Harry Connick Jr. speaks out against blackface skit on Australian show

Harry Connick Jr. Is getting a lot of credit – and a lot of criticism – for his recent critique of a performance done in blackface on the Australian talent show “Hey Hey It’s Saturday.” A group performed a Jackson Five parody as the “Jackson Jive” while wearing blackface. According to Bitten and Bound the group originally appeared on the show 20 years ago, though there’s no mention of if they wore blackface at the time. Connick, who is from New Orleans, was a guest judge on the show and was visibly upset during the act. He gave the group a score of 0, and told them exactly why he was upset.

An Australian variety show featuring performers parodying the Jackson Five while in blackface so outraged its American judge, that the program’s host immediately apologized. New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. was serving as a guest judge on Wednesday night’s ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’ when he became visibly shocked by the skit, in which four men with afro wigs and dark make-up calling themselves the “Jackson Jive” sang and danced behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup. Connick gave the skit a zero and later confronted the show’s host, Daryl Somers, about the taboo subject.

“I just want to say, on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we’ve spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart,” he told Somers. Somers seemed to realize the mistake and immediately apologized to Connick personally. “I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize to you,” Somers said.

According to reports, the singer walked off the show after the skit and later said he’d wished he never agreed to participate on the show. “If I knew that was going to be part of the show I definitely wouldn’t have done it.”

[From PopEater]

Obviously Harry did the right thing, and the only thing a person could do in that situation. There are times where you can keep quiet to be polite, but this was certainly not one of them. The history of blackface is complicated and something I think a lot of people today don’t even know about, and don’t understand all the implications. Wikipedia has a good summary of it, noting “Blackface, in the narrow sense, is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to take on the appearance of certain archetypes of American racism…” I first learned about it when I saw Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled,” which is about two black men who decide to revive the minstrel show for national TV, but instead of white people wearing blackface, the black people wear it.

Harry Connick Jr. is simply getting praise though. He’s getting a lot of criticism too, and charges that he’s a hypocrite. It seems back in 13 years ago Connick was a guest on FOX’s “Mad TV,” where he played a black reverend. He’s not in blackface but his skin is darkened.

But just as he is being lauded for calling out the Australian group’s insensitive skit, Connick Jr. is also being labeled a hypocrite by many. In 1996, the singer-actor played a preacher in a ‘Mad TV’ sketch where his skin appears to be darker than usual. While he clearly isn’t in actual blackface, viewers of the clip are wasting no time calling him out on a double standard.

“Harry is a hypocrite of the highest order, typical shallow celebrity with double standards, do as i say, not as i do …” posted AussieOz07 in the comments section of the clip, found on YouTube.

According to the AP, Anand Deva, the frontman of the “Jackson Jive” act, said it was not meant to cause offense but added he would not have performed it in the United States.

Public reaction to the performance in online forums was mixed. Some Australians said they were embarrassed such a racist sketch had been broadcast, while others said detractors were too politically correct and that the skit was funny.

[From PopEater]

Here’s my thought: first off, the history of blackface is one of antagonistic mockery by white people. It is incredibly demeaning. It’s not quite the same thing to wear some skin darkening regular makeup. Many white actors on Saturday Night Live play black characters by wearing darker makeup. This past Saturday Fred Armisen played President Barack Obama, and he also does a hilarious (and often chided) impression of New York Governor David Patterson. You can argue he shouldn’t, and you can argue that Harry Connick Jr. shouldn’t have worn makeup to play a black reverend. But it’s a very different situation from wearing blackface. With the makeup, the point is to make the person appear black. With blackface, the point is to make the person appear to be a buffoon and an incredibly offensive stereotype. If you think it’s wrong that Harry wore make up on Mad TV, that’s understandable. Perhaps he agrees and regrets the decision – that doesn’t mean he should encourage others to do worse.

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89 Responses to “Harry Connick Jr. speaks out against blackface skit on Australian show”

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  1. Kaboom says:

    In bad taste, yes. Poorly executed, yes. Racist? Hardly.

  2. sacra says:

    Being a hypocrite would be him doing it NOW and then criticizing someone else. Obviously he’s learned something in the past 13 years and his reaction to the Australian skit was genuine.

  3. mollyb says:

    It is absolutely racists and deplorable. But I agree with you, Jaybird. There is a real, albeit subtle, difference between darkening the skin to play a character (a la Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder) and “blackface” which is a specific construct intended to mock African Americans.

  4. Ben says:

    Bit more info for you regarding the story.
    One of them was in white face (he had white makeup on) and was Michael obviously. 20 years ago he was also in black face as Michael was black then.

    The performers are all doctors, surgeons, specialists who went to Uni together.

    At least one of them is Indian (the one who had to go white face because he’s dark skinned being Indian and all), and I think there are other minorities in the group.

    I don’t see it as being racist as the skit wasn’t about a random black person, or a generalization – rather it was a group specifically being the Jackson 5. A group who aren’t African American and therefore had to do something to make it believalbe.
    So I don’t see it as a racist thing.

    However I don’t understand how people still do blackface, no matter the reason or their intentions because someone always get offended no matter what – people should just realize regardless whether you’re racist or not you’re going to catch shit for it.

  5. hatsumomo says:

    Never heard of the show and thought the skit wasn’t funny. Objectively.

  6. truth says:

    blackface is insulting.

    darkening/lightening the skin to play a role is acceptable — dave chappelle or robert downey jr.

  7. CandyKay says:

    Blackface has a long and complicated history in the U.S.. Some white performers who were early supporters of civil rights – including the Marx Brothers and Fred Astaire – also did blackface routines. In some cases, it was not seen as a mockery, but as a tribute. Check out Astaire’s “Bojangles” routine, in which he basically admits he learned everything he knows from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

    I hate watching blackface, personally, because it makes me uncomfortable and reminds me of my country’s racist demons. But I don’t think we should condemn anyone who has ever performed in blackface.

