Because The GOS is an old gent of impeccable manners and sensitivity, he's delayed posting this page until the fuss about the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, allegedly by Oscar Pistorius, has died down a little. But it's something he feels strongly about, so he could only wait so long.
You see, there was a storm of criticism about newspapers that reported Steenkamp's death and illustrated their stories with stock pictures of her doing her job, which was being photographed with not many clothes on. Yes, I'm sure she was a beautiful, intelligent person of great depth and perception, but she made a living by wearing a bikini. What's wrong with that? It's a line of work The GOS would be happy to adopt. Sadly he might not be quite as successful at it as she was, but his chances of being shot by a famous athlete are rather less.
But this was not to the liking of a number of commentators, including Marina Hyde of the Guardian and ... you'll never guess ... politician John Prescott, who found it offensive and sinister that these pictures should be used to illustrate the sad story.
We're not sure what to think about this. Is it a symptom of a streak of deep puritanism running beneath the skin of certain people? Is it a hypocritical response that seizes on any event, not matter how tragic, to belabour the same old left-wing same old and force the rest of us to toe some hypothetical line?
Or is it just plain old-fashioned stupidity?
What we and no doubt many others want to know is ... if it's all right to show pictures of a girl in a bikini when she's alive, why does it become inappropriate the moment she dies? Does her rather delectable flesh suddenly transmogrify into something distasteful as the breath leaves her body? Is this the reverse of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, whereby the communion bread and wine are mysteriously and in defiance of all logic changed into the actual flesh and blood of Christ while maintaining the outward appearance of Hovis Wholemeal and cheap plonk from Oddbins?
Or is it a question of degree? Presumably it's OK to show Reeva Steenkamp's very lovely face, but not her body? If so, which actual bits of her body become taboo? Her legs? Her bottom? Her shoulders? What about her shoulder-blades, are they a forbidden area the moment she pops her clogs, or do they stay within the bounds of decency while her tits become unmentionable?
And does this moral delicacy apply only to a woman who made a living by having her picture taken, or does it apply to anyone? Let's see ... Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's quite dead. Can we look at pictures of her? Margaret Thatcher isn't going to last much longer, probably, so let's get it sorted out in good time – will it be all right for the newly regulated, cribbed, cabined and confined press to publish her picture or will they have to draw a discrete veil?
How about this lady? She's not a model, but her job gets her photographed in rather revealing clothes on many occasions. When she dies – which we sincerely hope won't happen for very many years – will the arbiters of good taste decree that all these pictures of her doing what she's famous for are suddenly indecent?
Changing tack only slightly, we read an article recently by someone called Snejana Farberov (Snejana? Is that a real name?) about Sports Illustrated which had “sparked a racial controversy” over its latest swimsuit edition which featured bikini-clad models posing with African and Chinese natives dressed in traditional garb.
One of the images that sparked outrage showed a blonde Caucasian model sitting on a traditional raft on a river in Guilin, Guangxi, being piloted by an elderly Chinese man sporting a typical cone hat. It's not clear whether it was the girl's bikini that did the damage, or the ridiculous hat worn by the boatman, or their juxtaposition. In a prominent feminist blog which we won't name because we don't want to give the harridans any publicity, writer Dodai Stewart accused Sports Illustrated of “perpetuating age-old stereotypes harking back to colonial times and using natives as fashion accessories while emphasizing the ‘centrality’ of the white models”.
Yep, I'm sure that's the thought that leapt to all our minds. Centrality is something that concerns The GOS every day, and it is of course outrageous to depict any ethnic person wearing clothing peculiar to his geographical location and ethnic tradition. Any photograph of any African tribesman or Himalayan Sherpa not dressed in jeans and a t-shirt should be burned and the photographer imprisoned; if he has had the temerity to depict a western-clad person in the same frame as someone ethnically dressed, that is of course far worse and Sharia Law should immediately apply, that's if it's all right to use Sharia Law to judge a non-Muslim.
'China has tons of skyscrapers and modern cities that make New York look rickety, but this image recreates an age-old narrative in which anything non-Western is quaint, backward and impoverished,' Stewart wrote. In future, then, it should be deemed unacceptable to publish any picture that depicts any part of a nation's past, so if your digital camera has a snapshot of Anne Hathaway's house in its memory you'd better delete it before the thought police come for you.
Dr David Leonard, an associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University backed Stewart up, saying “beyond their use as human props, the natives in the images are imagined as servants there to please Westerners on their exotic adventure”. That's Downton Abbey off the airwaves, then. The maids and footmen there aren't just imagined as servants, they actually are servants, a dramatic depiction that flies totally in the face of left-wing ideology which prefers to pretend that the past didn't happen, because if it happened some of us might think it was all right.
A similar furore engulfed the French fashion magazine Numéro when it used a blonde model, Ondria Hardin, in a photograph entitled “African Queen”. It's not clear whether the problem was the heavy makeup or the fact that she is only 16 – probably both, for anyone who can find the body of a young woman distasteful will probably be offended by almost anything. There are just so many things to be wrong about, aren't there? - it's wrong to be young, it's wrong to be beautiful, it's wrong not the wrap your body head-to-toe in sack-cloth, it's terribly wrong these days to be blonde ...
And finally (well, not finally, because we know damn well the offence-takers will find plenty of other things to be outraged about – but finally on this page) we give you a model named Michelle Williams who was pictured on the cover of AnOther magazine wearing a feather in her hair. This of course was a massive faux-pas, because as everyone knows all feathers belong to the Native American Indians and nobody else is allowed to use them.
Blogs labelled it 'offensive', 'racist' and 'sterotypical' and demanded an apology. New York based online magazine Refinery29 said 'The photo is in black-and-white, so you can't tell for sure if they've altered her normally fair skin, but there is some definite contouring around the nose and the cheekbones that not only makes her look nearly unrecognizable, but also appears to mimic the stark relief of facial features often seen in early portraits of Native American women. 'The same mimicry applies her stoic, unsmiling pose - also a typical trope in that particular genre and period of art history.'
Wow, heavy stuff. You're not allowed to not smile and you mustn't sit still when having your photograph taken – that's racist. Another blogger ranted 'Am I glad that unlike most racist, stereotypical caricatures of American Indians in pop culture today, Michelle is not practically naked? Yes — but just as Blackface is never okay, Redface is never okay. Ever.'
Erm ... “redface”? It was a bloody feather, for Christ's sake, just a feather! That's next month's fancy-dress party scuppered, then.
Now that we've got to the end, we think we've made up our minds what lies behind all this. It's not a streak of puritanism, it's not a hypocritical response that seizes on any event to belabour us with left-wing fantasies.
It really is just plain old-fashioned stupidity. Like the monkeys who will, if they sit at a typewriter long enough, manage to form a few recognisable words, there are far too many feminist commentators who own a laptop and a dictionary and find that if they just string some long words together and make it sound really angry, no one will have the nerve or the sense to tell them that what they are saying is total bollocks.
Until now, that is.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2013 The GOS