Tag Archives: the sapphires

Chris O’Dowd not happy with his ‘backup singers’ (updated)

It’s not exactly unusual for a film’s marketing to play up perceived strengths of the project, such as one member of the cast or even a producer (‘from the people who brought you’ and so on).

sapphiresdickwashedIf there’s a ‘name’ involved who’ll pique people’s interest, why wouldn’t you emphasise that? That person is often the reason the film got financed in the first place, after all. But there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. It’s a matter of degree, yes… but there are also political and cultural sensitives to be considered.

In the case of the Anchor Bay DVD cover for the US and Canadian release of The Sapphires, the line’s been not only crossed but reversed over and spat on for good measure.

An ensemble story about a group of Indigenous girl singers and their white male manager has been transformed into the story of a charismatic white male singer and his pretty but largely forgettable backup singers. This would be poor form at the best of times. Given that the film itself touches on issues of racism in Vietnam War-era Australia, when it was hard for young women like these to gain the recognition their talents warranted, it’s egregious.

No, the Australian actors featured don’t yet have international reputations, but there’s no reason they couldn’t have been featured along side, instead of as an after thought to, the excellent Irish actor Chris O’Dowd.

MaryAnn Johanson wrote a great piece about this two days ago, using more colourful terms than I’ve used here (Why has Anchor Bay Dick-washed and Whitewashed The Sapphires?), which I tweeted last night, copying in Chris himself.

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