Aussie in­tol­er­ance ex­posed

A show of our re­puted racism makes for in­ter­est­ing view­ing, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

AUS­TRALIA has a com­pli­cated, con­flicted re­la­tion­ship with In­dia. To our shame, In­dian stu­dents in this coun­try have been tar­gets of vi­o­lence. Some have died. In­dian call-cen­tre em­ploy­ees cop vile ver­bal abuse from Aus­tralians they con­tact.

Jour­nal­ist and com­men­ta­tor Joe Hilde­brand took it upon him­self to es­cort four ev­ery­day In­dian cit­i­zens around Aus­tralia to in­tro­duce them to its peo­ple.

The result is the new six-part doc­u­men­tary Dumb, Drunk and Racist, its in­cen­di­ary ti­tle a re­flec­tion of the way some Indians have come to view us. What was the idea be­hind this show, Joe?

It’s a bit like a book­end to Go Back to Where You Came From, this un­ex­pected hit where a bunch of hand-wring­ing in­ner-city lefties said, ‘‘I al­ways thought we were hor­ri­bly in­tol­er­ant and now this proves it’’. But it also turned around a bunch of ‘‘We grew here, you flew here’’ types who saw the whole pic­ture for the first time. The same pro­duc­tion com­pany came up with the idea for Dumb, Drunk and Racist based on an item that ran a year or so ago about how In­dian call-cen­tre work­ers were trained to ex­pect Aus­tralians to be stupid or in­tox­i­cated or out-and-out racist bas­tards. The record­ings you fea­ture of Aus­tralians un­load­ing ut­ter vit­riol on th­ese call-cen­tre work­ers is stag­ger­ing.

Th­ese are all real record­ings. We went to a dif­fer­ent call cen­tre and we got all th­ese dif­fer­ent record­ings the em­ploy­ees had made – it’s pretty hor­ri­ble for them to hear those things about them­selves. I think it’s part of this age we’re in – so many things are re­mote and dis­con­nected and peo­ple feel they can say what­ever they like without con­se­quences. Tell me about the four Indians you take around Aus­tralia.

We have a stu­dent whose fam­ily was wor­ried about send­ing him here be­cause they thought it was vi­o­lent, a news­reader on this 24-hour news chan­nel who was privy to plenty of anti-Aus­tralian stuff, an ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tant who flat-out tells stu­dents not to come to Aus­tralia be­cause it’s un­safe and of course a call-cen­tre worker who had ex­pe­ri­enced some Aus­tralian bad be­hav­iour first­hand. Is it just Aus­tralians who act this way?

In­dian so­ci­ety is very west­ern­ised in many ways but it’s also quite con­ser­va­tive. And our be­hav­iour, well, we might call it ram­bunc­tious or devil-may-care, our lar­rikin streak, per­haps. In­dia (places) a great deal of im­por­tance placed on eti­quette and deco­rum. You take a bunch of peo­ple from that so­ci­ety to a B&S ball, there’s go­ing to be some cul­ture shock. What do you think ev­ery­one took away from the

road trip? We wanted th­ese peo­ple to think, ‘‘Hey, Aus­tralia’s not that bad’’, but at the same time we also kind of wanted to shock them by say­ing, ‘‘You thought that was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet!’’ But then again, we wanted to say, ‘‘Look, we’re ac­tu­ally re­ally not that bad – that guy you see do­ing the Nazi salute is just crazy!’’ Ev­ery­thing we tried to show them, we inad­ver­tently showed them the op­po­site, good and bad.

Wed­nes­days, 9.30pm, ABC2.

host Joe Hilde­brand with his vis­i­tors.

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