Outback panoramas are so iconic to Australian film to the point that is described as ‘fetishized’ (Brabazon 2001,p. 149.), and this has no doubt an impact on what a visitor to Australia expects. A growing literature examines this intermingling of destination and film images and its influence on the tourist (Frost 2008, p.708). The Silverton Hotel, a pub located in Broken Hill has been used in over 130 feature films, music videos and commercials, given credence to the argument that the Outback is somewhat salved over obsessively by Australian Content producers. The characters that visit the strange landscape ‘stand in as proxy’ for the audience (Frost, p. 714). The landscape itself is recognisable as its own character in the films that try to capture it.
As noted by Frost (2008), the Outback Films generate their own stereotype- The Tourist, The Tourist’s journey, some interaction with indigenous people, the Tourist in danger, finally resulting of course, in the life changing experience. What Frost argues is that this conveys a symbolism of when you travel to the outback, something happens to the tourist that changes them forever’ (2008,p.714). Referring back to the Silverton Hotel, now covered in movie memorabilia, films have an impact on tourism that is undeniable. Which brings forth the question presented as we examine the preoccupation of Australian Film presenting Australian identity- Is there truth to the age old adage, ‘any publicity is good publicity?’
Australian films are often about landscape (Brabazon 2001, p150.), and it has been suggested that since the success of Australian films that deliberately circumvent the Outback stereotype and remain ambiguous as to the location of the production, the task of promoting national identity shifts from the text to the reader (2001, p.150). This means the concerns with iconography, ideologies and market have configured Australian film and television product for not just an export industry, as Brabazon suggest, but for the tourism sector of the economy also, which is evidenced by the refusal of Babe’s producers to allow local businesses to allow them to use the film to promote tourism. Perhaps a missed opportunity for the area. Even the site of the horror film Wolf Creek experienced a rise in tourist since the release. The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville Sydney still has the same Drag show performed in The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.
In the context of a national identity created through cultural cinema- perhaps the old Hollywood PR saying is true.
Brabazon, Tara “A pig in space? Babe and the problem of landscape” in Craven, Ian (Ed) (2001) Australian Cinema in the 1990s. Frank Cass: London.
Frost, W 2010, ‘Life changing experiences. Film and Tourists in the Australian Outback’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 37, pp. 707-726.
Thomas, AJ 1996, ‘Camping outback: Landscape, masculinity, and performance in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 97.