Idiot Box: Mick Cameron as Yobbo Flaneur

By Johinke, Rebecca | Journal of Australian Studies, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Idiot Box: Mick Cameron as Yobbo Flaneur


Johinke, Rebecca, Journal of Australian Studies


Campus Lite has obtained an exclusive interview with David Caesar, who will share some insights to his film Idiot Box (1997) with us. Idiot Box is a bleak 'coming of age' narrative that presents audiences with a stark but humorous dose of social realism in the 'backblocks' in the 1990s. The film pumps with crude, frustrated energy via sharp editing and a sound track that combines urban cacophony and raw Australian music to create a high octane feel. [Editor: Just refer them to Goldsmith]. (1) Idiot Box is set in a desolate and fatherless realm, and investigates the world of working-class young men who are grappling with the challenge of manifesting an 'honourable' code of ambulatory masculinity. Kev and Mick are unemployed, marginalised, frustrated, and looking for some direction (or at least something to do) to overcome their feelings of suffocation and boredom. A panel of characters, actors, and expert commentators has been assembled to share their views about Kev, Mick and life in the western suburbs.

This is a story about 'the young and the bloody useless'--about working-class masculinity, unemployment, suburbia and car-lessness, and this encourages contemplation about gendered public space and pedestrians. The film's depiction of blokes, cars, and flanerie will be interrogated in relation to how working-class masculinity is performed. Campus Lite will argue that Caesar uses the car as a means for both the characters and the audience to measure masculinity (with all of the related factors of power, aggression, success, mobility and a close relationship with technology). This article will examine how Kev is defeated by his status as pedestrian but how Mick is more adaptable and creative in defiantly reinventing himself from carless 'loser' to yobbo flaneur.

Caesar is passionate about telling stories about working-class Australians, and he is acutely conscious of class politics and the role that capitalism and consumerism play in Australian society. He is now recognised as somewhat of a spokesperson for working-class blokes, and he is a favourite with the media who can rely on him for a memorable 'ten second grab' about Australian masculinity.

Interviewer: David, can you tell our readers about your films?

David Caesar: [E]ssentially all my films are about the same thing--the lack of place there is for working-class men. (2)

Interviewer: Can you expand on that?

David Caesar: Most of the stuff I want to do is about trying to understand what it is to be a man in a world that is not very masculine any more ... working-class men over the past thirty years have become redundant and marginalised ... within urbanised, suburbanised society, the things that men were traditionally good at-and whether they were biologically good at them or not, I don't know--are useless. There are no sabre-tooth tigers outside the door that men have to protect people from. There are no woolly mammoths to hunt down and celebrate afterwards. I think that men in other classes are suffering from this, too. But what they do is sail around the world by themselves or go climb a mountain. They have the economic possibilities to channel those energies into constructive avenues. With the men who don't have the financial position to express that creatively, it becomes a destructive force. (3)

[Editor: I'll scream if he mentions Robert Bly, Sam Keen, or Steve Biddulph. Honestly, the man is a Neanderthal, one of those sentences ends in a preposition. Does he really think it was fabulous to wake up to a spot of mammoth killing before breakfast everyday? Did the FFC give this idiot public monies? I'm unsure about the validity of engaging him in this debate anyway, isn't he famous for slagging off academics and the intelligentsia? Perhaps Campus Lite should consider an interview with Jane Campion instead?]

[Student: Calm down and don't be such a snob. Remember this bloke loves playing the fool for the media (and they'll lap up the mammoth line), but he's a very smart bloke. …

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