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"Colonial Africa" themed wedding
July 12, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

An English couple weds in a Colonial Africa themed wedding in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.
posted by illenion (212 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uh....I'm going to go with "Things that make me deeply uncomfortable" for $500, Alex.
posted by dismas at 3:00 PM on July 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


Oh boy. Where DOES one find apartheid themed invitations for a wedding? Do they have to be custom made?
posted by sawdustbear at 3:00 PM on July 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


They tried for cute but all they got was creepy.
posted by tommasz at 3:01 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amazing how something so glamorous can be in such bad taste.

Lovely photos though.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2011


If someone hasn't already written the 'Inappropriate and Offensive Themes for Weddings' book, these people can make a fortune being first on the market.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


What a quaint touch of having all the guests white, and all the serving staff black.
posted by piratebowling at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2011 [22 favorites]


"OK, now, let's talk about the wait-staff.... they will be... I mean, they won't be... what color will they be?"
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:04 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Needs more senselessly gunned down big game.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:05 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, I didn't read the comments on the site. Did anyone mention the culturally insensitive thing there?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:05 PM on July 12, 2011


Well this really puts my plantation-themed bar mitzvah to shame. We got a good few year's worth of cotton out of it, though.
posted by PlusDistance at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Mister Moofoo: Uhh. yeah, one or two people... err.. pages worth of people. The Prime Directive ain't what it used to be.
posted by absalom at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dang that wedding must have cost like, 1 billion racist, imperialist dollars.
posted by sciurus at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


And by one or two I mean twenty.
posted by absalom at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2011


> Did anyone mention the culturally insensitive thing there?

There is a small but virulent outpouring of naked hostility towards this event in the comments section, yes.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2011


I like this picture. Kind of sums up the theme...
posted by klausness at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Metafilter: Amazing how something so glamorous can be in such bad taste. Lovely photos though.
posted by jaduncan at 3:10 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Hey, wanna see something obnoxious" really isn't FPP material.
posted by spaltavian at 3:13 PM on July 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am alternating between really wanting to see their registry and what presents they actually received and wanting to run away.
posted by Leezie at 3:16 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If they'd made the effort to ensure the help was white, it'd really just be a nicely done throw-back look. Of course, that might require requesting the normal local help not work the event, which would seem even more racist. Given that trap, maybe come up with a different theme or hold it on a different continent. Like Panganea.
posted by yerfatma at 3:17 PM on July 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


In keeping with the theme, no black people or Africans were consulted in the planning.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on July 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


No cakewalk?
posted by drezdn at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm stunned. How did not one single person realise that this was not a good idea?
posted by joboe at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2011


South African here. Please stop overthinking a plate of beans.

It's a wedding with a bunch of antique decorations.

"What a quaint touch of having all the guests white, and all the serving staff black."

Yeah who would guess in a country with 80% of the population being black African and in one of it's more rural provinces, there's a good chance all the catering staff is black. What a shocker.
posted by PenDevil at 3:19 PM on July 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


I like this picture. Kind of sums up the theme...

I'd love to hear the Ze Frank caption for that photo, "Trisha Beechwood, seen here having just murdered a server..."
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like this picture. Kind of sums up the theme...
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on July 12, 2011


PenDevil I'm not sure where you're getting the racial element from, I think everyone here's upset about all the open-necked shirts on the groomsmen.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:21 PM on July 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


LOL from the comments "Congratulations! Two white supremacists found love and celebrated it with a slavery-themed wedding! Best of luck in all your future endeavors!"
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:23 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Yeah who would guess in a country with 80% of the population being black African and in one of it's more rural provinces, there's a good chance all the catering staff is black. What a shocker."

Why, yeah, I guess that it is a little shocking that you wouldn't connect COLONIAL THEME with BLACK SERVANTS by way of INCOME DISPARITY due to RACIST COLONIALISM.

Sorry, that the effects of colonialism still exist today doesn't mean that they're just normal.
posted by klangklangston at 3:23 PM on July 12, 2011 [27 favorites]


PenDevil, I'm actually more confused by the bride having organised this from England. I know there are cultural differences (and I spent some time living and working in SA, mostly Durban), but this would really not be cool back home in the UK.
posted by joboe at 3:24 PM on July 12, 2011


This picture seems like a pretty good representation of the "colonial" attitude. I'm all for wearing vintage clothing or whatever the hell you want for your wedding, but this seems a bit over the line.
posted by Dr. Christ at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"....but this would really not be cool back home in the UK"

Really? Tell me what uniforms do all those snappily dressed soldiers in London wear on parade because they look an awful lot like the ones the Brits wore on their many 'foreign adventures'.
posted by PenDevil at 3:28 PM on July 12, 2011


"Yeah who would guess in a country with 80% of the population being black African and in one of it's more rural provinces, there's a good chance all the catering staff is black. What a shocker."
posted by PenDevil at 3:19 PM on July 12 [+] [!]

I'm just a hick from the Welsh mountains but the shocker is that "in a country with 80% of the population being black African" none of the guests are black. Do the couple have no black friends? I think that's what we're all finding strange. I couldn't imagine being at an all white party!
posted by humph at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah who would guess in a country with 80% of the population being black African and in one of it's more rural provinces, there's a good chance all the catering staff is black. What a shocker.

I'm actually far more bothered by the idea idea of two Brits having a destination wedding in a former colony, apparently not having a single person of color to invite to this gathering, and deciding that the height of British Colonialism was the time period for the decoration and uniform to emulate. This should be the photographic answer for anytime anyone asks "What is white privilege?"
posted by piratebowling at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2011 [38 favorites]


If that made you feel bad and you want to see some nice non-uncomfortable wedding photos, Once Wed is great.
posted by melissam at 3:30 PM on July 12, 2011


PenDevil I'm not sure where you're getting the racial element from, I think everyone here's upset about all the open-necked shirts on the groomsmen.

Pssht, forget that. What about the bride wearing a sleeveless wedding dress? Kate Middleton officially made those out-of-style.

If they'd made the effort to ensure the help was white, it'd really just be a nicely done throw-back look.

Maybe, if the help had been in blackface. Oh wait, that would have been even more racist!
posted by fuse theorem at 3:32 PM on July 12, 2011


Am I the only one who thinks most modern (all) wedding photos look dumb?
posted by wcfields at 3:33 PM on July 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!


--R. Kipling
posted by gottabefunky at 3:33 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


For maximum offensiveness, have reception in a "Boer Internment Camp" theme.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:40 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As the Willem DaFoe counterfeiter character mutters to the nouveau riche art collector just before he pops him in the head, "Your taste is in your ass."
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:41 PM on July 12, 2011


This sort of thing could happen only in South Africa.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:41 PM on July 12, 2011


That's unbelievable. I would also call a confederate themed wedding with black servers at a plantation house unbelievable.
posted by codacorolla at 3:43 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I officiated a rebel-themed wedding... space rebels.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, does this mean it's okay for me to have my wedding in Hiroshima?
posted by katillathehun at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being from the deep south, I could totally imagine some couple out there doing a wedding where they had a confederate cake. But I bet that wedding would likely be some homemade do-it-yourself deal where the family members put it all together (still totally insensitive, no doubt). Seeing it like this, where you know they dropped lots of money on it, and had to have hired people to put things together -- multiple vendors who all either were okay with it, or just decided not to say anything to the couple...that just seems so unbelievable.
posted by bizzyb at 3:50 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I'm having second thoughts about my 1930s German themed wedding. We were saddened to learned that Leni Riefenstahl is no longer with us. We really wanted to hire her as photographer.
posted by chillmost at 3:50 PM on July 12, 2011


There comes a point where people are so astoundingly ignorant of the offensiveness of their actions that it's difficult to properly label them "racist". This is practically an art form, like some deeply ironic Art Racisme radically performed on our sensibilities. Give them the Turner Prize and call it a day.
posted by Jehan at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


So, does this mean it's okay for me to have my wedding in Hiroshima?

Yes, unless you were to fly in on the Enola Gay
posted by Hoopo at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2011


The bride looks like she's about to unhinge her jaw in that one picture.
posted by EarBucket at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2011


Blood on the sheets.
Blood on the streets.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"So, does this mean it's okay for me to have my wedding in Hiroshima?"

