Ban blacking up


by Sunny
22nd September, 2006 at 9:33 pm    

I agree with Hannah Pool and Michelle Henery – the Independent’s front page yesterday featuring a blacked-up Kate Moss was an absolute travesty.

Could they not find a black model to represent Africa?

A particularly typical example of liberal guilt “we-feel-sorry-for-you” racism. You see they would have liked to to put a black model on the front but she just would not have sold as many copies. So they used a druggie.

It would have been better for the Indy to not even bother.


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  1. David T — on 22nd September, 2006 at 10:41 pm  

    Lest we forget

    There are just some things which you look at and go, “What the fuck were they thinking?”

  2. Katy Newton — on 22nd September, 2006 at 10:44 pm  

    The Independent doesn’t know who it is or what it’s doing these days. Every one of their self-conscious cryptic oooh-what-is-that-image-SAYING covers screams “desperate”.

    I’m a bit surprised they’d stoop to this though.

  3. David T — on 22nd September, 2006 at 10:50 pm  

    As a HP regular who calls himself “Fridgemonkey” once put it, the Independent is the Daily Mail for people who recycle.

  4. ZinZin — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:03 pm  

    Can they not just insult Islam like the rest of us?

    That is the best way to be politically incorrect.

    Blacking up is completely unacceptable, times change its not the 1970s.

    David T my mum used to love the Ministrels me i prefer galaxys.

  5. Jagdeep — on 23rd September, 2006 at 12:35 am  

    Who remembers ‘It Aint Half Hot Mum’? They used to have white men with brown shoe polish on their faces dressed up as Indians with accents.

  6. Kobayashi Khan — on 23rd September, 2006 at 7:03 am  

    Personally, I think she looks hot…

  7. Parma Violets — on 23rd September, 2006 at 9:36 am  

    If you tolerate this, a blacked-up Russell Brand will be next.

  8. Kesara / StrangelyPsychedelic — on 23rd September, 2006 at 9:42 am  

    I like the indie for its (slightly dated) content but its covers are so bloody sensationalist I want to whack them to death with a disused tin of lychees.

    Then again maybe they’ve realised that the mass audience really is so thick that you have to scream the obvious in their faces to be heard.

    “OH THE SHAME” (see page 3 for more topless not fashion statements)

  9. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd September, 2006 at 10:43 am  

    Maybe they had Naomi Campbell booked but she hit the editor squarely on the nose with her prada purse. That probably didn’t happen, but it’s nice to picture the editor with a broken nose.

    Bring back the minstrels, bring back the gollywogs, bring back Al jonson and those hilarious rubber lips and comedy dance skiffles of his

  10. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd September, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    After years of irritating popularity, the Kate Moss, ahem, blacklash has finally begun

    boom boom

  11. g — on 23rd September, 2006 at 11:45 am  

    I found the use of blacking up weird in ‘Little Britain’ but most people I talked to or read said “oh no its done in complete irony, its not done in a racial sense” Then what sense is it done in? But then the whole premise of that show is two posh twats cruelly mocking ‘chavs’ (for chavs read anyone who’s not middle class) or people who can’t speak english properly (there was an incredibly racist character called Ting Tong who I found offensive)

    I’m suprised at the Independent though, they’ve obviously bought into the whole ‘blacking up’ is acceptable now which it isn’t. And note how the Moss lips are made bigger in this picture cos as we all know black people are nothing more than the sums of their parts ( dark skin, big lips etc) They should have just handed Moss a watermelon and placed a sign on her neck saying ‘stepin fetchit’ to set the whole look off. no doubt fashionistas next week would all be blacking up seeing as Moss is the high priestess of fashion.

  12. Katy Newton — on 23rd September, 2006 at 12:33 pm  

    It’s not as if there aren’t any high-profile black African models who sell newspapers, after all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alek_Wek

  13. ZinZin — on 23rd September, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    G bang on the money about Little Britain. You failed to mention that its about as funny as a dose of piles.

