‘Larrikin carnival: an Australian style of cultural subversion‘, The Conversation, 23 June 2015
The article is based on an essay in the collection On Happiness, which launched this month.
I want to recast happiness as a form of carnival [the author says], a subversive, rambunctious style of happiness derived from trangressive art and “art of the self”, a comedic disruption to conformity that destabilises complacent authority, producing new ways of seeing and being. In Australia from its beginnings, humour and irony have been small weapons in the armoury of the oppressed, the outcast, or those simply fed up with cultural uniformity.
The article traces larrikin performers in Australian history from Indigenous people, through nineteenth century bohemians, such as Marcus Clarke, the Bulletin writers, down to the Oz group, Clive James, Germaine Greer, Bob Ellis, the films of the 1970s, to ‘wog humour’, Housos and Chris Lilley, and to social media.