Matthew Reddin

Hello America, From Australia: Exploding Things on Purpose? Bad Idea

(Photo by Julie Tupas on Unsplash)

Today is the Fourth of July, when Americans are fond of blowing things up on purpose during the hot, dry summer day. Australia cautions America to maybe not do that.

 

Hello America.

It’s cold here, what with it being winter in this part of the world, and that hemispheres are a thing. It’s been noted that there are parts of your North American landmass that are literally on fire from the extremities of heat, which isn’t such a nice thing. But it may give some of your fellow country-people the kicking they need to take positive, proactive steps towards stemming the climate crisis.

Kidding!

I know it won’t. Because freedom, or something, and reducing carbon emissions may involve doing less things that burn fossil fuels, or paying more taxes, and lord knows you folks ain’t doing that.

I also note that it is the Fourth of July. Happy collective birthday! Very nice that you take a day off every year to commemorate when a collective of wig-bearing chaps got together and told the English what the score was. We do that in Australia on occasion, but it’s usually done with a cricket match and, thankfully for our nation, we win. A lot.

A-U-S! A-U-S! A-U-S!

The Fourth of July gives us an opportunity to trade war stories: you gained your sovereign status as a nation by fighting a war to send George III’s people packing; ours was not so bloody as it was administrative. We held a constitutional convention in 1900 after 112-odd years of colonial occupancy, decided “collective self-rule” was the way forward, and a nation was born on January 1, 1901. Whereas your Constitution was born out of Thomas Jefferson taking time out from impregnating his slaves (and keeping his subsequent offspring as slaves; classy move, Tom) to pen some words we all apparently hold to be self-evident, our Constitution is an act of British parliament. The original document isn’t even here—it’s in London. Fun fact.

 

Making things explode on purpose when it’s hot and dry is a really bad idea. Setting off fireworks because, 245 years ago, some farmers sent some working-class British conscripts packing is a bad idea.

 

Anyhow, July 4. I think of a few things here: one, James Cagney being a bit rah-rah during WWII in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy; two, Tom Cruise being rather excellent as someone who was “love it or leave it,” until the truth of his and America’s post-Vietnam situation was revealed to him in Born on the Fourth of July. Both are pretty good movies. As is the HBO miniseries John Adams, but for different reasons. Check them all out, you’ll be happy you did.

Anyhow, couple of words of wisdom from this part of the globe to yours. One, setting off fireworks when it’s hot as balls is a REALLY bad idea. From what I’ve been told, the booms and whizzes and whatnot scare the bejeezus out of the neighborhood dogs, and since we all love dogs, let’s just curb our fireworks enthusiasm, for Fido’s sake.

But back to the meat and potatoes: it’s really a bad, bad idea during a hot, dry summer. Take it from someone who lives on a hot, dry continent: setting shit on fire when it’s hot is bad news. In early 2020, much of the eastern seaboard of Australia was on fire. It was hot and dry and a massive amount of wilderness caught fire and it’s estimated that one billion native animals died. In early 2009, we had a day here in Melbourne where the temperature hit 48 degrees (Celsius, 118.4 F in your archaic measurements), with winds of 100k/hour (62 miles/hour). The place went up like gangbusters, and we had the dubious distinction of being the hottest place on earth that day.

Making things explode on purpose when it’s hot and dry is a really bad idea. Setting off fireworks because, 245 years ago, some farmers sent some working-class British conscripts packing is a bad idea. There’s nothing wrong with pride in what your nation accomplished, and I for one salute America for what it has given the world, everything from pornography to cheeseburgers. But maybe tone it down a notch. Wave all your flags (the ones that were made in China) and sing your songs and deep fry as many meats as you can muster, then eat them off a stick as it appears is your cultural wont. Convincing some more enthusiastic patriots among you to maybe, possibly tone it down might be a challenge.

I can speak from experience. Every year, Australia has its national day on January 26, which is the day a flotilla of tall ships arrived in what is now Sydney, in 1788. Those among us who are descendant from the land’s original habitants take some understandable measure of grievance at the national day being celebrated, on the day their ancestors started getting erased from existence. It stands to reason that we might change the date for such celebrations but given the resistance many people have to changing their ways, acknowledging errors, or even erring to the opinions of those of different pigment (for fuck’s sake), that seems unlikely to happen.

Have a nice day, either way.

 

Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music, and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines, and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

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