In­ap­pro­pri­ate se­lec­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

DUR­ING THE past week, Foster’s Fair­play has been rem­i­nisc­ing on times that were some­what less com­plex than they are now. So much has changed in moral terms, to the ex­tent that what was for­merly deemed to be de­cid­edly wrong and un­ac­cept­able has taken on a more pos­i­tive and ac­cept­able im­age.

Of course, that can be re­versed to make the right way seem not to be the path to fol­low. As a part of the look back, a lot of time was al­lot­ted to a song called “If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another”.

It was gifted to mu­sic lovers by Richard ‘Dim­ples’ Fields and came from a 1982 al­bum. Fields, in re­flect­ing on some of the hap­pen­ings at the time, in­cluded in his mind-stim­u­lat­ing lyrics “It’s a crazy mixed-up world”.

That as­sess­ment, from which sev­eral in­fer­ences may be drawn, brings this colum­nist to a sit­u­a­tion that has been played out in the writ­ten me­dia since the Rio Olympics cel­e­bra­tions over the Heroes week­end.

The dis­course, con­tro­versy, or what­ever it can be ap­pro­pri­ately called, on the book­ing of the dance­hall act, Spice. She per­formed at the Rio Sports Gala at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre on the sec­ond of three nights over which the ‘thank you’ event was held.

De­spite hav­ing delved into mu­sic for en­ter­tain­ment from an early age, this colum­nist con­fesses al­most to­tal lack of knowl­edge and, by ex­ten­sion, ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the now-pop­u­lar art form.

How­ever, there is no dif­fi­culty in making the call as to whether Spice and what she brings to the stage should have been con­sid­ered in the first in­stance.

The series of func­tions was con­ceived by the Government and ex­e­cuted through the rel­e­vant min­istry, man­aged by a vet­eran soldier in both sports and en­ter­tain­ment, Olivia Grange. ‘Babsy’, as she is af­fec­tion­ately called, has strut the sport­ing arena in pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, as well as in Op­po­si­tion.

In ei­ther dis­pen­sa­tion, her voice has been just as stri­dent and schol­arly in mat­ters rel­e­vant to the games that peo­ple play. She has man­aged the wel­fare and af­fairs of a va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ers and in that re­gard, stu­dios and stages are her fa­mil­iar stomp­ing grounds. With all that in mind, her choices should be re­spected.

On the par­tic­u­lar oc­ca­sion to which in­vi­ta­tions were is­sued, the ex­pected mix of the au­di­ence was never in doubt. It was com­prised of per­sons picked from var­i­ous back­grounds and cul­tures, the ac­cent be­ing on an af­fil­i­a­tion to sports and the glory and hon­our which the Rio par­tic­i­pants – able-bod­ied and hand­i­capped – had show­ered on the nation. While not view­ing the en­tire Spice act, Foster’s Fair­play can com­ment on that por­tion which was seen or heard. There was an ac­cu­sa­tion of vir­tual nu­dity on the part of the en­ter­tainer. Those who spoke in de­fence claimed that she wore a skin-coloured ma­te­rial un­der a trans­par­ent out­fit, which sim­u­lated the ef­fect of a bare body.

This colum­nist re­jects that ex­plana­tory re­sponse. If it is to be coun­te­nanced, why not have a per­former of any gen­der, plac­ing tufts of ar­ti­fi­cial hair in places where they would ap­pear nat­u­rally, claim­ing that it is not the real thing?

The min­is­ter also re­ferred to Spice’s abil­ity to cre­ate al­ter­na­tive lyrics to sup­pos­edly in­ap­pro­pri­ate songs, which would be more in keep­ing with the oc­ca­sion.

Isn’t this not a way of say­ing that this par­tic­u­lar per­for­mance was not one for the mo­ment?

Another ar­gu­ment put for­ward to jus­tify what this col­umn sees as a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ choice is this: the ath­letes, who were the toasts of the three nights, asked for Spice.

In re­sponse to that, Foster’s Fair­play asks the ques­tion: Would these same ath­letes say to a Stephen Fran­cis or a Glen Mills, who are the or­ches­tra­tors of their prepa­ra­tion pro­grammes to pros­per­ity, “Sir, I am do­ing three 300m runs this evening in­stead of the cus­tom­ary eight.” Think not.

To have booked Spice was not in the in­ter­est of what ought to be fed to a gath­er­ing car­ry­ing the full age spec­trum. To stop short of de­scrib­ing that spot on the show as lack­ing in pro­pri­ety can be ex­plained.

It’s a crazy, mixed-up world. Who re­ally knows and can hon­estly say if it is one thing or the other?


NOT THE REAL THING? Dance­hall en­ter­tainer Spice per­forms at the Rio Sports Gala and Awards Cer­e­mony on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 16.


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