Remember when the Earth was flat? Neither do I, but that was the theory a few centuries back, then in quick succession scholars put forward several new theories. Earth was round, not flat. Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, the Sun was. Then the sun wasn’t the centre of the universe, apparently we live out on the fringe of our galaxy and our galaxy is on the fringe of the universe. We’re not the centre of anything.
The same distortions exist on a smaller scale, closer to home. The USA has arguably been the single biggest influence in the world over the last century and everything is a bit skewed because of this. History is written by the victor, blah, blah, blah…
A friend recently returned from a visit to the USA and one of the first things she noticed was the news coverage. In Australia, a 30 minute news show is roughly 7 minutes of ads, 4 minutes of weather, 4 minutes of sport and 15 minutes of news (evenly shared between domestic and international). US news programs apparently gave similar proportions to each major category, but the news part of the news was more like 90 percent domestic to 10 percent international. History, geography and general knowledge from an American perspective. Which is probably why the following quote was directed toward me in the first place. Word for word –
“mike, i fear for your life. my brother has been trying to get me to go to australia with him for years, but i fear australia more than i fear hummingbirds. sharks. dingos. brown recluse spiders. crocodiles. and don’t even get me started on jelly fish. but just listening to that accent might get me past all that. if it weren’t for the jelly fish.
hey, do you know naomi watts? will you tell her i loved her in mulholland drive?”
Here comes the lesson. Russell Crowe* is not a typical Australian, Michael Hutchence was not a typical Australian, Steve Irwin is not a typical Australian, Crocodile Dundee is not a typical Australian. They are great, talented and proud Australians, but not typical. We, as a whole, are not homicidal, suicidal or disturbingly over the top.
So to address the quote.
Part 1: In my 38 years I have experience the following fierce animals in the following locations. Sharks, Seaworld. Dingos, zoo. Crocodiles, zoo. Brown recluse spiders are reclusive, however redback spiders are everywhere (but shy almost to the point of being reclusive). BOX Jellyfish, television. Bluebottle Jellyfish, wrapped around my body in the surf many times (but I’m as tough as Crocodile Dundee).
Part 2: Just like in America, famous people live in a cocoon. I have never met Naomi Watts because Australia is a big place with lots of people. I understand the inward focus of the USA so here is a geography lesson to help explain why I have not bumped into her in the street.
Land area Country Population
17M sq km Russia 143M
10M Canada 30M
9.6M China 1300M
9.6M USA 300M
8.5M Brazil 186M
7.6M Australia 20M
1.9M Mexico 106M
0.27M New Zealand 4M
0.25M England 60M
The first 6 are the biggest 6 countries in the world by land area. I just threw in Mexico, New Zealand and England to help with the perspective. As you can see we are a huge country with hardly any people. It is difficult to find anyone, let alone a famous person, in such a sparsely populated country but I’ll keep trying.
* I know where Russell Crowe comes from but we have claimed him as our own anyway, just like Mel Gibson.