Hot Takes: Ayra Claps Back, #BalenciagaGate, Qatar World Cup & More
"Me no get the time for the hate and bad energy."
"Me no get the time for the hate and bad energy."
We’re only a day away from the last month of the year–and boy, has this year flown by. December, the hottest month on the calendar is here once again and we’re already excited for the milieu of events on the roster. Not only is it a time for friends and family across the world to reconnect, but it’s also a time to rest and reset from the past year.
While we await more concert and event dates, the wheels of pop culture are ever-turning and we’re excited to dig into this week’s topics. In a special edition this week, our resident NATIVE hot girls, Nwanneamaka and Wonu join forces to voice their opinions on some of the most relevant topics in pop culture today.
On the deck for discussion today is Balenciaga, back again for the their distasteful ad campaigns. It is still hard to believe that in recent times popular fashion brands like Balenciaga are as tone deaf and insensitive as they are. Then, we dive deep into people policing women’s bodies in 2022. Quite frankly, we are over it. Get us out of here!
I’m currently listening to one of my favourite R&B artists right now, Aleksa Safiya. I had the opportunity to go back into the archives and listen to some of her projects and right now, I’m stuck on her previously released EP titled ‘Miss Me When I’m Gone.’ It’s her most vulnerable project to date as she focuses on matters such as self-awareness, growth, love, heartbreak and evolving as an artist. Records such as “Insecure,” “Sticky Situation” and “Different” describe the singer’s current state of mind. Other than this, I’m listening to ‘Billion Dollar Baby’ by Seyi Vibez. The street pop artist released his debut album only a few weeks ago and in a short period of time, records like “Chance” and “Bullion Van” have simply become fan favourites.
Last time I was on the hot seat, I mentioned that I would get into season two of HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’ after its incredible debut season. I have and unsurprisingly it doesn’t disappoint. They’re back with an even more obscure score and a very interesting plot structure that’s not necessarily edge-of-your-seat but incredibly engaging. Seeing as I’m always watching multiple things at once, I had to lock in to ‘Blood and Water’ on Netflix. Only one episode in and not much has changed, Puleng is back with all her drama and Wade is just as annoying as ever. However, I would say the show has shifted from the high school/teen drama to full blown crime and investigation series but I’m here for it. I’ve also seen significant conversation around ‘Wednesday’ starring Jenna Ortega. That has been added to my watch list.
Last Week, Meta brought together the worlds of music, fashion, comedy and art for an immersive experience dubbed as Flex Naija, a mixed reality showcase which pulled together vibrant works from NFT artists and collectors. The night was well attended by Lagos’ most audacious influencers and entrepreneurs and also featured star-studded appearances from Teni the Entertainer, Cruel Santino and Ayra Starr.
While their performances ranked as one of the highlights of the night, it was soon revealed that fans were unhappy with Ayra Starr’s sartorial choice at the event… like anyone asked. Many took to social media to express their displeasure at her outfit choice, going as far as to berate the artist for setting a bad example for a younger listeners. Firstly, no woman should have to explain her wardrobe in 2022, especially a young woman who is rapidly ascending the ranks in the Afropop scene, and continues to spin auditory gold.
In our patriachial society, women can never win the blame game. Whether we’re viewed as sinners or saints, we’re given limited spaces to occupy and are forced to dim down sides of ourselves in order to remain easily digestible for the general public. Women in entertainment are given even smaller spaces to occupy, and we’ve seen this happen time and time again. If it’s not Tiwa Savage getting the long end of the stick for her own body, it’s Teni the Entertainer facing ridicule for her recent weight loss–and quite frankly, we’re over the policing.
What I think should be debunked is the idea that these women weaponise sex or their sex appeal to sell their music. One would think in 2022, we had outgrown these backwards practices and thought processes. It is incredibly exhausting engaging in these fruitless conversations and I particularly love Ayra’s response to the conversation. Ayra came unto the scene already telling us exactly who she is–’19 & Dangerous,’ and now, she’s only going to grow more into herself and I, for one, am here for it.
Ayra Starr apologizes for her outfit lastnight pic.twitter.com/myxYqXvKQW
— Sabi Radio (@TheSabiRadio) November 25, 2022
As early as 2014, Balenciaga has rolled out with one distasteful campaign or the other. After multiple apologies over the years, it seems that the luxury brand is still yet to learn its lesson. Over the past week, Balenciaga has emerged in the headlines once again for their blatant predatory behaviour and child abuse content on their platform. In their recently holiday campaign, which has now been pulled from the internet, Balenciaga features two little girls holding stuffed animals and donned in BDSM wear.
The campaign also featured engaged props unfit for children including alcoholic glass wear. As if this isn’t horrid enough, in one of the campaign images, the brand also included a very poorly hidden document which later revealed to be an excerpt from the US Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams which upheld part of a federal law in child pornography. The grotesque document explained that while child pornography is illegal, the production and distribution of sexually graphic images of children is allowed so long as it is not obscene. This is literally insane.
