Making woke news this past week has been the terrible tyranny of the colouring book, as well as white vegans shamelessly culturally–appropriating food. The humble full stop has also been shown up as the patriarchal oppressive symbol it really is. Its use in text messages has the snowflake generation quaking in their kicks from its intimidatory antics while elsewhere people read a full stop where there wasn’t one into an innocent quote on a children’s mug and found a clarion call to domestic abusers.
Colour me shocked
Emanuele Lugli, Assistant Professor of Art History at Stanford has thankfully alerted us all to the dangers lurking in the pages of colouring books, courtesy of a piece in Slate. Title, The Dark, Forgotten History of Coloring Books, had me thinking we were on the racist merry go round once again. But not this time. Lugli has just spent too long in quarantine with one finger ‘colouring in’ via an app on his phone.
I haven’t plunged into the world of colouring in for adults but I suppose there is something therapeutic about its calming repetitiveness, at least the real kind with paper and pencils. But Lugli is not one to draw a short bow when he can draw a long one:
What if the recent popularity of coloring books comes not from the creativity they purportedly inspire, but from the submission they induce? This, after all, has been their mission from the start.
In his quest for the ulterior Lugli sometimes misses the blindingly obvious. He says that in Renaissance Florence drawing was considered the artistic equivalent of thinking but ‘colors were applied at a second stage, a lesser stage’. Fancy artists applying colours AFTER the drawing rather than before? I’m stunned.
But Lugli saves most of his derision for one Henry Peacham, who, in the 17th Century recommended painting maps as a way to learn capital cities and geopolitical boundaries, which Lugli understands as:
He promoted coloring as a way to accept a world assembled by rulers, and not just accept it but to yearn for it and delight in its preservation.
His final piece of advice is a woke winner:
[I]f in these days of stillness and isolation you are offered a coloring book, my suggestion is: Rip it up and reassemble its fragments as a collage. That is the true artistic outlet for those who do not want to accept the world as it is but want to make it wildly anew without depleting its resources.
All except for the trees that were chopped down to make your collage paper.
How black is my veganism
Vice, as is its wont, went full woke last week with Dear White Vegans, Stop Appropriating Food, a plaintive call to arms for black and ‘racialized people’ to reclaim veganism from white women ‘gatekeepers’. Here’s a snippet:
Emani Corcran, 23, started her Instagram account, BLK AND VEGAN, this year. She said the media is to blame for the “vegan girl” stereotype, a girl who is “white, tanned, super skinny, and does yoga—the L.A. Girl.” This imagery ignores “the roots of a lot of cultures” and risks conflating Western understanding of “whole foods” or “organic foods” with whiteness…”
Try to hold back the tears.
The ubiquitous Lizzo (of public buttock-baring fame) is held up as a role model for combining veganism with the body positivity movement and racial justice. But don’t be too eager to think that’s an argument for making your own food choices:
Showing that many dishes from around the world are already plant-based is a huge step for people of colour who are maybe intimidated by veganism.
That’s what influencers are supposed to do: show what you like to eat. I’m a woman of colour, so I like to eat what women of colour like to eat, and that’s what I’m going to show.
Because ‘women of colour’ must all like to eat the same thing… as long as it’s vegan.
Full stop the world, I want to get off
Spare a thought for traumatised young social media users. This complicated (and apparently threatening in the hands of those who appreciate grammar) world was in focus this week with a tweet by Guardian columnist Rhiannon Cosslet:
Older people, do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an email/chat? Genuinely curious.
‘Why?’, you might ask. It seems the habit of only expressing yourself in half-formed thoughts with scatter-gun shots of only a few words at a time has made young people wary of the English language’s most commonly used punctuation mark. According to one Professor David Crystal punctuation marks, which give structure to communication, have now become ‘emotion markers’.
I’m struggling to understand the texting popularity of the ellipsis and the exclamation mark, then. Surely three full stops lined up together is the language equivalent of a gang of menacing street thugs and exclamation marks are shouting at the little darlings.
Matilda’s mug matters
Roald Dahl’s magical Matilda is one of the most popular books in kids’ literature. But this week a mug sporting a quote from it lit up the twittersphere because of its promotion of domestic violence against women. I kid you not.
Women’s advocates and the reading-challenged perpetually outraged bombarded Sainsbury’s about the mug, which sports a delightful Quentin Blake illustration on one side and the following quote on the other:
A brilliant idea hit her
Yep, That’s it. A five-word metaphor. Sinister, right?
Some said that because the quote was printed in two lines and in two different fonts, it could be read:
A brilliant idea. Hit her.
Well, apart from the fact that it’s actually presented in three lines and in three different fonts and there is no full stop (facts don’t matter to the constantly triggered) who can imagine anyone actually being incited to physical violence by a kiddy’s mug? Only the woke.
Predictably, Sainsbury’s withdrew the mug from sale and apologized.
I suppose I can’t say I’m gobsmacked. That would probably be inciting self-harm.
I believe Humpty Dumpty said it best:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
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