Huijser, Hendrik (2009) The Aussie battler personified: why everyone loves Kenny. Post Script (Commerce): essays in film and the humanities, 28 (3). pp. 57-66. ISSN 0277-9897
Kenny was one of the biggest Australian box office successes of 2006, which is unusual for a mockumentary. This essay explores the reasons for the film’s success, and in particular for Kenny’s popularity. Whereas the strength of the mockumentary mode is often argued to be its ability to sharply critique dominant social and cultural values, and it tends to achieve this in an ‘in-your-face’ manner, Kenny is much more subtle in its critique. In many ways, Kenny is the personification of the white Australian working class man, otherwise known as the Aussie battler, but much less flawed than what he would be if he was in a documentary rather than a mockumentary. He appeals directly to the Australian egalitarian myth and ultimately gets his revenge on those who do not respect this myth. Through an in-depth reading of Kenny, this chapter will argue that the mockumentary mode is perfectly suited to advance the Aussie battler myth, as the fundamental class/gender basis of Australian national identity, as it allows for the removal of the ambiguity and volatility of ‘real’ battlers paraded on our reality tv screens on a daily basis. In short, Kenny provides a risk-free opportunity for its audience to wholeheartedly embrace this myth. Thus, while Kenny steers the mockumentary into unusually conservative waters on one level, the ambiguity inherent in the ‘genre’ itself ensures a raft of subversive readings that potentially undercut the myth it apparently celebrates.
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