I was reading a blog post which gave a personal critique of Chris Lilley’s satire, “Ja’mie: Private School Girl” which aired on ABC2 last year and was repeated at the very start of this year. The mockumentary follows prestigious school girl Ja’mie King in her last weeks at the all – girls Anglican college, Hillford High. She prides herself on being there, being a high achiever, being a prefect and aiming to get the top ATAR score in her HSC and constantly boasts about doing “charity work” in Africa when she leaves high school.
Now here is where this other blogger and I differ. The blog post I read accused Chris Lilley as being homophobic and sexist as well as having an outdated view on prestigious private school culture.
Homophobia is definitely highlighted in the show with Ja’mie constanlty attacking another high achiever Erin by constantly calling her a “lesbian” as an insult. Unlike the blogger, I don’t necessarily take this as a personal attack on the LGBT, but highlighting bullying that goes on in schools as well as jealousy and insecurity on Ja’mie’s part.
Another point I disagree with was that the blogger said Lilley attacked teenage girls by making Ja’mie so superficial. I took at as a satire on the private school stereotype that often is seen in society; mainly that they’re snobby (please note: I’m not saying they are. Lilley portrayed King to portray private school students as snobby and elitist). I will say that the portrayal of the private school system is particuarly negative throughout the show. One point I do agree with though, is that yes, Ja’mie is very one – dimensional and, yes, as the audience, we are not meant to feel any sympathy for her throughout the show.
In the show, I think Lilley portrays King as a hypocrite and a narcissist. On one hand she harps on about “Christian values” where as in reality, she shows the exact opposite. Her aspired “charity work” is shown as nothing more than a feelgood “look at me” gimmick. Interestingly, after King is expelled from Hillford High in the last episode for indecent exposure online, her so – called “Christian values’ (which she never exhibited anyway),are thrown ouu the window.
In my opinion, I think “Jamie: Private School Girl” is actually one of the best works by Chris Lilley. It’s hard hitting and, frankly politically incorrect to the extreme, but I do think it makes a point, particually about socio – economic elitism and how the “Christian values” tag can be sometimes nothing more than a hyocritical, feelgood line rather than an ethos that people are meant to live by.