Angry Boys - offensive, genius or meh?

UPDATE Thurs: This from The Australian Media writer Caroline Overington:

It was brilliant, but to my mind, not because it was hilarious. There were funny lines. But Angry Boys was also terribly sad.

Raw, and real, and the title is perfect: the boys are angry, because they’re in considerable pain.

The poor bloke trying to bring stability into Daniel’s life by marrying his mother … I’m not sure there’s ever been a more accurate portrayal of what it’s like for a man to move into a home with hurting teenage boys who tell lies by reflex, and have posters of near-naked women on the bedroom walls.

The portrayal of the kids doing “mainys’’ in the Main Street (walking down it, riding BMX bikes down it, driving Mum’s car down it) for entertainment in a dusty, underpopulated, unemployed town, is perfect.

As is this uncomfortable truth: almost every child in the detention centre is indigenous (including, as Gran says, the white-skinned ones)

As one viewer said on Twitter: “Are you sure this is satire? I know most of these guys.’’

Nobody knows the mind of Chris Lilley, but it seems to fair to say that he’s as clever as the cleverest satirist of all, Barry Humphries, who did the same thing for us, more than 50 years ago (and who, at the Royal Wedding, did the same for us again): held up a mirror, and when the laughter died away, there was our truth.

The ABC had Angry Boys on iView less than 30 minutes after it went to air. You can watch it, for free, here:

Chris Lilley’s latest controversial creation, Angry Boys aired on Australian TV tonight. (ABC, 9pm).

There’s no denying, we reckon Chris Lilley is certified genius at MM HQ, but his latest offering looks set to push the boundaries even further. We laughed. A lot. And that was just watching the preview below, but it’ll be interesting to see how America take his impersonation of a black rapper (Lilley is wearing black make-up). This series will be broadcast over there as well.


UPDATE 9:30pm: Watched it and loved it. Gran is GOLD and there were some surprisingly poignant moments with the twins from Dunt.

Taking the temperature of public opinion via Twitter, most people seemed to love it. Some questioned the casual racism and homophobia. One person asked me why it was OK for Chris Lilley to be racist but black-face on Hey Hey It’s Saturday caused an international incident.

I guess the reason I think Chris Lilley is so brilliant is because the characters he writes and plays are an intriguing, delicate mix of caricature and nuance. There are little bits of revealing humanity in amongst the funny. And this series isn’t as obviously funny as Summer Heights High and Heroes.

My feeling about why it’s OK for Chris Lilley to  portray racist and homophobic characters is because it’s satire. There ARE people like that, who use those words and have those attitudes. To portray them in a work of fiction is not to endorse them or laud them. The point is to take the piss out of those attitudes but to do it with subtlety and humour, no?

What did you think?

Here is the trailer: