Monday, June 13, 2011

Picture yourselves attending one of those glitzy functions, somewhere by the river, rubbing shoulders with the city’s glitterati – minor newsreaders and disgraced sporting heroes – swilling some Aussie sparkling, waiting your turn to be networked into an exhausting conversation by an ambitious young PR executive. You’re offered some sesame-crusted seared tuna or arancini while you eyeball the room in search of another networking opportunity, only to see every other fake-lashed eye unashamedly doing the same thing.

The noise of the rabble dies down when one of the hired celebs takes the mic to declare the awesomeness of this night. He tells us he is soooo honoured to be a part of this local event, how far our city has come, and ends the speech by proclaiming parties like these really prove that . . . Brisbane has arrived!”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard or read this phrase. It’s been doing the rounds for a while and probably has a bit more mileage left in it, and yet I don’t think I’ve considered what the hell it means.

Ok, so we’re all guilty of being swept up the in the alluring jingoism plumping up this prosaic ode to our city, “Brisbane has arrived !”. Marketing buzzphrases like these are so common in contemporary lexicon, that nonsensical or poorly contextualised words don’t register as unusual anymore.

But if we consider it now, when would you say that BrizVegas initially fell into the cultural void ? And more intriguingly, does anyone know when it made its comeback onto the world stage ?

It is implicit in their public dialogue that our government and media bodies believe we now live in a bleeding-edge new world city with global nous. Even the billboard at the international airport tells us so.

According to our collective consciousness, it hasn’t always been the case. We know that BrizVegas was once a forgotten country town of nobodies doing nothing of note. David Malouf’s Johnno and historic rivalries with southern cousins have scarred us with that cultural cringe. In our desperation to be noticed, spooked by a past spent in ostracised oblivion, perhaps we don’t appreciate that we have steadily been developing a rather charming character. We felt plagued for so long with the disgrace of inferiority, and our remedy has been to recast our city in a starring role, though our experience is perhaps more suited to understudy.

Many identity-conscious modern cities suffer the same affliction we do, of cannily bolstering big-budget development projects to feed a hungry economy without considering the human-scale impact. There is a great deal about BrizVegas that calls for celebration. I just don’t believe we have yet reached a point of perfection in order to seriously proclaim ourselves “arrived !”


  1. I just wrote an eloquent thoughtful entertaining comment with references ! but something went awry in cyberspace and it all disappeared when I tried to publish :( arrggh
    With my limited patience in this digital age,
    I'll keep the rewrite short and snappy:
    Up North and Up Yours !!

  2. I think if brisbane were an actor, she would be Zoey Deschanel. Forever hailed as being the next 'it' girl but never actually rising above that hype to actually BE an 'it' girl. No?

  3. brissy made it's come back with expo 88. i still remember trying to pick up that gold bar in one of the australian pavilions, now we're just hitting our stride with this mining boom