Culture

Bert Newton Is Being Slammed For Using A Gay Slur And Making A #MeToo Joke At The Logies

Read the room, dude.

Bert Newton

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Last night’s Logies Awards viewers were left confused by Bert Newton’s bizarre speech in which he used a gay slur and insinuated that Graham Kennedy repeatedly sexually harassed younger actors and comedians.

Newton was on stage to award the Logies’ annual Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent, which was won by comedian Dilruk Jayasinha, who appears on ABC’s Utopia and Channel 10 game show Cram!.

During his speech, the 76-year-old made several off-colour comments, beginning with a joke that young Australians wouldn’t recognise him. “Most people are wondering who this old poof up on stage is,” he said.

On Twitter, viewers were quick to criticise Newton’s word choice.

He followed up by listing off his own credentials and resumé, with Marc Fennell comparing it to someone reading their LinkedIn out loud. He also made a joke which equated Susan Carland’s conversion to Islam to how Patti Newton now drinks beer and bets at TAB.

Reflecting on the late Kennedy — who Newton worked closely with across his career — Newtown remarked that he was “the sort of man who nurtured young talent.”

“He enjoyed giving young people a chance on television, he was a great mentor, he mentored a lot of young people,” he said. “You knew if you went to his dressing room it was locked, he will be inside doing some mentoring. Don Lane was a mentor too. He did a hell of a lot of mentoring.”

The comment was criticised online for not only causing offence, but for Newton’s lack of sensitivity to the current cultural moment regarding sexual harassment and abuses of power.

Given that this year’s US award shows (such as the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards) saw the entertainment industry speak openly about #MeToo and epidemic sexual harassment, the comments felt particularly misguided.

Tied in with Newton’s use of a slur, the comment comes across as a joke about Kennedy’s sexuality — one Twitter user said the joke equated Kennedy with Kevin Spacey.

Later in the night, Newton was asked by media to clarify whether his comments were a reference to #MeToo. “I’m not that sort of person,” he said, “I don’t mean anything untoward.”

It wasn’t the only gaffe of the night. Earlier, host Dave Hughes said he loved alleged sexual abuser Don Burke during a joke about Burke’s widely-criticised interview on 60 Minutes. Hughes has since apologised for misspeaking, telling News.com.au he had “lost his mind”.