I started watching 대장금 (Dae Jung-Kum - spelling?) over the last week thanks to DVD's my friend sent over for me. This coincided, quite by accident, with my reading of "The True History of the Kelly Gang" by Peter Carey. Such a juxtaposition prompted some thinking on my part about the state of Australia's TV and the understanding and perception we have of our own history.
First, of 대장금. From what I've seen so far this is a great historical setting that makes Korea's past look like the most glamorous and exciting place on earth. It may not be true but it not only makes for good entertainment, teaches a little bit of history by mixing fact with fiction, it clearly shows a pride of Korea and their past.
Compare Australia TV. Currently TV in Australia comprises mostly of US shitcoms, reality tv and horrendous contemporary dramas focusing on the petty lives of under-educated and angry high school kids and the infidelities of their parents. It's as if we misprize our own country. Korean (modern) dramas may follow a template for their stories but so do every countries' dramas. Personally, I prefer the Korean template.
The True History of the Kelly Gang is a great historical story about Ned Kelly and his gang. It mixed fact with fiction and wove a tale that stirred pride in Australia and told of the struggle of poor Australians battling poverty, the land, and their own history as criminals. It shed light on why we hold up a simple horse thief and a murderer as a folk hero; not for his deeds but for what his life represented. Of course, the story is fiction and the sentiments of the real Ned Kelly may have been far from the books telling but the fact that Ned is a folk hero remains and why this may be so is now easier to grasp.
Wouldn't it be nice if Australia could produce television that showed some pride in our history and our country rather than glamorising high school kids who are stupid, ignorant, and going nowhere.
And I should add that one thing I do love about Australian TV is Media Watch which can be viewed on-line everyweek.