  8. Simp says:


    It is absolutely racist. You need to go do a little research on the origins of performing in blackface. I bit of historical perspective will do wonders for understanding why it is not simply racist but overt racism.

    The group doing the performance being ignorant of that fact makes it, IMO, even worse.

    Truth has it right, there is a VERY big difference between simply using darkening makeup and performing in blackface.

  9. linaznz says:

    Thats Australians for you they have deep seated racsism sometimes its worse than deep south USA they are 30 years behind in terms of race relations espcially in their own country with the aborigines they treat them like utter crap

  10. Pete says:

    I’m guessing Connick was particularly bothered by it because he had earlier gotten blasted for that skit. He knew better from first-hand experience.

  11. fizXgirl314 says:

    Maybe the australians can get away with it since they weren’t the ones who owned slaves and had separate but equal laws…

  12. ElizabethM says:

    Eddie Murphy performed in white makeup. Dare I mention the Wayans’ flick, “White Chicks”? SNL routinely uses makeup because they choose the best person for the role and then make that person look as much like the personality as possbile.

    Makeup is a tool in Hollywood.

    Blackface is just douchey and racist.

    Team Harry!

  13. Goddess711 says:

    Aussies are an angry, racist, backwoods nationality. This is typical and on the light side for them. Good for HCjr for speaking up, he said it way nicer than I would have. What a moronic show, but then once again, typical for Australian (lack of) sense of humour.

  14. Bill Hicks is God says:

    I’ve commented on the Harry Connick Jr. thing elsewhere (he’s pure class considering his father was a bigoted DA for 30 years) but I wanted to say that embedding links in the reader comments is tacky and really cheapens people’s efforts in taking the time to post on this site.

  15. AussieGuy says:

    What’s up with the Australian hate. We’re hardly backwards. We’re laid back. You uptight assholes think we’re backwards because we don’t moan about every little bit of PC nonsense.
    We’re the last refuge of common sense.
    As far as being as racist as the deep south. I call bullshit. Aborigionals don’t get bashed in the street etc for being black (I’m not talking about well in the past). Half of Australia wouldn’t bad mouth our Prime Minister just because he’s an Aboriginal (if we had an Aboriginal president) like half of America is because Obama is halfblack.
    You only need to go on the internet and read all the race arguments that rise up from America – arguments that we don’t even face here in Australia.

    BTW. Hey Hey it’s Saturday (that show this took place on) is utter garbage and I can’t believe Harry Connick Jr. would even book a spot on it.

  16. Cheyenne says:

    To fizXgirl314: Check out the treatment of the Australian aborigines by the Australian government until well into the 20th century. It ain’t pretty.

    Also, until well into the 20th century, Australia had some of the most racist exclusionary immigration laws on the planet. If you weren’t white, stay out.

  17. CB Rawks says:

    That is absolutely not true, “Goddess”!

    Those morons in NO WAY represent the Australian people. We are just as disgusted as everyone else. And angry.
    That stupid show was on tv in the late seventies, early eighties, and that segment was a fake talent competition called Red Faces. People came on and did stupid things.
    Apparently the racist Jackson Jive thing happened back then, and they asked them to do it again(!) on the reunion episodes.
    God only knows how stupid people like that can even exist, let alone hold down jobs and dress themselves in the morning.

  18. CB Rawks says:

    Goddess, that is absolutely not true of Australians.
    Those few awful people on that show do not represent the rest of us.

    I am trying very hard not to explode with anger at the ridiculous mass generalisations of the people at this site today.
    There are good people everywhere and bad people everywhere. America is no different.

  19. AussieGuy says:

    well into the 20th century is like 50 years into Australia’s history as a unified nation. We only become a federation into 1901.

    It’s like me bringing up slavery in America to talk about contemporary race issues in the USA.

  20. Aussie says:

    To Cheyenne.
    Maybe you should do your research a bit better. Theres a reason many people call Australia a multicultural nation.
    Of and also our past is not nearly as bad as yours. Our laws against aboriginals (whist being wrong) we meant for the best (ie paternalism) where as yours we’re born out of hatred.
    Also, in Australia, blackface is the same thing as makeup. We just don’t have the history that you do. The segment was not ment as a blackface routine. It was a send up of
    the Jackson brothers done for a bit of fun. The only thing I can
    really see as offensive in this act is the blackface costuming.
    However, I can only speak for myself when I say I honestly had never
    heard of blackface or the offense it causes till the aftermath of
    this skit. This might be ingrained in the American culture but it
    certainly isn’t in Australia.
    Maybe this is food for thought for the American public whom are now
    ripping the apparent ‘racist Australians’ to shreds on their blogs?

  21. girl says:

    Are we really bringing in the tired-assed assumption that the only reason anyone could possibly critisize Obama is because of racially motivated animosity into this discussion? Really?

    That is pathetic.

  22. CB Rawks says:

    “…Also, in Australia, blackface is the same thing as makeup.”

    That’s not correct. Blackface is not even part of Australian theatre history. It’s not something we did here.
    The first time I ever saw it was on that really old British tv show where they had dancers wearing it. It must have been forty years ago, but they were doing ballroom dancing, wearing that. It was bizarre.

  23. Wren says:

    Rawks I’m with you.
    I’m Australian and the clip made me uncomfortable. I disagree with other commentors that ‘blackface’ is not offensive to Australians. The show was a reunion of an old variety program that nobody ever watched. I think Harry Connick Jr was right to come out and say exactly what he thought. The show vetts these skits before they go on and they should not have let it go on the air.
    I am disappointed with the generalisations made about Australians on the posts above. The actions of a few do not represent the nation. Most Aussies were not happy with the skit – you should have heard the talkback radio the morning after the show – people here were outraged.

  24. Rosalee says:

    I’m watching the stumbling around and pointing of fingers to which country is the most racist and vilified..The treatment of African Americans is shameful and watching the protesters waving signs comparing your President Obama to Hitler is disgusting and The Americans tried to wipe out their Indigenous population, remember General Sheridan infamous quote, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” I’d say both countries tried their best at removing the first people of each country.

