Reflection of Egalitarianism & Tall Poppy Syndrome

June 8, 2021grusha


Hey guys!


As we approach the beginning of Unit 4 AOS 1 (my favourite unit!!), I'd like to start it off by introducing some of Australia's cultural values. Whilst I have found this unit more enjoyable for me, I have found that it can be more difficult to find more contemporary examples than Unit 3 AOS 1 & 2.

As I was watching TV a few days ago, I came across Malcolm Turnbull using his 'rough' and 'difficult' childhood to try and socially relate better to Australians. And indeed in his official Facebook video, you'll notice that it struck a chord with some of the people commenting. You'll notice that he uses the Australian colloquialism 'battling' as in an Aussie 'battler'.

You can find the video by Malcolm Turnbull here:

You'll notice that he uses the Australian colloquialism 'battling' as in an Aussie 'battler'. But what is an Aussie 'battler'?

But that hasn't been the entire case. Instead of greater a better social relationship with Australian audiences, it seems to have backfired on him - it led to the social media frenzy of using the #MalcolmWasSoPoor hashtag with many making jokes on Twitter and Facebook. Many accused the video's sentiment of being contrived and pandering. You can see some examples below:


According to Shami Sivasubramanian from SBS:

If there's ever been a leader accused of being out-of-touch, it's our own polo top-wearing, Point Piper-living, Rhodes Scholar-ly prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. So to assure the Australian public he is in fact a 'man of the people', Team Turnbull shared that video. The social-media friendly post highlights the PM's humble beginnings being raised by a "battling" single dad.

So, what does this all have to do with VCE English Language Unit 4 AOS 1? Well, many reasons:

  • It highlights how Australians need to downplay their wealth/success to 'fit in' culturally.
    • This is colloquially known as Tall Poppy Syndrome, which can be defined as a social phenomenon in which people of who have earned stature in the community are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.
    • According to Convict Creations, "the tall-poppy syndrome has meant different things to different Australians. To golfer Greg Norman, the tall-poppy syndrome meant a jealousy of success. Norman explained that if someone in America bought a sports car, then other Americans would say "nice car." However, if someone in Australia bought a sports car, other Australians would scratch it."
  • Australians are not fond of displaying status or prestige. If you achieve wealth, don't show or flaunt it. Otherwise, you'll be cut back down (tall poppy syndrome). Malcolm Turnbull has been facing an uphill battle as his wealth seems to be inhibiting his ability to relate socially to Australians - again because of cultural inhibitions.
  • Linking similarly to the Tall Poppy syndrome, the video also highlights this notion of egalitarianism
    • Egalitarianism can be defined as a trend of thought that favours equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status.

So, how would this be at all relevant to your assessments? Well, any essay that has to do with Australian cultural values and how it can be reflected in CONTEMPORARY society... this is where it would go. Many students choose the stereotypical examples of 'mate' reflecting mateship etc, which is fine, BUT to excel in this section, you must have modern examples!

I hope that helps guys - I'll aim to find more examples as the term progresses 🙂

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