"We can dance to the Gap Band!"
posted by klangklangston at 3:57 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only way this could possibly been cool is if it were a Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner homage for a Warren Zevon-themed wedding.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on July 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


This actually was a Warren Zevon-themed wedding; everyone was meant to be from Werewolves of London but at the last minute the costume shop realized they didnt have enough werewolf costumes so they substituted Former Colonial Oppressors, and at that point it was too late to do anything about it. On the other hand a bunch of rich English with pith helmets and other colonial mementos is probably a good deal scarier to the average South African than a werewolf.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:13 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


In our old colonial home
We drank our bitters while the empire fell

posted by EarBucket at 4:14 PM on July 12, 2011


The comments are interesting, up until 8:36pm July 12th its all happy congratulations. After 8:36pm July 12th, its nothing but outraged outrage (which would be the camp I'm in). Its like the commenters changed shifts or something. Where did the happy congratulations crew go? I'm curious as to why is none of them are replying to the outraged comments, or else removing the post? It is just happening too fast, or could it be fake?
posted by memebake at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2011


Yeah, I love how the comments suddenly change tone as the wider world discovered the page:

Anonymous said...
LOLOLOL get ready for the shit-storm, richfolks
July 12, 2011 10:10 PM

posted by LarryC at 4:22 PM on July 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm also a South African living abroad, and for those confused about the "British" couple whose wedding this is, I'm willing to bet they're South African expats. There are tons of South Africans with British passports living in England, and I'm pretty sure the name Chantal is far more common for South Africans (of French Huegenot decent) than Brits.

For the record, I find the whole thing tacky and repulsive, but not at all shocking. If anything, I think this glamorization of the colonial past is more common with South African expats than with white South Africans still living in the country - you should see my Dad's basement rec-room. I'd also be willing to bet that the couple here consider themselves to be very enlightened and liberal, and not at all racist.
posted by dvdgee at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


I get the feeling if that blogpost had been title "Antique Africa" there would be no faux outrage.
posted by PenDevil at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2011


New comments arriving on that blog at the rate or 2 or 3 per minute. Its the middle of the night in South Africa. There's going to be some rapid blog-deleting in the morning I should think.
posted by memebake at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2011


It's some sort of theme location it seems. Look at the pictures they did for the 2010 "bridal pair of the year". The same buckets are in the background. (What's "bridal pair of the year" in English? Just 'couple of the year'. I think that's what it says anyway. My knowledge of Afrikaans is zero.)
posted by hoyland at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2011


I love it whenever the point-and-laugh MeFi community shows up to point-and-laugh-and-pontificate. The wedding couple and their family/sponsors hired the willing vendors and labor, in a currently soverign political state that certianly understands the history of colonialism, presumably for agreed upon amounts of filthy lucre. The folk serving apparently made their peace with the price paid in said stinking medium of exchange, before performing their roles. The guests, presumably, were amused/entertained/served/quietly embarrased (but not, apparently, to the point of prominently protesting the event, itself). A marriage (possibly made in Hell) was done. The only evidence any of this was done at the point of a colonial gun, was the last photo of two white guys pointing wooden rifles at each other.

All else is cheap Internet wankery. Get a grip, get a life, get a gay wedding invite, get a Japanese divorce ceremony invite, get a front row seat at your next neighborhood domestic incident, but mostly, get the willpower to look away when what you don't approve of, that hurts or helps no one in the moment beyond what they've agreed to be hurt or helped, nor elevates any one participating beyond the level of satisfaction of simple human desires, transpires, people.

Sometimes a cigar is just theater. Even if it is badly plotted, over acted, insensitively staged, extensively photographed, somewhat danced theater, with white guys pointing fake guns at each other in the last act.
posted by paulsc at 4:30 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pendevil, your comments seem to come from a place of deep, unexamined privilege. Finding a celebration of colonialism distasteful and offensive is not "faux-outrage." I find the fact that anyone could be so oblivious as to think of colonialism/apartheid as "the good old days" repulsive.

Ironically, here at my campus at every home football game the students and alumni celebrate their "heritage" with confederate flags, dixie and black folks to cater and clean up for them. So, I guess that I shouldn't be too surprised. Disappointed yes, but not surprised.
posted by anansi at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really don't like his hair.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:33 PM on July 12, 2011


I get the feeling if that blogpost had been title "Antique Africa" there would be no faux outrage.

And if they hadn't apparently stipulated an all-black serving staff? Sure! It would've been beautiful. But by focusing on the colonial aspect of it and hiring mock slaves, they've made it pretty clear they're either blatantly racist or embarrassingly ignorant. There's nothing faux about the outrage here, and nothing pretty about a period wedding that celebrates human rights abuses.
posted by katillathehun at 4:35 PM on July 12, 2011


Other available packages from their wedding planner.
For the Francis Ford Coppola fan: The Apocalypse Now wedding in Vietnam.
For the Ollie North fan: Contra Dance wedding in Nicaragua
For the cheese maker: Curds and Whey wedding in Turkey
posted by perhapses at 4:36 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you look through the many other wedding photo sets on the same blog, you'll be hard pressed to find many black wedding guests. There are one or two, but not many. Is that reflective of the current levels of integration in South Africa for the 20-30 age group? I have no idea. Any South African mefites got any insight on this?
posted by memebake at 4:37 PM on July 12, 2011


I'd say it's reflective of the current levels of integration in South Africa for 20-30somethings having lavish weddings with colonial themes, yes.

The levels of integration for 20-30somethings getting wrecked down at the local shebeen on a Saturday night are somewhat different.
posted by dvdgee at 4:40 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


@dvdgee: right, but I was referring to the many other weddings also on that blog that weren't colonial themed.
posted by memebake at 4:42 PM on July 12, 2011


Sometimes a cigar is just theater.

"Oh yeah, well sometimes it's a big brown dick."
G. Carlin.
posted by stifford at 4:42 PM on July 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Alternative colonial wedding: you, your partner, and 144 special guests stay for one unforgettable night in a Kolkata guardroom.
posted by Jehan at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hang on, hasn't anyone considered the fact that they may have been doing so ironically; you know, like when VICE Magazine calls a record they don't like "faggy", before hitting the reader over the head with a paragraph of homoerotic fantasy imagery or something?
posted by acb at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose a "Frontier Canada" or "Wild West" theme could be viewed the same way by American Natives (with the stolen land, forced resettlement, cultural genocide through residential schooling, de facto segregation).

There's something really narcissistic about those photos. Our upper crust is still having fun.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:48 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that anyone with plantation shutters is racist too.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:49 PM on July 12, 2011


"I get the feeling if that blogpost had been title "Antique Africa" there would be no faux outrage."

I get the feeling that if rich white people the world over weren't clinging to their colonial privilege oblivious to the effects of that privilege upon the colonized, there would be fewer offensive colonial weddings.
posted by klangklangston at 4:49 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Equating the removal of laws associated with apartheid with the removal of social segregation is just mind-bogglingly ignorant, or worse. It leaves me scratching my head. I'm reminded of a work trip to Bessemer, Alabama I once made - everyone I dealt with was white until I went into a Burger King and ordered a Whopper. Clearly all the black people were huddling in the kitchen because they loved it so, and it was a part of their culture they were maintaining. Otherwise, they'd have been one of the engineers I was working with.

It's all so clear now.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


"And if they hadn't apparently stipulated an all-black serving staff?"

They didn't stipulate it. It's South Africa ferchrissakes. You would expect at least 8/10 of the staff to be black via random sampling alone, even more so than Mpumulanga.

Jesus, I remember a couple years back when a major union in SA complained that Cape Town was racist because there were too few black African waiters (due mainly to demographics not any kind of subversive racism).
posted by PenDevil at 4:52 PM on July 12, 2011


"Sometimes a cigar is just theater. Even if it is badly plotted, over acted, insensitively staged, extensively photographed, somewhat danced theater, with white guys pointing fake guns at each other in the last act."

It is idiotic to reach for an analogy to theater, where everything is about signifying a greater story than the literal trompings of loud people under lights, to argue that signifiers don't signify.
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I get the feeling that if rich white people the world over weren't clinging to their colonial privilege oblivious to the effects of that privilege upon the colonized, there would be fewer offensive colonial weddings."

What is overtly colonial about this wedding? Is it the pith helmets? Or the Union Jack? Or just the white people?

Do you think they toasted to the restoration of Rhodesia and sang Rule Britannia before dinner?
posted by PenDevil at 4:54 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look at the pictures they did for the 2010 "bridal pair of the year".