As expected, the brand tendered an insincere apology claiming that matters relating to the production and exchange of child pornography are taken seriously in their internal structure. Balenciaga also promised to take legal action against the parties involved in the set creation and those also involved in the dissemination of allegedly unapproved items for their Spring 23 campaign photoshoot. I’m not buying this apology one bit because this is not just a gross oversight, but plain wrong. For a brand as established as Balenciaga, it would be naive of anyone to believe that the campaign didn’t go through several levels of scrutiny and editing before it was finally released to the public. Negligence or ignorance in a matter as sensitive as this simply does not suffice as a tangible excuse. While several consumers of the brand have taken to social media to express their disgust and discard their purchased items from the brand, the individual creatives behind these campaigns need to be brought to justice.
A thread on WHO is REALLY behind the #Balenciaga ads:
The Devil In Disguise: Lotta Volkova
1. She has been one of the main stylist in Balenciaga since 2014.
2.She has a relationship with an accused pedophile.
3. We can’t only boycott #Balenciaga but also the people behind it. pic.twitter.com/RjDYU283wj
— curioslight (@curioslight) November 27, 2022
For many young African women like myself, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was an exemplerary figure to look up to in our patriarchal society. While growing up, we wondered and amused at her impressive writing which she used to craft worlds with strong Black African female leads that many of us were unused to at the time. With some of her widely read books like ‘Purple Hibiscus’, ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’, Chimamanda can be described as a voice or idol to young African women.
However, as we’ve grown up and formed our own ideologies and beliefs, it seems that our hero has now morphed into a villian with little awareness of the harm she perpetuates in her position. Over the past few years, Chimamanda has come under fire for the transphobic statements made in a 2016 interview with British Channel 4 TV on feminism and gender. When asked if she believed transwomen to be women, CNA had responded in the negative, sharing that transwomen were transwomen. While we’ve previously spoken about our displeasure at CNA’s statements on hot takes before–please stop asking TERFs about trans rights–it seems that CNA is once again under fire for statements made regarding the trans community.
In a recent article in the Guardian, CNA has once again doubled down on her transphobia with alarming statements that are truly disappointing for someone who once inspired many young women. While the article is centred on CNA’s hard-hitting Reith Lecture and features an excerpt from her speech, it also unpacks a rather alarming interview between CNA and writer, Zoe Williams where CNA boldly proclaims “I believe literature is in peril.” Of course, any mention of free speech would solicit questions about CNA’s previous transphobic statements and Williams does not shy away from prodding CNA about this during their time together.
CNA speaks on how her opinions on gender and rights pertaining to trans women have over the years been tagged transphobic even when she believes she’s not. She cites an example with “So somebody who looks like my brother – he says, ‘I’m a woman’, and walks into the women’s bathroom, and a woman goes, ‘You’re not supposed to be here’, and she’s transphobic?” I hate to break it to you, but yes. CNA goes on to state, “Now this whole trans thing, I did not know I was walking into anything. I thought I had said something self-evident. So I think I just experienced a sadness. I felt, ‘I’m on your side. We’re a tribe. Why am I a controversial figure?’”
It’s alarming that CNA can’t see the irony in her own line of questioning. You’re the controversial figure because you have assumed the role of an oppressor and denied the lived experience of a woman because her reality is different from yours. It’s not only upsetting to see your heroes in real-time become the villian, but it’s also ignorant and extremely harmful for someone in CNA’s position of authority to deny the experiences of a marginalised group of women. At this point, I’m literally begging everyone–writers, publicists, managers, publications, please stop asking TERFs to defend the rights of the very people they seek to erase.
— jzl thee doll (@jxzzhndz_) November 28, 2022
On Monday during the Portugal vs Uruguay match, a man disrupted the match, entering the pitch with a rainbow flag in a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community during the World Cup in the controversial host nation, Qatar. Disruptions by unknown individuals are a common occurrence during football games. However, this particular incident was rather sensitive due to the controversy surrounding Qatar, the Islamic, conservative host of this year’s World Cup tournament.
Since the World Cup kicked off, the Middle-Eastern country has been at the forefront of controversy. Alcoholic drinks were banned at the stadiums on the eve of the tournament as well as the OneLove armbands which the captains of several nations were planning to wear as a way to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, Qatar has stressed that guests attending the World Cup should respect the host country’s traditions. Although it is great and inspiring to see someone make such a bold and courageous move, I believe that it is important to respect the host country’s traditions and beliefs. The safety of queer fans and players is beyond important and as a people, we ourselves should not take these things for granted.
Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE
Words by Wonu Osikoya and Nwanneamaka Igwe.