  14. Chairwoman — on 23rd September, 2006 at 1:00 pm  

    ZinZin – not just me then

  15. Bert Preast — on 23rd September, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Jagdeep wrote: “Who remembers ‘It Aint Half Hot Mum’? They used to have white men with brown shoe polish on their faces dressed up as Indians with accents”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/images/1600/itainthalfhotmum_2.jpg

    That’s Michael Bates, he was the only member of the cast actually born in India, so cut him a little slack. :D

  16. g — on 23rd September, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    i’ve never found it hysterical. its a bunch of catchphrases strung together to make a half hour show. and as Michelle Henry mentions in her article the whole show is just completely offensive to so many people that blacking up is one of its smaller problems. but i really hate the vicky pollard character more than any other, probably because i am a bit of an asian chav but mainly because its unfair for two grown middle class men to make fun of working class teenage girls and then say things like ‘its just a laugh’. maligining a whole group of society isn’t humorous especially when you have had a privileged life in comparison to the people you mock. and have no real knowledge of working class society least of all its sub divisions.

  17. ZinZin — on 23rd September, 2006 at 1:28 pm  

    G agree the whole chav bashing comedy is not affectionate it is hateful in the extreme. The white working class seem to be the only group you can attack and not be upbraided.

  18. Bert Preast — on 23rd September, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

    Because we don’t sweat it. We are absolutely convinced we are superior to every other bugger. Try it, it’s great.

  19. g — on 23rd September, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    I think the white working class attack is allowed is because its being made by other white people. The problem is as I’ve already mentioned that the people doing the mocking are doing it in a very cruel way. Its like the chav scum website created by a posh twat to laugh at the oiks.
    Compare LB to the Royle Family which is also about white working class people but instead of laughing at them, they’re laughing with them. the affection is plain to see mainly because the two writers are both working class. Its also much funnier.

    But then the whole show is just a bunch of racial steroypes and whose creators think its acceptable to be in blackface because its so subversive and outlandish! Much like the Moss cover above. Its not there to actually make any meaningful or valid points about race.

  20. Don — on 23rd September, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

    Does Papa Lazarou count as black-face? Because that is funny, in a disturbing way.

    LB, I quite agree, is a pile of dross with a mean streak. The whole working-class as freak show thing is all over TV these days, whether it’s ‘reality’ TV or that smug tosser Jimmy Carr.

  21. S — on 23rd September, 2006 at 3:41 pm  

    hmm yes the Indie is just a tabloid now. All its news is comment, and shrill hysterical comment at that.

    As for Little Britain ‘g’ I think Vicky Pollard is the only funny bit. There are a lot of real life Vickys out there and while you may think it is condescending of us to laugh at her– I think it is really difficult for the rest of us to live with her.

    People are the characters they are not a collection of socioeconomic pointers. We should be able to mock the unpleasant (and they do mock her attitudes and character– though the style is well observed too)without wringing our hands about class guilt.

  22. Roger — on 23rd September, 2006 at 6:40 pm  

    Actually, there’s a long non-racial history of blacking-up in Britain. Many of the folk-customs that involve blacking-up began with people doing it as a disguise. The Luddote and Rebecca rioters and other work or social protesters blacked-up as a form of disguise as well.

  23. . — on 23rd September, 2006 at 7:12 pm  

    I just wish that Kate Moss would fuck off.

  24. Chairwoman — on 23rd September, 2006 at 8:08 pm  

    Kate Moss IS an absolute travesty

  25. g — on 23rd September, 2006 at 10:15 pm  

    papa lazarou was hilarious and if you watched all the episodes you realise why the guy is blacking up.

    Unlike in LB where the intentions of the creators are never really discovered. Is it a dig at racial perceptions or just an excuse to dress as up as black and east asian people? i think its the latter. And i’m sure Vicky Pollard is funny to some, i just find it weird for me laugh at teenagers because they’re poor and speak differently. its effectively saying a whole group of society is completely rotten and its become acceptable to mock them. Those same jokes were made about darkies and wogs in the seventies.

    LB mocks the working class, the disabled, thai women, black women, overweight people, an asian woman’s accent etc etc. without actually making any subtle points about race or the class system or the treatment of disabled. its just an excuse for middle class people to laugh at people they wouldn’t normally laugh at.

