Friday, July 20, 2007

Iggy: I did say it, and I'm sorry

Despite some fans arguing that he'd meant "packie" shop, in the American sense of a takeaway, Iggy has confirmed he did use the phrase 'paki shop' during the BBC's Glastonbury coverage:

“I’m sorry. It was one in the morning... that was a phrase I learned from English people while I was living there.

“But it’s terrible. More fool me. Shame on me.”

We're not quite sure that it being one in the morning counts as an extenuating circumstance ("come on, we all get a little bit racist after midnight, don't we?") and you wonder what the people he was living with in England where he could pick up the phrase and not know it was abusive, but at least he's had the balls to admit he was in the wrong, and apologise for the slip. Unlike, ooh, Jo O'Meara, say.


8 comments:

Franco said...

Cue Iggy Pop appearing in Avenue Q to sing "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist".

Maybe he could do a duet with, ooh, Jo O'Meara, say.

Justin Fun said...

Iggy Pop was living in England at the time of 'raw power', wasn't he?

It's not an excuse, but if his frame of reference was 1973 UK attitudes it may help explain things. Anyone know if he's lived in the UK since?

janine said...

Also not an excuse, but I can see how it happened. I had never even heard the term before a few years ago. I was talking to an English chick for all the different names for little general stores. In the Southern U.S. states (I'm from Virginia) we call them corner stores. I was telling her how I'm now used to calling them bodegas, since I've been living in NYC for about 5 years, and asked her what they call theirs. She said the dread phrase that Iggy Pop uttered. She was a bit of an idiot, but I wonder if she was trying to get my ass kicked.

Anonymous said...

As Justin says, Iggy lived in the UK in the early 70's, 1972 to be exact, when attitudes were vastly different. At that time many words now considered racially offensive appeared in mainstream comedy shows. Iggy hasn't lived in the UK since then.

He at least made an honest apology which you could see he was sincere about.

I know people who aren't in any way racist but refer to corner shops owned by pakistanis as "paki shops". In much the same way people refer to a Chinese restaurant as a "chinky". Using those words within that context doesn't automatically grant you a BNP membership card, and mean you walk round all day dreaming of ways to ethnically cleanse your local area!. There's no racial thought behind it.

M.C. Glammer said...

Iggy's old enough to be calling people cads and bounders.

Personally, I'm with Lenny Bruce on the power of words.

simon h b said...

Anonymous - granted, there is a gap between casual racism and the racism-as-policy of the BNP, but that doesn't mean that calling Chinese owned takeaways "chinky chops" is excusable or acceptable - because once you start reducing the chip shop owner to being defined by his race rather than his skill with the deep fat fryer, and then using a dismissive term, you're keying into the same sort of atmosphere that the BNP feed off. Remember, most of the people who vote for the BNP don't consider themselves racist, either.

Justin, that might be an explanation - although for an intelligent man such like Iggy, who has spent a lot of time in the UK since, to not realise that the phrase isn't in common parlance seems a little unlikely. I'm not even sure it would have been in common currency in 1972, come to that - were there so many Asian-owned small businesses in the early 70s as to make this a common term?

Anonymous said...

Iggy's girlfriend is Cuban - which makes him a rubbish racist!

As regards Asian owned businesses in the 1970's, there were probably more then than you'll find today, so many having been bought out by supermarket chains in recent years. The Asian population had been settling here since the 1950's, so by the 70's they were well integrated into society.

If you have doubts as to whether 'Paki' was in common useage in the early 1970's, that's the same time the phrase 'Paki bashing' arrived on the scene.

simon h b said...

Anon...

While i don't think Iggy is intentionally racist, "my girlfriend is Cuban" doesn't really prove anything one way or another - unless he is simultaneously having an affair with a Brazilian, an Euadorian, a Zimbabwean...

I know 'paki' was in use during the 1970s, it's the use of 'paki shop' specifically which I'm not sure would have been a commonplace in 1972 - it'd be a bit of a research session to dig out more specific figures, but by 1974 only 8% of Southern Asians were self-employed [according to Smith, 1977, cited in 'Race', Employment and Social Change; and at the peak of immigration from Pakistan in the early 60s, the immigrants were either 'top sliced' - the doctors and other professionals from Pakistan, or else were working in manual labour at the bottom of the social scale. Clearly, there was a turnaround at some point during the next ten-to-fifteen years, and it's certainly possible that in some areas the change came more quickly than in others, and perhaps the stereotyped developed faster in the areas where Iggy was staying in 1971. I think finding the likelihood of that, though, would take a specialist.

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