Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Picnic in Australia

I've been watching the Picnic at Hanging Rocking miniseries.

It's getting fairly low ratings on IMDb. But I don't mind it so much.

It's melodramatic and kind of gothic. It reminds me of a V.C. Andrews novel. Although I don't think there has been any incest yet.

I'm not sure how faithful it is to Joan Lindsay's original novel. I don't think I ever read that. Though sadly I'm not 100% sure. I might have read it and forgotten. I DO know that I read a sequel written by Michael Fuery.

I'm pretty sure I haven't seen the original movie, but I have seen clips from it.

I actually had the original movie on my watch-list. I put it on a few years ago, because it was on Hulu...or Netflix.  But now it's gone. So I decided to try the miniseries instead.

I'm wondering what characters from the miniseries are also in the original book and movie.

For example, Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones plays the abusive headmistress Mrs. Appleyard.  I'm not sure yet if Mrs. Appleyard is a-bit-too-strict abusive or mentally-unstable abusive. She's not very nice. That's for sure.

I'm looking at the movie cast list now. It does have a Mrs. Appleyard, played by an actress named Rachel Roberts. Like Dormer, she's British.

Outside of Dormer, I think most of the actors in the miniseries are Australian. I wonder if it's the same for the movie.


Both Miranda's are Australian (Anne-Louise Lambert and Lily Sullivan)

And Both Edith's are Australian (Christine Schuler and Ruby Rees).

To me, those are the most memorable characters.

I remember them from the clips I've seen. Because it's Edith that calls out frantically, Miranda!!!!

Right now I'm in the middle of episode 3 of the miniseries, which is the halfway point of the miniseries. The girls have been missing for 9 days, but Irma Leopold (Samara Weaving) was found. I wonder if the same thing happened in the book/movie.

I'm also wondering what's going to happen in the final 3 episodes. Since it's not a long novel and about a 2 hour movie, I'm guessing the writers of the miniseries are adding their own ideas.

I remember reading that there was a controversial last chapter of Joan Lindsay's novel and that the last novel explained away the mystery. I wonder if the miniseries is going to use that.

Well...I'm going to Google to make sure I'm remembering that right.

Okay. According to Lord Wiki, Joan Lindsay solved the mystery at the end of her novel in the last  chapter. Her editor persuaded her to take it out. I guess she thought it was best to leave it open-ended. Then when Joan Lindsay died, the last chapter was published as a separate book.

In the finale, the girls all take off their corsets; enter a time warp; then disappear into the rock. BUT...not Irma. So I guess in the original book, she does return.

Wow. So now I'm reading that there's a whole campaign to end Picnic at Hanging Rock tourism.  There's controversy because people are ignoring the older Aboriginal history and giving the majority of their attention to the fictional lost girls instead. People will climb on the rock and scream, Miranda!

At this point, I don't think I'm on the side of the campaign.

I think movie/tv/book tourism is a pretty big thing. And all those places are going to have a history beyond being a setting for a fictional story.

I'm sure Dubrovnik, Croatia had historical things happening before it became King's Landing.

I'm sure Georgia had things happening before it was overflowing with zombies.

I think a few things happened in England before Harry Potter came along.

My feeling is to accept the tourist's love for a fictional story and then use that opportunity to teach them about the other stuff. Hey I know you're here to try to find Miranda. But while you're here, how about learning about the Aboriginal history.

Although now I just reread (more carefully) what Lord Wiki is saying.

I think the problem is that the site itself pushes the Picnic at Hanging Rock aspects. There's a statue of Miranda. And I personally think the statue is fine. But if it's not balanced enough, maybe they should work on that.

Now I'm looking at the campaign website. It's actually called MIRANDA MUST GO. That's kind of extreme. How about instead, MIRANDA NEEDS TO SHARE.

Reading over some of the website, I think there are two grievances. A) White lives are emphasized over black lives. B) Fictional lives are emphasized over real ones.

I'm totally on board with the first. Our society sadly seems to be more interested in what happens to white people than they do brown or black people. But I'm hoping that's changing.

As a lover of fiction, I'm totally NOT on board with the latter complaint. I think fictional people do matter. Why? I'm not sure.

I guess just because I love fiction.

And it's cultural.

White people came to Australia and did horrible things to black people that should never be forgotten and can never truly be forgiven. But I wouldn't include adding to Australia's mythology as one of the atrocities.

Black Australians have a mythology that goes back thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousand, etc. of years. Then white people came along and added their own mythologies.

If the white mythologies erase or overshadow the black mythologies, that IS an atrocity. But as long as both mythologies are honored and treasured, I think it's fine.

