Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story
Kangaroo Dundee, Tim Flannery, Peter Singer, Terri Irwin
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…a well-made and emotive film…
Kangaroos are a national icon. They’re a symbolic part of airlines, sports teams, assurances of quality and, sadly, that Kangaroo Jack film. They hold such a place in the nation’s heart, it can be surprising to some, particularly to those overseas, as to how hated they are as well.
Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is ostensibly about why Skippy stirs up such a dichotomy of emotions. Fighting for the rights of ‘roos are the likes of Mike Pearson, NSW counsellor for the Animal Justice Party, and environmentalist, Tim Flannery. Believing kangaroos to be nothing but pest are farmers and National Party members. Rather than simply being a knockabout talking heads doco allowing both sides to air their praise or grievances, Kangaroo takes a darker route and quickly evolves into something much more political.
Filmmakers Michael McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere (Yogawoman) set their sights on the culling of Kangaroos and how, despite a strict federal code, corners are being cut to meet the demand of food and clothes companies here and overseas. The evidence they provide can be alarming and if Wake in Fright’s culling scene stirred something in you, footage of joeys being torn from mothers and dismembered carcasses spread across fields is really going to fire you up. Kangaroo takes an eyes-on-the-ground approach by talking to the likes of a Blue Mountains landowner who has kangaroos being hunted on her grounds without her permission, due to a law that states licensed shooters can access neighbouring property to do so. It’s completely understandable the filmmakers are yearning for a change. And yet, they aren’t without their faults.
The film has already screened in the US and the UK where the response is ruffling feathers with various stakeholders back home. Kangaroo’s intent to stir up conversation is certainly warranted and returning to the testimonies and videos from others, it’s hard to justify a lot of practices being used to meet quotas. However, despite a supposed two-sided debate, Kangaroo can sometimes feel frustratingly one-sided. Those who work in the food industry or have other stakes in kangaroo culling don’t seem to be given that much time to talk when stacked against that given to Pearson and Flannery. Whilst Kangaroo is quick to address these people’s concerns about kangaroos, it doesn’t feel like there’s a place for them to address some of the accusations hurled at them.
This is not to say the overall message of Kangaroo suddenly becomes null and void. It is still a well-made and emotive film. Like the SeaWorld-crucifying documentary, Blackfish, there’s a sobering feeling that comes from watching it. Kangaroo may not change government legislation overnight, but it does throw events that happen at night into broad daylight for all to see. That has to amount to something.