Flashback - Through Your Arms Around Me: Revisiting 2005 in Australia

2005 was a very interesting year in pop culture in Australia as it was a year that defined an Australian creative aesthetic for me. I had been in Australia for just over a year and was beginning to get my bearings about what local music, film, TV and books I liked. As in every other first world country at this time, globalisation was beginning, especially in relation to popular culture, however, local content was still being supported and made due to a robust entertainment industry that felt that it could still hold its own on the international stage. Elements of this industry remain today, however the change in distribution due to technology and the breakdown of monopolies has changed how local content has had its impact. 2005 in Australia as seen through its music, TV and film was white, middleclass and urban. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian population reached 20 million people in December 2003. Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world. A girl born
in the period 2003–2005 can expect to live 83.3 years and a boy born during the same period can expect to live 78.5 years. This is a prosperous, small (in population), quite diverse country that has an aging population, that sometimes punches above its weight with regards to pop culture contributions.   

10 years ago, on 26th December in 2004, a tsunami devastated many countries in South East Asia. There were many forms of support and relief that happened in the following 12 months, from various countries and communities. The affects of this disaster are still felt today, and if you would like to find out more about what happened, I recommend seeing documentaries such as The Day The Wave Came, a 30 minute story from Sri Lanka. In Australia. The local entertainment industry responded by putting on an eight hour concert in Sydney on 29th January 2005. Wave Aid: The Tsunami Relief Concert raised AUS$2.3 million, had 11 Australian artists (Nick Cave, Midnight Oil, The Waifs, Missy Higgins, Powderfinger, John Butler Trio, Kasey Chambers, Pete Murray, The Finn Brothers, and Australian supergroup The Wrights) donate their time and was attended by over 50,000 people. The idea for a relief concert was formed a couple days after the disaster. It took the event organisers and contributing musicians three weeks to organise the event and have the first round of tickets go on sale.  By the 20 January the event was just about sold out. It was a very hot summer's day, and the crowd was very emotional and committed. A song that really sums up the experience was Neil and Tim Finn performing Throw Your Arms Around Me by the Australian band, Hunters and Collectors, who were massive in Australia at the same time as Crowded House, but did not get the same international airtime.  You can see the performance below.

In 2005, Australia produced 50 local films, 10 of which were documentaries. The four movies that went head to head for best film that year at the Australian Film Institute Awards were The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone, Little Fish starring Cate Blanchet and Hugo Weaving, Oyster Farmer starring Alex O'Loughlin and Diana Glenn and Look Both Ways starring Justine Clarke and William McInnes .  There was also another film that did not get the awards but got the attention. Wolf Creek.  I love Look Both Ways, it is one of my favourite films. It is a small story about four people meeting and connecting over a weekend in Adelaide. Written and directed by Sarah Watts, who was an artist as well as a film maker, it is a lovely, lyrical film about life. The soundtrack to this film is populated by Australian songs and artists. Something you do not tend to get much of lately. Like Wave Aid, the music for this film is a little bit rock, a little bit indie and a little bit folk, and all Australian. Very of its time.

However, you can sum 2005 up in one TV program. Love My Way. It was on for three seasons (2004 to 2007) and it was created by Jacquelin Perske, Claudia Karvan and John Edwards. Starring Claudia Karvan, Brendan Cowell, Asher Keddie and Dan Wylie it followed the lives of these four white middleclass Australians in Sydney through life, death, relationships, sex, drugs, family, kids and even a bit of rock 'n' roll. As well as some surfing. It was produced by Foxtel, the Australian cable network and shown during the summer months, during the 'off season' of TV. It was seen as a bit of a risk and a stab at what is now seen as 'prestige' drama. It did have the same creative team (Edwards and Perske) and lead actress (Karvan) as the immensely popular Australian series The Secret Life of Us (2001 - 2005) which focused on the lives and relationships of twentysomethings in Melbourne.  This may have gotten people to watch the first episode, but they stayed for the Six Feet Under like local drama. I am not sure it would get made today in Australia. It is a great series and I completely recommend it. And funnily enough the soundtrack for the series takes the same approach as Look Both Ways and showcases Australian artists.