On Dennis’s Work of Art

Book chapter abstract – to be written over the next two months or so…(I hope)

‘Documentary Provocations: Dennis O’Rourke’s Sex Tourism Revisited’

‘I would not recommend that movie as an educational tool’
– Thelma Burgonio-Watson quoted in The Filmmaker and the Prostitute p 128

My proposed chapter revisits Denis O’Rourke’s 1992 ethnographic film
on sex tourism in Thailand. “The Good Woman of Bangkok” is examined in
the light of increased, or at least differently inflected, media
reportage of sex tourists in Asia (cf Gary Glitter in Cambodia and
Vietnam; the controversies over US military personnel in Japan; the
closure of the Subic Bay base in the Philippines). What was O’Rourke
trying to achieve with this film with its ‘Brechtian’ cinematic
apparatus, its theoretical ambiguities, its intentionally provocative
staging? Are the ‘theoretical’ issues, as well as the moral(istic)
conundrums, insofar as O’Rourke was able to broach them, to be
evaluated differently now in changed ethico-political circumstances?
Or does sex tourism, and indeed travel-as-exploitation, continue as
‘business-as-usual’? As Jennie Martin wrote about the film’s
characters: ‘it is the western working class which inherits the role of
colonial rapist’ (Martin 1992 ‘Missionary Positions’ Australian Left
Review, May). Does this position remain valid in response to
O’Rourke’s nuanced argument, or has the subtlety of his theoretical
arabesque always been inappropriate, given the structural conditions
in which the filming, and the treatment of the issues, had to be
played out?

The chapter also takes into account use of the film as a ‘teaching
tool’, in Gayatri Spivak’s sense, in over ten years of Anthropology
classes, suggesting that difficult material can, and in some ways
cannot, provide educational and ethical ‘instruction’.




Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by armed police inside Stockwell Tube station on 22 July. His execution brought world-wide attention to a shoot to kill policy that the Prime Minster and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner say is here to stay. We say ‘NO SHOOT TO KILL’ and demand an end to this brutal policy. Jean Charles was not the first victim of police shootings – Derek Bennett, Azelle Rodney, Harry Stanley and James Ashley are just some of the other people that have been shot dead on the streets of Britain. Their families continue to fight for justice. If you want to support these families. If you want to see those responsible for these killings prosecuted. If you want to defend human rights in the UK then support this campaign.

The so called ‘War on Terror’ is being used as an excuse for increasing militarisation of the police and increased powers that are already leading to miscarriages of justice. If we do not take a stand on this issue now then others will suffer. Support and join the ‘NO SHOOT TO KILL’ campaign before it is too late.”

Our demands are:


The NO SHOOT TO KILL campaign is led by the United Families & Friends Campaign (the national coalition of death in custody family campaigns including those above) and supported by Migrant Media, The 1990 Trust, CAMPACC, CEART, Stop Political Terror, Churches Commission for Racial Justice, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Pat Finucane Centre, African Peoples Liberation Organisation, INQUEST, Newham Monitoring Project, FAST and Mother Against Gun Crime, Black Londoners Forum, Jean Lambert (London’s Green MEP).

If you want to support the campaign then sign up to this statement by emailing: info@injusticefilm.co.uk


Google Mail – Land Mines A Love Story wins Best Documentary at the AFI Awards!

Land Mines – A Love Story by the acclaimed Australian director Dennis O’Rourke, has just won the award for ‘Best Documentary’ at the prestigious 2005 Australian Film Institute Awards! The film is a compelling anti-war film set in Afghanistan, a country that has become synonymous with conflict. It is also a story of romance and a celebration of life, hope and love.

Land Mines – A Love Story is now available on DVD through Ronin Films. If you are interested in screening the film or purchasing a DVD copy of the film please contact Ronin Films:

Email: orders@roninfilms.com.au

Phone on: +61 2 6248 0851

Or visit the direct link on Ronin Film’s website: http://www.roninfilms.com.au/video/1887017/0/2411726459.html

Please also visit the official Land Mines – A Love Story website and help spread the word about the film by signing up to our mailing list or participating in grassroots activities: http://www.landmines-a-love-story.comhttp://www.landmines-a-love-story.com/grassroots.html


Mike Crang has been consistently sharp, so I like his stuff… He writes:

“However, we also need to inject some dynamism here – the tourist is not just someone who has a particular cultural baggage or who responds to a given culture of a destination. These two elements are mutually constituting, and from this it follows that both place and person may change, and change the other. For instance, rumours help shape expectations of visitors (Hutnyk, 1996; O’Hara, 2001) circulating, not just in a one-way street from marketers to audience, but among tourists, as in Hutnyk’s description of ‘the endless flow of indo-babble’ (p. 145) about stories told about going to India, having been to India, and so forth.”

from: Crang, Dr Michael (2004) Cultural geographies of tourism, in Lew, Alan and Hall, C Michael and Williams, Allan, Eds. A companion to tourism, pages 74-84. Blackwell.

A Johnson minds his own business

Meant to put this up days ago since I got it from Carrie.

Watch William S. Burroughs Thanksgiving Prayer, November 28, 1986 (courtesy of Gus Van Sant):



Mobs, Gangs, Rogues… & The Lumpen

As we approach the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the BPP it may be worth remembering that music and politics produced some fine and dandy sounds: Here they are (click the link) The Lumpen – a Black Panther Party Revolutionary Singing group

The Lumpen were: “comrades who liked to harmonize while working Distribution night in San Francisco to “help the work go easier” (another tradition). We had all sung in groups in the past, Calhoun having performed professionally in Las Vegas, and it just came naturally. I don’t remember just how it came about, but Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, suggested that this could be formed into a musical cadre. Elaine Brown had already recorded an album of revolutionary songs (Seize the Time) in a folk singing style, and this quartet singing in an R&B or “Soul” form could be a useful political tool. Some folks don’t read, but everybody listens to music”.