Greetings from Down Under: An Open Letter to Vanity Fair


Dear Vanity Fair,

I must preface this missive by admitting that I am a “throwback”. This being Mr Cohen’s charming turn of phrase for describing people from Australia in a piece of xenophobic “writing” published in your magazine. Writing that is so God awful, it’s like he bought the words in a flat-pack from Ikea and didn’t have the right Allen key to put them together.

The story, “The Summer of Margot Robbie,” opens with a stand first declaring that Robbie was “Launched by the dazzling depravity of The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Sadly the only dazzling depravity in this piece of detritus is the blatant misogyny and sexism directed at a talented young actor, who deserves more than Mr Cohen’s masturbatory comments on her looks.

But I am not writing this to take you to task over publishing a story referring to Ms Robbie in terms so revolting that I felt violated as a woman just reading them. Nor am I writing to you to take you to task on the fact that this is so badly written that most ten-year olds in our “throwback” country could probably have done a better job.

No, I am writing this letter to Vanity Fair to offer my assistance.

Clearly Vanity Fair is struggling. I am making this assumption due to the fact that it seems you can no longer afford to pay decent writers, or subs, or editors with any clue of what is and isn’t appropriate for publication and who are happily prepared to insult an entire country by signing off on flotsam like this.

As a writer, who uses words and logical sentences to convey a story, and just happens to live in “sunny and slow” Australia, I thought I’d offer my services to assist you with a little fact checking. This is something that I usually charge $60 per hour for but on this occasion I’m happy to offer my services to you for free, in your time of need, as I’m feeling charitable.

And by charitable I mean pissed off.

Tourism represents about 3.0% of Australia’s GDP and we’re not all that keen on people misrepresenting and scaring people away from visiting by publishing ill-informed and racist diatribes. So I’ve taken the liberty of doing a little editing for you, here. No, don’t thank me, happy to do it. Just as I am happy to cease purchasing your magazine.

Let’s take it from the top.

“Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback, which is why you go there for throwback people.”

Wait, what? The Beatles are touring? Grrooovvy baby!

You may be surprised to hear that in in 2014 Australia was ranked by Investepedia second only to Norway on the list of the world’s most developed countries. This was due to our widespread industrialisation, high literacy rates, and access to quality health care. So advanced are we that we even use the Metric System, as opposed to the antiquated Imperial system that you still cling to. Nor do we use an out-dated political blueprint written at a time when white people were allowed to own black people, the average life span was about 35, there was no internet, no satellites, no flushing toilets and no semi-automatic weapons, just to justify our right to own a cupboard full of machine guns to kill each other with. In fact semi-automatic weapons are illegal here. And by amazing coincidence we have one of the lowest per capita incidences of gun death in the world. Who’d have thunk?

“They still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas in Melbourne and Perth”

As far as I am aware the people of Perth live and die by the reams of cash they’ve made from a 10-year mining boom in their state. Rather than obsessing over soap operas they’re obsessing over which of the stunning beaches or world-class restaurants they should patronise in their evolving city.

Evolving, if you are unfamiliar with this word, is something that Mr Cohen is yet to do.

Melbourne is our second largest city, and our unofficial cultural capital. In Australia, soap operas are not really considered “cultural” and the more than four million residents of the city are more likely to be found queuing for Broadway productions, cutting-edge theatre or just enjoying the world-class bars, cafes, arts festivals and exhibitions. Just saying.

“…still dwell in a single mass market in Adelaide and Sydney”

In my experience “mass market” is usually used in reference to a large, undifferentiated market of consumers. Sydney and Adelaide, our first and fifth most populated cities respectively, are two of the most dynamic, multi-cultural and diverse cities in the world. Here’s a little writing tip, use a dictionary if you ever get confused on the meaning of big boy words.

“When everyone here is awake, everyone there is asleep, which makes it a perfect perch from which to study our customs, habits, accents.”

