Editing by gimmick has its dangers as Simon Kelner found out this week when he handed the paper over to “guest designer” Giorgio Armani. The result of the worthy second Red edition to highlight HIV/Aids in Africa has been controversy over the picture of a blacked-up Kate Moss.
Kelner, the paper’s editor-in-chief must be reflecting on his words of a week before: “Giorgio Armani will bring his own, highly distinctive view of the world, and his unique creative vision to the pages of the newspaper, and there promise to be some spectacular visual treats.”
Certainly a spectacular visual but many did not regard it as a treat. Sunny Hundal, editor of Asians in Media, writing in the Pickled Politics blog said the edition was an “absolute travesty”. He went on: “Could they not find a black model to represent Africa? A lame and typical example of liberal guilt â€œwe-feel-sorry-for-youâ€ racism. It would have been better for the Indy to not even bother.”
The attack was led by Hannah Pool in Friday’s Guardian. She is a black journalist who writes about make-up among other things, not a woman who rails at every perceived infringement of political correctness. She wrote:
What exactly is this picture of Moss-as-African-woman supposed to portray? I suppose it is meant to be subversive, but what does it say about race today when a quality newspaper decides that its readers will only relate to Africa through a blacked-up white model rather than a real-life black woman? What does it say about the fight against HIV/Aids if that is the only way to make us care? And, as a black woman (born that way), what does this trick say about me?
It is almost 30 years ago that the BBC took off its long-running Black and White Minstrel Show. And that was too late according to many at the time.
Back copies of The (Red) Independent including a “free” Kate Moss poster are available at Â£10 from read4charity.