Whose Hometown? Reception of Bruce Springsteen as an Index of Australian National Identities

Brad Warren and Patrick West

Abstract


Focusing on the cultural landscape of the mid-1980s, this paper explores the Australian experience of Bruce Springsteen. Australian author Peter Carey’s short story collection, The Fat Man in History, anticipates two phases of Australia’s relationship to the United States, phases expressed by responses to Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. (1984) and the 1986 blockbuster Crocodile Dundee. Springsteen’s album was received by an Australian audience who wanted to be like Americans; Crocodile Dundee, on the other hand, provided a representation of what Australians thought Americans wanted Australians to be. This paper argues that the first phase was driven by emergent technologies, in particular the Walkman, which allowed for personal and private listening practices. However, technological changes in the 1990s facilitated a more marked shift in listening space towards individualization, a change reflected in Springsteen’s lyrics.


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