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June 01, 2007


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I'll come back and read this later, but in the meantime, what's with the poodle?


I think that is an insightful comparison re: intra-group violence, although I would perhaps also read Tony Soprano as a man beholden to ressentiment. He thinks and acts like he is struggling to survive, when in fact he sits on top of the heap already.

I'm also not sure about the strict correspondence of intra-group with domestic violence like that which you referred to in the news report, although they are undoubtedly related. With the question of Abl domestic violence, I would be inclined to keep in mind Ivan Sen's film, Beneath Clouds, wherein there is a clear causal link between the way in which the dominant culture interpellates Abl people, and (in Sen's example) an Abl man beating his partner. Sen lays this out very explicitly, even heavy-handedly. At the same time, one of the central characters does not accept that as legitimation.


It's very Lord of the Flies, I think - the human veneer of civility is so thin that a disruption to externally imposed norms leads quickly to the strong feeding off the weak. It also reminds me of childhood - I get cross when people wax lyrical about 'the innocence of childhood' because what I remember is a battleground of cruel warring factions, where, like in the Sopranos, if you weren't the top of the heap your best bet was to keep your head down and in no way draw attention to yourself. Maybe we start out like that, learning ways to 'behave' as we grow older, but then revert with more lethal consequences when the rules of the adult world break down.


p.s. what poodle?


The weather pixie poodle. Which seems to have disappeared. Hopefully it's on a lead or behind a fence. It looked like the kind of poodle which would wander onto a road as soon as look at you.


The poodle seems to appear between her legs when it's cold (reminding me somewhat of a description of a prostitute in one of Spike Milligan's war memoirs: 'She kept on lifting her skirt, exposing what looked like a large black poodle in her lap.') I would put on jeans myself, in such temperatures.

Adam -- I wouldn't argue for a strict correlation, tho I think there is a common theme in both instances about a social code that's under pressure or has become distorted in some way.

It's a while since I've seen Sen's fine film; I'll have to revisit it. But in Bad Dreaming, Louis Nowra gives a number of examples that would fit the bill of a culture that's broken down to the extent that customary law has been distorted and certain acts of violence are accepted as legitimate -- when they may not have been so in the past.


I'm always bringing up Ivan Sen over this or that, I'm afraid. I co-authored an article in 'Screen' about him a little while ago. In some ways the short films are better, (as Christos Tsiolkas has argued) but there is a lot to think about in Beneath Clouds.

Interesting that you should mention the Nowra book. I was at a writer's festival session on Saturday, with Anita Heiss chairing, and she was less than impressed with that book. I haven't looked at it yet, but is it largely sourced from the 'Australian' newspaper as she implied? I'll certainly have to check it out.


Adam, it's oddly sourced, a bit like a second-year sociology essay. (It does mention Sen's film in rather an odd context: 'Why can't there be more films about Indigenous violence like _Once were Warriors_. _Beneath Clouds_ is the closest thing we've got.')

That's just one of the problems with it...I tried to give the Nowra thing a fair go, but ended up thinking it was naive at best, a Coalition tract at worst.

I'm on the verge of writing a review of's just a mnatter of when I get time.


This seems to relate to the Bell/Huggins et al controversy, which was nearly two decades ago now. Are you familiar with the debate? I think it is very important for understanding the cultural politics of talking about indigenous intra-group violence.


I've read the debate articles some time back I'd have to refresh my memory.


Oh. I've just had a chance now to read this post. Yay me, for taking an excellent post such as this and reducing it to a comment about poodles. I do apologise for that.
I'm going to give The Sopranos another try, but I really struggle with violence. A lot.


It was an injunction by a group of Aboriginal writers and activists against a white female anthropologist - Diane Bell - writing about rape in Abl communities. Their point was basically that it is problematic in a context of continuing oppression of Abl people for Bell to point the finger at Abl men, and suggest that intra-group violence was the most significant issue affecting Abl women. There's more to it than that, but it strikes me that Nowra's book fits into that category of whites 'speaking out' in a divisive and historically inattentive way.

I would recommend perseverance with the Sopranos, ThirdCat, but 6FU and Oz were better series', I think. Obviously if you're not into violence, then Oz is going to be a bit difficult as well =)

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