Hey Hey racism row erupts online
Former Hey Hey It's Saturday star John Blackman has earned the ire of social media users after hitting back at claims the show was racist towards guests.
Responding to musician Kamahl's admission he felt "humiliated" by a number of racist skits on the variety show, Blackman said he would have "desisted" had Kamahl spoken up at the time, the Daily Mail reported.
Posting to Facebook on the weekend, while he admitted he "cringes" looking back at some of the episodes, Blackman suggested the star should have let it go by now.
Now, a number of Twitter users are lashing out at Blackman, with Kamahl himself slamming his remarks in a follow-up post.
It comes after fellow former Hey Hey cast member Daryl Somers caused outrage when he said the show's content wouldn't survive in today's "political correctness and cancel culture" climate, prompting the initial response from Kamahl, who was regularly subjected to jokes about his skin colour on the show before it ended in 1999.
Asked whether he thought Hey Hey could return in light of the controversial remarks by Somers, 86-year-old Order of Australian member Kamahl recalled "a number of instances where I felt humiliated".
He added that he didn't want to raise any objections at the time, and would instead just smile and "pretend everything was OK".
Last week, a collection of shocking Hey Hey clips involving Kamahl was shared on social media, including blackface segments impersonating the musician, and a skit which saw Kamahl's face covered with white powder, to which Blackman joked off-screen: "You're a real white man now Kamahl, you know that?"
To celebrate Daryl Somers’ hot take on cancel culture yesterday here’s all the edits I’ve done from the Hey Hey archives.— John Patterson (@johnpatterson) March 22, 2021
Here’s the legend Kamahl being bullied by the Hey Hey gang pic.twitter.com/Aa3WMeRw54
Another gag saw the lighting department asking Kamahl to smile so "we can see him".
"Friends of mine in America saw that and to this day they can't believe that somebody would treat an artist with that amount of disrespect," Kamahl explained of the blackface impersonations.
Responding to the resurfaced clips and Kamahl's comments, Blackman wrote on Facebook: "You knew where my booth was!
"If you felt so aggrieved by my "quip" you should have had marched up to it, had a quiet word in my ear and I would have desisted from making any further "racist" remarks forever."
He added: "Keep in mind, we were all performing in less-enlightened (unintended pun) times back in the day and, when I look back over my career on HHIS (via YouTube), I sometimes cringe at what we got away with - but none of it with any intended malice."
Kamahl spoke out again today, tweeting: "John Blackman wants to know why I did not make any complaints then ! Mr. Blackman, you of all people know that it's all about TIMING! There's a time for everything !"
@OfficialKamahl John Blackman wants to know why I did not make any complaints then !— Kamahl AM (@OfficialKamahl) March 28, 2021
Mr. Blackman, you of all people know that it's all about TIMING!
There's a time for everything !
"Why are so many people so unkind ?"
Flocking to support him in the comments, a number of followers called out Blackman's actions.
"How pathetic of John Blackman, peddler of cruel and degrading stereotypes to condemn @OfficialKamahl for calling out racism," one fan said.
"You'd think John Blackman and Daryl Somers would pull their heads in and reflect on what they used to do. But no - whingers and whiners," said another.
"Wouldn't it just be better for John Blackman to say "you're right Kamahl and I'm sorry"... Let's be honest, we've ALL said or done the wrong thing at some time, we're more enlightened now so just say sorry & learn from it," one more wrote.
Last week, Daryl Somers said it was a "shame" television shows can't "get away with half the stuff you could on Hey Hey."
"You probably could not get away with half the stuff you could on Hey Hey now because of the political correctness and the cancel culture," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"It is a shame because showbiz does not get much of a chance."
Last year, people were reminded of the show's controversial moments when a video of Somers performing in blackface circulated online.
The clip shows Somers singing Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World alongside New Zealand jazz singer Ricky May.
It was part of a tribute package that aired on the show in 1988 after May's death, and it is still available to view on the show's YouTube page.
Hey Hey It's Saturday infamously made headlines again in 2009 when five men performed in blackface during the Red Faces segment in a Hey Hey Reunion Special.
The men, who were pretending to be the Jackson Five, received a score of zero from guest judge Harry Connick Jr who said he was offended by the performance.
Somers apologised to the singer at the end of the show, saying: "I think we may have offended you with that act and I deeply apologise 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 apologise to you."
Connick Jr said he would not have appeared on the show had he known about the performance.
"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.
Originally published as Hey Hey racism row erupts online