Harry Connick Jr. Clashes with Blackface Jackson Family on Aussie TV


Apparently enough time had elapsed since Michael Jackson's death that a cheeky comic tribute to him and the Jackson 5 seemed in good taste. At least it seemed that way a troupe of Aussie TV performers, who rounded out last night's performance as the "Jackson Jive" in full-on blackface. The crowd ate it up, but an American judge who knew better ground the show to a halt until somebody apologized. Video after the jump.

It wasn't supposed to be like this for Harry Connick Jr. or the iconic Aussie variety series Hey Hey It's Saturday, for whom the midweek show represented a much-anticipated reunion special. But there they were: The Jackson Jive, all Afro wigs and black face paint, led by their late superstar brother, Michael, done up with a pasty clown visage and aviator sunglasses. Not cool, said Connick: "If they turned up looking like that in the United States, it'd be like Hey Hey There's No More Show," the crooner spat, giving the group a score of zero in the episode's mock-talent competition. (The Aussie judge beside him was much more forgiving, allowing for a smile and a 7.)

The host brought Connick -- who'd appeared on the show before -- back out after the break for an official mea culpa: "I know that to your countrymen, that's an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize." Connick thanked him, adding, "I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that, we take it really to heart." As if this weren't the year two-thousand-and-freaking-nine. "If I knew that was going to be part of the show, I probably - I definitely - wouldn't have done it."

Our Aussie moles tipped us to the full video below, but feel free to skip ahead to 2:15 if cringeworthy ethnic tone-deafness is NSFW, or if you just want Connick's priceless reaction, or both.


  • Sam says:

    Not every state participated in slavery. In fact a great majority of the US had not even been founded yet. Slave trade involved 4 continents. i think apologies become redundant. It is in the actions that we redeam ourselves not in hollow words.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    Justin: For the record, I was offended.
    Not on behalf of (or in reference to) Harry Connick, Jr. Not on behalf of (or in reference to) black people. Not on behalf of anyone or anything else. I didn't suddenly get offended in the wake of Connick's comments. I didn't manufacture offence after the fact. I was offended when five grown men walked out onstage on public, free-to-air, network Australian television in 2009 in blackface as if it were nothing other than silly dress-ups.
    To repeat: "The Black And White Minstrel Show" was pulled off Australian television in the 1970s because of the ugly racial implications of blackface. The B&WMS was, I think, made in the UK at that stage. To leap up and down shouting "it's an AMERICAN thing" is to betray further ignorance, so instead please educate yourself on the issue - lest nascent bigots read your comments and draw strength from them.

  • I Smell Poop says:

    Hey Hey Hey Australia,
    Do your homework down there!
    1.) Connick Jr. isn't from New Orleans. He's a rich phony from Weston, Connecticut, where he attended public school from 1970-1982. His picture is in all the yearbooks.
    2.) His real father was never the district attorney of New Orleans. He is or was one of the presidents of Sony Music and a stockholder in Sony Pictures. The father himself had a career in show business and even appeared in the film 'Let's Make Love' with M. Monroe and Y. Montand.
    3.) Finally, Connick Jr. even had Michael Jackson visit his home in Weston, Connecticut, some time in 1981 or 1982, because Connick Sr. was such an important figure in the American music industry.
    Why hasn't somebody picked this up?
    Best regards,
    I Smell Poop

  • R. Daniels says:

    T.E.- Although this group may have performed this same act 20 years ago, the year would have been 1989-1990 20 years ago, and it was STILL INAPPROPRIATE then. People performed in black face in the late 19th and early 20th century to satirize black people, perpetuating a general belief that all black people were stupid, lazy, greedy, and simple-minded. In minstrel shows, white people "blackened up" and showcased imaginary black characters who could do little more than sing and dance, shuffling around the stage like total buffoons. So YOU may feel that this Jackson Jive group is harmless or meant no ill will toward an entire race of people, but I tell you, their thoughtlessness, insensitivity, and blatant disregard for the history of black people is as intentionally offensive as it gets.

  • benji says:

    you've got to be joking mate. about time you realised that the world doesnt revolve around your issues and sensitivities. like many people have stated, if the jackson 5 happened to all have bleached-blonde hair and albino skin then thats what the actors would have donned for this sketch. the fact that it means something racist to your old friend harry is more of a reflection on his personal views than an entire continent of people.

