They shoot kangaroos don't they?
DAN SILKSTONEFebruary 10, 2010
The Boxing Kangaroo needs to go.
It's time for a cull, good people of Australia, and - though I expect
this to be controversial with the green and gold zinc cream, John
Williamson singing, hand-on heart, fanatics types - there must surely
be some rational minds out there who agree with me.
The Boxing Kangaroo (TM) must be K'Od. Pest-controlled. Humanely (or even not humanely, I really don't care) euthanased.
Have you been following the tedious, semi-concocted brouhaha from chilly Vancouver this past week?
From the balcony of their home in the athletes' village, the Australian team hung a giant Boxing Kangaroo (TM) flag. Allegedly they were then asked by the International Olympic Committee to take it down, on the grounds that only national flags and not commercial symbols are to be displayed around the village.
That, of course, was a piece of the sort of breathtaking, bile-inducing hypocrisy in which the gentlemen of the IOC specialise (but more on that later).
The Australians refused, the phones were worked and a media campaign resulting in mock outrage, a little bit of real outrage and plenty of hot air raged for days.
It was big news back home and big news here in Vancouver. Talkback radio and morning TV raged with indignation. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard labelled it a disgrace. The word un-Australian was uttered (surely any actions taken by a global governing body, including how much sugar to have in their tea and what time to go to bed, are - by definition - unAustralian).
After an organised demonstration that looked about as spontaneous and unchoreographed as an episode of So You think You Can Dance, the "decision" was "reversed". The flag would stay.
Or, here's how the IOC put it: ''I'm not sure there was ever really an issue,'' a spokesman offered. ''It was, 'The battle that was never there'. Certainly, the IOC never officially asked for it to be taken down, it wasn't taken down and - guess what - it's staying up.''
Somehow, what might have been a sideways comment about the undesirability of the giant-sized flag (which is two storeys high and dwarfs others on display including Australia's national ensign) turned into an orchestrated media campaign based around a jingoistic fallacy.
A cynic might point out that the Australian Olympic Committee has been embroiled in a virtual war these past few months after the federal government commissioned the independent Crawford Review of Australian sport that slammed our Olympic tsars, our national obsession with chasing gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars we pour into that obsession.
Add to that a general nervousness that the good results of the Turin games four years ago just might not quite be recaptured here and Olympic officials could do with all the positive PR they can get. They got it. Who knows if they paid for it but representatives of Vancouver's top PR agency have certainly been twittering loud and often about the flag "controversy" in recent days.
Theirs might have even been the type of contacts and influence that prompted several mayors from neighbouring rival towns and cities to get their faces on TV by proclaiming that they would happily fly the Boxing Kangaroo (TM).
Anyway, none of this really bothers me that much. Some Australians, led by their media, are not sufficiently discriminating to avoid making a huge nationalistic fuss about a concocted non-issue. Big whoop. The Australians rightly point out that other non-national flags, including New Zealand's silver fern, are displayed around the village. And for the IOC, which has allowed a festival supposedly about universal brotherhood and other lofty guff to be branded to the point of saturation, a sudden aversion to commercial symbols is not exactly becoming.
Just ask the aboriginal "first Nations" people invited by the Vancouver organising committee to set up a tent at the games, showcasing traditional native culture and food. When they planned to offer "bison burgers" prepared by one of the nation's leading chefs, McDonalds pressured Olympic organisers into forcing them to abandon the idea. McDonalds, you see, is the only "official burger" of the Games.
Faster, higher, stronger and also with more cholesterol.
But, pointless or not, this week's fuss did make me think, though, about how much I dislike that tired old '80s flag.
It's a rubbish banner, made for a brief moment almost 30 years ago, when we embraced the millionaire's sport of yachting at the behest of a billionaire crook: Alan Bond. It's a testament to cheering something you don't understand or care about because you have suddenly discovered Australia just might win (Winter Olympic parallels ignored here).
In the firesale after he went broke and went to jail Bond sold the trademark for the Boxing Kangaroo to the Australian Olympic Committee. They own it. As surely as Coke owns its "dynamic ribbon" or McDonalds its "golden arches".
One Canadian TV station described this image as "an international symbol of peace", which made Balls almost choke on his own frozen vomit. A local newspaper dubbed it, slightly more accurately, ''a symbol of Australia's proud sporting history". Maybe. Kind of.
Either way, it's rubbish. Balls is no great fan of the official flag either, being a staunch republican and all that. But if we must have another flag - one that shows we identify more with our national colours of green and gold than the ones on our official flag and that proves we don't mind being represented by the British Union Jack on unimportant issues such as politics and war but not when it comes to the serious business of sport - surely not this one?
It's a horrible piece of design. It looks like a six-year-old knocked it up. What kind of serious flag features sporting goods? Would we not laugh if the Spanish showed up at the Winter Olympics waving a flag that featured a bull playing tennis?
A lot of people like the Boxing Kangaroo (TM). Two weeks just spent covering the tennis at Melbourne Park testifies to that. But our national symbols - even at the Olympics - should not be the trademarked property of the AOC and our national outrage should not be directed to promoting that property. An Australian flag should represent something other than the dumb, unconsidered violence of an animal trying to impress a female of the species and get his leg over by smashing in the face of his fellow kangaroo.
Local media in Canada have dubbed it the "flag flap". Balls suggest removing the L from the second of those words for a more accurate description (if you don't know what that means ask a teenager to explain or look it up on Urban Dictionary).
What do you reckon, fellow sports lovers? Thumbs down for the roo or an enthusiastic oi, oi, oi? And if not the Boxing Kangaroo, then what?