Jesus. I've gone through some humiliating things as a bridesmaid, but at least no one ever asked me to flash my knickers for the photos. AND THOSE KNICKERS. No human should be made to wear knickers like that or to reveal that they are wearing undergarments of that ilk to the world.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:55 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's South Africa ferchrissakes. You would expect at least 8/10 of the staff to be black via random sampling alone.

Holy shit that's a disingenuous statement.

It's South Africam ferchrissakes. You would expect at least 8/10 (4/5?) of the guests to be black by random sampling alone.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:57 PM on July 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Do you think they toasted to the restoration of Rhodesia and sang Rule Britannia before dinner?

I don't really think that's an honest benchmark for if this is racist.
posted by absalom at 4:59 PM on July 12, 2011


"What is overtly colonial about this wedding? Is it the pith helmets? Or the Union Jack? Or just the white people?

Do you think they toasted to the restoration of Rhodesia and sang Rule Britannia before dinner?
"

RTFA.

I mean, fuck, the explicit theme is Out of Africa. It's like asking, "What's racist about a 'Birth of the Nation' themed wedding?"
posted by klangklangston at 4:59 PM on July 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


All else is cheap Internet wankery

which is still cheaper than expensive real life wankery - our children and grandchildren will probably never know of our momentary displeasure with these overentitled preppies - their children and grandchildren will probably cringe with embarrassment every time they have to see these photos of how the "old folks" got married

our wankery is but a brief moment in the chattering of the intertubes - their wankery is going to be a part of family history for decades to come - especially if their future daughter or son brings home a significant other with significantly darker parentage

one can only hope ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:03 PM on July 12, 2011


Metafilter: There is a small but virulent outpouring of naked hostility towards this event in the comments section, yes.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:07 PM on July 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


"It's South Africam ferchrissakes. You would expect at least 8/10 (4/5?) of the guests to be black by random sampling alone."

Not if the majority of the guests were family, or if they were friends from their school days...

"I don't really think that's an honest benchmark for if this is racist."

What is the benchmark for this to be racist? A bunch of white people?

"I mean, fuck, the explicit theme is Out of Africa. It's like asking, "What's racist about a 'Birth of the Nation' themed wedding?"

What would a 'Birth of a Nation' themed wedding entail to you? Would merely having decorations from the mid 1800s be enough?
posted by PenDevil at 5:10 PM on July 12, 2011


Let's just say I would avoid the cream of mushroom soup.
posted by LordSludge at 5:10 PM on July 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's South Africam ferchrissakes. You would expect at least 8/10 (4/5?) of the guests to be black by random sampling alone.

The guests? Seriously? Presumably a significant portion of the guests are family, and these people are white so their families will be too. Also they're apparently English, and England has a lot of white people. That's not to mention that not having a bunch of really close black friends doesn't make you racist.

There's plenty of room for you to judge them on their terribly insensitive choice of wedding theme without judging them because the color of their guests' skin doesn't reflect local demographics.
posted by Hoopo at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the part where they called it a "Colonial Africa" wedding is a bit of a clue that the wedding had some colonial themes.
posted by kmz at 5:18 PM on July 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Do the couple have no black friends?

I spent some time in Namibia (formerly part of South Africa) last year, and spoke with several South Africans both here in Australia and over there about their country and its legacy, and it's almost undoubtedly true and barely remarkable (in South Africa) that they have no black friends.

Apartheid as a policy may be gone, but its legacy lives on in a multitude of ways. This is not to paint every Afrikaaner or white South African as a villain and every black South African as an exploited hero, but the effects of apartheid are undeniable and - when you're there - absolutely omnipresent. It will take decades to undo that damage.

PenDevil,

What is overtly colonial about this wedding? Is it the pith helmets? Or the Union Jack? Or just the white people?

All of those things are overtly colonial, yes. The fact you can't see that doesn't surprise me coming from a no doubt white South African. Apartheid lives from a cultural perspective.

To try and make something constructive from this car crash, I recommend anybody interested in reading about how South Africa is trying to grapple with its dark history, read this piece, Mandela's Children, from Nat Geo. It's the best piece of journalism I read in 2010, and captures the difficulty and emotions the country is struggling with.
posted by smoke at 5:18 PM on July 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


This reminds me of being stuck in a train compartment with a bunch of clueless SA dipshits who kept talking about how, while Apartheid was of course terrible and stuff, everything was just so much better back then.

"Unless you were black," I'd say.

"Oh, yes, of course. But really, everything was just so much better back then."
posted by klangklangston at 5:25 PM on July 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Not if the majority of the guests were family, or if they were friends from their school days...

...stated as if it's impossible to have friends or family who were black in a country where, by your estimation, 80% of the people are black.

I mean, before you said this I was willing to concede that they might just be English racists. Now I think this whole black white thing in South Africa may actually still be a real problem!

Will y'all help a feller with the Amnesty International Bat Signal? Let's get to the bottom of this shite!
posted by jimmythefish at 5:26 PM on July 12, 2011


I think the part where they called it a "Colonial Africa" wedding is a bit of a clue that the wedding had some colonial themes.

I tried to give the couple the benefit of the doubt, that maybe it was just a "good ol' timey" wedding theme, and not overtly colonial. There's the possibility that "colonial" was just the language of the person writing the blog - but it really doesn't seem that way to me.
posted by codacorolla at 5:27 PM on July 12, 2011


They're just post-racial, guys. Chill.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:28 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"All else is cheap Internet wankery

which is still cheaper than expensive real life wankery - our children and grandchildren will probably never know of our momentary displeasure with these overentitled preppies - their children and grandchildren will probably cringe with embarrassment every time they have to see these photos of how the "old folks" got married ... "

posted by pyramid termite at 8:03 PM on July 12

OK, as a North Florida resident, I'll get right on to seeing that none of those dopey couples coming down here for cheap "beach weddings" in December and January continue to be photographed at dawn, with the Sun coming up over the Atlantic, and the brides, teary eyed, if only with late applied glycerin "tears," in their wedding white ceremonial dressage, are photographed, as they pay big money to be.

It makes me laugh, every time I and my dog see it, walking along Atlantic Beach, or Neptune Beach, in a winter dawn, at 45° F, with the bride shivering and sometimes taping up her cold erect nipples, so they don't show in the pictures. But it makes the dog a little mad, for having his limited sensibilities so challenged, and we've worked so hard, these last couple years, on his anger issues, that, with your outrage added, I now feel justified in objecting vociferously, at every opportunity presented, to these obviously staged portrayals.

Better to turn the winter beach wedding picture freaks back to Myrtle Beach, SC, altogether, than continue to take their money in exchange for letting them continue to culturally desecrate our beloved North Florida coastline, and the one warming Sun that we all share. Thank you, I guess, for the moral clarity that supports my dog's occasional barking outrage.
posted by paulsc at 5:32 PM on July 12, 2011


Your dog is upset it can't see nipples? What the hell are you trying to say?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2011 [28 favorites]


"...stated as if it's impossible to have friends or family who were black in a country where, by your estimation, 80% of the people are black."

SA schools were officially de-segregated in 1991 and it still took another 5 - 10 years for integration to slowly occur so I would not be surprised that a white couple (especially expats) older than 25 - 30 has majority white friends.

Also interracial marriage was illegal before then as well so the 'black family member' bit was also quote tough. My cousin had to go to London to marry his wife in the late 80's.
posted by PenDevil at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The bride and groom have a sort of Michael and Lindsay Bluth look to them. I don't know if that makes it better, or worse.
posted by hermitosis at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Your dog is upset it can't see nipples? What the hell are you trying to say?"
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:35 PM on July 12

I don't really know what upsets my dog, but there is some kind of consistent, repeated stiffening of the spine, raising of the head, forward pointing of the ears, and loud, insistent barking, plus terriffic pulling at the leash, that the poor animal presents, whenever he sees a virginal white dressed Atlantic dawn bride, with the front of her Vera Wang pulled down, shivering in the wind, and hoping the light of dawn doesn't pass before she gets fully covered and appropriately photographed.