  25. Aussie says:

    “Blackface is not even part of Australian theatre history. It’s not something we did here.”
    exactly. thats my point. it has the same level of significance as wearing makeup… which is none since Australia didn’t have the sane race problems as America.

  26. Emily says:

    Can people please stop saying that all Australians are racist? I’m an Aussie, I found this performance to be offensive, and there’s been an incredible amount of criticism of the act by the Australian public and media. Just because five guys decided to perform a moronic act that they came up with 20 years ago (and should have left there), doesn’t mean the entire nation is racist.

    @Ben, the main guy was Sri Lankan, and the others were a mix of other races including Indian, Greek and Lebanese. I just read an article where the Sri Lankan guy was trying to defend the group by showing how multicultural they are, like it’s okay for non Anglos to be racist. Bleurgh.

  27. CB Rawks says:

    Wren, I feel like hugging you.
    I’m surprised at how much this shook me up. (Nauseated and almost tearful.) I must have more national pride than I realised. 🙂

  28. mk says:

    why was the audience boeing them being removed and clapping for them? Why did the one female judge praise the performance? The host got a kick out of it too. The only person shocked was Harry Connick jr. I think those are the reasons people are assuming stuff about Australia.

  29. Fat Elvis says:

    To all the Aussies on this thread: I’m American and I couldn’t agree more with all of you. I despise sweeping generalizations about an entire country based on the behavior of some of its citizens. Happens all the time in regards to Americans, but it’s just as despicable when the finger is pointed at someone else.

  30. Bee says:

    That skit was disgusting. How anyone besides a bunch of knuckle dragging racist (I’m not talking about the Australian people in general, just anyone who thought the performance was funny.) is beyond me.

  31. Double Standards says:

    White Chicks with the Wayans Brothers, are we offended? No…
    Tropic Thunder with Robert Downey Junior, playing a white guy, playing a black guy, problem? No…
    Marcel Marceau, offend anyone? No.
    Black music, they refer to themselves as Niggas in soooo many songs, they’re women as biches n ho’s…
    You gotta wonder. Make your minds up people, you can either take a joke or you can’t. You make no sense. It was a skit, just like Chris Rock has names for the whites, do we care? No.
    It’s all taken in jest.
    Get a life, do not make this into another Holocaust!
    HCJ did not walk out, for the record, I watched the show. He was just covering his ass, cos he knew what would errupt in the land of horseshit when he got home. Hey at least it’s got him headlines, haven’t heard of the guy in yonks!

  32. Who Cares says:

    While I find the skit to be in bad taste, let’s not all jump on the “Aussies are racist” bandwagon. That’s as offensive as the skit, as well as hypocritical.

    I’m an American, so it’s not a case of sticking up for my nation. And as an American, I think we have no right to be calling another country racist with our less than stellar history.

  33. CB Rawks says:

    mk, I can’t imagine how anyone could laugh or applaud.
    The only thing I can think is that they liked the Michael character being in white pancake makeup. “Oh haha, he turned white in later years.” Eyeroll.
    I hope that’s the only thing they liked.

    Also, thank you Fat Elvis.

  34. Double Standards says:

    Racist what a crock of crap!
    It was not racist when the same guys performed the same skit 20 years ago (who by the way are all Doctors, Indian, Pakitani, Lebanese, Greek etc) so why the hell is it racist now?
    Mate you guys still spit at blacks in the deep south,you aren’t allowed to mix at school even, have seperate white/black proms, call people nigger lover if they are seen talking to a black, have to sit seperately in canteens, still don’t allow blacks in white owned shops, drag black people behind cars to this day.
    Never even heard of blackface until HCJ brought it up, it means northing in Oz…because nobody means anything by it. I have a friend who was an exchange student for 6 months from Oz to Mississipi. She came back apalled at the disgusting way the blacks are still to this day treated there by the whites. Your issues are with your selves, we don’t do shit like that people. That’s why we don’t get the hype?
    Here a joke is a joke.
    We haven’t gone stupid with the political correctness.

  35. Andrea says:

    yeah, that was pretty wild to watch. their act was definitely more along the lines of making blacks look like buffoons, than playing a character. and in particularly bad taste given mj’s recent death. i suspect these guys arent giant racists, but ignorant of the history of what they’re doing. harry’s comments were right on – and he didnt take on some obnoxious pandering al sharpton tone and try to make it all about attention for him

  36. Kathie says:

    When I saw the HC Jr. story I thought about a video I saw during hurricane Katrina. It’s Harry, going to his dad’s house and inspecting the damage but that is not the important part. On the way back in they found this tiny elderly black man on the porch. Harry went to check him out, persuaded him to go for help, stripped off his own shirt to cover the poor thing and carried that man to the boat through high water. Two things, 1. He has a “get out of jail free” card with me for a lifetime. 2. I had never before in my life wanted to be an elderly black man. Here is the link…http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9228850/

  37. Double Standards says:

    Who, good man!

  38. Emily says:

    Double Standards: times change. Do you honestly believe that because something wasn’t considered offensive two decades ago means it should be alright now?? Two decades ago, there was apartheid in South Africa, should it still be there now? And what does the fact that all the performers are doctors have to do anything, apart from the fact that they should presumably be intelligent enough to see how wrong this was?

    Oh, and if you haven’t heard of blackface, you’re even dumber than your comments would lead me to believe.

  39. Shay says:

    There is changing your skin to look like another race and then there is Black or even White face. I don’t know any black people who have black as coal skin. It’s not a problem when the skin change is done tastefully.

    In the Mad TV video Harry isn’t even playing a black preacher he’s playing a white southern preacher.

    I think Harry’s point was to make sure that people knew that he didn’t condone the performance.

  40. CB Rawks says:

    Very well said, Emily.

