Well, there it is. That guy who rose to TikTok fame by ‘predicting’ the daily NSW case numbers has been milkshake ducked. What exactly is a milkshake duck? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Chances are you’ve almost definitely seen Jon-Bernard Kairouz‘s TikTok videos, in which he pretends to use mathematical genius to guess the daily NSW case numbers before Gladys Berejiklian‘s 11am press conference.
There were only six in total, but it was enough to see the self-proclaimed comedian rise to instantaneous viral fame and be interviewed by almost every major network.
Well, he experienced a rather swift fall from grace as a racist joke from his past was dredged up to bite him. This, dear reader, is called a Milkshake Duck.
On top of this Kairouz has been issued a court attendance notice by NSW Police after he uploaded (and deleted) a video of himself at the Freedom Rally Protest in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday.
In the now-deleted video, Kairouz can be seen calling himself the “People’s Premier” while shouting from a megaphone. He also allegedly appeared without a face mask or face covering.
— Adella Beaini (@adellabeaini) July 24, 2021
In a country so steeped in racism, especially when it comes to comedy, people like Kairouz being called out for racist jokes in the past is indicative of a deeper issue that Australia has with a general tolerance towards racial hatred.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident.
What Is A Milkshake Duck?
The term ‘Milkshake Duck’ was coined in 2016 by Aussie cartoonist Ben Ward (Twitter user @pixelatedboat) and perfectly encapsulates the phenomenon of an individual rising to viral internet fame, only to inevitably be uncovered as problematic in one way or another.
The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist
— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) June 12, 2016
It was born around the same time as Chewbacca Mom and Ken Bone rose to prominence, two relatively ordinary individuals whose past was dug up after they reached internet virality, swiftly causing a massive fall from fame.
Milkshake Duck was voted Word of the Year in 2017 by the Macquarie Dictionary for being rather vital in describing this unfortunate online phenomenon.
In a statement, they described the definition of the word as having a “hint of tall poppy syndrome” and playing off the instinctual human desire to “bring someone down.”
Someone gets famous via the internet, bad stuff is revealed, they fall from grace. The cycle continues.
Unsure how you can get any more 2021 than the utter inevitability tiktok guy was going to be a ready-made milkshake duck.
— daft punky brewster (@BenjaminMillar) July 19, 2021
How Was TikTok COVID Predictions Guy Milkshake Ducked?
Self-styled Aussie ‘comedian’ and content creator Jon-Bernard Kairouz rose to internet prominence after a series of TikTok videos in which he pretended to predict the COVID-19 case numbers for NSW.
In all likelihood, he was leaking from an inside source and passing it off as mathematical genius.
His ‘correct estimates’ wound up in a five-day streak of astonishing accuracy until a NSW ‘sting op’ caught him out, resulting in his first video that presented an incorrect guess.
However, even as Kairouz was rising to viral fame, an old (and deleted) video was being shared on social media.
The racist ‘comedy’ video in question comes from earlier this year and shows Kairouz using First Nations people as the butt of a disgusting joke.
“I’m in Redfern at the moment and it’s such a beautiful area,” Kairouz says.
“The only problem with this area, and Australia in general, is there’s just way too many A-“
The video then cuts off and he returns to say ‘adolescent teenagers’, the ‘joke’ here being that the audience is left to assume he made insensitive remarks about First Nations peoples.
It then appears that the creator of the post liked comments that made hateful remarks in response. Although Kairouz denies that he was the one that liked the comments.
Gomeroi activist and TikTok user @asmallrash is but one of the many people to call Kairouz out on this video, using artist Luke Currie-Richardson‘s call-out post to make a point.
“The racist video about mob. Now I remember where he’s from,” she said.
Here’s Why This Isn’t An Isolated Incident
Kairouz rising to automatic internet virality only to be Milkshake Ducked for racist comedy is part of a story that we’ve seen many times in this country in which someone with unsavoury views manages to thrive and build a platform for themselves.
What Kairouz presents in his since-deleted video is racial prejudice under the guise of comedy. We see this all the time in this country, as people try to pass off racial stereotypes as jokes.
The real problem, however, is that when Kairouz was making jokes like this, he received tacit approval from his followers and his mates, who either laughed at the videos or refused to question if something was wrong with them.
This allowed Kairouz to move along with his ‘comedy’ career without having to ever think twice about the gravity of his words and how they affect First Nations people.
Kairouz isn’t alone, however, as this is indicative of something much larger that occurs all the time in this country, especially to people who don’t have the strange blessing of internet virality to shine a light on why this isn’t okay.
For as long as there are people who believe punching down on First Nations people is humorous, then folks like Kairouz will continue to have a career.
Kairouz was an adult in the video, it was only made this year, and he was playing off of nasty stereotypes to entertain an audience of like-minded people. If nobody found it funny in the first place, he wouldn’t have made the joke. Kairouz, like many other people in this country, was affirmed in his racist views by the loud approval and the silence.
Even on mainstream Aussie television, jokes about First Nations peoples and POC were widely accepted and affirmed in their racist ways. Take Hey Hey It’s Saturday for example.
Despite an entire 2009 blackface skit and claims of mistreatment by Malaysian-born singer Kamahl, hosting duo Daryl Somers and John Blackman came out in 2021 to mourn the fact that “cancel culture” would prevent the show from happening today.
In instances like these, it’s less about ‘cancel culture’ swarming onto comedians and preventing them from making art, and more about an educated and informed audience realising that jokes that punch down on First Nations peoples and POC just aren’t funny.
The only way for these jokes to thrive is if you build your audience out of uninformed and potentially racist listeners.
Ultimately, it’s this blind allegiance to racism as some comedic, entertaining pillar in this country that makes Milkshake Ducking so inevitable. Kairouz and his short-term burst of internet fame is not the last instance of problematic individuals finding fame in this country.
With internet virality comes a magnifying glass on what you say and what you do, and unfortunately Australia is too steeped in racism to ensure that our next big internet sensation doesn’t have a past with it.
Jon-Bernard Kairouz is due to appear before Bankstown Local Court on Tuesday 14 September 2021.