I'll probably have a better handle on it all in 6 to 7 months, when I have some situational experience, pointing and laughing at every such party, and then expressing outrage and cultural shock directly to the bride(s) involved, on behalf of the dog. Can I report back to the thread, when I've gathered all the field research?
posted by paulsc at 5:44 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, I guess, for the moral clarity that supports my dog's occasional barking outrage.

i have a pet honey badger - he doesn't give a shit
posted by pyramid termite at 5:45 PM on July 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


What is wrong with the photos? It's like they are so washed out or brightened that I can't see any details and they hurt my eyes. Yes, part of that eyehurt is the racism, but part of it is the terrible photos too.
posted by arcticwoman at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2011


"i have a pet honey badger - he doesn't give a shit"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:45 PM on July 12

As a fellow pet owner, may I just suggest that you get your vet to check that honey badger soon? For any mammal, failure to defecate, in a thread like this, can be fatal, so far as I understand.
posted by paulsc at 5:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I tried to give the couple the benefit of the doubt, that maybe it was just a "good ol' timey" wedding theme, and not overtly colonial. There's the possibility that "colonial" was just the language of the person writing the blog - but it really doesn't seem that way to me.

Yeah, you'd really have to stretch the imagination in the "benefit of the doubt" department to make this in any way appropriate. I mean, this is bad even if they were both academics specializing in colonial South Africa who went to see Out of Africa together on their first date.
posted by Hoopo at 5:53 PM on July 12, 2011


Gives a whole new meaning to "White Wedding".
posted by smirkette at 5:58 PM on July 12, 2011


It's a rich white person's wedding in South Africa, so it could well involve some of the worst people in the world, but the fact that it has an 'Out of Africa' theme alone doesn't make it so. Take away the fancy dress and this is little different (though much prettier-photographed) any other white person's wedding in South Africa. Some degree of racism is pretty much a given.
I don't think South Africans who express a fondness for that era necessarily have 'ah yes, back when the blacks knew their place' foremost in their minds. It could be a more general nostalgia for a deeper, 'more authentic' connection with Africa, when it was a beautiful, savage playground for the idle rich (and whatever wrongs were done were done with only the very best intentions, etc etc). Or it could just be a chance to wear some fancy clothes.
posted by Flashman at 6:03 PM on July 12, 2011


As a fellow pet owner, may I just suggest that you get your vet to check that honey badger soon?

i did - my lawyer says that 50k should cover it - he also advised me not to badger the witless
posted by pyramid termite at 6:27 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is messed up for a lot of reasons, but it's not implausible to me that the couple didn't have black friends to invite to this wedding, especially given some of PenDevil's contributions to the thread. I've been to a bunch of New York weddings and there weren't any black people at some of them, either.

But yeah -- this is still all kinds of messed up.
posted by sweetkid at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2011


It's easy to understand why they don't have black friends, and it mostly has to do with a vicious history of institutionalized racism, and isn't specifically the wedding party's fault. But what tells you that this wedding is at best insensitive and at worst racist as all get out is that you can't imagine a black wedding guest there. What if they had somehow had a good friend from school who was black. And who they invited to the wedding. And who they expected to sit with tables full of white people being waited on by uniformly black people in a setting that celebrates the glory days of white rule of Africa.

Exactly.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:46 PM on July 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


ooh. I do love a good wedding.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:50 PM on July 12, 2011


"i did - my lawyer says that 50k should cover it - he also advised me not to badger the witless"
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 PM on July 12

I'm really sorry about all that, pyramid termite. I know I wouldn't want to spend 50K on helping a honey badger defecate in a MeFi thread, but that may mark me more as a common man, than an elitist one.

I say brides everywhere should get a pass on wedding foolishness, however poorly conceived, and that we all dance, in honor of the courage of brides and the blindness of grooms, whenever we can.
posted by paulsc at 6:52 PM on July 12, 2011


When planning an historically themed wedding, it's important to focus only on time periods & places during which racism was not prevalent. We will contact you as soon as such a time period is identified.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:02 PM on July 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think this wedding is beautiful. I envy the energy given to the proposition of union and joy. Perhaps the bride and groom saw photos from the Colonial Period, or an Indiana Jones film, and they live in South Africa, and they came up with this. The guys look great! The bride is beautiful, and she is obviously in a state of unabashed joy. At least people can be unselfconsciously brimful of hope and joy at their wedding. I would think the last place the correction of apartheid, or political correctness would show up, is an extremely private timeless ceremony, celebrating the wedding of two unknown individuals.

I can see how political figures would have to consider convention, and world attention. But you are out in the bush, in South Africa, having a period piece private affair, what? I bet everyone serving at the wedding was paid a hundred times more than they would have been in the colonial era.

If the bride and groom's whole family is white, then are they to import persons of color to dress up the photos? Last time I looked weddings were family affairs.
posted by Oyéah at 7:06 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


In terms of the comments abruptly switching over from "yay happy" to "wtf racist" it looks like this was picked up by Jezebel, so that explains it. The "what a beautiful idea" crowd was probably overwhelmed and did whatever it is that they do when they're not admiring racist themed wedding photographs.

@Oyeah, it's not better to be racist in private.
posted by sweetkid at 7:24 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"When planning an historically themed wedding, it's important to focus only on time periods & places during which racism was not prevalent. We will contact you as soon as such a time period is identified."

Dude, colonialism was an explicitly racist enterprise in a way that the Renaissance or the '50s wasn't. I know you're high off your privilege denying dude schtick from the Elevator Guy thread, but trotting out this shit makes you look clueless.

I'm just pointing this out like I would to a friend with an open fly, like, yo, check your dick, man. It's showing.
posted by klangklangston at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


"... @Oyeah, it's not better to be racist in private."
posted by sweetkid at 10:24 PM on July 12

@sweetkid, it's not "better" to be holier-than-thou in public, either.
posted by paulsc at 7:27 PM on July 12, 2011


This is definitely my favorite picture. I like to think that all of the shadowy black servants watching from the back are about to gloriously revolt & that this is the couple's last blissful, ignorant, unaware moment together before their heads roll. It's very touching.
posted by eunoia at 7:29 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sample guest dialogue-

"I'm going to have one more of these delicious appetizers to APARTHEID me over till dinner is served!"

Sample server dialogue-

"..."
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


"... It's very touching."
posted by eunoia at 10:29 PM on July 12

I think you're selectively forgetting the white guys with toy guns, probably just out of frame.
posted by paulsc at 7:33 PM on July 12, 2011


an extremely private timeless ceremony

There isn't much that's private about this particular ceremony.
posted by codacorolla at 7:39 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"... But what tells you that this wedding is at best insensitive and at worst racist as all get out is that you can't imagine a black wedding guest there. ..."
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:46 PM on July 12

I dunno. I put my feeble, warped mind to it, and imagined Chris Rock attending as the paid entertainment/chief toaster to the happy couple's happy day, and him (Rock) doing 20 minutes of biting, situational standup, for 5 or 6 figures remuneration and a chance to set the historical record straight, and it was hella funny, in my mind.

And still, with enough good humor all around, a wedding.
posted by paulsc at 7:41 PM on July 12, 2011


More suggested racist wedding themes.
posted by klangklangston at 7:41 PM on July 12, 2011


If these people did have any black friends, I'm pretty sure they don't now.

Also, my American cousins are going to love my War of 1812 themed wedding! We're holding it in Baltimore! There's going to be fireworks and everything!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"... There's going to be fireworks and everything!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:50 PM on July 12

You really get us, TheWhiteSkull. Americans lurve fireworks! Screw having a band, we want "the rockets red glare!" So we can sing Francis Scott Key's immortal words, and hoist a possibly tattered battle flag, and send all y'all back to wherever you came from, like we did when you tried that shit before.

This time, on account of your nuptials, with love and dancing, of course.
posted by paulsc at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2011


Okay. What is "the Elevator Guy thread"?
posted by Partario at 7:58 PM on July 12, 2011


"Also, my American cousins are going to love my War of 1812 themed wedding! We're holding it in Baltimore! There's going to be fireworks and everything!"

I'd like an invite please
posted by HopperFan at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2011


Okay. What is "the Elevator Guy thread"?
posted by Partario at 10:58 PM on July 12

Bring your Meta shovel, and a whole lotta love. Dancing optional.
posted by paulsc at 8:06 PM on July 12, 2011


Dude, colonialism was an explicitly racist enterprise in a way that the Renaissance or the '50s wasn't.

