13 October 2009
The now infamous "Jackson Jive" skit sparked international condemnation, but here in Australia, most people, according to online polls, thought it was just a bit of fun.
So, in such a multi-cultural and peaceful country, why is our perception of racism so different to the rest of the world?
It could have something to do with the demographics of our television presenters.
To put it bluntly, we're almost exclusively white.
I've even got blond hair and blue eyes. The perfect Aryan! (Just don't tell anyone that my father's side of the family is Jewish)
But seriously... Can you name a single presenter on Australian TV who's not white? (SBS being the notable exception)
US news has black reporters. Opera rakes in millions per episode! And Britain doesn't shy away from those with more pigment in their skin either. Just have a look at BSKYB. (as I write this Lukwesa Burak is reading the news)
But turn on the tele Down Under, in one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet, all you get is white.
Even our "ethnic" presenters, with uber-Anglo names like Stan Grant and John Hill, are on the whiter side of black. And Ernie Dingo is light coloured, compared to most indigenous Australians.
But what about Indians, Asians or Africans. Are there any on mainstream TV?
Nuala Hafner on Seven has broken the mould. And, thankfully, it seems the younger generation is getting a bit more of a mix, with Yumi Stynes on Channel V and "Fuzzy" on Video Hits.
My point is that those who are doing the hiring in the media, especially television, don't think mass audiences are ready for non-whites. Maybe all those old fashioned media bosses are the problem. Maybe they're just savvy enough to know their audiences will change the channel if the person talking to them from inside the crystal bucket isn't a whitey.
To most Australians, myself included, the Red Faces gag didn't cause offence. But that's probably because we don't properly understand the painful connotations of such a skit.
If Hey Hey It's Saturday had a black person as one of its presenters, would we feel more uncomfortable when those Jackson Jivers ran on stage?
I think so.
Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been approved.