Hopping into this fun old game of blogging and tweeting has opened my eyes as much as it has confirmed what I had suspected amongst many of our opinion shapers and makers. That when it comes to the Mythical Western Suburbs, they are just that. A myth that continues to be perpetuated by people who are happily living in either their inner city boltholes or in hideaways away from the same Mythical West.
I have this picture above my desk at work, just to remind me of how those from the inner see the outer.
For us who live and work in the actual west, we find this mildly amusing for its stereotyping. For people who think Leichhardt is the limit of their idea of Sydney, it summarises their understanding of life in the Mythical West. The only thing is missing are the angry mobs wanting to Stop The Boats.
For them, there is this kind of political propaganda, placed in the letterboxes of voters living in the poorers areas of Lindsay in the last Federal Election, assuming that people won’t read any kind of facts in relation to the issue.
As with any set of stereotypes, there is some truth to the things said about The Mythical West. There are cashed up bogans. There are flanno wearing people on welfare payments. There are racists. There are groups of newly arrived immigrants who have had little to no help in settling into life in a completely new country and culture. There are also groups of dedicated people – teachers, nurses, social workers, pastors, priests and so on trying to do their best to help the suburbs maintain a good and happy balance. Yet you almost never hear their voice in the “National Conversation”.
Read newspapers, watch ACA, Today Tonight, 730, Q and A, watch or read The Drum and The Punch, Things Bogans Like and virtually everything else. The authors are almost exclusively people from the inner city, talking about The Mythical West as an abstract concept, not a real place. You’d never see David Marr or Robert Manne out at Penrith Plaza or Chadstone, for example. You’ll see Gemma Jones from the Daily Telegraph get in a car to find someone on $150,000 in Baulkham Hills for a story, but that’s feeding the Mythical West stereotype as well. The same goes for Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt – even though their mendacity is pretending to know the outer suburbs whilst all the while scuttling to their fortresses away from the unwashed.
This Mythical West image won’t change, though. Media outlets like to perpetuate the myths, as do the new hipsters and those who like to furiously define things like feminism. In the case of feminism, we recently have had endless arguments about who or what is a feminist. Whilst they jump on each other in such arguments, people in the actual west still like Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown, despite their appalling actions. This is because those people cannibalising each other in the inner don’t seem to be interested in fighting the good fight to change perceptions and people’s lives in the vast heaving outer. But don’t worry. There are people who are doing their best to work in those areas. And most of them read the guff and sigh, knowing that the media merry-go-round has very little to do with them and their daily toil.