We are NOT the nation when we watch Kochie and Mel
Waking up first thing in the morning is a painful experience. It’s too bright, I’m hungry, the toilet seat is cold, and all I really want is the sweet sweet embrace of a shower and some caffeine, not the saccharine sweetness of Mel and her doe eyed smile while Kochie proclaims how amazing the achievement of some sports person I’ve never heard of is, in a nasal twang that both gives me a headache and makes me loathe to admit I’m Australian anywhere else in the world. No. Nevertheless, and sort of against my will, those two pod people in their nuclear broadcast bubble have penetrated my mornings.
“The Symbols and narratives of the nation can only resonate if they are admitted to the chamber of the home” according to Nikos Papastergiadis, and thus any national broadcast that resonates and represents a given faction within the country (and lets be honest, Kochie and Mel represent a very narrow family model) can create a sense of unity, “linking the national public into the private lives of it’s citizens, through the creation of both sacred and quotidian moments of national communion” according to Morley.
I’m half Scottish, a quarter Welsh, an eighth Spanish and an eighth Irish, and none of my parents were born here, where am I represented in Australia’s National family? Where is my Lebanese boss, my Chinese colleague, my Aboriginal mechanic, my half and half Kiwi neighbor? According to Morley’s Interpretation of Lauren Berlant, “through the accident of birth within a particular set of geographical and political boundaries, the individual is transformed into the subject of a collectively held history” and while this may indeed be the case in terms of how we imbue value in a particular set of symbols as relevant to our national identity, it’s a lie to say that it transforms the individual into part of our collective history.
And It’s not just Kochie and Mel, where are these mixed race people on The Morning Show? We’re certainly not represented by Kylie Gillies and Larry Edmur, and I don’t see my Muslim friends represented by Dave Hughes, Carrie Bickmore, and Charlie Pickering on the 7PM Project. Mornings with Kerrie Anne, and the plethora of white Australian’s on Channel 9’s The Today Show can similarly take their narrow representation of our national identity and stick it.
As much as I can appreciate Morley’s Concept of ‘The mediated nation as a symbolic home’ and see how it could contribute to a sense of community and national identity, so long as the shows geared towards creating this sense of national unity are cast to marginalize and ignore the mixed race people of this country, who now make up the majority of our citizens, then it is not the national culture, and will therefore not become a part of our everyday lives. We may be ‘national’ when we vote or watch the news, but we certainly are not the nation when we tune into shows like Kochie and Mel, who’s only representation is of a narrow, upper middle class conservative white Australia.