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Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV - Dhamma Wheel

Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

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zavk
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Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:41 am

Hi friends,

I believe most of you had heard about this?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... ckson-jive

The producers of the show and the performers have insisted that it was not racist. So would many viewers, I believe. But even if it is conceded that this isn't a reflection of latent racism in Australia, it'd be hard to deny that this reveals a high degree of provincialism, if not sheer ignorance, in this country (and in humankind more generally.)

Some people have argued that Harry Conick Jr. was wrong to conflate America's history with Australian history. But the spectre of 'blackness' haunts Australia too. Moreover, if we follow this line of argument, are we then to assume that it is ok for all cultures without a black history (or any other 'colour') to lampoon those people of colour and be free from the obligation to consider the ethics of their actions?

The frontman of the group has been quoted:

"Anyone who knows us as a group, we are intelligent people, we are all from different racial backgrounds so I am really truly surprised." (http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertain ... 91299.html)

Intelligent? Why, I am surprised too.
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:50 am

Greetings Ed,

I've read quite a lot of comments about this, but I've not seen the performance.

In their defence, I think the blackening and the wigs had much more to do with trying to make it obvious they were being the Jackson Five. If it wasn't clear that it was (a white) Michael Jackson at the front, and 4 dark singers/dancers in the back, they could just as well have been impersonating a 90's boy band, for all anyone knew.

The daggy segment Red Faces on which they appeared on has always been the home of very cheap homemade skits, and they certainly used inexpensive home-style props in their act.

In the name of entertainment we see men dressed as women, women dressed as men, straight acting gay, gay acting straight... even black men acting as white women...

White Chicks (2004) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381707/

Where is the line drawn, and on what basis?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:53 am

Thanks Ed
I was working last night so I didn't hear about this until this morning.
I've been apalled by what's being reported today. Not only the 'blackface' issue, but also the reporting of the details of the alleged murder of a young girl who was thrown from West Gate Bridge in the pre-trial hearing.
The blackface skit was insensitive at best. Its not like, we've had a history of harmony and racial equality with our indigineous peoples. But that's the sort of boganesque crap that we'll get if 'Hey Hey' is brought back from obscurity. Marieke Hardy wrote a great opinion piece here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertain ... 51254.html
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:55 am

I haven't seen the skit in question, Ed, but I've noticed a spectre of neo-PC emerging in Australian media. Chaser was always under fire for something or other, recently John Saffran and now Hey hey. Well, for crying out loud, it's comedy!

It may be bad comedy (I've never been a fan of Hey hey). But comedy by nature is hit and miss. And by nature it has to make fun of taboos, cross lines, etc. A baffoon of old was even allowed to make fun of the king! There are traditions all over the world of this kind of a release. But now it seems that comedians need to be strapped into this procrustean bed of political correctness.

I was all for PC when they spoke of gender-neutral language, or eradicating terms that are demeaning or patronising. But surely allowance has to be made for comedy. Of course some lines do need to be drawn, but I think they are being drawn way too tightly at the moment.

_/|\_
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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:02 am

Last edited by zavk on Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:13 am

Hi Dan

Yes, I agree with you that PC-ness can sometimes be a poor excuse for curtailing free expression.

I should perhaps clarify that in posting this, I am not seeking to apportion praise or blame on anyone. I think this incident is a stark reminder of just how pervasive avijja or ignorance is. It also underscores the need for constant ethical reflection on what we choose to do.
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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:17 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Senex » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:45 am

South Park can get away with making fun of pretty much anything because they make fun of everything, they don't just hunt after one group.
Words exist because of meaning; once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word with him?

Zhuangzi, chapter 26
(B. Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang-tzu, 302)

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Jechbi » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:22 am


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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:42 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Yes, but those are predominantly American cultural considerations associated with blackfacing.

By way of contrast, consider Britain's highly successful and long-running series...

The Black and White Minstrel Show (1958-1978)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_ ... strel_Show

Which was obviously produced and broadcast in an era after the events of the "historical context" you refer to.

Something must have happened in the 30 years since the Black And White Minstrel Show... the question is, is it some kind of enlightenment regarding race, or is it rampant political correctness? Or is it a concern about rubbing it in the fact of an entertainer, raised in the South, who was inspired by black performers and therefore has an acute awareness of this "historical context".

I don't think there's a clear answer to that question either way, it's probably a bit of all three.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:08 am

Political correctness?
Paul, I think the event that happened in the last 30 years was the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation and the resultant realisation within the community that some forms of behaviour are unconscionable and should be sanctioned.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:06 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:19 am

With metta,
zavk

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:38 am

Its been discussed right now on Q&A on ABC1
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:08 am

Greetings Ben,

Let us know the gist of what they say!

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby christopher::: » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:42 am

Hi all. I just read the article and looked at the first minute of the clip. A question... why is the host apologizing to Harry Connick?

I saw fat white men with natty hair wigs. They looked more like Australian aboriginals then the Jackson five, imo. The issue is not if a white American is insulted, but whether this is offensive to black Australians, isn't it?

How are things going in your country with issues of racial equality?

In the US we seem to have made some progress. There are many black actors, actresses, singers, polititians, managers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. And especially on TV and in movies great efforts have been made to portray black Americans in ways that break stereotypes.

The situation has not been as good for Native Americans, imo. We still have sports teams called the Indians, or Redskins, with racist mascots. Sadly, for our aboriginal folks they still must deal with some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and other social ills. Many black communities still suffer as well.

So now, even with a black president, we have a long way to go with issues of racism. Its good to continuously reflect on these issues, i think.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:55 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby christopher::: » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:28 pm

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:34 pm

hi christopher
I dont think the video will be up for another day.
Kind regards
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Global disbelief over 'blackface' skit on Australian TV

Postby Jechbi » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:41 pm



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