Asian Australia – Take Off Your Politeness Mittens

 

Hey Asian-Australia. There’s a time for taking those Politeness Mittens off. It’s called RIGHT NOW.

First of all, I’m pretty sure I speak for quite a large proportion of Australia when I say: Damn you Kyle Sandilands and the horse carcass you dragged in behind you!

In the last 24 hours, on the next predictable episode of ‘How Desperate Can Commercial Radio Go’? it appears that Australia’s Vegemite-barrel scrapers masquerading as your self-appointed national taste-makers, Kyle and Jackie O, partook in what can only be described the shittiest remake of Sixteen Candles. Not even JJ Abrams would touch that with a fifteen foot light-sabre.

Jackie O and Kyle Sandilands
Jackie O and Kyle Sandilands

 

Passing through the approval filters of the Australian Radio Network (owners of KIIS1065) is a sketch known as Wong Number.

Erin Chew, convenor of the Asian Australian Alliance, reluctantly sat through the entire segment and subsequently documents and breaks down the joke structure in her You Offend Me You Offend My Family Post, which was essentially tricking two Chinese restaurant businesses into repeating takeaway orders into each others phones in full Cantonese accent. This subtext of this piece of Flower-Drum accent-mockery disguised as a demonstration of technologically-advanced gotcha is truly vile:

Listen to this and try not to break anything valuable in your immediate vicinity:

It’s also a crime against comedy, and really, there’s nothing particularly new about this. But hey, it’s not a registered nurse with undiagnosed depressive disorders whom you’ve tricked into putting you through to the Duchess of Cambridge. Anyone (care to) remember that fiasco?

ALL OF THIS TOOK PLACE barely half a day after some entitled mongrels have displayed the wherewithal to lament that the Gold Logie nominations has gotten out of hand diversity-wise. Yes, my apologies for the link to a News Ltd article demonstrating the worst of Anglo cultural privilege-yes, look at it in the face and deal with it, I shout you the next round of drinks.

Whether you like or believe her schtick, Lee Lin Chin has been a fixture on Australian airwaves for longer than most of the LOGIE voters would have been alive. Whether you dig his ideas and arguments or not, academic and musician Waleed Aly is a proven Renaissance man, the like of which we haven’t seen much of in mainstream news and entertainment.

 

ALL OF THIS TOOK PLACE a week after the UNSW indigenous terminology guide debacle revealed our basic historical awareness around the devastation of colonialism is as proficient as our renewables industry and our broadband capabilities- stuck in the last century and STINKS OF LABRADOR SCROTUM. Captain Cook wasn’t a discoverer or even the first European, morons!

Which brings me to my headline. Let me draw this out and see if this makes sense:

*Cues the latest trippy track by Rainbow Chan on Spotify*

Hey Asians, I understand. We kind of like to be the quiet achievers. We take pleasure in the understated methods of inverting the cultural paradigm to circumvent the centuries of racial humiliation, especially with the help of reality TV.

Revenge is sure lychee-sweet when non-Asian folk think we dominate the pantheon of kitchen gods thanks to Masterchef et al.

We privately rub our hands in glee when we represent Australia two years in a row at Eurovision. We nod furiously in agreement when our Laotian-French-Australian Discrimination Commissioner uses big philosophical words to talk about the Bamboo Ceiling. We rejoice when the Laws’ become Australia’s Modern Family in one of 2016’s highest rating shows.

Hell, even I signed up to do things the fun and positive way instead of whinging, like helping to initiate a playwriting program so that Asian-Australian dramatists could tell their story their way. On stage. Nice, polite and legitimate ways of getting the message across that difference is here to stay.

At the risk of being labelled humourless and thin-skinned, News Ltd and other commercial radio are replete with loud and excruciatingly ignorant voices need to be called out and drowned out.

If you’re pissed off enough, you can complain directly to the station, and if it’s not dealt with to your satisfaction then the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) need to hear from you.

We hope but don’t know that Penny, Poh, Adam, Dami, Guy will feel like they can or should say something now, but the rest of us can.

Kyle Sandilands, Murdoch Press and the entire braindead mob need to know where the line is. And they’re not going to learn until we take our gloves off and educate the bastards in the language they know best- Public Verbal Humiliation En Masse.

Who’s up for it?


 

Erin Chew is petitioning Tony Kendall, CEO of Australian Radio Network, Kyle Sandilands, Jackie Henderson to apologise for their racially motivated prank, “Wong Number” via Change.org.

