Archive for the ‘Marlo Morgan’ Category

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Documentary Film: The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back

November 15, 2011

I’ve devoted some space on this blog to the bizarre case of Marlo Morgan, enemy of the indigenous people of Australia. Her fake story about the extinction of “true” Aborigines (along with her claim of being their guardian and messenger to the world) is the most sickening case of identity theft and cultural assassination in the history of publishing. 

Morgan’s book Mutant Message Down Under is also the most widely read book on Australian Aborigines. It’s been translated into 26 languages and been read by tens of millions of people the world over. Clearly the majority of readers fail to pick up on the surreptitious but profound racism. Clearly too, most readers lack the knowledge of the subject matter that would allow them to quite swiftly see through the hoax. (Not only is Morgan’s representation of Aboriginal culture inaccurate to the point of being surreal, but even her mere descriptions of the Australian landscape are so inaccurate as to almost be offensive.)

The biggest tragedy is that her success is built upon a genuine worldwide interest in the subject. Millions of people read that book on the understanding it’s a true story. In fact readers have paid for a dose of racist poison. Aborigines earned the interest themselves through two centuries of struggle in the face of genocide and oppression that continues to this day. International recognition of their culture is important to their continued survival, especially given that their real history is little known, even within Australia.

A series of documentaries made in Australia about Aboriginal history, oppression, and survival has recently been made available on the internet by the film maker. I will be posting them here, with a little commentary for each.

The first is The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back, from 1985. It deals with the Aboriginal resistance to the invasion and colonization of their land. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Marlo Morgan: Lies Don’t Count as “Fiction”

July 17, 2011

I’m a little surprised to see that one of the most popular searches that bring people to this blog is “Marlo Morgan hoax” (and occasionally a rather hopeful sounding “Marlo Morgan true”). I am pleased about this, because there is surprisingly little on the internet about what is one of the more curious cases of fraud in the history of publishing. The fraud was unmasked before her book Mutant Message Down Under was even published, yet was snapped up by Rupert Murdoch’s Harper Collins and relabeled “fiction” to avoid prosecution.

(See my earlier article for more details, and this article by Cath Ellis, for a more detailed account of the whole story.)

One of the most common responses from fans when they discover that the story is a hoax is try and fudge the importance of its authenticity. They try to argue that it is “still inspiring even if it is a work of fiction”, or that somehow it could be true in some mystical sense. For example, this reviewer claims:

If the reader approaches the book as non-fiction, then he or she is challenged to believe that certain events could have actually occurred, even though they might seem implausible at first, and in the process challenges the reader’s worldview to expand to consider possibilities beyond the ordinary.  If read as a work of fiction, the tale becomes a mythical metaphor…

This kind of apologetics ignores not only the atrociously inaccurate and deeply racist portrayal of Aboriginal culture in the book, but also sidesteps the fact that Morgan has repeatedly and explicitly claimed her story is literally true, and her status as messenger to the world for the last “true” Aborigines is authentic.

Just to put this on the record, I am linking to and transcribing (below) the entire text of an interview in which Morgan makes these claims. Her stupid book has been on numerous university courses, including ecology and anthropology, not to mention being extensively and uncritically used in primary and high schools. She has toured the world giving lectures as an expert on “Aboriginal Culture”, a subject of which she is entirely ignorant. Her last appearance I am aware of was in 2004.

Her book has been translated into 26 languages. (Ironically, the book seems to actually gain something in translation. The original self published book was the worst piece of prose writing I have ever read.)

It is unusual for liars to be as blatant and brazen as Morgan has been, and the interview below is a demonstration of her skills in this regard. (She seems to come a bit unstuck in a different interview, where the interviewer doubts her and questions her unexpectedly on a few details. She is floored, for example when asked for details about exactly what kind of health work she was doing in Australia.) 

This, along with first hand accounts of her behavior and the general way this fraud has unfolded, make me suspect Morgan is suffering from a clinically identifiable form of psychosis, possibly bi-polar disorder. I offer this speculation merely as an attempt to comprehend how Morgan seems to have convinced herself of her story.

Here is a link to the audio of the radio interview. The transcript is below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Strange Case of Marlo Morgan

October 6, 2010

Back in the days before the internet took off as an effective means of opposing new age fraud, an American woman, Marlo Morgan, pulled off possibly the most brazen, stupid and above all, bizarre scam in the long history of bizarre new age scams.

It’s a story that illustrates the damage that can be done by a “positive” message. The entire indigenous population of Australia had its identity quite literally stolen, and suffered a form of cultural assassination. And of course, tens of millions of fans world-wide lost their cash and believed a whole lot of utterly fake information. 

Very simply stated, Marlo Morgan travelled to Australia in the late 1980s and returned with a bizarre story about meeting a hitherto unknown Aboriginal tribe, travelling with them through the desert for about three months, learning their secrets and being chosen by them to be the final guardian of their culture and their messenger to the world.

Marlo Morgan: self declared “guardian” of Aboriginal culture 

In fact the tribe doesn’t exist and Marlo actually spent her time working in a pharmacy in Brisbane, not wandering about in the desert. Aborigines themselves found her writings so offensive that they have unanimously demanded that Morgan admit the fraud and acknowledge that she does not speak for Aborigines. Read the rest of this entry ?

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