Tonight we saw the second reunion special of Hey Hey It’s Saturday, a program that has long left our televsion screens due but can still stir sentiment for a time when variety television and Saturday nights went hand in hand.
Harry Connick Jr was touted as a very special guest who has a long history with the show, the old cast re-assembled and several of the old segments reappeared, including Red Faces..a ‘talent’ show and Darryl Somers announced that there is something of interest about one of the acts, the Jackson Jive which he would tell us about at the end of their performance.
The look on Harry Connicks face said it all as the audience endured – whilst others enjoyed – grown men with boot polish on their faces gyrating and jiggling in a way that was reminiscent of a satirical black and white minstrel show … the kind of ‘entertainment’ born when the N-word was at its most insidious and designed to portray black people as inferior, child like parodies of themselves.
It was not long before blogs and websites erupted with polarised view points. I think that Harry Connick Jr summed it up pretty well…you can read his statement in the report on Celebrity Truth
Harry Connick Jr Offended By Australian TV Skit
October 7th, 2009
Harry Connick Jr has made a special guest appearance on a live episode of Australian TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday – and he was so offended by one of the skits on the program that he told host Daryl Somers, “If I knew that was going to be part of the show, I probably – I definitely – wouldn’t have done it.”
Connick Jr appeared on the iconic Australian show, which aired as part two of a reunion special on Wednesday (October 7), to sing a couple of songs and judge ‘Red Faces’, a skewed talent show.
‘Red Faces’ acts are typically silly and goofy, and this episode featured an act Jackson Jive, a parody of the Jackson Five.
It involved a group of six men who danced around with their faces painted black. The group had appeared on the show doing the same skit 20 years earlier, and were performing their act again for as part of the reunion line-up.
Connick Jr sat stony-faced throughout Jackson Jive’s performance and gave them a score of 0 out of 10, commenting that in the United States, the show would have been pulled off the air if such a skit had been played.
Later in the show, host Daryl Somers commented, “I think we may have offended you with that act, and I deeply apologize on behalf of all of us – because I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize.”
Connick Jr, who has appeared on the show several times in the past, responded:
“Thanks Daryl, and I just wanted 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 said.
“I know it was in good fun, and the last thing I want to do is take this show to a down level – because you know how much I love this show and this country – but I feel like I’m at home here, and if I knew that was going to be part of the show, I probably – I definitely wouldn’t have done it.”
From my perspective there is no place for broadcasting black and white minstrel type images in this day and age -or in times past and as Harry Connick pointed out, though not in these words, white people have been taking the pi** out of black people for a long time and this kind of cheap laugh stunt is, in my view a reflection of how far we still have to go before people really understand the origins of this kind of mockery and why it is just not on…
What did Darryl tell us at the end of their performance…that they first appeared doing this same ‘act’ twenty years ago, then showed the clip.
As if seeing it in the flesh was not enough for Harry, he had to endure the rewind too.