Adam Hills has written a frank piece on Facebook in which he claims various government officials at the Australian High Commission in London advised him to combat ISIS with humour on UK comedy, The Last Leg.
Hills was criticised in the UK for defending Muslims in the wake of the Paris attacks.
After apologising for the wording of an unrelated tweet about Pauline Hanson this week, he defended that being called a “traitor” and “un-Australian” in relation to The Last Leg was unfair.
On Facebook he said:
Earlier this year I was invited to an Australia Day drinks function at the Australian High Commission in London. As the beer flowed and the lamingtons were passed around I found myself in deep conversation with a variety of governmental experts on The Middle East and in particular, Syria.
As this was a few weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attacks I took the opportunity to find out all I could about this so-called Islamic State group.
I learned a lot of things that night, but the one that stood out was this: Islamic State need recruits and they have two steps to get them.
1) Create an uprising against Muslims in the West by carrying out attacks in the name of Allah.
2) Then when young Muslims feel rejected by Western society, make ISIS look like a cool alternative.
Please remember, this was all expressed to me by officials of both the Australian and British Governments.
It seemed to me that a good way of combatting this would be 1) be nice to non-ISIS related Muslims (ie the vast majority of Muslims) and 2) make ISIS look like idiots.
I ran this past my friends at the High Commission, who agreed that this was indeed a good thing to do.
Now there aren’t a lot of things a one-legged comedian can do to combat a bunch of pricks like ISIS, but when experts in the field from your own government tell you what you can do – you damn well do it.
The next week on the show I host – “The Last Leg” – we ran an on-air competition to rename ISIS. The winner was a lady who tweeted “Cyst-ISIS: cos they’re irritating twats”. From that day forth we only ever referred to them as Cystisis.
We then ran a weekly segment called “The G-Hadi Spot” in which we attempted to ridicule them whenever we could.
We played Cystisis training videos with the Benny Hill music over the top. We celebrated the young girls who defrauded them out of thousands of dollars. We made our own ads for the caliphate, in which we clearly mocked them.
We also increased security at the studios. A live TV show would be the perfect target for these arseholes, and to this day my Mum still pleads with me not to provoke them each week.
In amongst all this, I did my best to remind our viewers that Cystisis are interpreting the Islamic faith in a highly extreme, and self-serving way, and that the vast, vast, vast majority of Muslims – around 99.997 per cent – disapprove of them.
I did all this, not because I am a hippy dippy idealist who believes that fairy wings and puppy dog farts can change the world. I did this because I was advised by representatives of my government who are way smarter than I am, that it was the right thing to do.
I might be an unfunny leftie wanker, but I’m no traitor.
And the thing is – you can do it too. There are countless memes going around at the moment decrying Islam; there are people saying their businesses are closed to Muslims; there are jokes going around making Muslims the punchline.
All you have to do is use the word ISIS instead of Islam. Mock the arseholes who are really causing the damage. Cos they hate that. Call them Cystisis. Say your business is closed to any Cystisis member who wants your services. Make a meme about how deluded Cystisis are.
It’s what your government wants you to do.
And what could be more Australian than taking the piss out of those who deserve it, while giving a fair go to those who need it?
For Hills to be criticised for defending the majority of Muslims -most of whom reject IS- seems harsh, but is clearly a reaction to the volatile mood of Europe right now.
However, what is less clear is if Hills is explaining that he was a mouthpiece for government -and if so, whether the views he heard were a personal opinion or an official government position.
If govt experts tell comedians what to do and “you damn well do it” then where does one draw the line, given the Abbott government was giving ABC plenty of instructions recently?
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the inspiration for humour. We look to artists to challenge us and to make observations on our society.
But a comedian also had to “own” his material.
Surely it’s better to say “Tough crowd” than “The other bloke made me say it….”