Why we’re not supporting the “Miss Fisher” the Movie Kickstarter

There’s a Kickstarter for a Miss Fisher movie, and No Award has … Liz was going to say “mixed feelings”, but it would be more accurate to say we have strongly negative feelings we’re having trouble articulating. And what is a blog for, if not to unpack that reaction?

So here I am, rewatching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, because season 3 has finally hit Netflix and it’s enjoyable and low-pressure while I recover from moving house.

Except, of course, that it’s not very good, and also, separately, a bit racist and generally all-around prejudiced. You notice these things when you find yourself warning your new flatmate that “This is the episode about Italian-Australians, so it’s set around Lygon Street and there are overbearing nonnas, sexy Italian men, irrational feuds and also a Mafia connection.”

Here’s our 2015 post about Miss Fisher and its Issues with Literally Everyone Who Isn’t A White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

We concluded:

What do we want out of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? Well, for it to be less issues-town, I guess.  It’s entertaining and fun; it would be even more fun if it didn’t descend into horrible bigotry and stereotypes on a regular basis.

Which brings us to the Kickstarter.

(Aside: at first we thought it was fake? Because some of the graphics are so very amateurish? But apparently it’s real, and I guess we have to hope that some of the money raised goes to paying a graphic designer who knows how to use anti-aliasing.)

I mean.

Here’s the blurb:

Set in the late 1920’s, Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears honors the heightened exoticisms of the murder mystery genre as the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, lady detective, escapes the small screen and takes off on a global adventure – via romantic wayside stops in the Far East, glamorous sojourns in the mansions of London, and a battle to survive the rolling sands of the Arabian Desert long enough to find the missing treasure, solve numerous murders and break all aviation records as she wings her way home again!

“Honors” [sic] “the heightened exoticisms” [whut?] “of the murder mystery genre” [literally the only part of that introduction that didn’t make me cringe].

There have been rumours floating around social media for a few years about a film script involving Phryne’s international adventures, and I’ve been saying all along that, given how the series treated its Chinese, Jewish, Italian, Irish, African-American and Catholic characters, this concept was a very bad idea.

(Remember the episode where Phryne becomes a movie producer and shags the handsome black man who plays a slave in her Biblical epic, and he winds up naked and chained to her bed? And has literally no dialogue, or even a name? I try not to.)

I struggle with how much I enjoy the TV series, as silly as it is. But, for me, it’s one thing to be a fan of problematic material — it’s quite another to help pay for the creation of a work which promises, from the very earliest promotional material, to be an uncomfortable blend of period-racism, contemporary racism and, probably, bad writing.

(I checked, there’s no reward level that gives us the opportunity to approve the script.)

Is that hair splitting? Probably. Streaming the series on Netflix means I’m already paying for racist media, and even talking about it on social media generates the sort of metrics that companies look at in this day and age. But choosing to contribute money directly to the creation of this probable hot mess of a movie is a step too far.

(Will I buy a ticket and see it when it comes out? IDK, maybe? At least, by the time I actually have to make that decision, there will be a completed product to judge.)

Now, the campaign has already reached its funding goal, so it’s not as if our decision to withhold money has made a single bit of difference.

Except to us.

Postscript from Stephanie: I have an added pause, not that I, a person who has long hate-read the books because they’re full of oddly racist (and not necessarily time appropriate) moments, was ever going to give this campaign any money. Traditionally, Miss Fisher has been funded by Our ABC and various Australian funding bodies, such as Screen Victoria. And the funding goal was quite small, so is obviously a supplementary funding stream. The kickstarter didn’t really state what this extra money is actually going towards, and, in a crowdfunding exercise, that always seems a little suspicious.

Additional commentary from Liz: Yes, I wondered about that, too. If only because I’m terribly nosey.

2 thoughts on “Why we’re not supporting the “Miss Fisher” the Movie Kickstarter

  1. Grant Watson

    I generally side-eye any crowd-funding enterprise that basically asks a dedicated fan base to front up yet more money in advance than they’re going to already pay when the project sees release. I side-eyed the Veronica Mars movie so hard I almost lost my eyesight.

    That’s before get to Miss Fisher being kind of a bit (totally) racist.

    1. Same! It feels slightly exploitative — not to mention the advantage it has over other crowdfunding campaigns that have to build their audience from scratch. (I know, I know, capitalism. But I feel like, if you have this dedicated audience, and you still can’t secure funding, maybe the world doesn’t need your movie?)

      (The world definitely didn’t need the VMars movie, or the third season of the TV series. Or the second season, for that matter.)

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