A few days ago, former Masterchef winner and Destination Flavour Japan host, Adam Liaw, took to Twitter and began his cheeky awards-show attack, firstly by supporting the anti-Oscars sentiment summed-up in the hashtag #oscarssowhite:
Five minutes later, he deepened the jibe with the use of visual stimulus:
This morning, Liaw woke up with a fresh cultural comparison, using sarcasm to thank the Australian industry for rising above Hollywood and remaining committed to diversity.
Does the Malaysian-Singaporean Australian have a point?
Let’s take a look at the two types of Logie award categories: "Most Popular" and "Most Outstanding".
Though technically the most reported award-winners are chosen by the public, it’s no secret that voting for the ‘Most Popular’ awards isn’t the most secure process. Some argue that TV Week can do little to stop anyone from voting as many times as they like. In other words, vote-rigging at the Logies is not a new accusation.
Out of the 70 Gold Logie nominees over the last decade, 69 have been either a white Australian or white Australian with a non-Anglo surname (Stefanovic, Carpani, Micallef). That’s right. Ada Nicodemou (2006) is the only noticeably non-Anglo Australian to be nominated for the award in the past 10 years. (She didn't win.)
Instead, recent times associate the top gong with Bickmore, Cam, Keddie, Blake, Stefanovic, Meagher, Gibney, Ritchie, Wood, and a whole lot of McManus.
But let’s pretend for a moment that the pubic voting process is seamless and truly reflective of the spread.
Here’s where the counter-arguments to Liaw’s claims will arise. While white nominees continue to dominate the less respected awards, the ‘Outstanding’ category has recently demonstrated more of an appreciation of diversity.
Redfern Now, The Slap, and East 101 have all taken the critical crown, and Deborah Mailman, Don Hany, Alex Dimitriades, and Vince Colosimo have all snagged one or more nominations.
While it’d be fantastic if the nominees in these categories were more representative of our multicultural climate, it could be said more blame should go to the industry that commissions the content, rather than the award show that celebrates it. The Logies do tend to reflect of what’s on offer on TV, as opposed to in the US where diverse work is (at least, this year) there to be ignored.
Luckily, the industry does seem to be trying…
A change is coming. We think.
Recent programming such as Redfern Now and The Principal and The Family Law suggest that production companies and networks might finally be seeing that one of the paths to original content is to let non-whites tell their stories. At best, we are witnessing the beginnings of a cultural shift on the small screen, and at worst, these shows will continue to pop up as ‘token multicultural shows’ that commercial networks have no interest in emulating.
Evidence to the latter comes with the toe-curling trailer for Here Come the Habibs (I don’t give two fucks if two out of five creators are of Middle Eastern descent – they should all be ashamed of themselves for releasing that trailer), a show that seems like the brain-child of that racist great-uncle that nobody in your family talks to anymore.
Let’s wait for this year’s nominees
Voting for the 2016 Logie Awards is now closed. While we (well, not me, but maybe some of you?) wait for TV Week to release the nominees, all we can do is hope that when they do, Twitter will have no reason to announce that #logiessowhite is trending.
And we will be free to create the hashtag #LogiesSoNotAsWhiteAsLastYear.