Entry 1: Crofts, S 1992, “Cross-cultural reception studies: Culturally variant readings of crocodile dundee” in Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies Vol 6, pp.213-227
Crofts’ article provides an in-depth analysis of the financial and critical receptions of Crocodile Dundee (dir. Peter Faiman, 1986) across the US and UK markets, and including a variant of discursive categories such as nation, heroism, gender, sexuality and ethnicity, among many others. Crofts’ analysis is inherently based in reviews published about the film across various popular publications in both the US and the UK at the time of the film’s release. These reviews are invaluable in ascertaining how foreign markets interpreted the various representations of “Australianness” in the film, and gaining insight into how Paul Hogan was perceived as the image of Australians overseas at this time. Crofts argues that Crocodile Dundee’s “profound incompatibility with… the period film… by which Australian cinema was preponderantly represented in US and UK film exhibition” was the reason for its international success (p.217). The article also provides useful statistical figures such as the release date and how many cinemas screened the film across the US and Canada. Crofts also outlines various descriptions of reviewers of the “Australianness” of the film, such as one reviewer who described Dundee’s “larger than life character” as being “dear to the Australian national self-image” (p. 218). A particularly interesting view comes in the form of a quote from the New York Times’ chief critic Vincent Canby, who states that Hogan is a “newly proud Australian, the man who doesn’t apologise for not being born English, who relishes his very own, very pronounced, classless accent and vocabulary” (p.218). Crofts article provides an invaluable collection of various critical responses to Crocodile Dundee in the US and UK during the time of the films release, and will be extremely useful in our investigations into how international audiences perceived the representation of Australianness in the film.
Entry 2: Krausz, P 2002, “Australian Identity: A cinematic roll call” in Australian Screen Education Issue 24, pp.24-30
Krausz’s article seeks to identify what he perceives to be the four main strands of view on Australian identity as perpetuated by Australian films since 1896. These four strands include The Larrikin Image”, in which Krausz mentions Crocodile Dundee as taking a humorous dig at this image. The second strand is the openly satiric, socially critical identity, wherein Krausz argues the characters are “targets for humour, with their identities still very much works in progress” (p.26). Furthermore, Krausz argues that these second strand films often send up “cultural differences and Australian xenophobia”, which indicates “a lack of strong identity” (p.26). Krausz goes on to argue that the third strand is an introspective view of the Australian identity that “highlights the examination of who we are” (p.26). The fourth strand, Krausz argues, involves a “dramatically incisive, socially critical view of Australian identity, redolent with messages about national identity” (p.29). While the article is very succinct in defining these perceived strands, Krausz tends to neglect more in-depth analysis of these claims in favour of listing the films that he believes belong to each individual strand. While this article most likely will not provide assistance with the basis of my argument, it may prove helpful in locating examples from each of these strands of representations of the Australian identity.
Entry 3: McFarlane, B 2005 “‘Crocodile Dundee’ or the croc(k) of gold” in Australian Screen Eduction Issue 40, pp.123-129.
In this article, McFarlane looks at Crocodile Dundee‘s success, keeping in mind that film “is an industry as well as an art form” (123), and outlines some very useful box office figures of the film, both in the US and worldwide. The article then goes on to outline the main protagonist of Mick Dundee and his status as “Australian hero”. McFarlane argues that “it won’t be possible to separate him from the persona Paul Hogan had already created in his television appearances” (p.124). McFarlane outlines Dundee’s surface-level heroism – his appearance as “physically brave”, his “reputation for courage” – but McFarlane notes a “likeably self-deprecating touch” (p.124). McFarlane argues that Dundee represents “a peculiarly Australian hero; there is absolutely no question of his nationality”, before drawing upon the same Canby quote from the New York Times review of the film as Crofts did in Entry 1.
