If Billy T James was alive today would Susan Devoy want his comedy stereotypes banned?

Comedy had always been about stereotypes and stereotypes are funny because there is always a grain of truth in them. Laughing at ourselves as well as others is what humour is all about but if Susan Devoy our Race Relations Commissioner has her way Comedy will no longer exist. Devoy seeks to restrict who is allowed to poke fun at others based on the colour of their skin.

Would Māori Television executives have considered broadcasting a show based on a Pākehā man in brown face paint and afro wig, lampooning a barely literate, violent yet comical Māori teen?

Probably not.

Does anyone seriously believe that Devoy would be upset if a Maori comedian wore white face paint and a blonde wig while lampooning a barely literate, violent yet comical Pakeha teen? What about a Maori comedian doing stereotypes of Indians, Mexicans and the Japanese like Billy T James did? Devoy is only concerned with protecting the feelings of certain minority groups including non-racial groups like Muslims. She is offended because a white comedian played a Tongan character but would not have blinked an eyelid if a Tongan comedian played a Maori or Pakeha character.

Comedian John Cleese says that the essence of comedy is being critical and that means causing offence sometimes. But we shouldn’t protect everyone from experiencing negative emotions by enforcing political correctness. A friend of his said to him that it is people who cannot control their own emotions that seek to control others behaviour.

…Māori Television staffers felt that there was a local market for this show and they probably weren’t wrong. You just need to read the social media comments to see there are plenty of Pasifika Kiwis who think Jonah from Tonga is okay, and that anyone who disagrees is PC Gone Mad.

But just because some people think it’s funny doesn’t make it okay, and thankfully there are many more who argue that this kind of show is stereotyping blackface: which it is.

This is an important conversation for New Zealanders but particularly for Pasifika Kiwis (young and old) to have: is it okay for Tongan people — or any people — to be portrayed like this in 2017?

Once you start censoring comedy you kill it because you must be consistent in your censorship. If all it takes is for some people to be offended then that destroys every single comedy act. Even when people are not offended by humour that pokes fun at their race or cultural attitudes Susan Devoy still doesn’t think that it is okay. She wants to police humour to protect us from laughing where we should not be laughing.

Progress is about leaving behind us those things that no longer reflect the kind of people we are.

-Susan Devoy

The kind of people we are Susan are people who are not afraid to laugh at ourselves. My Australian Dad gave me a book of jokes poking fun at Australians the other day which he found very funny. It is important to be able to laugh at ourselves and I think that trying to label comedy stereotypes as racism is simply wrong. It is Cultural Marxism trying to break down our society to the point where everyone is too scared to say anything for fear of being labelled a racist.



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