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The cloning of Australia and the obligation of business


The Lion King is coming to Melbourne. It opens this Thursday. Yipee!

I bet that in one night the Lion King will do more in ticket sales than all new Australian Musicals will have done a year.

I don’t begrudge Disney and the folks behind the Lion King their success. Good luck to them. However, it puzzles my why we are so prepared to receive such blended and culturally neutered material when our country is rich with new musicals which give breath to Australian stories and Australian voices.

The cultural cringe is alive and well and opening in a theatre in Melbourne this week, fresh from a sell out long season in Sydney.

The Lion King to me represents another form of the clonisation of the world – a world where we want to see logos everywhere rather than business shingles we have not seen before. Logos represent less risk to investors so it is logos (like the Lion King) which win out. And success begets success.

Theatrical producers and investors have an obligation to tell Australian stories in Australian voices. No, hang on, they have an obligation to ensure maximum return. Well given the worldwide might of Disney and their ilk, The Lion King was always going to be a juggernaut here.

If producers will not accept a social obligation to support local productions then who will? Is this something the government could assist with – in the interests of keeping Australia Australia? I guess the Free Trade Agreement would have something to say about that.

The risk for us with these massive import musicals (and TV shows and rock bands etc) is that our voice fades further with the arrival of each one and soon we forget what it is to be Australian. Our malls look like American malls. Our food tastes like American food. Our TV is their TV. Our stories are their stories. We’re cloned.

And we wake up, look in the mirror and don’t recognise ourselves anymore.

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By Mark