  41. fizXgirl314 says:

    It’s very likely the performers didn’t mean it to be offensive. They just don’t have the same racist past toward blacks as America does and probably didn’t make the connection… I think when it comes to having a racist past, America takes the cake… Let’s face it, we have no grounds to be pointing fingers at countries when it comes to this issue… Goddess, your assessment of Australians just makes you sound like an ass yourself… :/

  42. Aussie says:

    Emily: wake up. America is really the only place in the world where blackface is an offense because you’re the only country that really did to degrade people. In Australia no one knows about it because it was never done to degrade like Americans did. Its the same as an American group doing something offensive in Australian culture which you have NEVER HEARD OF.

  43. Lena says:

    The ignorance in this post is nauseating… first lets stop making gross generalizations about Australia as a whole, a group of people do not speak for an entire nation and the last time that I checked both countries have a racist past, present, and possibly future. Secondly, if people are not smart enough to know that going on tv with their skin blackened to a shade that mathces COAL, then we still have a lot of work to do. It’s not about being PC, it’s about having common freakin sense. The name of their group was “Jackson Jive” for god sakes.

    Had to come back and add on to my post. Aussie, you are incorrect, America and some European countries have both practiced blackface, America as far as I know started it, but other countries did follow suit. Regardless of who did what to offend whom, that doesn’t excuse these men going on TV with their face painted to match that of coal.

  44. Ben says:

    Emily if you see the problems South Africa has maybe on Utilitarian grounds apartheid was better.
    South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world, its comparable with some war torn nations.
    It’s off track and I don’t entirely mean it, apartheid wasn’t good but things were more peaceful. And the government was managed much better.

  45. Double Standards says:

    Aussie n Ben,
    Thanx guys for some down to earth normality.
    Man… I’d be the 1st person to get into someone if they were rude, or degrading towards any human being, no matter where they were from. A human being is a human being, rich, poor, white, black, race, religion does not come into it as far as I am concerned. We all cry the same tears when we are hurt. Please people see some sense and know, we are not like that at all. There are more people here that escaped some form of opression or persecussion, than you’d ever know. We are laid back, but we are not nasty. HCJ, sorry that he took offence, I really am, but it was not intended the way he read it, at all.
    Difference of culture, sure and that’s o.k.
    It is what it is.
    Peace to all x

  46. Emily says:

    @Aussie: no, you wake up, and maybe learn to read while you’re at it. I said in an earlier post that I’m Australian. And I’m not the only Aussie who’s heard of blackface. Just because something wasn’t done in my country (which, I’ll say again, is AUSTRALIA), doesn’t mean I can’t get offended by it.

    @Ben-I know S Africa’s got a lot of crime right now, but I was talking about how the black people were treated under apartheid, to make a point about how much can change in 20 years.

  47. Aussie says:

    @Emily: I’m not saying don’t get offended. Instead I was relpying as I was offended by one of you’re earlier derogatory posts-
    “Oh, and if you haven’t heard of blackface, you’re even dumber than your comments would lead me to believe. ”

    I’m a very well educated individual and so is all my family. (we all have at least one university degree- most have a double degree) however none of us had heard of blackface because American history is not something taught by our schools and it isn’t something I really care about either. I prefer to learn about current issues and they past of my own country.
    That does not mean that I am dumb.
    Maybe think before you comment next time? or at least get over you’re attitude.

  48. sarah says:

    In terms of similarities between race relations in Australia and America, the best parallel is between Indigenous Australians and Native Americans.

    Both had stolen generations, were forcibly removed from their land, were legally/socially discriminated against in similar ways.

    A parallel between Aborigines and African Americans is a fairly shallow one, which in my opinion is done primarily on the basis of their skin colour and it isn’t particularly helpful in this discussion.

    While the skit was in poor taste, it is unfair to infer that it was racially motivated in the way it would be in the US. This is because Australia doesn’t have the same history with Indigenous Australians as the US has with African Americans.

    Furthermore, in this day and age, blackface is a fairly obscure practice, and it is unreasonable to expect that Australians should be aware of the practice in America and what it means there as a result.

    If it were as offensive in Australian culture as it is in the US, a commercial television station (which legally barred from promoting racial hatred) would have had treated the incident very differently, as would the host, other cast, etc.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t racist elements in Australian society, and I’m disgusted by those incidences, but I have to say that this skit is being judged unfairly, and held up to standards that don’t fit its cultural memory/framework etc.

  49. CB Rawks says:

    Aussie, you are incorrect. Most people know what blackface is, unless they are strangely under-exposed to information. It’s something that existed on the planet, and most people learn about things in all different countries during their lifetime, simply by interacting and being awake.

    Also, don’t speak as though you represent Australians generally, and please change your nickname. You don’t speak for me, and you aren’t helping our nation look any smarter.

  50. Fair says:

    Seriously, people. Why do we have to yank out eachothers dirty history over a skit? You know what this was? An international misunderstaning circa Nixon in China w/ the peace sign. Im really not sure that all of Austrailia needs to be sensative to the American racial issues. We offened other countries ALL DAY EVERY DAY by our programing and what do we tell them- get over it.

    So why is it that America can’t shake the shackles of it’s past? MANY of the other major powers had slavery around the same time we did. Yea, they got rid of them sooner and in some cases much easier, but if we could stop laying blame and guilt, maybe we could actually focus on problems unique to the world today- one that has exploded technologically in the past 20 years alone- and rise above our problems.

    White people have racial slurs, Black people have racial slurs, Oriental people have racial slurs, Hispanic people have racial slurs. . . only nasty people use them anyway and that is NOT unique to any race. Racism goes all ways, not just between two.

  51. Emily says:

    Aussie: I find it hard to believe that you’ve never heard of blackface, but whatever. Even if you’ve never heard of something, I should hope that you can recognise offensive behaviour when you see it, especially for such a “very well educated individual”.

  52. Fair says:

    Double Standards: O M G What the heck are they teaching you over there? that list of things you said sounds like something out of the enquierer.

    Wasn’t anyone else seriously shocked by his accusations?

