O’Dowd’s image is front and centre, in full colour, while the women – played by Deborah RaMailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell – provide a muted blue-toned backdrop.
London-based American blogger MaryAnn Johanson wrote on her site flickfilosopher.com on Tuesday that the artwork “is a problem”, suggesting Anchor Bay had both “dick-washed and whitewashed The Sapphires”.
“The women are Aborigines,” she wrote. “They are black black black black blackety-black black. Not blue. Oh, and they’re women.”
The post was read by 24-year-old Melbourne climate change activist Lucy Manne, who started a petition on change.org to try to convince Anchor Bay to change the artwork.
“This is a film about four Aboriginal women who battle against sexism and racism in the 1960s. Now we’ve got a DVD cover that is both sexist and racist – it’s the antithesis of what the film is about,” Ms Manne told Fairfax on Friday.
She hopes to convince the distributor to apologise and to change the artwork before next week’s release, or at least to issue it with alternative artwork soon after.
Her petition went live about 7pm on Thursday and by 6pm Friday had attracted 700 supporters. Chris O’Dowd was not among them, but the actor whose star is very much on the rise thanks to the commercial success of Bridesmaids has already made his feelings clear.
Asked his view of the artwork on Wednesday by Australian writer and filmmaker Briony Kidd via twitter, he responded “yup, that’s pretty vile. Certainly not my choice”.
– “Furore Over ‘Sexist, Racist’ Saphires DVD Cover for US Release,” by Karl Quinn via, The Age
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