The Reef Review, The “Spooky” Workers and TV’s Alcatraz

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 21st February 2012.

I’d like to thank everybody who washed their car or mowed their lawn over the weekend. Now it’s raining again.

I like to support Australian cinema as much as possible. Unfortunately this weekend I chose to watch The Reef, a humourless thriller involving two good looking couples, a yacht and a hungry shark. Can you guess what happens? Whilst beautifully shot in Queensland, the plodding storyline makes the 88 minute run time seem much longer. The bland characters were paper thin, making it very difficult to care as they are picked off by Jaws one by one. Just like the characters, all I wanted to do was endure the experience and make it to the end. None of the promotional material for the movie suggested a feel good film so I suppose I wasn’t deceived. After all, the uplifting tagline on the box was, “Pray you drown first.” If you want to see your favourite actors from McLeod’s Daughters and Underbelly become fish food then The Reef is definitely for you. Avoid if your holiday later this year is at the beach.


Speaking of scary movies, have you noticed that the Southern Cross Ten kiddie bedtime commercial starring The Workers has been reshot? A bizarre hybrid of The Wiggles, Hi-5 and The Village People, these children’s entertainers managed to film the creepiest goodnight jingle ever, complete with creepy death stares straight into the camera, toothy robotic smiles and horrible harmonies. Not surprisingly, a newly refilmed version of their ad appeared a few weeks ago. Gone is the weirdness. Instead, none of The Workers look at the camera at all, opting to sing to each other instead. So are they putting themselves to bed, or the kids at home? For my money, make kiddie entertainment come in the form of men in skivvies, fairies or singing and dancing clones. Leave occupational stereotypes for their teenage years when you put them to work at a fast food joint to pay for their Proactiv.


Have you checked out Alcatraz, the latest TV series from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, the production house responsible for head scratcher Lost? Starring Sam Neill (in boggle eyed, “you must eat meat” mode) and the rotund guy from Lost, Jorge Garcia, the series follows a team of investigators searching for the population of guards and prisoners who mysteriously “disappeared” from the famous prison island in 1963. As the inmates reappear in their former cells one by one and resume their former evil ways, the team have to track them down and work out who or what is behind this event. Whilst I am enjoying the show, I have some major problems with the storyline.

If the team’s HQ is underneath the prison on the island, why don’t they just close the tourist attraction? The prisoners will reappear in their cells and be caught immediately, instead of catching the ferry back to mainland to cause trouble. And why do we never see the team on a boat travelling to and from Alcatraz? If you’re not going to close the island, then why inconvenience yourself with a boat ride several times a day? Do they have to wait for the hourly tourist ferry each time? If Lost has taught us anything, only time and a polar bear will tell, perhaps.

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 07:31  Leave a Comment  
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Proud Aussies or Racists?

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th February 2010.

Since the shameful Cronulla Riots of December 2005, one of Australia’s most significant icons appears to be in danger of being hijacked as a symbol for White Australia amongst extremist groups. The Southern Cross seems to be more popular than ever. Bumper stickers, car window decals, tattoos… Is this simply an expression of patriotism and “Aussie Pride” or overt racism?

In our night sky, the Southern Cross, also known as Crux, is one of the most recognisable constellations, even though it is one of the smallest and simplest. It is an important symbol in many cultures of the Southern Hemisphere and features prominently on the flags of many countries, including New Zealand, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and of course, Australia.

The Southern Cross has an important place in Aboriginal astronomy, also known as starlore. It represents the talon of a giant eagle to the Aranda people of Central Australia. To others, it is a stingray, with the nearby pointer stars representing two sharks pursuing.

The Eureka Stockade of 1854 saw the Southern Cross emerge as an important symbol in modern Australian history. One of Australian history’s few armed rebellions, miners clashed with Colonial forces over the brutal administration of the Victorian Goldfields. The insurgents were led by Peter Lalor, an Irish immigrant, who proclaimed in his famous Eureka Oath, “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.” The Eureka flag, flown by the rebels, is commonly thought to display a stylised depiction of the Southern Cross, although there is now some argument that it actually represents an Irish Cross.

The Southern Cross also features within the lyrics of our national anthem, albeit the rarely sung second verse, which was made official in 1984. It is also mentioned in the Brazilian national anthem which was penned in 1909.

Orange born Banjo Patterson also mentions the Southern Cross is his poem, A Flag for Australia. He wrote, “…the flag the Australian dies to save, is the flag of the Southern Cross.”

Nowadays, the Southern Cross is a popular business name. In the Yellow Pages, there are 1023 entries across Australia for businesses with said name. It can be found on the labels of a major brand of soft drink. It is also featured in the logo for Scouts Australia.

Born and bred in Australia, I have always held the Southern Cross in high esteem. It represents the country I am proud to call home. Growing up in Australia has fortified my strong beliefs in democracy, freedom and peace. We are, however, certainly not a country without problems. Immigration and the environment are only just a few of the challenges that we face now and in the future.

I’m not at all suggesting that everyone sporting a Southern Cross car sticker or tatt is racist. Far from it. In fact, if every one of those symbols represents a sense of “belonging” to a smart, accepting and worldly community which welcomes the best aspects of other cultures and races, then I’m all for it.

The Southern Cross belongs to all Australians, no matter where they were born. From those with first fleet ancestors to newcomers to our shores, we all have immigrant roots of some kind. This Australia Day, let’s celebrate our country and not allow one of our national symbols be misrepresented.

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 11:10  Leave a Comment  
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