Aboriginal expert: Nicole Kidman is infertile after playing didgeridoo

Nicole Kidman’s new film Australia, despite sitting comfortably in the box office top ten, is not delivering all the actress might have hoped for. Now it seems that in publicizing her film she’s offended the Aboriginal people of Australia by playing the didgeridoo on German show “Wetten, Das.” Women are not permitted to play the traditional instrument under Aboriginal custom.

Baz Luhrmann’s epic Australia and its star Nicole Kidman have angered Aboriginal groups after the actress tried to play a didgeridoo on a German television show at the weekend.

The light-hearted stunt flouted Aboriginal custom in many parts of Australia, where women are forbidden to play the instrument.

It followed an earlier Australia faux pas when a tourism ad associated with the film promoted a sacred site without Aboriginal permission.

Kidman blew feebly into a didgeridoo during a promotional appearance on Wetten, Dass …?, a high-rating German program known for its high jinks.

Sydney Morning Herald

I know that Aboriginal culture was taught in schools when I was a child in Australia (it still is), but Nicole is in her 40s, I’m not sure that her education in the 1970s would have focused so much on indigenous culture. She might not have been aware of the fact women should not play didgeridoo – in fact, not all tribes follow that tradition.

Aboriginal leaders in Australia pointed out that Nicole should have known from her experience on the film Australia, and that she will now have to suffer the consequences. Some Aboriginal people think that playing the instrument makes women infertile, and that Kidman will have the same fate.

Richard Green, an award-winning actor, screenwriter and Dharug language teacher, said he was disgusted.

“People are going to see Nicole playing it and think it’s all right. It bastardises our culture. I will guarantee she has no more children. It’s not meant to be played by women as it will make them barren.”

The didgeridoo, or yirdaki, is said by some to make women infertile, and Mr Green said he feared other women would imitate Kidman without realising its dangers.

Sydney Morning Herald

So, consider yourself warned if you are hoping for children. Although, I have never heard of this myself, and I wonder if this comment is to hurt Nicole directly, after she recently said she’d like more children. Particularly as Richard says “I will guarantee she has no more children” making it personal.

The idea of playing a musical instrument making you barren is obviously one that western culture would find difficult to grasp, but the Aboriginals of Australia have many cultural stories about how the land was formed, and traditions that explain human behaviour. It really is an interesting culture if you get the chance to learn about it, but difficult to study as all the different tribes living in Australia have their own belief system.

It’s a shame that Nicole’s film has attracted more negative attention – this was meant to be make or break territory for the actress, who seems to be getting most of the bad press.

Photos are stills from “Wetten, Das” and feature singer Anastacia, host Thomas Gottschalk, and Hugh Jackman. Credit: WENN

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23 Responses to “Aboriginal expert: Nicole Kidman is infertile after playing didgeridoo”

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  1. SolitaryAngel says:

    🙄 Jeez…she was infertile ALREADY!

  2. SeVen says:

    And its things like that, the root of sexism… Alive and well 🙄 🙄 🙄 🙄

  3. Mairead says:

    Well isn’t this Green fella a lovely little bowl of self-publicising pleasantness? 🙄

    Are the markings on that particular didgereedoo particular to his culture and that’s why he’s getting so personal? As you said yourself Helen, the aboriginal culture isn’t just one uniform thing and it’s possible to get conflicting advice on cultural sensitivity from different experts.

    I know from rugby that pundits have given wildly different recommendations on how to respond to the haka (sp?). Some say stony silence. Others say complete reverence and others say the point is to rise to the challenge (not saying to mock it, but not to be cowed either).

  4. Ernestine says:

    Hmmm. Whenever I hear that a culture specifically forbids women from doing/performing a specific act, the little feminist in me wishes that the females in said culture would all rise with fists and middle fingers and tell their male brethren to SUCK IT, and that they can do whatever the hell they want.

