A Family’s Man, A National Man

It’s funny how on breakfast television you never see two dudes sitting on the sofa holding a big smile on their face as if with a family portrait photographer present. Look at this: 


Hmmm… Still breakfast time, I’ll put my tie on later.


In fact if you click on the ‘Find out more’ links, the supporting presenters appear under the couples. What do they look like? Hmm certainly the guest to the family at some point in time – possibly the neighbour who appears to be representing another family, yet somehow incomplete in front of the humble couple.

Well I maybe dramatising all this, but look at the detailed description on the the anchor David Koch:

“Before Sunrise, Kochie was a pure finance nerd. He’s still one of Australia’s foremost business and finance commentators but his first love now is teaming up with Mel to host Australia’s number one breakfast program.

But finance aside, he’s also an all-round good bloke and family man, making him perfect for this role on Sunrise. He’s coached his kids’ rugby, netball and basketball teams while serving on the council of his daughter’s school…”

Being a family man makes him qualify for a show like Sunrise, and to support that, the network didn’t forget to mention his family sports involvement, etc. He does it all.

As a program targeting a ‘family’ audience, note the languages used here – Australia’s favourite. Who is Australia, and why does Australia have this unified voice? Morley argues that public values ‘penetrate’ the private world of the residence, during which the house is ‘integrated’ into such metaphors of public life (2000). As an Australian family watching this show one ought to feel included and represented through the voice of the show. Maybe to convince people so on the website, choosing to resonate with them through ‘powerful facts’ such as ‘we coach our kids too’ really helps.

In the past when I watched breakfast shows as a kid with my family, I used to wonder why these people aren’t eating – not just because it’s breakfast time and we are all sitting at our table – but rather, because the tone of such a show makes it part of the ‘breakfast space’. The studio is far away, and we don’t really know these people (although they are endorsed as Australia’s favourite, and talk as if we know each other really well), but these difference are ignored in pursuit of a sense of unity between the viewer and the show, or as Morley points out, a unity between the viewer and other viewers as well. It is certainly more like an attempt or invitation as the integration of public and domestic space can result in resentment and intrusion (Morley, 2000), thus efforts are made in many ways to soften such abruptness and awkwardness – through the smile, the portrayal of the ‘family man’ ‘all-around nice bloke’ hosting the show, the sofa, and the occasional cooking sessions.

Unlike extraordinary coverage of national icons and events such as the Olympics, a morning show like Sunrise does not possess powerful and emotional heroes or moments with religious-like statuses. However, its power of ‘constituting’ a nation is not reduced. Berlant, as cited in Morley describes the creation of national character through extraordinary events as the transformation of the individual into the subject of a collectively held history and learns to value a particular set of symbols as intrinsic to the nation and its terrain’. Morning shows like sunrise, although lacking in producing dramatic elements such as accidents and heroes, still proceed to create metaphors and certain rituals, and possibly an even everlasting presence of such rituals, softly producing a sense of ‘cultural citizenship’.



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