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Ciggie butt brains indict Aussie middle class elitism

  • 20 February 2015

Like many aspiring intellectuals, I spent a good deal of my 14th year smoking ciggies at Glenroy Station with my hair smoothed into the tightest bun ever with glitter hair gel.

The appeal of train stations to burnouts and bored teenagers is that they are the perfect suburban nightmare. Sitting inert at a passage of transit while others around you move challenges the logic of mobility. And isn't mobility the cornerstone of middle classness? Why would you go somewhere else that is crap, when this crap place is fine? Why would you displace your own boredom? Also, teenagers have no money, and no reason, really, to go anywhere. You got a ciggie?

So when last year Damo and Darren's 'Train Station', Michael Cusack’s animation of an obscene 'part derro, part yobbo, part bogan' duo fighting over a lighter — 'If you want a lighter, why don't you just go to the servo and get one?' 'Cause, you dopey c***, I just spent all my Centrelink on Samantha's child support, didn't I?' — was published on YouTube, it clocked 2 million views in its first month, and made people very happy.

When I showed the animation to a friend who had grown up in England's north under Margaret Thatcher, he was not hugely amused. 'Why are Australians laughing at poor people?' he asked. I tried to make a point about affection, recognition, and maybe even identification: 'Train stations are like an Australian rite of passage.' But then I realised I was basically justifying my own snobbery. Laughing at Damo and Darren is classist. Why do Australians laugh at poor people?

Cusack published a follow-up Damo and Darren animation this week called 'Skatepark', which is just as depressing as its forerunner. Damo and Darren, a 'couple of old blokes', spend their Sundays getting intoxicated in the skatepark. When the youth 'disrespect' them by skating in the skatepark, they must defend their turf.

In the artist's defence, he captures a particular Australian vernacular that a huge number of Australian speakers hear and use often, but never see represented in art or the media unless it is in the context of identifying a criminal. Cusack is a sharp observer, and some of the laughter he invokes comes from the recognition that the way we speak is kind of abject, kind of funny.

But I suspect that most of the laughter from most of the viewers comes from us distinctly not identifying