the dreaming

re-visioning Aboriginal Sense of Place


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The Final Quarter: A Documentary Film Review. I STAND WITH ADAM GOODES

“The Final Quarter” is a 75 minute documentary of archival media footage related to Australian indigenous AFL (Australian Football League) player, Adam Goodes. It was produced by Shark Island Productions and directed by Ian Darling and aired in 2019. The documentary covers the last 3 years of Goode’s outstanding football career, 2013 to 2015.

In my honest opinion, If you don’t know anything at all about the happenings that the footage relates to, the documentary may confuse you or not make a lot of sense, simply because it is made up of a sequence or a collage of snippets taken from radio and television interviews and shows.

Being aware that in May 2013, at Sydney’s Indigenous Round match against Collingwood, that a teenage spectator called Goodes an ape when he was at the boundary line, and his immediate reaction was to point her out, resulting in her being escorted off the grounds, I was interested in this documentary.

I wanted to know more, especially because I have lived in Australia since I was a baby and was brought up in an English-Australian family; but because I have Chinese genes, I have faced racism — a lot of it.

If you are continually jeered at and pushed against and have had your Self, the essence of spirit that is uniquely you, stamped out, it gets to you.

Adam Goodes, born in 1980, played Australian Rules Football for the Sydney Swans from 1999 to 2015. Goodes established himself as a solid utility player and one of Sydney’s best scorers. In 2003 he was joint recipient of the Brownlow Medal for the home-and-away season’s best and fairest player.

The following season he was the sole winner of the Brownlow Medal, becoming the 12th player to take the award more than once.

In January 2014 Goodes was named Australian of the Year for both his efforts to end racism and his work with indigenous-youth community programs. However, one person alone cannot end an entrenched system of subtle, ignored and wanton racism.

Released in June 2019 at the Sydney Film Festival, the film prompted the AFL to formally and unreservedly apologise for its failure to try to reduce the racism experienced by Adam Goodes.

The documentary puts together the words of those who feel that Goodes was and is an attention-seeker and should “man up” and not let the taunts and constant booing of him until 2015, when he permanently retired, get to him, and the words of the few whom supported Goodes.

Some, like Eddie Maguire, Collingwood club president and media personality, with what is called an “on air gaff”, alluded that Goodes should accept the un-wanted attention (taunts) and keep quiet, for the sake of the sport.

The documentary covers a segment of a radio show with conservative media commentator Alan Jones with a notation that permission was sought from Jones but not given, to use his image, with a speaker speaking the words of Alan Jones.

Jones stated that Adam Goodes always plays the victim and had to change his behaviour if he wanted the crowds to stop booing him at AFL games.

This is a bit like saying, in a domestic abuse case, that if you are being beaten up by a violent spouse, you have to change your behaviour if you want them not to kill you.

“They’re booing Adam Goodes because they don’t like him and they don’t like his behaviour.”…….Alan Jones

Earth to Alan Jones: Duh, and some of us don’t like the behaviour of people taunting us based upon our race or the perception of us being disruptive or un-acceptably different because of our race….or age, gender or other characteristics.

It is the opinion of people like Jones and other conservative media commentators like Miranda Devine, from the Sydney Telegraph, and Andrew Bolt, News Corp columnist, that Goodes is in the wrong, and incited the booing because of arrogance or disrespect or bad playing (staging for free kicks) or all of these: things which some see because they choose to see them and paint him completely with these brushes.

Miranda Devine wrote for the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, that “Only Adam Goodes can stop the booing” yet goes on to say that “short of banning the fans, there’s not much the AFL can do about this vicious cycle, other than to counsel Goodes to remake his image.”

This viewpoint conveniently lets the AFL and others in positions of power off the hook basically. If Goodes, one man against thousands of footy fans, can stop the booing, I’ll eat my hat.

Outspoken radio and television personality, and former Geelong player, Sam Newman, featured on the Footy Show, is shown saying, with vitriol, Goodes wasn’t booed because he is Aboriginal, it was because he was acting like a jerk.

It takes one to know one, Sam.

Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun claimed that Goodes was at fault for publicly singling out and bullying and embarrassing a 13 year old girl.

