I haven’t read the script for Warwick Thornton’s upcoming project with Cate Blanchett, THE NEW BOY.
From what I have read, I’m guessing the plot goes something like this.
A young Aboriginal boy wanders into a monastery and is taken in by a renegade nun. The boy has escaped some type of disaster at his community. Maybe he’s escaped a massacre, maybe he’s escaped another attempt at being taken from his mother by the white constabulary. Whatever happened, he shows up.
Cate will play a nun that is already at odds with the Catholic church.
She has decided that she will seek God in her own way and there will be references to motherhood, Mary and orphans and widows etc. The nun will be all but apostate.
She will be the one that creates a bridge between white and black, Aboriginal tradition and the church. But ultimately she will lose.
The boy will go back to his mother or move on through the system.
But it will be HER pain the movie focuses on.
Wayne Blair and Deborah Mailman are touted to appear as co-stars.
I’m expecting the usual neutered black male trope.
Black ‘countrified’ accents will be laid on thick, but Cate the Nun will advocate and offer some speech about "Aborigines" being human as well.
It was the same in the movie AUSTRALIA and it will be the same here...except without all that “Over The Rainbow” crap that Baz Lurhman played with.
There’ll be a raising of temperatures in the monastery between Cate the Nun and the head of the order.
“We’ve destroyed their land and culture - the least we can do is give the boy some bread”.... Some crap like that.
The word 'Abo' will get another showing, because white actors in Australia love saying it.
And I’m sick of it.
I’m tired of Thornton’s films portraying us as a people with no agency. I’m tired of films that portray us as ‘BUSH’...’Desert’... backward... needy... unable to talk.
Samson and Delilah was a white audiences wet dream. It was a movie for white people of a certain age and political disposition, to sit in a cinema and get teary about Aboriginal teens... but do bugger all when they left the movie.
Did anybody who saw Samson and Delilah care that the young star went on to get into real trouble - in real life?
Blanchett and Thornton will no doubt get accolades for this project. Hell, it’s being talked up from the start.
What’s not being talked about is the ongoing tendency to offer movies that soften the past, via the relationship between main characters.
Just because you’re offering a cinematic universe where white women like Cate the Nun or Nicole as Lady Ashley get their rocks off by rescuing little black boys... It doesn’t change the truth of the past.
These films serve a very distinct purpose. Propaganda.
That message. Australian history is not murderous. Australian history is akin to the caring embrace of a Nun or a rich white woman.
In either case, the black voice is gone.
In the extreme case, the black male voice is silenced... In nearly every Australian movie dealing with Aboriginal males, they are either accused of something or are little boys.
The only other choice you have is the oft presented trope of mystical figure.
Eventually it boils down to those choices...a "SECRET RIVER, WE OF THE NEVER NEVER" type story or a story of being rescued by a white saviour.
I sought an audition for FIREBITE. I thought it would fun... I managed to get a time to audition, but then I was sent the series bible.
I was sickened by the premise.
"THE HISTORY BOOKS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE IT WAS SMALLPOX THAT KILLED THE GADIGAL TRIBE OF THE SYDNEY AREA. IT WASN’T. IT WAS AN IMPORTED EVIL MORE DEADLY THAN ANY DISEASE"
"So in 1788, when the First Fleet ships docked in Sydney harbor, officers were shocked to discover a handful of vampire stow-aways on board. Within hours the vampires had escaped to freedom, and the future of Australia changed forever."
This might have been a great idea...but it softened the devastation that occurred. Blaming Aboriginal suffering on vampires for the sake of your TV show is simply detestable.
I emailed the casting director and gave my reason for saying no.
Speaking truth to power is very different than kissing arse.
Learn the difference, Warwick. Stop writing powerless black males.
As for Cate... well, I guess money needs to be made.
Thornton once told Australia to ‘grow up’ at an awards night.
Might be time for him to take his own advice.