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15 July 2009 11:47

In some good news for the Australian car industry, Autopia reports that the Americanised version of the Holden Commodore could be revived by GM. It was previously associated with the now defunct Pontiac brand, but looks set for another chance as a GM Chevrolet.

SBS is screening repeats of Top Gear (the real one, not the lobotomised Australian version) on Monday nights, and I recently saw a Jeremy Clarkson review of another Holden export product, the Monaro. What's striking about the review is that, even in the UK, a country that knows Australia like no other, commentators find it all but impossible to go beyond a handful of national cliches and stereotypes. The Clarkson piece, for instance, references Kylie Minogue, 'Down Under', shrimp on the barbie, Dame Edna, Azaria Chamberlain, and...er...homophobia.

Before you get too upset with Clarkson, note that he has his tongue pretty much permanently in his cheek. Also, try to imagine if you were writing a similar script about the latest Aston Martin or Fiat or Saab. Wouldn't your thinking take a similar turn?

The moral seems to be that it is extremely difficult to change international perceptions about a nation's culture, though the car industry does suggest that it's not completely impossible. The Hyundai brand, for instance, was not taken seriously in Australia a decade ago, but it has now largely caught up with the Japanese.

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