One of the great things about Australia, as working model of a democratic society, is the almost complete absence of pretension in everyday social and political discourse.
There is very little tugging of forelocks here, very little bowing and scraping, very little worrying that what one says and does may somehow wind up offending groups, individuals, or the nation as a whole.
You could probably even get away with calling the Prime Minister an “old bastard” to his face, even if it wasn’t actually your intention to honour him with that classic Australian term of affection.
In light of all this, it’s not surprising that much of Oz has been thrown into a state of deep introspection and head-scratching by the widespread global outrage and condemnation that has followed the performance of a blackface minstrel routine by an amateur troupe called The Jackson Jive on the Hey Hey It’s Saturday variety show.
If you haven’t yet seen it, count yourself lucky. And to be fair, at least one of the performers – the one playing Michael Jackson – was in whiteface.
Anyway, all of this brings to mind the above Australian food product, an iconic Aussie brand that somehow hasn’t caught on in the rest of the world.
Supposedly, “Australia’s Tastiest Cheese” takes its name from the legendary Australian cheese-maker, Edward Coon, who was to cheese what Colonel Sanders was to chicken.
That would be “legendary” as in “completely made up”, one suspects. And so does the Aboriginal activist and academic Stephen Hagan, who doesn’t buy the explanation or the cheese.
Hagan, who last year successfully campaigned against the naming of a stadium grandstand in honour of the 1920s rugby player, Edward Stanley “Nigger” Brown – who earned his nickname from a shade of shoe-polish called, yes, Nigger Brown – has called on the makers of Coon Cheese to provide documentary evidence of their allegedly eponymous founder’s alleged achievements in cheese-making.
And while they’re about it, it would be nice if the makers of Coon Cheese could also provide documentary evidence that it is indeed Australia’s Tastiest Cheese.
That seems pushing it a bit, to me.
Sent from my iPhone