Thursday, May 11, 2006


Admiring, along with the rest of the world, the Crocodile Dundee, Ocker insouciance with which miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb exited the Beaconsfield mine (read a transcript of live coverage here) after a rescue that Australian Prime Minister John Howard described as a "wonderful demonstration of Australian mateship", I couldn't help but wonder, not for the first time if the much derided institution of national and cultural stereotypes might not have some positive aspects.

It is an idea that struck me - if you'll allow me to leap from crag to crag like a mountain goat - ages ago when I was watching Billy Wilder's masterpiece movie 'The Apartment'. Most of the personalities in the story are unmitigated swine, and even the two sympathetic leads - Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine - are weak characters who are largely responsible for their own problems.

The only two fully formed people among the dramatis personae are Dr ("Be a mensch!") and Mrs. ("The best thing for dizzy is a little noodle soup with chicken") Dreyfuss, the couple next door who are so Jewish they are almost caricatures yet personify adult sympathy, warmth, generosity, charity and neighbourliness.

My ideas aren't fully formed on this yet, but I suppose a weblog is for these shavings from the bench. Maybe I should start collecting or even inventing positive stereotypes.

No comments: