The Sapphires is a feel-good film about being "black" in a cross-cultural context. I loved it.
Based on the true story of four Aboriginal women who form a singing group and are invited to Vietnam to perform for American troops during the 1960's, the film has been lazily dubbed "the Australian version of Dreamgirls." But it's a lot more than that. So, when I saw the American DVD cover of the film, I cringed a little. It's at left below, compared to the original Australian cover:
Taking a cue from feminist art-world culture-jamming collective the Guerrilla Girls comes Australia's Bolshy Divas—anonymous disability activists "in the style of feminist masked avengers, exposing and discussing discrimination, unmet need, and issues which affect people with disability and their families."
Margaret "Marge" Tucker was a 20th-century Australian Aboriginal activist, organizer, and writer.
Born on the Moonahculla Reservein 1904, Tucker (at the age of 13) and her sister (who was 11) were forcibly separated from their mother and sent to Cootamundra Girls' Home, where they were trained to be domestic workers for two years. She then went to work for little pay for white families, some of whom were abusive. These relocations came courtesy of the Aboriginal Protection Board, where "protection" in this case meant protecting Aboriginal people from themselves—separating families and dictating employment, residence, and education for Aboriginal people.
As their biggest hits in the US were love songs, one may forget that much of Savage Garden's music is decidedly dark, especially on their eponymous debut. Major themes on Savage Gardeninclude depression ("To the Moon and Back," "Santa Monica") and troubled or abusive relationships ("Tears of Pearls," "Break Me Shake Me," "A Thousand Words"). As might be expected from a group named after an Anne Rice quote—"The mind of each man is a savage garden"—the gothic subculture was a major influence musically and aesthetically; the liner notes featured artwork from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. The stunning song "Mine" was axed from the USA release for its reference to "crosses and crucifixes" and replaced by a cute track about how people shouldn't break promises. Still, there's no real losing with Savage Garden, because regardless of how bright or dreary each song is, they share an essential quality: terrific, poetic songwriting.
Oprah seems to seek constant validation—in Australia she surprises a pregnant mom super fan and says, "It's me! It's me! It's Oprah!" to the shocked woman—and creates frequent situations that allow her to have those validating moments, which she then broadcasts to millions of people. You know, the usual.
I wanted to write about at least one writer from the Southern Hemisphere for you. (I was going to also write about New Zealand's Katherine Mansfield, but then Lindsay pipped me to the blog post!) I thought to myself, I've never read My Brilliant Career (1901), and that's supposed to be one of the best feminist works to ever come out of Australia. An excellent topic on which to write, I surmised! This plan did not quite work out as I had expected. So let me tell you a little bit about Miles Franklin, and some other Australian women writers you, readers, may find of interest.
In Two Friends, leads Emma Coles and Kris Bidenko deliver nuanced, ingenuous performances as polar opposites Louise and Kelly. The movie documents the dissolution of their childhood friendship following Louise's acceptance into an elite girls' academy that Kelly's stepfather refuses to let her attend. I chose 1986's Two Friends for a few reasons. Its status as an Australian TV movie is exceptional, though it screened at the Cannes Film Festival as well. Helen Garner's script unfolds in reverse chronology. Though she only wrote a few screenplays, Garner has since enjoyed a long career in her native Australia as a novelist and journalist. Finally, as a follow-up to Campion's breakthrough short film, A Girl's Own Story, Two Friends is one of Campion's few films to foreground the fragile nature of adolescence and female homosocial bonding. Typical of her output, it does so with nary a hint of condescension.
The Daily Beast posted a video today of Australian pageant contestant Stephanie Naumoska talking with Diane Sawyer about audience reactions to her physique (which is quite thin). Is it skinny-ism? Is that even a thing? Watch the video and let's discuss:
Is Naumoska a victim? Or is this just the Miss-Universe-contestant pot calling the kettle too judgmental? (Does that even make sense?) More after the jump!
Today in the lovely land down under of Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission is considering adding a third gender option to passports and government documents. This new gender status option, which will be labeled "intersex," seems like a progressive step forward for gender activists, but is it really? Read more and give us your thoughts after the jump.