Friday 20 September 2019

Red face

BBC headline overnight:
Canada's PM Justin Trudeau admits he can't remember how often he wore blackface, as row deepens ahead of election

In my half century of life I've never once put on 'brownface' or 'blackface' - unlike ultra-woke Justin Trudeau, Canada's Liberal PM, who's accidentally done it at least three times now. 

Confession time, I did once -  albeit aged ten, and abetted by my teachers - put on 'goldface' to play the scary Ghost of Christmas Future in my primary school's production of 'Scrooge'.

I had a black cowl and a black cloak. I glided. I held both arms in front of me, like a sleepwalking Frankenstein's monster. I pointed. I was silent. I was ominous. And then I tripped over the end of Scrooge's bed. 

Thus ended my acting career.

I suspect Justin Trudeau ('a virtue-signal made flesh') is feeling even more embarrassed today than I did back in 1979, especially as he was a 29-year-old teacher when he last painted his face brown, just 18 short years ago.

Oh well, you live and learn. I doubt he'll do it again now.

Though you never know. Maybe, like Father Ted in that episode where he inadvertently keeps offending Craggy Island's Chinese community ('I hear you're a racist now, Father!), poor Justin will just have to accept the fact that he's fated to be the kind of man who accidentally ends up having 'blackface' on his face from time to time. Maybe it's a curse?

I did wonder what all the BBC's hyperactive Tweeters - from Jon Sopel to John Sweeney, from John Simpson to Hugh Sykes, from Katty Kay to Anthony Zurcher, etc - had to say about this. What fun they must be having mocking  and tut-tutting at the liberals' pin-up boy! But they haven't posted a single tweet about this. Not one. Fancy!

I bet if images emerge of The Donald in 'brownface' and 'blackface', even as a 10-year-old, they'll be tweeting about it till their fingers bleed - and beyond.


Anyhow, here (for your interest) is how Nick Bryant reported the story at 10:19 pm on last night's BBC One News at Ten:

Question: Given that Mr Trudeau is now 47 (six years older than Emmanuel Macron, eight years older than Jacinda Adern and twelve years older than Kim Jong-un), is it still right to call him "the young Prime Minister"?
Nick Bryant: In this age of celebrity politicians, Justin Trudeau is a politician who became a celebrity. Youthful, telegenic - a leader who seemed to embody the values of modern-day progressiveness, a model of political correctness. But this photo presents a very different picture, showing him wearing blackface make-up at a private-school gala in 2001. An Arabian Nights costume party where, as a 29-year-old teacher, he was dressed as a charater from Aladdin. His message today - "Forgive me, I've changed." 
Justin Trudeau: Darkening your face, regardless of the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface. Should have understood that then, and I never should have done it. 
More blackface photos have emerged, and a video has surfaced from the early '90s showing a young Justin Trudeau sticking his tongue out and making faces. All this in the midst of an election campaign in which Mr Trudeau had already been reeling from a corruption scandal. Blackface is now recognised as a racist caricature, and his opponents are piling in. 
Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader: Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackfacing, it's making a mockery of someone for what they live, and what their lived experiences are. I think he needs to answer for it. 
The young Prime Minister has always sought to portray Canada as one of the world's most successfully multicultural countries. Here, he greeted Syrian refugees at the airport. This damages his political brand. But in the capital, Ottawa, today, most people we spoke to were forgiving. 
Vox Pop 1 (elderly Sikh man): It is nothing, because he was very young at the time. Vox Pop 2 (elderly white lady): And it was Canada, it's not the US, we don't have the same history here that they have in the US. Nick Bryant to Vox Pop 3: Do you find it offensive? Vox Pop 3 (young Native Amercian lady): I do. 
He's positioned himself as a liberal counterpoint to Donald Trump, but his golden boy image has been tarnished. Nick Bryant, BBC News, Ottawa.  
Nick Bryant (continuing): Now, Justin Trudeau couldn't even remember today how many times he had worn blackface make-up, which raises the possibility, of course, that more damaging pictures may emerge. Now, he thinks he can weather this political storm, and we will find out this time next month, when Canada goes to the polls. 


  1. I have to come out. When I was seven my mother put me in a fancy dress show during carnival week dressed as a gypsy. I had a green circular skirt decorated with brightly coloured ‘ric-rac’ and a red spotted handkerchief tied, gypsy-fashion (knot at back of neck) round my head. I didn’t need make-up as I had a natural tan. I won. (There couldn’t have been much competition)
    I apologise to all gypsies I didn’t know what I was doing.

  2. Ah yes, Nick Bryant, the BBC's bogus New York correspondent - bogus in the sense he hardly ever reports from boring old New York where they don't even have any mass shootings to speak of. So he's always after the scraps left over by Jon - when a story is too embarrassing for the liberal-left or when he's too busy finishing of one of his many books (same for Katty).

    I thought that the mention that the school was a "private school" was a nice touch from our Nick. As know, nothing racist ever happens in state schools.

    But I feel he is being too hard on Justin...

    We shouldn't forget Canada is a big empty place, with only a few scattered log cabin settlements like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec. They have to make their own entertainment out there on the windswept Canadian prairie. Also it's very cold so it's probably the equivalent of a channel swimmer smearing on goose fat. Plus he was only 29, a callow youth. And his Mum was bonkers. Don't forget he took a few hits in the boxing ring which probably clouded his judgement. He may have been rehearsing for a part in a BBC costume drama, knowing this was his only chance of getting the part. Sorry, Justin, can't think of any other excuses.

  3. Nick seems smitten.

    When not smitten he is less forgiving.

    Bet he loves Ash's... style.


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