    YES there is obviously still active racisim in America- by ignorant, sad individuals of both races, caught up on the past and unable to simply focus on the future- but this is not the 1950s and dude, there are LAWS against things like black people not being allowed in white businesses. . . are you insane?

    Please, what you see on your TV depicting Americans is probably as stereotypical as what we see of you guys- Eh, crocidle Dundee?

  53. Aussie says:

    @Emily: It was done in jest and I looked upon it the way I looked at white chicks and RDjr in Tropic Thunder.
    Granted I see how people can take offense.
    However it is my personal opinion that they were not making fun of African Americans rather just doing a humorous take on the Jackson Five. I also think that the lack of knowledge of the offense blackface has was evident in the fact that the audience and the other two judges did not react the same way Harry Connick Jr did.

  54. Double Standards says:

    Never heard of it either, nearly 40 years old too.
    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
    When you come to Australia, relax, as we do.
    N leave your past at home, cos we don’t care for it!

  55. Fair says:

    Oh also never heard of it and grew up outside DC. . .

  56. Double Standards says:

    Fair…whoa this is turning into a debate and that’s o.k.
    That list of things weather you want to agnowledge them or not, still go on. I’m talking deep down south, like I said, we know a gal that was there on exchange. Google the nett and you will see stories on seperate black and white proms in your schools TODAY. There was a story on that, only a couple of months ago, in Marie Clare or some mag. Dead set, it’s still happening. I work in a Library, I read more than the average Joe and some things I read, I can’t believe. The blatant racism is still there, bugger your laws, when it’s your law enforcers that have the same old attitudes. Do you need a reminder of Rodney King etc, etc…

  57. Double Standards says:

    For the record I don’t watch TV. TV is just a diversion, full of rubbish, so you don’t see the real truths around you. I get my news from the net, I read tonnes, everything, both sides. Things are never as they seem.
    While we are talking about this garbage, which really it is just that. Nothing…
    Your country is probably getting ready to send the troops to your homes, to forcibly give you the swine flu vaccine. Again, here, we will have a choice, because we are a free country.

  58. RubyKaur says:

    @ Double Standards – Couldn’t of said it better myself. I completely agree 100%.

    I am of Indian decent and when people dress up as Indians in Sari’s for Halloween, I get a kick out of it. I dont get offended or call it racism. People are just taking it wayyyyyyyyy too far. ( as usual).

  59. daniel says:

    First off i love Auzzies, i have lots of Auzzie friends I’ve made over the internet and find they have a blunt sense of humor that’s so refreshing. They don’t believe in putting on airs for people and tell it like it is. I don’t believe that the Auzzie show meant to cause a stir, to them it’s just funny. BUT they should have been a little more intelligent seeing how they had an American on the show, they should have realized this was going to upset him, as it would upset probably MOST americans. We here in America are a bit more sensitive to these issues, the Auzzies are not. Its that simple. Does it make it right, well not really, but I’m just trying to present both sides here so people can gain some understanding. I think HC Jr. did what he was supposed to do in this situation.

  60. skibunny says:

    If Michael Jackson were still alive this wouldn’t even be an issue. If I recall, Americans were the worst when it came to badmouthing him and now that he’s gone they’ve made him into some kind of God.
    This skit is just tacky comedy…..cut the drama!
    Get off your high horse Harry!!!!

    Oh and by the way I’m not Australian

  61. Aspen says:

    Minstrel shows utilizing blackface performances originated during the industrial revolution just prior to the civil war, and they became extraordinarily popular during the reconstruction.

    The origins and meaning behind it are horrifyingly racist.

    It’s just…not okay. Comparing what Connick did on MadTV to blackface performances is so stupid that it doesn’t deserve rational discussion.

    I’m glad he stood up. I would’ve walked out if I had seen that.

  62. Aspen says:

    oh…and to Double Standards:

    None of the venom you spouted about America is even remotely true. We’ve grown out of our racist past, and we guard each progressive step we’ve made aggressively.

    Get a book or vacation here or something. You need a reality check.

  63. Double Standards says:

    This is my last comment, then I’m out.
    I just watched the 10 min. footage again.
    Harry wasn’t even pissed, he was just covering his ass, so that he came out of it all squeeky clean.
    And so he should. The last thing the poor guy would want, is backlash when he gets back to his own country. No hard feelings there.
    His comment on black people not being buffoons. Man, we know the ONLY BUFFOONS in America are; The Bushes, The Clintons, The Hiltons, The Lohans, etc….they are the real trash. The rest, your alright! Listen to your corrupt government less and don’t watch too much TV and you’ll be right guys! Stand up and fight for your beliefs n rights and don’t go to war. No soldiers life is worth a politicians ego. Luv you all x

  64. Mairead says:

    This thread is surreal. Firstly, it’s nice to know that only white north europeans can be racist as has been implied by some posters here and the halfwits in the sketch itself. The fact they’re doctors just means they’re halfwits with expensive education who unfortunately have other people’s health in their hands. And after watching it, I can’t believe that the female judge gave 7 points – they weren’t even remotely in time or in tune!

    As for blackface, I find it impossible to believe that in Australian media (specifically the producers of the show) were not aware of how offensive blackface was or could be perceived, as I’m presuming that many US and European immigrants are likely to work in the media.

    It’s something that was not uncommon when I was growing up and they were generally known as minstrels here. The Black & White Minstrel show (probably what CB Rawks was referring to) was on UK tv into the early 80s and along with gollywogs, were used in advertising certain brands. No offence or insult was ever meant by the blackfaced minstrels and were seen more as exotic entertainment than anything else.

    But they were dropped because it was recognised that the origin of them was deeply offensive to black people in particular. So given the consistent emigration to Australia over the past 30 years, I find it very hard to fathom why nobody called halt to this.

