Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Inside the Ku Klux Klan


TV One, 9.30 Tuesday


By Doug Coutts

The KKK have long been strident supporters of the white supremacist movement, although – along with most other such movements – they don’t actually manage to provide much physical evidence to back the theory up.

Pot bellies, receding hairlines, missing teeth and wispy beards – and that’s just the kids – are backed up by a simplistic, very monochromatic view of the world and their place in it. “We’re going to take our country back,” they say, without realising they’re not going to get a refund, or even a replacement.

Inside the KKK is a compelling documentary by English film-maker Dan Vernon (he’s won awards, you know) and focuses on a small group in Missouri who cling to the ideals of the Klan – the fancy polyester hoodies, fancier titles and the cross burnings – while playing down the practises of the past.

“The noose – that’s just a symbol,” one says of the badge on his shirt, nestling alongside a burning cross. “We ain’t going out to hang a few people in the trees.”

Maybe not but a few years earlier a couple of members from a chapter a state or two away dragged a man behind their ute for several miles, killing him. “They was rogue members,” is the excuse.

On the surface there’s a lack of gumption and a surfeit of ineptitude: membership drives are done under the cover of darkness with ziplock bags containing a flyer weighted with a rock thrown anonymously onto suburban lawns, and one of the senior Grand Poohbahs struggling to cut eyeholes in a batch of hoods fresh off his wife’s Bernina.

“We used to have a template for the holes but we was making them too wide apart,” she explains. Not wide enough for some I’d venture.

It’s tempting to dismiss the Klan as a bunch of inbreds living an anachronistic dream, especially with lines like, “This has been the white man’s country for three hundred years – why should somebody come in a change it?”

But there’s a strong possibility that someone somewhere way in the background has a plan, and these guys are merely the foot soldiers, cannon fodder sent into battle tripping on the hems of their purple polyester robes, as a diversion.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at:
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