In an interview with News Corp. Ray Martin has questioned whether 7TWO should be screening 1970s UK sitcom Love Thy Neighbour.
The series, which airs at 10.30am and 4am from Thursday, revolves around a working class couple struggling with their black neighbours. It ran for 4 years from 1972 – 1976 before an Australian sequel, but its writers have claimed that each episode included both anti-white and anti-black sentiment.
Ray Martin, currently working on an indigenous series for SBS called First Contact, told the newspaper he was surprised racist legislation doesn’t block it from airing.
“The idea that this can be something that we can joke about — it’s not up there for ridicule at all. It’s insensitive, and it’s very hurtful, and it comes at a time when Australians are trying to deal with this kind of scourge of mental illness among Aboriginal people,” he said.
“It can’t pretend to be funny anymore. It’s just hurtful and cruel. It’s not meant to encourage of course, but it really shouldn’t be there for people to laugh at.”
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Soutphommansane said, “I can understand why some people may find the contents of this program upsetting.
“At the same time, people should appreciate that Love Thy Neighbour is a program that was made in the 1970s, in part to critique racist attitudes.”
A spokesman for Seven said “Love Thy Neighbour is one of those English comedies of its time and Eddie [the white character] who is quite rightly portrayed as a fool and a bigot.”
It’s a tricky dilemma. Two nights ago Seven played Homicide in which women weren’t treated with much consideration. Should we also ban Kingswood Country, Benny Hill? What about Are You Being Served? for the way both gay men and women were stereotyped? Frankly I would watch All in the Family in a heartbeat. Same for ‘Allo ‘Allo.
Personally I would be more uncomfortable with bans than with screening historic shows (Hey Dad! is an exception for other reasons).
Watching someone being racist does not mean I will become such. The idea of history is that we learn from it, surely.
Thinking adults should be able to choose to watch social history and learn from it, or have the choice not to participate. I choose not to participate in the comedic musings of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.
The fact this is being made in 2014 is far more offensive than Love Thy Neighbour.