  26. Laban — on 24th September, 2006 at 12:01 am  

    Don’t be so ridiculous. People should be free to black up, brown up, white up, pink up and green up if they wish. And we should be free to laugh at them, or not.

    “s it a dig at racial perceptions or just an excuse to dress as up as black and east asian people?”

    For God’s sake ! Do people have to have ‘an excuse’ ?

    When Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi I didn’t hear all the stormfront crowd complaining …

  27. Kismet Hardy — on 24th September, 2006 at 12:24 am  

    ‘When Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi I didn’t hear all the stormfront crowd complaining …’

    I’m high on lots of unmentionables but I don’t get it. ‘Black’ (politically, that means us) people are complaining that ‘white’ model is being used to highlight a black issue. How is that a parallel to a ‘Nazi’ royal boy not getting complaints from Nazi loyalists?

    I say thee talk shiteth, as Iago said to the blacked-up moor

  28. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 12:37 am  

    The stormfront crowd took it as affirmation. That Royalty was on their side. That truth had outed.
    Aaaaahhhhhh

  29. Katy Newton — on 24th September, 2006 at 12:43 am  

    Oh Laban, you big silly. Being a Nazi is a political ideology, not a race. The Nazis want people to join them. The black race is not a political party, it’s what people are whether they like it or not.

    Therefore, whereas the Nazis would be delighted to have a member of the Royal Family get their brand a bit more exposure, black people who see Kate Moss on the Independent just wonder what on earth was going through the editor’s mind when they approved the cover. Because there are lots of beautiful, high-profile black people who they could have used, but instead they chose one of the more facile, empty-headed waste-of-space white models and then completely changed the way she looked anyway. It’s ridiculous.

    If the Independent want to put Kate Moss on their front cover blacked up like a minstrel that’s up to them and they’re entitled to do it – but it doesn’t mean that black people aren’t entitled to be offended by it.

    Kismet, I am liking your blog more and more.

  30. Al-Hack — on 24th September, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    Shame on the Indy, Kate Moss is mingin anyway.

  31. excuseme — on 24th September, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    Maybe I’m thick: couldn’t one take the underlying message of the cover to be: We are all Africans now (as in ‘we are all New Yorkers’, ‘we are all Hezbollah’, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ etc.)??

    Just a thought.

  32. Jackie Brown — on 24th September, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    excuseme- that’s a possible take, and one that would embrace all of humanity. However it begs the question if we are all one– why does Kate need to be dark for this cover? If its about the problems in Africa, and you don’t need to be African to care about these issues, why do you need black face?

  33. Gibs — on 24th September, 2006 at 3:04 pm  

    Hey !

    There’s nothing wrong with making fun of chavs – after all they are mainly BNP supporters!

    If they don’t want people to think they’re daft, maybe they should stop acting daft.

  34. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Can one vote Burberry?

  35. Gibs — on 24th September, 2006 at 3:28 pm  

    Nothing wrong with Burberry as such . Burberry scarves are all the rage amongst fashionable young women of all races (although I suspect most are “fake burberry”).

    It’s Burberry caps that are the problem !

  36. Kismet Hardy — on 24th September, 2006 at 3:41 pm  

    they banned our local burberry tuk tuk in brighton :(

  37. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 3:58 pm  

    It depends what Burberry, and whether it’s fake or not. Raincoats and scarves, yes. Check handbags, shoes, and caps, real or fake, no.

    Sorry, I tend to be a bit of a fascist about this. And it has nothing to do with the issue. I

    I am tired of white people blacking up. I am also tired of them playing Jews and Chinese roles. We have enough Black, Brown, Jewish and Chinese actors and models for this no longer to be necessary. However Ms. Moss’s nose is improved by the make-up, it’s probably holding it together.

  38. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:00 pm  

    I’ve bought the Indy two or three times, but was unable to stay awake past page 3.

    Can someone tell me how it ended?

  39. Chris Stiles — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:03 pm  

    Okay .. I agree, they could have found a black model, and then what then?

    Even disregarding Kate Moss in boot polish – the entire way in which they headline this issue is pretty vacuous, and wouldn’t really be improved greatly by the presence of Ms Wek or Imani on the cover. “Not a fashion statement” ? What!? That presupposes that the only people they want to target are those who previously held this belief – and it’s hard to see that as anything other than an indictment of the readership of the Independent (hah!)

