NITV provides television from the perspective of indigenous people in Australia. Christie (1985) discusses the differences between a ‘world view as seen by people of western cultures and indigenous people’. He suggest that the western view is one of the environment having been controlled and manipulated for survival, this is also extended to the social world. In contrast, the indigenous world view is one of co-operation and co-existence with the forces of nature and this is generalised to view of fellow humans. Further, western people have a positive view of knowledge: the world exists in a certain way and knowledge can be gained by observing and collecting data and studying it. Instead indigenous people believe the way the world is has special meaning which unties people, land and songs. Other differences are the value placed on kinship and reciprocal relations within indigenous culture where the focuses is on cooperation over competition with less emphasis on individual ownership of possessions and a greater importance placed on membership to the family and community (Dockery 2010). Taking this into account the indigenous ‘world view’ is not interpreted or represented in much of mainstream Australian culture, including the media. For this reason Indigenous media is a key way through which this cultural world view and identity might be expressed and shared. As has been discussed on other blog posts, evidence suggests that culture provides meaning and value to people’s lives contributing to their psychosocial stability (Dockery 2010) NATSIS data suggests that continuity of traditional indigenous cultural production, such as this television channel, have a positive outcome on well-being (Biddle and Swee 2012).
This example of a ‘joke’ demonstrates nomalising of racism in a global context; it is an american made television program and the joke is made by a character played by an actor of Asian decent. It place one group, the Indigenous Australians, as the ethnic “other” to be mocked and thus discriminated against. O’Neil Jr (2009))suggests it is the “constancy, universality, and, at times, invisibility of racism and intolerance make it an ongoing threat and one that functions most often by stealth.” In the case of this program the racism is in a sense ‘hidden in plain sight’ we are expected to accept it as part of the humor as it exists in a fictional space it is untouchable due to the existential separation of both the character and their opinion from reality. Scott (2005) notes such examples of racism in TV and media are often assumed not to be truly racist by virtue of the fact that they so effortlessly engage in the offensive. Ironic racism, in this view, takes advantage of the notion that in a culture so concerned with political correctness, only creators “secure (in their) lack of racism would dare to make, or to laugh at, a racist joke” (Scott, 2005). Thus, to present racist characters in the current comedy environment may, paradoxically, testify to the creator’s ultimate lack of prejudice. However this view may be contested as it fails to consider whether this trend makes a positive, progressive contribution to discussions of prejudice or works to make such views ‘socially acceptable’ further preventing any real distinction and thus eradication of racism and discrimination towards indigenous people .
Jackman’s sentiments are a good example of using celebrity to raise awareness about indigenous wellbeing however there are those that might argue that such comments are bordering on a form of Occidentalism or even constructed with positive Orientalism, something that Attwood and Arnold (1992) have called ‘Aboriginalism’, in the way he depicts western society as in some ways spiritually and morally corrupt compared to the ideal of the indigenous Australians traditional ways of life (Kowal 2008). However is evidence that indigenous people’s way of life, separate from consumerism and globalisation is key to increased wellbeing and happiness, that being with the land and in nature, the things Jackman speaks of in his interview, are actually evidenced as having an effect on indigenous people, suggesting that this belief is not unfounded.