By JR on Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Vanity Fair calls Australians 'throwback people'
The article below from the London Telegraph says that Australians were incensed by what was said about Australia. So I checked what various Australian writers said about it. I found no outrage. The predominant tone was one of amusement. The Telegraph writer is behind the times too. Australians are more self-confident than he expected.
The Vanity Fair writer was totally inaccurate about so many things in Australia that it would be tedious to ennumerate them. He was obviously relying on fleeting impressions he had got over a number of years. But there was nothing wrong with that. He was not writing a travelog or an academic disquisition. He was just waxing dreamy and poetic. Such writing has a place
I was something of a literary critic in my early days and I recognized it immediately as falling well within the conventions of poetry. It is a form of fantasy poetry.
And the description of Australia as "throwback" people is an allusion to a common view of Australia in America -- that Australians are a less corrupted people, like America in an idealized past. It is a complimentary description.
The thing that REALLY steamed up a lot of people -- both in Australia and elsewhere -- was that the article was sexist. But that is a lot of nonsense. Why should a man not be dreamy about a pretty girl? It is the politically correct brigade who are abnormal and perverted
They pride themselves on being a youthful, vigorous nation who have thrown off their colonial past to embrace the modern world.
So it comes as little surprise that Australians have bristled at being referred to as “throwback people” living in a country 50 years behind America.
Particularly when the description comes in a Vanity Fair article supposed to be praising one of the country’s most successful exports – Margot Robbie, the actress.
The cover profile of the Australian star of The Wolf of Wall Street and the latest Tarzan movie by Rich Cohen, a contributing editor at the magazine, remarked that to appreciate Miss Robbie fully, readers had to remember where she hailed from.
“She is from Australia,” Mr Cohen wrote. “To understand her, you should think about what that means.
“Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback, which is why you go there for throwback people. They still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas.”
“Perhaps it’s time you got in your time machine and flitted over the Pacific to Australia to have a good look at a normal society,” she wrote in The Courier Mail. “Your piece has only shown that you, instead of Australians, are from another era, because your writing deserves to be published 50 years ago instead of today.”
Mr Cohen was also taken to task for apparent sexism in his article. In the opening paragraph Robbie is described as “blonde but dark at the roots. She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes. She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character.”
The article has caused outrage on social media, where it was condemned as creepy, voyeuristic, sexist and the “worst writing ever”. “That is the biggest piece of sexist c--- introductory paragraph I’ve ever seen,” said a comment on Twitter.
Here is the "offensive" text:
"She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance."
"She is blonde but dark at the roots. She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes. She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character."
"She wandered through the room like a second-semester freshman, finally at ease with the system. She stopped at tables along the way to talk to friends. I don’t remember what she was wearing, but it was simple, her hair combed around those painfully blue eyes."
"It was Wolf that defined her. It put her up with Sharon Stone in Casino and Cathy Moriarty in Raging Bull — one of Scorsese’s women."
"Robbie grew up in Gold Coast, a city on Australia’s Pacific shore, 500 miles north of Sydney. In an old movie, you might have seen a crossroad sign demonstrating just how isolated it was, just how far from the known capitals."
"Now and then, she stayed with cousins who lived in the hinterland of the hinterland, where there really were kangaroos and a dingo really will eat your baby."