Document Type


Publication details

Post-print of Milner, L 2009, 'Kenny: the evolution of the battler figure in Howard's Australia', Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 153-164.

Published version available from:

Peer Reviewed



This article explores ways in which the low-budget mockumentary film Kenny (Clayton Jacobson, 2006) evolves the figure of the Australian battler, from its earlier incarnation in The Castle (Rob Sitch, 1997). A surprise hit on Australian screens, Kenny is the quietly humorous story of a portaloo worker, one of the 'ordinary Australians' that the Howard government claimed it spoke for. But whilst Kenny brought some old-fashioned toilet humour to the box office, he was overworked, underappreciated and apprehensive. The article maps the film from the perspective of its Australian audience, to suggest ways in which this comic but uneasy version of the working-class battler responded to socioeconomic change. It scrutinises the circumstances of the film's Australian reception to examine the legacies of an era in which many people became disengaged from politics, the work/family balance seemed harder than ever, and fear was exploited for political advantage. Such an analysis of the representation of the battler figure suggests that both Kenny and The Castle present an idealisation of the battler figure, but they do so differently in response to their sociocultural milieu.

Find in your library