‘The Bra Boys’
The ‘Bra Boys’ directed by Sunny Abberton, sets out to explain the story of the Bra Boys and their connection to Maroubra and each other. The documentary shows the audience how they feel connected to the suburb, the self culture, the ocean and the group.
The Bra Boys relate themselves to a tribe that embodies mateship, honour and loyalty to all members. Each member is renowned with a Bra Boys tattoo to identify him as part of the group. Their sense of belonging relates to Maroubra beach, surfing and each other. Throughout the documentary Koby, one of the ring leaders, is filmed shirtless, so that the tattoo is constantly in view and a reminder of his link to the group. ‘Localism’ is a term used to refer to the group’s attitude “surfers have grown up in their tribes. The tribe over the hill is the enemy”. The Bra Boys seek acceptance and safety in their groups. A parallel can be drawn with Billy’s group with Old Bill and Caitlin who search for the same acceptance.
A common link of belonging between many of the Bra Boys is a disadvantaged home life. This also relates to Billy Luckett in ‘The Simple Gift’ with his disadvantaged home life with an abusive father. Koby reveals that his mother is a heroin addict and her boyfriend is a bank robber. Koby mentions the day his mother’s boyfriend threatened him and told him to leave the house “from that day forward family life finished, but you will always have the boys”. The ‘boys’ refers to his brothers and wider kinship of the Bra boys. Ma is the grandmother of the Abberton boys but she is also a surrogate mother for the rest of the group. Ma takes care of everybody whose house is the only real structure the boys have. A strong sense of belonging is shown here through family bond and the community relationship. Ma can be contrasted with Old Bill who takes on a similar role taking care of Billy and Caitlin.
The documentary makes use of individual narratives from members of the group. They construct a shared identity through stories about violence. Camera conventions such as close-up shots, extreme close-ups, low angle shots, mid shots and vertical vectors convey the strong connection between the boys and Maroubra and the sense of belonging evident within the group. Close-up shots are utilised when one member is recounting history to audience’s attention. Extreme close-ups are used frequently on the Abberton brothers during their battle with the justice system. This is used effectively which demands the audience’s empathy. Low shots are used to single out the Abberton brothers and show them in a place of power with mid shots used to show the rest of the tribe to give a sense of equality between members of the tribe. Vertical vectors in the urban landscape suggest power, diminishing the personal power of the boys. The Bra Boys belong to the beach with curved vectors along the waves suggesting an organic environment.
Belonging to the ocean and pushing the limits while surfing is a core idea for the Bra Boys. They encourage each other to surf dangerous waves and the younger crowd of affiliates is influenced by the older group. Through this example belonging is effectively conveyed among the group. A direct link can be made to ‘The Simple Gift’ were Billy feels connected to the area of Benderat.
The Area of Study: Belonging
‘The Island’ by Armin Greder, is a picture book that represents issues such as what it is like to not belong and to feel isolated, and the human need to categorise people. The text can represent and cultural divide and includes social issues from all communities. The book suggests Christian symbolism and ideas of sharing, caring for those less fortunate and wanting a clear conscience, but also predominately features bullying, segregation and keeping something out of sight and mind.
The text and image on the front cover create a feeling of alienation for the rest of the world. The...