Culture

“We Have To Get Better”: Australia Reacts To Adam Goodes Documentary, ‘The Final Quarter’

"It’s now time for some self examination and fresh conversation."

The Final Quarter: twitter reacts to moving Adam Goodes doco

Almost half a million Australians tuned in to Channel 10 last night to watch The Final Quarter, Ian Darling’s documentary about AFL legend and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, who spent the last three years of his career booed by the public and demonised by the wider media for daring to be a proud Adnyamathanha and Narungga man.

Composed entirely of archival footage, the documentary combines match-day footage with clips from news broadcasts, press conferences and AFL panel shows, as well as incorporating article headlines and quotes, and snippets of talkback radio.

In 2013, Goodes pointed security at an AFL match towards a 13-year-old girl after she called him an ‘ape’ from the crowd, to which conservative commentators called bullying on Goodes’ part.

After becoming heavily involved in anti-racism campaign #ItStopsWithMe, Goodes was repeatedly admonished by media commentators such as Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones for ‘calling everything racist’. Backlash swelled,  with Goodes being booed at every single AFL game he played before retiring in 2015 — avoiding any public farewell in the process.

In our review, we called The Final Quarter “a painful reminder of the racism beating at the heart of Australia”, one which is incredibly potent whether you love AFL or still call it sports-ball.

Watching The Final Quarter, we see how Goodes’ words and actions simply did not match up with the way many conservative pundits and sports commentators displayed them — regularly displaying a level-headedness which many viewers were astounded by.

Viewers were particularly taken back by segments with The Footy Show‘s Sam Newman, who opens the doco with a furious rant where he says “people are not booing you, Adam, because you’re an Aboriginal. They’re booing you because you’re acting like a jerk”. In the ’90s, Newman wore blackface on the show to imitate Nicky Winmar, an Indigenous AFL player who also stood up to racist jeers from crowds.

Channel 10 followed the documentary with a panel discussion led by The Project‘s Waleed Aly, which saw may former AFL players express their own regret for not speaking up. In one moment, AFL legend and Kokatha man Gavin Wanganeen described his own surprise in watching back the three years, and realising how “alone” Goodes was.

You can watch The Final Quarter online at 10PLAY. The film is also available to schools and sporting clubs for free if they sign up here.

Another documentary on Goodes, The Australian Dream, will premiere at MIFF this August, produced and written by Stan Grant and featuring interviews with Goodes. The two films are not directly linked, but work as companion pieces, with the latter following Goodes’ life during and after the saga.