Harry Connick Jr. says he was surprised and “shocked” to see the use of blackface during a performance on Australia’s “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” variety show, which he was a guest judge for on Wednesday, but believes the performers did not intend to offend the audience.
“Hi Everyone, I am in Australia now promoting my new CD and I never imagined this trip would have so much controversy. I’ve visited Australia now for over twenty years. I love the Australian people. I particularly admire the Australians’ love of life and their ability to laugh at themselves. Those of you who have seen my shows or seen me in several comedic skits on TV, know that I have absolutely no problem with comedic sendups or making fun of myself or others,” the singer wrote on his Web site on Thursday.
“I have watched the media storm that has erupted over my reaction to the Hey Hey blackface skit. Where I come from, blackface is a very specific and very derogatory thing. Perhaps this is different in other parts of the world, but in the American culture, the blackface image is steeped in a negative history and considered offensive,” he continued. “I urge everyone in the media to take a look at the history of blackface to fully understand why it is considered offensive. I also urge you to review the Hey Hey tape and you will see that I did not ascribe any motives to anyone, nor did I call anyone a racist. The blackface skit was a surprise to me and I was simply shocked to see this on TV. I do not believe that the performers intended any harm.”
Adding, “I appreciate the folks who have written in support but please know that I allow everyone their own opinions and can only speak for myself.”
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, following the performance, “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” host Daryl Somers apologized to Connick for the “Jackson Jive” act.
“I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize to you,” Somers said on the air.
The “Jackson Jive” featured four men in blackface with afro wigs singing and dancing behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup. Connick gave the group a zero score and said if he had known about the skit he would “definitely” not have appeared on the show.
The group performed on the variety show 20 years ago and had been invited back to reprise their act for the show’s reunion special.