Today Show reporter and proud Gamilaroi woman Brooke Boney has delivered a stunning take on the raft of TV and film studios scrambling to remove access to past popular titles that have featured overtly racist characters or stories. And it’s a take that sits in opposition to the wail of voices calling for those titles to be deleted.
Following on from the BBC’s decision to drop both Little Britain and Come Fly With Me from its streaming on-demand platforms, Netflix has reportedly dropped Chris Lilley‘s various series – including Jonah From Tonga, Angry Boys, and Summer Heights High – from its libraries. All of those series routinely featured characters in blackface, which initially sparked calls for their removal.
However on the Today Show this morning, Boney asserted that these titles should not be removed and deleted from archives. Not because she doesn’t have a problem with the depictions of race, but rather that it’s important for everyone to be uncomfortable with our past, and to have a record of the terrible treatment that POC and First Nations people have received in the media.
“Does going back through the archives and tearing down art that’s been made in the past really help us move forward? If I have children, I don’t want them to see and to think that that is how they fit into the world. But I’d also like to be able to show them how poorly our people were thought of and treated in the past,” Boney stated.
In the short piece-to-camera, Boney also called on companies with the power to do so to make meaningful change by hiring and supporting a diverse new class of talent, asserting “they need to open doors that have been closed to people of colour before.”
"If these companies truly want to create lasting change and not just virtue signal in a moment of turmoil, then they need to support new talent," @boneybrooke speaks out on streaming services removing content that contain racist depictions. #9Today pic.twitter.com/d232RCdDzt— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) June 10, 2020
That’s a fairly remarkable thing to be said on Australian TV at all, let alone on the historically white morning show circuit.
Ignoring and deleting the past achieves nothing, and merely sets things on a path to repeated mistakes. Recognising it and letting it make us uncomfortable, on the other hand, is how we learn and grow.
More Brooke Boney on every screen, really. Please and thank you.