Utopia is veteran and respected journalist John Pilger’s attempt to tell an extraordinary story, one hidden from the eyes of everyday Australians, of Australia’s first people. Pilger uses words like apartheid and hidden genocide to describe it. And the evidence he presents in this documentary is overwhelmingly convincing.
It’s difficult to do justice to this movie in hindsight through words alone. It’s the kind of documentary that any compassionate, aware and community-minded person in the world should see. Particularly Australians.
The documentary centres around a remote indigenous community called Utopia in the middle of the Australian outback. Although it is no coincidence that this ancestral land where these people have lived for the past 40,000 years is also heavily rich in minerals and oil that’s incredibly lucrative to the powers-that-be. And so the wheel turns and the machinations of power dictated that a reason needed to be concocted to remove these people from the land, permanently, to make way for the mining.
The former Australian (Howard) government made unfounded claims of pedophile ring existing in the Utopia community. Several in-depth independent investigations into these allegations concluded that they were completely groundless, absolving the local indigenous people of the accusations. But the damage in the media had already been done. And no media outlet published a retraction to immense public smear campaign against them.
Utopia is a story of centuries of intervention into Indigenous lives, of disenfranchisement and isolationism. Australia loves to lock people up, especially black and brown people – it’s deeply embedded into the culture and seems to be a hangover from being a penal colony. Australia also loves to implement policies over half a century to literally ‘breed out the black’ of half-Indigenous children. Giving hundreds of thousands of these kids over to white families without permission from their birth families.
It’s the shameful story of how governments and land and resource-hungry companies have dictated the common discourse of Australia on Indigenous people. This means that there has never been a formal apology for centuries of murder, rape, the removal of land and the removal of children from remote Indigenous communities. The reason is obvious – to apologise would be tantamount to admitting that access to the land – so rich in the resources that make Australia fiscally strong, would be compromised.
Anyway I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Australia is a wonderful country if you aren’t Indigenous. It’s wealthy, full of opportunity. This documentary is a real hidden story of what is happening hundreds of thousands of miles from comfortably middle-class Australia.