Is the cover art for the U.S. version of "The Sapphires" DVD racist? That's the question being raised by critics and the real-life inspirations for the movie, about an all-Aboriginal Australian girl group that entertained troops in Vietnam in the 1960s.
While the women are the stars of the film, the U.S. DVD art suggests that their white manager, played by Chris O'Dowd, is actually the lead. The image features O'Dowd front and center, in full-color, while the four female singers -- played by Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, and Miranda Tapsell -- are superimposed in the background in a blue hue, making them appear to be O'Dowd's supporting players.
The movie documents how the Sapphires frequently encountered racism and sexism on their road to stardom, and O'Dowd's prominent cover treatment (he's also the only actor billed in the artwork) has many people claiming that those prejudices are once again at play.
Australian news agencies have reported that one of the four women on whom the movie is based (and the mother of the movie's screenwriter) wrote a letter of complaint to the NAACP, while a Change.org petition asking DVD distributor Anchor Bay Entertainment to alter the image has received more than 10,000 signatures. In a tweet he later deleted, O'Dowd described the image as "ridiculous, it's misleading, it's ill-judged, insensitive and everything the film wasn't."
In response to the uproar, Anchor Bay issued a statement saying the company "regrets any unintentional upset" the image has caused. The company added that "new cover art is being considered for future replenishment orders."
[via The Dissolve, Associated Press]