Late last night we learnt that you "can't" say monkey. No, we don't know what type of monkey. Maybe it's just jungle monkeys? Actually, maybe just don't put monkey hoodies on black child models?
See, if that happens, it makes out that monkey hoodies are only acceptable for white kids. Maybe they just can't be sold for black kids to wear? You know, maybe they're just not acceptable for any kids? Or, maybe monkeys of any kind aren't allowed near kids. Not even toy monkeys. And monkey bars? Take them all down. No "Mummy's little Monkey" baby grows either. Oh, and best close down those "Jungle Monkey" indoor play things for kids as well, of any colour, in case it looks like there's separatist-ism going on. Maybe the word "monkey" needs wiping out as well? Maybes we should just ban monkeys?
Facetiousness aside, you might detect it's quite difficult to draw a line from the H&M monkey issue. Why are we writing about this? Well, this mini-debacle acts as a nice interlude to our upcoming post on political correctness — "We shall not walk on eggshells". As a company – in fact a project with actual people behind it – we are adamant that we won't hide our views, or be made to shy away from them. That doesn’t mean everyone in the collective shares the same opinions, it just means we’re all OK with people holding different ones.
Now, we HATE the policing of language, and perhaps worse still, the policing of thought. Hearing "You can't say/do/think/feel/achieve/be" etc really boils our piss. We’ve seen it used to shut-up and belittle people too many times, for numerous reasons, none of them really justified. This is something we feel très passionate about (even more strongly than feeling chocolate and crisps go well together), so much so that it's one of the few things we genuinely despise. All of these things, incidentally, are covered in, or linked to this post in some way. So yes, it's quite an 'important' subject for Kunstvoller to wade in on.
Our simple premise is this: We don't give a fuck about colour; culture; background; class; beliefs; or whatever other label that's assigned to stuff; other than 'cause we find it of interest. Part of the “rich tapestry of life’ — as wiser people have said. Live and let live maaan. Our inner hippies are in full flow today!
One of our only 'rules' in life is not to cause intentional harm. Physically or mentally. Now, without common sense, harm's a bit of a broad term. It's open to interpretation. You don't have to go round smacking people in the mouth to do some damage. We’ll leave provocation and consequences out of it for now. To be on the safe side. On the other-hand, being obnoxious, disagreeable, insulting, or acting like a complete wanker, doesn't necessarily cause serious problems for other people. And it's serious harm we're thinking about here, not just getting some backs up or being a pain in the arse.
This shouldn't be too difficult to understand. Dictionary definitions help. Except, by what people claim to be harmed by these days, if you imagine a 'Scale of Harm', there doesn't seem to be much sliding room left . . . and we reckon we've yet to reach peak offence-hysteria. Maybes we never will. Might just keep going round and round, ad infinitum, like a proper shit merry go round.
To provide some context (and poor examples) for what we're on about, in a world where (thankfully) not everyone is the same, we say if it's something you can: Switch off; not buy; not look at; isn't rammed down your throat; doesn't chase you down the street; isn't following and harassing you; involves a choice to remove yourself from seeing, hearing or touching it; wearing or not being able to wear it; and/or doesn't infringe on your basic human rights (genuinely, not in a poncey "but it's hurt my feeeeeeelings" kind of way) then guess what, it's not causing you serious harm. Being a bit upset or "offended" isn't going to scar you for life, mentally or otherwise, and it certainly won't kill you.
In fact, if you're so sensitive that seeing a black kid wearing a hoodie with "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" written on it leaves you distraught, then chances are you're either:
a) Fooling yourself
b) Trying to impress/look good
c) Need some greater purpose in life
d) Nigh on hysterical and actually in need some help — and for the tiny minority it applies to, that's a very good idea. Genuine distress isn't to be sniffed at, whatever the cause.
We all have to take responsibility for how we manage things. For most of us, our internal response is ultimately under our control. That doesn't let people off the hook for really cunty behaviour, it just means we have to look after ourselves too. The thing is, if we're sincere in what we think, then whether we agree or not, we should accept that other people are sincere and think they're equally as 'right' too. If it's "offensive", maybe they didn't actually mean any harm by it. It could be 100% innocent, like this monkey hoodie most probably was.
The Hoodiegate solution (like one was really needed) could've been: 'A side’ don't tell ‘B side’ they can't wear a monkey hoodie, and ‘B side’ don't force ‘A side’ to wear one. All those in the middle who are ambivalent carry on with their lives as per. And all of us, as a suggestion, let's not pass on our gripes and hang-ups to our children.
How about if somebody's meaning to be offensive, or, doing something sooo despicable it's BOUND to be offensive? Unless it's causing serious harm, let them crack on. Definitely don't drive it underground. Worst case scenario it fuels resentment and nefariously-naughty behaviour. If it's something that really must be brought up, then it's usually a good idea to approach it with a bit of tact. Some understanding thrown in too, just for the hell of it. No shrieking-banshee hysterics, patronising or name calling. As childish and irresistable as it can be. Surely it's better to listen to each other, and if that's not possible, wander off in separate ways?
