Jessica Watson: bourgeois pin-up girl

Everyone is trying to catch some of the glow from Jessica Watson’s arrival yesterday in Sydney – at 16, the youngest person to sail solo around the world. No mean feat, of course, one to admire. But not the bullshit that is piling up around it. Barely minutes ashore she spouted a classic bourgeois line:

I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m an ordinary girl who believed in her dream. You don’t have to be someone special, or anyone special to achieve something amazing. You’ve just got to have a dream, believe in it and work hard.

Most people are lapping up this crock of shit. To begin with, yachting is not for ordinary girls and boys. It’s for the rich: as someone once said, to get a sense of yachting, stand under a cold shower and rip up fifty dollar bills. Further, she has one of the slickest media teams ever assembled, which set up the whole venture to cash in as much as possible. Indeed, that bastion of progressive politics, News Corporation, has signed an exclusive deal with the Watson juggernaut to the tune of $700,000. And that is just the beginning. But at the heart of this hype is the recycling of that tired old bourgeois myth: an individual can do anything as long as she or he dreams hard enough and works hard enough. Yeah sure, but only if you have money, privilege and slick backers.

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5 thoughts on “Jessica Watson: bourgeois pin-up girl

  1. My thoughts precisely. I couldn’t believe so many people turned out – 50,000! And honestly, it’s embarassing to see Rudd up there, sports-jacket-but-no-tie, giving a speech for it. Does he really have to be wheeled out to provide cultural imprimatures of this sort? And I’m sure the fact that she’s so photogenic has nothing to do with the ready commercial support.

  2. One particularly inane “news report” (from ABC no less; I’ve noticed their reporting sliding downhill very quickly lately) quoted her grandfather as saying he and the rest of the family were worried about how she would fare on land, having been so long at sea! As my partner put it, “didn’t she survive on land for, I don’t know, the first 16 years of her life!? Does sailing around the world mutate you into some sort of antisocial, aquatic creature? Honestly…”

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