Tourism Australia comes under fire from random retired American soldier

Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.

So, the organization modeled a photo on the U.S. Marines (hey, Sydney Morning Herald, marines and soldiers aren’t the same thing) raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. You know the original picture. Everyone remembers it. Because everyone is familiar with this iconic photo, it’s easy for one to relate to it. That’s what makes Tourism Australia‘s picture of a family “raising” an umbrella particularly brilliant.

Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.

U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”

Before we take Tourism Australia to task for its advertising decisions, let’s not forget that the Marines have had a few problems as well … occasionally seeming culturally tone-deaf.

Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?

For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.

The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.

I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.

Travel the World with Oscar

In years past, local tourist boards saw generous spikes in traffic after popular movies featured the locations they tout. For example, both Alberta and Wyoming enjoyed gobs of slack-jawed, cash-carrying visitors last year after Brokeback Mountain won all those accolades. If you want to travel to the locations in which this year’s Best Picture-nominated films were set, here’s where you’d have to go.

The nominees for best picture are:

  • Babel — To visit the locations in this whirling dervish of a film, you’d better make sure your passport is current. After all, you’ll be heading to Morocco, Japan, and Mexico.
  • The Departed — Set in Boston, lucky movie-set-hunters may also get to see where Good Will Hunting was filmed.
  • Letters From Iwo Jima — Next month, Military Historical Tours will visit Iwo Jima on the 62nd anniversary of the historic Battle.
  • Little Miss Sunshine — Road trip!!! Follow the dysfunctional Hoover family’s path along Route 66. Just be certain to have a more dependable vehicle.
  • The Queen — Filmed in Scotland, the movie mainly uses stand-ins for the locations on film, but persistent travelers can book cottages at Balmoral Castle.

Personally, I’d like to visit Uganda, but The Last King of Scotland didn’t get a nod for Best Picture. Nevertheless, the 79th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday. You can book your travel any time you like.