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…).
My Asian credentials, let me show you them…