Flat White

Puck you, censors

12 June 2020

11:01 AM

12 June 2020

11:01 AM

It appears as though the political correctness tidal wave that is sweeping the Western world, has claim yet another victim, and this time it’s an Aussie legend.  

When thinking of iconic Australians, names like Hogan, Irwin, Freeman and Bradbury come to mind. Their achievements in their respective fields have been nothing short of mesmerising. Yet, particularly among younger Australians, another name comes to mind: Chris Lilley. 

Whether his satirical humour is your style or not, the sheer talent of the Logie Award winner, renowned for writing and playing multiple actors in his TV series, is undeniable. Since his acting breakout in 2005 with the hit series “We Can Be Heroes”, he has become a household name for his ever-accurate depictions of the many intriguing and interesting characters we come across in our daily lives. 

Black, white, gay, straight, rich, poor, male, female, it didn’t matter. Nothing escaped his acting potential, nor was anyone immune from Lilley’s satirised portrayals. From private school girls and obnoxious teachers to department store objectophiles and self-professed Fobs, the acting aficionado never held back in his depiction of common stereotypes within our society, all to the enthralment of Australians far and wide.  

But now, streaming services throughout the Asia-Pacific have met those achievements by giving him the boot, citing offensive racial stereotypes. Not only this, but the ABC has launched a review into his programs.  

Are we really cancelling comedians for their amicable portrayal of stereotypes? Excuse my naivety, but isn’t that their job?  

Either the Netflix executives have a robotic sense of humour or they’re pandering to the lily pad left. While it’s likely both of these claims are true, the timing of this termination makes the catalyst for this move abundantly clear.  

The tragic death of George Floyd has set off a chain reaction amongst multi-million-dollar companies, who insinuate that they are calling out such a grand injustice by abandoning clearly comedic sketches. But are Netflix the moral bastions that they are making out to be? Seems awfully ironic given that when Netflix reported its largest ever profit in 2018, it didn’t pay a single cent in federal or state income tax. The virtue signalling by multi-million-dollar companies on the issue of race has become laughable. 

Conflating the death of Floyd and indeed the entirety of the Black Lives Matter movement with an iconic Australian like Chris Lilley is deeply flawed. It serves no purpose in ending the racial issues that we see today and casts Lilley, a well-intentioned comic, as an insensitive and racist bigotAll of this is part of a growing push by those who choose to ignore the genuine issues faced by Aboriginal Australians, in favour of a patronising victimhood narrative, with a sprinkling of occasional censorship. 

Lilley’s work has often included instances of him using black or brown face in an effort to build a character profilebut those who are quick to condemn Lilley forget two essential factors: the intent and the context. 

There is nothing discriminatory, targeted or malicious in the work of Chris Lilley. He satirises people from all walks of life in a comedic fashion. To insinuate or deduce, that this Australian TV icon is a racist as a result of his acting would be a kick in the face to Lilley himself, the comedy industry and indeed the many young Australians who grew up watching shows like “Summer Heights High”, “Angry Boys” and, most recently, “Lunatics”.  

Even more importantly, the decision made by Netflix doesn’t solve a single matter regarding race relations. It doesn’t change the fact that Indigenous Australian children are far more likely to experience child abuse in the household. It doesn’t change the fact that Indigenous Australians are far more likely to commit and be the victims of violent crime. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to mend or solve racist attitudes that still exist within Australia today. 

If anything, the censorship of harmless TV shows frustrates and irritates many well-meaning Australians who otherwise would’ve been sympathetic or supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement which has engulfed Australia since the death of George Floyd in the United States. In summary, this revisionist approach is counterproductive, but sadly, it’s not going away. 

As we go forth and the political correctness movement gains traction, we will all be affected in some way. Whether it be what we say, what we think and even now what we watch, nothing is immune to this plague that will continue to erode away at the many freedoms we enjoy.  

There is a clear pattern of behaviour emerging during this time of utter delusion. It all forms part of a wider phenomenon whereby disconnected elites are trying to lecture and control the masses, under the guise of an alleged authority. To many, this is none dissimilar from so called “public health experts”, telling us to lockdown the state so that we can flatten the curve, before giving the stamp of approval for activists to gather in large crowds as soon as it’s a cause they endorse.  

Be prepared for what is to come. We are in the early stages of a movement that seeks to force Australians into conformity and stifle contrarian views. Netflix’s most recent action may seem minimal, but to pretend that Chris Lilley is their only victim, is either ignorant or intellectually dishonest. We all lose something. It’s important we call this kind of behaviour out for what it is: a poor attempt of corporate virtue signalling from a company that has just demonstrated how out of touch it is with mainstream Australians.  

Barclay McGain is a writer from the Gold Coast and University of Queensland student. He interns with the HR Nicholls Society and coordinates the Queensland branch of Students for Liberty.

Illustration: ABC Television (probably now censored).

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