This is partially correct. As different parts of our planet enter and exit daylight at different times, we are indeed asleep when parts of America are awake. But we don’t actually use that time to study American customs and habits. It’s not because we’re lazy, it’s because we are busy working or going to school to get an education, which is something that was clearly unavailable to your Mr Cohen. Oh, and because quite frankly, we couldn’t give a shit. 

“In the morning, they watch Australia’s Today show.”

The average daily ratings for the Today Show in Australia is somewhere in the vicinity of 300,000. This equates to less that 1.25% of our national population of  24,168, 303. These statistics are readily available on the Internet for future reference. The Internet is that thing on the computer people use to check out pictures of cats.

It’s also handy for research if you haven’t tried that before.

“In other words, it’s just like America, only different”

Yes, we are quite similar in that we both have populations made up of human beings. And yes we are also quite different in that we offer free health care to the entire population, a minimum wage that can actually be lived on and strict and internationally admired gun laws. Which is probably why we don’t kill each other with them on a daily basis. But then, guns don’t kill people; people kill people, right? People with guns, that is.

“Robbie grew up in Gold Coast, a city on Australia’s Pacific shore, 500 miles north of Sydney. In an old movie, you might have seen a crossroad sign demonstrating just how isolated it was, just how far from the known capitals.”

The Gold Coast is Australia’s sixth most populated city. It is also one of the country’s biggest tourist areas and home to a multitude of major theme parks. Last time I visited one of these theme parks the isolation left me yearning for human company. At times, there were entire metres (that’s about 3.3 feet to you) between myself and the other 5,000 or so people visiting that day.

To reach the Gold Coast one would either take an arduous 60 minutes drive along the perfectly sealed highway from its nearest capital city, Brisbane, which happens to be the third largest city in Australia. Or they could just catch an airplane to its international airport. Here’s a suggestion, Google Maps is a free service that is readily available to your writers and editors. You should try using it. Indeed if you zoom in on a map of our country you may even spot the entire population raising our middle fingers in your patronising direction.

“Now and then, she stayed with cousins who lived in the hinterland of the hinterland, where there really were kangaroos and a dingo really will eat your baby.”

Please tell me I’m imagining this bit? Because I’m fairly certain that, statistically speaking, no babies have ever been eaten in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Statistics are those facty things some people use when writing for respectable publications. You should try them out sometime. Another thing you could try is not allowing writers to use the tragic death of an actual human child as a punch line, because that kind of makes him an arsehole. 

“When she talks about it, you see the arid country, the horizon on every side, blue sky, yellow fields.”

Only one small amendment needed here guys, and that is to delete the entire sentence. The Gold Coast Hinterland is mountainous and covered in lush green rainforest, dickheads.

Gold Coast Hinterland

Gifs from Giphy

51 Comments on Greetings from Down Under: An Open Letter to Vanity Fair

  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    July 8, 2016 at 7:25 pm (8 years ago)

    Well given the turmoil that America is currently going through, I know which country I’d rather be living in right now. I was embarrassed for the writer though seriously, that VF piece was very mockable and laughable article. What were they thinking?

      July 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm (8 years ago)

      I don’t think there was much thinking being done

  2. Bronnie - Maid In Australia
    July 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm (8 years ago)

    Oh this is perfectly written. I’ve been seething but you have put my feelings into world. Has this dickhead even been to Australia? Or just watched an episode of Crocodile Dundee? Before getting off on Margot Robbie pics …

      July 9, 2016 at 5:05 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Bronnie – yes, I’m fairly certain his frame of reference was somewhere between his hand and his….

  3. Kathy
    July 8, 2016 at 7:42 pm (8 years ago)

    Surely it must be a piece of satire. It cannot be serious. Hold on, such ignorance is serious in America. I despair for the world, and let’s face it, things aren’t so great in the lucky country right now, but I’d rather be down-under than anywhere else. And every seriously, as someone who’s day job is to position the Gold Coast as a great destination in which to live, work, invest and visit – puke.