 

Author: Teik Kim Pok

Teik-Kim Pok works mainly in interdisciplinary collaborations, creating interactive performance installations for festival settings with The Mook Gwa Institute and its series of pop cultural therapy works Karaoke Massage and Kino Klinik. Recently, he begun his foray into screen, as the titular lead in the acclaimed Australian indie feature Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites, which was in competition at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival in Utah and is now having a national Australian release. He has been with Playwriting Australia since 2012, where he has led programs such as the LOTUS project to promote Asian-Australian playwriting through a partnership with Performance 4A, on whose executive committee he also serves as a member. Teik-Kim is also a contributor to national live art journal RealTime Arts.

13 thoughts on “Asian Australia – Take Off Your Politeness Mittens”

  1. The petition doesn’t go far enough ! They should be sacked . Should have been years ago .

  2. Thank you so much for bringing this to light. I’m currently working on a soundscape project that highlights contemporary casual racism, and sketches like this in 2016 are going to be a great source. Thank you again!

  3. great article Teik Kim Pok. I’m a loud, politically active asian-australian visual artist (I don’t usually use this stupid identity asian-australian shite title anyway cos it helps reinforce racism) and am constantly up in arms about this racist establishment. Great to see you’ve encouraged many in the asian quarters to stand up and fight. We need more of this! Let’s continue to lambast them (as you have in the article) and continue to shout that from the hilltops.

  4. I’m a business owner operating a small business. Apart from everything else, it’s appalling to interrupt, make of and waist the time of small businesses trying to make a living. From my point of view I found in infuriating to listen to this sketch putting myself in they shoes of the restauranteurs.

  5. Huh. Interesting. So Australian racism still exists. Surprise surprise, but can you really blame them. One is abused white trash from a broken home and the other is a shop girl pair of tits who f*cked her way into celebrity. The problem with this backlash and why it won’t go anywhere is because racism in Australia is like homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. It’s not tolerated but it still exists everywhere. The problem with the Asian-Australian community strongly objecting to this is the first thing that bigots think of is Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, screaming with his bucked teeth at Eliza Doolittle from the top floor staircase.

    When you look at 1st world racism, (where your feelings are hurt and you are inconvenienced or may even not get a job due to your race rather than being the victim of ethic cleansing and genocide) progress is never made from an adversarial movement because for every Asian offended, there will be at least one other (if not more) person, Asian or otherwise, that will argue “Oh for Christs sake, it was a joke, do Asians not have a sense of humour?”.

    Progress is a 2 fold strategy based on a single premise. Empathy.

    Step 1. Kyle and Jackie, are ignorant. Spring rolls? Lemon Chicken? Mongolian Beef? That’s not Chinese food? That is the shit Chinese entrepreneurs cook up and pass off as Chinese food to make money off the whities. So put them in an Asian environment that is not Bali or Phuket. Drop them in mildly Asian locations like Shenzhen or Hokkaido and make them broadcast from there where they are the minority in an environment where English is the second language. (I dare you KIISFM)

    Step 2. Australia, although historically populated with waves of immigrants since the invasion of 1788, we as a population have a really short memory. Newer generations forget that what the older ones have gone through. We share a common rite of passage of being outsiders before we are accepted. Ask any Wog who has lived in Australia in the 50’s. So the support you need is not from your fellow Asian-Australians but the support from those who have gone before. Seek support and community from those who have already suffered the slings and arrows (or at least have the capacity to understand their own cultural origin story) and are now considered no less Australian than the trailer trash from Brisbane who pollute the airwaves with their undercurrent of xenophobic ignorance.

    Rest assured that statistically speaking, the descendants of the original invaders are being bred out and as time goes on, those still remaining will be the outsiders. Most of us Australians are from somewhere other than the first fleet and the ones still Arian enough to have a direct line to the people who did commit racial genocide .. well .. they have nothing to be proud about. Be patient my friend. Eventually, through strategic copulation, racism can be cured.

    P.S. Sorry for the long comment but I started typing and got into a frenzy. Hope it’s coherent.

  6. Sadly, I’m Caucasian and somewhat embarrassed when I hear that sort of rubbish, dressed up as comedy. It’s not even remotely funny, it’s rude and insensitive but quite obviously that doesn’t worry them as long as they get ratings. I guess the thing that occurs to me is that most Australian’s are mono-linguistic, so for them to make fun of people who probably speak several languages, as many Asian people do is just downright ignorant/stupid. I’d love to hear them attempt to speak Cantonese or similar, then we could really have a laugh. Not wishing to get too philosophical here but I sincerely wonder if this type of cheap racist crap is possibly representative of the way society is evolving these days. It appears to me that very few people honestly concern themselves with how their speech or actions effect others. I think it’s turning into a very “I AM” society. This is to say the attitude of many is that “As long as I’m happy, I honestly don’t care”. Speaking as an Australian, I do not like the way society is heading. If I was to take a wild stab in the dark as to the causal factors, I’d put this trend down to two major factors. 1) A lack of sensible discipline over the last decade and a half along with 2) Social media, where people are losing their ability to communicate face to face, moreover, they are learning that “Hey, I don’t have to care about others feelings because I’m anonymous on internet”. Sadly this learned behavior spills over into real life and like it or not we have the results that we are now seeing in Australian society. “NOT HAPPY JAN” !!!!