  40. Chris Stiles — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:07 pm  


    Can someone tell me how it ended?

    .. if we are to go by past history, in an anodyne statement of the obvious.

  41. Gibs — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

    Chairwoman – would you ever buy a pair of Burberry gloves ??? (apparently they exist !!!!)

  42. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Only if the check was the lining.

  43. Gibs — on 24th September, 2006 at 4:27 pm  

    Chairwoman – maybe that’s what you’ll get for xmas !

  44. Roger — on 24th September, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    “I am tired of white people blacking up. I am also tired of them playing Jews and Chinese roles. We have enough Black, Brown, Jewish and Chinese actors and models for this no longer to be necessary.”
    …but interesting, even so. After all, we’ve got a black Henry VI at the RSC and we’ve had black Henry Vs before now. There’s a lot of ways of doing it- you could do as the elizabethans did- have the person who could best act the parts, regardless of their other attributes; you could ignore race- after all, if you accept the convention of everyone speaking blank verse, why not? you could have Othello played by someone racially indistinguishable from the other actors- so that it is only peoples’ knowledge of the difference that matters. You could switch characters around a bit- have the Montagues and the Capulets different races, say. AsI think you’d find a lot of complaints if jewish or black actors weren’t allowed to play anything but racially apposite parts.
    As far as a white tenor playing Otello goes, there was the exact opposite a few years ago with a black singer playing an in the Ring cycle. Odinists complained bitterly about the blasphemy. There are even fewer singers able to sing Wagner’s parts and even if they were real dwarves with only one leg, if they had a voice that could handle the music they’d get the parts.

  45. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

    Roger – *sighs* I’m not pretending that it’s not a difficult subject, but there are so many more ‘white’ parts than ‘minority’ parts, that although I have a problem with ‘whites’ playing minority parts, that I’m hypocritically ok with it the other way round. I know I’m being illogical.

    However, I’m totally in favour of the right person for the role, just as long as the right person isn’t always a member, or near relative, of the indiginous population.

  46. Sunny — on 24th September, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    And apologies to everyone for continually changing the text on this article. I have had a severe cold and headache for 4 days now so making sense is very difficult. :(

  47. Roger — on 24th September, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

    “I’m totally in favour of the right person for the role”
    Well, we agree that Kate Moss wasn’t the right person for the role, whatever the role was. i think it was some fool who’d spent too much time hearing people talking about “cutting edge irony” who had the idea.

  48. Chairwoman — on 24th September, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

    Did he mean with a razor blade?

  49. wardytron — on 24th September, 2006 at 10:18 pm  

    There was a Comment is Free piece about blacking up on the Guardian site a couple of days ago. It asked “why has it become acceptable to black up?”. I wasn’t aware that it had, so obviously, intrepid soul that I am, I gave it a go, and went out to see what the reaction would be. Well to cut a long story short I’m writing this from hospital. Political correctness gone mad, that’s what it is.

  50. rdrr — on 24th September, 2006 at 10:52 pm  

    Not what you call entirely correct, but i reckon they sold quite a few for a supposed ‘iconic’ poster of kate being ‘blacked up’. Is it not very much like live8 etc etc which had hardly nay african artists considering it was to raise awareness of the atrocities adn health issues in africa. Whether we like it or not celebrity sells and misguided as it is the more issues they sell the more goes to charity.

  51. rdrr — on 24th September, 2006 at 10:53 pm  

    perhaps some people see it akin to Kate being dressed up as a minstrel in the black and white mistrel show… with a nice line of white coke as a moustache

  52. alan — on 24th September, 2006 at 11:08 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    I think that you will find that the main ‘white man blacked up as Indian’ on ‘It Aint Half Hot Mum’ was a collaborator with the British who talked about ‘We British’.

    Other ‘Indians’ who were not working for the army were usually ethnic Indians who were often represented in a very straight way, with the white British looking very much the fools.

    I appreciate that British situation comedy has committed many crimes, but sometimes, as also in the case of ‘Alf Garnett’, there was subtlety there as well.

