Hey Hey + Safran

It has been such a while since I posted, and I’ve been itching to get back into it. Blogging is so much about habit; the less one does it, the less one thinks to do it. I read other people’s well-written, savvy blogs (e.g. Eurasian Sensation, Strong Coffee Please, Unique Schmuck) and automatically feel inadequate. Rhubarb rhubarb about blogs serving one’s own needs and not being for others but, really, having a public space like this freaks me out sometimes. I self-edit a lot when I post about work stuff, and keep reminding myself that this blog may only be regularly read by a handful of folks but can be found by anyone. I also stop myself from writing too much about my academic work because – I cringe even as I think this – it’s work that needs to be channelled into publications and I have little enough time to do that properly (also, there’s that little issue of ‘pre-publication’ if things turn up on blogs before Haughty Publisher X gets their hands on material).

Good golly, how did this post become a defence for my slackness and mediocre content?!

To the topics in my title:

1. Hey Hey and the infamous ‘black face’ skit

Chris of Eurasian Sensation has already done a fairly comprehensive job of discussing this and the various developments around the issue (see HERE). I guess I’m just putting in my 5 cents as a matter of record more than anything else. I sure as heck haven’t got any amazing insight to add – it’s almost midnight and I was up at 4.30am this morning, orright? I didn’t find the skit particularly offensive but I did think it was a really stupid thing to do, given contemporary sensibilities. It’s not as if Hey Hey is known for challenging takes on issues, or any irony, so including the skit just seems dumb. Yes, I’m saying that it could be a skit that could function beyond just ‘being racist’ but that show sure wasn’t going to pull it off.

I was annoyed by those who dismissed Harry Connick’s comments as an ‘American’ response. Puh-lease. Australians wouldn’t be offended by ‘blackface’ because we’re such a laid-back bunch of funsters? And haven’t had any history/experience persecuting black people? I can think of quite a few people who would happily set them straight on that latter point, and how…

And, finally, Daryl Somers? Wasn’t funny for the almost 3 decades for which Hey Hey ran, and his penchant for lame double entendres was particularly appalling in his role as compere for Dancing with the Stars. All of that, plus the running ‘jokes’ with Kamahl, add up to a Barry Crocker of a celebrity. Shame, Dazza, shame.

2. John Safran’s Race Relations – Episode 1

I know this series had its fair share of controversy before it even aired (which is ridiculous, in my book – how can you be pre-offended by a show? You could be dubious about the content but, until you actually see it, how could you be offended? Inquiring minds want to know…). I must admit to not being very interested in it because I’d watched Safran’s stuff before and had never been particularly engaged, but my sister and her partner recced it today and – good lemming that I am – I watched it straight away.

I enjoyed it. I was appalled, I cringed, laughed, and called out, “Idiot!” at the screen a few times. This is the way telly should be. I had no expectations about the show, and didn’t emerge enlightened about much at all (though my admiration for Penny Wong was only exacerbated by the fact that she didn’t return Safran’s phonecalls). But I didn’t care. Given my work is researching and analysing race relations all the time, I don’t actually want heavy doses of that material in my off-time (perhaps this explains the lack of substantial posts in this blog…ahem).

While I know we’re not meant to take much of what he’s doing seriously, I was slightly disturbed by Safran’s puppy-like embrace of his ‘Eurasian preference.’ Having done way too much reading about exoticisation and racial/cultural essentialism, particularly in terms of the gendered nature of ‘Asian’ stereotypes, it was hard to dismiss his ‘preference’ as a quirk. I’ve met too many pasty white boys who like ‘Asian women’, and it’s hard not to get the heebies about it. Even worse are those pasty white boys who like ‘Asian women’ AND costume themselves with Asian clothing and accessories. While I love indulging in the awfulness that is Steven ‘The Orientophile’ Seagal (cf. Glimmer Man), seeing manifestations of this in real life is another thing. I once sat behind a (pasty white) composer of ‘fusion’ music at a conference and he wore a brocade jacket with frog-buttons and also had meditation beads around his neck – OMG*gag*. I guess I have a wariness in general of anyone who dresses up ‘ethnic’, and sometimes this wariness is directed at ethnics themselves (yes, I’m talking to you, Kylie Kwong…).

Next time?

My Asian credentials, let me show you them…



4 thoughts on “Hey Hey + Safran

  1. oanh 28/10/2009 / 10:18 pm

    >re self edit – ugh, do I ever. Especially now as my name isn't so common in the UK. When I heard about the Hey Hey blackface stupidity, I just rolled my eyes but could not be bothered engaging with it. It's not that I'm a laid back Aussie who's okay with racism (ha ha ha *wipe tears from eyes*), just that sometimes, I really don't have the energy to care. I was, and still am, impressed by HCJnr response.

  2. tseen 29/10/2009 / 4:16 am

    >Your response re not having the energy to care is one I feel a lot, then immediately feel guilty about. I know it's pointless to be 100% outraged by all the stupid things that happen around us, but I know I often take refuge in the 'too hard' shelter when issues are really confronting. I'd envisaged this blog as a possible space for working out my thoughts on various debates, but – alas – there never seems to be enough time to write sensible entries! I fall back on flippancy a lot. A lot.

  3. scp 03/11/2009 / 5:53 am

    >hey you're back! I don't self-edit because I'm just a strong coffee – though am thinking about changing the name since my addiction to strong coffee is why I ended up with a head injury …The Hey Hey incident- I just rolled my eyes as well because it was Hey Hey. In fact I thought they were rehashing an old incident because I had no idea that crappy show is back. Though the Ossie Ostrich Show was the first Aussie TV show I watched regularly – but that didn't have Daryl – only the bobbed hair woman in the funny jumper.When I did engage with it a bit, I thought, "typical of the idiots who would go on Red faces" – even though people were saying, "oh but they're doctors and some of them are Indian-Australians"I think they were ignorant and had no idea about the history of African Americans. I then wondered whether they would have thought twice about dressing up in "Aboriginal" costumes and pretending to be Yothu Yindi. Also, I wonder whether the fact some of them were people of colour, made them feel as if they had more license than say if they were all blonde hair blue eyed Aussies. Ignorance is not an excuse but an explanation. But the real question is – WHY IS HEY HEY BACK ON TV??????? It's not retro. It's lame. Who the hell watches this show??

  4. scp 03/11/2009 / 6:28 am

    >I think in Australia African looking people were thought of in the way Japanese were thought of in turn of the 20th Century US. ie. a more acceptable form of blackness than say indigenous AUstralians because they were cool basketball players, handsome sailors…rastafarians etc.. What the "hey hey" dicks did was stupid, but I'm thinking perhaps in their limited minds they saw African-Americans, or at least the Jackson 5, as fair game because these contestants viewed them as individual successful Americans – and fair game. As opposed to the collective… etc..etc.. Who knows? Thinking about all these complex interactions/interpretations/assumptions is hurting my head. That pole did some damage.

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