McFarlane goes on to outline Dundee as “essentially Australian” in his ability to “recall ‘old frontier heroes’… he’s like a descendant of the brave, leathery, good-humoured bushman, with a touch of the larrikin about him” (p.126). McFarlane argues that behind Dundee’s “simple, tough, decent bloke” exterior, “there is a whole tradition of Hollywood male-centred narrative” (p.126). According to McFarlane, with Crocodile Dundee, Hogan claimed he wanted to make a “proper movie” (p.126). McFarlane goes on to outline the ways in which Crocodile Dundee imitates the ideals perpetuated by early American Westerns such as My Darling Clementine (dir. John Ford, 1946). Furthermore, McFarlane outlines the submissive role of the women in these types of films, and in Crocodile Dundee itself.
McFarlane also addresses the notion of image – of Hogan’s “lean, bronzed Australian manhood”, and how this denotes Australianness, and also of Linda Kozlowski’s Sue, and her “conventional fetishisation of the female body in films” (p.126). McFarlane also discusses the juxtaposition between the Australian outback and the “urban mayhem” of New York (p.126). McFarlane’s article provides an in-depth textual analysis of Crocodile Dundee and how it represents the Australian image, as well as how it perpetuates gender roles and the ideas of place, and will provide a strong basis for our argument.
Entry 4: Lucas, R 1998 “Dragging it out: Tales of masculinity in Australian cinema, from Crocodile Dundee to Priscilla, queen of the desert” in Journal of Australian Studies, Issue 56 pp.138-146.
In this article, Lucas asks what it means to “be a man, to act or look like a man, in contemporary Australian culture” (p.138), and how the cinema has tackled the question of representation of gender and masculinity, using Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (dir. Stephen Elliott, 1994) and Crocodile Dundee as catalysts for discussion. For the purposes of relevance to our research topic, I will primarily focus on Lucas’ investigations pertaining to Crocodile Dundee. Lucas argues that there is an ever-present tie between the notions of Australian and the masculine, and that these notions are tied to the Australian cultural experience (p.138). Lucas argues that Crocodile Dundee presents a “conventional, phallocentric perspective of masculinity… this version of masculinity… is one of singularity, of physical and heroic superiority” (p.139-141). Lucas argues that this perpetuates the notion of man as being in control of his landscape and those who inhabit it, and that this “territorial domination is indicated through the prize of the woman” (p.142). While Lucas’ discussion provides many notable insights into the somewhat patriarchal representations of men in Australian film, it does not offer many reasons into how this translates to an international audience, and so is not incredibly valuable to our discussion in a broader sense. However, it will provide useful evidence when discussing gender representations in general.
Entry 5: Scott, J & Biron, D 2010, “Wolf Creek, rurality and the Australian gothic” in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies Vol 24, pp.307-322
In this article, Scott & Biron argue that Wolf Creek takes the iconic rural landscape of the Australian outback and turns it into “a source of fear – a space of abjection”, and simultaneously appeals to the unknown-ness of this area and its inhabitants to the country’s coastal population, as well as to international audiences. To juxtapose the imagery used in Wolf Creek, Scott & Biron draw upon an example in the form of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia (2008), stating that Australia “draws on the mythologised terrain and eccentric characters of rural life to construct a sentimental and nostalgic account of the country” (p.307). Scott & Biron argue that Wolf Creek offers a “counter-narrative to the rural idyllisation of Australia” (p.308). Scott & Biron then venture into a detailed analysis of the notion of “rurality”, both in the physical spaces themselves and the people (or communities) who inhabit them. While films like Australia present romanticised representations of rural Australia, films like Wolf Creek represent the idyll as excessive – “inbreeding, insularity, backwardness and sexual perversion” – and Scott & Brion argue that “Wolf Creek, more than any other Australian film, manifests rural horror by way of our familiarity with aspects of a specifically Australian rural idyll” (p.311). Scott & Brion present a powerful discussion pertaining to the differing representations of rurality and landscape and how these can ultimately legitimatise the genre.
This article from Scott & Brion will be invaluable in analysing Wolf Creek in an individual case study, especially when coming to understand the success of this low-budget Australian horror film in the international market, and in addition, how its representation of the Australian outback differs from Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, which we hope to be another one of our main case studies.
