Sunday, July 22, 2012

Plan B is saying sorry

Plan B has issued something approaching an apology for his Skrewdriver tshirt.

The explanation of the genesis of the shirt - basically, he copied it from Gavin Watson's book Skins without bothering to ask exactly what it was he was copying - is in full on the Quietus, but B admits his error:

"The minute I found out what the words on the t-shirt meant I was angry with myself for not questioning them. The t-shirt is not official nor is it on sale anywhere. It was of my own doing and therefore it is my mistake, but that is all it is."
Earlier, though, he explains why he used the imagery in the first place:
I asked [Gavin Watson] if I could print shots from his book on to t-shirts. I made a number of these t-shirts. Gavin's photos are relevant to me because they represent the demonised youth of the past. Just like my generation of young people are demonised in the media to all be hoodie wearing thugs and chavs so were the skinheads in the 80's.

"Not all of them were racist but because some of them were, the rest were all tarred with the same brush. That is why I feel the images of the skinheads represented in Gavin's work are relevant to me and this generation.
I guess this proves that if you're going to play about with right-wing politics to make some sort of point, you need to be bloody certain you know what you're doing.

It's a fair point that not all skins were racists, but B is fundamentally confused if he thinks that being a skinhead in the 1980s is on a par with wearing a hoodie in the earlier 20th century. There was a distinct political outlook which had chosen the skin look as part of the badge of belonging, but the world was smart enough to know that not every skinhead was a fascist; those that were demonised were attacked for their politics, not for their cropped hairstyle - and people who felt intimidated by skinheads usually were actually being intimidated by far-right skinheads at the time.

Hoodies, though, aren't the mark of a violent, fascist subculture - the demonising of the hoodie wearer and the chav is not calling people for what they believe (or even what some people who dress like them believe) but because of who they are.

In short, then, Plan B tried a well-meaning but poorly though-through comparison, and got his fingers burned. But then, if Plan B really knew anything about the politics of skinheads, he'd have spotted Skrewdriver on his chest from the off.

The question does remain, though: if he knew that there were racist skinheads, wasn't it a bit lax to print up a t-shirt and wear it for a front cover magazine shoot when he admits he didn't know what the phrase was? Google offers over three quarter of a million responses to the word - any one of them would have flagged the folly in an instant.

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