Thursday, October 8, 2009

You and Your Racist Friend

Obviously unless you live outside of Australia and live under a rock (and even if you don't) you would have heard the furor over the skit on Hey Hey it's Saturday this post is not about that!
(Google It!)

This post is about exploring my reaction to the portrayal of racism on our TV's. Last week I caught the first 2 episodes of Tangle, the new show from the team that bought us Secret Life of Us (Yes Us not American Teenagers) and Love My Way. These shows both had their strengths not the least of which was honest dealing with grief, bullying in the workplace, infidelity and the general messiness of life. Both had a level of rawness and inner-city sensibility. Tangle is much more about suburban sensibilities and dealing with the general messiness of life.

The character of Vince (portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn) is a slightly dodgy, earthy, and overtly racist builder with ambition. The character has a surname of Kovic but in a verbal and physically violent encounter with a business colleague looking for money utilises racist languge in the engagement to belittle the other character. The phrasing jarred with me as it would have been a deliberate choice at some, if not multiple, points within the development, filming and editing process and seemed an odd choice to me. it glorifying racism, just creating the character or exposing an ugly underbelly of our society (yes this kind of racism exists in our suburbs).

I am sure that the character will be portrayed with flaws and admirable qualities - perhaps my issue is wanting story book good and evil. Racism = Bad so am i expecting he should be an "evil" character with no redeeming qualities.

I am left wondering if my struggle is with the difficulty I will face bonding with the character. A character like this in a film would perhaps not provide me with the same difficulty. I will watch it again.

The puzzle continues.

For your own contemplation.....They Might Be Giants - Your Racist Friend (covered by Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing!)


Rose Red said...

I think that it's probably a very accurate portrayal of a person - with his flaws. Sometimes it makes it easier to see things in terms of good v evil, but we all know it's not that easy in real life. In a way, perhaps it was a bold choice to use a racist term because it doesn't tend to happen on commercial tv any more (because it is bad! I'm totally with you there!). But people can be good but do or say bad things. And bad people can do or say good things. Interesting the reactions we have to these things though. And lots of regular people do or say stupid things!

dr k said...

and also its very interesting to see different cultures become racist as well, like older migrants racist towards more recent. on sunrise this morning they had a headline 'is australia racist' and im like 'is that a rhetorical question?'. we are a nation built on racist foundations, although many individuals no longer are. but i dont think racism is confined to australia, not at all. its something about human nature everywhere, in all its complexity. not that that makes it ok. not at all. but we cant ignore it, so perhaps characters like that are good for getting people thinking...