Oooooooh boy. Where do you start with this one?
Firstly, I’m Australian. I was born and raised in Australia. But I spent my years between 18 and 29 years of age living in the US. I love the US, and I love its people. I have probably an equal split of Aussies and Americans on my facebook friends list. I appreciate its history, and the struggles it has been through with racism. I understand there are certain things people should be sensitive to when it comes to that history.
I also love Australia and her people. And I think that Australians and Americans are not as different as they would like to think. I know we both love a good laugh, and we like to be entertained. But I also know we have different senses of humor.
Case in point…my first month at college in the US, a “comedian” (I use the term loosely) came to JU and put on a performance for us, where he made fun of the mentally handicapped kid. And the students in attendance roared, and thought it was funny. The poor guy ran out in tears. I honestly didn’t get it. It was downright cruel.
My point with that story, is that some people find tasteless things funny, others don’t. But I think we need to look at the bigger picture here. 5 guys, actually I think it was 6, got dressed up, painted their faces, and sang a Jackson 5 song. What the American media ISN’T reporting, is that the lead singer had Indian heritage. He painted his dark skin white for the skit. Is that “ok” because white people don’t have a history of opression?
As someone who has lived in the Deep South, and who has an understanding of America’s history with racism (and to be honest, I think most Australians really don’t have a true understanding of the issue), I didn’t think the skit was as racist as I thought it was poor timing. Given Michael Jackson’s recent death, and the tragedy that has befallen the Jackson family, I think the timing was way off.
Consider these scenarios and tell me why they are different. A group of black men go on the show and perform a Jackson 5 song poorly. What is that? Racist? Demeaning? Disrespectful? Or meant to be fun? How about this, 5 black men paint their faces white and do a “Backstreet Boys” performance. Is that racist? WHAT PART of what they did was so disrespectful and racist? Is this another case of political correctness going too far?
I resent the comments being made my American media, The View and Bill O’Reilly included. I resent the generalisations that Australia is a racist country, that Australians don’t treat the Aboriginies well at all, that Australia is “behind” in the Civil Rights movement. Sure, Australia has as many blemishes on its past treatment of indigenous people as does the US.
The Hey Hey “Red Faces” segment is meant to be satire. Noone that is on that talent portion of the variety show is ever actually talented. Its supposed to be silly and funny. I find myself wishing Harry Connick Junior wasn’t on the show. This would never have become the issue that it has become. I love HCJ and I don’t blame him. I respect him for speaking out against something he thought was inappropriate, but the whole thing has gotten blown way out of proportion and I can’t wait for it to blow over.
Out of curiousity, what do you think is worse? The Hey Hey skit, or Prince Harry going to a Halloween costume dressed in a nazi uniform?