Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's racist? Addendum

Updating a bit on this post about racism in Japan, we have the following clip from a Saturday evening program in Australia, called "Hey Hey It's Saturday":

I think Americans will instantly notice what's wrong here. When I went to Australia last August, it was fun to watch the evening variety shows. TV there is more akin to Spanish or Japanese television than American TV, in that there are lots of shows with minor celebrities sitting on panels. There are quiz shows, talk shows, talking head shows where the celebrities comment on news or amateur videos. The above clip is one of those.

Australian TV is interesting to Americans because there is a lot more profanity used, as well as the culture there being not nearly as politically correct. While I enjoy it because sometimes people get riled up about the wrong things, this clip was way over my line, and it was interesting to see Harry Connick, Jr. as one of the judges give the group a '0' and the short discussion that followed. The Wikipedia discussion of the event is interesting in that the Michael Jackson character is played by a man named Anand Deva (not the whitest name in the world), and that 'Jackson Jive' group was ethnically mixed, and the whole group was made of doctors.

Some points to consider:

  • Australia didn't participate in the slave trade.
  • Blackface wasn't used to mock blacks, as well as appropriate their culture and undermine it.
  • Australia has a troubled history with regards to its Aboriginal peoples, who are kind of like American blacks and Native Americans rolled up into one unfortunate bundle.
  • 'White Australia' wasn't even abandoned completely until the 1970s, allowing for more immigration from Asian countries.
The above clip also shows the 'Jackson Jive' performing on the same variety show 20 years ago, when it won the competition. It's worth keeping in mind the change from then to now. And lest we Americans decide to get on a high horse:

Which kinda leads us to this:


Ana said...

The general attitude over here is that Americans need to lighten up. After all it was only a joke! Black people aren't offended by this! (Even though aborigines have publicly said they ARE offended by it.) Australia has a long, long way to go when it comes to race relations.

Anonymous said...

More embarrassing for Australians is this backlash against political correctness. You have all these white Australians telling black people what they should and shouldn't find offensive, completely ignoring the fact that an Aboriginal spokesperson clearly stated that it was. The fact that white Australians haven't even bothered to consult aboriginals on the subject shows the level of concern they have for aboriginals in this country.

Jeremy said...

I forgot to bring up Robert Downey Jr.'s blackface routine in 'Tropic Thunder'.