Well, the question is: are they celebrating the institution of colonialism, or merely "the time & place where colonialism occurred?" Or are the two inextricably linked in this case?
posted by ShutterBun at 8:07 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try as I might to summon the outrage, it's just not here for me.

Were the vendors paid well, respected, treated as human beings? Were they there of their own free will? Did the money spent on this wedding ripple out to the benefit of the community at large? Assuming that the answers to these are all "yes," then I just can't get angry over this.

It's like having a grandfather who was kind to his family, was fair in his business dealings, was a total asshole to black people, and had great taste in hats. We can admire some of these behaviors while contemning others, just as we can use the past to inspire our party decor without suffering ideological contamination.

Honestly, I'm a lot more offended by Columbus Day than I am with this wedding. Here they're just embracing an aesthetic that is associated with the colonial period; this is not at all the same thing as a celebration of the acts or ideologies of colonialism.
posted by kprincehouse at 8:18 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like an invite please

How do you look in red?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:22 PM on July 12, 2011


"How do you look in red the rocket's red glare?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:22 PM on July 12

I dunno if I FTFY, TheWhiteSkull, but I tried to put your kind potential invitation on explicit terms, for all.
posted by paulsc at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2011


Try as I might to summon the outrage, it's just not here for me.

I'm not outraged, I'm just entirely convinced that these people are assholes. This wedding was incredibly expensive - I, therefore, assume that these people are wealthy and (relatively recently) educated. To say that the theme is problematic (a term, in this context, that anyone who went to college in the 20 year span around which these folks undoubtedly were would have had some glancing familiarity with) would be an enormous understatement. And yet - here they are! Either they are racist, or they completely don't care whether they appear to be racist. For me - in either case - wow, boy, are they assholes!
posted by moxiedoll at 8:44 PM on July 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm not outraged, I'm just entirely convinced that these people are assholes. This wedding was incredibly expensive - I, therefore, assume that these people are wealthy and (relatively recently) educated. To say that the theme is problematic (a term, in this context, that anyone who went to college in the 20 year span around which these folks undoubtedly were would have had some glancing familiarity with) would be an enormous understatement. And yet - here they are! Either they are racist, or they completely don't care whether they appear to be racist. For me - in either case - wow, boy, are they assholes!

Yeah, that's how I feel about it too. I'm not even mad, it's just... I can't imagine the mindset that it takes to spend (i'm assuming) several hundred thousand dollars for a single fantasy day in colonial Africa, replete with dark skinned servants.
posted by codacorolla at 8:50 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Well, the question is: are they celebrating the institution of colonialism, or merely "the time & place where colonialism occurred?" Or are the two inextricably linked in this case?"

They had a Wasn't Colonialism Grand? wedding. That celebration pretty much inherently invites criticism, and the rebuke that, No, Colonialism Sucked.

It takes an incredible amount of tact to deal with problematic and racist history, and privilege allows one to be blithe about it because one has the luxury of not giving a shit about the victims. This wedding is manifestation of blithe privilege, to the extent that it's fair to ask, "What the hell were you thinking? and/or "Are you guys assholes or just incredibly fucking clueless?"

As for the bullshit in this thread about how, well, the Africans involved were no doubt fairly compensated (corrected for local economy no doubt), that both ignores the position of capital in something like this — workers in the stockyards were exploited and they still fought with fists for jobs every morning — and pretends that economic exchange obviates racism and privilege instead of being inextricably linked.

I might like minstrel shows, but me, as a white guy, having a minstrel show wedding would be incredibly fucking offensive even if I paid everyone for their time.
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 PM on July 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


The hats on the serving staff really push it over the edge. Even if it is to be expected that waiters are black in South Africa, there is no need to highlight the differences of both race and, uh, "class" by having them wear a ridiculous uniform.
posted by blargerz at 9:09 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


blargerz, that's what did it for me, too. I was scrolling down, thinking to myself, "Well, that sounds like an unbelievably ignorant theme for a wedding, but the execution seems (comparatively) benign, so maybe they're just privileged idiots in love with an 'old-timey' aesth-" BAM, faceless servers in period-appropriate fezzes.

Lord.
posted by sophistrie at 9:24 PM on July 12, 2011


there is no need to highlight the differences of both race and, uh, "class" by having them wear a ridiculous uniform. I think Larry David beat you to the punch on that one, with his objection that Ted Danson specifically asked the wait staff at his party to wear bowties.

They had a Wasn't Colonialism Grand? wedding.

If that was truly the case, then yeah, it's a huge problem. But considering I frequent a scene that quite often features Nazi fetish parties, my non-outrage / increased benefit-of-the-doubt may simply be due to a different understanding of the appeal (i.e. the "what were they thinking?" question)

I sincerely doubt anyone in my scene would last long if they were truly celebrating Nazism as an ethos, but instead the attitude is more about "snappy uniforms" and perhaps a bit of "acting out" of authoritarian character traits.

That being said, it would certainly be hard to stomach if all the bartenders were Jewish, but then again, we're talking about obvious military garb here, so I guess it's not really a parallel (the clothes being worn by the people in the wedding did not appear to be military uniforms, which would, I think, more personify Imperialism and oppression.)

I dunno, what about a "1940's Biergarten Theme" wedding, held in a Jewish neighborhood in Germany?

The couple in question could certainly be accused of "not thinking it through" or "non-sensitivity," but cries of outright racism speak more to their intent, which I'm not convinced we can be sure of just yet.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:39 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Well, the question is: are they celebrating the institution of colonialism, or merely "the time & place where colonialism occurred?" Or are the two inextricably linked in this case?"

Well, guilt and shame are heavily involved here. Anger and confusion will no doubt seem as outrage.
posted by Brian B. at 9:46 PM on July 12, 2011


Nazi fetish parties

I have never heard of this.
posted by sweetkid at 9:49 PM on July 12, 2011


This sort of thing could happen only in South Africa.

Actually one of the pics from this wedding already shows up on that GIS (for confederate wedding).

So this couple was British? I guess there are some Britons who still celebrate their colonial empire. Maybe this couple does too. When I saw the pics I assumed they were south African and I was kind of surprised that they apparently didn't even know any black people well enough to invite them to the wedding. If they were British it would make more sense, especially since they and all their friends must be pretty wealthy if they could all afford to fly down from the UK.

I don't think these people are explicitly "racist" but rather in their mind they're "celebrating their heritage" They probably had grand parents who were explorers or something. Same way you might see a confederate wedding in the south.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 PM on July 12, 2011


. . . annnnnnnnnd comments have just been disabled on the blog.
posted by CommonSense at 10:16 PM on July 12, 2011


The post seems to be deleted.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:22 PM on July 12, 2011


Going through previous wedding posts on this site, I'm in awe of the photographers' skills. I won't add to the whole outrage/racist discussion, I just wish I had had a professional photographer at my wedding 25 years ago, and I'm enjoying the blog very much, so thanks for pointing me to it.
posted by pink candy floss at 10:26 PM on July 12, 2011


there's just this left.
posted by sweetkid at 10:29 PM on July 12, 2011


Nazi fetish parties

I have never heard of this


They're typically called "Military Fetish Night" or somesuch, to avoid all kinds of negative publicity. Swastikas are a rarity (and, I would opine, generally frowned upon), but not entirely absent. Plenty of Totenkopf symbols and "SS" insignia, though. Really though, it's more about the jackboots, pointy hats, and sharp uniforms.

Nazi chic
posted by ShutterBun at 10:39 PM on July 12, 2011


(note on the above: it has nothing to do with the Skinhead movement, neo-Nazism, etc.)
posted by ShutterBun at 10:42 PM on July 12, 2011


Looks like they yanked the site.
posted by zardoz at 10:48 PM on July 12, 2011


So... this is a South African photography company, right? Operating largely in South Africa? Because I'm about four or five pages deep in the blog, and counting guests and wedding parties, but not counting serving staff, I think I've seen like... nine people who were not (or not obviously, or possibly not entirely) white.
posted by sophistrie at 10:57 PM on July 12, 2011


Oh no, wait - here's one with a couple of black people in the wedding party, and one with a Chinese/Caucasian couple from Hong Kong.

Seriously, though, I get that social segregation is going to be a legacy of South African apartheid for a long time to come, but... damn. Seeing it showcased like this is, uh. Special.
posted by sophistrie at 11:06 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


So this couple was British? I guess there are some Britons who still celebrate their colonial empire. Maybe this couple does too. When I saw the pics I assumed they were south African and I was kind of surprised that they apparently didn't even know any black people well enough to invite them to the wedding. If they were British it would make more sense, especially since they and all their friends must be pretty wealthy if they could all afford to fly down from the UK.

posted by delmoi at 6:07 AM on July 13 [+] [!]