    But I also spent a college semester in Australia, and I can wholeheartedly say that the ONLY thing I dislike about the whole entire continent is how cruelly and disrespectfully the Aboriginal race has been treated since white convicts and settlers ended up landing at Botany Bay. It honestly seems as if most of Australia totally ignores the importance of their culture. For instance, Uluru is this big, sacred spiritual presence in central Australia, and one of the first images you see when you check out most Aussie tourist websites is some shot of white-legged people tromping all over it. I mean, can you imagine the uproar if Japanese tourists wanted to scale Mount Rushmore or something?

    If Aborigines were willing participants in this film, Nicole should have been gracious enough to heed their cultural wishes. I actually didn’t know about the didgeridoo rule, but as a native Australian, NK has no excuse.

  5. LOLA says:

    its a FLUTE. And not all the cultures abide by the rule so why should she know?

    Maybe they don’t want women using it b/c is somehow subminally sexual and god forbid woman have power over them that way.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  6. Lizzie (greeneyed fem) says:

    But if it’s true that “not all tribes follow that tradition,” then Kidman wasn’t breaking some hard-and-fast, Golden-unbreakable, she-should-have-known rule of Aboriginal culture. So Green is upset on account of his regional Aboriginal culture, but he doesn’t speak for all Australian Aboriginals.

    I mean, obviously there are major issues when it comes to how white Australians respect Aboriginal culture, and celebrities could do more to promote understanding instead of being ignorant, but . . . if it’s not a rule practiced by all tribes, then the feminist in me sez Green can suck it.

  7. Syko says:

    I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to play a didgeridoo anyway.

  8. geronimo says:

    Nicole is not an Aboriginal woman, therefore she’s breaking no taboos since the taboo exists only in Aboriginal (and not all, it seems) beliefs.

    And Richard Green’s comment is malicious and totally out of order.

  9. LeoLo says:

    The best way to respond to a man who says he will make sure a woman can no longer reproduce is to kick him swift and hard in the nards. If he repeats his foolery once more, repeat foot to nard ceremony until the lord of Uh Oh pulls forth an apology from his mouth.


    I believe in science, not magic.

  10. Lizzie (greeneyed fem) says:

    good point, Geronimo.

    I hope Nicole gets pregnant, like, NOW, just to prove him wrong.

  11. what is ever. says:

    wow- I played one in some song for choir back in High School. So basically what I’m hearing is that I’ve wasted a lot of money on condoms.

  12. texasmom says:

    Well, I am an American and am ignorant about all spiritual issues related to Australian music. But I did once play a didgeridoo that a friend brought home as a souvenir of a year in Australia. It was FUN and cool, and I later produced two fine daughters, getting pregnant on the first try for both! So take that, male patriarchy!

  13. anastasiabeaverhausen says:

    Lizzie, don’t hold your breath on that. I believe she used a surrogate to get the baby she’s got now.

  14. Rio says:

    If this were true, the entire population of Santa Cruz would be sterile, while Seattle, Santa Barbara, and Portland would be experiencing ZPG. Come to think of it, entire portions of the West Coast would resemble “Children of Men”.
    I have yet to see evidence of that.

  15. IMO says:

    Isn’t it wonderful that people still making up scary rules that are meant to oppress women and give a ridiculous “privilege to men”- such as playing an instrument- just so the men can feel more special and privileged.

    Nicole can play whatever she wants.

  16. Lila says:

    yes to Geronimo. Who has the right to curse a woman’s fertility? This would never happen to a man.

