Wow – what an amazing bit of fall-out from the Google Images fun and games that’s being going on in the media all day regarding this Michelle Obama “Offensive” image. I’ve been following it without any serious idea of how big a deal this is… until I went online and a few news sites and saw how many people are getting involved in this row, and in really serious tones.
Personally I struggled to find the image when I first heard the news and I’m including it here, not to further the problem or to try to snatch a few extra visitors to this rubbish blog (seriously, and honestly, I’m sorry if you think that) because of that reason. Hopefully people will understand that that’s the true reason behind my posting it. As Google themselves have said, the image itself may cause offence but actually the conversation that’s sprung up is interesting (in a social sense) and infuriating in lots of others.
Initially a lot of people will take offence at the fact that I’m republishing the image. Let’s put that argument to one side – I didn’t make the image, I’m not promoting hatred or anything other than discussion. Let’s move on:
So the crux of the argument seems to be that because black people have commonly been referred to over time as “monkeys”, that this image is offensive. It’s interesting, even in originally writing this sentence I came across a way of viewing this that does lead slightly away from the “Oh get over yourselves with this rascism thing”… which was:
“…because black people have commonly been referred to over time as “monkeys”, photoshopping any black person as a monkey is rascist.”
Yunno, actually, I was reading a lot of comments on other sites and wasn’t convinced but now I have to admit, I am rather more so. I read peoples’ suggestions about thinking about it in terms of footballers getting “monkey chants” when on the pitch but that didn’t really wash. I think the truth is: yes, this image IS racially offensive. Google correctly says this but chooses not to censor. Well done Google!
The further arguments that I read about were about George Bush (and Barack Obama!) and other white people getting “monkeyfied” and so, actually, this was just another and “no-one complained when it was a white person getting this photoshopic abuse”. And whilst that’s true, I think it’s actually a bit of a straw-man argument – it sounds right on the face of it but doesn’t actually mean that the image itself isn’t offensive.
Anyway, I’ve been highly intrigued by the argument and think it’s genuinely useful to have this kind of debate in modern times where many of us claim to be relatively sensitive to social antagonisms until actually faced with them. Personally I feel sorry for the Obamas, and Michelle in particular, because this whole nonsense embroils her into an argument which isn’t anything to do with her own actions, and she’s entirely unable to prevent them.