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The offensive Golliwog: don’t ban it just celebrate diversity

golliwog.jpgDo you find golliwogs offensive?  The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) does. It’s banned the Ginger Pop store’s advert featuring a golliwog holding a glass of ginger bear.  The golliwog has caused “serious or widespread offence”.

The Ginger Pop store is housed in Dorset, just by the foot of what remains of the 11th century Corfe Castle. Store owner Viv Endecott had covered the window of her shop with golliwog-themed tea towels she had designed. The tea towels were inspired by author Enid Blyton, who was partial to a golliwog and had visited Dorset.

The towels feature a thirsty golliwog in the centre surrounded by slogans: “freedom of speech”, “political correctness gone mad” and “English Freedom”.

Adnan Choudry, chief officer of Dorset Race Equality Council, opines:

“Golliwogs don’t just offend black people, they’re offensive to people of any race. People used them as a means to abuse black people in the 1970s and 1980s – people still remember those days. I thought we had all moved on but obviously not. I have had dealings with her in the past – I have told her my opinion, that they should not be sold, but goes on selling them.”

It boils down to a difference of opinion.

In October 2008 the Enid Blyton shop was under attack for stocking gollies. A year later Carole Thatcher’s “golliwog” remark reawakened the issue.

One side says golliwogs are dolls, and therefore incapable of thought and racism. Children, for whom they are intended, see them as cheery dolls and are blissfully unaware of their controversial nature.

But to say the golliwog has no racial connection is as ridiculous as it is monocular and thick-headed. When Florence Kate Upton debuted the ‘Golliwogg’ in a 1895 book, she called him “a horrid sight, the blackest gnome”. Enid Blyton’s Gollywogs were called Golly, Woggy and Nigger. They ambled around the place “arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song – which, as you may guess, was Ten Little Nigger Boys”. Enid’s Noddy character was once mugged by golliwogs, who nick his car.

In 1939, the cover of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Niggers portrayed a golliwog hanging from a tree.

Should golliwogs be banned? No. Of course not. You could try to ban them, just as you might ban people who dress up as Nazis to relax and teach their dogs to salute whenever they hear the word ‘Hitler’.

Forget these loons and fantasists. Let people who shop for novelty tea towels in 1950s-themed ‘shoppes’ deal with them whilst the rest of us with our mechanised dishwashers get on with more vital issues, like discussing Jose Mourinho’s coat and Prince Harry’s sex life.

 

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comment