The “Glamorous and Entertaining” Female Oz Type: Lorrae Desmond

The flyer above introduces Lorrae, the Australian tv star as a “truly glamourous international entertainer.” Lorrae Desmond was the beginning of lifestyle and infoinment shows to female viewers. On ABC, in the early 1960’s she had her own show “The Lorrae Desmond Show.” On the show she did everything from singing to offering beauty advice. TV week wrote, “Lorrae was a fixture in TV WEEK in the ’60s, modelng gowns, discussing her love-life and diet secrets, and even revealing a surprising preference.” The show structured and framed Lorrae as an active TV beauty, enjoying the commodities that help make her a beautiful woman. In her show’s opening (see clip below), two men tune in on a “giant” TV screen and Lorrae slowly emerges within the TV frame. This TV box framing literally underscores how Australian television frames Lorrae as an ideal Australian national type.

The “Smart and Rebellious” Female Oz Type: Nicole Kidman

In Vietnam (1988), an Australian TV mini series, Nicole Kidman plays a young rebellious girl, Megan Goddard. Megan revolts against her father’s conservative viewpoint of the war and his patriarchal dominance over the family’s structure. In one scene, Megan argues with her father over his his fowl treatment of her mother. Megan helps her mother gain confidence, and gain a voice against her father.  Below is a transcript of the dialogue from this scene in Vietnam. You will see the way in which Megan rebels against her father and brings female agency and empowerment  to her mother.

Douglas (Megan’s father), “That’s disgraceful…Children watching.”

Megan responds,…”Yeah, that’s right. It’s fine that it happens, just disgraceful that people might see it!”

Douglas, “I don’t condone random acts of violence.”‘

Megan, “But you refuse to see what bastards are on your side!’

Douglas, “It’s a war. Things get out of control. I don’t deny it. But that doesn’t effect the underlying moral and political issues.”

Megan, “He’s the guy you are supporting! You might as well be pulling the trigger yourself!”

Douglas, “I am not going to sit here and listen to a hysterical child that doesn’t know what she is talking about.”

Megan, “Oh run away, kill a few more before bedtime!”

Megan’s mother, ” I must say Douglas that I do think Megan has a point..I do wonder about our whole hearted support for people that do that.”

Douglas, At least the camera’s are allowed on the streets of South Vietnam. We don’t even get a chance to see what happens in the North”

Megan Mother “Ugh! Where there isn’t a level of corruption for the start”

Douglas, “And where did you read that darling? Hm? I would have thought you would have acknowledged that fact that I have a little more inside information than you reading some of the newspapers.”

Megan, “Oh go on, Put her down that’s right. Get your big jack boot and grind her into that carpet!

Megan’s mother, “Megan that’s enough!”

Douglas, “Alright, do I put you down?” (To Megan’s mother)

Mother, ” You can be very condescending towards me.”

Megan, “The way you treat her makes me throw up!”

Douglas, ” Get to your room!” (to Megan)

Douglas, “Alright, when was I condescending? (To Mother”

Mother, ” Douglas! There is no point in going through a list!”

Douglas, “Oh fine he hit me! But I can’t remember when!”

Mother, “You very rarely acknowledge that I have any intelligence at all! I’m just the kid’s mom as I am concerned!”

Douglas, “Oh not this bloody nonsense. Not again!”

Megan, “It’s not nonsense you are cruel to her!”

View this scene at: http://aso.gov.au/titles/tv/vietnam/clip3

In addition, Kidman’s “rebellious” character type can be described as revolting against the “traditional”  glamourous roles created for early soaps such as Julia in Autumn Affair (1958). Rather than having a drodgy, funny, glamourous , and traditional female type, Nicole Kidman’s melodramatic role gives female Aussies agency and independence wtihin the family. Her voice in Vietnam transfers to her mother’s empowerment, as well as female empowerment in Australian television.

The “Newsreporter” Female Oz Type

Eva Cox notes in her report, ‘What do I wear for a Hurricane?” that the title of the report comes from her experiences as a journalist reporter. While giving reports on “hurricane and plane crash” events “she realised that all too often concerns about her work centred on whether she had remembered her hairspray, or whether she was wearing the correct clothes and looked “just right”” (Cox 2).

