Twenty years ago myself and five friends painted our faces black and performed the Jackson Jive skit on Hey Hey It’s Saturday to great acclaim.
Two nights ago we did exactly the same skit and we’ve been pilloried for it.
It’s no defence to say that we didn’t think it wouldn’t have caused offence, because we’re all grown men now, not uni students, and we should have known better.
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7.30pm That’s a wrap. The online polls from news.com.au and other sites today show decisively that most people didn’t find the Jackson Jive skit offensive. You can follow how the reaction unfolded in the post below.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think it should have aired. It was one of the most offensively racist things I’ve seen on television in years. But there wasn’t any malice in it. The doctors seem like good blokes. Going blackface was a mistake.
6.33pm: Blast from the past but he’s still around - Australia’s original blackface artist Louis Beers, also known as King Billy Cokebottle, is still around. His rather rudimentary website is here (may offend).
6.21pm Global report Associated Press has filed an extensive story from its Adelaide bureau. It zeros in on the fact that the performers were in blackface, explaining:
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Have we grown up as a nation at all in the past 20 years? There’s never been an event more perfectly designed to answer that question than last night’s Hey Hey it’s Saturday reunion special.
The Jackson Jive skit that sent Australian conversations into melt-down from about 10.30 last night is like a smelly time capsule that’s been opened up, in front of 2.6 million of us, and a guest no less.
And in case there was any doubt about it, the guest’s face immediately give away what a stinker it was. The Hey Hey reunion specials should now be put reburied for good.
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Update 11.30am: Click here for the latest reaction on this story from Australia and around the world.
Update 10.50pm: Daryl Somers just apologised to Harry Connick for the skit. Connick said if he’d known it was going to be on he would never have agreed to be a part of the show.
Harry Connick looked like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him tonight when as a judge on Red Faces on the Hey Hey it’s Saturday reunion he was confronted with a troop of black and white minstrels taking the piss out of the Jackson Five.
The American crooner, possibly sensing a backlash back home, gave the Jackson Jive act a big fat zero, and said if the show was on air in the US it would be off air again immediately, “Hey Hey No Show”.
The Jackson Jive, complete with cheap afro wigs and boot polished faces had been on Red Faces 20 years ago. The joke might have been funny then, but have things changed?
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