It actually makes even less sense if they are British. There are a load of us here too...
posted by joboe at 11:53 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It strikes me, while reading through the thread, that one needs awareness of the situation or 'conciousness raising' before one can get worked up over this theme. How many of those participating are even aware of the situation in the context that all of you are highlighting?

This is not a value judgement but an observation. I did fieldwork in rural and urban South Africa about three years ago, as a brown Indian passport holder, with a South African Briton as traveling partner.

Race is a complicated issue as are the benefits post-apartheid. With 45% unemployment and an economy that's not doing as well as some of the sub Saharan countries further north, the focus is more on income generation and jobs. I never came across any 'political correctness' and that is the first principle that needs to be in place before one is able to make statements about such a wedding being innappropriate. Again, I'm not saying whether they are right or wrong to do what they did, I'm pointing out that we may be judging them based on the advanced nuance of interracial communication as practiced in the US. That's not yet common in Europe and certainly not in Africa.

On a side note, due to the geographical infrastructure still being the way it has always been, even if apartheid is over, it is entirely possible to live in ZA and imagine that you are in a white majority country.

Just my 2 rand worth...
posted by infini at 12:45 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it a social faux pas not to have any black friends?
posted by andoatnp at 12:52 AM on July 13, 2011


So if you're not allowed to borrow aesthetics from a time when there was no oppression in South Africa which time period could one use?

Let me consult Mefi Wedding Planner....

Me: So how about a 20's theme?
Mefi Wedding Planner: Sorry, Urban Areas Act, Colour Bar Act. The dawn of entrenched and legislated racism.

Me: 30's?
MWP: Brown shirted Ossewabrandwag rallies? The Broederbond? Ring a bell?

Me: 40's?
MWP: Why don't you just thow a National Party Election Victory party instead? Perhaps I can get a DF Malan impersonator to give a toast?

Me: 50's Mad Men sty...
MWP: I'm going to stop you right there. Sophiatown, the Treason Trial. Do I need to go on?

Me: 60's?
MWP: SHARPEVILLE. MANDELA IN JAIL. FUCK!

Me: 70's?
MWP: *deep sigh* Soweto Riots. SA meddling in Angola and Namibia. Rebel sports tours.

Me: Surely the 1980's are just fun? Neon! Cindy Lauper!
MWP: State of Emergency, Total Onslaught, Bantustans. PW BOTHA WAVING THAT FINGER LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER.

Me: Well Apartheid ended in 1991 so the 90's right?
MWP: Sure it ended politically but political motivated killings continued past the elections. Why don't you just dig up the corpse of Chris Hani and display it as a centrepiece?

Me: Okay well we'll just have a modern 2000's wedding. No historical decorations needed.
MWP: With today's lingering (and possibly increasing) economic disparity between demographics that's just completely insensitive. Especially if the waiters are black. The humiliation they will have to endure waiting tables while getting paid for it is too much for anyone to bear.
posted by PenDevil at 1:02 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some people have black friends.
Some people think they have black friends.
Some people wish black people would friend them.

Some people.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:54 AM on July 13, 2011


(note on the above: it has nothing to do with the Skinhead movement, neo-Nazism, etc.)

Hmm. Sometime last year I was cycling through Berlin and passed by the area where this concert venue is located, which incidentally, is made of buildings that are part of the old Tempelhof former airport, which has a rather heavy history and a very imposing architecture.

Anyhow, cycling past it I see this stream of very young people walking from the subway station to the venue and they're ALL dressed in black with military-like clothes, military boots, and those trousers which puff up on the sides below the knee, no idea what they're called. More guys than girls but even the girls were dressed in military style.

They ALL looked like fucking nazis, except at least they had no insignia of any kind (seen as it's also strictly verboten in Deutschland to wear any swastikas or SS symbols and that kind of shit, and even the neonazis there have the good sense not to whine about that). But they were obviously not neonazis marching (else there'd been a massive presence of police as well as a counter-demonstration to stop them and the road would have been probably closed anyway). They also looked too fancily, meticulously dressed to be genuine neonazis. It was obvious it was some kind of costume thing. They were indeed going to a concert by a band in that venue. I did look up what was on at the time but don't remember now. If I'm not wrong at least I seem to recall it was some kind of specific genre of techno or disco, not rock or metal or anything like that. Something whose existence I completely ignored and continue to happily ignore. It all looked really scary, these people dressed like that, walking past those buildings in that area, passing right below the big eagle on the facade, but I just gaped in awe and disbelief and figured it must be just another weird urban-musical tribe I hadn't heard of before.

They'd never go out and about dressed like that so I'd never seen them before and one else I told had either. If they did regularly go out and about dressed like that, in Germany, in the capital, they'd have a very, very hard time convincing anyone they have nothing to do with the neonazis. They would be asking for a lot of trouble. And wouldn't find a lot of people crying tears of sympathy for them. It's a good thing there's some specific genre of music that caters to them so they can get to wear their fancy costumes once in a while out of the public's view. For their own safety, too.

I dunno, what about a "1940's Biergarten Theme" wedding, held in a Jewish neighborhood in Germany?

Seriously? Do you really need to ask?

There you go then, taking your question at face value - first, there would be no one that insane and clueless to even conceive of something like that in Germany. Really, not even the neonazis are that mad and stupid. If there was, they would not dare suggest it to any other living soul. If they did suggest it, it would not get past the stage of "wtf? how insane are you?". Assuming then, just for the sake of absurd theoretical hypothesis, that a sufficient congregation of insanity and cluelessness brought about the planning and announcement of such an event, you would be hearing about it on the news, as far as your local station probably, because there would be a massive shitstorm of reactions about it, an infinite degree of worse than the comments on a "colonial" wedding in SA. Because come on. With all the themes you can choose for your wedding, if you really really need to have an expensive flashy themed wedding at all (and as far as I know that kind of thing is very uncommon in Germany and elsewhere in Europe) why on earth would you go out of your way to pick something like that?

I did see the pictures in the blog before they were pulled down. I don't even think there's any need to explain it or argue about it. It's not one detail or particular to pick apart, it's the whole thing, all together. It's just one of those obvious 'what the hell were they thinking'.*

If that's not your obvious instant reaction, fine, feel free to go ahead and do something like that too. Just don't be surprised if you get that kind of WTF reactions. But I guess you would be surprised, because if you weren't, it means you'd have figured out yourself earlier that it was a case of WTF, and you went ahead and did it anyways...

"It seemed like a good idea at the time" - heh... that's what the blog page says now.

(* And what makes it even more mental is, I assume - in the most favourable charitable assumption about their motivations for doing such a thing - they must have been thinking only about the aesthetics of it, the furniture, the clothes, the hats, the decor. Colonial-style in terms of interior decoration and clothing is one thing, though. It's wide and generic enough a genre. But colonial-style wedding, of white English people, in South Africa, with that kind of "contrasts" as clearly displayed in the photos, is in another dimension altogether, one of complete idiocy, at best.)
posted by bitteschoen at 2:12 AM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Again, I'm not saying whether they are right or wrong to do what they did, I'm pointing out that we may be judging them based on the advanced nuance of interracial communication as practiced in the US. That's not yet common in Europe and certainly not in Africa.

I understand what you mean, infini, I think you make a good general point there, but I also don't think it's generically applicable across all of Europe, as well as Africa, big difference in context already there. Speaking of Europe alone, of course it's different from the US -- different histories, different historical backgrounds and different sets of interracial/interethnic relations (also varying from country to country), so it's fair to say you cannot always automatically apply the very same kind of discourse, with no regard for specific context. But, hmm, that doesn't mean there is no "awareness", or that it still has to develop, or that it's a matter of advanced nuances of political correctness.

