It has been 30 years since outback abomination Crocodile Dundee first fed a world of idiots its venomous fantasy. The film may stand unrivalled as the nation’s most profitable feature, but this does not excuse its several misdeeds which include (a) the depiction of white Australians as an easy people in-tune-with-nature (b) the justification for theft of Aboriginal property with the bromide “they don’t own the land, the land owns them” and, most significantly, (c) promotion of the “thong” cut in women’s swimwear.
Serious. What was with that thing wedged up Linda Kozlowski’s arse, and can you blame the crocodile who set upon her immediately after seeing this blight on all women?
While it is true that the liberal fictions this work upheld were of a very noxious order, we can at least say that these were present in the culture before the film’s release. The thong, however, had been largely absent from the feminine wardrobe before this time and I feel that my gender is owed some sort of apology for the nuisance.
I remember visiting a Family Planning clinic as a teenager around 1986 and copping a caution from a good gynaecologist that the “thong” was not only very unflattering, even to the world’s best bottoms, but a guarantee of urogenital infection. “It’s a bridge for E. coli,” said the doctor, and she described the procession of bacteria from back to front. I have not since volunteered my most abject parts to this germ walkway.
But, much like the crawl of the microbe from anus to vagina, Crocodile Dundee persists on the soiled thong of history and reinfects the culture every few years. Most recently, last week when a number of outlets reported the possibility of a reboot.
With any luck, those multiple reports of a Hemsworth in the role of Mick Dundee’s son have no basis in fact. From a brief and very painful reading of news, it seems that the “rumours” of a remake were stirred only by the hopeful plea of a Northern Territory tourism official. Apparently, visits to Kakadu—a site in which I will never trek, as I understand from my female friends that its toilet-free tracks provide almost as much of a guarantee of vaginal illness as a swimsuit thong—peaked following the 1986 release of Crocodile Dundee: The Racistening. To revisit this flick, say tourism chiefs, would be to guarantee prosperity in the region.
My real work here is, of course, to compare the worst work of Paul Hogan to a disorder of the urinary tract. I have no real business suggesting other forms of economic stimulus for the Territory. However, I am feeling very itchy down there following these unhygienic reports, and so I cannot help but urge Federal and NT governments to consider a few other more sustainable moves before this shit show is remade.
1. A tax exclusion zone, as proposed by Kevin Rudd in the 2013 election, is one idea that merits investigation—let’s allow Google, Apple and other multinational tax dodgers to dodge their tax only in Capricornia.
2. An admission that those cashless welfare cards imposed on (largely Aboriginal) Territorians do nothing to encourage local business diversity.
3. An end to the NT “Emergency Response”, a totalitarian intervention which celebrates its tenth birthday next year. This is a far greater deterrent for tourists than even Wolf Creek. If the Federal government chooses not to end the intervention for another decade, perhaps local authorities could try some direct marketing to persons who might actually enjoy vacationing in a racist fascist state. Tourism chiefs could invite the KKK’s Grand Wizard over for a promotional visit, for example.
Still. What do I know? Not much of anything that I cannot readily view in my nearest multiplex which, I earnestly hope, will not be the site for another 90 minutes of tedious mythmaking. I mean, fuck. As much as a clap-happy mound of shite like Crocodile Dundee might temporarily feed the fever for toilet-free Kakadu, what it will not meaningfully do is boost that other ailing market, the Australian screen industry.
Films like this one may provide a fleeting boost to the sector but what they do not do is create conditions for future success. Even supposing that the international market can swallow another lie about the sun-kissed rustic innocence of a highly urbanised G20 nation whose chief work is not slaying crocodiles but toiling in the service and health sectors, it will dull the creative drive on which filmmakers depend.
As others have noted, film financing in Australia tends to be unambitiously extended to works which promise, but fail, to recreate the last great success and if we have one mildly profitable trough of croc vomit, we’ll endure another swarm of losers. If successful, one Crocodile Junior will give us another ten reptile replicas and our tiny industry will have lost what little confidence they had in telling authentic stories. If unsuccessful, well, then we have to fucking watch Crocodile Dundee again.
And, no. I don’t care if it makes a jillion dollars and sends a healthy number of German tourists to the dehydrating contours of Kakadu. This toadying representation of an Honest Aussie is really not worth the creative risk. Abasing ourselves on the global stage with our “I Don’t Care for Book Learning” pantomime is a soft-headed diplomacy of the most deadening kind. It’s hard enough in this nation of burgeoning idiocy to produce any artistic work that does not appease some coy version of nationalistic or liberal fuckery and we really can’t impose this risk on a new generation of artists and consumers.
Let us rid ourselves of this skid mark. Let us loose ourselves from the thong of idealised infection. Let us never see another minute of this Australia that never was and dare to wear some sensible undergarments that will give us the confidence to tell stories that do a little more than appease a passing fancy.
PREVIOUSLY BY HELEN RAZER