Australia tourism commercial

I just became entranced by a television ad and had to instantly find it on youtube to re-watch it (and of course that wasn’t too hard since my computer never leaves my side).  

The following video is an ad for an Australian tourism bureau. Watch, and then let’s get into some discussion.

Personally, I was instantly drawn into this ad since it’s not like your typical commercial. It was so artistic and beautifully composed that by the end I just had to find out what the hell they were selling. This was an interesting angle for a tourism ad company to go.  While my immediate reaction was to an emotional appeal, upon further analysis, I realize there is something quite suspect in this presentation of Australia.

The ad uses Aboriginal or indigenous Australian people (as represented by the young boy) to create the idea of a mysterious and alluring Australia.  The ad is [seemingly] directed towards white upper class individuals and is promoting an “escape” from their hectic lives.  The escape being to bask in the beauty of Australia and “find” themselves again, all with the inspiration from the young aboriginal child. The exoticism of the Aboriginal people becomes evident when one looks at the intent of the commercial.  It is “ironic” that only a couple hundred years ago, white imperialism and colonization worked to kill off half of the Australian indigenous population and appropriate their lands and now, Aboriginal peoples are being used to attract and sell vacation packages to upper class white individuals. This too is appropriation, just in a different form. 

I feel like if our general cultural understandings of each other weren’t so surface-y and reduced often to things like “diversity day” trainings (think: Office episode), then maybe a commercial like this could mean something more and something different. But with our current lack of understanding true history and historical meanings and the continued racism evident in our world, this commercial only furthers the tradition of white hegemony.

With that said, I still find the ad aesthetically appealing. I wonder what that says about how I’ve come to understand “the exotic” since I think the ad would not have had the same effect had the child been white.

Thoughts?

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