Performance, Race, Mock-Documentary and the Australian National Imaginary in the Nominees (Report) - Post Script

Performance, Race, Mock-Documentary and the Australian National Imaginary in the Nominees (Report)

By Post Script

  • Release Date - Published: 2009-06-22
  • Book Genre: Business & Personal Finance
  • Author: Post Script
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Performance, Race, Mock-Documentary and the Australian National Imaginary in the Nominees (Report) Post Script read online review & book description:

Hair metal, small-town amateur musical theatre, folk musicians and children's jazz ballet: mock-documentaries such as Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1981), Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind (Christopher Guest, 1996, 2003), and Razzle Dazzle (Ken Jacobs, 2007) are parodies of factual genres such as expositional documentary or docu-soap, but in terms of their comedy, they more explicitly target outmoded or amateurish representational styles. In each case we are encouraged to laugh at the failure of the characters to master the codes of their chosen genre, or their passionate engagement with genres or modes of performance and representation that have become, over time, ridiculous, corny or passe. At the same time we are invited to admire the naturalistic skill of the actors who play these characters. Mock-documentary's illusion of factuality requires its actors to perform in a low-key naturalistic register, except, that is, when a character is 'performing' (in rehearsals, at auditions or on stage). Moreover, as Brett Mills suggests in his work on The Office (UK 2001-2003, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant) odious paper company boss David Brent's self-conscious mugging to the camera and pauses after 'jokes' in the style of a traditional British sitcom comedian is not merely a critique of outre comedy aesthetics but the socially regressive values (misogyny, racism) they embody (2001, 73). The different layers of performance styles, representational spaces and comic targets in such mock-documentaries are worth unpacking for how they operate together and the social values they may or may not critique. This essay will offer some thoughts in this direction before examining in detail the complex way in which these layers work in a recent Australian mock-documentary television series, We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year (Chris Lilley, 2005), re-titled in the USA and UK as The Nominees, (1) which, among other things, features socially regressive and highly charged representational styles such as yellow and blackface performance. EXHAUSTED CULTURAL CURRENCY WITHIN THE MOCK-DOCUMENTARY FRAME

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