It Has Begun

When it comes to being first with the news, it’s hard to top News Limited. Especially when they’re reporting on controversies that haven’t even happened yet:

CHRIS Lilley is set to spark controversy in his new comedy show Angry Boys, with characters defecating on cars and racist slurs rife.

But the star makes no apologies for the provocative content in the mockumentary series.

Lilley, who enjoyed a ratings smash with Summer Heights High, is most likely to face a racism backlash from his new show.

See that right there? “Most likely to”. They can’t even manage to cough out a “will most definitely face a racism backlash”. Not only are they just flat-out guessing that Chris Lilley’s latest show will stir up anger – by which they mean “we’ll be running stories about how racist it is a little closer to the broadcast date” – they’re not even confident that their guess is correct.

Surely this kind of wild accusation requires some kind of back-up – and don’t worry, next up is a bunch of out-of-context quotes designed to create the outraged world of tomorrow today:

Lilley plays six characters, and it is granny Ruth Sims, a worker at a juvenile justice centre, who dishes the dirt in the early episodes.

“Get your lazy Abo a… off the couch,” she says to one young detainee.

During a soccer match, she shouts: “Kick it negro … Come on Coco Pops, I thought wogs were meant to be good at soccer.”

The other characters are twins Daniel and Nathan Sims, who featured in Lilley’s series We Can Be Heroes, black rapper S.Mouse, surfer dude Blake Oakfield and hard-nosed Japanese mum Jen Okazaki – mother of a “gay” skateboarding champion.

[you might be wondering why S.Mouse won’t be causing outrage, considering that for that character Lilley gets around in make-up designed to turn him into an African-American. But remember, the Murdoch press had no problem whatsoever with the blackface sketch on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, thanks to reader’s polls saying they were a-ok with blackface acts even before chief columnist Andrew Bolt announced Somers et al were guilty of nothing more than stupidity. So while Lilley’s racist comments will fan the flames of hate, his suddenly dark-skinned face will breeze by with a smile and a wave.]

Time for a confession: we’ve seen the first few episodes of Angry Boys (of course we have – we wouldn’t have been taking swipes at it for the last week or so if we hadn’t seen enough of it to pass some kind of judgement), and while everything the Herald Sun‘s Colin Vickery* and Darren Devlyn mention here is factually correct, even for a Chris Lilley effort there’s more than enough context around these “jokes” to make it clear that we’re supposed to be laughing at the fact anyone would say such things.

But that’s not what’s so annoying about this thick slice of premium tripe: every single time Chris Lilley sticks his head up we get a run of news reports and reviews warning us that his latest effort will ignite a firestorm of outrage and controversy across the length and breadth of the land. To be fair, it’s not just Lilley that threatens the very stability of this country every time he frocks up. As we pointed out here here and here, outrage is increasingly the publicity option of choice when it comes to promoting comedy on / from the ABC and it’s a game the Murdoch press is more than happy to play along with.

What makes this latest example even more outrageous is that when it comes to Chris Lilley this supposed wave of outrage NEVER ACTUALLY ARRIVES. Remember this report from the Fairfax press back in 2007?

AWARD-WINNING comedian Chris Lilley’s much anticipated new series is under fire for its controversial jokes and storylines, weeks before it is due to air on the ABC.

Summer Heights High, set in an Australian public high school, features jokes about a teenage ecstasy death, children with Down syndrome, child sex abuse and rape, causing some campaigners to call for it to be banned.

And yet, when it arrived, what happened? Nothing. Well, nothing but a lot of reviews going on about “watch out, this week’s episode is going to make the ABC switchboard explode!!!” Take this Summer Heights High review from The Herald-Sun‘s Cameron Adams:

Summer Heights High

Plenty more reasons for the haters to get angry tonight when Year 11 girl Ja’ime starts dating a year 7 student. More ammunition: a student overdoses on ecstasy (letter writers have your pens ready) and overly dramatic drama teacher Mr G somehow manages to make the death all about himself. And worse. And if you thought you’d never hear Nikki Webster’s Strawberry Kisses, think again.

Watch for: the ultimate crime against Ja’ime – a boy makes her “feel less hot”

And yet, apart from us, were there any actual “haters” of Summer Heights High, let alone a mass wave of protests? Yes, there was a kerfuffle around the real-life teen who died in a similar way to the girl Mr G’s musical was about, but her parents a): had an actual reason to be annoyed, considering the character had the same name as their dead daughter, b): were just the victims of a sad co-incidence, as the episode had been filmed weeks before their daughter’s death, and c): were people who reportedly had to physically walk out of the room when something distressing appeared on their TV instead of simply turning it off.

What these reviews and reports claim is always just over the horizon is the kind of mass public outrage that greeted The Chaser’s “Make A Realistic Wish Foundation” sketch – an outrage, it’s not too far off-beam to suggest, that was at least in part whipped up by the same Murdoch press that keep trying to tell us over and over that everything Chris Lilley does is going to shake this country down to its can’t-you-take-a- blackface-joke-mate-what-are-you-a-poof? foundations. The only thing remotely similar to have happened since was the outrage over the Hey Hey blackface skit, and with the Murdoch press hosing things down instead of stirring them up the only result there was that Hey Hey came back for a further 20 episodes. Gee, thanks.

As far as Chris Lilley’s work is concerned, there have been no – none, nada, zero, zip – serious controversies. Not a one. And as as even the most superficial of glances reveals Lilley’s latest effort to be the very dictionary definition of “more of the same”, what seriously makes them think it’ll be different this time? What possible justification can they have for re-running a story that was comprehensively proven false the last time they tried it? Gee, you might start to think the “news” was nothing but the same old ideologically motivated stories repeated over and over again, without even the slightest regard as to whether they actually happened or not…


*who, elsewhere in the Herald-Sun, writes an amazing editorial complaining about the ABC getting The Chaser to provide commentary for the royal wedding. “Would you like your wedding to be the target of bitchy people taking the piss?” he says, missing roughly two dozen points in one go. Other choice lines include “It is all so wrong,” “Marriage is supposed to be a solemn occasion where two people declare their love for one another… what is so damn funny about that,” and “The irony is many of the comedians who think it is fine to make money by slagging off the royal wedding are, themselves, married”. Much like the way many of those comedians who make fun of people are, themselves, people?

Similar Posts
Mark Humphries’ satire is back
What is 7 News Sydney doing creating a satire slot with Mark Humphries? That doesn’t fit with anything else they...
Austin Powers
Austin is the kind of series you get when the production side of television couldn’t give a rat’s arse about...
The (F)art Of…
ABC arts programming has been rubbish for years and new effort The Art Of… is no exception. Just how bad...