It’s No Falaughing Matter

Just a word on the latest Eddie McGuire furore.

You might even say the most recent “food-in-mouth” scandal… If you wanted to get punched in the nose.
It all started when Eddie was having a bit of to-and-fro with GWS coach Kevin Sheedy on his Hot Breakfast radio show on Triple M Melbourne.
Now, the context is important and it isn’t. It isn’t because all you need to know is that Sheedy was being his usual cheeky self, in-part being honest about their hunt for players, and in-part baiting Eddie, knowing full-well that Eddie has been acting even more Mother Hen-like after the Premiership win in 2010. Also knowing that he is just about the only man who can offer Collingwood players more money than Collingwood itself.
Therefore when Sheedy spoke of “picking a team of all players off-contract”, and there being “a lot of Collingwood players on this team”… just to add fuel, “Sheeds” also said it’s a “Deal or No Deal” situation.
Then Eddie had about a minute to come up with this: “I’ve just put a team together of your seventeen year olds who’ll be sick of living up in the land of the felafel in Western Sydney…”
So the context was Eddie having a go at Sheedy… and Western Sydney.
That is, I think, what Eddie does not grasp. Eddie, today, tried to justify his comments by equating it to saying Carlton’s the “land of the pizza”. If you were to hear that on say, a program such as Postcards, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid- so he is right. However, they would be painting Carlton in a positive light by trying to highlight its dominant ethnic identity, that of a large Italian population, with a defining reputation for its iconic Lygon Street.
So this is when context is crucial.
Eddie was using it as a slur against Western Sydney- nothing more, nothing less.

Now you might be like Eddie and declare your unbridled love for all things falafel. You might say that even in the context it was in and whatever intent Eddie had, that it isn’t even that damaging in content. However, think of the connotations associated with a fried falafel and then the connotations involved in alluding to pizza or “haggis” (as he also calls his father a “haggis-muncher”).

Yes, because the racial associations with these foods play no part at all, do they? These cultures have long been a part of Australian culture, or at least the ancestry of many Australians. The days of teasing someone as a “wog” are now over, so why would calling something a land of pizza be even a slight jibe?

This is why these seemingly innocent jibes against some groups do so much damage. Take Ben Elton’s Live From Planet Earth. During a “public school teacher” sketch, a teacher said various made-up Asian-sounding names (one for example, sounded like “ain’t-shit”) and implied how ridiculously hard they were working.

Now, this seems like a compliment, and on the surface, it is. But, these sort of compliments or observations have a more insidious racism, even it is more hidden.

Either way, the person saying these “jokes” is usually feeling threatened, and uses his or her position chatting to a bunch of friends or thousands of people, to simultaneously make themselves more secure and take another group (usually in a lower position to start with) down a peg or two.

And of course, you always get the perpetrator of an offensive remark defending themselves by saying it was all a joke or some such.

And sometimes it is.

Here’s the distinction; the Chaser Make a Wish Sketch was utterly lambasted for uttering the line “they are just going to die anyway”. I’m not for one second defending it by saying how funny it was. I am also not saying it was tasteful or nice in any way. But! At no stage did anyone think the Chaser laughed at the fact that these kids were sick; their intention was not to make these kids or their families lose hope. They were trying- poorly- to be so outrageous that it was somehow funny. Needless to say it didn’t work, but the point is- their intention was not a nasty one.

As Ricky Gervais said, comedy can either come from a good place or a bad place. And while the Chaser did not have their comedy come from a good place, it certainly wasn’t the other.

And no one can deny that protective
Eddie wasn’t trying to land a knockout blow with an easy stereotype of both the Lebanese population and the rest of the people of Greater Westen Sydney.


Posted on February 11, 2011, in Radio and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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