Footnote on “The Slap” and social change…

It really is no wonder we of the Forgotten Generation may find ourselves all at sea at times. “The Forgotten Generation” includes all those born between the Great Depression and the end of World War 2 – that is before the Baby Boomers. I qualify by two years, and my brother is a 1935 model. I was reminded of this as I prepared a DVD of various bits and pieces to send to my brother. I decided to include this:

Suzanne is well worth taking time with. I wish I had her balance!

Consider what she says there about coming to Sydney from New Zealand – from a country of around 1.5 million to a city of around 1.5 million, and then look at what has happened to that city since.


That is in a section on “Sustainable Sydney” in today’s Sydney Morning Herald print edition. It is quite mind-blowing, especially given the other changes Suzanne talks about and I have also lived through. How can anything possibly be the same as it was in the 50s? I like and share Suzanne’s answers on whether things are better or worse today.

And that brings me to The Slap. It’s not good enough to attribute the degree of angst it causes to some responders – viewers/readers in one of the better bits of HSC-speak – to its being “Melbourne”. Well of course it is, but in this case that is not all that relevant, aside from Melbourne’s claim to be the third-biggest Greek city in the world. My years in Wollongong and Sydney from the 1960s onwards are quite enough to validate the verisimilitude of the novel, a significant tranche of contemporary Australia in my experience. I just can’t believe there are so many people in denial about that, if one can read anything of significance into the sprays one finds on various sites about the book, the current TV series, and the author. For example: “"The Slap" – foul-mouthed and filthy-minded – has no thought process running through it at all. This is not the real Australia which Tsiolkas is merely passively lamenting: it’s the real Tsiolkas – and a very revealing tour of the mental squalor he lives in…” Or: “reverse cultural imperialism from a PC zombie who can no longer discern empathy from fake self-righteous indignation…”  What a bundle of joy these folk must be!

Yes, The Slap confronts you.  Funny thing, though, is that it may betray you into parading your own inadequacies, fears and hang-ups when you start sounding off along the lines we have just seen. Perhaps – and not the first time imaginative writing or film has done this – you just don’t like what you see in the mirror Tsiolkas is holding up. That may not be his fault, of course.

I really commend the recent Compass interview. There you will find a disarmingly modest, very intelligent and very compassionate fellow-Australian – rather less a “zombie” than some of his detractors.

I still would give the novel six stars! I will wait until the current series on ABC is done before I say the same about it, but so far so good in my opinion.

See also:

And by way of contrast, something else I added to the DVD for my brother.

The past is indeed another country! There are so many time-bound assumptions in that — and wonderful examples of Soviet-inspired camera shots of factories and workers! Those were the days! Were, note.

Which is not to condemn them, or get all superior about them – that would be most foolish. The fact is though that some of what people took for granted then simply is no longer true. That can be a hard lesson. The other I alluded to yesterday. Why are “golden ages” always in the past? Did people back then think they were living in a golden age? I’m sure they didn’t, but rather themselves looked back to…


That just could be me in that pram! Winking smile