      July 9, 2016 at 5:06 pm (8 years ago)

      He has claimed it was meant to be funny. But no one was laughing at it, they were laughing at him and how badly it was written. Satire only works if there are some facts involved. This is a work of fiction.

  4. Kim
    July 9, 2016 at 8:08 am (8 years ago)

    Possibly the BEST response everrrrrr

      July 9, 2016 at 5:06 pm (8 years ago)

      Aww. Thanks. I should get my ranty pants on more often!

  5. Julie
    July 9, 2016 at 8:14 am (8 years ago)

    Ha ha well done – sock it to that myopic moron!!! How did that piece of trash get published

      July 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm (8 years ago)

      I have no idea. Maybe the editor was in a coma that day?

  6. Ellen @ Potential Psychology
    July 9, 2016 at 8:18 am (8 years ago)

    Love this! Having seen Matilda this week – all hail
    Tim Minchin and his cleverness – Australia should not be underestimated in its production of world class talent. Oh and wifi and ultrasound and the bionic ear and the cervical cancer vaccine….

    This is particularly fab! ‘Statistics are those facty things some people use when writing for respectable publications. You should try them out sometime. Another thing you could try is not allowing writers to use the tragic death of an actual human child as a punch line, because that kind of makes him an arsehole.’ Great read!

      July 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm (8 years ago)

      I know, we’re quite a clever lot for throwbacks! Thanks for the kind words x

  7. Amy @ HandbagMafia
    July 9, 2016 at 8:50 am (8 years ago)

    That article was a crock on many levels. Vanity Fair clearly have little regard for the intelligence of their readers. If they did, they’d hire you!

      July 9, 2016 at 5:10 pm (8 years ago)

      Aww thanks lovely, but I’m not sure I could write for them as I don’t do fiction 😉

  8. Pinky Poinker
    July 9, 2016 at 9:22 am (8 years ago)

    You, my dear. have absolutely nailed it. Well done!

  9. Shan@FortyUp
    July 9, 2016 at 9:35 am (8 years ago)

    Gold! I don’t need to say anything more, you’ve nailed it!!!

      July 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm (8 years ago)

      I did my best! Thanks Shan

  10. Mummy Muckups (Anna)
    July 9, 2016 at 9:45 am (8 years ago)

    Vanity Fair MUST employ you immediately. What an absolute disgrace of an article; what an absolutely PERFECT ‘up your a*se dic*head’ response!!!

      July 9, 2016 at 5:12 pm (8 years ago)

      Hehe. I wont’ be holding my breathe waiting for their call 😉

  11. Madmother
    July 9, 2016 at 10:50 am (8 years ago)

    Ah, bliss. I sit here in my arid home (if you discount the flourishing rainforest, towering trees, tangling vines, oh, and the glorious coast and sea views) wondering exactly what Mr Cohen had been smoking and how he managed to slip this piece of garbage unfit for me to wipe my throwback (tertiary educated, entrepreneurial, successful) butt on past the editorial department of VF.

    Right now I suspect that abbreviation stands for Very F*#ked.

      July 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm (8 years ago)

      Hehe! I’m not quite sure how that car crash of an article got written or published. I feel sorry for Margot Robbie, she deserves way better than this trash.

  12. Emily
    July 9, 2016 at 10:55 am (8 years ago)

    Tears of laughter running down my face. Brilliant. You and Ben Pobjie are going straight to the pool room for your responses to this. x

    • Emily
      July 9, 2016 at 12:58 pm (8 years ago)

      (P.S. Every time you wrote dickheads, I heard it in Darryl Kerrigan’s voice. And yes, I came back to read it again!)

