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Archive for October, 2009

Apparently it was a slow news week.

‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’ this week aired a skit during its Red Faces segment containing a bunch of guys with black paint on their faces dancing like the Jackson Five. The five men – all medical doctors – performed the same skit 20 years ago on the show to raucous applause and so this time around they thought, for nostalgia’s sake, they’d do the same thing. Little did they know, that in our current climate of political correctness, ‘Obamarama’ and a general reluctance to step on anyone’s culturally sensitive toes, it went down like a boomerang on fire.

For those unfamiliar with the skit (and ensuring furore) – those who have been sitting under a rock with their fingers in their ears for the past few days – it can be seen here.

Now, I understand that the skit offended some peoples sensitivities – and, if I was an Indigenous person or African American who had struggled with racial prejudice and subjugation all my life I probably would take offense too. I wholeheartedly oppose the terrible racial discrimination and hatred that continues to exist in this country and have personally witnessed appalling demonstrations of ignorance and hate from various racial groups.

However, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the international media storm that has resulted from the 30 second skit – including the performers, themselves from a diverse range of racial backgrounds, including Sri Lankan, Indian, Italian and Anglo-Saxton.

What really got up my goat was the arrogance of the American media in making the erroneous deduction from the skit that Australians are ‘backward’ and ‘discriminatory’. One American blogger went so far as to say, ‘Australians: Post race miracle humans or racist idiots?’ Others simply decried the ‘casual racism’ of ‘a lot of Australians’.

Hmmm… even I can see – in my casually racist idiocy – the sheer hypocrisy of these sentiments. Perhaps this is a case of the pot calling the kettle… um, coloured?

My sister and I love to point out the ‘token’ characters in American shows that are apparently put in there to satisfy everyone’s sensitivities. With comical regularity (particularly in teen sitcoms like the woefully stereotyped Glee), one can always point out the ‘token’ black best friend, the gay, the Asian nerd, and of course the ‘intolerant’ fundamentalist Christian, sometimes with a Southern accent. Yet, it seems, even ‘progressive,’ ‘tolerant’ America can’t deviate from their white protagonist, featuring in almost every movie, teen drama and television show there is. Considering the multitude of racial stereotypes that flood American popular culture – one wonders whether this says more about American racial sentimentalities than a 30 second skit on a variety show?

Personally, I am thankful Australia isn’t yet in the deathly throes of uncompromising political correctness like our American cousins. But, as this skit reveals, the nail is posed to strike the coffin of free speech in this country, and it is only a matter of time until the final hammer falls.

At that moment we will forever say goodbye to the Australian and British type of humour we know and love, instead welcoming the unfortunate, ‘McDonald’s’ brand of American humour – bland, pre-packaged and designed to sell to the masses, but lacking any sort of real wit or bite and making you wish you’d eaten that Russell Coight sandwich while you still had the chance.

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