One of the most eagerly anticipated Australian dramas to premiere in the new year was the TV sequel to the 1992 Australian film Romper Stomper. All 6 episodes were released on Australian streaming service Stan on New Year’s Day.
The original Romper Stomper film showed the exploits and downfall of a Neo-Nazi skinhead gang in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray as they fought Vietnamese immigrants who were starting businesses in the area.
It took its inspiration from the real-life neo-Nazis who in 1992 were using vigilantism to oppose Asian immigration into Australia’s cities. Based on the violence and criminal behaviour of this group of Nazis it is obvious why they went nowhere as political movement.
The new Romper Stomper is also based in the present-day but now focuses on the street conflict between nationalist/patriot groups and far left socialist groups over the issue of Muslim and African immigration.
The production of the series was met with suspicion from both sides portrayed in it. The nationalist movement believed it would be another media hatchet job designed to paint them as violent Nazis.
Those of the left accused Stan of exploiting racial hatred against Muslims for cheap entertainment. They also despised any attempt at humanising the nationalist movement expressed fear it could inspire more people to join such groups or provoke more anti-Muslim anti-immigrant sentiment.
The series overall provides good entertainment with plenty of different plot twists and character depth. But how realistic is the series in its depiction of both of these street movements?
The nationalist movement is not depicted engaging in the same insane levels of violence that the Nazis were in the original film. The nationalist organisation portrayed in the series Patriot Blue is seen to be well managed, well read in philosophy and Australian history and their leader Blake Farron runs a successful recycling business.
However, in the end in portrays them as ultimately driven by Nazism as in the third episode they visit one of the surviving neo-Nazis from the original film Magoo who has multiple Nazi flags at his rural property.
Although it cannot be denied that some members of the nationalist movement would have Nazi sympathies it is quite a slur to claim this is the mainstream view of most patriot activists.
Many are what is termed civic nationalists where it doesn’t matter what skin colour you are as long as you subscribe to Australian values. Even those who call themselves white nationalists do distance themselves from the eugenics and genocide of Nazism.
But the series does show a key difference between today’s nationalists and yesterday’s Nazis in the ways in which they go about achieving their goals. In the original Romper Stomper it was about using brute force, the nationalists in the present day are seeking to influence government policy through the existing political structures like any other lobby group.
This difference is demonstrated by how the new generation nationalist leader Kane reacts in horror when the original Romper Stomper Nazis plan to engage in an act of political terrorism and tries to find a way to stop it.
The nationalists are still shown engaging in fair amount of street vigilantism and unprovoked racial abuse through their night patrols, but are also shown caring for the homeless and other vulnerable members of the community.
The conservative media also has a presence in the new series with an Andrew Bolt style TV host Jago Zoric who champions the government’s proposed immigration reform bill which its exact details are unspecified, but it provides a central focus of the show’s plot.
Jago is seen to be more concerned with ratings and popularity and willing to stir up division in the community to achieve it, though someone like Andrew Bolt will tell you communicating conservative views and telling unpleasant truths in the media is not a ticket to glory at all.
The far-left activist group in the series Antifasc are seen to have lives that are consumed fighting who they view as the evillest people in Australian society. Most people who have been members of far-left groups will attest to their cult type inner workings of them.
They spend most of their days monitoring members of the nationalist movement and planning violent disruptions of any public events they hold. They have no hesitation in engaging in vandalism and property damage. They judge their success by views and reactions they receive on social media.
Muslims in the series are portrayed as the innocent victims caught in the crossfire of the battle between these two groups. Laila the main Muslim character and her male Muslim friends as seen as ordinary Australians.
During the series there is no Islamic terror attack that occurs or any terror plots that are uncovered by government agencies. None of the Muslim characters have any extremist tenancies nor are any of the other problems that occur within Islam such as their treatment of women, homosexuals and nonbelievers explored.
Africans are also seen as the victims of violent nationalists. Although two African youths do bash one of the Patriot Blue members, it presented as retribution for when they were prevented from entering a convenience store at night by the Patriot Blue night patrol who then smashed their car windows. Nothing is mentioned about the African youth gang crime wave which is currently sweeping Melbourne where the series is set.
The series does appear to communicate that the growing opposition in Australia to further immigration from Middle East and Africa stems from concerns that are made up out of thin air. Both the Patriot Blue and Antifasc are seen as hollow doomsday preachers while the rest of the nation’s population simply lives their lives.
While the series is not a complete smear against the nationalist movement in Australia it still fails to understand that they are a reaction to the problems that unchecked immigration has brought to Australia. Problems that our political leaders still are unwilling to address.
However, it is still a good work of what would be termed creative non-fiction which should keep audiences entertained. Though the viewer at home should do a bit more research if they want a proper understanding of why the present day nationalist movement has emerged and that their views are a lot more diverse than what a TV series will communicate.