Realising this, Cox concluded that these concerns were brought about by the way in which the male employees at work perceived her.  What is the “right” way to look as a female news reporter? It seems as though news reporters globally, not just in Australia, all have similar physical standards of beauty. Most are thin, wear lots of makeup, and have stiff hairsprayed hair. How was this stereotype constructed? Why is this the norm? After all,  it is the news being delivered that is more important than the their own image.

The “Ethnic” Female Oz Type: Effie

Effie Stephanidis (Mary Coustas), a greek-australian woman starring in the show Acropolis Now (1989-1992), is one of the first attempts of Australian TV to introduce the diversity of females in Australia. In the show she represents the generation of airheads- she has a crazy Australian accent, wild hair, and an annoying gum chewing habit. In Outrageous Characters, a commentator said, “I’d just look at her and I’d start Laughing!” Although, Effie’s ethnic character type is different than the typical “white australian,” the show uses her ethnicity to create comedy and turn the female in the “ditz” and  stereotypes Greek-Australians as lower class and uneducated. Part of the comedy came from Effie’s misuse of the English language. for example, she would say “O how embarrassment” instead of “how embarrassing.” It seems as though Aussie female types such as Effie and Kath and Kim are characterized by their Butchering of the “english” language.

As an American, I couldn’t help but see a resemblance to Fran (Fran Drescher) from the show The Nanny. Interestingly, The Nanny tv series began in 1993, a year after Acropolis Now stopped production. It could be possible that the producers of the show used some of Effie’s characteristics such as her hair and laugh to influence the character of Fran.

The “Drongo” Female Oz Type: Kath and Kim

Norma Grieve wrote, “The image of the wife and mother was increasingly in conflict with the much more interesting sexy image of ‘woman’ produced by Hollywood and the advertising agences. So the unmarried woman, to spend on herself, became more interesting ” (132).  The fairly recent Australian comedy series, Kath and Kim,  follows the dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship between Kath and Kim. Kath and Kim as “single” women provide a much more interesting and exploratory dynamic between the two characters- it allows them to do more “outrageous acts” for the international and national audiences to admire and imitate. One commentator in the documentary Outrageous Characters said, ” I think its just the way she talks thats hilarious.” Kim’s “g-string” and drinking are also outrages elements to the show and keep people entertained. It seems that people like to imitate the character’s accents as well, in Outrageous Characters several people repeated Kath’s line “Look at me, Look at me, Look at me.” Its is the “murdering” of the english language that provides entertainment to television audiences across the globe. Some Aussies have noted that not many people who come from Melbourne suburbs recognize themselves in the show. The question is then- are Kath and Kim’s dysfunctional lives portrayed as the “Australian way of life”? Or is the show created to market their life to international audiences for a “laugh”? The show highlights the easy going way of life, however, do all women in Australia behave in this matter? I highly doubt it.

Welcome to Female Aussie Teletypes

Hi, and welcome to the “Aussie Tele-Types” blog. This blog is designed to focus on Australian television’s portrayal and marketing  of the “oz” female type on television. Australian Television imports over 50% of its shows from United States and the UK, meaning only  half of what is screen is “australian.” Therefore, the female type on screen is usually American or American influenced. How does this effect the Australian female type? This blog looks at Australian produced shows and analyzes the national female character types in relation to its audience, culture, and time period. What is the typical national type? Is there one? Is it accurate? Is the female oz type representative for the whole of Australia’s diverse population or for White Australia? More importantly, is the “female oz type” marketed for an international audience or for the national Australian audience? This blog seeks to answer these questions. The blog will include short posts of media clips, photos, and literature that I find relevant to the subject matter. Under the “Jounal” tab I will be posting 5 journal entries to the following questions:

1. How were women on Australian TV represented in the early days?

2. How many different types of female Australians did the documentary Australia Daze portray? How did it contrast the Masculine Oz roles ?

3. How have Kath and Kim reified the Australian female national type? What is it about their characters
that make them Australian? How do the characters of Kath and Kim imply the “aussie way of life”?

4. What is the female type on Australian lifestyle television shows? What different types of lifestyles are portrayed?

5. In progress.