Because Australia doesn’t cop enough flack for being a racist backwater, the good folk propping up the reanimated corpse of Hey Hey it’s Saturday decided last night that no nostalgia trip into the country’s murky cultural past would be complete without reviving some ol’ fashioned 20th century bigotry.
And so it was that, amidst three hours of tired puns, dubious puppetry and that very special Daryl Somers-brand of awkward ad-libbing, was this:
And by “a few people”, we do mean “pretty much the entire world”.
Naturally, the fallout started pretty early on the pulse of the people, Twitter. Ironically, Daryl Somers himself had anointed #HeyHey and #Plucka as the “official” hashtags prior to the show, which ended up providing a neat little way of collecting the world’s grievances over the stunt.
The show’s 10:30pm finish time (which was more like 10:50pm, because three hours just wasn’t enough time to contain all that fun) meant it ended just in time for those across the pond to wake up to clips of the “sketch” buzzing around the social media web. It didn’t take long for the outrage to begin — and it came thick, fast and dripping with scorn and sarcasm.
In case you were wondering what the country of Australia in 2009 has in common with fictional 1960s advertising exec Roger Sterling, well, apparently, they share an unbridled love of blackface. Really, they just can’t get enough.
For the 1980s anachronism Hey Hey, it was a harsh lesson in just how differently the media works in 2009: just because your target demographic is slack-jawed suburbanites and pensioners, the whole world is now watching.
And once again, the whole cringe-worthy affair has hammered home just how out-dated the show really is.
On the upside, the international scorn virtually guarantees this is the last time we’ll ever see Hey Hey rear its tired, shoe-polished face on our screens again.