The spoken and unspoken nature of child abuse in the miniseries Devil’s Playground: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Catholic Church and television drama in Australia

  • Author(s): Terrie Waddell, Timothy W Jones
  • When: 2016-03
  • Where: Media International Australia
  • In a departure from Fred Schepisi’s film The Devil’s Playground, the television sequel Devil’s Playground focuses on the cultural impact of priest child abuse. It will be argued that the prolific mainstream media coverage of these crimes before the series was made, and anticipated during its screening, lent a form of permission to green light the production. In focusing on Case 28 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, this article will draw attention to the problematic nature of dramatising priest abuse in mainstream Australian television. While victims have willingly voiced graphic details of the sexual violence they experienced as children, after decades of silence, it is as if networks and producers are only now awkwardly grappling with these uncomfortable realities. In the process of sanitising such abusive behaviour, they reduce the degree of cruelty that survivors are intent on communicating.

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