  17. Enonymous says:

    Well, when I was younger I did history lessons on the Australian Aboriginals and their traditions and this male teacher came in especially to gives lessons on this subject, he even tough us (both girls and boys) to play the didgeridoo and never ones did he say that it was forbidden to women, so me thinks that Richard Green is talking out of his ass and he should really shut his mouth because if any of this comes true then I will walk all away to Australia or where ever the hell he lives and beat him to death (using the method wonderfully described by LeoLo 😈 ) with his own precious didgeridoo. So for his own sake he better hope his premonition (or curse) better not come true. 😡

  18. RCDC says:

    while i consider myself a feminist, i really hate a lot of the bashing of other cultures that goes on in The Name of WommynKind. In this man’s culture, it is taboo for women to play this instrument. whether it’s ok for a culture do have varied rites and rituals for men and women is up for debate. but it’s the same argument as “all Muslim women should rip off their hijabs in protest because WE think it’s wrong, even if they don’t”. there are things we do that are gendered, and relatively harmlessly so, because it is our tradition (giving away the bride? WAY worse than don’t play the didjeridoo). not to mention, as someone said earlier, the Aboriginal peoples of that area of the world have a very different relationship with the natural world than we do. maybe this man was not just angry at seeing his culture exploited for a cheap laugh, but taken aback and concerned that someone had so triflingly screwed with the natural world. but then, i’ve always been one of them wishy-washy cultural relativists. i just don’t think it’s ever that simple, i guess it what i’m trying to say.

  19. Aspen says:


    It wasn’t HER faux pas, in my opinion. In the Taliban culture, little girls are forbidden to learn how to read. I think that’s bollocks, and I think this overstuffed misogynist should keep his Aboriginal mouth shut about a woman playing an instrument.

    Anyone who gets onto Nicole Kidman for this should realize that they’re ripping up their feminist card to do so. The Aboriginees have no issue taking money from tourist women, but they want to pitch a fit about Nicole Kidman on a television show. Hypocrisy to the EXTREME.

    Women play the didgeridoo every day in Australia. Tourists buy them every day, and they are for sale to anyone who wants one.

    If the instrument is a sacred religious thing, then perhaps the Aboriginals should’ve refrained from capitalizing on tourist interest in their culture…and kept the didgeridoos to themselves. Traditional Catholics and Muslims and other religious people who keep gender-related customs go about those customs quietly and in private. They don’t sell hijabs and head veils in public…reveling in tourist interest and tourist money…and then rip people to shreds for misusing what they were selling in the first place.

    It’s beyond ridiculous to bring this up now.

  20. frewt says:

    Gee, Richard Green is going to feel like a grade A fuckwit when she has her next kid isn’t he?

  21. MB says:

    Ernestine, are you serious? I am an Australian native and this is the first time I have heard of this so-called custom, so why should Nicole know better?

    Also, have you considered where the didgeridoo’s come from? They are primarily made and sold by Aborigines. Do you think that they issue fertility warnings with them? Do you think they refuse to sell them to women because they will be horribly offended if they were to play it? Of course not.

    This Richard Green (umm..who?) is just a PC wimp who is looking for his 15 minutes.

  22. DLR in Canada says:

    fascinating. yeah, she may have offended the aboroginals in aussie, but to say they put a pox on her to make her infertile for committing a faux pas? how would she have known this? did someone actually sit her down and tell her she is not supposed to toot some horn or what?

  23. Ernestine says:

    MB, I never purported to know all about Aboriginal customs, and neither should you. Exactly the opposite: I recognize that there are literally hundreds of different Aussie Indigenous tribes, and that one group might follow an entirely separate moral code than the next. I hadn’t heard of that didgeridoo rule, either, but seeing as how Aborigines are basically shat on by white people, it seems like a pretty simple request to fill. However, I acknowledge that the rule itself is arcane as hell, and Nicole probably had no clue. I doubt she really hung with Aboriginal people before Baz Luhrmann made her do so. Let’s hope she’s a lot less racist than many of her fellow Aussies.

    Are you SURE most digeridoos are still made by Aborigines? I believe it when it comes to the Northern Territory and Western Australia, but I sure saw a lot of shitty-looking cheapo ones in the souvenir shops scattered around places like Sydney and Brisbane, and it sure looked like mass-produced crap to me.