The commercial and political hijack of what is supposed to be a dignified, reflective time of the year is at an all time low. I get that it’s the centenary, but from the disgraceful Woolworths #freshinourmemories campaign, to the imminent 24/7 coverage with Karl Stefanovic trying to pretend he’s really into the whole ‘vibe’ and ‘Koshie’ interviewing some bogan who’s explaining why Ugg boots are a necessity at Anzac Cove, this is becoming really uncool. This is the sixth year that Victoria Bitter (VB) has run its “Raise A Glass” campaign. It’s a brand, an alcohol brand playing on our emotions about the tragedy of Australians losing their lives in order to make profits. Some in the industry have said Anzac is the most potent and popular brand in Australia today.
And while I have the soapbox, what has Anzac Day got to do with the NRL? Watch the NRL and other sports organisations put their claws into Anzac Day this year and you’ll see what I mean.
Many of us have relatives who fought and died, and that gives us no more right to bang on about our heritage than anyone else in the community. For every proud digger who wants to understandably represent their history and sacrifice, there’s a digger too crook from PSTD, dead from it, or so damaged by the experience that the very celebration of what we see as the glory of war should be questioned. For every Chinese made flag we see waving this year there’s a members of our community suffering from war or trauma similar to it.
Three years ago I wrote about the politics of the rich sending the working class to war. I wrote then that, “I’ll continue to respect Anzac Day for what it is to us, but we must continue to question whether the men and women we keep sending overseas to risk their lives should be sent at all. Yes they will fight, and they will die, but we should remember that we allow it to happen, so make sure it’s worth it.” This year I’ll add that every media and commercial hijack of this event detracts from the original aim, the intended respect, and the very point of Anzac day. It’s becoming Brandzac day.