Learning a Lesson from Hugh Jackman and Vegemite

If life is like a box of chocolates, then entertainment is like a jar of Vegemite. There are some kinds of entertainment that, if consumed incorrectly, can cause significant discomfort and painful, scarring experiences. But if consumed with some advice, they can actually lead to quite a life changing moment. At least that is what Jimmy Fallon and Hugh Jackman have shown us this week.

Vegemite has been a long-standing point of contention between Americans and Australians. Australians grow up loving the famous yeast extract product on toast every morning. And it has become such an iconic part of the Australian identity that it is the one product which represents our country internationally. Hence, the need for all Americans to try it when they come down under.

However, Americans never enjoy the experience. Used to their Nutellas, Peanut Butters and Jams (or Jellies), they take a big spoonful and gulp the whole thing down invariably suffering from an intense burning sensation. There is nothing wrong with the product they are trying but there is an issue with the way they consume it.

But no longer!

Hugh Jackman appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show this week to promote his new movie Pan adapted from the famous Disney classic and took the opportunity to redeem this Australian food stuff.

Having tried Vegemite on air the week before (in the typical American fashion), it did not rate particularly highly on the talk show host’s list. But, given the opportunity to learn how to enjoy the product applied lightly on some buttered hot toast, the Vegemite experience was able to be redeemed and where he once hated the product, now turned into quite a powerful advocate.

So what is the point of this laboured metaphor, you may be asking. Well, it is exactly the same in the entertainment world.

Moving away from the highly accessible entertainment forms such as movies and television shows, some other options require a bit of background knowledge from the audience. Understanding why a painting was created allows you to better appreciate the work. Understanding the story of a musical before you walk through the doors allows you to enjoy the songs rather than try to unravel the plot line. And understanding the social and political climate and influences from when a symphony was written allows you to better recognize and interpret elements of the work.

I am by no means saying that this replaces the task of understanding what the audience wants in their entertainment. That is incredibly crucial to the overall success. But when dealing with incredibly complex topics or limited mediums, sometimes it is important to give the audience a fighting chance to understand and enjoy the entertainment through a bit of an explanation or some accompanying notes.

So next time you think about putting together a show, writing a song or creating a work of art, think of Hugh Jackman and his Vegemite lesson. Sometimes a little more information and communication can completely turn the audience experience around!