Alrighty, so remain calm, but it’s looking very likely that the annual Triple J ‘Hottest 100’ – an institution that’s the cornerstone of many young Aussies‘ Australia Day celebrations – will move to a less inflammatory date than Australia Day (or Invasion Day, depending on your view).
PEDESTRIAN.TV can exclusively report that the public broadcaster is in “serious talks” to shift the date from January 26 due to growing public sentiment that it’s disrespectful to Indigenous Australians, who see it as a dark mark on our country’s history / a day of mourning as the date on which Captain Arthur Phillip took official possession of the colony of NSW.
According to multiple well-placed sources, there have been a number of closed-door meetings between ABC bigwigs in recent weeks, with Triple J reaching out to select Indigenous artists in its orbit to get their take on whether it’s a worthwhile initiative before a decision is made later this week.
The topic of shifting the countdown has been discussed both internally and externally for years – with one Indigenous artist telling us they broached the subject with Triple J long ago – but this is the first time a switch, and the logistics of said switch, has been brought to the table in a serious capacity, no doubt spurred by a growing chorus of people who want it moved out of respect to First Nation peoples.
We’re also told there’s been an all-staff meeting on the topic, in which things got heated as staffers voiced a bunch of conflicting viewpoints.
Some are right behind the idea, keen to help lead change around the public’s perception of what January 26 is all about; such a massive show of solidarity with the Indigenous community – of which Triple J has always been an ardent supporter, raising $100,000 / a lot of awareness for AIME, an Indigenous school mentoring program, via a special Hottest 100 partnership last year and repping the best local Indigenous artists – would undoubtedly shift the paradigms of what’s right, and spark a national conversation that could actually cut through.
Others feel it’s a disappointing cave to public pressure, and a crying shame to lose something so intrinsically linked with Oz Day celebrations as so many people understand them – as Triple J says on its site, the countdown “goes pretty well with the summer weather and barbecues”.
There’s also a general feeling that moving the Hottest 100 away from Oz day would strip some of its power as a platform to highlight the issues and adversity faced by Indigenous Aussies, and be addressing a symptom of racism in Australia rather than targeting the root cause.
It’s just as much a political nightmare as it is an ethical one; a move is considered by some to be ‘playing politics’, which is against the ABC editorial policy. Plus the ‘Hottest 100’ is *the* biggest day of the year for Triple J, and the lynchpin for a bunch of different parties and events it promotes – all of which would be out if the date were to change.
So how hard hit would the brand be if its biggest branding exercise was disaggregated? Insiders say there’s definite concern about backlash from the station’s audience, which includes a large generally more conservative regional audience.
But, for many at Triple J, there’s a clear winner when you weigh up the possibility of an adverse reaction from listeners against what it would mean to First Nation peoples when it can just be moved to another public holiday or random weekend in January.
The movement to #ChangeTheDate has been gaining considerable momentum of late; a Change.org petition to support shifting the date has accrued close to 2,300 signatures, while its creator – Melbourne bloke Brendan Busch – recently announced he’ll gift a Falls Festival camping ticket, valued at roughly $400, to anyone who “can prove they got Triple J to announce they are changing the date.”
He’s also urging the campaign’s supporters to contact Triple J every day until he / someone gets a response that addresses what Busch claims to be more than 2,000 complaints lodged via the ABC website.
Whatever side of the fence you’re on, it’s a bloody minefield of an issue and a fresh salvo in the culture wars; Triple J’s serious consideration of a switch will doubt spark a flurry of commentary from right-wing conservatives – the Andrew Bolts, Chris Mitchells and Tim Blairs of the world – and radio shock jocks keen to weigh in.
We, for one, reckon it’s an important / brave step forward in changing the (probably long overdue) conversation about how we perceive one of the biggest days of the year.
P.TV reached out to Triple J for a response but it declined to comment.Image: Triple J