Every Australian knows who Adam Goodes is – even this NSW native who has only ever watched one game of AFL in her life. Goodes’ name and image were splashed across the nation’s tabloids for years during his career with the Sydney Swans – all because he took a stand against the racist abuse he experienced from spectators while playing AFL at a professional level.
The Australian Dream (directed by Daniel Gordon) is the second documentary on Adam Goodes. The first, The Final Quarter, was aired on Channel 10 on 7th June and relied on archival footage to piece together the events that led up to Goodes’ retirement from the game. The Australian Dream builds on this foundation – not only does it investigate the racist undertones of Australian sport, but it pulls this thread through the 230 years of white occupation of this land, contextualising Goodes’ experience within the wider collective experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Utilising traditional documentary techniques – talking heads, voice-overs, archive footage and re-enactments, The Australian Dream forces its audience to witness the uncomfortable truth at the heart of the Adam Goodes saga. Despite shining the spotlight on the link between racism and the sustained booing towards Goodes, it does not completely condemn current Australian society – instead, the documentary optimistically urges for more education, acceptance and open-mindedness.
The crux of The Australian Dream rests upon both Goodes’ story and the speech delivered by journalist Stan Grant at the Ethics Centre in 2016. In the speech, Grant stated that in the booing of Goodes, “We heard a howl. We heard a howl of humiliation that echoes across two centuries of dispossession, injustice, suffering and survival. We heard the howl of the Australian dream and it said to us again, you’re not welcome.” This howl is referenced and redefined throughout the documentary by many great Indigenous sportspeople – Nicky Winmar, Gilbert McAdam, Nova Peris and Michael O’Loughlin. It is made clear that Adam Goodes’ experience is not a singular occurrence, and the number of voices adding to this howl is powerful.
Stan Grant wrote the documentary and he did so with great dexterity. Both supporters and detractors of Goodes are given space to voice their sides of the argument. Andrew Bolt and Eddie McGuire also feature in the documentary alongside Goodes’ vocal support team and their opinions are handled with tact and impressive skill – particularly when it comes to the presentation of McGuire’s questionable actions throughout the saga.
The Australian Dream is unashamedly polemic and should be essential viewing for this nation.
EDUCATION VALUE: TEN