by Bill Mousoulis

The publication in this website of the article “Chris Lilley is a legend – he will not be cancelled” by Mike Retter a couple of days ago (June 15, 2020) has thus far elicited a strong response from various people (mainly in this Facebook post), expressing dismay and more at its contents and its publication.

Personal response

As sole editor of this website, I published Retter's article because of the main message in it (against cancel culture), and not because of the political invective that it contains (right-wing).  Retter did not abuse or denigrate anyone directly, and so I allowed the article to go through, even though there is obviously an ugly (alt)right-wing ideology driving it (which is against my own anarchist / anti-fascist / left-wing beliefs).

I considered not publishing it, because of this clash with my own politics, but I wanted to remain open and neutral, and allow the writer's political viewpoint to exist, despite my own disagreement with it. To be a neutral, professional editor, as it were.

Because I know Mike personally, I know what his politics are, so I'm not outraged by them – I just ignore the more extreme elements (and have good arguments with him over the rest).

But I now realise a mistake of deduction that I made, as an editor of a public website – that other people would see Mike's opinions the way I myself see them. Wrong. Readers actually come to Retter's words "fresh" each time, and feel the hurt of the words acutely (the responses to the article have shown this).

The old anarchist credo is instructive here: "One is free to do what one wants, as long as one doesn't harm others." I will now remind myself of this credo when dealing with future articles. And this is not a question of letting my own politics set an agenda for the website – it's more about the common-sense act of checking ugly and inaccurate rhetoric (including from the left-wing, which is not immune to this). It's my responsibility as an editor to understand the power of words, what effect they can have on people.

I am going to let Retter's article stand, and I hope that any future contributions from him will be more in line with his already-published articles on this site (see further down this page).

Mission Statement

Pure Shit: Australian Cinema is a website that does two things primarily – it recognises and supports alternative (indie/underground/experimental) Australian cinema, and it also acts as a critical voice to mainstream Australian films and institutions.  You can read more about this in our Editorial, and Mission Statement, and Call for Contributions.

I say “our”, but this website is run solely by myself, without funding, it is a DIY, grass-roots, community-minded site, that is open to anyone to contribute, as long as the topic is the Australian film world.  It goes without saying that the views in the articles are the views of the respective authors, and not the editor/publisher’s views.  The editor/publisher reserves the right to reject any articles that are not appropriate or step over a line into personal abuse or denigration.

On Mike Retter

Mike Retter, based in Adelaide, is an increasingly spiky and controversial figure in the Australian film scene.  He is a valuable and valued writer for the website, a prolific and impassioned writer, a great spruiker for an individual, indie film spirit.  He has written on various topics such as the closure of video stores, the revolutionary space of YouTube for indie filmmakers, he has supported new Adelaide film festivals, he has interviewed up-and-coming Adelaide filmmakers, he has urged cinephiles to stop watching the classics and check out Australian indie cinema.  He runs a podcast interviewing filmmakers and critics, and has made films himself, and has run screenings at festivals and elsewhere, and he also ran a video store for a few years too, stocking arthouse and indie films.  He’s done a lot for the indie film world in Australia.

Most of the time, he leaves his personal politics out of his film activities, but in the article published a couple of days ago on Chris Lilley, he situated his criticism of censorship and cancel culture within a certain political context, and his article tipped over into political invective.

On Chris Luscri

A side-note about Chris Luscri, who runs the Unknown Pleasures and Australian New Wave screenings together with me.  Even though Pure Shit: Australian Cinema publishes the programs/program notes for these screenings, they are separate activities to this website, meaning that Chris Luscri himself is not part of the editorial team of this website, and should not be seen to be somehow contributing to the decision to publish a writer such as Mike Retter.

Response contributions welcome

If you want to contribute some words in response to Retter’s article, I am currently collecting contributions, and they will be published on Monday, June 22.  Any length is fine, you can email your text to me at bill@innersense.com.au by Monday at 2:00 pm AEST, and the comments will be published that evening.  Please include your name, and a short byline for yourself (who you are, what you do).

Bill Mousoulis, editor/publisher, June 17, 2020.


Bill Mousoulis is a Greek-Australian independent filmmaker, film critic, and programmer.

Published June 17, 2020. © Bill Mousoulis 2020.