American Exceptionalism and it’s unintended effects: An open letter


Dear Chris Chapman, head of the Australian Communications and Media Authority
I am writing in regards to a problem I have noticed in regards to the commercial networks. I refer of course to the blithering reoccurrence of film and television shows being sourced directly from the United States on our own national airwaves. It’s unnecessary excessive and dangerously influential. Being a parent with children who are constantly bombarded with violence, sex and drug usage rampant already plugging our airwaves it is the excessive images produced by Hollywood that are plaguing our commercial networks with its propagating messages. According to your own ACMA research, both Australian children and youth people in 2007 consume 78% of their viewing through television and film.[1]


Surely you have noticed it? Just last night, one channel was showing Forrest Gump and Independence Day one after another. The large amounts of excessive imagery given by our own networks are giving the unintended appraisal of love for the American state to which I dare say makes it dangerous. Of course, these popular cultural items are works of entertainment, designed to stimulate and engage our audience but Mr Chapman, I believe that there is something potently threatening our vulnerably minded viewing audience with a subversive message: that American Exceptionalism is intrinsically a good thing. So long as Hollywood continues to craft and distort their television and film programmes for an American audience that willingly engages with the Exceptionalist concept so too do we risk our Australian people becoming exposed to this message all because of a pursuit in ratings from our commercial networks.


It’s not just films bombarding our children with putrid images of the love of the American state but even the serial television shows our current commercial networks are selling. Look at just what some television shows are essentially ‘selling’ America to Australian kids. The television show 24 and Homeland is another great example of why we show too much of American ‘Exceptionalism’ to our impressionable youth. Erika-Johnson Lewis, a credited historian believes to share this sentiment about how torture and terrorism (a subject that most Australians and especially our youth have no connection to) are increasingly used in these television shows and somehow justified to our impressionable youth.[2] I sat down and watched some of these popular television shows just to see what makes them so thrilling among the younger people and I must say the weird way that these shows justify torture as being necessary sickens me.


This is a blight that is unnecessary on our airwaves, this American Exceptionalism. This is an unintentional evil for the United States because it was created for Americans by Americans. So long as our prime time slots are filled with lucrative American programs this only hurts the Australian industry but furthermore this is a moral evil. I believe this is cause for alarm in the context of our world Mr. Chapman. American television and films have this message currently embedded in mind for their own viewers to engage with and surely this has no part to play for the Australian audience. American viewers understand their reality; the overly concentrated efforts to protect public safety and maintenance of counter terrorism means that the people are conditioned to accept this unique discourse. This is reflected in what is produced for them, Hollywood sells what its consumers want. But Australians, and more importantly the children are not raised in this context. The Boston Marathon bombings, September 11 even Snowden’s intelligence leaks are all realities for a population that is being conditioned by popular culture to understand their ‘state of exception’ is always at risk. Australia has no such fear to relate to. So why would we expose our children to this paranoia inducing and propagating spawn of Hollywood if all it serves is to mildly entertain the lewd and cultivate a love for the American state?


Mr Chapman, I do not expect Hollywood or our commercial networks to natively change their content based on my observations. This is a problem that is unintentional by their parts, I highly doubt that Americans care so little about what the Australian audience thinks so much as their own public. The threat however of Exceptionalism remains; my concern that our children are unintentionally being conditioned to fear the rest of the world and to increasingly accept American actions is genuine. Our content standards have been breached and surely we must stipulate a change in an effort to protect the minds and well-being of the vulnerable Australians.


I implore we increase a quota on Australian and other international content on our commercial networks. We must review the underlying principles of how other nations engage with their own mediums of entertainment and ascertain the possible risks that may infect our children. There is power in what we watch and how we view it.



A concerned parent.

[1] Australian Communications and Authority., Trends in Media Use by Children and Young People., 2010., Melbourne., P. 3.

[2] Erika Johnson-Lewis., “Exceptional TV: Post-9/11 Serial Television and American Exceptionalism”. Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations., Florida State university., 2010., p. 33.


2 comments on “American Exceptionalism and it’s unintended effects: An open letter

  1. amywaymq says:

    Henry, I am seriously loving picturing you as a concerned parent, pushing up your glasses and tut-tutting at the scores of American films and television programs that flood to Australia. While I feel that some of these programs are just films, or just TV series, I agree that there is a potentially dangerous element of American exceptionalism present in both film and TV, and maybe in a post-9/11 world, it’s on the rise. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, and indeed the most difficult element relies on the critical eye of the audience. Do they really think that’s the way America is? The way it’s military or government operates? Very thought provoking. And LONG LIVE THE AUSTRALIAN FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY! Even forgets about us, but I think we have a pretty unique and special talent for film.

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