, as with stories of overt prejudice against aborigines say, the negative happenstances are the only ones that get any altitude, whereas I think that there are many many many more stories of harmony, tolerance and connection that don't get anywhere near the same recognition.

I'm not trying to minimise the problem of racism. It exists here as it does in every society and I agree, it deserves to be condemned for its offensive insularity and devastating consequences. But it's not universal, it's not the majority viewpoint and just as we ought to try to stamp out ignorant prejudices as best as we can in our own orbits, we should also realise that it's not a dominating trait of our national psyche.

If I had been in your shoes I guess I would have told the girl in China that yes, bad things may happen if you're unlucky, but it's just as possible that she'd be met by racist attitudes and shitty behaviour if she went to Germany or Paraguay or Congo. In other words, I disagree with the notion that Australia is more or less racist than any other country on earth.
posted by peacay at 4:22 PM on May 26, 2009


She had a Australian boyfriend for a period of time and was thinking of staying in Australia for a while, but was hesitant to do so because she felt race would be an issue.

She really should have been braver than that. I mean it's nonsense really. There are loads of Asians in Australia and I'm not saying racism isn't there, but it's entirely possible for an Asian to grow up in oz without encountering serious racism. I mean there is always going to be that one racist bogan driving past in his car saying 'fuck off chink' but other than that.

Australia prefers assimilation to sticking to your own, but I think that's a fair enough attitude.
posted by dydecker at 5:19 PM on May 26, 2009


I mean it's nonsense really. There are loads of Asians in Australia

Not only that, the cultural diversity data from the most recent census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (pdf) shows that almost a quarter of Australia's population was born overseas, and 44% of Australians were either born overseas or had at least one overseas-born parent, with people from over 200 countries represented.

Chinese are the third-largest group of immigrants, and Asians in general account for 27% of all foreign-born people.

It's kinda hard to sustain any viable racist attitudes when you interact so much with people from other cultures. Hell, I went to an elite private school*, and even we had 92 different nationalities represented.

* scholarship, see. please don't condemn me for this
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:59 PM on May 26, 2009


I was really shocked when I brought my Japanese gf to NZ a while back, and then some random bogan was like "fuck off home" in the street. just totally stunning. saying that a tourist.

But then to compare this to the vast majority of people who have zero vested interest. 99 percent are perfectly fine with whatever skin colour/eye shape you have.

Politicians like Pauline Hanson/Winston Peters should be ashamed of themselves for stirring up feelings against Asian people in NZ/Aust. It's not even understandable, it's just totally wrongheaded and silly in every way. Asian folk generally make good citizens.
posted by dydecker at 7:10 PM on May 26, 2009


then some random bogan was like "fuck off home" in the street. just totally stunning. saying that a tourist.

probably just assumed she was australian.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:04 PM on May 26, 2009


She really should have been braver than that. I mean it's nonsense really.

Well, no it's not. I realize you and others are trying to defend Australia against OMG RACIST attitudes, and I'm perfectly willing to stipulate that Australia is no more racist than any other white-majority country, but you're missing the point. Right now she's living in China, where she doesn't have to worry about anybody being racist towards her, not even for a second. She's thinking about moving to Australia, where she will have to worry about that. Your telling her "hey, it's no worse than other places you might have moved to" is no comfort; it's a lot worse than where she was in the first place. If you go stay with a friend and every once in a while somebody pops out of nowhere and punches you in the dick and you complain, and your friend tells you "don't complain, if you stayed with the people next door you'd get dickpunched just as often," I don't think you'd be happy.
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on May 27, 2009


that argument makes sense only if the relative level of dickpunching is the sole factor at play in a migration decision, and conveniently ignores the entire centuries-old history of chinese economic migration - the greatest diaspora the world has ever seen, since we walked out of africa.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:47 PM on May 27, 2009


That argument makes sense only if the woman in question exists only as an abstract embodiment of "the entire centuries-old history of chinese economic migration." As it happens, she's an actual person about whom we know something, to wit:

She had a Australian boyfriend for a period of time and was thinking of staying in Australia for a while, but was hesitant to do so because she felt race would be an issue.

And yes, it would. Not any worse than in many other places! How true! And yet, she doesn't appear to want her dick punched at all.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 PM on May 27, 2009


Fair enough. It's her decision and all, but I'd still personally lump it into the "uninformed overreaction" category - considering the large numbers of Asians (and Chinese, especially) here, going back as far as the gold rushes of the 19th Century. If you walk around areas of the Sydney CBD any evening or weekend, to give but one example, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were actually in Hong Kong.