  53. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 24th September, 2006 at 11:54 pm  

    Sunny,

    Wha gwan boi? Yeah man there are too many fine African sisters to be put on this cover of the Independent without having this drugged out crack head representing the Africa issue. I tell you, you Europeans love your white women. Even when they are African you love them.

    In fact there is this gorgeous Kenya model who is new and she is it. A little androgenous looking but she’ll stomp on Kate Moss.

  54. Clairwil — on 25th September, 2006 at 4:09 am  

    Well,
    I’ve revisited this post umpteen times and it’s not a joke. There is actually a blacked up Kate Moss on the front of the Indy. I don’t think a western black model would have been better though. Skin colour does not give insight. A model used in this context is absurd! If there is a new story then put a picture of that news on the cover, if your readers ain’t interested, there’s a message for you.

  55. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 25th September, 2006 at 9:41 am  

    Clairwill,

    No. Not when you have too many bad ass African sisters to go around. They shouldnt have this misfit on the cover.

  56. Robert — on 25th September, 2006 at 10:27 am  

    We’ve all seen this picture of the Queen blacked up, right?

    Designing a magazine page spread crrying an interview with F.W. de Klerk last year, we inverted his photo so all the whites were blacks and all the blacks were white. An easy trick but quite effective.

    In both cases, as with the Kate Moss photo, surely the entire point being made is that skin colour does still ‘matter’, especially with regards to Africa. And that fact is what is most offensive, surely. The image of Moss is not lampooning Africa or Africans in itself. She’s not in any kind of traditional dress or with an afro or dreadlocks. The offensiveness of the image is derived from its association with earlier, negative stereotyping. The Independent knows this. That’s why they’ve done it.

    Putting a black model on the cover would simply be a different message, so complaining on that issue is a red herring, I think. Nor is Kate Moss’ history an issue. As one of the most famous models in the world I cannot think of anyone more suited to being pictured for this particular concept.

    Whether you think the concept is a good one or not is still an open question however. Persoanally I think its a lazy use of ‘shock factor’ to say something that has been said before in better ways. If she had been juxtaposed with a black model who was ‘whitened,’ would it have been as offensive?

  57. sonia — on 25th September, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

    well it ain’t kate moss’s fault is it now!the ‘druggie’ comment is surely unnecessary..

  58. sonia — on 25th September, 2006 at 5:08 pm  

    what exactly is liberal we feel sorry for you guilt?

  59. Roger — on 25th September, 2006 at 5:20 pm  

    “well it ain’t kate moss’s fault is it now!”

    Well, yes, it is at least in part. I don’t know whether she actually put on the make-up or a photo was doctored or if she was asked beforehand in the latter case, but has she said anything about a vile and contemptible display? If this was done without her permission I’m surprised she isn’t very pissed off- or does she think anything that gets you in the paper is OK?
    “the ‘druggie’ comment is surely unnecessary.”
    Again, One of the aims of the picture was to play on the “Kate Moss icon” image, which includes the use of drugs, so, yes, the “druggie” aspect is part of that image, so it goes with it.

    Has there been any explanation from the Independent as to what they were trying to do and why? Or is it just all-purpose amorphous “if-you-don’t-get-it-you’re-uncool irony?

  60. Kulvinder — on 25th September, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    I just wish that Kate Moss would fuck off.

    In my direction

    Kate Moss IS an absolute travesty

    lies! shes pretty to look at

    Kate Moss is mingin anyway.

    lies

  61. BevanKieran — on 25th September, 2006 at 7:13 pm  
  62. BevanKieran — on 25th September, 2006 at 7:21 pm  

    Oh…it’s not that important. I thought they might do something more than a walk-on part, perhaps a dance number. As a Fulham fan who watched Lampard shoot a thousand times better on Saturday than he did in the World Cup, it would have been enjoyable.

  63. Sunny — on 25th September, 2006 at 9:01 pm  

    I’m sure the Chelsea players could dance better than Abhishek Bachchan.

  64. Rakhee — on 25th September, 2006 at 9:17 pm  

    Yeah, big piece in London Lite today about Aishwarya and Preity Zinta making as sudden guest appearance at Chelsea today as well.

