You must have seen this video by now. This is a reunion show for a long running Australian variety show of the 1980s. Sort of retro “America’s Got Talent” mixed with late night talk shows.  One of the reunion acts consists of a bunch of guys in blackface, “The Jackson JIve,” doing an act they did 20 years ago on the same show (that time they won–you figure that out). They’re still doing it. The “performance” is awful. There’s no irony. No comment on blackface. The audience seem to like it and so does the host.

The only one that objects to the obvious racism is the American entertainer Harry Connick Jnr, who is there as “guest judge” (he was the paid performer the show earlier). He gives it a zero and objects to it on the basis that it it would not have been allowed in the US. It is unclear whether Connick thinks it is fine to have blackface in Australia or it may be that he is shocked.

Not missing a beat (and looking very pleased with herself), one of the Australian judges gives the guys in blackface seven (!) out of ten: “I thought you were very cute, great choreography, terrific singing, fabulous …”

Later, after a commercial break, the host standing next to Connick makes a half apology to the American:”We may have offended you with that act.” The implication being we’re not offended. We’re Australians. We’re not racists. Just ask the Aborigines and the Asian immigrants.

It also turns out the guys in blackface are medical doctors and, later, that at least one of them is of Indian descent. Oh, and then there are the comments on Youtube defending the “performance.”

Of course everyone is apologizing now. They’re not racists. Bla bla bla.

Ah, Australia that new home of some white South Africans.

[H/T Neelika Jayawardane]

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.