In a move that’s long overdue, Netflix is finally binning a bunch of Chris Lilley’s shows due to their problematic (read: racist) racial depictions – and literal Blackface.
We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys and Jonah From Tonga have all been pulled from the streaming service in Australia and New Zealand.
— Melissa Roberts (@MelissRob) June 10, 2020
Honestly, it’s about time. In Angry Boys, Lilley dons Blackface to appear as rapper S.mouse, and he posted a video of himself in Blackface singing a song called “Squashed N*gga” only days after Indigenous teen Elijah Doughtery was hit by a car and killed, sparking nation-wide outrage.
Elijah was killed because a white man had assumed he had stolen a bike and had chased him with his car, resulting in collision and Elijah’s death. The court case had ruled the man not guilty of manslaughter, which was obviously met with an uproar and protests for Indigenous lives and racial equality.
Remember that time @ChrisLilley posted a “squashed ni##a” video in response to a protest for #JusticeForElijah. You’re not still funding this racist POS are you @ScreenAustralia? https://t.co/cUEYkxsW5o
— Antifa CTO (@squig_) May 30, 2018
Chris Lilley also wears Brownface when dressing as Jonah from Tonga, and acts as a Chinese person in We Can Be Heroes.
Look, I know we all used to think it was funny when we were kids. The same way that in year 7 pretty much everyone said “gay” as an insult and used the n-word without realising how racist it was.
My first encounter with #ChrisLilley was Summer Heights High. In the first episode alone there were a couple of rape jokes.
I didn’t watch any further episodes.
— Bort Flancrest (@bortflancrest) June 10, 2020
You’d hoped we’d evolved as humans since then. People need to grow up and realise media you consumed and enjoyed when you were young is actually kinda fucked up and problematic, and if it perpetuates harm against minority communities then maybe it’s time to let go.
New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples, Alfred Ngaro, said to Stuff.co.nz that Jonah from Tonga “perpetuates negative stereotypes of Pacific people.”
Lilley says the show is satirical, not offensive – but I don’t think he really gets to decide if something isn’t racist if people of that culture literally tell him it is. The same way white people don’t get to tell Black people/ POC what is and isn’t racist.
— Todd (@teeodubbledee) June 10, 2020
Given the current context of the world-wide Black Lives Matter movement, I can see how Netflix decided to pull Chris Lilley’s shows.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in Australia last Saturday for Black lives, with a particular focus on Indigenous lives. Racial consciousness is growing in Australia, as it is all over the world after the death of George Floyd, and companies everywhere are reevaluating their relationship with their Black workers, customers and audiences.
People trying to excuse #ChrisLilley by saying there were people of the correct ethnicity in the scenes with him… You realise those people could have played the character instead, right? Then we wouldn’t need to have this debate?
— Matthew Sharpe 🧼👏 (@mythor) June 10, 2020
Surprisingly, Lunatics has remained on Netflix despite Lilley darkening his skin with make-up and wearing an afro in yet another display of Blackface to play a South African woman.
Little Britain was also removed for it’s own racist depictions, with actors dressing in Blackface and also as a Thai trans woman named Ting Tong.
Image Sources: Twitter, Giphy