David Bullard on Adele, cultural appropriation, and the national meltdown in response to a Clicks advert
OUT TO LUNCH
My astrologist tells me that Mars is moving into retrograde (whatever that means) so it’s hardly any surprise that September would turn out to be a tumultuous month of tonsorial turmoil. Amidst all the carefully choreographed fury directed at Click’s for their “vile, racist, deeply hurtful, traumatic, insulting etc. etc.” advert for a hair treatment that many of us had never heard of previously the main stream media seems to have forgotten that this retrograde month started of with another major hair outrage.
I refer of course to the UK chanteuse known as ‘Adele’ who posted a photograph of herself in a bikini top in the colours of the Jamaican flag with her hair arranged in what are apparently known as ‘bantu knots’. This is a style that involves the hair being scrunched into tiny bundles on the scalp and gives the general impression of having lots of baby mice running over your scalp. I imagine it takes a lot of time and effort to create and is hugely popular with people who don’t need to grab a quick breakfast and rush off to work in the morning.
Adele had posted the picture during the traditional London Notting Hill Carnival which couldn’t be held in its traditional format this year due to COVID-19 social distancing rules. The Notting Hill Carnival (essentially a gigantic street party) has never been a favourite time of the year with those who own expensive properties in that now fashionable London postal district but for the past decade or so it has been a wonderful way for people to listen to steel bands, annoy the posh residents and use recreational drugs in full view of the Metropolitan Police with no fear of arrest.
Indeed, in recent years the police have carefully arranged that they should be photographed by the press dancing with dusky revellers as proof that they don’t just go around harassing young black kids who may be carrying knives. Rather like going down on one knee at Black Lives Matter protests this has fooled nobody.
Adele now lives in the US but posted the pic in solidarity with the bohemian spirit of the Notting Hill Carnival. She probably wished she hadn’t a few minutes later when she started to receive hostile communications accusing her of ‘cultural appropriation’. For those unfamiliar with her career I should just mention that the hugely talented Adele (she sang the signature song to the James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’) used to be quite chubby and had long flowing blonde locks so the posted photo carried two distinct messages.
The first was look how much weight I’ve lost since I ditched my husband and, second, look what amazing things you can do with your hair if you grow it long enough to be tied into ‘bantu knots’. I imagine that if you are a celebrity in the US of A you probably have a personal ‘bantu knot’ hairdresser in addition to your personal chef, bodyguards and shopper.
The principal objection to Adele’s hairstyle seems to be that, as a pale person, she had no right to use it. It is a proudly ethnic thing, reserved exclusively for womxn of colour and to see a white woman ‘culturally appropriating’ it is hurtful and almost certainly racist.
It’s important at this point to examine the whole theory of cultural appropriation and understand that it only works one way. Only white people (who are inherently racist even if they deny it, which paradoxically makes them even more racist) can commit the crime of cultural appropriation. Thus, for example, if you as a whitey were to throw a fancy dress party and guests turned up in ponchos and sombreros that would be deeply offensive to the native people of Mexico who would have to resort to another shot of tequila to calm their nerves.
If you went around calling one another ‘gringo’ that would be even more insulting. Obviously darkening your complexion (known as the crime of ‘blackface’) and compounding the crime by doing ‘blackvoice’ would lead to a charge of hate crime. Peter Sellers would have been serving a long prison sentence had he been alive today.
The rules of cultural appropriation can be bent slightly when it comes to buying a Chinese takeaway meal or eating at an Italian restaurant but it’s surely only a matter of time before the culinary police make sure you don’t prepare something like risotto or paella at home without a license to do so.
I did drop by my local Click’s last Monday to find it locked and shuttered with a couple of pensioners outside the door hoping to collect their medication. The red bereted teeny-tots hadn’t reached our remote part of the country but management were taking no chances. “It’s for your own safety’ they whispered through the closed security gates at the hapless wrinklies.
Elsewhere in the country things were more exciting and the supporters of the government in waiting pulled over display stands, set fire to stores, smashed windows and generally caused mayhem.
Unless of course it was the third force dressed in identical red berets that did this to discredit the CinC and his chubby sidekick. Incidentally, it’s worth noting if you haven’t already that both Julius and Floyd (according to the many pictures posted on social media) favour long straight, suspiciously European looking tresses on their partners.
For me the most embarrassing thing about the whole Click’s nonsense was the reaction of some members of our media. Obviously only the bravest could stand up for common sense so the majority, fearful of losing their jobs, took the ovine route and dutifully bleated the ‘hurtful and racist’ mantra even though they must have known it was complete bollocks.
The eNCA anchor Shahan Ramkissoon threw a little hissy fit on air and lectured the filthy, job creating capitalists at Clicks on their social responsibilities. Mr Ramkissoon tested positive for COVID-19 a couple of months ago and I’m delighted to see he appears to have made a full recovery. However a question-mark lurks over the possible loss of a sense of perspective as a worrying side effect of COVID and I will be asking my foundation to look into researching this.
The most hilarious reaction though was brought to my attention by the respected political analyst Phumlani M Majozi on his Twitter feed. He reported that media talking head Justice Malala found the whole business “extremely painful, traumatic and racist” and added “Seriously? He was traumatized by those adverts?”.
One might have thought that a chap in the media would have been battle hardened to such things after a couple of decades of reporting on political malfeasance but it appears that poor Justice is a delicate soul and easily upset. I have no doubt that he has sought the services of a well qualified counselor to work through his post traumatic stress disorder and will soon be able to put the feelings of nausea and the sleepless nights behind him and lead a near normal life in Parkview.
Obviously you never fully recover from something as psychologically damaging as a misjudged hair advert so the nightmares are bound to return from time to time. As someone who had the comparatively trivial experience of being shot in his home back in 2007 I would just advise Justice to take things one day at a time.
It took me about three weeks to completely get over my experience but, then again, I had only been shot in the stomach and not traumatised by an advert.