Babakiueria (1986)

I watched this tv program when it was first released in 1986. It satirises colonial/Commonwealth/social attitudes and policies towards the Indigenous peoples of Australia by reversing the roles — the whites are the natives and the blacks are the colonisers. I can remember finding it not funny then (but my father and sister did), and didn’t find it funny when watching it again after finding it on Youtube. I like a good satire (The Great Dictator, The Life of Brian). The first requirement is that it makes me laugh. The second is that it makes me think. The only two lines which raised so much as a chuckle aren’t specifically about the black/white issue; they would work just as well in any parody of white, working/middle-class Australia. Perhaps the main reason I don’t find this funny is that I’m a white, middle-class Australian. (But I’m a Christian and find the Life of Brian hilarious.)
Throughout the textbook, study notes, podcasts and discussions, we have repeatedly encountered the disruption (at least worst) and obliteration (at worst) of Indigenous persons, peoples, lifestyles, cultures and languages wrought by the colonisers. Some policies were well-intentioned at the time (if that’s an excuse (it’s not)), some questionable even by the standards of the day (but they did it anyway), and most untenable when judged against modern standards. Yes, we need to know about these policies and the consequences then and now for many Indigenous Australians and those who work with them, but I’m not sure that this program was/is the best way to do it.
I’m sure that your opinions about this program will vary. I’m sure that some will find it hilarious, some not funny and (possibly) some offensive. (I intend no offence.)
The program was written by Geoffrey Atherden (who is a white Australian), best known for the cringeingly hilarious ‘Mother and Son’. For (slightly) more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BabaKiueria

David Morris

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