Kightley supports Netflix removing 'race' shows

By Hyunsook Siutaia 16 June 2020, 8:30PM

Samoan-born actor and New Zealand-based comedian Oscar Kightley says Netflix’s decision to pull four Chris Lilley shows from its streaming service “lessens the exploitation” of Pacific communities.

In response to questions sent by the Samoa Observer, Mr Kightley said he personally admires Mr Lilley's skills and story-telling, but he understands why that nature of his work is always under scrutiny. 

"I think given everything that’s happening in the world it’s understandable how work of this nature is coming under the microscope," he said. "I’m an admirer of Chris Lilley’s skills and story-telling but never felt that he needed a brown face to complement that storytelling."

In a recent talanoa on Tagata Pasifika, Mr Kightley said there are some things that Pacific islanders are very serious about and don't find funny at all. 

"We come from the stage where the naked Samoan style was used as satire and stereotype characters, in order to kind of make our point through comedies, but there are things that we’re very black and very serious and are not funny at all,"he said. "We use humor to tell our stories as opposed to making jokes about minorities."

Last week Netflix reportedly pulled the plug on four Chris Lilley man shows due their depiction of race. The four programs include: We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys and Jonah from Tonga. 

The decision by the American movie streaming service comes on the back of Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. and cities around the world against police brutality and racism.

It also coincides with a related incident involving Australian sports presenter Erin Molan during a rugby league show on the 2GB radio station, when She seemingly used a Polynesian accent to say 'hooka looka mooka hooka fooka'. 

Mr Kightley was then asked if casual racism against Pacific islanders in Australia and New Zealand continues to be an issue that is overlooked, he said we should instead look at racism as Pacific Islanders against the black people.

"I’m not sure we should appropriate this to look at casual racism against islanders in Australia and New Zealand. Rather, we should look at our racism against black people. Whether that is black people in the Pacific, America or Australia and New Zealand,” he added. "It’s our right to be offended and demand better and also we should just get stuck in and own the mediums and narratives so that we’re telling our stories ourselves.”

By Hyunsook Siutaia 16 June 2020, 8:30PM

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