Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Australian TV show apologizes for blackface skit
Oct. 8, 2009, 5:06 AM EST

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — An Australian variety show host has apologized for a skit in which singers parodying the Jackson Five performed in blackface.

American singer and actor Harry Connick Jr., who was serving as a guest judge on Wednesday night’s “Hey Hey It’s Saturday,” was visibly shocked by the skit, in which four men with afro wigs and blackface sang and danced behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup.

Connick, 42, gave the performance a zero score and told them that if it had been done in the United States it would have been pulled off the air.

Blackface was a traditional trope of minstrel shows in the U.S. that dates to the 19th century. Whites playing stock black characters — usually offensive stereotypes meant to demean — rubbed coal, grease or shoe polish on their faces. Blackface performances are not common in Australia.

Public reaction to the “Hey Hey” performance in online forums was mixed. Some Australians said they were embarrassed such a racist sketch had been broadcast, while others said detractors were too politically correct and that the skit was funny.

Michael Jackson died June 25 at age 50.

At a news conference on other issues Thursday morning, opposition politician Helen Coonan labeled the skit “disgusting.”

Host Daryl Somers apologized to Connick at the end of the live show.

“I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize to you,” Somers said.

Connick said he would not have appeared on the show if he’d known about the skit.

“I just want to say, on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we’ve spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart,” he told Somers after his apology.

Anand Deva, the frontman of the “Jackson Jive” act, said it was not meant to cause offense but added he would not have performed it in the United States.

“Hey Hey” ran for 27 years starting in 1971. The “Jackson Jive” group first appeared on the show 20 years ago and were invited back to reprise their roles during the second of two reunion shows for the once-popular program.

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Comments on: "Australian TV show apologizes for blackface skit!!!" (5)

  1. Why is it that 2 black men can dress as white women (White Chicks), make a movie acting like idiots and there is no backlash, but the minute white people do the reverse it becomes an issue and society has a fit? I know why – never mind.

  2. Tom Russell said:

    I notice nobody in America seems to be upset by one of the black members of the group wearing “whiteface”.

    Is this considered non racist in the USA today?
    Here in Australia we joke about everything from race to beliefs to sex on our comedy shows, often upsetting Americans, who are viewed with some amazement at their intolerance and bias.

    Yet here is an obvious racial slur from a person pretending to be white, and not a word is said. Unbelievable.

  3. American wanker. Australia is a land of immigrants and one of the most racially diverse countries in the world. We have a long and proud history of using humour to bring us together. What’s not surprising is that America, one of the truly most racist and racially divided nations on Earth gets on its high horse in a pathertic holier art than thou state over something like this. Other acts on this show have included Italian-Australians dressing up as typical Aussies to poke fun at our look and culture and everyone has found these just as funny and entertaining. We enjoy going along through life while having a laugh at each other and ourselves. Americans.. if you want to live you life in a ridiculous up tight world with no humour do it on your side of the pond while enjoying your recession.

    • Tom and thanks for your two comments as well! Keep coming and leaving your thoughts. I hope to continue to give you blogs that you find interesting!!! Your comments are welcomed and appreciated!!

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