Celebrities have thrown their support behind comedian Chris Lilley after Netflix removed several of his hit comedy series from their platform over racism.
Celebrities have thrown their support behind comedian Chris Lilley after Netflix removed several of his hit comedy series from their platform over racism.

Celebs slam Netflix censors as Chris Lilley shows killed off

The removal of Chris Lilley's shows from Netflix platforms has been labelled "ridiculous" by high profile Australians who are concerned censorship is going too far.

Four of Lilley's comedy series - Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes and Jonah from Tonga - have been removed from the streaming service because they include characters depicting Lilley as persons of colour, including Chinese physics student Ricky Wong, teenage delinquent Jonah from Tonga, African-American rapper S. Mouse and Japanese mother Jen Okazaki.

Chris Lilley as S.Mouse from TV show Angry Boys.
Chris Lilley as S.Mouse from TV show Angry Boys.

Actor Rob Shehadie, who rose to fame with Fat Pizza and later wrote the comedy Here Come The Habibs, told The Daily Telegraph he believed the public could find a "negative" in anything.

"I think we are getting a little bit confused," he said.

"We don't know what we want at the moment. It showed with my show, Here Come The Habibs. There is an element out there of people who just want to find anything negative but the majority of Australians just love to have a laugh at each other and that is what breaks the ice."

New host of the popular 2GB breakfast program Ben Fordham was inundated with listeners complaining about the news this morning.

Angry Boys. TV show. Chris Lilley as tyrant Jen Okazaki, who pushed her son Tim to be a skateboarding champion.
Angry Boys. TV show. Chris Lilley as tyrant Jen Okazaki, who pushed her son Tim to be a skateboarding champion.

"Are we led to believe that we're all racist for laughing along with Chris Lilley?" Fordham told the Telegraph. "How ridiculous. This cancel culture stuff is getting out of control."

Studio 10 host Kerrie Anne Kennerley added it's "dangerous" to try to erase history.

"I understand we live in very sensitive times and behaviour with scene is completely unacceptable but if you try to erase change or rewrite history that can be very dangerous," she said.

Today's Entertainment presenter Brooke Boney gave a powerful editorial on the breakfast show saying while there is a problem about the representation of black people on screens, removal is not helping us move forward.

"If we are going to go back through history and start removing things that are inappropriate by modern standards, then we are going to have to get rid of all those movies by Harvey Weinstein or music by Michael Jackson," she said.

Rob Shehadie says people can find negatives in anything. Picture: Christian Gilles
Rob Shehadie says people can find negatives in anything. Picture: Christian Gilles

"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 and open doors that have been closed to people of colour before."

We Can Be Heroes, released 2005 and Summer Heights High, released 2007 have been some of Lilley's most celebrated work, with Lilley winning the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent at the Logie Awards for his work on We Can Be Heroes.

Lilley's other series Ja'mie Private School Girl and Lunatics, which was commissioned by Netflix and also features Lilley dressing up as a South African woman with brown makeup, will remain on the site.

Jana from Lunatics, a South African lesbian Pet Psychologist to the stars.
Jana from Lunatics, a South African lesbian Pet Psychologist to the stars.

Netflix refused to comment on the removal. However ABC, who originally commissioned and championed Lilley's projects, said they would be reviewing their content to ensure it meets "current community standards."

"Community attitudes change across time and context, and we recognise that the ways in which some characters have been depicted in the past might be considered deeply objectionable or offensive today," they said in a statement.

Classic British comedies Little Britain and Come Fly with Me were also removed from Netflix and Stan this week.

In the US, HBO Max removed classic film Gone With The Wind before announcing it will return with a disclaimer.

"Burn the books, pull down the statues, and ban the movies and TV shows," comedian Vince Sorrenti commented. "We cannot be reminded of what we were like, we might learn something. Exactly how did the Taliban get into Australia with the travel bans?"

Television host Susie Elelman said we need to learn from the past, not cover it up.

Jonah From Tonga. Picture: Supplied
Jonah From Tonga. Picture: Supplied

"You can't apply this over the top 21st century political correctness to something that was made decades ago and simply ban it," she said.

"You'll always find someone who is offended by something especially when it comes to comedy - if it bothers or upsets you then don't watch it. If you're the one screening it then put a disclaimer at the front of the show to say that it contains images or storylines that may offend like they currently do with violence, coarse language and images of deceased indigenous people.

"Let's stop trying to whitewash the past and learn from it instead."

Lilley as S.mouse. Shwayne Booth Jr. Chris Lilley.
Lilley as S.mouse. Shwayne Booth Jr. Chris Lilley.

Elelman added: "By these new standards do we now ban the Mad Men series for instance because they portrayed realistically what it was like in the 1950s 60s and 70s where everyone smoked at their desks, drank alcohol at work and treated women like sex objects and second class work colleagues who weren't promoted because they were women? That's how it was back then."

Originally published as Celebs slam Netflix censorship as Chris Lilley shows killed off

Actor comedian Chris Lilley as character Ricky Wong from TV program
Actor comedian Chris Lilley as character Ricky Wong from TV program "We Can Be Heroes". /TV/programs/Titles/We/Can/Be/Heroes
Ben Fordham’s 2GB listeners weren’t impressed with the news.
Ben Fordham’s 2GB listeners weren’t impressed with the news.

NAMED AND SHAMED: The Nanango locals sentenced over drugs

Premium Content NAMED AND SHAMED: The Nanango locals sentenced over drugs

‘A LOT of people are surprised when they hear how serious this charge is regarded’:...

Nanango community rakes in $2 million from recycled cans

Premium Content Nanango community rakes in $2 million from recycled cans

MORE than 20 million containers have been recycled in Nanango generating $2 million...

Man in court for kicking stranger’s head and obstructing police

Premium Content Man in court for kicking stranger’s head and obstructing...

A Murgon man faced court after he kicked a stranger in the head at Fortitude...