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