  • benji says:

    And ted, why are you comparing the jackson 5 to the indigenous people of Australia? because they have similar coloured skin? sounds to me like you are racist...
    and you have just branded australians as people who "go around killing indian students?" thanks for painting 20 million people with the same brush... wait, is the word "painting" offensive to you because it reminds you of something with racist connotations? better complain on the nearest blog, ASAP!
    Wanker! no matter what race you are (i'm not prejudiced!), you're a wanker. deal with it.

  • benji says:

    I'm sorry to hear that your family tree stems from prison rape.
    Personally, my family came to Australia as free settlers, seeking a better life and finding it. They found Australia accepting of all cultures (regardless of colour, religion etc), hence why we stayed.
    As for "finding this site via google", i was actually searching for the music video "hey world" by michael franti and this came up. Watch the video and you might learn something.
    You are still welcome back in Australia anytime, your ignorance will be "tolerated" by a patient society. Like any other country, we have our share of hypocritcal bigots such as yourself.

  • jawdropped says:

    White people aren't usually outraged when minorities make fun of us because we don't care. We don't have to. We've had the power.

  • jawdropped says:

    True, the USA isn't all that free anymore, but what does that have to do with Harry Connick, Jr. finding himself shocked and offended while stuck in an uncomfortable situation? FYI: Harry is still popular in the US and other countries (apparently your own too or the TV show wouldn't have had him on), so he doesn't need to search out pathetic moments of fame and controversy. It's never been his style as a celebrity either.

  • youmustbekidding says:

    It wasn't innocent; it was ignorant. Thinking painting oneself up to do a parody of another race (not a parody of a racist or a clueless wacko as Robert Downey Jr. played in a move, but of another race), especially a race sharing a skin color with another that were both brutalized in the USA and Australia is itself racist and ignorant. Your sense of entitlement, patronizing tone writing about Aboriginals in Australia, from the comfort of self-delusion and denial shows how safe you feel to be that clueless and insensitive about your the native peoples of your own country.

  • spotted a dumb Bunny says:

    Wow. You are truly ignorant. Do you know how to read? If so, start reading history books. If not, at least rent some documentaries.

  • jawdropped says:

    Ben, you rock.

  • Agreetobebetter says:

    I agree. It is hard to tell people you don't like what they are doing when it is just a one on one situation. It's even harder in a large group! And on TV?

  • recordstraight says:

    For the record, HC Jr. did not accuse the entire country of Australia of being racist. I haven't read in these posts Americans accusing all Australians of being racist, nor are there posts denying American racism.
    The incident you Aussies seem to think created such an international sensation was just a tiny blip in our media. Blink, and you would've missed it. It is your own media that went hog wild for the story and then turned it into a national debate. Now your all worked up in a defensive dither, and the truly ignorant among you wrote such insensitive and clueless responses that Americans are arguing with you. And man, some of these posts are so incredibly ignorant of their own national history, not to mention current comfort with posing as innocent when blatant disregard for the feelings of your own countrymen, the ones most damaged by your British heritage and accompanying attitudes against the natives, is displayed.
    Still, it is mostly your own tizzy, with a few Americans stunned at the cluelessness written here and responding to it, not denying American ugliness The ignorant posts, though are accompanied by some exceptionally insightful posts as well. Australia is like the United States, and visa-versa, we both have intellectuals with higher moral values and we have knuckle- dragging, redneck, cretins.

  • recordstraight says:

    I think the offended have explained themselves and their reasons very well. Therefore, it is you who cannot understand what you are being told, or you are not bothering to read what anyone else has to say.

  • recordstraight says:

    No, jazz isn't that popular with most American blacks. His fan base contains more whites than blacks.

  • Oh really? says:

    Apparently they do, at least Australia's world does because your media was all over only one American's feelings and Aussie's have been defensively howling about it. If American feelings and opinions are not so all fired important, then why the hysterical defensiveness blowing it it into a bigger moment than it was?

  • jawdropped says:


  • editor2world says:

    Telling you your behavior is offensive is not trying to run the world. It just feels that way to you because you don't want to be told anything that makes you uncomfortable.

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