Indigenous Media Allow for Indigenous Voices

In Faye Ginsburg’s “Embedded Aesthetics: Creating a Discursive Space for Indigenous Media,” she explores how the indigenous communities of Australia are attempting to create a space for themselves in Australian consciousness and popular culture through media. Immediately, we drew on our own knowledge of Indigenous Australian experiences. For the most part, this knowledge is constructed by either white Australian or Western mediamakers. The final product is not for Indigenous people themselves or even for the mass Australian audience. Instead, it is for foreigners. This produces a gap where Indigenous voices are not being heard or voiced, instead it is an outside voice who is commenting on Indigenous experience.

The prime source most American’s have for Indigenous Australian experience is from the  film Rabbit Proof Fence (2002). Although it is based on a book written by an Indigenous author, the film was produced and directed by white Australians. The film attempts to give voices to Indigenous experiences from the Stolen Generation, but only does so through the supervision of white, and mostly male, Australians.

This can be applied to films from the U.S. Our group began thinking about Indigenous American films, which are increasingly hard to find outside the low-budget, independent filmmaking community, like Smoke Signals (1992). Expanding our focus, we began thinking of films that could show the African-American experience. The film Precious (2009) is a notable example. That film could of been way different had the director been white. Instead, the director Lee Daniels was able to add authenticity and experience to the film through his own experiences.

This is what Ginsburg stresses, that indigenous media is important because it gives voices to those who would otherwise be silenced or trivialized in mainstream media. Especially as indigenous Australia media is being circulated and funded more, it will help identify larger problems within Australian culture, just as mainstream Hollywood films need to create more diverse roles for Black men other than slaves or butlers or thugs.

By Haley, Chloe and Kate

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