I have an idea for the perfect Christmas gift for all your Orthodox Christian friends (and a belated gift for the not-so-Orthodox). It’s a DVD. Yes, I know DVD’s and books are probably the most common gifts people receive during the festive season. But this DVD is special and could well set off a riot.
Maybe not. But the movie stored on the DVD concerns perhaps the most contentious race riot in Australia’s history, one that allegedly pitted Muslim Australians and white Australians.
Yes, folks. Muslims versus whites. As if you can’t be Muslim, white and Australian all at the same time. As if the Sahabi (companion of the Prophet) Suhayb ar-Rumi (r) didn’t exist. Seriously, how do we know that half the white-skinned rioters at Cronulla beach weren’t relatives of Labor MP Ed Husic?
Anyway, a group of Aussies have put together an absolutely hilarious movie about the infamous December 2005 riot. Down Under is written and directed by Abe Forsythe and is the story of 2 rival groups – Anglo and Lebbos – seeking revenge for the riot whilst shouting at each other in fluent French (and no, not of the “bonjour mademoiselle” variety).
One of the stars, perhaps the most sensible one, is a kid with Downs Syndrome. Personally I think he is the star of the show and makes far more sense in what he says to his more militant “Aussie” mates.
The “Leb” side includes a young chap who is a reluctant participant and is generally too busy studying for his exams. Joining in his gang is a “FOB” (fresh-off-the-boat) chap and another bloke who spends lots of time distributing … er … pharmaceutical products for a firm controlled by a rather violent gay Vietnamese entrepreneur.
I don’t wish to give away too much of the story, but the basic message is that even opposite sides of a culture war tend to have more in common than they realise. When the “Aussie” gang feels hungry, they end up settling for a kebab.
The strange thing is that when the movie was released in the cinemas, many saw its message as being too controversial. Why? Perhaps cinema goers would find a comic portrayal of a race riot too much? Perhaps there was the fear of offending super-sensitive Islamics who may end up sending a signal the Tehran branch of ISIL?
Perhaps these cinema managers should listen to award-winning comic Nazeem Hussain who told the Guardian newspaper: “So you can make jokes about whoever, so long as you’re bringing people up [and] you’re not picking on people, it’s not mean. I’m sure there are good-natured jokes about Aboriginal people that white people can do, but it’s just given that history and that political dynamic, it’s tricky”.
Yes, comedy can be tricky but so long as its good-natured and well-intentioned, it is fine. And Down Under definitely has all those ingredients. It is well worth watching. In fact, it’s one of those movies you have to watch at least twice just to take in all the jokes.