Youtube series SuperWog
I'm all up for diverse comedy that pushes boundaries, generates discussion and instigates growth and evolution within our society. In the 90s there was the popular Acropolis Now (yes, we all loved Effie!) and today we've taken it one step further with shows like Legally Brown, Legally Brown and um…well I guess it's maybe just Legally Brown.
Diverse comedians such as Nazeem Hussain and Ronnie Chieng are creating interesting and thought-provoking content from migrant backgrounds. Benjamin Law will add to this next year with the release of the Matchbox Production The Family Law, based in Law's highly successful memoir of the same name.
But before I ask 'where the f--k are the women?' I would like to draw your attention to this web-series I've been following for some time, which unfortunately highlights a more insidious gender problem in migrant comedy.
"I know it's satire, but for me, having experienced a repressive upbringing where men dominated – where men still dominate – and where a woman's worth is measured by whether or not she has a husband, children, and a large house with all the trimmings, this sketch picked at all of my scars."
SuperWog is a satirical sketch from the perspective of a 'wog boy's life. It takes the stereotypical concepts of Acropolis Now and plays them out in today's climate. Don't get me wrong – I was a huge fan of Acropolis Now growing up. Yes it perpetuated the stereotype of what it is to be a 'wog', but when that's the closest you can get to characters that represent your own experience, you join in and have a laugh, especially when your Anglo counterparts are too.
With over 79 million clicks to their YouTube videos and about 80,000 subscribers to their channel, SuperWog are nothing to be sneezed at. The comedians tour their shows around Australia. I have found their content funny, controversial and a little – inappropriate. But I thought – you know – good on them. They're wogs, and their carving their own way. Some of my favourite sketches include when wogs break up and when wog parents give the talk.
But that was all before I saw this: If Superwog was The Bachelor.
I know it's satire, but for me, having experienced a repressive upbringing where men dominated – where men still dominate – and where a woman's worth is measured by whether or not she has a husband, children, and a large house with all the trimmings, this sketch picked at all of my scars.
The entrenched sexism is not funny. Was it ever funny? Maybe at a time when that was all women from migrant backgrounds expected from their lives. But the consequences of following that traditional road are now being felt by these women. Some of them, just like me, have ended up as divorced single mothers.
In the sketch, the 'contestants' are on a home visit. The father of one of the young women says his daughter plans to study, to which the main character responds "The only thing she's gonna study is a cookbook…F--king same shit anyway, they go to uni, and they slut around for five years – what for?"
When I voiced by views on the SuperWog YouTube video, I was told by fans to 'get a sense of humour'. Even females have come to his defence. But with all the problems we have in today's society with gender imbalance, and domestic violence, if you have such a big following, why wouldn't you put your power to good use? Or at least do more than taking the easy road and perpetuating the gender imbalance that already exists – very heavily – in migrant communities?
In the end, their message boils down to this: the word of a woman is not valued as a man's is. We see this in the arts clearly, when controversial men are praised and adored by doting female fans, and women are labelled as inappropriate and crazy and struggle to get the same respect.
Women are supposed to shut up and stay behind the kitchen sink. A good wife is one that does what she's supposed to. She is definitely not a writer or comedian challenging culture and the way it operates. Even Effie from Acropolis Now, a woman I idolised growing up, was classic – ally portrayed as a woman who only cared for beauty and boys. But times have evolved, and we need stronger female role models originating from migrant backgrounds.
I challenge these comedians to use their power to shift this imbalance. The problem is that more likely than not, from my own personal experiences of interacting with males from migrant backgrounds, these men probably wouldn't know where to start, as the attitude is so deeply ingrained.
But still, I challenge them, and others, to prove me wrong, to go against the grain, or better still, to collaborate with women from migrant backgrounds that challenge their ideas, so we can level the playing field and promote change. It all begins with art. Art has the power to shift cultural views, particularly about women.
Koraly Dimitriadis is a writer, poet, actor, performer and filmmaker. Follow Koraly on Twitter: @koralyd