Graeme Turner


It is hard to deny that Australia has a racist past, and is only now coming to terms with a racist present. Even the bicentennial celebrations in January 1988 failed to confront the guilt of the past, attempting to observe a tactful silence on the Aboriginal’s role in Australia’s achievements as a nation. This silence is bound to be broken, however. The Bicentennial year will see the reenactment of the arrival of the First Fleet, but it will also see the continuation of Justice Muirhead’s royal commission into the alarming number of black Australians who have died in police custody in the last few years, and the completion of Justice Einfeld’s report on the 1987 race riots on the Queens- land/N.S.W. border. In at least one capital city, stencilled messages saying, ‘Celebrate 88, kill an Abo’, have appeared on pavements and walls. Given such events, and given the relationship between the ideologies of a culture and its representations of itself in film, it is hardly surprising that racism still structures the representation of Aborigines in Australian film.



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