  7. I like this article because Sandilands & Jackie O should be doing community service, not radio.
    This article resonates with me because there is a nation-wide cultural debate at the moment about the ‘whitewashing’ of Australian history and it’s invasion by colonising England. I only learned this week that Governor Macquarie wrote an authorisation to murder and hang Aboriginies on trees to create terror in their war campaign.
    I would appreciate a template letter response that you requested above to save time for people interested in joining this campaign.
    I like how you point out with humor the wins and contributions Asians have made to Australian culture, after all you have been with the colonials from the beginning, from the first gold & coal fields, you were part of that unwritten history which started being revised as early as the 1960s(?) when a worldwide consciousness started to emerge, when people started to question the war and the US illegal war in Vietnam which Australia was ally.
    Now the new kids on the block are the Middle Eastern, they are the ones that get the main hammering, who represent fear and the unknown. A falafel is still scarier that sweet & sour pork which is now soothingly familiar, so for Jacki O you just get little hen pecks coz you are higher up the food chain in their deluded reality TV world.
    Sandilands & Jackie O are just last centuries prostitutes for the media moguls who thrive spreading this mire & muck. The biggest question for most intelligent people is who actually listens to these people, a speculation that leads to all sorts of unnatural fears. These are the people I am terrified of, their audience.

  8. I’m a Kiwi living in Nanjing, China and our favourite cafe is run by a Nanjinger who lives half in Melbs and half in Nanjing. His cafe broadcasts this station live and we were sitting having a coffee when we heard this “Wong Number” stuff… We couldn’t believe our ears. We were embarrassed and just hoped that the Nanjingers around us couldnt understand this mockery of people who had worked hard to leave China for whatever reason and give a life in another country a go. So many Chinese people we meet talk about Australia like it is the promised land, with sun, employment opportunities and so many freedoms that people here only dream of. I hope that they don’t get to see/hear this kind of disrespect and yet it’s far too common for them to avoid it if they do decide to make a huge commitment and move to the land of sun and surf.

  9. Hear it and sent the following complaint:Driving home on a Friday night after 6pm I listened to slot pronounced “Wing the Wong Number” where Jackie & Kyle phoned two Chinese takeaway businesses ordered food then set the two foreign nationals talking together cross purpose in their second language English until it dawned on one they were the butt of a joke. Listeners were then put through the uncomfortable experience of hearing the awareness grow in the one and their difficulty communicating this to the other while he attempted to withdraw politely from the conversation where the other was unaware and had become cross with him. Jackie and Kyle narrated this in the background their humour manipulating listener experience to consider this as acceptable appropriate entertainment and jolly good harmless fun.
    Wrong.
    No doubt as a social worker I analyse social conditions quite differently. Most of us are in this gig because we care about humanity and want to be part of helpful social reform. Here then I give you benefit of my expensive qualifications and painful experience:

    • This will not be the first experience that week or possibly that day of ethnicity based bullying for those two individuals and their family members. This will be one of many that make the accumulative experience of such bullying a psychological everyday stressor for a child, a teen, an elder, a lone woman or man , a family trying to do their best. Your example of bullying is however by far worse in that as a public act built into a weekly program it validates all others.
    • You monopolised the time of two small business owners reliant on business coming via their phone at peak earning time.
    • At its conclusion many prank radio jokes offer an apology by way of “sorry mate just a joke, here’s a prize for being good sport”. This did not happen. In this case the joke leveraged on the difficulty of communication in broken English hence you might struggle in the explanation and so opt out of this part. However I put it to you, you know this act to be deeply insulting to the recipients. The idea of negotiating this is not what you avoid. Subconsciously it is the admission of this you avoid. As long as you supress this you can maintain the behaviour – the doing of the prank. It is the paradox of the bully.
    Don’t worry you are human. None of us innocent of this. My intention here is to awake in you that awkward awareness that is social conscience. It will challenge you. You know you are big enough for that and you’ll be better for it and you will pass it forward.

  10. Sorry. I think the that radio segment is funny. You should get a sense of humour and get a life.

  11. Kyle and Jackie are uncultured and insensitive. They are what embarrasses me about being an Australian. It would have benefited them if they had travelled parts of the world when they were younger. I don’t listen to their radio show ever, and I’m surprised that anyone with a modicum of intelligence does.

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