Telling people what to think/feel; that they're wrong; stupid; all of that kind of stuff, it only makes the one taking the supposedly moral high ground look like a self-righteous bellend. And who's going to listen to someone like that? Ha, bet that's how we sound right now #Wankers!
Life is full of offensive things. It'd be a whole lot duller if it wasn't. No freedom of expression, in any way . . . not even of thought once Google start projecting things we think — that we'd probably NEVER want anyone to know — up onto some screen. Imagine that? Scary stuff. The road to make people feel shitty about thinking for themselves won't take us all on holiday. Time's change and any of us could end up on the wrong side of what's acceptable, depending on who's making the decision. Worst case scenario, natch.
So anyways, back to H&M. What they've held their hands up to as being a major fuck up (not in those words, we're paraphrasing) has led to some pondering-i-fi-cation, and now, pontification on our behalves:
Is it more concerning that H&M had a black-child model that hoodie, or, that we have to be afraid some people have the power to ban it because they find it offensive?
Is racism inherent regardless of context? We say not. Of course, that also depends on what definition of “racism” is being used . . . tricky times to navigate. Things appear to be getting more ridiculous, which is funny ‘cause we live in the most bestest of times ever as well! It's like we're spending too much of it online or something.
What do you reckon? As far as we're aware, this wasn't some act of deliberate "black shaming", and yeah, we'd hope not too. So what have we got here? A common term of endearment, at least in the UK, being blown out of all proportion and used to dictate to others what they can and can't do?
We admit that typing "black kid" made us cringe to fuck. It's been a bit of a test writing this. When did it become so complicated to refer to one aspect of another human being if colour HAS to be brought into it? Like in the case of this soddin' hoodie.
You know, we’ve never been so aware of skin colour, or any other difference, or quirk, or whatever, as we have over the past couple of years. Not in a good way either, 'cause we never had a problem with anybody in the first place anyway. We're all for destigmatising stuff, but what's going on at the moment seems to be creating divisions rather than acceptance of differences?
No doubt some people are determined to exaggerate issues and make things awkward, just to "prove a point" and have something to do. If we had more than three readers, we imagine somebody would love to point out how our position of "white privilege" (something else we've recently learnt we have and should feel guilty about for as well) and how all this is easy for us to say. Look, we're not saying life's all hearts and flowers, 'cause it isn't, and neither are people. And we know that little things can build up to be big things over time . . . but still, it'd be nice to see such energy focused on serious issues.
Thinking about it, whatever the latest PC terms are, any of them could be used with more hatred than any no-no word used without intending to be a twat.
This isn’t about sticking up for H&M as such, we’ve no real comment on them or their business. This is in defence (like anyone cares what we think) of the freedoms we put at risk by cow-towing to the minority who want to ruin things for everyone else. And knowingly or not, that’s what they’re doing, by telling people that only what THEY find acceptable is allowed.
If Kunstvoller was in the shoes of H&M our statement would have read:
"We're, like, massively offended that you think we're racist. In fact, we're, like, totally and utterly traumatised. Luckily, equal offence results in offence-cancellation. Wipe out. Clean slate. Get on with life. Sandshoe, please call again."
Basically, Fuck. Right. Off. In a nice way, of course. We're all for more freedoms, not less of them. Too much negativity and planting bad thoughts in heads going on in the social media sphere. There's at least two views on everything. And, dearest reader human, one can only decide 'absolute' right and wrong for oneself — that is, if one is that way inclined and black 'n' white in thought. It’s capital 'P' poi-son-ous to try and force subjective opinions on others.
Not to tempt fate, but we might stick that statement in some sort of policy for if the offendamongs ever come knocking at our door. Such thoughts and precautions are part of the reality of being a company and trying to avoid prison. In that sense, H&M's disaster has helped play a part in us setting expectations, making the Kunstvoller stance (quite) clear and paving the way for others to write for the blog, and to work with each other, without tiptoeing around anything. It's like with this post Kunstvoller is taking one for the team.
On a lighter note, monkeys are class aren't they?! Imagine monkeys if they all acted the same . . . be rubbish that. All manner of monkeys is better, even the vicious and sulky ones are cool. We aren't against calling someone any kind of "monkey" (or, as our founder says "monkey knickers"), and kids are little monkeys aren't they? It's got to be better than calling them little bastards. Even that can be said in a cruel or kind way . . . ha, language is mint isn't it?!
Right, rant over. Do and say what you like, have fun, just don't (OK, that's telling) be a dick 🙏🏼
Note: This was rattled off quickly then edited to make it a bit better. We know, that means the first version was proper shit! Some bits were more relevant to our next post so they've been removed.
If you detect any double standards, get over them. We can get away with them. That's 'cause we're not trying to force our opinions on anyone else. And, we've no problem admitting when we're wrong and apologising if we mean it – not just to save face/keep cashing in.
Be an evangelical kunst won't you? Please like, comment and share this post. Let other people know about Kunstvoller however you can. We want to get behind more people, their sports and supermundane lifestyle projects . . . the only way we can do that is by making sweet money.
If you can't buy our stuff then at least make sure someone else does ; D