Entry 6: Blackwood, G 2007 “Wolf Creek: an UnAustralian Story?” in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies Vol 21, pp.489-497
Blackwood’s article primarily focuses on the notion of the Australian “bloke”, and how Wolf Creek exploits the friendly, heroic survivor perpetuated by Paul Hogan’s character Mick Dundee in Crocodile Dundee. Blackwood acknowledges the characters’ similarities, discussing how the main antagonist of Mick Taylor is a direct descendant of Mick Dundee – he takes these familiar, harmless stereotypes of the “blokey” man and turns them into something terrifying. As Blackwood notes, another subversion of the Crocodile Dundee story is “Mick Taylor’s contrasting attitude towards international visitors… Mick Taylor sees international people as expendable and subhuman vermin” (p.494). This point in the discussion could be extremely valuable when discussing the success of the film internationally, and perhaps even why it earned more box office revenue in the US than in Australia; the argument begs the question of why tourists are so perversely interested in the horrors that the outback can offer. Blackwood’s article provides an interesting insight into the juxtaposing main characters in Crocodile Dundee and Wolf Creek, and what each offers in terms of representations of Australians internationally.
Entry 7: Ryan, M 2010 “Towards an understanding of Australian genre cinema and entertainment: Beyond the limitations of ‘Ozploitation’ discourse” in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies Vol 24, pp.843-854
Ryan’s article begins by discussing that recent criticisms of the Australian film industry lie in “the failure of Australian films to connect with audiences… the subtext of such criticism is often that Australian movies are not entertaining” (p.843). Ryan then goes on to discuss the term “Ozploitation”, and how this term has come to define the Australian films that slide into the genres of road movies, ‘ocker’ comedies, sexploitation and horror movies. Ryan argues that Australian film “has tended to emphasise ‘Australianness’ with a faithfulness to social realism” (p.845). Ryan’s argument essentially centres around the discussion of Australian film and how Australian film genres do not seek to mimic Hollywood genres, but to create their own, noting that “popular movie genres are rarely associated with Australian cinema” (p.846). Since Ryan’s discussion is largely concerned with Australian genre and how some can be favoured by producers rather than others, it will not be a major resource in my research. However, it does offer some interesting discussions around the individualistic nature of Australian genre films that could be interesting in discussing the success of some select Australian films overseas in comparison to others.
Entry 8: Smaill, B 2013 “Asianness and Aboriginality in Australian Cinema” in Quarterly Review of Film and Video Vol 30 pp.89-102
Smaill’s piece discusses the “rehearsed” nature of racial anxiety in Australian national cinema, and argues that this cinema has “appeased and focused the anxieties of white Australia” (p.90). While it discusses a multitude of Australian films, I wish to particularly focus on her discussion of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, as this was the most commercially successful (both in Australia and internationally) example used. Smaill critiques the films representation of colonial attitudes, arguing that the film “constitutes a fantasy of reconciliation that simultaneously looks forward to the future and back to the past” (p.95). Referring to the time after Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generations in early 2008 as “post-apology Australia”, Smaill states that “Australia speaks to a largely white cinema-going audience open to recognising the practices and effects of the past, but in a way that is forward-looking and imagines the possibility of a future of co-existence” (p.96). Smaill goes on to criticise the lack of depth to majority of the “multicultural” characters in the film, stating that “it is only the central white and Aboriginal characters who have ‘story’ or a narrative of self-identity – they are at the centre of the film’s presentation of national mythology… the polyethnic ensemble cast contributes only to the background of the plot” (p. 97). Smaill’s discussion of the Aboriginal representation in the film centres the film in an almost racist context, and seems to argue that the Aboriginal characters are exploited for their “difference” from the self; Smaill argues that “the film exploits the image of Aboriginality… as a marker of national specificity. Encapsulating and transcending the national cinema, Australia was made with the aim of achieving international prestige in addition to box office success” (p.97). Smaill also briefly mentions the “tourist gaze” (p.97) which I believe could be used in an argument explaining the reasons why the film did so well internationally.
Smaill’s argument provides an in-depth insight into the representation of the Aboriginal population in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, which will be extremely useful when it comes to the case study of this film and ethnic representation.