ANN: Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 7.2 is now available

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Intellect is excited to announce that the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 7.2 is now available! For the full article list, click here >>


The Cardrona Hotel: Creating a New Zealand heritage icon

Authors: Lloyd William Carpenter 
Page Start: 209

On the road between the famed tourist hubs of Wanaka and Arrowtown on New Zealand’s South Island lies the former 1860s gold-rush-era town of Cardrona. There, beside an immaculately kept heritage precinct of nineteenth-century wooden buildings, tourists pause at the Cardrona Hotel, an architectural relic of the rush for gold in Central Otago. This hotel has emerged in guidebooks and local histories, and on social media sites and ratings guides, as a tourism and craft beer ‘must-do’ and, according to Heritage New Zealand, has become New Zealand’s most photographed hotel. Its popularity defies belief and even logic, and yet each new visitor to the region appears determined to leave with at least one photograph of its distinctive facade in their portfolio. The story behind the survival of the heritage-listed structure and its elevation to the heights of popular and tourist culture ‘icon’ status stems from a combination of its remote location, the enduring romanticization of the gold rush, a succession of eccentric owners, the mythopoeia of a popular book from the 1950s and its inclusion in a brewer’s marketing campaign. Each has scaffolded the Cardrona Hotel to become iconic to the gold-rush era, heritage tourism and New Zealand’s popular culture and identity.

Kabell Mockbell and his coffee empire

Authors: Alison Vincent 
Page Start: 225

The story of Kabell Mockbell and the coffee empire that he built demonstrates how the biographies of individuals, and even the limited amount of knowledge gained from secondary sources, can expand an appreciation of the past and challenge popular preconceptions. Mockbell was a self-described ‘Egyptian Turk, of Arab parentage’ living in Sydney throughout the First World War, negotiating the challenges of allegiance to his ancestry and to his new home. He was part of a cosmopolitan community long before post-Second World War migration brought large numbers of Europeans to Australia and government policies encouraged multiculturalism. Despite the popular belief that today’s coffee culture owes its origins to the espresso bars of the 1950s, Mockbell should be acknowledged as a much earlier personage to bring the coffee shop to Sydney.

Margaret Dunn: A life and career biographical study

Authors: Donna Lee Brien 
Page Start: 239

Despite the challenges and difficulties involved in crafting a viable living as a professional creative writer, a number of Australian women sustained careers as popular writers in the twentieth century. Some of these worked across multiple genres, media and professional descriptors, maintaining what can be described as portfolio careers. This case study recognizes that the task of writing the lives of such popular writers is important because, in addition to restoring women to the historical record, such narratives make an important contribution towards understanding the production and consumption of popular writing. Margaret Dunn (1919–2011) worked for 70 years as a popular journalist, radio dramatist, cookbook writer and historian in Adelaide, Sydney, New York, New Delhi and Geneva. In addition to outlining the trajectory of her life, this study provides the first profile of her career as a popular writer and of the narratives that she constructed and published for both Australian and international audiences. This will include discussion of the ‘golden age’ of radio and the roles that women played in the production of this media, her bestselling cookbook Mother’s Best Recipes (1974) and how she wrote engaging institutional and family histories that reached mainstream audiences.

Conflating class, culture and ethnicity: Casual and culinary forms of racism in Alice Pung’s Laurinda

Authors: Astrid Schwegler-Castañer 
Page Start: 255

Literature can function as a lens through which social values are mediated. This characteristic acquires particular relevance in the case of children’s and young adult literatures as the world-view of the young readership is especially susceptible to the ideologies articulated in literary works. This article investigates the critical depiction of Australian multicultural society in Alice Pung’s novel Laurinda (2014). By analysing the role of food in both the novel’s plot and its figurative language, the article explores the novel’s illustration of the alienation of Asian minorities that is triggered by instances of overt and casual racism. The tangibility of foodways enables the illustration of how a lack of interaction between distinct social classes and ethnic groups is conducive to an absence of cross-group understanding that contributes towards the conflation of class, cultural and racial differences and prevents the achievement of the multicultural dream.

‘Dressing up’ two democratic First Ladies: Fashion as political performance in America

Authors: Denise N. Rall And Jo Coghlan And Lisa J. Hackett And Annita Boyd 
Page Start: 273

An American First Lady, argues Karin Vasby Anderson, ‘influences conceptions of American womanhood’ and by ‘virtue of their husband’s elections[,] First Ladies become sites for the symbolic negotiation of female identity’. The process of negotiation in female identity appears in various forms after women assume political power, for example: Golda Meir in Israel, Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, Indira Gandhi in India and most recently, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (2010–13). While the position of First Lady is unique to American politics, the ways in which Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama each rejected a ‘suitably feminine’ image provides an important lesson for all women in power. Therefore, we argue here that this analysis of two Democratic American First Ladies and their employment or disregard of fashion informs the gender-based and race-based issues affecting women in political leadership through their choices in dress. When ‘dressing up’ both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama struggled with issues of individual identity, subjectivity and power, and negotiated their First Lady roles in their fashion.

