It's an absolute delight to welcome Lily Malone to my blog today.
I've only recently read her book "The Goodbye Ride" and can honestly say it's been one of the best reads this year. It tackles issues of today's society with subtlety and wit, without losing the sincerity of her words. And yes, I have learnt a bit more Aussie slang!
PS - And doesn't she look great with that pink beanie !
Casual comment cuts too close to the bone
A few weeks ago in Australia there was an outcry over an alleged comment made by a 13-year-old girl to one of our country’s star Australian Rules’ football players, Adam Goodes, during a game between Sydney Swans and Colllingwood. The girl was in the crowd. The news stories I’ve seen reported that she called Goodes an ‘Ape’...
Adam Goodes is an Indigenous (Aboriginal) player, and one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game, winning two Brownlow medals. (For any international readers, it is the equivalent of being named MVP in the National Basketball League...)
This incident has been on my mind in recent weeks because of the term that arose out of it: ‘Casual Racism’, and because of a scene in my new novella, The Goodbye Ride.
As I understand it, ‘casual racism’ infers: that people have grown so accustomed to racist/discriminatory language in everyday life; at school, at barbecues, in shopping centres, on sporting grounds, in our homes; that they no longer consider the use of these words as being actively racist (or sexist or whatever). People using these terms don’t consider them to be deliberately offensive, and/or don’t recognise how hurtful they are to the marginalised people/person.
You might remember a few years back, when golden girl swimmer, Stephanie Rice, sent a tweet after a winning Wallabies’ rugby game along the line of “suck on that faggots”. That caused similar outrage at the time.
Why do I raise this on Iris Blobel’s blog? (You won’t ask me back again will you Iris!?)
Well... Iris invited me to write about my new novella The Goodbye Ride, and, seeing as Iris is one of my football-loving writer mates (have you been following her AFL TuesdayTales?) it seemed like a great opportunity to kick this thought around (pardon the pun).
The Goodbye Ride has a scene where a secondary character (Mark) is watching an AFL game on football. Like thousands of AFL fans, Mark gets rather passionate watching his team, and when his team is losing, he also gets abusive.
My husband said to me (after he read The Goodbye Ride) “I don’t sound like that when I’m watching the Adelaide Crows, do I?”
“No dear...” I fobbed him off... but the truth is - yes - my hubby does yell at the television during football games, when the Crows play badly he’s like a bear with a sore head. I don’t think he’d use the term ‘playing like a bunch of faggots’ but he might say “you’re tackling like a girl”... which in its own way is just as bad! Give me long enough to dwell on that and I might get offended...
This is an excerpt:
“Aw fuck, Crows!” The shout erupted from the hall, making Liv jump. The football game volume cranked up a notch.
“The day my brother died–”
“Christ! Tackle like you mean it Crows. You’re playing like a bunch of faggots!” Mark roared.
Liv pushed her plate across the table hard enough to make Owen thrust out his hand to stop it bull-dozing his juice. Her half-eaten sandwich bumped and skidded off the plate and she was on her feet, hands balled into fists.
From the hall, the television coverage cut to the upbeat jingle of a burger chain advert.
“I hate the word faggots,” she said.
“Mark doesn’t mean anything by it.”
Liv’s chin came up. “The minority get heard when the majority stay silent, Owen. It happens all over the world. It happens every second of every day.”
And this is another side to ‘casual racism’. People are so accustomed to the use of this language, they excuse those who use it (like Owen does in The Goodbye Ride) with “he didn’t mean anything by it.”
I didn’t mean to make the character of Mark deliberately sexist or racist. I did set out to make him a typical 20-something country Aussie bloke in a football-mad part of Australia... and I used him to counterpoint a more sensitive side to Owen.
But Mark was so easy for me to write! What does that say about me and the people I hang out with? Is it characterisation by osmosis?
In the book, Olivia reacts to Mark’s use of the word ‘faggot’ and calls him out. Would I do that? Would you?
Since the football incident, I’ve felt like there’s a social comment in The Goodbye Ride that I never intended to make. A casual social comment if you like.
Have you had a writing moment like that?
You can find out more about Lily Malone on her Facebook page,
or at her blog,
Or at twitter, @lily_lilymalone
The Goodbye Ride is available exclusively at Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/The-Goodbye-Ride-ebook/dp/B00CV2MGCK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371348141&sr=8-1&keywords=lily+malone+-+the+goodbye+ride