‘The Final Quarter’ sparks racism debate again

2016 and 2017 was plagued by same – sex marriage debate and LGBTQ+ rights. 2019 is about Indigenous Australians; their symbols, (i.e. whether people should be able to climb Uluru), whether Aboriginal people should be mentioned in the Australian Constitution as the ‘First Australians’ and whether there should be an extra body for Indigenous people in the Australian parliament.

Now, the Adam Goodes controversy has been revisited.

The Final Quarter caused a stir,  even  before premiering on free – to – air TV last Thursday.

It is about former Sydney Swans star, Adam Goodes. A media storm erupted after Goodes called out a thirteen – year – old female Collingwood supporter who called him an ape. Unfortunately, this caused a backlash against Goodes that lasted two seasons.

AFL embroiled in race debate

After calling out the thirteen – year – old, Goodes did a press conference, which only added fuel to a raging fire.

I don’t think Goodes saying “racism has a face” was a smart choice. It’s been used against him ever since. However, Goodes did everyone to back off because she was only a kid. He didn’t want her to be charged or harassed.

I’ve also heard that Goodes wasn’t behind the move for police to interview the teenager. Was that an overreaction from the AFL itself?

Australia Day controversy

Goodes became Australian of the Year in 2014. While it seemed like an uplifting move; an Indigenous man receiving one of Australia’s most celebrated awards, it quickly added tension and division. Goodes used his platform to raise contentious issues, such as the ‘Recognise‘ campaign and condemning alleged atrocities committed by early British settlers.

 

The role of the media

A number of commentators and journalists did, and continue to defend Adam Goodes and condemn the spectators and his critics.

Others pointed fingers at  Goodes. Whilst calling the constant booing  of Goodes “bullying“, Newscorp columnist and TV presenter, Andrew Bolt has repeatedly criticised Goodes for his “over reaction” over being called an ape.

Bolt has suggested that Goodes admit he was wrong and he may have got critics’ respect again.

He, along with other commentators, have repeatedly criticised Goodes’ press conference in the aftermath of being called an “ape”. (the video I posted above).

Frankly, I hate how Goodes’ critics pick out the unfortunate statement “racism has a face”, while often ignoring Goodes’s defence of the girl. Herald Sun’s and Sky News Australia’s Rita Panahi did that only last week on Outsiders. (To his credit, Bolt has put the comment in context).

My verdict on ‘The Final Quarter’

Yes, it was largely biased. It was obviously told from the perspectives of Adam Goodes and his defenders.

It paints an unfortunate picture of what went down. I believe that Adam Goodes was bullied and that the whole saga got out of hand. It should have never got that bad.

It showed how the media often inflamed the situation. Did Goodes always do or say the right thing? Probably not. That’s not an excuse for repeatedly taking his words out of context, even six years later. Nothing can excuse for bad behaviour against Goodes (surprisingly, some of the spectators agree and have apologised).

Believe it or not, I think there is an upside to the whole Adam Goodes saga. It gave Indigenous people courage to voice their own experiences of racism. I remember being almost emotional when  former Labor president, Warren Mundine AO admitted the psychological toll racial abuse had on him.

Actress, Miranda Tapsell also spoke up about racism.

 

I think The Final Quarter, like Adam Goodes himself, hit a raw nerve for many people. Let’s hope we can find a way to move past it.

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