Thank you for inviting me to talk to you about something that I am truly passionate about, and that is Australian stereotypes in contemporary Australian literature. In today’s society, contemporary literature does encourage young readers to look beyond Australian stereotypes. However, Australian stereotypes are still present in some contemporary Australian literature. I have chosen four contemporary Australian texts that both challenge and reinforce the Australian stereotype.
These texts include: Stony Heart Country by David Metzenthen, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Initiation by Christobel Mattingley and How Australian Are You? By Jim Haynes. In this speech, my goal is to demonstrate that some contemporary literature encourages young readers to look beyond what is now considered as Australian stereotypes, while others reinforce the message.
So first of all, you may ask yourself, what is a stereotype? Well, a stereotype is described as “a set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly” (dictionary. om) Over the years, many people have made their own judgments and opinions of what Australians are like and the basic culture.
Such characteristics like men having more power and success than women and Aborigines’ being uneducated and poor have been reflected in the majority of today’s contemporary Australian texts. However, there are still some texts like Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, which is a great example of a contemporary Australian text that challenges the typical Australian stereotypes.
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta is about a teenage girl named Josephine (Josie) Alibrandi, who comes from an Italian-Australian background and lives in Sydney with her big, traditional Italian family in Sydney, Australia in the late 1990s. Throughout the book, Josie takes the readers on a journey through her last few years of school at St Martha’s, finding out about who she is and trying to deal with racial comments, family problems and complicated relationships. Melina Marchetta encourages young readers to look beyond the common Australian stereotype by casting a female as the main character.
In many stereotypes, men are categorized as more powerful and successful than women in a way, and therefore are casted as the lead characters in books and movies; whereas the women are seen as the housewives that just cook and clean and look after the household and their men. Women are typically not working class type of people. Looking for Alibrandi really challenges this notion in that women can be successful and know what they want. The second contemporary Australian text that challenges the Australian stereotype is Initiation by Christobel Mattingley.