British influence on the Australian culture
British settlers arrived in Australia in 1788 and the extent of the British influence is still evident today. The British Union Jack features predominantly on our national flag and the Queen is Australia's Head of State. British models also form the basis of Australia's legal and political systems, as well providing our national language.
Up until World War II, Britain remained the dominating cultural influence in Australia. Britons also dominated the make-up of Australian society - most of Australia's citizens were either born in Britain, or had British descendants. In the years following the war, British subjects were encouraged to migrate to ...view middle of the document...
Local cultural products like films and music are an important way for people of a country to explore and share their common culture and heritage. Australian characters, themes and issues, however, are often outweighed by representations of the American way of life.
American films and television programmes depict American people in American settings and American music deals with American, not Australian concerns. Many people have feared that if Australians are starved of distinctly Australian cultural products, the national identity will be at risk.
America in Australia pre - 1945
America's presence had been felt in Australia prior to WWII. As well as political ties between the two countries, America and Australia were strong trade partners. In 1928, it was estimated that Australia sourced almost 25 percent of its imports from America. Before the war, Australians also enjoyed American cultural imports like films and music.
Throughout World War II, Australia became increasingly dependent on the United States, rather than Britain, for military support. By the end of the war, links between America and Australia were strong and somewhat undermined the traditional ties that Australia had to Britain. Thousands of American troops were stationed in Australia during WWII.
American-style dance halls were established, playing new music and serving American-style food. The American troops wore flashy uniforms and purchased fancy items with their generous incomes. While some people were critical of their brash behaviour, many Australians found the experience of American troops exciting. Their dynamic new ideas and attitudes posed a challenge to the prevailing conservative British sensibilities.
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America emerged from World War II as the dominant global economic power and was well-placed to export its cultural products to the world, including Australia.
At the same time, Australians in the 1950s were well-placed to receive American cultural influences. People were more affluent than ever before and communications and transport technology was advancing rapidly, enabling an easier transmission of American products and ideas into Australian society. American concepts like consumerism and material aspirations also fitted well with Australia's new pleasure-seeking suburban ideals.
These factors enabled American cultural influences to filter rapidly into Australia in the post-war years - primarily via music, cinema, and television. Over the subsequent decades, America would become a dominating cultural influence in Australia.
Music and radio
Australian popular music during the 1950s drew heavily from American sources, as both British and Australian youth fell under the spell of American-style rock 'n' roll. In 1955, American Bill Haley's hit song Rock Around the Clock swept Australia, and the airwaves were soon full of other American acts like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
During this time, Australian performers like Johnny O'Keefe were...