Erin Molan is a vexxing character. I don’t know her, but she’s a television and radio personality who leveraged family connections, average looks, mediocre ability, and hard work to achieve B-grade celebrity status in Australia.
She is currently taking action against The Daily Mail for defamation; in short, they implied she made racist accents and jokes about Polynesian Islander rugby league players. Molan wants aggravated damages for the articles and tweets which imply she is “racist, callous and arrogant.”
In response, The Daily Mail have filed a defence of truth. To prove it, they have dug the dirt on Molan, who has form for mocking the accent of various ethnicities. Taking her side, the usual bunch of old, angry white men (staunch defenders of linguistic racism themselves) trot out the standard excuse: harmless fun.
Now, I could give a shit about Erin Molan.
I don’t care if she’s into vaginal steaming, if she roots football players, if she’s rich-daddy’s pet, if she’s been a bad girl, if she’s still a drunkard, if she’s had a boob-job, a colonoscopy, or a kid. Her opinions about COVID-19, football and/or Donald Trump aren’t worth a pinch either.
Just don’t give a shit.
But I am interested in how Erin wants others to pronounce her surname. I’d say ‘mole-an’ and not ‘mollan’ because that’s how the English language works. But I’ll dig up some audio to check.
Because if Erin doesn’t want to be called ‘mole’ then it would be hypocritical, perhaps even racist, to mock an Islander’s name as ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka‘ or to start singing “awimbawe” from ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight‘ because a player is named Nakubuwai.
Hypocritical? Yes. Racist? The courts will decide.
At least we now have Erin’s fabulous theme song. Admit it. We’re all only ever a private second away from singing this song.
While you may think Erik Kaisson is solidly Nordic-sounding, the name on my Finnish passport was 25 letters long. On my current Australian passport, it’s down to only 16. Even so, I have to repeat it twice at every introduction. I’m as Aussie-looking as they come, but the minute I say my name I become ‘different’.
I feel different too when, people I’ve know for decades mispronounce my name. Yet if I jokingly mispronounce their Anglo names, you watch their brow furrow. It’s not funny taking the piss out of whiteys, only the unprivileged should be the butt of harmless jokes.
I find white people to be especially thin-skinned to harmless jokes. Erin is very white and very thin-skinned. Erin was not amused, for example, when a critic called her an ‘entitled racist mutt’.
In fact, Erin thinks trolls who say mean things to her should go to gaol.
But ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ is perfectly okay.
Maybe hypocrisy is the price of success in white society. But the world turns, and what was harmless white fun when Erin was a girl is not so funny now. If Erin mispronounced my name for laughs on-air, my response would make ‘entitled racist mutt’ seem like a term of endearment.
Confusingly, shock jock Kyle Sandilands, an unrepentently offensive B-grader himself, describes Erin as the politically correct ‘You can’t say that, you can’t do this’ type. Amanda Keller from a rival station confirms that Molan is “the most professional female.”
How can she be professional yet make fun of people like me?
Context is key, maybe. The difference between harmless fun and malice. Accent bias, for example, is a bad thing. ‘Accent modification specialists‘ teach perfect enunciation so speakers don’t suffer ‘microinequities’ for sounding non-native. But dumb jokes? Are they always malicious?
While I suspect Erin is a hypocrite, I’m not convinced she’s callous or arrogant. Nor is she racist on the basis of what passes for harmless fun on some lowbrow radio program.
And for the record, she pronounces it ‘mole-an’.