Bra Boys Practice Essay
Documentaries reinforce or criticise dominant representations of groups in society. Discuss in relation to a documentary you have studied. Images are a complex communication tool – the intention of the creator and the interpretation of the viewer may not be harmonizing. While Bra Boys seeks to criticise their infamous reputation as an anti-social and law-breaking gang, the construction of the documentary has reinforced that dominant representation of the surf group. Sunny Abberton’s documentary of dissent, Bra Boys (2007) is constructed to critique the dominant representation of the notorious societal group – “Bra Boys” by telling the story from the point of view directly from the underbelly of Maroubra itself. The documentary attempts to utilise viewing conventions of selection of detail, symbolism and audio codes to portray “Bra Boys” as a constructive support framework of surfers but with deeper analysis, there is evidence that those codes effectively does both- reinforces and critiques the dominant representation of the surf gang. This is most evident in the retelling of the brawl between the “Bra Boys” and the police force.
Abberton attempts to reconstruct the “true story” behind a pivotal event that played a large influence on the representation of the “Bra Boys” as a law-breaking, violent group with the use of first-hand interviews. The fight between the police and the “Bra Boys” on 22nd December 2002 was one of the breaking points in the historical resentment between the authorities and the surfers and created a wave of negative attention towards the “Bra Boys” as the instigators of the fight. Abberton has the intention to shed light on this event to critique the public’s perception of the group. To create the illusion that the documentary is presenting both sides of the argument and presenting pure factual information about the event, Abberton chooses to include both the police recount and the “Bra Boys” recount. However, there was only a snippet of the police officer explaining the story to the media and the focus was mainly on a “Bra Boy” version of the story. “We get labelled a gang but there wasn’t one gun pull, knife pull – it was just a good old fashioned brawl. The only way we could get out of it was to fight; there was no other way out of it – just to fight.” This inclusion of the “Bra Boy” version of events is to clearly justify their misdemeanour and actions that we harshly judged by the public who made the impression that the “Bra Boys” were the trouble-makers in their society. The footage played was of the police officers arresting members of the “Bra Boys” and shoving them into the police van. By portraying the police officers as the people with the power in this situation –as the members of the “Bra Boys” were under their control, this contributes to the developing image of the “Bra Boys” as victims of the society. Abberton made a deliberate decision to include both the bias interview and the footage of the police arresting the gang members in order to persuade the viewer that the “Bra Boys” did not do anything illegal and that they were actually the victims in this situation, contrary to the public’s perception. The dominant viewer would accept this appeal to change the perception of “Bra Boys” as the antagonists on the basis that the “Bra Boys” were the victims – “they say we got off scot-free, but people had to lose their deposits on their home loans - $30,000 to go to court.” This argument is valid and clearly told the story from the point of view of the “Bra Boys” who suffered the consequences put on them by the authorities, however, this does not deter from the fact that this recount did reinforce the public’s view that the “Bra Boys” are law-breakers. The “Bra Boy” said that “there was no way out of it, except to fight” – this way of thinking speaks volumes about their attitudes towards confrontational situations. Instead of advocating for the use of discussion and...
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