Written on the 4 September 2012 by Rachel Quilty, Co-contributor Amy Wallin
Nines new series, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War premiered on the 19th of August this year, featuring Lachy Hulme as the media tycoon Kerry Packer. However this series has little to do with the usual business ventures Kerry Packer is famous for. Howzat! Focuses on a war between Kerry Packer and the Australian Cricket Board. The story is that Packer secretly signed up 50 of the greatest cricket players to play in a new tournament, the ‘World Series Cricket’. It began when the Australian Cricket Board and MCCC wouldn’t give Packer the TV rights. The players were already underpaid and prepared to rebel. ‘Howzat!’ follows the dramatized turn of events as Packer’s games fought against the official test matches that would change cricket in Australia forever.
2.097 million viewers tuned in on Sunday to watch the premier of Howzat, stealing the top viewership. Social media channels like Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with praise for the show and its actors. Hulme’s portrayal of Packer was described as spot on. The show really delved into the life of channel Nine former owner, making the success that much more personal.
A trend of 70’s inspired shows has taken over television recently. With ‘Howzat!’ and ‘Puberty Blues’ expected to be the most popular dramatic shows of the year. Audiences are loving the nostalgia of the 70’s, an era with no mobile phones and terrible haircuts. To the Generation Y, 2012 doesn’t look so bad though there is something that still appeals to all generations which has been described as ‘less stressful’. It was a simpler time, people weren’t bombarded with advertisements, global warming didn’t make reading the paper a guilt trip and every second thing didn’t give you cancer. In less than 24 hours after its release, the Howzat! sound track hit the top 10 album charts, so perhaps people are missing the music as well.
With the recent media attention of Howzat! Kerry Packer has been often quoted as being an iconic Australian. An Australian icon is one that is easily recognised as representing Australia. Different aspects can make someone iconic such as having a high status, being representative, important and loved by Australians.
So what is it specifically that makes Kerry Packer such an iconic Australian?
Kerry Packer was mourned with a minutes silence at the MCG when he died for his contribution to cricket. Perhaps he just had an unnatural love for the game but Packer certainly changed the way cricket was conducted. Perhaps it was this that makes him so iconic. He was Australian for being dedicated to his cricket, an iconic Australian for making his own cricket tournament. The hassles he went through just to get some broadcasting rights were of a high variety and some say extreme. Packer attracted 50 of the best cricketers in his world with his passion for the game and the promise to look after them, which he did. Packer put his reputation and wealth behind his every decision and every man he converted. He wasn’t one to do anything by halves or make half-hearted decisions.
It was this aspect of Packer that converted to the rest of his business triumphs. Packer was perhaps most known for his ownership of various media publications. The media tycoon owned television stations, newspapers and magazines and controlled the majority of news based outlets to the public. These Australian publications were an amazing success, with many still running today, including the Nine network, the proud producers of the new series, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s war.
However the most popular theory is that Packer dared to change things and how his mannerism and actions made it successful. Packer was one who acted on a ‘gut-feeling’ instead of making carefully calculated decisions. Something that Australians, especially back in the 70’s appreciated. It was his unchecked honesty and self-conviction that commanded respect and inspired his success. He wasn’t afraid to fight big wars for the little details. However no one would call him a perfectionist because the rough and ready attitude of Australians wouldn’t allow such a word. He fought his battles, enough said.
Kerry Packer was an iconic Australian because he portrayed all the attributes that Australians admire and feel best reflects what everybody should aim to be. He looked after his people with outstanding loyalty, he fought for his beliefs and wasn’t afraid to get messy. He couldn’t be described as polished or professional, but he got things done and he made a difference in a truly Australian way.
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