There are lots of writing blogs telling us to get our book covers just right. I’ve also written a couple of posts about the mistreatment of indigenous people recently. Today they come together.
The Sapphires is an Australian movie based on a true story about four talented aboriginal girls, played by Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, who, in the 1960’s, fight racism and discrimination to become recognised as the great singers they were.
There’s been some publicity lately about the cover for the upcoming USA DVD release. It’s been labelled sexist and racist because it flies in the face of what the movie is all about. Check it out. You would be forgiven for thinking that crazy white dude in the snazzy blue suit is the main character. He, in fact, plays the girls’ manager.
On the one hand you’ve got a supporting actor who apparently is well known in the US, versus four young indigenous Australian actresses who are not. Marketing people will tell you to put the well known actor front and centre and the lesser known Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell behind. In a faded sapphire blue tint. Fine. Because the guy is well known.
On the other hand you have the four main characters who are the key to the story which itself is about breaking down the discrimination of Aboriginals, female ones at that, and shows that a bit of talent and some hard work can really pay off to achieve great success. Surely the promotion of the movie should reinforce the theme of the story and not hinder it. Maybe they should also promote the fact that it received a ten minute standing O at last year’s Canne Film Festival.
Compare the Australian DVD cover. The girls are out front. Well at least Deb and Jess are, being more well known in Australia than Shari and Miranda.
Chris O’Dowd himself, when asked what he thought of the USA DVD cover, tweeted, “It’s ridiculous, it’s misleading, it’s ill-judged, insensitive and everything the film wasn’t.”
So is the US cover racist? Sexist? Or is it really about promoting the familiar faces?