    All part of a marketing/business ploy for Chelsea to have a massive Indian following (what with India being a growth economy).

  65. sonia — on 25th September, 2006 at 10:59 pm  

    bono is a bit annoying. newspapers are out to shock ( and it seems to have worked)

    some thoughts:

    would a black model be particularly representative of ‘Africa’?

    would any one person be ‘representative’ of an entire continent? I think not. SHould anyone even be trying to represent an entire continent? why not leave off having a ‘person’ in terms of imagery. in any case, this obsession re: ‘representativeness’ is interesting.

    something else that intrigues me reading these posts – the attitudes towards ‘blacking up’. now how can we ban people putting shoe-polish on their face and why would we want to! i’m curious as to this attitude – why is blacking up automatically bad? is it in itself bad? why so? is black = bad? it may have been in the past but so what? is someone ‘dressing up’ as ‘black’ automatically bad and why should we assume it to be the case. If i take a picture on myself and tint it black tomorrow will people assume i’m racist? why? why do we insist in ‘keeping’ ourselves within this discourse of white = superior and black = inferior? or assuming that black is still inferior? so if someone is ‘blacking up’ why should we automatically assume we know what they mean? these assumptions people make are intriguing. it reminds me of this ‘friend’i was talking to – he said oh you’re only ever going to be a brown person. ( in context of a discussion on racism and how all ‘white’ people think they are superior – this chap was asian) it made me think – hmm – so what’s wrong with being brown anyway – i’m perfectly fine with it even if you aren’t! in his mind he seemed to be accepting brown as inferior – if you’re going to give in to such discourse like that, it doesn’t matter if you never come across racism, you’ve done yourself down already. you’ve done yourself a disservice.

    suggesting that ‘blacking up’ is automatically ‘wrong’ – what does that say about people’s attitudes towards ‘black’? – that perhaps they accept that black is ‘inferior’ and that it’s something ‘superior’ people ‘make fun of’ and that we musn’t let them get away with it! well perhaps that reaction is ‘keeping’ up those connotations and associations which don’t necessarily have to be kept up.

    ah well.

  66. sonia — on 25th September, 2006 at 11:02 pm  

    clairwil’s made a sensible comment that a model used in the context is absurd – never mind the skin colour. what have models got to do with the red campaign? nothing. and having photos of starving children i don’t think would be much good either -even more exploitative. in any case, making a hoo-ha the blacking up is a side-issue – i’d rather there be more focus on this so-called ‘sexy’ red campaign itself.

  67. sonia — on 25th September, 2006 at 11:05 pm  

    or pictures of people dying with AIDS… in any case – 1% of the money from the card is supposed to go to a ‘global fund’ to fight HIV in africa. ah – maybe the man could a) suggest Bush and the Pope between them do their best not to discourage everyone from using condoms and b) tell the World Economic Forum ( since he spends so much time swanning around Davos) that INtellectual property when it comes to anti-HIV drugs is NOT acceptable.

    oh and where is the 99% going to?

    I’m so disappointed in you Bono…and you really rocked as a musician!

  68. Sunny — on 25th September, 2006 at 11:48 pm  

    To clarify there are two issues in my mind. I believe both Hannah Pool and Michelle explain this in more detail.

    1) Morally, given this issue was to help Africa, I think even a black model (Armani was editor remember) would have said something positive. But they used Kate Moss because she sells. And it once again reinforces the idea that putting black/brown people on the front of mags or newspapers (unless they’re blowing things up) don’t sell. Morally wrong, even if it is a clever PR trick. But this was not supposed to be about clever PR tricks.

    2) Blacking up has traditionally had negative connotations – meaning the people blacked up were meant to play African or Asian caricatures. I.e., roles played to laugh at. Any return to blacking up, given it wasn’t even that long ago, will inevitably invite its cultural baggage. That baggage associated with blacking-up cannot be dismissed overnight. For more on this see Hannah Pool’s article.

  69. Rakhee — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:14 am  

    My jury’s out on this one.

    The Inde used Kate Moss to create controversy, get attention and make people buy the paper with a view to getting them to READ inside about Africa and what’s going on out there.