And the wedding people were from Europe indeed, and from the UK specifically... that's what makes this all, the whole thing, beyond each single detail, even more strikingly WTF, at a very basic non-nuanced level.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:51 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


If this is apolitical then Orange marches are just inoffensive folky fun.
posted by howfar at 2:55 AM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


They may have taken down the post from Blogger, but they're still in Photobucket - start here, and keep clicking "previous" (it's in reverse chronological order).
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:09 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, UbuRoivas!
posted by spec80 at 4:27 AM on July 13, 2011


They also responded with a comment on their Facebook page:
Hello, So this colonial African set is getting a lot of criticism for seemingly keeping the racist theme that permeated society during the colonial period. People are saying it's in poor taste to celebrate it in a contemporary wedding. I was just wondering if you guys, who were actually at the wedding could give any context, so there are less people jumping to conclusions? Or feel free to delete my post if you think it's inappropriate to put on your professional page...I'm just personally curious.
8 hours ago

welovepictures This is ridiculous David. Who are these critics? They know nothing of Africa, except of a past they have read in books. Come to South Africa, see for yourselves. Better to use all this sincere disgust to better peoples lives than fill a blog with comments that are very misinformed. The wedding concentrated on the colonial aesthetics and momentous. Old Suitcases, telescopes, journals, etc. In a country of 63 million, where 80% are black the chances of the waiters being black are obvious. Mpumalanga is a rural area and the venue offers jobs to staff who serve at weddings. Weddings for black, white, indian, all South Africans. Would anyone consider black staff serving black guests racist? No because it is ridiculous. There were white staff who worked alongside the black staff?!? This is such a shame, it really is. How people can make such a passionate and misinformed judgement from 30 images on a blog, not knowing the true nature of the wedding, the people who attended or even having been to the country it was held in beyond us all.
5 hours ago
posted by bitteschoen at 4:32 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm actually more confused by the bride having organised this from England. I know there are cultural differences (and I spent some time living and working in SA, mostly Durban), but this would really not be cool back home in the UK
Seriously? Have you met any ex-pat Bokke?

"Yah, the Sowetto thing was truly bad, and a horrible situation,"

[nods sagely]

"but eventually the police restored order and we felt safer".
posted by fullerine at 4:51 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where have I heard that sort of thing before?
posted by MrMoonPie at 4:53 AM on July 13, 2011


They may have taken down the post from Blogger, but they're still in Photobucket

It looks like not all of the pictures are there. They seem to have taken out the pictures that included black servants (including the one to which I linked).
posted by klausness at 5:17 AM on July 13, 2011


yeah, true, although you can make them out in this one - they're the guys in the fezzes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:24 AM on July 13, 2011


I can't imagine the mindset that it takes to spend (i'm assuming) several hundred thousand dollars for a single fantasy day in colonial Africa, replete with dark skinned servants.

I felt the same horror as a guest at a destination wedding in Mexico. All the waitresses were Mexican as they didn't import any white waitstaff. At least there were few Malay guests that looked like Mexican if they kept their mouths shut!
posted by zeikka at 5:26 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


bittesschoen has an interesting response from the photographers above (via facebook). As might be expected, they are taking the 'people dont understand South Africa' line.

Which may be the case, but still, spending a huge amount of money lavishly recreating a controversial historical setting for a celebration is pretty weird.

The photographer's point that the serving staff were black not by design but just because 'thats how it is' in South Africa is perhaps valid. However, by making them wear fucking fezzes its clear that although they might not have explicitly stipulated that the serving staff should be black, they pretty much took it for granted and went ahead and designed historically (in)appropriate costumes for them anyway. Whether a stipulation or an assumption is worse in this case is debatable.
posted by memebake at 5:41 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Photographer: How people can make such a passionate and misinformed judgement from 30 images on a blog, not knowing the true nature of the wedding, the people who attended or even having been to the country it was held in beyond us all.

So here they're saying that they literally can't understand the fuss. So, they may understand contemporary South Africa better than me, but they don't understand the internet, or common 21st century sentiments about colonialism. Its beyond them.
posted by memebake at 5:47 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is hardly any social or racial stigma in SA associated with the British colonial period. I have never in my 32 years of living here ever heard someone ever comment that something is inappropriate because it brings back memories of the British colonial period.

The apartheid era, yes. It's taboo to wave the old flag at sports events and if they decorated their wedding with 'Whites Only' signs that would be pretty bad.

But pre-1910? Nothing.
posted by PenDevil at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some pictures are still mirrored on other sites.
posted by codacorolla at 6:35 AM on July 13, 2011


Perhaps it's time that someone in South Africa invents an alternate fantasy past, a timeline in which the colonists lived more respectfully with the locals, adopting some of their traditions and customs, more like what happened in New Zealand (with the Waitangi Treaty*, and culminating in the country adopting Maori symbols such as the haka), and those who wish to salvage bits of the past without being racist douchebags can doctor the past into this fantasy version, like some kind of steampunk-in-reverse reenactment society.

* yes, I know it was flawed and the distribution of power between the white colonists and the Maoris was grossly asymmetrical, but it's less bad than Apartheid or the genocide of Aborigines in Australia.
posted by acb at 6:40 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


bitteschoen I know what you are saying. And certainly people need to be held to higher standards than they are now if things are ever to change in the world.
posted by infini at 7:20 AM on July 13, 2011


There is hardly any social or racial stigma in SA associated with the British colonial period. I have never in my 32 years of living here ever heard someone ever comment that something is inappropriate because it brings back memories of the British colonial period.

The apartheid era, yes. It's taboo to wave the old flag at sports events and if they decorated their wedding with 'Whites Only' signs that would be pretty bad.

But pre-1910? Nothing.


I wonder if this might be just a factor of time. In the United States we have our references to the Civil War period, with people mentioning that a confederate wedding would be poorly received for similar reasons. But just based on experiences from my lifetime, I think that back in the 1980s there would have been less outrage about that sort of thing (I remember a pageant with a "southern gentleman"/civil war theme), but today it would definitely be a fringe thing, and considered ridiculous. I think we see our institutionalized issues better when we're further out from them.
posted by bizzyb at 7:46 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if you're not allowed to borrow aesthetics from a time when there was no oppression in South Africa which time period could one use?

The point is this, you're allowed to borrow aesthetics from any time you like. You can black-up, dress as Pol Pot or go as Göring in drag*. But have the imagination to understand that people might be offended by it. Offended no matter where you do it, because it's tasteless and thoughtless and just plain icky. Offended especially if you do it in Africa, and use black Africans as servants. Offended even more especially if you do it in South Africa, a country still in the shadow of a disgusting and evil system of racist government.

This couple are allowed to do whatever they want within the law. Conversely, I'm allowed to do is think that at best, at the very best, they have done something deeply tasteless, thoughtless, tacky, stupid and unpleasant.

*I know.
posted by howfar at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


"If that was truly the case, then yeah, it's a huge problem. But considering I frequent a scene that quite often features Nazi fetish parties, my non-outrage / increased benefit-of-the-doubt may simply be due to a different understanding of the appeal (i.e. the "what were they thinking?" question)"

I hope you can understand how a Nazi fetish party and, say, a Nazi wedding would be different.
posted by klangklangston at 8:04 AM on July 13, 2011


And PenDevil: Forgive me for playing the world's smallest violin over the fact that the racist colonial legacy that culminated in Apartheid makes South African historical celebration awkward for white people.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


with people mentioning that a confederate wedding would be poorly received for similar reasons

I wonder how people would react if, at this hypothetical wedding, the hosts framed it as a Gone with the Wind aesthetic.
posted by spec80 at 9:41 AM on July 13, 2011


From the blog of The Cowshed, the venue for the wedding (where you can also still see the photos, as of this comment):
One of our favorites weddings of the year!

With influence’s drawn from Karen Blitzen and Out Of Africa, we set about to re-create a traditional colonial setting. Sourcing from far and wide from movie set prop houses, we energetically set the (Cowshed) stage.

We converted the bar into an army tent, filled with Persian rugs, Union Jack flags, and antique furniture. The most beautiful vintage rose in a delicate sienna colour filled trophies on the bar!

The reception was equally designed and propped out, with antique travel chests, clocks, globes and binoculars with animal skins and buckets, and buckets filled with roses!

The rain came down in buckets, but the mood and happiness from this wedding was evident on this lovely couples faces, and an “out of Africa” experience was had by all!
...Yep.
posted by sophistrie at 9:46 AM on July 13, 2011


The fact that it's supposed to be an Out of Africa Karen von Blixen wedding (who's the groom? Denys Finch Hatton, or Bror von Blixen?) makes the whole thing somehow even creepier, as if it weren't already.
posted by blucevalo at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2011


I know there are cultural differences (and I spent some time living and working in SA, mostly Durban), but this would really not be cool back home in the UK.

