News

Grants

Community

What's On

Romper Stomper

Raphael Solarsh

A disquieting television reprisal that has life imitating art imitating life in a story of modern identity, anger and fear.
Romper Stomper

Image: Romper Stomper on Stan.

Whether it’s a grainy video of Sam Dastyari being racially abused in a pub or mob of tiki-torch wielding alt-righters openly shouting Nazi slogans on a university campus, the presence and confidence of racist opinions is alarming. As are the violent clashes with opposing groups that often follow. Worse, nationalist groups are being openly embraced by people who seek to profit off this growing constituency that has little regard for truth that doesn’t accord with their ideological point of view. When Romper Stomper was first released in 1992 it was about a desperate, rag-tag bunch of thugs who made no pretense of these beliefs and where they came from. In 2018, a new Romper Stomper will arrive on screens via a six-part miniseries on Stan, a Romper Stomper that has replaced the swastika with the southern cross and now, armed with a new politically correct racism the threat is far greater.

The new Romper Stomper introduces us to a broad suite of new characters. From the boys of Patriot Blue, a United Patriots Front-esque, anti-muslim, anti-immigrant collection of angry white suburbans to Anti-fash, the anarchist uni-students and their allies modelled very much on Antifa. Circulating through the warring sides is Leila, a outspoken muslim student who gets caught in the middle, Jago, an Andrew Bolt or Paul Murray-esque talking head and the much older but still white-haired Gabe. It’s hardly a stretch from what can be seen on the news, fake or otherwise, which is deeply unsettling. So the question presents itself, what is the new Romper Stomper really saying?

Based on the first two episodes, that it’s not afraid to examine the depths of unpleasant characters or avoid making a naked political point, although that may very well come. That’s a brave move considering that in these partisan times, a middle ground or even a point of view capable of more than a single perspective is a rare and often unpopular position. To call the show middle-of-the-road would be inaccurate too. There is conflict and plenty of it and the early episodes have laid out no shortage of options for the story to take.

This is a timely production that tackles difficult issues head on. It’s hard to say at this early stage whether what it will say about those issues will inflame or inform but it will certainly get a conversation going. David Stratton refused to rate the original on the basis that it glorified its protagonists and their way of life but there doesn’t seem to be the same risk for Romper Stomper 2018. A talented cast has assembled and appears keen to take on the challenge. How the new series is received will be a fascinating way to begin 2018.   

4 out of 5 stars

Romper Stomper

Premiering on Stan on 1 January 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at raphaelsolarsh.com and tweets @RS_IndiLit.

Share