When I first saw a “ute” on a Melbourne street, I thought (and apparently said out loud), “What on earth is that ugly thing?” Theo’s reaction was as if I’d committed blasphemy. He threatened I might not be able to continue living with him.
Here’s a terrific blog entry on utes and bogan culture in Australia from Smuggling Budgies.
Australia has been going through some soul-searching since President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage. The media here has been stating that Australia is the only member of the OECD in which the leaders of both major parties do not support gay marriage. This response is demonstrative of, what people have told me, a deep-seated lack of national confidence, a worry that Australia and Australians are more backwards (‘bogan‘ using Australian slang) than their counterparts – namely Britain and the United States.
Are Australians really bogan? In their hearts, are they a little more hick?
This is an impossible question for an American to answer but why not have fun trying, right? We Americans have our very own styles of backwardness that, I think, help make our country great or at least more interesting. In fact, I’d say that one of the things that makes Australia great, unique, and interesting is its bogan nature.
The rest of this post is a not-so-anthropological look at a piece of Australian culture that we, as Americans, may find humorously behind the times: the large number of Utes on the road. An American who visited Australia extensively in the 1980s once told me that, during that time, ‘Australia was like America in the 196os’. And since Utes in America disappeared almost 30 years ago, are they a sign that Australia is still humorously behind the times?
Read the rest at Smuggling Budgies.
Update: Unfortunately, it looks like Smuggling Budgies is gone. We’ll have to ponder this question some other time.