'Weird Melancholy' and the modern television outback: rage, shame and violence in Wake in Fright and Mystery Road

Gildersleeve, Jessica ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7694-5615 (2019) 'Weird Melancholy' and the modern television outback: rage, shame and violence in Wake in Fright and Mystery Road. M/C Journal, 22 (1).

Text (Published Version)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (416kB) | Preview


In the middle of the nineteenth century, Marcus Clarke famously described the Australian outback as displaying a 'Weird Melancholy' (qtd. in Gelder 116). The strange sights, sounds, and experiences of Australia’s rural locations made them ripe for the development of the European genre of the Gothic in a new location, a mutation which has continued over the past two centuries. But what does it mean for Australia’s Gothic landscapes to be associated with the affective qualities of the melancholy? And more particularly, how and why does this Gothic effect (and affect) appear in the most accessible Gothic media of the twenty-first century, the television series? Two recent Australian television adaptations, Wake in Fright (2017, dir. Kriv Stenders) and Mystery Road (2018, dir. Rachel Perkins) provoke us to ask the question: how does their pictorial representation of the Australian outback and its inhabitants overtly express rage and its close ties to melancholia, shame and violence? More particularly, I argue that in both series this rage is turned inwards rather than outwards; rage is turned into melancholy and thus to self-destruction – which constructs an allegory for the malaise of our contemporary nation. However, here the two series differ. While Wake in Fright posits this as a never-ending narrative, in a true Freudian model of melancholics who fail to resolve or attend to their trauma, Mystery Road is more positive in its positioning, allowing the themes of apology and recognition to appear, both necessary for reparation and forward movement.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 38138
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2020 23:50
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2020 04:36
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australian television; gothic; rage; shame; violence; Wake in Fright; Mystery Road
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/38138

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only