Never mind that the girl offensively called the football player an ape. Having been called “Ching Chong” and “four eyes”, “Ah-saw” and a “Hobbit” I have a little experience knowing how it affects ones psyche when you are not only called names, but encounter other forms of discrimination also.

Hey Andrew, I suppose you wouldn’t mind being called a “snow fruit.”

Wake up Miranda and Andrew. If you watch the documentary, you will see that Adam Goodes, a clearly intelligent and articulate person, spoke out 28 times in defence of the girl, asking for her to be left alone and saying that she was not at fault.

What happened was due to how she was raised by her parents and society at large, Goodes also pointed out. His reaction was an intuitive response, and has caused out-of-proportion pointing of him as beating upon an innocent, hard done by, young girl, the reason for this being that what one focuses on grows.

Some choose to be outraged by their notion of a sweet young girl being picked upon by Goodes, and conveniently and selectively ignore the extent of racist taunts that indigenous and others in Australia face, and what it might be like not only for them, but for those they love, to be treated in this manner long term.

The girl was NOT identified by the media or by anyone, other than by anyone who personally knew her at the match. In the clip you can’t see her face so I don’t know her from Martha. Furthermore, her mother, calling herself Joanne, got her “spot in the sun” in the media, saying Goodes should apologise (for what?) and had this to say.

“If he hadn’t have carried on like a pork chop it wouldn’t have mattered. I don’t think he should retire, he should man up and just take it.”

I wonder what she feeds her daughter on.

If it was a fifty year old man that Goodes had pointed out, would that have been okay? When I was thirteen, I was reading Shakespeare, Michener and Arthur Haley’s “Roots”.

Bolt also said:

“I also thought Goodes was very silly to stage a kind of war dance and threaten fans with an imaginary spear.”

This reflected when, after scoring a goal at the 2015 Indigenous Round match, Goodes did a victory dance and mimed throwing a spear in the direction of the Carlton fans.

Goodes later said that the dance was a war cry created by a group of Aboriginal teenagers from the football development and leadership program, the Flying Boomerangs.

It was a celebration of his goal and of his team’s achievements, along the lines of the New Zealand haka at their rugby games. If it had a tinge of rebuttal in it, think about it, after 3 years of constant booing and being put down, might you not react with some defensiveness?

Nobody is perfect, not even Adam Goodes.

Indeed, Goodes as do many others, have had to build up a “thick skin” to inure themselves against subtle and overtly expressed words and actions which show ignorance of racial matters, and wanton racism.

Imagine yourself at a public place and someone saying to their mate “I want to put her head in a vice and crush it”. This happened to me one day as I was walking from the bus station to someone’s car, absolutely minding my own business, but looking Asian.

Little doubt that the “polarisation” or the divided opinions and feelings of Australians will be renewed afresh with the release of this documentary, which is well worth watching.

It has already sparked conversation in workplaces, and I assume at homes, such as it being pointed out to me that there has been a “tradition” of booing a player in his home State after he has left that State team, gone to another team and returned to the state of origin.

The systemic booing at sports events has even been acknowledged by Goodes, who said he has been booed before the incident with the teenager, and it is a fact of footy life.

The challenge of the AFL and those who were able to take the plunge into recognising that the booing and pointing the finger at Goodes were an expression of people’s discomfort at the fact that Adam Goodes was raising the issue of racism, was not taken up by the AFL

I like it that interspersed among the footage were definitions of things, like “racist”, “ape” and “racial vilification”. The mother and others claim that the thirteen year old didn’t know that calling someone an ape was offensive. Really? Folks, there's a fine line between humour and disrespect. 

In a special edition of The Project, aired after the documentary, host Waleed Aly issued a challenge to Australia to embrace what they had learned.

“It seems that what began as personal torment for Adam quickly became a national controversy,” he said.

“The question now really is whether it can become a productive national conversation. And the answer to that question rests with each of us.”



Adam Goodes should Apologise

Swans star Adam Goodes always plays the victim: Alan Jones

Three Pieces of Fake News the Booers Believed

Adam Goodes Was Failed By The Game And Fans He Loved

Eddie McGuire apologises to Adam Goodes for King Kong comment but will not resign

Adam Goodes ‘cut down’ by racist booing because he was powerful, says commentator Charlie King

The Final Quarter: Waleed Aly’s major issue with reaction to Adam Goodes documentary

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