Oct 8, 2009

Hey Hey misguided patriotism’s back

The reaction to Hey Hey's ill advised Red Faces Blackfaces act is rapidly dividing into two camps: outrage and outrage. Either you're: a) outraged that the Jackson Jive i

Sophie Black

Crikey editor

The reaction to Hey Hey‘s ill advised Red Faces Blackfaces act is rapidly dividing into two camps: outrage and outrage.

Either you’re:

a) outraged that the Jackson Jive idea managed to get the tick from several producers, a talent scout, the host of the show and the six guys who took the time to sit in front of a mirror and apply boot polish to their visages

OR you’re

b) outraged that people don’t get “our Australian sense of humour” and that, sure, blackface may not be appropriate in the US, but over here, we have a special kind of humour, and that poncy Harry Connick Jnr and the “PC brigade” should rack off.

In camp A: pretty much the entire Twitterverse. Yes twits (myself included)  love nothing more than tweeting their moral outrage and indignation about everything from Cheesybite to racism and everything in between.

But things get much more interesting in camp B. In the space of just a few hours, Hey Hey has become a calling card for misguided patriotism, in the same way that the flag took on an unsettling significance around the Cronulla riots, and the subsequent ban of the flag at The Big Day Out.

The lines are beginning to crystallise as they echo across talk back and websites:

Here’s Glen on The Age website:

It’s called Red Faces, people willing to make a goose of themself for a bit of fun … any fool can see its not designed to be racist.. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves a bit.. instead we have become just like America.. Might as well forget about telling the Kiwi jokes, the Irish jokes and the Aussie jokes.. some tosser is going to get offended Glenn | Sydney – October 08, 2009, 8:25AM

Or another reader over at the Herald Sun:

If Americans find this offensive its only because of their embarrassing history regarding black people.

Or Michael O of Hawthorn:

Harry Connick is from New Orleans and at the end of the day being American means you have the slavery mill stone around your neck. We in Australia never enslaved Africans, we used english / irish convict labour instead. If a bunch of people do a skit on the Jackson 5, why is that any different to Eddie Murphy making fun of Elvis, or some clown dressed up as Elvis at his worst. This is a storm in a tea cup and not racist…only self conscious apologists for slavery get upset about such things. It is a US problem not ours.

Here’s Ray Hadley on 2GB:

Hadley understands that ‘the PC, American’ Harry Connick Jr would be offended on behalf of black Americans ‘because you don’t blacken your face in that part of the world anymore’. He says if Connick Jr wasn’t there, nobody would have been offended, saying it was a satire and a send-up. He says since it was done in the form of humour, it is OK. He says the American networks have picked up on it but says ‘I can’t see the drama’. He says ‘the PC brigade are up in arms about it’. He says he is going to a lunch with Daryl Somers today and will ask him about it.

Ray should ask Daryl this question over lunch —  do Channel 9 capitalise on this incredibly negative publicity by taking the Howard on Hanson approach? Don’t condone any racist undertones, but by all means, exploit the ignited base. Pit the PC snobs against the true blue battlers.

Give the real Australians what they really want (all 2.4 million of them): Hey Hey it’s Wednesday, back permanently — old fashioned, out of touch, stale, misguided sentiments n all.

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8 thoughts on “Hey Hey misguided patriotism’s back

  1. Race Relations Here and There - Stumble Down Under

    […] didn’t view the the sketch as racist or even tasteless and just tossed the brouhaha up to cultural differences and misunderstanding the Australian sense of humor. Even Prime Minister Jullia Gillard defended the […]

  2. Sophie Black

    No surprises that the overseas media have boiled this issue down into a simple headline along the lines of: Australia is racist…

    We know the idea that Daryl Somers speaks for the entire nation is ridiculous, but The Guardian doesn’t seem to… then again, Herald Sun poll today… 69% can’t see what all the fuss is about…

  3. Altakoi

    I was OS when Stever Irwin died, and people were comissurating with me as if a family friend had suddenly been struck down. Not that it wasn’t sad but, as with anything on Channel 9, I really wounldn’t have noticed if not for the blanket media coverage.

  4. matthew

    Jeremy, you know there are only 2 kinds of people in the world, those who think there are 2 kinds of people in the world and those who know better…

    Of course your “third group” won’t be able to work out if our latest foray into the worlds consciousness is better than us being summed up by Steve Irwin (when overseas you’d be suprised how many people still ask if he is the “standard” (for want of a better word) Aussie). I for one am torn as to which is better/ worse

  5. Jeremy Sear

    There is of course a third group – people who decry the racism of the skit, and the utter stupidity of Channel Nine in broadcasting it – and who are ALSO dumbfounded at a skit on “Hey Hey” being used to sum up the whole country, and appalled by how quickly international media have leapt to their own stock of offensive stereotypes about Australians.

    The one doesn’t justify the other.

  6. cityblue

    Nah we didn’t use aboriginal slaves. We just killed and ghettoised them instead.

    Or we got our slaves from the South Pacific.

  7. Lucy

    That was my immediate response, too – great, another dog whistle for the just-slightly-racist crowd to rally against the PC elites telling them what to think. I suppose it’s a mark of progress, of sorts, that these debates are no longer framed in terms of whether racism is acceptable or not. Oh no, this is about freedom of speech! or the politically correct thought police! or about the Latte Sippers versus Real Strayans.

    I suppose we could just leave Hey Hey to the silly bogans, let them appropriate the Australian flag as a symbol of white nationalism and turn Pauline Hanson into a national celebration of kitsch while we vent our outrage via twitter and emails to Media Watch. But surely some things are worth pursuing? Can’t we engage the Battlers on subjects like this? Or are we really that polarised?

    And where, for that matter, does Moralist in Chief K-Rudd come down on all this? Has he given a presser on the matter? It looks lose-lose for him, but how can he resist now that he has opined on everything else?

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