The Olympics draw near to us, and on Australian television screens we are confronted with an advertisement for the Games featuring a truly horrifying rendition of the classic Australian ballad “Waltzing Matilda”.
The gruesome transplantation of Waltzing Matilda into a corny, overblown, adult contemporary pop song is an affront to Banjo Paterson’s work – the narration of an itinerant worker setting up bush camp by a billabong, thieving a stray sheep for food, being confronted by the police and the sheep’s ostensible owner, committing suicide and haunting said billabong.
Whatever we make of the story of this swagman, we should surely conclude that the version currently on rotation is a world away from its more radical intent.* And this is not even to mention the commercialisation of the Olympic Games…
These are merely examples of a more widespread phenomenon – the commodification of the radical. Read the rest of this entry