Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Fucking hell.


Anti-racism and feminism are on the same stakeout in the 21st Century. And this is why.

This horrendous image is a still from the winning photoshoot on the show Britain's Next Top Model. Hundreds of people must have been involved in its vetting and dissemination. This means that, by the time the photo was aired, hundreds of people had failed to notice the gag-making racism and sexism implicit in its careful organisation, or had failed to speak out.

Images of unnaturally thin, groomed, flawless, poreless, white western women dominate the cultural exchange of the 21st century. As Naomi Wolf put it:


“'Beauty' is a currency system, like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West is is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.”

Add to that 'white hegemony' and 'consumer-capitalist oligarchy' and we're just about cooking, Naomi.

The timeless white silk dress and focus on the unearthly paleness of model Alex (19)'s legs and body is a tacit reference to L.R Haggard's 1887 novel, She. This does not make the image or its semiotics one jot more acceptable - She is also a staggeringly racist tract and has been read as such by generations of literature faculties. The eponymous heroine is the immortal white witch-queen of a tribe of cannabalistic Africans, destructively beautiful and utterly evil, portrayed as a sexually monstrous being -i.e, she is a woman who expresses sexual desire. The image is here updated for the 21st century beauty industry, in that rather than expressing sexual desire the model in the photograph is stretched out provocatively, smugly entitled and entirely unchallenging.

And if that makes you spit, imagine how you'd feel if you were one of the guys in the bottom of the photo, snatched from central casting and shoved into a ridiculous leopard-print strappy-top and woolly hat in order to make you look 'tribal'.

Fucking, fucking hell.

11 comments:

  1. Fucking hell that's awful. Even without the allusion to She, the racist stereotyping inherent in the whole arrangement is obvious enough to make me wince...

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  2. hundreds of people had failed to notice the gag-making racism and sexism implicit in its careful organisation, or had failed to speak out.

    No, it's just that most people aren't as racially fixated and gender-obsessed as you are; they're just normal. And how is a model supposed to express sexual desire? Hmm, I'm thinking of the Matt Lucas sketch: "Fwwaaah he's Gowgeous!" Not very attractive is it?

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  3. What a horrible image. I can't believe that nobody involved in producing realised how offensive it was.

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  4. “'Beauty' is a currency system, like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West is is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.”

    Naomi Wolf isn't the best person ever, but still, I wish people would listen to her beyond the usual 'beauty products are bad' stuff, because there's obviously a lot more to her than that.

    And yeah, unbelievable image - but not too shocking or surprising, it just makes explicit what is implicitly etc. etc.

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  5. John, I can't see how you can possibly not see the allusions in this image. And as for 'how is a model supposed to express sexual desire' - models are sexualised all the time with seductive expressions and sexual positioning. I mea, just look at the expression on her face. Why are you even reading this blog, I wonder?

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  6. Oh yes, how terribly racist...

    As you are a self-proclaimed 'socialist, feminist' a presumably 'anti-racist' what might your thoughts be on the facts such as in the 'year of 2005 in the US that while 37460 white women were raped/sexually assaulted by black men, no black women were raped/sexually assaulted by white men'.

    How do your 'socialist', 'feminist' and 'anti-racist' instincts help you explain this more seriously racist fact.

    [More info on the subject just in case you don't believe that above]

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  7. Well, firstly I'd ask where your statistics come from, and point out that the post you link to is a series of anecdotes and some quotes from the Torygraph. I myself know women of colour who have suffered sexual violence at the hands of white men this year. Your argument, as far as I can tell is 'black men rape white women - so racism is all true!'

    If it's anything else, feel free to come out from under your bridge and explain yourself. :)

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  8. Its art. Bad art. The best reaction to something so trite would probably be laughter (though I couldn't be bothered). I truly can't understand anyone being offended by this.

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  9. penny red,

    The reason no one picked up on this radically sexist and racist photo is because it was the work of "progressives."

    What makes you think that "progressivism" and good are one in the same? Is it not absolutely liberating to do that which society says not to do? Isn't that progressive?

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  10. The whole show is racist, Black girls and girls of diffrent races never win britains next top model, ever!

    So what do you expect!!!

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    ReplyDelete

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