Film Review: AFA on Romper Stomper

Anti-Fascist action review Romper Stomper and contrast their position with that of the Anti Nazi League. From Fighting Talk issue 6.

Submitted by Fozzie on February 6, 2019

Although the Australian film Romper Stomper, and the controversy surrounding it, may seem now like an old issue, many people are yet to see it. This is partly due to the fact that the Anti-Nazi League mounted a campaign of pickets against the screening of the film.

If the film was an openly fascist propaganda movie, then AFA would have agreed that the film should not be shown on the basis of not giving the fascists a platform. The fact is - it isn't. This is the usual knee-jerk reaction we have come to expect from the ANL, the vast majority of whom it seems haven't even seen it themselves.

Norwich AFA, when they heard the film was coming to their local cinema, decided on a slightly more inspired course of action. The idea was to use the film to promote AFA, by getting the cinema to show "Fighting Talk", a half-hour video made by AFA for the BBC2 Open Space programme, before each screening of the main feature. As well as this the AFA exhibition was to go in the foyer, and speakers were lined up for certain viewing times.

What followed isn't so outrageous, because it's so predictable. Up come the ANL, with the foreknowledge of Norwich AFA's plans, and threaten the cinema with the lollipop treatment if they show the film. What's bloody ridiculous is the cinema actually caved in to such 'terror'. Did somebody say unity?

Unfortunately, Norwich didn't have time to reverse the decision back before the showing was cancelled, but apparently negotiations are now under way to sort the situation out for the future.

Below we've printed an in-depth review culled from the Oxford AFA bulletin, which provides the reader with an insight into the film and the issues surrounding it. Like we've said, seeing so many people are yet to see the film, a review still has relevance even though it's been out for ages!
Back in the spring the Australian film "Romper Stomper", which had been advertised as a "coming attraction", was pulled from the Phoenix Cinema in Walton St. Oxford. The management of the cinema explained that although, personally, they had no problems with the film, fear of reprisals by anti-fascists had persuaded them to cancel it. The "Anti-fascists" concerned were of course the Anti-Nazi League who have called for pickets and lollipop patrols outside all cinemas which show the "vile film".

The ANL had started campaigning against Romper Stomper before it had even been released in this country. Not one member of the Oxford branch of the ANL, who were planning to protest against the film had actually seen it and I would guess the same applies nationally. As one local ANL member put it, "if the ANL Central Committee (or steering committee as they are now called) deem the film to be Nazi propaganda, then we must accept their word for it and act accordingly". This is a perfect example of the lack of autonomy and intelligence encouraged in a centralised organisation.

The award-winning film explores the world of a gang of fascist skins in contemporary Australia. The gang is led by Hando (Russell Crow) who exercises almost complete control over the others. He is obsessed with Hitler's Germany and ideas of white supremacy. He sees the Vietnamese (and the government that 'let them in”) as the enemy and leads the gang to commit violent racist attacks.

In fact the film opens with one such attack upon a group of Vietnamese children. The violence is indeed repulsive and all the more real for this reason. These acts of brutality and the cowardice shown by the fascists leave you with no illusions about the film maker having any sympathy for them. The film does lose it a bit as a dissection of neo-Nazism when a love triangle develops halfway through - and the ending is weak, but I still found it compelling.

The film has been criticised for failing to centre on any of the Vietnamese characters, therefore depriving us of any intimacy with them. This is a valid point, but the film sets out to explore the fascist skins’ lifestyle. There have also been criticisms that the fascists will be inspired by watching it (Hando likes to round off a good sex session by reading aloud from Mein Kampf). There is also a pitiful Oi! soundtrack (more of a skinhead Spinal Tap). If this film inspires individual fascists, and I'm sure that some fuck-wits will be inspired, then they are past the point of no return!

So, why has the film been so differently received by the ANL and AFA? In Romper Stomper the Vietnamese win the day. They do this by deploying the only thing the fascists understand – fear and physical confrontation. When the Vietnamese strike, they don't fuck about - this is no vanguard doing it for the people, but the people doing it themselves, fighting back. The reactions of the fascists in this film mirrors real life: they don't know what to do with themselves; they are transformed into blubbering fools; they piss themselves and rue the day that they ever got involved with each other.

This situation will be familiar to many AFA members. We stand by the tactics of physical direct action as well as ideological confrontation, not because we are macho as is often claimed by our opponents, but because history -and our own experience- show this to be effective.

The ANL leadership is opposed to physical confrontation which has led to the disgusting situation of new recruits being exposed to fascist tactics because their 'leaders' misguide them into believing that strong argument and a lollipop will deter fascist storm-troopers from kicking the shit out of them. This situation of 'the leaders' playing general with a (mainly) well intentioned membership is another example of the centralised and undemocratic politics of the ANL.