  65. Celebitchy says:

    The word “racist” is on the moderation list. The reason it’s moderated is because it helps alert us to other posts on the same thread that are racist. People always call someone out on the threads before anyone reports a comment as abuse, and moderating this word has helped us catch many racist comments. You’d be amazed at the creative ways that people can say some very simple, vile things. We’ve sadly had to moderate words like “monkey,” “ape,” “jungle,” and “africa,” but it’s not like we can catch it all. I’m very sorry for this, and in the case of a normal discussion like this it really gets in the way. I will lift the word “racist” from moderation, but it really helps alert us to some very abusive posts when it’s not specifically the topic of discussion.

  66. Aussie Girl!! says:

    Good grief, it seems to be a whole lot about nothing really, Yeah the fools were probably stupid for going on tv with blackface, but they did! As far as it offending Americans, well thats only relevant if the ones offended are African American, the rest of you are just jumping on the bandwagon! Time to pick on Aussies!! I’m not racist and have never committed a racial offense or thought in my life!
    We are a young nation and we do have alot to learn on racial interaction, But we aren’t the only ones.
    I personally didn’t think much of the skit and didn’t laugh at it, however its the same old thing, Freedom of expression, and everyone has their own different sense of humour…
    As far as blackface goes i’ve watched old movies etc and know about it and can understand how African Americans would find it insulting.
    I dont believe in generalisation and grouping people together, as with Americans Australia has good people, bad people and just plain stupid people!!

  67. Double Standards says:

    Thanks Celebitchy.
    Way outta hand man, really is.
    I am old enough to remember the black n white minstrels, but didn’t know people were offended by it. We are all so different, from background, to culture, whatever. I grew up thinking that if you were French and didn’t burp after a meal, it meant you didn’t enjoy your meal!!! It’s only later, after being told by a French man himself, that this was rude end of story, I learnt this was just an old wives tale. What I am trying to say, is we don’t know each others stories, histories, backgrounds….there are so many. It’s not a matter of being dumb, or ignorant, we just don’t know. How the hell could you, all the people, races, cultures, creeds etc. Not everything is done, with a hidden agenda, some things are just as they seem. There was a comment; A female judge gave the guys a score of 7 and they were terrible. The segment on the show, is called Red Faces. It’s about who is the most embarrassingly bad and hopeless act! They are not looking for talent, they are looking for crap! Again, you have taken it out of context. I am truly sorry if anybody was offended, but believe me, it was NEVER intended to be that way. EVER. We aren’t cruel, or dumb…we are just a younger country, very laid back, with a wacky sense of humor. Please take it as that. Sometimes people read waaaay too much into things, when they just shouldn’t. In this case, process n move on…Peace and love to you all x.

  68. EvilWombatQueen says:

    I can believe that there are Australians who haven’t heard of ‘blackface’ before. To assume that everyone in the world is aware of the finer details of American racial history smacks of cultural imperialism. American history does not equal Western history. Unless an Australian has an interest in international issues, theatre traditions or American history they may have never encountered a debate about why blackface is wrong until now.

    As someone who WAS aware of blackface I was thoroughly mortified by the sketch. I think the biggest mistake (aside from allowing it to be performed in the first place) is that so many Australians are so willing to defend it now. Okay, maybe some didn’t realise it was offensive beforehand. But people are now telling you it IS and WHY it is, so the proper thing to do would be to apologise, explain that our cultural context is not the same at America’s and learn from the experience so the mistake is never repeated.

  69. Yae says:

    Often too much political correctness just causes more tension.

    In my son’s world culture class the kids are of all races and they often crack racial jokes about each other.

    Those kids are a happy close-knit group. All the racial tension just melts away with the laughter.

    Americans are trained to be almost hypersensitive regarding political correctness. A few cultural groups use that tension to their advantage politically as a result.

  70. Jazz says:

    I’ve heard of blackface before and I didn’t find this funny, just embarrassing and cringeworthy. Now people will think we’re a bunch of morons. Thanks Hey Hey It’s Saturday. Goddess, you couldn’t be more wrong about Australia.

    These fools were doing a sketch of the Jackson 5 for cheap laughs,and the makeup is terrible because that’s what Red Faces is, a segment on Hey Hey It’s Saturday where people would do their terrible act for cheap laughs then get gonged by Red Symons. That show hasn’t been relevant in over 10 years.
    If anyone is deeply offended by it, they should contact the producers that let it go to air or the doctors that did the sketch to complain.
    Don’t judge an entire country because of a few idiots.

  71. Yae says:

    Just a note to further my point.

    My son is about 6 different ‘races’. Someone cracked a joke about black people in the store and I got all defensive to protect him.

    My son looked up at me and said “Mom, is the black in me supposed to be offended? Well the Filipino in me doesn’t care and my Italian part of me is hungry. Let’s go eat. ”

    I never worried about that kid having an identity problem after that. Multi-racial kids think the rest of us are uptight. And quite frankly so do I.

  72. Jaye says:

    I’m a new Aussie citizen who spent many years trying to get into this fabulous country and am delighted to now be a citizen. While racism exists among individuals as it does everywhere, it is completely unfair to suggest that Australia is a racist country on the basis of a stupid variety show. I’m Canadian born ethnic chinese, and while discussing this topic tonight among a kiwi of maori origin, greek and pomme, we had a laugh that Americans would dare to call us racist. We don’t defend the program because it was tedious, rehashed programming that only interesting those who’d seen in 20 years ago, but we bloody well defend Australia in the face of some of these comments. If black face is America’s shame then shame on you, in OUR country it’s just cheap make-up and nothing else was meant by it.

  73. SimonPieMan says:


    Blackface is something that never existed in Australia. We never had a problem with it.

    The real problem here is that American’s think just because something is one way in the US of A that it ought to be that way everywhere else.

    It’s not even relevant.

  74. Fair says:

    Double Standard:

    I do not belive that isolated incidents in the deep south (which is as backwards as backwards comes) are viable arguments for racism in America today. . .

    So if a Shark bites a Surfer in Austrailia, Americans are allowed to say “OMG! Sharks eat people in Australia ALL THE TIME! EVEN TODAY!” No.

