by SockPuppet ( a try hard blogger that trys)
If anything demonstrates that Aussies have not lost their cultural cringe its this editorial written by Fairfuxed journo Tony Wright about how we always knew Rolf Harris was not quite right, not cool and not great and not really one of us. Read it. It says a lot about us and how we now disown this once-was-an-Aussie-icon.
This is us washing our hands of the guy who put Aus on the world entertainment map one hell of a long time ago. I will make my insiteful comments and summary of this matter at the end of Wrights embarassing wise-in-hindsight piece of cringeworthy crap:
Rolf Harris always ridiculous, really
By TONY WRIGHT
MUCH modern nonsense has been written about Rolf Harris’ role in elevating Australia’s reputation in the world of entertainment and how he was a national treasure before “The Fall”.
Truth is, when he was gathering his peculiar form of fame in the 1960s, he was not much more than an embarrassing curiosity to an Australian generation in search of something approaching cool.
His unchallenging, cloying joviality was mostly popular with parents born even before him, which didn’t help his cause.
He wore a chin-beard from the vanished beatnik era, which didn’t improve things.
He had moved from Perth to England in 1952, aged 22.
He turned his energy to exploiting his short Australian heritage into a British music-hall caricature of itself. Some national treasure!
His big song, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, set back the hope of Australian cool about half a century, even though The Beatles sang backing vocals to it during a 1963 concert.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down was an unlikely blend of comical patter pretending to be from the Australian bush, and calypso, music with roots in the Afro-Caribbean population of Trinidad and had morphed into lounge entertainment for the terminally middle-aged.
“Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl” was a humorous enough line, and “Mind me platypus duck, Bill” was clever.
But even in the early ’60s, plenty of us bridled at “Let me Abos go loose, Lou; They’re of no further use, Lou”. The verse was, unsurprisingly, deleted some years later, but Harris didn’t express regret for writing it for another 40 years.
Our TV screens were regularly visited during the ’60s by BBC shows featuring Rolf painting on masonite – something he was talented at – playing his wobble board, and hopping around in his frankly ridiculous guise as “Jake the Peg” with the extra leg, diddle eedle eedle um.
We should have guessed.
Another of his big hits was not much more than syrup: Two Little Boys.
Margaret Thatcher declared it her favourite song. Of course.
The British public, who have always enjoyed syrup and comics like Benny Hill, and had fallen in love with good old Rolf from the colonies because he made them feel better about not emigrating, sent it to No.1 for six weeks.
It took decades for Harris to gain anything faintly resembling cool.
In the early 1990s, he recorded his version of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.
The spectacle of a silly old bloke replacing Jimmy Page’s guitar with a wobble board and Robert Plant’s voice with Rolf’s strangled croak was so absurd it was judged brilliant by a generation lost to 1980s spandex-pop.
When it comes down to it, Harris was a song and dance man who lived most of his life in England, painted the Queen and used a confected Australian accent when it suited him.
And he was, if he were to seek old-time Australian vernacular to describe in song the activities for which he will be remembered, a kiddie fiddler.
We were right from the start. The man was never cool at all. He was, and remains, an embarrassing curiosity.
Insiteful comment/criteak starts here:
Look, it is easy to say all this that Wright has said and distance yourself from Dirty Old Rolf by putting down his whole life and claiming he was never ‘one of us’ and ‘we never liked him anyway’ and he was ‘more English than Aussie’ but I ask you this groundbreaking question:
GROUNDBREAKING QUESTION: Why?
Why do we feel the need to disown Rolf now that its been proven he was a groping kiddy fiddler and will probably spend some time (maybe his final years) locked up in the Old Bailey?
Why? Well this is why. I will tell you why. Right now. On the next line. After “Answer”:
GROUNDBREAKING ANSWER: Because we as a nation are not yet fully grown up.
Okay I hear your stunned silences and/or your “Huh?” reactions to my groundbreaking answer so I will explain it to you. I will put it in words that even a child could understand. Its like this:
1. Think of Aus like its a person.
2. A male person.
3. Now think of what makes a male person grown up and mature. A real man.
4. Well there are lots of things that make a male person an adult and a real man and one of them (a big one) is this (see 5) (below)
5. A mature adult MAN – a real MAN – owns up to his mistakes and does not make excuses or pretend what happened was an accident and rewrite history.
You see that is exactly what Wright is doing. He is disowning Harris as an “embarrassing curiosity”, as someone who was not really an Aussie who “lived most of his life in England, painted the Queen and used a confected Australian accent when it suited him”. He is rewriting history and making excuses. He is saying that Rolf Harris was an accident and we are not responsible for foisting this kiddy fiddler on the world.
But Rolf Harris was and still is an Aussie and until about a year or so ago when all this stuff first came out we – that is most Aussies – wore him like a friggin’ badge of honour because even though he was not “cool” (far from it) and even though he lived overseas and even though he was a bit of a dork guess what? He was a huge friggin’ success and we were proud of him. Super proud.
And now we are not proud of him. We are “embarrassed” and we seek to make excuses and disown him. We are not mature to do that. A mature nation would not say what Wright has said (and believe me Wright is reflecting the general attitude here).
No. A mature nation would respond more like this or words to this effect perhaps expanded on but you will get the gist:
Rolf Harris was an Aussie great who has fallen from grace in a bloody big way. We are all shocked and mortified that one of our most treasured Aussie achievers has been shown to have had a real dark side – the darkest of all sides – a person who molested children. A dirty old man. It goes to prove that even (or especially) the greatest achievers among us are usually flawed. Some more than others. None it seems more flawed than Rolf Harris. We will forever hold Rolf’s achievements high and never disown him. We thank him for his boldness and ambitious career that helped put Aussie culture on the world map albeit in a rather jingoistic but nonetheless relevant way. But we can never forget or forgive him for bringing shame on himself. And on us. We are a great nation that has produced many great people and champions in all types of pursuits. Rolf was one of those. A big one. We regret that it turned out as it did.
There I have done it again. I don’t know how I done it (or why) but I reckon no one else is saying what I just wrote – you know …. the truth.
GROW UP AUSTRALIA.