Friday, February 17, 2006

Half-Mangled Banner

Sit up straight; pay attention! Sterne is back, and you can consider your holiday from this bastion of taste and good sense officially over. Yes, we at Team Sterne have been taking it a touch easy on the blog front for little while now - but we had reasons, dammit. Well, Tim does anyway: he is busy making ready for the spawn of his loins to burst forth into a hideously unprepared world; I have merely been tuckered out from yet another sporadic period of barge totin’ and bale liftin’ for The Man (I swear, I am not given to hyperbole, but it’s just like the Confederate South ’round my workplace. Whippings, slave fights, mint juleps - the works). But! I, at least, am back now, and Tim will be returning to blog land in the not too distant future. And you poor saps thought you were free…

One thing that has not been diminished by my recent stint of exploitative labour (unlike the ability to walk, my will to live, etc, etc) is my patriotic fervour. I love this goddam stinking day-old-turd of a country with a passion that is unseemly, to say the least. This Australia Day past, I went through no less than three changes of underwear and an entire box of Kleenex, so amorous were my feelings for this great nation. But I will be the first to admit that my affection for all things Australian falls short of our flag. The Union Jack and Star of Federation are the anachronistic icons of fading imperialism and historical unimportance; the Southern Cross just plain boring. Let’s face it: ours is not a flag that inspires, that causes the eye to mist over with tears of elation at the mere sight of it. Yes, yes, I know men have fought and died for it in several wars and at least one police action, but wouldn’t they have enjoyed the killing and the dying more if they could have done it for a pennant that was a wee mite more…well, interesting? This is an age where all the cools kids are into making public displays of jingoism, and therefore are wont to wear flags emblazoned on their under-garments, tattooed on their bodies and wrapped around themselves as they journey to their local race riots. Don’t we want them to be able to wear something that the representatives of other nations can instantly recognise, be shocked and awed by, without having to check a ‘Flags of the World’ chart? Something chic, something bold, something a little less dull.

Which is why I whole-heartedly applauded the recent invitation by the Sydney Morning Herald for readers to send in flags of their own design as possible replacements for the embarrassment currently waving atop our flagpoles. As you can expect, there were some wonderfully well thought out and creatively designed suggestions, and while you should certainly check out the rest of the gallery, let me share my two favourites here:

This example comes from a fellow who, without a trace of irony, thought it would be sensible if Australia wore its gang colours openly and declared itself the 51st state of America.

And this, from a person happy to advertise their complete lack of aesthetic values.

Delightful as the SMH responses may be, and as seriously as I take them, I was recently struck by a certain lack of forethought and originality uncharacteristic in submissions to a newspaper. Why stop at a single flag? Even the US changes its coat of arms according to its current level of belligerence: the head of the Eagle of Democracy faces the talon which clutches a sheaf of arrows when the nation is at war, the talon with the olive branch when it doesn't. Why on earth can’t we go one better? Why not a series of national flags, a different one to be flown as the situation dictates? I’m sure that even now parliament is deliberating over which of the SMH entries to adopt as an every-day sort of a flag, but let me be the first to here submit a few of my own designs for flags for special occasions:

This, I feel, would be a suitable banner to raise when entering diplomatic summits and trade negotiations. Now the rest of the world can see just how far we’re prepared to go to reach that agreement, sign that treaty.

Should Australia, heaven forfend, go to war (as opposed to keeping the peace, with bullets), what we need is a flag that will scare the bejezus out of Johnny Foreigner. A standard which bore the dynamic duo you see below could not fail to achieve this end. Sure, it would mean coercing Mr T to become an Australian citizen, but if we can fork out the ducats to purchase gold medal wining Canadian skiers, I’m sure we can afford to import a retired TV star. One glance at this bad boy, and the enemy’d know that we were gonna fuck them up real nice.

And, of course, once we lost it would be necessary to sue for peace.

There now, people – aren’t your hearts and pants just swelling with pride at the thought of these beauties fluttering o'erhead? If not, you can consider your deportation orders in the mail and your passport stamped. Australia and Sterne have no need for the likes of you.


Lucy Tartan said...


Tim said...

The Mr T one gets my vote. Brilliant.

Ben.H said...

Ha! Ha! That one with the American flag in the corner is so funny, yet so true! I wonder how many of those the SMH got?

I always liked the legendary Australian violinist Johannes Rosenberg's suggestion of a clear plastic flag, with John Cage's 4'33" as the national anthem.

Otherwise my own suggestion would be to have a choice of two national flags: a butch one and a femme one. The butch would be all black leather and studs, the femme one just yards and yards of pink taffeta. Either way, I Love the Nightlife as a rousing anthem.

Otherwise, yeah, just go with the Mr T one, before some other country beats us to it.


Blue said...

I love Mr T - but Johnny needs to clip his fingernails....