        July 9, 2016 at 5:17 pm (8 years ago)

        Thanks Emily. I imagine Darryl would have a colourful thing or two to say to Mr Cohen

  13. sue elliott
    July 9, 2016 at 12:16 pm (8 years ago)

    Yep he’s a wanker, not even a good wanker. I mean it’s one thing I suppose for some thicko to write stuff about which he knows nothing, but what really beggars belief is that the editors let it run. I am tempted to write an ‘all americans’ comment, but that just couldn’t be accurate – could it?

      July 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm (8 years ago)

      I don’t think douchebaggery is specific to any one nation, Sue. I think it transcends culture x

      • sue elliott
        July 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm (8 years ago)

        Yeh I know you are right. douchebaggery….I am gonna try and use that in a sentence tomorrow.

  14. Mumabulous
    July 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm (8 years ago)

    Much like the Playboy of old do you think anyone is going to actually read this article?

      July 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm (8 years ago)

      I think way too many people have read it! 🙁

  15. Twitchy Sharon
    July 9, 2016 at 12:33 pm (8 years ago)

    Yep. The “writer” will probably be able to lick his wounds as well as Margot Robbie’s images, between brushing up on geography and statistics as we sleep…if he isn’t voting for Trump or shooting his neighbour.

    PS Translation into American: Allen key = hex key

      July 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks for the tip. I have to admit that I’m not familiar with American tools, well except for Mr Cohen

  16. Tegan
    July 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm (8 years ago)

    If I could insert a gif of me wildly clapping I totally would. Nailed the hell out of it!

  17. Louise Baker
    July 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm (8 years ago)

    Well said!. Perhaps their staff are all under 20, because surely anybody older than that has enough intelligence to know Cohen was talking a pile of S..T. VF has severely damaged any reputation it still had after letting that go to print. Maybe the staff were all out sick that day? They all died? It was children at work day? They didn’t get their coffee fix? Brain dead day? Some reason????

      July 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm (8 years ago)

      IT did occur to me that it may have been bring your kids to work day and one of them accidentally pressed publish on a bunch of random scribbles

  18. Sammy
    July 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm (8 years ago)

    Thank you for this article. That VF article made me both angry and disappointed. How can someone write something so ignorantly when we live in the world of “OK google?”

      July 9, 2016 at 5:25 pm (8 years ago)

      Every publication I work for has a sub who is employed not only to pick up typos, bad grammar and piss poor writing but also to fact check articles. Its not hard.

  19. Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    July 9, 2016 at 9:00 pm (8 years ago)

    This is gold Aleney. What a tosspot and what a revolting article. Awesome reply (although I would definitely up your rate should Vanity Fair require a follow-up article!)

  20. Helen K
    July 9, 2016 at 10:27 pm (8 years ago)

    Well done! Loved your response to a particularly appalling article by Vanity Fair. I’m assuming they expect no one will read the article but just look at the photos (despite Margot Robbie’s not so impressive looks and shortness except when she wears high heels – for heavens sakes!)

  21. Paula
    July 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm (8 years ago)

    Most magazines nowadays are a joke. I was going to read the article but I doubt I could stomach it.

  22. Breharne
    July 10, 2016 at 10:53 am (8 years ago)

    **Applause!!!** Thank you for this excellent post, I really hope it reaches someone that “works” at the Vanity Fair. They have definitely lost a lot of readers for publishing such terrible “journalism”.

  23. Adam Clements
    July 11, 2016 at 7:04 am (8 years ago)

    Outstanding. I particularly liked the way you finished up.

  24. Nina
    July 11, 2016 at 11:18 am (8 years ago)

    Brilliant….I love this letter,I’ve shared it on FB and read it out aloud to my American husband plus friends. I feel Vindicated! Hopefully the Americans will stop asking me stupid questions about Australia. Thank you.

  25. Karin @ Calm to Conniption
    July 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow… that is one educated fellow… possibly why he writes the “articles” in Vanity Fair. Perhaps he should move onto fantasy novels where he can make up his own worlds like he has here.

  26. Maxabella
    July 13, 2016 at 7:40 pm (8 years ago)

    Patronising wanker.


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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