The larrikin-wowser nexus

It is chilling top watch these clips - to think they give these folks guns and votes.

I hadn't heard of Chaser's War on Everything until now and now I wonder about the sorry state of New Zealand TV. Game shows are on the ascendant and satire is as absent as it ever was (you can't descend from flat earth). Maybe the Australian culture is just better at producing larrikins. The Wikipedia describes Larrikins thusly:

Many commentators have noted the larrikin streak in Australian culture, and have theorised about its origins. Some say that larrikinism arose as a reaction to corrupt, arbitrary authority during Australia's days as a penal colony, or as a reaction to norms of propriety imposed by officials from Britain on the young country.

Larrikinism is a significant element in Australian culture, and has emerged repeatedly, informing Australian contemporary art, popular and youth culture and political debate. Evidence of the larrikin influence includes traditions of free, rule-defying experimentalism in Australian art and underground music (various renowned experimental ensembles that emerged from the post punk movement are examples).

It can be argued that the larrikin tradition of disdain for authority, propriety and the often conservative norms of bourgeois Australia (as evident, for example, in the country's history of censorship and the nation's receptiveness to paternalistic leaders) are two sides of a self-reinforcing dynamic; the social conservatism of the mainstream fuels the undercurrent of larrikinism and rebellion, which, in turn, is seen as demonstrating that a firm hand is needed. This is sometimes referred to as the "larrikin-wowser nexus", "wowser" being an Australian colloquial term for a person of puritanical mores.

Maybe I am being overly hard on New Zealand comedy. We have larrikins, don't we? What about Marc Ellis? Yes I'll grant that but what is his vehicle - A Game of Two Halves. Exactly. More a game of one half. Jeremy Wells is probably the only other bone fide larrikin - though maybe sardonic commentator would be more accurate.

Actually watching a few clips from EML I just had a chilling realisation that the interviews at the Fieldays are almost a mirror image of the clip at the head of this entry...


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