Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'One of the tropes of reality TV shows is the promise and tracking of transformation'

In a recent review I wrote about the SBS documentary reality TVseries Go back to where you came from (in on-line magazine The Conversation), I explore whether the 'transformation' of attitudes amongst the six 'characters' is more than an 'unhappy performative'.

Individuals might genuinely change their minds as a result of what they’ve experienced, but do the state’s refugee policies change? Sara Ahmed discusses similar questions about  racism/anti-racism in her essay, Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism

There's an interesting response to the series by Klaus Neumann in  Inside Story, 
 30th June 2011.  
Neumann discusses whether 'compassion' can be ‘a motivator for action'. He examines the series in the context of its reception: 'the debate rages on blogs and in the twittersphere rather than on the opinion pages of newspapers'…suggesting that 'the creators of the program have been right in not trying to use the show to campaign for a change of policy, but instead focusing on the paucity of the debate'. Neumann also explores how the emotions aroused by the series, and viewers' 'identification with the six participants, has played a crucial role' in the impact of the series. I agree to some extent,  yet the Gillard Government's (almost) confirmed 'Malaysian Solution' suggests its questionable refugee policies continue apace, despite any intense transformations of heart by onscreen characters in a tightly constructed reality TV series. Developing compassionate government immigration policies remains a major concern.