Youth and Media: Cultural Politics and Production Practices
Friday 20 April
1 – 2pm
Room 601, Michie Building (#9)
University of Queensland, St Lucia
While Indigenous characters had long been the subject of white film-making, the period 2000-2011 saw not only a renewed interest by film-makers in making films about Indigenous people and communities, but also a rise in the number of films made by Indigenous directors—prior to 2002 only five feature films had ever been made in Australia with an Indigenous director at the helm. Moreover, within this emerging body of work there was a high incidence of films featuring young Indigenous protagonists. This points towards a preoccupation with representations of youth as symbolic of the cultural transition that Australia, as a nation, was experiencing. Importantly, there is also a paradigm shift visible in film representations of Indigenous youth and related issues within this timeframe. This shift moves from a presentation of futility to optimism, while still mediating confronting and uncomfortable issues.
In November 2009 the ABC launched its dedicated children’s channel ABC3. Channel head Tim Brooke Hunt declared the high quality, Australian drama My Place would be the flagship series for the new children’s channel. Within a year however the most popular program on ABC3 was not this much-publicised $12m drama but the local version of the reality format Prank Patrol, featuring ordinary Australian children carrying out pranks on their unsuspecting peers. The success of Prank Patrol Australia raises questions about the role and nature of children’s television in Australia, television that is accompanied by unusual levels of regulatory support. The enthusiastic consumption of culturally specific reality television challenges the convention that drama is privileged over reality TV in the creation of national identity. Prank Patrol is also emblematic of the pressure under which policy settings imbued with cultural nationalism and industry protectionism operate in a digital landscape.
About the Presenters: Sam Fordham and Anna Potter are research higher degree students with the School of EMSAH.