The USS Quad Damage

The black face of Australian TV

I think I just argued that a Saturday variety show is unaustralian because it dishonours the Anzac spirit!?

Aren't you even a little embarrassed by a show like Hey Hey?

Hey Hey it’s Saturday was a variety show on Australia’s channel 9 in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. It stopped airing late '99 or early 2000. It featured the same kind of low-brow comedy as Australia’s funniest home videos, but it seemed to pull it off a lot better. It now enjoys a place in Australian history, and deservedly so. It did not offend me.

In late 2009, a Reunion show was aired. Rumors were rife that if the show was successful that a new series would begin. It now famously contained a red faces section with a black-face Jackson 5. It offended Harry Conick Jr. but it did not offend me. There was a “where's Kamahl” sketch during the skit, which was fairly racist, and apparently offended Kamahl, but it did not offend me. Yet there was something I found incredibly obscene and offensive about the show: That it was aired in the year 2009.

Think about this comic for a second. 9 year old kids have never seen “Hey Hey it's Saturday”. They haven’t really lived without mobile phones or the internet. They’re used to forward looking Australian TV shows like The Hungry Beast which has significant online content in addition to it’s aired content. They’re used to a live twitter chat with the stars of the show while they’re watching it.

Aren’t you even a little embarrassed by a show like Hey Hey? It hearkens back an era of payphones, everyone on the show is decidedly old now, and so are their ideas. After the black-face skit, it was revealed that the act was the same one the guys put on 20 years ago on the same show. They were medical students then. Now they are trained doctors, and are using technologies daily which were being talked about in Beyond 2000 when they originally did the skit. Their lives have moved on. Australian Television, it appears, has retreated to safer quarters.

Maybe it’s because our generation faces greater challenges than any before it, including dwindling resources and climate change. Maybe it’s because we’re sick of living in a world where the problems of 20 years ago still plague us today, but I believe it does not speak to the Australian spirit to retreat to an age where life was more comfortable, and we could all watch Bruce Willis movies where a clear bad guy is put away at the end, and be a little bit racist in our jokes, and smack women on the arse.

I’m reminded of the ANZACS in Gallipoli where waves of men race into certain death. It takes courage to do that, and that courage is what exemplifies Australia for me, even with unseen and terrifying odds. To be bold.

To retreat into the past with a show like Hey Hey offends me.