Wiggles apologise for 'pretty damn offensive' song about papadums

A scene from 'Pappadum'.
A scene from 'Pappadum'. Photo credit: The Wiggles

The leader of veteran Australian children's band the Wiggles has apologised for a song which has been criticised as racist.

The video for 'Pappadum', first released in 2014, features the band singing about the titular food whilst dancing and wearing Indian-style clothing.

An Indian woman dances with the band, smiling but not joining in the singing. 

Though all-too-familiar to many parents of young toddlers here and across the Tasman, the song and video were recently discovered by social media users - who didn't like it.

"To be clear, this was not the representation I wanted," Twitter user @_ashmip wrote, sharing the video in a tweet that's been viewed nearly 2 million times in just two days. 

"That poor Indian dancer didn't know what this audition was for and she looks legitimately horrified," replied one person." 

"It's pretty damn offensive," said another.

"Can someone in UK please make a white Australia parody version where everyone's wearing thongs and singlets and just saying 'vegemite' over and over again with that same terrified smile?" said a third.

Someone asked Anthony Field, founder and only remaining original member of the Wiggles, if it was his "creative brainchild".

The Blue Wiggle - as he's also known - confirmed he was.

"I wrote the song, and directed the clip in 2014 (which was meant as a celebration)," he said in a tweet. 

"It was not my intention to be culturally insensitive to the Indian community, or to add value to ethnic stereotyping. Apologies."

Some criticised the song for not featuring any singing from the Indian woman - actually Indian-Australian Kimberley Stapylton, who is the band's marketing and live events manager.  

"She wasn't comfortable singing, but there was an intro where she brought us food and talked of dance," said Field. 

He said the band would, in future, seek feedback from different communities when incorporating their culture into Wiggles songs. 

The Wiggles do songs inspired by various parts of the world, including traditional British and Irish tunes, songs from the Pacific Islands and even one with  Māori lyrics, written and performed with Kiwi entertainer Robert Rakate. 

Not everyone thought Field had anything to apologise for.

"Don't even worry about it bro, I can sort of see what you may have been aiming for and it certainly could have gone better but it wasn't toooooo awful lol," said one fan. "And honestly owning up to your mistakes like this shows growth. 'Fruit Salad' still slaps btw."