    And do some more research about black/white proms there buddy. The two schools near me in the South that did them.. they were CHOSEN by the student body. It is not racist to admit cultural differences between different groups. if there were an Indian (india not NA) majority in a highschool, perhapse they would do an Indian prom? It comes down to the music and atmosphere desired.(and as per laws, could not possibly be limited to ONLY one or the other group. Certainly white kids can go to the black prom and vice versa)

    Oh and an exchange student does not get the full picture of the culture they are immersed in and a lot of finer details would be lost on them so while I’m sure your friend belives the raccisim she reported, you have to understand that through Austrailian glasses, it could be misinterpereted.

    Again, I have to say to MY FELLOW AMERICANS: we can NOT expect other countries to be sensitive to our countrie’s racist issues on their programming. How arrogant are you people? It was IN Australia, ON Australian TV. Yea, it was offensive…but maybe it shouldnt be because it wasn’t meant in an offensive way. I see it as the same as the confdederate flag- some people wave it to remember their family’s great history (like mine, which never had slaves but owned a large farm in the South) but it is “Racist” because “the civil war was over slavery” (again, a false statement but ignorance prevails)

    Racisim starts and ends with us, people. Rise above the past and we will have a better future.

  75. AbbeyRoad says:

    Flame war, much? In case anyone’s curious, I’m an American White Girl
    (tm.) The initial article left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I completely believe that there are a good number of Australians who aren’t aware of the history of blackface, because there are a whole lot of U.S. citizens who are also unaware–which is just inexcusable. I think this skit was in poor taste, but that it’s difficult to legitimately take people from other cultures to task for not realizing the signifigance of something when so many people in the country where it happened just don’t get it.

    Back to the skit: while I absolutely that this particular group of people should have known better, I agree that it is not the same as if it had happened on a US television show–which it wouldn’t, because it’s something that would cause red flags to go up immediately. The fact that this got past enough people to make it on the air tells me that it’s simply a different mindset. I’m ashamed to admit that I know hardly anything about the history of Australia, much less it’s history of racism. That absolutely wouldn’t make it okay for me to go in TV and do something that was considered offensive to Australians, but I think we sometimes forget that people living places other than the U.S. don’t have OUR history as a focal point of their studies.

    And, Australians, the name-calling and blanket statements about you are immature and completely idiotic. I’m so embarassed. I know other people are saying this too, but I really hope you know we don’t all think that or think we have the right to say things like that.

    Every country has people who “don’t know better.” Every country has people who are blatantly racist. And judging from this thread, every country has people who will jump up and say “You’re so racist and and ignorant and so is EVERYONE ELSE WHO LIVES there so STOP MAKING BLANKET STATEMENTS about us because YOU’RE A STUPID-HEAD.” (Sic.)
    Not to try and be all “what have we learned, class?” but seriously, look at this thread. It’s not like you win a debate like this by making the best blanket statement. The only way to win is to knock it the hell off and dialogue like grown-ups.

  76. TwinkleToes says:

    I must defend the US against some misunderstanding Australians and Americans. I can’t believe this wasn’t brought up. I can believe that Aussie’s aren’t familiar with blackface because it is from so long ago and lots of people posting here are youngish. Please do not go spouting off about the US and its history because even Europeans in Europe had slaves. Up until recently, the 1950s, the government was seizing children from aboriginale families and still hasn’t apologized. Isn’t that your stolen generations? Finally, Australia is based on slavery, white slavery, class slavery. A penal colony consisting of criminals and mental patients that Great Britian unloaded and shipped to Australia to do hard labor. So please, don’t get me started about shameful pasts when the original settlers of Australia were screwed up the ass by their own race and then they perpetuated this onto another race and would have done far worse than they’ve done had they had a true imperialistic beginning and not the stigma of being the dregs of British society.

  77. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    How far are we going to take this ‘It’s not my fault that I don’t anything about events that take place outside of my apartment’ excuse? Of course there are cultural barriers, but we’re not talking about hidden extras on a Rush DVD. Blackface is HARDLY an obscure little curiousity known only to historians and cultural anthropologists.

    Am I to say that I’ve never heard of the Statue of Liberty because I’ve never been to America? Am I going yo have to get my stomach pumped because the package didn’t say in big, bold letters ‘This is a bag of rocks. Rocks are not food. Do not eat these rocks in this bag because rocks are not food…rocks still aren’t food, don’t eat this’? Every person on the planet is ignorance about myriad things, this is a given. But stubbornly digging in your heels in a brazen attempt to not reach out when presented with opportunities to learn and evolve?

    Come on.

    Show some agency, learning is not illegal.

    No person on the planet can know everything, obviously. But you can’t negate the legitimacy of the reaction that it illicits just because you don’t understand it. That’s how this shuck-‘n’-jive horseshit continues unabated.

    Case in point: Shirley Q. Liquor.

    Now, I know judgemental callousness is all the rage and there’s no better panacea for the aching heart than listening to strangers bloviating about people have to wedge their healing schedule into someone’s pre-determined parameters. But you look at that, and honestly come to the conclusion that there’s nothing troubling there.

    Burning a person at the stake is one thing. Burning a person at the stake and chiding said person for expressing pain because ‘fire isn’t hot’ is kind of wacky.

    If you’re going to convert anyone over to your cause, you have to do better than pissy and counter-productive ad hominem attacks.

  78. Sumore says:

    I have indigenous friends, I live in Australia, while I didn’t think the Skit was particularly clever, it was never intended to offend. It wouldn’t have offened my friends either, but then again, they do not judge others based on the events of the past, and ‘black faces’ are not something that they feel is something that in Australia is worth worrying about. Things like education and health care are surprisingly more important to them. Their view on life is such that they are not worried by a bunch of ‘white fellas’ making fools of themselves. AND THAT IS EXACTLY HOW THEY SAW IT. They weren’t offended, just confused why a white bloke from another country was jumping up and down about it. By the same token, there are far better ways to handle a situation that doesn’t involve making a three hour show revole around one person’s coping skills. Mr Connick could have and should have handled himself in a far more diplomatic way. But if I am going to offend someone which I will, Australians like the rest of the world, are quite used to being roundly ‘told off’ by SOME parts of America, while their own behaviours and attitudes are supposed to be accepted without question. Before any of us judge each other, make sure we ourselves are without blame.