Life’s no beach: (Un)popular reality television of the Australian beach

Authors: Elizabeth Ellison 
Page Start: 289

Australian national identity has a long history of being intrinsically tied with landscape, and this is captured in representations of Australia in popular culture. Predominantly, representations of Australia have heavily featured the rural Outback, with television remakes of classic films recently released, such as Wake in Fright (2017) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018) suggesting there is still interest in this idea of an alien and terrifying Outback environment. And yet, most Australians live in coastal regions, many of which form the edge of urban hubs. The Australian beach plays an important role in establishing national identity in part because of its role as a gateway between the natural and the urban. Morris called the Australian beach ‘ordinary’, while Fiske et al. instead include the beach as one of the ‘myths of Oz’. The beach, therefore, inhabits a complex position in Australian imagination as both an ordinary part of Australian lives as well as a mythically beautiful locale for many Australians and tourists alike. Reality television has become an increasingly popular contemporary mode of storytelling and, despite its global dominance, the genre’s tendency to localize content can therefore reveal elements of Australian cultural identity. However, reality television programmes specifically set on the Australian beach have had varying levels of success, ranging from the strikingly popular Bondi Rescue (2006–present) and Bondi Vet (2009–present) to the almost immediately cancelled The Shire (2012) and Being Lara Bingle (2012). This article examines how these texts represent the complexities of the Australian beach through an analysis of representations of the ordinary, the mythic and the body.

Internet rumours with Chinese characteristics

Authors: Kay Hearn 
Page Start: 303

Internet rumours are a global popular culture phenomenon. For instance, the claims that Barack Obama was not born in America persisted throughout his presidency. Despite the technological means used to control the Internet and the legislation against the spread of rumours there are many false stories on the Internet in China and removing them is a full-time task. Although the quote, ‘When you open the window, some flies may come in’ 打开窗户,苍蝇可能会飞进 (Deng Xiaoping on the Open Door Policy), refers to the opening up of China in 1978, it is still relevant as a response to the consequences of the Internet and the way it is managed. This article investigates the discourses surrounding the regulations about the spreading of rumours and argues that the regulations are used to maintain control over the narrative of events so as to preserve and reaffirm the government’s legitimacy to rule. The legislation is used as a justification to censor information that the government deems sensitive and this has been used as a reason to imprison activists and to shape popular culture. The regulations are also used to prevent widespread public panic or unrest, as was the case in 2011, when there was panic buying of salt thought to give protection from nuclear fallout that was rumoured to be heading to China from Fukushima. The application of the law can at times be arbitrary and planted rumours are used during factional fighting that is played out in the media and online. Xi Jinping has also used the tightening of rumour regulations as a part of factional fighting and in his consolidation of power. The following case studies act as empirical data to further illustrate the ways in which rumour and the legislative attempts to control it are used to shape Chinese cyberspace and online popular culture.

Game of Thrones and the hidden apocalypse

Authors: Sarah Baker And Amanda Rutherford 
Page Start: 315

HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011–present) is based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (1996–ongoing) book series. This Gothic fantasy world, which is based in a medieval-like period, where a struggle for the iron throne of Westeros is marked by a kingdom-wide civil war that encompasses wave after wave of massacres, betrayals and clandestine affairs, has become a popular culture phenomenon. The presence of ‘priests’ and ‘priestesses’ through the storyline provide religious undertones with the predatory, hive-minded zombie White Walkers being the key threat to the kingdom from the frozen north. Apocalyptic scenarios in popular culture have often been secularized, however, Martin explores the mysteries of what it is to be human and the fragility of existence by using religion as a central plot element, which this article will explore. Buried truths come to the fore in the ultimate battle of the living against the dead, and the trajectory of the narrative highlights the plot’s impending apocalyptic event, bringing otherwise enemies together. The article explores the connections made between the characters to that of biblical texts from the Book of Revelation in the Bible, and the prophesized destruction of the earth.

Musical Review

Authors: Tess Van Hemert 
Page Start: 327

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical, Simon Phillips (2018)

Television Review

Authors: Nino Miletovic 
Page Start: 331

Safe Harbour, SBS Australia (2018)

Event Report

Authors: Lyn Barnes And Richard Pamatatau 
Page Start: 335

Tales of the (Un)Popular: Intersections of Narrative, History, and Popular Culture, Popular Culture Research Centre, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, 1 February 2018