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Aussie newspaper apologises after uproar over 'offensive' cartoon

A cartoon printed alongside an opinion piece in The Age newspaper has come under fire this week, forcing the publication's newly appointed editor Patrick Elligett to apologise on his first day on the job.

The Melbourne-based newspaper ran the article, titled 'Should white critics be allowed to review this play? It's producers don't think so' in its Sunday edition, with its accompanying illustration turning heads and sparking outrage online.

Patrick Elligett and his apology towards the 'racist' cartoon.
Tough first day on the job for Patrick Elligett, who apologised on behalf of the newspaper he now represents after it prints a 'racist' cartoon. Source: The Age

The article under the spotlight was written by Elizabeth Flux, the publication's Art Editor, who shared her thoughts on a play's producers asking that whichever critic the newspaper sent to review their work was a person of colour (PoC).

The accompanying cartoon illustrated two black women on stage with a row of caucasian critics sitting side by side as they review the performance, with one sitting on a seat that has a sign reading "Critic PoC only" on the back. The illustration has been blasted for the caricature nature in which the women were depicted.

According to Mr Elligett's apology addressing the issue, the author was "not aware of the cartoon prior to publication and was not involved in its commissioning". The cartoon has now been removed from the digital article.

The newspaper shoulders the blame, claiming that Ms Flux was not aware of the cartoon that fronted her opinion piece. Source:
The newspaper shoulders the blame, claiming that Ms Flux was not aware of the cartoon that fronted her opinion piece. Source:

What is the play about?

The critically acclaimed production 'Seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner' follows the lives of two young black women who unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of a social media frenzy after one calls out world-famous business woman and socialite Kylie Jenner for copying black beauty aesthetics.

It is believed due to the specific themes explored in the play the producers preferred a person of colour's critical perspective of the theatre production.

What did people say online?

The outrage towards the article and accompanying cartoon was quick and intense, with a community organisation's thoughts leading the backlash.

Stage A Change, who state their mission is to create professional opportunities for people of colour in the performing arts, blasted the newspaper's work as "disgusting" and provided a lengthy statement outlining their opinion. They said Ms Flux is missing the point.

"If The Age does not have a single person who can review a show who does not identify as white, I think that speaks more," the statement said.

Another social media user shared their thoughts online, saying they felt the cartoon shifted the mood of the article.

"In fairness, Elizabeth wouldn’t have chosen or been consulted on the cartoon, which I agree, changes the tone (I read it online with no cartoon - sits v differently)," they said.

Cartoon accused of having 'racist undertones'

Content creator Aurelia St Clair also weighed in on the controversial illustration, posting a video to her TikTok account. They believe the cartoon has "racist undertones", reminding them of another cartoon of a black woman that received backlash online.

"The cartoon was reminiscent of the one of Serena Williams a few years ago. That cartoon was also such a caricature," they told Yahoo News Australia.

Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Patrick Elligett for comment.

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