Utopia is a deeply ironic title for John Pilger’s documentary, which tackles Australian racism head on. Watch it now.
30 May 2014 - 11:17 AM  UPDATED 21 May 2020 - 3:00 PM

It is shocking

Utopia says many shocking things in support of its central argument that Australia is completely failing its indigenous citizens. The most shocking is that within this group of Australians almost one in three die before the age of 45. I want to ask: “Isn’t that grounds for the declaration of a national emergency?” But some will argue that’s exactly what “the intervention” by the Federal Government in 2007 was all about. But all was not what it seemed according to Utopia.

Acceptance is a good thing

I’ve watched Utopia three times in the last few months and each time it left me feeling gutted by what feels like an overwhelming truth: that chronic racism is one of mainstream Australian society’s intrinsic characteristics. Pre-Utopia, in my mind, overt racism was something of the past not the present. I now accept that I live in a country that has a gigantic blind spot about its deep-seated racism. If the first step towards fixing a problem is recognition that a problem exists, then the value of this documentary is inestimable. But only if it is seen widely so please gather up your friends and family and make a night of it.

Heed the messages

These days many Australians seem to use any excuse to enter into a public brawl rather than engage in constructive debate, which is why I can’t get rid of the niggling worry that many viewers won’t be affected by Utopia like I’ve been because of its polemic style. Filmmaker John Pilger is an indisputably fearless, award-winning journalist who has spent his career tackling important issues, but his take-no-prisoners style and the sarcasm that particularly surfaces during his interviews with politicians, may make some viewers retaliate in kind. (Personally I think his attitude is understandable given that he believes things have worsened since he made The Secret Country, which had similar themes, in 1985.) My main point is this: please engage with the message not the nature of its presentation.

Take the advice of Adam Goodes

If I’ve not convinced you to watch Utopia, please read this. It is a response to the documentary by Australian of the Year, AFL player for the Sydney Swans and Andyamathanha/Narungga man Adam Goodes. He says the film should be required viewing for every Australian.



Watch 'Utopia'

Monday 25 May, 9:00pm on NITV (repeats Tuesday 26 May, 10:30am & Thursday 28 May, 12:00pm)
Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand

Australia, 2013
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: John Pilger
What's it about?
This controversial documentary film by acclaimed filmmaker John Pilger draws on his long association with Indigenous Australians; an investigation into Australia's colonial past and wealthy present, setting out to break the stereotypes of the first people of Australia. Utopia is both a personal journey and a universal story of power and resistance, of how modern societies can be divided between those who conform and the dystopian world of those who do not. 

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