Have times really changed since the time of Pauline’s infamous debut in 1996?
Jeremy Cassar

28 Jul 2016 - 12:59 PM  UPDATED 1 Aug 2016 - 9:50 AM

Let’s be Frank (or Frankie, because down with the patriarchy) – the world surrounding 1996-era Pauline Hanson is only two decades later almost like an alternate universe. For one, Tupac was alive for nine months of 1996, and Osama Bin Laden was only just landing in Afghanistan.

Similarly, in only 20 years, technology has progressed in steps that’d give Godzilla an inferiority complex (coincidentally, Godzilla has seen two big-budget US remakes), and we’ve experienced a kind of precursor to World War III.

Here, we pluck the days of 1996 Pauline Hanson and pinpoint the shifts in society.


Graphic Design

From Swedish to American-style stars and stripes (with a tinge of Hanson-orange of course)


A particular type of person is able to step outside their opinion of Pauline, whether positive or negative, and merely appreciate the sizable strides in graphic design made by software developers.

The proof is in the jpg.



From fresh-faced Sheila to no-nonsense hard-ass



Asian representation on television

From token minor characters, to a more rich and diverse TV offering. 

Tai Nguyen was the token student of Asian descent in the successful and forward-thinking Heartbreak High. Now, a show with a primarily Asian Australian cast -The Family Law  - graces our television screens.

Attitudes towards diversity

From overwhelming support for cultural diversity to overwhelming support for cultural diversity

Academic Kevin M. Dunn in his study ‘Racism in Australia: findings of a survey on racist attitudes and experiences of racism’, discovered over 80 per cent of the country agree or strongly agree with the need for diversity in our nation.

Now in 2016, that number is just as high, except now Aussies are more vocal with their protests.


The Monarch

From Queen Elizabeth II in a blue hat to Queen Elizabeth the II in a white-ish hat.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when the 2036 version of this list eventuates, Queenie will not only still head the empire, but her head will don an even fancier fascinator.

First-person Shooters

From shooting things to shooting the s*** out of things


Back in 1996 we’d take to a 3D map with a few guns and eradicate some Wolfenstein 3D Nazis. They might have bled a little, but it was all fairly blocky and removed from reality.

Now, the more realistic the carnage the better. The blood, the wounds, the way enemies fall, the way guns function — all designed for a more immersive psychopathic experience. This is the only entry where twenty years ago wins.


Information available on the Internet

From “huh?” to “woah!”

In 1996, if you were plonked in front of Windows attempting to figure out what Moe said to Homer in episode 4.19 of The Simpsons, you’d probably have more success watching VHS copies until you find the scene in question.

Now, you only have to type half a word and the Internet will probably already know what you want, and will deliver the results before you have a chance to add another letter.


The President(s) of the United States of America

From orange-coloured Peaches to orange-coloured Republican nominees.

In 1996, The Presidents of the United States of America released ‘Peaches’ off the back of the success of ‘Lump’. They weren’t actually politicians, just performers creating catchy phrases.

In 2016, the President of the United States of America won the Republican presidential nomination off the back of the success of The Celebrity Apprentice. He’s not actually a politician, just a performer creating catchy phrases.

Independence Day

From Jeff Goldblum stealing Independence Day to Jeff Goldblum stealing its sequel.

Did anyone really give a hovering f*** over whether William Smith returned for the big-budget alien invasion sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence? The only reason any of us went to see the original was thanks to Jeff, and that’s the only reason anyone went to see part II.


Television and Film

From the hit films Fargo and Scream to the television shows Fargo and Scream.

In Pauline’s 1996, television was a lesser medium. Now, creators are scrambling to churn out as much quality content as possible, including a fantastic series remake of Fargo (NOT written by the Coen brothers), and a middling remake of Wes Craven’s groundbreaking horror/comedy Scream


Home and Away

From Alf Stewart to Alf Stewart with less hair.

Stone the flamin’ crows. He’s still on the same bloody soap. Good on ya, Alf.

Wheel of Fortune

From ‘Baby John Burgess’ retiring from Wheel of Fortune to Wheel of Fortune not existing.


The wheel was never as good without Burgo, anyway. Sorry Tony Barber.


Paul Rudd

From youthful looking young man to youthful looking man

Screw you Rudd, you handsome sod.


Croissants and Donuts

From separate foodstuffs to a mutated hybrid

Gone are the days where donuts and croissants were mutually exclusive. Some insane baker thought to combine two of the most fattening pastries into what’s called a ‘cronut’.  Pauline Hanson does not approve of two parties mixing.


The Cyrus Family

From Achy Breaky to Dead Petz

In 1996, Billy Ray Cyrus released the album ‘Trail of Tears’, which reached number 125 on the billboard album charts. Twenty years later and his daughter Miley is shocking audiences in a way that no coordinated barn dance could ever do.


From thick to thin

Sure, both cuts of fried chip still exist, but you’d be hard pressed to find many food outlets proffering thick over thin-cut fries as the most glamorous option these days. Shoestring is the new black — forget chunks of potato, modern Aussies want a thin strand of potato sheathed in crispy batter. To me, it’s a welcome revolution. To Pauline, it’s most probably blasphemy.

But she sold her fish and chip shop to a Vietnamese family, so she has no recourse.

10 foreign interpretations of Pauline Hanson's beloved fish and chips
Senator elect Pauline Hanson's not quite ready to face a Halal Snack Pack with Sam Dastyari, so how about one of these ten culinary creations that take on her ever-reliable fish and chips as a means for her to dip her toe into some more exotic cuisine.

Pauline Hanson is presented with a markedly different Australia to twenty years ago. Sure, Alf is still pottering around Summer Bay and Paul Rudd only developed a single wrinkle, but overall, the controversial politician is functioning in a faster and more connected global community. 

And most of that community wants less Pauline Hanson and more comebacks from Hanson the boy band. Sorry, but it’s true.

See more of Pauline, her commentators and the infamous fish and chip shop where it all began in Pauline Hanson: Please Explain! Available to view at SBS On Demand now.

Or watch it right here:

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