That which is done is what will be done.

First you have this*:

Regardless of the content of the show, simply by choosing to wear ‘racial drag’ Lilley has put his work in the company of pieces of entertainment history as regrettable as the Al Jolson Minstrel Show. Yet for the most part we seem at peace with one of Australian TV’s favorite sons doing something that we would not, and have not let anyone else get away with.

Then you have this:

And back in 2011 we said this:

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.

But let’s look on the bright side. Maybe there’s no controversy around Lilley’s antics because everyone can see full well that controversy is exactly what Lilley’s after – it’s not like he couldn’t tell the exact same story if Jonah was white.

And why would you give someone obviously trying to stir up trouble the one thing he oh-so-desperately wants?




*We’d also suggest Green gets it wrong by comparing Jonah to an act of blackface – Lilley might be constantly trying to stir up controversy with his numerous dubious stereotypes, but all his characters are firmly shown to be individuals rather than “all Asians” or “all Islanders”, and they’re set against a backdrop where their bad behaviour is clearly frowned upon by other members of whatever race he’s pretending to be. He’s not funny, but he’s not stupid either.

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1 Comment

  • Urinal Cake says:

    ‘Blackface’, obviously has multiple definitions but it’s not only about applying make-up and acting like a minority but from what I’ve also the act of a ‘white person’ taking the space of an ethnic minority to tell their own story.

    Lilley from what I’ve seen has tried to deflect criticism (blackface, negative stereotyping etc) by portraying positive Tongan characters and community through family, music and church. And is done for the most part with a deftness you don’t expect.