As an Aboriginal woman with politically active parents, I know all too well the hallmarks of ‘multicultural society’: put simply, non-whites are there to be tolerated, used as political footballs and feared whenever they step out of sync with the rest of White Australia.
It’s been nearly 25 years since David Lynch and Mark Frost’s labyrinthine television murder mystery Twin Peaks premiered on network television. The image of homecoming queen Laura Palmer’s body washed ashore a pebble beach was a once shocking image that, in retrospect, now looks quite quaint; a tame version of what prime time viewers see every night on any number of shows including police procedurals, fantasy dramas, and zombie apocalypses that pull in big weekly audiences.
The Autumn 1959 edition of Overland carried two reviews of Boris Pasternak’s novel, Dr Zhivago. The first, by the NZ critic Maurice Shadbolt, declared the book ‘one of the most astonishing and remarkable novels, written in Russian or any other language, of this tremendous century’.
The Affluent Society made economist John K Galbraith a household name in the USA. In his 1958 classic, Galbraith celebrated the spread of middle-class materialism and used this condition of affluence, rather than a state of scarcity, as grounds for interpreting, analysing and advising on national economic policy.
It’s 2014 and Australia is gearing up for a tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s King and I; advertisements line the streets. If you pick up the papers the reviewers are urging us to put away our political correctness and go see the fantastic show. Never mind that it is a musical about a white-woman teaching the Orientals how to be ‘modern’.