In this piece, this essay will be discussing Aboriginal representationin the media. It includes many texts in the study; these will include”Jedda” from the 1950s, “Barbakuaria” from the 1980s and finally a SydneyMail picture, from 1917.
To analyze the texts they will be compared it withthe cultural expressions of the time created. There are also comments onthe framing and how the story affected the final representation of theAboriginals, and if the text portrayed the publics views correctly for thattime. In Australia during the 1950s, a process put into practice calledthe “Assimilation policy”. It was designed to ‘civilise’ Aboriginalchildren who were not full blood. The children taken were either fosteredor sent to missions for domestic service. This was the birth of the stolengeneration.
The text representing this time was “Jedda”. Jedda was thefirst colour film with real aboriginal actors, the movie had an anti-assimilation storyline, and with one of the main characters saying, “youcan’t change a 40,000 year old culture in one generation. ” “Civilization ishow you see it, these people have a different way, that’s all. ” The film followed Jedda, a young Aboriginal who was brought up in awhite family after her mother was died, she is curious about her people’sculture, but she is very restricted by her adopted mother. We see Jeddawatching the aboriginals from the homestead leave for their walk andwelcoming them home, we see the longing in her eyes, and we feel for her.
We then see the mother discouraging her, keeping her from playing with theother Aboriginals, making sure she stays in her clean western clothes. When Marbuck steals Jedda away from the camp, by seducing her withhis traditional Aboriginal ‘magic’, it shows the more wild and uncivilizedview of the Aboriginals. He seams mad and shown in a stereotypical way,with scars and a loincloth being his main characteristics. There are no positive portrayals of ‘traditional’ Aborigines, wesee this when Marbuck takes Jedda to his tribe, and they would rather killher than let him marry her. They curse him, even though he is a member oftheir tribe, for bringing an outsider to the meeting place.
This seams toshow all Aboriginal tribes as uncivilized savages, which destroys the wholepoint of making it an anti-assimilation movie. Despite the films good intentions, it ultimately portrays mostAboriginal characters in negative ways and maintains some damagingstereotypes. Criticized as being too “fatalistic”, the Hollywood style didnot suit this story, and the Aboriginal people who had an input wouldprobably be ashamed with the way it turned out. In Australia, during 1800s and 1900s, European settlement startedto spread across the country.
There was a lot of conflict over land, withmasses of blacks and whites dying, but more Aborigines due to the whitesettlers having superior weapons. The Aboriginals were represented as amenace to white lives. The Sydney Mail photograph shows an Aboriginal woman in thebackground with a spear, and a tombstone in the front saying “Speared byblacks. ” The figures in the background are of a female with spear, showingignorance, because in typical tribes, the women do not use weapons, theweapon is there to suggest violence and possibly scare the reader intobelieving the reporter took some great risk in taking the photo.
The dateon the tombstone indicates it is not news and only been taken to promotefear to the public. This photo represents Aborigines as primitive, uncivilized andviolent, a threat to all white people. This photo is typical of the time,and probably achieved its point of scaring the public. In 1980s Australia, land rights claims for Aborigines wereabundant. They were shown as radicals and possibly violent, people sawtheir typical behavior as petrol sniffing drunks through the media andalthough this was the case for a few, not many actually did either ofthose. “Barbakuaria” showed a twisted version of the historical events,putting Aborigines as the settlers, and white people as the indigenousAustralians.
A reporter lived with a typical white family, saw them splitup during the assimilation time, and commented on how they never smile whenphotographed. We saw the younger boy say what they were thinking, about askinghow they can smile when they have nothing. The movie shows how vain people are, as it made the public feelsorry for the whites, but they still wouldn’t feel for the Aborigines .