Avatars in Penrith

I gave into the zetigeist tonight and outlayed my $20 to see Avatar.  I was pretty pleased I did.  It was a new form of entertainment, made up of a whole lot of old ones – fusion of cartoon, real people, old style cliches and anti-military propaganda – in a brilliant (literally) use of 3D technology.   James Cameron certainly knows how to spend a lot of money to take film entertainment where it hasn’t quite been before.  The fact it gets up the nose of Miranda Devine is pretty cool as well.  I think it probably gets up her the nose the most is that it’s popular and reflects the view that nature IS worth protecting and the mindless mining and deforestation is pretty dumb.  In short, the majority view, Miranda.

But that’s not the only thing that has interested me tonight.  I drove past the other continuing zeitgeist here in Penrith – Friday night on Station Street.  It used to be Panthers when I was in my early 20s but now it’s the pumping music at the Red Cow and that pub that escapes my name further down Station St.  And there they were – the blokes in their dark jeans and cool t-shirts and the girls in their micro minis and other varieties thereof.   All descending on the locations, ready to drink bad beer, poor spirits, alcopops – all in the name of a “top night”.  There either to just dance and be looked at or willing to drift into a “whatever” with the member of the opposite sex.  And drifting it is.  These people aren’t after a soulmate, bro.  It’s much too loud and fuelled on JB and Coke for that.

As I drove past, I had the thought that I could, after all these years, possibly fit in with these people.  I had my black tshirt and jeans, I have cash, I am now capable of standing at the bar, not saying much except flattering words.  I had none of those things when I was a pup in my 20s.  In those years, I had an overwhelming love of classical music, writing poetry and whatever interest took my fancy.

Whenever I was in those places in my 20s, I felt like an avatar.  Like I was this empty shell being driven around by my mind, ready to disconnect at some stage – but desperately trying to be one of them.  It was a pretty tragic, lonely feeling – but one, I’ve realised, is pretty common amongst those ill-equipped with the power of non-speech, cash and the right body language.  It is pretty good these days to know that I could now fit in with these places but a while ago, I realised I didn’t want to.  They aren’t my people.  They wouldn’t know anything of Mad Men, Life on Mars, Annabel Crabb’s tweets or The Nest of Occasionals.

Then again, my black heavy-metal style tshirt has Mozart written on it, in ACDC style letters.  A lovely ironic, White Person statement.  A present from my all-knowing, all-seeing partner.  I’d still be an avatar in that context – but this time a highly amused one.

In the end, I don’t begrudge those bogans their fun and I don’t want to go into such places and sneer afterwards.  It’s patronising and pointless.  I just like to come back to the cave and muse, like I have for a great chunk of my life.  Some may find it a bit sad and distant, but I don’t.  Tomorrow night I am plunging into the city for the opening night of the Sydney Festival – a multicultural explosion of culture.  No avatar there.

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