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TV & Radio

Oct 8, 2009

The world sees red over Hey Hey‘s blackface

Whilst reanimating the fetid corpse of Hey Hey it's Saturday, the show's producers decided to also revive some ol' fashioned 20th century bigotry, by putting on a Minstrel Show. Pundits across the pond didn't quite see the funny side.

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:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMAyGewq37w[/youtube]

Yes. They put on a Minstrel Show.

And it seems a few people got a little offended.

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 The Guardian: Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia’s blackface Jackson 5:

In Australia, of course, it is perfectly acceptable, and we thank the nation for yet another important contribution to the annals of human culture.

For The AV Club: G’Day, Blackface!

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.

Still Fresh And Funny In Australia: Blackface, scoffs The Awl:

You know what never gets old for the folks on Prison Island? Blackface! Oh, how they chuckle!

And you know you’ve really cocked-up when the world’s leading media industry gossip snarkers, Gawker, project some of their particularly acidic bile in your direction:

Wow, an American is being the voice of cultural sensitivity? Australia must be really messed up.

And the fallout continues, from the likes of New York mag, Movieline, dlisted and more.

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.

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58 comments

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58 thoughts on “The world sees red over Hey Hey‘s blackface

  1. Me

    At the risk of continuing this derailment …

    Stephen, I’m with you totally on the points about Howard/refugees/children … but still not with you on the ‘Jacksons’ skit. I still fail to see how a skit (in an effort to be fun & frivolous), by a multicultural group of guys, parodying a group they all claim to have loved, can have caused so many people to cry ‘racism!’!?

    As LUVYUHSALL said :-

    (HOW) “Is colour related to being a “bafoon”

    ……When will we stop judgeing a man by the colour of his skin…………

    This whole skit is only about colour to those who are inherently racist. I didn’t hear anything that indicated the black was inferior or superior. Where is the racism (judgement) based on colour?”

    Blame them for being useless at singing, dancing and comedy but please leave the cries of ‘Racism!’ to the true perpetrators of this evil.

  2. stephen

    Glenn, I think we can agree to disagree about Howard, and I’m glad to hear you find ill treatment as distatseful as I do. What are your ideas about how we can prevent the systemic abuse of refugees in the future, and what are thoughts about what caused it in the past?
    Because mate,”there but for the grace of God go I”.

  3. Glenn

    I dont know that there was abuse and neither do you.

    They have to be contained and returned home ASAP they shouldnt be treated any worse than prisoners and no better, they did come here illegally after all.

    The main problem is the time it takes to process them, this should be done within a few weeks not months on end, thats where the problem lies.

    Any genuine refugees should be settled here but where do you draw the line ?

  4. Glenn

    What the hell has this got to do with Hey Hey ???????????????
    Let’s leave it there……………

  5. Venise Alstergren

    EUAN J THOMAS: All the same I would rather Australians got upset at our own unique racism than groveling, yet again-to the sensitivities of the English and the Americans of all people.

  6. stephen

    It’s got everything to do with Hey, Hey. The “othering” process permits abuse,and so pervasive we don’t recognise it when it’s staring us in the face, black or white or in between.

  7. Heathdon McGregor

    Channel nines new Friday night line up

    7.30 Mind your language
    8.30 Love your neighbour
    9.30 Til death us do part
    10.30 It aint half hot mum

    Race based comedy-its not racist its comedy.

    Comedy that excentuates racial stereotypes is race based.

    All in all if you dont like it you can turn the channel, like I did.

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