Parallel Universe: The Big Down Under

Australia is a parallel universe of America. Or, some time-warp combination of modern technologies, set in recent years passed, but with a hip British beguiling.  Everything is recognizably familiar, just with a twist, a hint of wackiness, a smidgen of magoo.  I love it!

The obvious [slight] differences are:

  • the left side driving
  • clockwise water draining
  • half-day time difference
  • high octane yabbering english
  • reversal of seasons
  • reversal of climates for the north and south
  • and, the animals.

This inside-out theme recurs, endlessly.  I found sushi rolls for $2, and a hamburger for $23 on the same street. Everything is about as expected, except downside up or backwards.

The continental US and the continental AU are about the same geographical size, so it’s easy to conceive distances. Boston to Chicago is about Sydney to Melbourne, New York to Los Angeles ~is Brisbane to Perth.

Historically, we’re vastly similar, too. British explorers came, settled, slowly but surely afflicted the natives with disease, arms and arrogance; pushed the people to the verge of extinction, declared regret, and offered too little too late.  Despite vast inadequacies in both continent’s explorers, America’s were a roo hair less incompetent.  Bill Bryson does a inspiringly comical explanation to Australia’s explorative beginnings in A Sunburned Country.  

The Australians got a lot correct.  Namely, they know public toilets are a human right, and they know how to live.   Not live large, or extravagantly, though some of them do, but at a comfortable pace.   This will never serve as an economy stimulator, but as my 5th cousins in the old country do, or, 6th cousins in Southern Indiana, America’s Charming Cross Roads, do, they enjoy life.

Without diving deep into these murky waters:  From vacation days to health care, Australians work to live, rather than the reverse.  The AU also has the gumption to pride themselves in themselves, loudly.  It is different patriotism than America.  Not that everything in America is done with excess, but much is, and patriotism toes the line.   Australia emphasizes their uniqueness.     From Aussie Rules Football and Cricket to vegemite and meat pies, Australia slams their flag deep in the dusty terrain and claims their weird culture.

Australia’s Influence on American pop Culture

I must.

Americans love Australia, it’s just terribly difficult to keep track of.   Beyond it being antipodal, we’re a nation obsessed with pop culture and wealth.   The last TV series to gain any worthy traction was Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High. The show was but one season, with just over 3.5 hours of programming. That equates to a single Matrix movie, which is the only other notable production from Downunder, that I can think of.   By the way, parallel universe theory thickens.

Gotye’s music will light up a crowd.  Iggy Azalea is white hot, for now (Thanks to TI and iHeartMedia).  Nicole Kidman acts mostly with an American accent and is peeping 50.  The memory of the late, great, Steve Irwin “Crocodile Hunter” slowly fades.  Ask children if they know who he is…. They are more likely to know The Wiggles, instead.   AC/DC packed a massive punch in the world of Rock ‘N Roll, but most people don’t know them Aussie, and the real impact is with an audience in the third/fourth quarter of life.  TV show, FRIENDS, becomes less relevant by the day, but for a while Joey had a smoking hot Australian roommate.   Super models, they’ve got no names, every face looks the same.   Ugg Boots?  Murdoch.  I think we’ve exhausted Australia’s influence on the US in two hundred and forty four words, including this sentence, and the title.

The US media gives very little coverage of Australia.  For:

  • a massive plot of land, where they speak English
  • have wildly lethal animals roaming free
  • are Earth’s biggest island, and, essentially are their own damn continent

you would think we’d cover more.  But, it’s far, the economy has relatively little impact on ours, and again, their pop culture just isn’t as cousin-like as Great Britain’s, as romantic as Italy’s, as historic as Europe’s, as sexy as Latin America’s, as coy as the Caribbean or as sizable as Asia.

Australia has a great thing going on Downunder.   Amazingly, we know the seemingly far-away land of AUS is fantastical, but, mostly, we aren’t adventurous enough try it.  I feel like a teenager again.  Or, it’s just too damn far.