Anzac Day has become ‘a sort of military Halloween’, the Disneyfied version of the terrors of war, as former Australian Army officer James Brown puts it in his book Anzac’s Long Shadow. From the Woolworths #freshinourmemories meme-jacking and the Camp Gallipoli merchandise at Target stores, to the $145 million being spent by the federal government over four years on commemorations and related projects, plus corporate and private donations to the Centenary Public Fund, it is a behemoth to behold.
I look upon it with the distance of awe, and as the deification of the white male soldier continues apace, with a deeper sense of alienation.
–Fatima Measham on Anzac Day.
Measham’s post is about the impact of Anzac Day on migrant Australians, specifically the way Anzac Day seems to be turning into a militant celebration of Anglo-Australian “exceptionalism”, and how that’s kinda, yanno. Maybe not the greatest?
Incidentally, it hasn’t always been so, or at least not always so… so-y, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rise in the jingoification of Anzac Day coincided with the death of the last surviving WWI veteran. For those who aren’t old enough to remember, there used to be a conversation every year around whether or not Anzac Day was an “appropriate” national celebration; it is, after all, basically glorifying a massacre, in which young Australian men were used as meat-shields by the British in order to screw the Ottoman Empire in a business deal. This used to involve wheeling out old vets who remembered the horrors at the front, and resented the pageantry put on back home to “celebrate” that. Well, all those old killjoys are dead, now, aren’t they? So that leaves the rest of us to celebrate war in peace. Or something.
(Also, for those conspiracy minded amongst you, the landing at Gallipoli is also the event that brought the world Fox News. Gee. I wonder why The Australian ((Hint: it’s owned by the same company.)) loves Anzac Day so much, given that.)