What is the web-o-sphere angry about this week? A kiss that can’t be racist, a sweater that is and an emoji for your menstrual cycle. Here’s everything you need to know:
THE STORY: Earlier this week, the Independent published an interview with Liam Neeson in which he admits to race-based revenge. He shares that, 40 years ago, he responded to the rape of a close friend by walking around with a weapon, looking for any “black bastard” to murder.
Fast and the Furious star Michelle Rodriguez, who worked with Neeson on Steve McQueen’s Widows, is one of the few industry insiders who has come to Neeson’s defense over the disturbing anecdote. “It’s all fuckin’ bullshit. Liam Neeson is not a racist,” Rodriguez said at the amfAR Gala, according to Vanity Fair. “Dude, have you watched Widows? His tongue was so far down Viola Davis’s throat. You can’t call him a racist ever. Racists don’t make out with the race that they hate, especially in the way he does with his tongue—so deep down her throat. I don’t care how good of an actor you are. It’s all bullshit. Ignore it. He’s not a racist. He’s a loving man. It’s all lies.”
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: As Twitter was quick to call out, whom or how one kisses can’t indicate prejudice—be it race-based, gender-based or otherwise. If Rodriguez wanted to defend Neeson from the backlash he’s facing (which she entirely has the right to do), there are more thoughtful routes she could have taken. For example, soccer star John Barnes, who applauded Neeson for his honesty on Sky News, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian:
“The idea of someone stalking the streets seeking out any “black bastard” to murder is inherently abhorrent and racist. However, it seems that for most people, rather than this being a jumping-off point to start a conversation, it is where the conversation ends. He did say those things so there is no defense. Many are happy to ignore the fact he was admitting to a shameful, backward way of thinking, which he now knows is wrong. Unfortunately, this approach does nothing to address the conscious or unconscious bias that many, if not all of us, feel. By only condemning Neeson’s candid admission we lose an opportunity to explore the causes and effects of racial bias that are so pervasive today.”
Granted, Rodriguez’s statement came from a party, not a carefully constructed and edited piece of writing.
THE STORY: Gucci began selling a black balaclava-type turtleneck sweater with a red-lined hole for the wearer’s mouth.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: It’s extremely hard to believe nobody at Gucci noticed the similarity between their $890 sweater and the recently pulled Prada keychain. Like Prada, Gucci was quick to apologize and pull the product. “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the brand’s statement began. “We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and physical stores.”
The statement continues: “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”
It’s interesting that instead of apologizing for their ignorant lapse in judgment, Gucci apologizes for the “offense caused.” A note for the next luxury brand that causes backlash: when you make a hurtful mistake, you’re supposed to apologize for your actions, not for someone else’s reaction.
There’s Going to be a Period Emoji
THE STORY: The Unicode Consortium has confirmed a blood drop-shaped emoji will be a part of an upcoming emoji drop. The news of the menstrual positive e-sticker comes after 55,000 people called for a period emoji in a campaign led by global girl’s rights charity Plan International UK.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: Yes, it’s a small step towards eliminating shame around menstruation—but it’s a meaningful step. And, considering these tweets, the need for normalization is still very necessary. “The inclusion of an emoji which can express what 800 million women around the world are experiencing every month is a huge step towards normalizing periods and smashing the stigma which surrounds them,” said Lucy Russell, head of girls rights and youth at Plan International UK. “For years we’ve obsessively silenced and euphemized periods. As experts in girls’ rights, we know that this has a negative impact on girls; girls feel embarrassed to talk about their periods, they’re missing out, and they can suffer health implications as a consequence.”
Yes, the blood drop is pretty generic—but the eggplant and the maple leaf have multiple meanings, too. Emoji is a rapidly growing global language, and hopefully, this cute little blood drop will help in starting global conversations.