“Put Another Shrimp On The Barbie” Reasons Australians Reject The Phrase?
“Shrimp on the barbie” is one of the most famous Australian sayings, right up there with “G’day, mate” and “a dingo’s got my baby.” But these four simple words make many Australians cringe, and here’s why.
What does it mean to “Put Another Shrimp On The Barbie”?
The phrase comes from a 1984 television ad for the United States that was made by the Australian Tourism Commission. Paul Hogan was in the original ad two years before he played Mick Dundee in Crocodile Dundee (1986), which was a huge hit in the US and made him famous there. In 1984, Hogan was mostly unknown outside of Australia. He was the lead man on the comedy sketch show The Paul Hogan Show, where he was known for his uniquely Australian larrikin humor (1973-84). The shrimp ad and then the Dundee movies made Hogan famous all over the world.
In January 1984, the commercial was shown during an NFL game. It made Australia, which was thought of as a faraway and strange place at the time, a place that Americans wanted to visit. Australia went from being Americans’ No. 78 most-wanted vacation spot to their No. 7 most-wanted vacation spot, and US arrivals increased by 25% every year for four years. Hogan’s dry charm showed Americans Australia’s easygoing way of life, irreverent sense of humor, and many outdoor activities. The campaign, which had the official name “Come and say g’day,” ran from 1984 to 1990. It is by far the most successful tourism campaign the country has ever had. So why do Australians cringe when they hear the four words “shrimp on the barbie”?
This phrase is wrong.
In Australia, they are not referred to as “shrimp.” They’re known as prawns. Additionally, only Americans refer to cooking them “on the barbie.”
All Australians will be quick to tell you that “shrimp” is actually called “prawns” in Australia, and no one, especially our man “Hoges,” would ever use this Americanism to describe Australia’s favorite seafood. And then there’s the fact that the phrase itself is often misquoted. What Hogan actually says is, “I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you” not any of the messed-up versions that have become part of US pop culture over the past 30 years. Do you remember Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” or Sean William Scott in the remake of “The Dukes of Hazard”? If you’re going to be rude to our favorite prawns by calling them by the wrong name, the least you could do is say the old cliché correctly.
The cheesy way Australia was shown
If there’s one thing Australians love more than grilling shrimp, it’s criticizing tourism ads for showing only one side of the country. “Put another shrimp on the barbie” is the best example of a cheesy Australian saying. Even though the campaign was a huge success, the things that define Australia’s image abroad (beaches, koalas, the Outback, etc.) are always seen as kitschy by the domestic audience.
Almost every Australian tourism ad gets a lot of bad press in Australia. In 2006, “Where the bloody hell are you?” was a $180 million flop. International audiences didn’t like it because it used a swear word that isn’t too bad in Australia but doesn’t go over well in other places. Then there’s the recent cheesy “There’s nothing like Australia” campaign and the $40 million flop film Australia, which was a tourism ad wrapped in a dramatic Baz Luhrmann movie. To be fair, the recent Crocodile Dundee Super Bowl ad was well received because it made fun of these cliches and used a bunch of big names from Hollywood.
Another reason why many Aussies don’t like the phrase “shrimp on the barbie”? Australia has a serious problem called “cultural cringe,” and Hogan’s shrimp ads make the problem worse. This inferiority complex comes from Australia’s past as a British prison colony. It makes people want to know what the rest of the world thinks of Australia and its culture more than anything else. Australians who have to deal with this problem praise foreign cultures but don’t like their own, which they see as lacking intellectual depth. So the Australian Tourism Commission is using a blond guy and a beach babe barbecuing and boating to show Americans who we are? Many Australians will cringe every time they hear that.
Topic: “Put Another Shrimp On The Barbie” Reasons Australians Reject The Phrase?
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By: Travel Pixy
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