Australia’s Jaegar Program (ps, racism and history)

How awesome is it that Australia is one of the active Jaegars in Pacific Rim? Totally awesome. I’m an Australian who loves me some giant mecha, and imagine the opportunities! We are a land of opportunity and resources, we have so much of the raw produce required, we have so much experience building for example high quality cars, and a whole lot of space. We also, given the Kaiju approach the population areas via the sea, require an effective defence program. We are, after all, girt by sea.

Liz talked about some stuff, but I’d like to talk about the logistics of pilots and Jaegars in Australia.

Australia’s Jaegar Program

Historically, at least historically in the last 150 years, as a nation, we are a bit obsessed with defending from those who come across the sea, and are incredibly xenophobic and closed-minded. And I say that as an Australian from across the sea, who is here today because of an illegal boat trip. I wish we weren’t but there’s the White Australia Policy, and the Yellow Peril panic of the 90s, and the Tampa and all the things going on right as we speak. It’s Christmas Island and Indonesia and the fact that our refugee intake is so low compared to many other countries

Despite an ongoing and illogical reliance on the ANZUS Treaty, leading Liz to suggest that it’s unexpected that Australia isn’t just relying on the US Jaegars (valid point), I don’t think it’s actually a surprise that Australia still has Jaegars around, holding on to them until the end. And I don’t think it’s a surprise that there was more than one, I think Australia would have had more than that at one point. There would have been complaints about the cost (and a scandal involving outsourcing bits, and discussion of extending allowances under the 457 Visa), but Jaegars, oh we would have them.

Slayer and Striker Eureka

I mentioned this briefly in a tumblr post, but Eureka is both a great and hilarious word to use within the Jaegar name. Eureka has many connotations in Australia, but mostly it means rebellion and fighting against the man. At another level it also represents democracy and mutliculturalism and the desire for profit. The Eureka Stockade was a rebellion on the Victorian gold fields, where workers from many country rebelled against being unduly taxed by the government (through licenses), in 1854. This event led directly to the reformation of unfair laws in Australia. It also led to the Southern Cross flag being used as a symbol of protest and sometimes me wanting to punch people, but that’s only to be expected.

In this context, Striker is a puzzling choice. The Eureka Stockade is sometimes referred to as a Strike. To call it the Eureka Strike (or Eureka Striker) would almost certainly have been a problem, but does that apply to the Striker Eureka? It is hard to say, and though an odd choice, it is not completely out of the realms of possibility. Slayer is the greatest bogan naming choice I’ve ever heard, politically I doubt it would happen but I love it. I love it a lot, and again it is not out of the realms of possibility.

More likely however are things involving things like kangaroos, bushranger names (omg the Ned Kelly!), and maybe we’d end up with one named the Captain Cook or something.

The Politics of Pilots 

We are a nation of immigrants, colonialists, criminals; people running away from things; people running too things; of Indigenous Australians and those who have come in the last 250 years. Despite the words, this was never Terra Nullius, and I live here on the lands of the Kulin Nation and I pay my respects to their elders. I am descended from an illegal immigrant; I live a life of superstition and being Chinese in all the ways that hurt and all the ways that don’t hurt. My father was in the air force and I grew up a military brat, moving from city to city, my father in the bowels of a herc. I am Australian.

Here are the ways you become a pilot in Australia: you have the money to pay for private lessons; you join the Air Force and give away a certain number of years of your life. One assumes the training and skills required for a Jaegar Ranger are more arduous, but still exactly like this: you give your life to the military, or you have a lot of money.

It does not completely surprise me that the Australian rangers are stern looking white men with a dog. No matter who the Australians were, I’m glad they had a dog, that’s fantastic, though I hope they’ve considered the Quarantine issues they’re going to face bringing Max back into Australia. That’s very important, because our quarantine laws are very strict and I’m sorry for Max. Though if we’re going for stereotypes he should have been a blue heeler at least.

The face of Australia is white. Despite everything, our television is white, or representation is white. I still get excited when I see a non-white Australian face on tv, though it’s never quite perfect. When a non-white family moved onto Ramsey Street, they were brand new immigrants. Never mind our generations living here, since the goldfields. Never mind our Indigenous people. Just our white people, the face of Australia. Always in our prestigious roles.

So the white father and his white son, sun kissed and well built, that makes sense. Politically, economically, historically. Frustratingly. In the movie and in our rock star Jaegar pilots.

A friend pointed out how this image of Australia is consistent with the image of Australia often found especially in Europe and the USA. He mentioned that this is largely how White South Africans are viewed in Australia: parochial, a bit backward, hilariously racist.

But imagine how amazing it would have been if our pilots were islanders or indigenous. The Australians in Pacific Rim were not portrayed by Australians, but what if they had been played by Jay Laga’aia and Lani Tupu; or by Deborah Mailman and Aaron Pedersen as a brother-sister team (the noise I just made).

In other news, no Australian calls their Australian son Chuck. Chaz, maybe. Charlie, sure. Chuck, rarely if ever. It’s what you call your dog. At least when he yelled ‘kick its arse’ he said arse and not ass, I suppose.