In a new interview, the rapper Briggs has spoken on Netflix’s removal of Chris Lilley shows due to their use of blackface and brownface, saying “there’s more to gain” by funding Indigenous creators than deleting old, offensive films and shows.
Earlier this week it was reported that Netflix removed four of Lilley’s shows – 2005’s We Can Be Heroes, 2007’s Summer Heights High, 2011’s Angry Boys and 2014’s Jonah From Tonga – due to his portrayal of non-white characters in blackface and brownface. This follow’s Netflix’s removal of Little Britain for the same reason.
Briggs, who has written for another Netflix show Disenchantment, questioned whether the removal of these shows is an “appropriate response” in a June 11 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s hard to gauge what an appropriate response is in this climate. It feels like everything is pretty heightened,” the Yorta Yorta rapper said.
“As a comedian I find it funny because I think Lilley’s stuff sucks, but honestly I think there’s more to gain in creating more content rather than deleting old stuff. I feel a better response is to show commitment to Indigenous creators by commissioning content for Netflix that isn’t true crime.”
Briggs also said he doesn’t see the point in contextualising Lilley’s shows, in the same way that people have done for the classic 1939 film Gone With The Wind.
“I don’t think Chris Lilley is a ‘teachable moment’,” he said.
“He made his shows in the 2000s. He’s not a product of the times, he’s a product of his own ego. The fact he re-released that ‘Squashed N****’ song in 2013 [in blackface as the character S.mouse] says a lot about his awareness and his character. It’s not like time has passed and he’s learnt.”
Prior to the interview, Briggs had tweeted a call for Netflix to commission work from Indigenous creators.
“What @NetflixANZ can do is fund more Indigenous content & creators and put it front and centre,” he wrote.
“Enough with reactionary responses. Removing content doesn’t empower the next gen, make something that does. Put your money up.”
What @NetflixANZ can do is fund more Indigenous content & creators and put it front and center. Enough with reactionary responses. Removing content doesn’t empower the next gen, make something that does. Put your money up.
— Senator Briggs (@Briggs) June 11, 2020