ABC loves a good show about families. Especially if there’s Christian values, and an angel, involved.
Just look at the above promo for the ABC’s latest foray into serious Indigenous drama – a show about a christian family of Indigenous descent, who are struggling with the very serious problems of modern-day life; as formerly covered by shows like this one…
I’m going to be really clear about this, because it seems the more I try to point out what seems to be going on, the more people assume I’m either attacking the writers, or getting behind a cause which isn’t mine to support.
So first, my idea –
The ABC is a predominantly white, Anglo organisation which is increasingly dedicated to putting forward a rosey, white image of Australia. Sure, they have Four Corners, which does a great job. And sure, they’ve funded a few forays into Indigenous content. But these are questionable examples amidst a sea of evidence to the contrary. In other words, you can’t look at the entire library of ABC content and tell me it’s not white-centric? You can’t point out one show, like Redfern Now, and tell me the ABC cares about Indigenous concerns.
‘Redfern Now’ was so inaccurate as to basically be a charicature. Good on Rachel Perkins for being devoted to her work, but don’t tell me she knows anything about the South side of Redfern St. I used to work with the lady – and she doesn’t*.
*unless you count the menu at Pitt St Diner, Redfern’s answer to Harrod’s.
RN is an example of what happens when white people try to imagine what black people are going through. You might as well get the year 10 drama class at Marist Brother’s college to dramatise the Occupy movement.
Shows like RN might familiarise Australians with a culture, but to do so in such a benal way, by painting so many cliches, and performing it with the same old stable of Ozzie actors doesn’t, in my book, lead to any lasting positive effect. Its failure to introduce any strong, lasting characters, let alone interesting stories, is, in my mind, inexcusable.
I mean seriously, they cast this guy –
Second, the notion that I’m somehow not allowed to criticise ABC editorial decisions when it comes to content like this.
I get shy-shoulders from many professionals these days, from different backgrounds, who seem to think I’m attacking the likes of them, or jumping on a bandwagon for some ignorant, naive reasons.
Well, I don’t criticise the ABC for its lack of Indigenous content because I want to directly support Indigenous Australians. Like I don’t criticise Triple J for supporting nothing but whitey youth culture, in a way which dumbs down intelligent thought. I do it because neglecting an entire part of the population is not only wrong (in fact, it’s illegal), but because it fucks up the country for everybody.
If we allow the likes of the ABC to set the tone for an entire nation, by presenting what should and shouldn’t be considered ‘mainstream’, then we’ll end up with not only a media, but an entire nation accustomed to thinking along racial and cultural lines. And that won;t be good for anyone.
I get at the ABC because it should be leading not only by example, but held to account – it never had the right to choose to neglect, ignore or characterise in any way any minority group of Australians, let alone the Indigenous people. SBS is great, NITV is amazing, and of course there is a need for content representing multi-cultural and racial Australia to be shown to a wider audience.
But I’m certain that segregating content along these lines, as can easily be demonstrated with the ABC’s program, is not the way to go. It further highlights differences, when what should be happening in 2014 is shows like Redfern Now or Gods of Wheat Street being assessed for their own merits, not the amount of Indigenous involvement in their creation.
And that’s it. I criticise the ABC because it acts unfairly, at the cost of the rest of us. And I do so because it’s unfair; not because I’m jumping on the 2014 Indigenous Fun-time bandwagon.