  79. bubbles says:

    I’m Australian, was watching the skit, didn’t think it was funny. It was childish and silly. When they came on I though “ooh this is in bad taste” not because of the makeup but because Jackson died a few months ago. They were making fun of the Jacksons not black people.
    And, I, like many Australians had no idea about “blackface” or “minstrels” – it never existed here. We may have a history that includes racist acts but that was not one of them.
    Either way, it was silly, not funny, the audience booed because they were crap, but I don’t think there was any deliberate racism there.

  80. Aussie Girl!! says:

    Well you will all be pleased to know we had a repeat of Hey Hey tonight and they cut the skit from the show!!
    So lesson learnt??

  81. sauvage says:

    I think the skit is REALLY disturbing. I’m not American and I find it highly offensive and plain stupid. There’s nothing artistic or cute or sarcastic or ANYTHING behind it. It’s just incredibly dumb.

  82. Wombat says:

    I just watched an American broadcast with 2 females saying “Australia is a backward land with backward people” can you get any more arrogant or racist than that??? This is the main news (scary)!!!!!
    Also, for the record 87% of Australians are NOT decended from convicts but are free settlers to Australia. Per head of population the United States actually received far more convicts then Australia ever did so for the person who called us the “dregs” of Britain it may well be that you are the “manure” then of England.- Lesson 2.
    If this skit had no malice behind it and it is in Australia (NOT THE US) then I have no problem with it. I travel to the US frequently and would not “push” my values and humour on people in the US so I don’t expect people to do the same Australia.
    I really don’t think that Americans are in a place where they can take the moral high ground on issues of race.
    You also have no concept or understanding of Australian humour nor our culture so don’t judge us by your “standards”.
    Nobody asked you to watch our programs anyway.
    PS I find Hollywood sterotyping of women highly offensive ie you gotta be a babe and skinny or your just ugly. Let me write to Harry about that one.

  83. Goddess711 says:

    Anybody else remember Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson being a couple for quite awhile. A Roast was held for her and Danson came out in blackface thinking it was funny; she dumped him shortly after. It ain’t funny. Never really has been. It’s just insulting, ignorant and offensive.

  84. SimonPieMan says:

    TwinkleToes, if you are so opposed to non-Americans ‘spouting off about the US and its history’ then perhaps as a non-Australian you really ought not make a hypocrite of yourself.

    The issue of the Stolen Generation is an exceptionally complex one and not something that you could possibly comprehend from looking it up on wikipedia. FYI our current PM Kevin Rudd said sorry formally to the Stolen Generation in Parliament on 13 February 2008.

    Also, many Australians knew about ‘minstrels’ and ‘blackface’ but like I said previously, it was not something in our history and therefore not offensive in our country. If you think that we ought to have taken into account the sensitivities of the US public then you might as well say that women in US television ought to wear full length skirts only as it is considered indecent in Sudan for women to wear pants and if a Sudanese person were to see the show they might be offended.

    Also it is Aboriginal not Aboriginale.

  85. Bete says:

    The quick answer to this:
    Harry Connick Jnr’s new CD and free publicity on the back of a fallacious accusation of racism.

    I’m surprised that no one comments on Harry Connick Jnr’s obvious verbal impersonation of an African-American…or Ice-T. Whatever…

  86. married2Aussieindigenous says:

    I am married to a man of indigenous decent ..we have 4 kids as well …not once did we find this racist or offensive …it wasnt funny either but thats redfaces for you …I think people(the ones that jumped on that band wagon) of the USA are calling the kettle black (so to speak) when accusing us of how we treated/treat our indigenous people of Australia ,grant it ,there were many a problem and still are deep wounds that will take time to heal …but you lot forget what you did to your own indigenous people!!! and on top of that you lot went to another country and stole indigenous people from their own country and did the most disgusting and terrible acts to them …in your country the KKK still exsists!!!!! …you should be looking in your own backyard and stop pointing the finger at any other country …learn from the saying PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDNT THROW STONES !! maybe you lot need to make that a motto ..just a thought .

  87. Bec says:

    Oh dear …

    I am a Aussie and a big Hey Hey its Saturday fan. And also a Celebitchy fan.

    I gotta put my two cents worth in. In Australia, we aren’t schooled and raised on american culture and history. We are raised on Australian culture an history! To think that we even really know what ‘black face’ is, it just stupid! Why on earth would we know that? We dont have to deal with the whole racist black versus white issue.

    With out being rude, it really does prove to me than Americans think the whole world revolves around them and that the rest of the world should conform!

  88. Offended by this pretender says:

    I would like to see him lecture Oprah in the same ill considered way as she appeared on the TV show 30 Rock and was

    involved in a skit that did exactly the same. Dressed whites as blacks and blacks as whites to get a laugh.
    Australia does not have the same history of slavery the USA does and do not understand the embarrassment the whites feel or

    the need to over compensate for it as Harry Connick Jnr did. However they did see it for what it appeared to be. A mediocre

    performance from Harry Connick Jnr. Shame on Harry, i’m sure Oprah would not be involved in anything she thought was

    inappropriate regarding a race matter so what makes him feel he can chastise others in their own country. This is the signs

    of a pretender.

  89. I Smell Poop says:

    Are all the real reporters asleep down there or what? Whether there is or isn’t racism is not for Harry Connick Jr. in particular to comment sbout! Why?
    1.) He’s not from New Orleans: He’s from Weston, Connecticut, where he attended public school from 1970-1982.
    2.) His real father was never the D.A. of New Orleans. He is or was one of the presidents of Sony records. He himself once appeared in the movie Let’s Make Love with Y. Montand and M. Monroe.
    Good God! Get the record straight!