The second edition of The Real and Unreal reflects on the objective in the first, which was to claim the changing significance of race in the context of Australian sport. Race is celebrated in terms of indigenous athletic dominance yet the persistence of racial inequality on and off field is denied.
The approach, underlined by critical race theory, to argue the presence of racial discourse in the mainstream press, through the framing of hyper realism of race, looks to hold. Whereas the project of dismantling racial hegemony through cultural transformations underscores the rise of celebratory discourse in the first, the emphasis in the second is on how they converge to unintentionally reaffirm colonial ideology of racial difference. And, whilst a more circumspect tone is noted, by and large logics of race continue to inform the representation of indigenous athletes. For instance, the construct of ‘indigenous talent’ forms part of normalising discourse, of indigenous inclusion in Australian Rules football, that masks the realities of competition in which few make it, the hard work that goes into being a ‘talent’, the racial stereotyping of ‘talent’ and the burden of being a ‘talent’.