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The New Black was prompted by two media events during 2008—the first being the controversy over the Roslyn Oxley 9 exhibition of artist Bill Henson’s work and, the second, the much publicised reaction of local communities to the relocation of convicted serial pedophile Dennis Ferguson.
The core argument of The New Black is that the kind of staggering over reaction to the Henson case and the hyperbole and mob like response to the presence of Ferguson are symptomatic of deeper contradictions within our own communal identity that realistically continues the cycle of violence by blunting our understanding of it.
These events highlighted deep concerns over the adult conception of childhood innocence and adolescent sexuality that really must be addressed if we are to mature as a healthy and integrated society; that we, as a community, allow our opinion to be shaped by the shrillest voice of complaint, that we are not well educated, thoughtful or curious enough to make our own inquiry but rather choose a broad morality as outlined by agenda driven hacks, is a serious flaw that allows the culture wars to carry on. A convincing argument can be made in the case of child abuse that to demonize to the assailant is to trivialise the assault. The nature of the crime is so much greater if it has been committed by one of our own, because it places on us, as a society, the onus of understanding the crime and even potentially finding in ourselves the capacity for it.
The New Black is, before anything else, a satire of modern contemporary Australian culture, exploring the superficial, ego driven and potentially destructive nature of emulating fashionable opinion. The rapid-fire dialogue and biting sense of humor make The New Black an hilarious roller coaster ride through one of the most sensitive and complex issues facing contemporary Australia.