And I can't help thinking that if I had a Japanese girlfriend, and the opportunity of hanging out in Japan for some time with a local, would the well-known & entrenched racism of Japanese society - by all accounts, worse than the racism in the US or Australia - put me off? No, not for a second. All the more so if it's just for a visit, and not permanent migration.

From where I sit, Asian fears of racism reflect a near-zero threat of any actual harm, of around the same order of magnitude as the danger of being eaten by a shark or a croc, or of being bitten by a deadly snake or spider - the kind of thing that might make news overseas, but not actually be present on the ground to any significant degree.

Now, if I were an Indian student, planning on living in Melbourne, it would be an entirely different matter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:31 PM on May 27, 2009


yep I'm pretty much up with Ubu with that stance. There is absolutely no discussion of racism against east asians in Melbourne or Sydney, probably because there is very very little, probably because there are so many of them, and tehy've been here for so long. A dick punch is a poor analogy because it's a physical assault, and also, while not being asian and therefore not able to comment directly, I really don't believe anything would happen, not even a harsh word, ever, within the boundaries of the big cities.

Racist attacks against somalians or against young indian students make me very sad. The perpetrators of these attacks are apparently disaffected young retarded bogan males. not sure what can be done about tehm, but i don't think they reflect too much on society as a whole.
posted by wilful at 8:53 PM on May 27, 2009


I think I'm also assuming that 'racism' - for a tourist, especially - only ever really takes the form of occasional snide remarks or low-level verbal abuse; something shouted from a car, for example.

In that sense, I'd be seeing it through the filter of the fact that almost anywhere I travel overseas, there are always the same types of young men who loiter about in public places and make jokes or derogatory remarks about people as they pass. As an obvious foreigner, I can't help but be subjected to that from time to time.

Morans will always be morans, but as the Buddha advised, "If you have to walk a stony path, would you carpet the entire path, or would you put sandals on your feet?", which was his hokey old way of saying "You can't change the world, so grow a pair, strengthen your own mind & just ignore that shit".
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:13 PM on May 27, 2009


mashup of MIA's Paper Planes.

and Miranda Devine discovers the internet: Chk-chk-boom sums up sensation
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on May 28, 2009


I know you're tough as nails, Ubu, and I personally wouldn't be put off by a little yelling from car windows either, but neither of us is the young lady in question, and she certainly has a right to her more delicate sensibilities (if she has them—for all we know, she may be in Sydney even as we speak, throwing cans of soda through the windows of assholes who yell things from cars, as my first wife used to do).
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2009


(Er, my first wife used to throw things into cars, not yell things from them.)
posted by languagehat at 2:48 PM on May 28, 2009


hehe. by the way, what's Mandarin for milquetoast, do you know?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:49 PM on May 28, 2009


Watching these news clips in London irks me most because I genuinely don't think Australia is as racist as it is often portrayed to be by international media. I was born and brought up in India, lived in Sydney for five years and have been living in London for a year.
... In fact, I have encountered the worst form of discrimination, and most varieties of it, in my own country, India, where people are discriminated against on the basis of almost every difference: race, cast, class, gender and sexual orientation. So it is indeed puzzling that news about Australia being racist is reaching epic proportions in countries that can hardly claim to be any better.
Akash Arora is chief sub-editor for the British design magazine Wallpaper.
From this very well written opinion piece in Melbourne's The Age.
posted by Sitegeist at 4:42 AM on June 2, 2009


it just goes to show the indians have adopted the tall poppy syndrome, as if by osmosis.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:48 AM on June 2, 2009


it just goes to show the indians have adopted the tall poppy syndrome, as if by osmosis.

I thought 'tall poppy syndrome' might be like the 'tall nail' concept in Japan ("the nail that sticks out gets nailed down"), but then I read the entry in Wikipedia and I realize that this Australian saying isn't so simple. My brain must not be working today because I can't figure it out. Can you explain?
posted by eye of newt at 7:52 AM on June 2, 2009


sounds similar to the tall nail, although maybe the Japanese concept is that standing out *at all* gets you beaten down (?) whereas the tall poppy syndrome is to attack anybody who stands out too much for excelling, bignoting themselves, etc.

in this case, i made the quip because India is specifically prone to bouts of extreme racist (or better, communalist) ultraviolence, and is subject to all kinds of tensions along caste, class, gender, economic & linguistic lines; so it's a bit like tall poppyism to criticise a country where this kind of violence is the exception, not the rule. put differently, it's a huge charred pot calling the slightly tarnished kettle black.

for example, the photo accompanying this article shows activists of the violent, far-right fundamentalist party, the Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva) burning an effigy - about as happily as they'd normally burn a Muslim, or anybody in Maharashtra who isn't Maharashtrian.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:23 PM on June 2, 2009


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