Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Zed vs Zee

"Zed!" I growled at my daughter "The letter is pronounced ZED we are not American, nor is this the 57th state of that particular country."  I was fuming. I had just read that yet another American based company had bought out yet another Australian company and was attempting to Americanize it, ZEDs and all so I was not in any mood to have my daughter and her friends singing with an American accent. The inevitability of blending everything in the world as we become a global nation rather than individual places has produced many a backlash against the bombardment of our own identity markers.

This is from Australain Geographic magazine's article on the top 100 Australian Icons.

Australia is a nation with both a very old culture and a very young and very mixed population bringing with it all of their former homelands and so our cultural identity is something we are still discovering.   There was a lot of bad feeling between Australia and America during war times. At a ground level not in international political paperwork but in the face to face interactions between Australian and American military. Many a skirmish between them is recorded in various places due to inequity in wages, holidays and because the 'yanks' took all the local girls. Many a half yankee baby was born in the aftermath of the war. The local blokes resented that.  In a country such as Australia, post ww2, our identity had an abrupt shift. In the 60s we no longer wanted to identify as British and many people were ashamed and embarrassed by the way our leaders and predecessors from Europe had treated our indigenous people. Legislation began to change to recognise the legal standing of the Aboriginal people and the younger generations were beginning to say "I am Australian" and not 'run home to the mother country' as their parents and grandparents most likely did. Many young peoiple had never been anywhere near Europe and had no connection with it in their own minds and personal identity.
 The biggest problem for generations has been popular fiction. Most of our television content was and still is American. The children of the 70s and 80s grew up saying zee because they do on sesame street. The movies were predominantly American and the bombardment of advertising and merchandise was also American. The 90s saw a shift from this and we now have a higher Australian content of live children's shows but still the cartoons are all American.
It is only very recently that our Indigenous population and culture has begun to filter into the daily psyche of our people. The reality there is that every tiny thing we embrace halts the atrophy of this once great culture with its myriad of language groups and history. We have lost so much that can never be recalled but still it is an uphill battle against the might of the media that dictates our daily dose of pop culture.
Much of our Australian identity is myth rather than reality but it gives us a sentimental view of who we are and helps us to become what we really want to be which is not American. Just as I am sure my American friends would not want to be Australian, I do not want to be American. I would love to visit, I would love to see some of the things I learned about in movies and hear in song lyrics, I don't want to live there, I like it here.

"I Am Australian" is a popular Australian song that I love to sing. It was written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers(almost iconic folk band)  and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers. Its lyrics are filled with many historic and cultural references, such as to the 'digger'(WWI soldiers), Albert Namatjira(indigenous artist) and Ned Kelly(bushranger/cult hero), among others. It is a terrific song for encompassing what we are trying to see as being Australian.

My Island Home" is popularly believed to be a song about Australia. However, it was written by Neil Murray and originally performed by his Warumpi Band in reference to their lead singer's (George Burarrwanga) home up at Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory as said by Neil Murray's Site

My children's book for the day is about that song. My Island Home by Neil Murray is illustrated by children from Papunya and Galiwinku, and with paintings by Peter Hudson. It contains the lyrics to the song, ‘My Island Home’, written by Neil Murray for his friend and fellow musician, George Burarrawanga when they were both members of the Warumpi Band.

I love the foreword in this so much I am  going to reproduce part of it here.

listen to the Christina Anu version here

 Identity is something many nations are fighting to maintain. Not just in Australia.

Foods identified with a particular place such as  Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Piave cheese, Asiago cheese, Camembert, Somerset Cider Brandy and Champagne can only be labelled with those names if they come from the designated region. To qualify as Roquefort, for example, cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France, where it is colonised by the fungus Penicillium roqueforti that grows in these caves. 
Three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialities, known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG), promote and protect names of some agricultural products and foodstuffs. This was a vital move for people who were frightened of losing their identity to a larger global beige where all the local colour and flavour would blend into a dull nothingness.

How we identify ourselves is important to our sense of self and the way we deal with the world at large. I hope one day in my lifetime everyone will identify themselves first as human and secondly by their place of origin or chosen home. That might just turn us into rainbow people rather than beige. 

 Last day of blogging my book and camp nanowrimo. My tally sits at 27ooo + I have around 2400 words to go to hit the finish line for the month. I will have to write at least another 30,000 to finish this novel but it is off to a very good start. CampNaNoWriMo is a good practice run for the November challenge. Last year in April I wrote 57,000 words but I was not doing any other challenges and I was staying with a friend with NO Domestic duties. A real holiday that was. In November last year I wrote 104,000 words which became two novels. One complete and sent out into the world and one yet to finish but I plan on doing that next month.

It is also almost the end of RhyPiBoMo and I am happy to say I completed two picture book drafts in rhyme which are now with my critique groups. I also entered a writing competition and an illustration competition and submitted six stories to anthologies and six pieces of flash fiction to various places online. I kept up with the 52 week illustration challenge and we are now into week 18 which is themed Celestial Body. That should be fun to draw.

Thank you to everyone who came to visit my blog during the A to Z challenge. I certainly enjoyed visiting other people's blogs and finding out so many new and wonderful things.

So as Z is the end of the alphabet, the 30th is the end of April and  all things come to an end at some time,  I would like to remind myself that ends are usually beginnings on the other side of the door. 

Sending love to all my fellow humans out there.