One of the big things of the Miranda Must Go website is the white-vanishing-myth.Supposidly, that's a thing?

Well, I was just thinking that if it IS a big thing, it could be offensive in that although white people do sometimes disappear, black people have done much more disappearing. White government officials actually stole black children from their families. These children disappeared from their families, their cultures, and their communities.

I think if people go beyond enjoying the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock and actually believe white people are in greater danger from vanishing; then, yeah, I would think they're ignorant and racist.

Now I'm going to look at Hanging Rock tourism websites and see if they neglect Aboriginal history.

The Visit Melbourne site has a whole page about the new miniseries and doesn't say one thing about Aboriginal least not on this particular page.  The page itself is titled "Picnic at Hanging Rock".

They also have a page about Woodend, where the Hanging Rock resides. This page talks about Picnic at Hanging Rock. It says nothing about Aboriginal history.

This website for the Macedon Ranges talks about Picnic at Hanging Rock, but they at least mention that there is Aboriginal history there. And they also talk about geology, flora, fauna, and non-Joan Lindsay/Peter Weir events.

Here's yet another tourism website. They emphasis Picnic at Hanging Rock and do not mention Aboriginal Australians...well, at least not on the page about Hanging Rock.


I do think the anti-Miranda grievances are partly valid. I think more attention should be given to Aboriginal Australians and their history regarding the area.  But I think Miranda Must Go is too extreme.  For example, their website says "Remove the White Vanishing Myth". How about just reducing the myth? Or how about giving more attention to Aboriginal history and mythology?

I was about to end this post; then realized I would be adding to the problem if I don't actually take the time to learn about the Aboriginal history around the rock.

The anti-Miranda site says that the Aboriginal people in the area were killed by smallpox and murdered by white settlers. The survivors of the disease and atrocities were relocated to a reserve in Healesville.

There are three groups that have their traditional boundaries near the rock—Wurundjeri, Taungorong, and Djadja Wurrung.  I think I've maybe heard of the Wurundjeri people before. It sounds very familar.

The anti-Miranda site says that because of white colonization, a lot of history has been lost and/or muddled.  Despite attempts, there hasn't been firm consensus on the original name of the rock.

I'm looking up the Wurundjeri people now.

Lord Wiki lists places that are important to them.

I don't see Hanging Rock, Woodend, or Macedon Ranges on the list. Is the Miranda Must Go website over-emphasizing the importance of Hanging Rock to the Wurundjeri people?

Or is Lord Wiki ignorant about the history, because he too has been brained washed by the white vanishing myth?

Now I'm going to read an interview of Amy Spiers, an artist, who is the leader of the Miranda Must Go campaign.

Spiers says: A history of dispossession and violent colonial occupation has resulted in the severe disruption to Aboriginal presence and a loss of indigenous cultural knowledge in the Hanging Rock region. Yet this troubling past, and its present consequences, are cursorily mentioned or actively ignored in the historical information provided about Hanging Rock.

Yeah. From what I saw on the tourism websites, I can definitely agree with her.

Spiers talks about Black Lives Matter and removing statues and flags that honor racist and harmful white people.  I'm on board with that. But those are real people who caused real harm. For me, it's too much to go after some fictional young school girls whose biggest crime was vanishing on a school field trip.

Spiers says, When I hear non-Aboriginal people say that we can have both stories – Joan Lindsay’s novel and Aboriginal history – it is sounds remarkably like the #AllLivesMatter argument.


I personally think there is a huge difference.

As far as I know, Black Lives Matter doesn't say things like White people must go! or Remove White People!

White racist people make those inferences themselves so they can play victim...and so they can play the game of being racist while trying to claim they're not racist.

Pushing for people and/or a cause to be recognized does not usually equal trying to diminish something else.

What's that saying....

Just because you're trying to save the whales, it doesn't mean you are saying fuck the dolphins.

But Amy Spier's campaign IS kind of saying Fuck the Dolphins. I mean not literally. She probably loves dolphins.

If someone had a website that said, Fuck the dolphins, we're not doing enough to save the whales, would it be so awful for someone to speak in defense of the dolphins?  But if someone went to a basic save the whales website and started saying dolphins matter too; then yeah. I think that would resemble the All Lives Matter group.

It's funny. I was missing writing about Australia and thought I could maybe write about the miniseries I was watching.

I worried I wouldn't have much to say. I kind of pictured writing a few sentences; then having nothing left to write.


I did greatly enjoy writing this post, though.

I hope to do more Australia stuff.

I'm not going to back to having an Australia blog, but I don't want to have a Not-Australia blog.  So maybe I'll try to more Australia-research posts in the future.