The Sapphires, which was released earlier this year, is about the true story of four indigenous women from Australia who are discovered by a talent scout and are sent to Vietnam to perform for the troops. It’s a film, we loved because of its smart look at racial issues and feel good spirit.
The film is set to be released on DVD in the U.S. tomorrow and the cover seems to have gotten a bizarre and racist makeover. O’Dowd, if you’ve seen the film, plays an important role but he is not the lead of the film. However, the U.S. cover places O’Dowd front and center on the cover–making it look as if he’s a 60s pop star/sex symbol. The women are placed behind him as if they were his backup singers.
There has been some controversy since the DVD cover hit with people including both O’Dowd and the four women who inspired the film — Naomi Mayers, Beverly Briggs, Lois Peeler and Laurel Robinson.
They alongside Sol Bellear, chairman of the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service wrote to the NAACP for their support.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, the treatment of people of colour in Australia mirrored much of the trauma to which people in the United States were
subjected. That trauma – and much of that treatment – remains alive and well in Australia today, as I know it does in the United States. The US cover of
the DVD completely misses this point, and in fact reinforces precisely the sort of bigotry that Naomi, Beverly, Lois and Laurel fought so hard against.
We’re hopeful that the NAACP – with its long and proud history of advocating strongly for the interests of people of colour – will add its significant
voice to calls for the DVD cover to be changed.
On Twitter, O’Dowd called the cover “ridiculous, it’s misleading, it’s ill-judged, insensitive
and everything the film wasn’t.” With this move, Anchor Bay has silenced the story of a group of aboriginal women, both erasing the stories of strong women and completely whitewashing the important racial politics of the film–reinforcing exactly what these women fought for.
Sign the Change.org petition telling Anchor Bay to change the DVD cover. As of this morning, it has over 10,000 signatures.