Tall poppies

“What is it in our [Australian] culture that has subjected so many of Australia’s most fertile creators to the spite of lesser men? For it is a long list – from Lawson* and Tom Roberts* to White*, Clark* and Joern Utzon* (and for that matter Gough Whitlam*). What demon of arrogance or philistinism or smugness of self-doubt leads us to destroy? When we can answer that question, we will have attained a human wisdom and come of age.”

– Ian Turner

* Henry Lawson – author and bush poet, Tom Roberts – significant painter of Australian scenes, Patrick White – Australian author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Manning Clark – historian responsible for a major History of Australia, Joern Utzon – Danish architect responsible for the Sydney Opera House, Gough Whitlam – reformist Labour Prime Minister, whose dismissal sparked a Constitutional Crisis in the 1970s. 

The Australian ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is a tendency for our  society to attack/criticise anyone who stands out and is related somehow to the Australian Cultural Cringe which sees Australians unwilling to validate Australian achievements until they are recognised overseas – no doubt this is one of the reasons that there are so many Australian actors working in Hollywood.

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