Chris Lilley has rightfully copped a lot of flak in recent weeks for his portrayal of Jonah and other characters. Not only did Netflix pull four of his shows from their platform, but Filipe Mahe, the man who claims Jonah was based upon him, said he felt “embarrassed, full of hate, angry and exploited” from the years-long ordeal.
Now Lilley has finally broken his silence – not by engaging with (or even acknowledging) any of the criticism, but by sharing a deleted scene from Jonah From Tonga on Facebook.
Here’s the thing: the dude hardly ever posts.
It’s not as if he routinely shares clips of Jonah or any of his other characters on Facebook or Twitter. This year, Lilley has posted roughly once or twice a month, and never about Jonah – until now.
Posting this particular clip now, amid all this criticism without actually addressing it, is really quite telling.
The clip isn’t particularly redeeming, either. In it, Lilley, wearing brown makeup and putting on a fake Tongan accent, speaks about Jonah’s late mum, Theresa.
This bares a striking similarity to Mahe’s own upbringing, after having lost his father as a child. He recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that from the beginning, he knew “Jonah was me.”
Lilley appears to have elicited the response he wanted with the post.
In the comments, people flocked to defend him from the recent spate of criticism, praising his portrayal of Jonah and his other “diverse” characters.
On YouTube, which the Facebook post linked to, the comments were pretty similar. However unlike on Facebook, deleted scenes from Angry Boys and Jonah From Tonga, as well as other scenes from Lunatics, have routinely been posted all year.
Despite all this, Lilley has yet to address any of the criticism against him, and for now, it appears he has no intention to.