The ABC and the City of Sydney have sparked outrage among Australian viewers following its 9pm family-friendly New Year’s Eve fireworks display intended for children. The display, curated by Indigenous artist Blak Douglas, was criticised for its “depressing and dark” theme as well as “woke messaging”. Viewers questioned the appropriateness of ending the show with rap duo Barkaa and Dobby, who performed their 2020 song I Can’t Breathe.
The song references the 438 Indigenous people who died in police custody.
Barkaa and Dobby also donned ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirts during the performance.
When introducing the display, Mr Douglas talked about the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where the fireworks take place.
He said: ‘”We are taking over one of the most famous icons on the planet. An icon that was never consulted amongst either the Gadigal or Cammeray people.”
@con_hippy tweeted: “Haven’t kids been through enough seriousness this year?
“@ABCTV kids early nye was good until they were forced to watch 3 minutes of history before they were allowed to watch the most depressing and dark KIDS fireworks ever.”
One viewer @commonsense058 agreed, tweeting: “The ABC has gone completely woke. No more for me, I’m turning this s*** off.”
Another viewer @BordaCollieLuv responded: “Yes! Where were the songs for kids to dance together with as they squeal and enjoy the fireworks?
However, others praised the curated show as “fabulous”.
@collette_books said: “How fabulous was the kids show. Tearing up at all the well wishes from the presenters to the children in the audience.”
@pattyhuntington echoed this: “Loving the First Nations focus of the 9pm fireworks and entertainment curated by Blak Douglas #SydNYE.”
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported a 73 percent surge in new Covid-19 cases ahead of the fireworks.
Despite this, New Year parties in Australia’s largest cities largely went ahead as planned.