    Whichever way you look at it, if they had put a another model on the front (whether they were black OR white) it wouldn’t have created such a stir. I’m not confirming that this makes it morally right but the strategy of creating a media buzz has worked, and the fact that we’re paying it such lip service proves this.

    It seems slightly hypocritical to say that The Independent should have put a positive message on the front cover in the form of a black model when we are all sharp enough to know that people pay more attention to an issue when it is controversial or negative. How many newspapers do you know run stories about shiny happy people?

    Also, some people suggest it should have been a black model on the front, why not a white one? You might think this is a ridiculous question to ask as the red issue is all about Africa BUT the problems out there pose a global issue which impacts everyone. There are white people in parts of Africa as well.

    Black people ARE put on the front of magazines by the way. Naomi has graced the cover of Vogue many times, Beyonce and Jamelia are on every front cover of every women’s mag going at the mo, black footballers are on the front of titles such as GQ. I’d like to see statistics which prove to me that when someone has put a black person on the front of a title that their sales have fallen, before I believe this argument.

    On another note, we’re increasingly using powerful words very flippantly. Racism is when a person believes one race is superior to another and I’m not at the moment convinced that putting a picture of a black Kate Moss on the cover is a case of racism in the purest sense of the word – unless someone can convince me otherwise. For example, if the Inde ran a special edition on poverty in India and ‘browned up’ Kate Moss, in all honesty, I don’t think I would have taken offence to it and I wouldn’t call it a racist act. Call me naive if you will but I’m open to a different explanation.

    Here’s a question – who would you have chosen to put on the front cover?

  70. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:20 am  

    naomi campbell with talcum powder all over her nose

    Oh, that’s the cover of the Mirror…

  71. Rakhee — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    Now how did I know you’d be the first to respond to that question Kismet?!

  72. Jai — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:31 pm  

    Sunny,

    =>”I’m sure the Chelsea players could dance better than Abhishek Bachchan.”

    I’m sorry man, I have to object to this. Junior B is a very good dancer these days. Not as good as Hrithik, but still impressive (haven’t you seen Dus or Bluffmaster ?).

    Not that this has anything whatsoever to do with the main topic of this thread, of course !

  73. Laban — on 26th September, 2006 at 9:20 pm  

    Katy, Kismet – I’ve got no problem with the abuse that the Indie is getting here – ’twas indeed a strange thing to use Ms Moss to depict Africa. Not as if there’s a shortage of African girls in London.

    It was the general idea being expressed in the comments that one needs some sort of permission to black/white/brown up that I took umbrage at. If people want to do it, let them. And if people want to laugh/criticise, let them.

    My point about Prince William (or was it Harry ? these princes all look alike to me) is that according to the commenters here

    a) white person dresses/makes up as black or brown person – they’re being insulting and offending all black/brown people

    b) Royal dresses up as Nazi – they’re giving a big boost to and generally cheering up all Nazis.

    ?????????? Why aren’t the Nazis complaining about Royal insensitivity ?

  74. Kulvinder — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:44 pm  

    It was the general idea being expressed in the comments that one needs some sort of permission to black/white/brown up that I took umbrage at. If people want to do it, let them. And if people want to laugh/criticise, let them.

    a) white person dresses/makes up as black or brown person – they’re being insulting and offending all black/brown people

    Im not sure where or if that was insinuated in the thread, if anything the comments seemed to suggest context is important. Noone asked for a veto (or permission) from ethnic minorities about who can and cannot ‘black up’ rather it was critising something that was untactful and bizarre.

    I have no problem with any kind of risque joke or art as long as i understand the thought behind it – assuming there is one. To me Alf Garnett is funny and i understand the subtlety; i cringe when im watching Borat or anything made by Sacha Baron Cohen. I suppose the difference is between being let in on a joke thats a self-parody and laughing at people whom you have no connection with simply because they ‘speak funny’. By the same token i find the blaxploitation of the 60s/70s and the gayploitation of the late 90s/00s equally shit.

    Blacking up Kate Moss wasn’t racist nor should it be taken as such, it was however another example of the shallow thoughtlessness that bubbles up whenever the fashion/music/entertainment/press/political worlds decide to join the five rings of power and summon captain planet for another dose of radical chic.

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