Last week, the ABC has decided to close down its Facebook page for its children channel ABC Me, after it turns out that ‘right-wing trolls’ have been barricading its video on male privilege. As Buzzfeed has reported, the page has triggered a mass response from different Facebook groups calling them out for its divisive identity politics that it has to shut down the entire page (funnily enough, the video was then uploaded on YouTube a day later).
The video is five months old, in which two women rap about a metaphorical “privilege bridge” where Ross, the straight white middle-aged male gets to teleport to the other side, while Stevie, a migrant woman, only has to swim at sea and catch a cold in doing so. After deleting the page, the ABC simultaneously relishes on this charade, as one of the women from that video appeared on a segment from Tonightly with Tom Ballard calling out their critics for being hate-filled monsters. What consists of a defence of the video is a reflection of the channel with many strawmen thrown throughout.
Let’s address the original video first. If the issue of privilege is supposed to be as complex as it describes, then it would be a bad idea to reduce it to simplified terms with a rap. The word has had its meaning stripped to so many different definitions of power and identity that it’s more prominently used as a rhetorical tool. That way, the slope of the argument would become more slippery; would they dive further into the theory of intersectionality? Who would be the next target after the straight white male? Probably the white women/feminists who seem to implicitly overshadow minorities in anything they do.
This is not the first time that the ABC has been scrutinized for what it airs on its programming for toddlers and tweens. In 2004, a segment shown on Play School portrays a child whose parents happen to be lesbian. At that time, it drew outrage from senior Howard government ministers and even Labor’s Wayne Swan, telling the network that they’re becoming too politically incorrect.
But where that segment aimed to show LGBTI couples to be equal in raising a family like a straight couple with no intention of harm, the “privilege bridge” seeks to tell kids to castigate others on their non-malleable looks, based on the teachings of sociologist and pan-Africanist W.E.B Du Bois and feminist critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw.
The Internet Song chose to miss the entire point of everyone’s criticism (and because of its slow tempo, it is also less catchy). The women portray themselves as victims and associate their critics with the alt-right. Using Kevin as their punchline, he is portrayed as a man so disenfranchised that he chooses to indulge in 4chan memes and *gasps* “quote Rick and Morty verbatim”. Such nuanced analysis! Then they claim that it was just a kids’ show and because of that, the commenters were stupid enough to post on it.
What this deflection fails to show is that entertainment catered to children is far from free of any criticism, and the video is no exception. Whether or not visual information aired out by the media – for education or entertainment purposes – would affect the life choices and decision making of young people deserves a complex discussion. But I can’t imagine if the same people who make this excuse also doesn’t think that video games and other forms of popular culture can directly influence kids with bigoted attitudes toward women and minorities.
The ABC deserves a lot of criticism for airing a video out that’s ultimately divisive in nature. This isn’t to say that some of the comments on both of the videos weren’t inflammatory or out of order. But to run away from valid criticism is nothing but cowardice.
The initial video came from a show called Girls Change the World. Whatever sparked the uproar remains a mystery.
Yet from several clips that I’ve seen on that show, it demonstrates that aspiring kids, especially young girls, remains a legitimately good thing to do, showing significant women giving advice that is less condescending and more uplifting.
But then, they believe that calling out false scapegoats and pretending they’re not in the wrong, is good advice too.
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