why has Anchor Bay dick-washed and whitewashed The Sapphires? (final? update)

UPDATE: I’ve closed comments on this because it’s now doing nothing but bring out trolls.

UPDATE later Tuesday: I make CNN, in a post with the charming headline “Racist, or good marketing?”… cuz really, which is more important? They name me and quote me but don’t link to me. Gee, thanks. And for sanity’s sake, do not read the comments. You’ll need a toothbrush to the brain.

UPDATE Tuesday: Anchor Bay has responded. From Australia’s The Age:

The American distributor of The Sapphires DVD has apologised for causing offence with its choice of cover, and has offered to rethink the artwork for future editions of the film.

In a short statement, distributor Anchor Bay said it “regrets any unintentional upset caused by the upcoming US DVD release of The Sapphires”.

It added that “new cover art is being considered for future replenishment orders”.

That would require, of course, that the initial run sells out.

previous Aug 2 2013

UPDATE Friday: The Australian Daily Telegraph has an article about this issue without mentioning how it learned about it — that is, this very post at FlickFilosopher.com. How do I know they learned of it here? Because they quote commenter singlestick without attributing it at all. Here’s a screengrab (in case they change it):


Compare with singlestick’s comment.

Not cool, Telegraph. Totally not cool.

UPDATE 2 Friday: Great. The newspaper The Australian also neglects to mention where this story originated.

UPDATE 3 Friday: And a thank-you to the Australian paper The Age, which does credit its sources.

previous Jul 30 2013

The Sapphires — out on DVD in the U.S. and Canada next week — is fantastic. It really is. It is pure cinematic joy. You will love it.

But it is not, as DVD distributor Anchor Bay would have you believe, the story of a white man and his blue-monotone backup singers. It simply isn’t. So what the hell is this on the Region 1 cover?


The Sapphires is the story of four young Australian women who form a singing group and travel to Vietnam in the 1960s to entertain the American troops there. Their new manager, who is along for the ride, is indeed a white man. The women are Aborigines. They are black black black black blackety-black black. Not blue. Oh, and they’re women. And this is their story. It’s even a true story.

I adore Chris O’Dowd. And he’s even more wonderful in this movie than he has been in the past. I have nothing against him, at all. (I shouldn’t even need to say this, because it’s completely irrelevant to this matter, but I’m heading off some potential complaints about my complaining.) But the most you can say about his character here is that he is part of an ensemble. He is not the lead character. And he is outweighed in that ensemble by four nonwhite women. So why are they shoved into the background, the color of their skin disguised by that blue monotone?

This is a problem.

Movies about women are rare enough. Movies about black women are even rarer. And now we’re gonna pretend the movies about women, whatever their color, aren’t even about them at all?

UPDATE: Reader Lucy has posted a petition at Change.org to ask Anchor Bay to change the cover. With the Region 1 DVD releasing next week, it’s probably too late at this point to have the desired impact (though future editions could conceivably get a new cover), but it’s still worth letting them know that this is a problem and how unhappy we are about it.

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