I can't read the post now, but I get the impression this is an upper-class couple, perhaps with ancestral hands in the colonial era, who don't realise that to most people this is iffy in the least. Remember Prince Harry dressing as a Nazi, and some Tory MP or other appearing at a 'Colonial' party in blackface? If you mostly mix with wealthy, reactionary white people who's going to suggest that your wedding theme is somewhat odd?
posted by mippy at 10:27 AM on July 13, 2011


I hope you can understand how a Nazi fetish party and, say, a Nazi wedding would be different.

Not...really, I'm afraid. I guess my use of the word "fetish" was a bit misleading. "Nazi chic" would be more accurate.

Granted, a modern wedding which includes Nazi-era uniforms can be easily misrepresented.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2011


These rich, beautiful white people, with access not only to the location but to artsy photography and staging, are completely insensitive to the cultural narrative of their choice. It has always been that way: those in power can afford to ignore everyone elses pain and sensibilities. They live in a bubble of their own making and you cannot pierce it with your rage.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:34 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Granted, a modern wedding which includes Nazi-era uniforms can be easily misrepresented.

I think if you're decideding to get married in a Nazi uniform (or a German army uniform of WWII) and don't expect quite a few tv viewers to have issues with that - no matter what the overall theme of the wedding is - you are remarkably ignorant of history* and people's feelings about WWII. Somehow it's hard to think that saying "but it's part of a theme" is going to make many people feel any less appalled.

*Which is astonishing given that the groom and many of the guest apparently are into WWII reinactments.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2011


I once shared a grad class with a hipster student. One day she complained that she needed something fixed in her apartment, but didn't want her landlord coming into the apartment when she wasn't there to fix it. Why? Because she collected Hummel figurines ironically and god forbid he should have the wrong impression about her collection. (She was very keen to point out that that made a difference between her and people who actually liked them.) Personally I feel that it doesn't matter if you're collecting them ironically: you're still contributing to a world filled with Hummel figurines and Hummel don't care where the money comes from.

I feel the same way about this colonial themed wedding and any Nazi themed one. I don't really care about your intentions: you've just made a horrific time into a big party celebration. And that says volumes about you.

(I've been to themed weddings, including a 1940s one and a regency one. I think there's a big difference between imitating the styles of a period and, say, in the case of a latter, having a sugar planatation of the regency themed wedding.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:32 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Granted, a modern wedding which includes Nazi-era uniforms can be easily misrepresented.

Even if it was as the Mail claims, its still a profoundly tasteless thing to do. But whether it was a misrepresentation is unclear. As you don't appear to be British there's no reason for you to know that the Daily Mail has a long-standing vendetta against the BBC. It has a tendency toward distortion at the best of times, and reports on the BBC tend to be even worse. Also, when dealing with accusations of Nazism, it may be a little touchy about its own past fascist sympathies.
posted by howfar at 3:35 PM on July 13, 2011


Here's the story on Jezebel with a few of the original photos pulled from the blog.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:29 PM on July 13, 2011


Nazi uniforms at a wedding, right? Between a Brit and a German? WWII re-enactment? Wow. Sure makes the colonial wedding suddenly acquire a new level of tasteful. Chapeau.

- Mommy mommy, can I show my friend the photos of your wedding?
- Darling, I said no.
- But why? I wanted to show her the clothes daddy was wearing! He looked so, so funny.
- Honey, you know Daddy doesn't like how he looked in those photos anymore.
- Hmmpf. I promised I would show her. She showed me the photos of her parents' wedding and they were funny too. All the men were wearing these little discs on their heads, I've never seen them before. What are they?
- ... Sweetie pie, you need to do your homework now, ok? Call your friend and tell her she can't come over today, daddy's gonna be here soon and we have to go visit grandma...

posted by bitteschoen at 4:42 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well my goodness. I never saw so much self-righteous outrage in my life...except spewing from the mouths of wingnut Christians. I didn't know it was possible from progressives! GAWWSH!

You're absolutely right, it was HORRIBLE that they hired all those black folks to work the wedding! They should have imported some whites, for sure. What are those people thinking? Your supposed to use minority races for servants/waiters, not the majority! To hell with the laws that require you to hire the black folks, amiright? Blacks are always stealing white people's jobs!

You folks are so busy wallowing in your self-righteous, self-inflating glory, you completely fail to engage reason. Really, it's that bad. You are utterly clueless about the local situation, and it shows, painfully, except only for those who have actually spent time down there.

And then, like a bunch of moronic harpies you savage Pendevil for daring to speak out from his position of knowledge, born of a life of actually living in South Africa! How dare he cloud your indulgence with facts! Y'all were just here having a perfectly good wank, and he comes along and spoils the fantasy.

Oh, wait. I'm sorry. Maybe it is me who is making a mistake. Perhaps you simply hate white people, and are happy at the chance to vent your own racism or self-loathing. It's tricky territory, but that's where you land yourself, when you go casting aspersions out of ignorance.

Personally, I can't help but wonder, by what percentage was the white population of Mpumalanga increased, by this wedding? I don't recall many white folks in that area, but I was only there a couple days, and was still fairly new to South Africa at the time.

Now, in case you are actually interested in reality, I'll explain something. The rural South Africans with whom I am at all familiar are Xhosa people. They aren't in Mpumalanga. But they sometimes work for white business, like hotels. But they don't generally stay employed for very long. See, they are goal-oriented. They take a job to make money for something, then quit when they reach that. It's rural, and they subsist through agriculture, not employment. A job is a means for something extra.

So you have lots of entry-level employees who will one day just stop coming to work, when they decide they've got what they wanted. So as an employer, you always need to have extra folks planned to cover for those that decide today isn't their day to work. Their lives don't depend on those jobs, see?
posted by Goofyy at 10:52 PM on July 13, 2011


I never saw so much self-righteous outrage in my life...

Live Preview is just below the comment box.
posted by smoke at 11:21 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, that clears everything up. There's nothing at all tasteless about recreating the heyday of colonialism for a celebration, because some people get jobs out of it. Move along, nothing to see here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:21 PM on July 13, 2011


Recreating the heyday? So, all we need to do to recreate the fab 60's is wear the right clothes? How shallow.
posted by Goofyy at 12:37 AM on July 14, 2011


@Goofyy: You're concentrating on one single aspect of it (the staff) and ignoring all the other aspects, in an attempt to deride everyone else's opinion. I think we have a name for that tactic round here (we have a name for most gambits). Can't recall what it is right now though.
posted by memebake at 12:46 AM on July 14, 2011


@Goofyy: Although, on the other hand, thanks for the context of the work culture of the Xhosa people. Thats some useful local knowledge to help us understand. But I would argue that even if all the waiting staff all felt fine about being there and being involved, there's still plenty going on at that wedding that I find really weird.
posted by memebake at 12:51 AM on July 14, 2011


thanks for the context of the work culture of the Xhosa people

Who, as Goofyy stated, are apparently a different bunch of people living in a different part of the country. Projecting the Xhosas' attitude towards work onto the waitstaff at this wedding is based on what, exactly? The colour of their skin? Or are all rural South Africans presumed to be interested only in short-term casual jobs, regardless of their cultural background or skin colour?

gambit = disingenuous reframing of the debate? Obfuscation? Not seeing the forest for one of the trees?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:39 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


it was HORRIBLE that they hired all those black folks to work the wedding!

I'm fairly sure a Nazi wedding would be awful even if all the waiting staff were gentiles. But your argument seems to be that we shouldn't comment on this because we don't understand South African culture. Why should one need to? Does my lack of immersion in Egyptian culture mean that my revulsion toward female genital mutilation is somehow invalid?

Until quite recently the policy of apartheid was considered acceptable by the majority of white South Africans. Was this another cultural artefact about which outsiders should have kept their mouths shut? Saying "It's not wrong in South Africa, because I'm in South Africa and don't see it as being wrong" is hardly an argument that holds much historical water, is it?
posted by howfar at 3:23 AM on July 14, 2011


Even though the photos have been taken down from the original blog, some clever person created this absolutely inspired image macro, to commemorate Chantal's special day.

That says it all, don't you think?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:30 AM on July 14, 2011


For the record, they also deleted their Facebook page, entirely. The link I'd posted to their Facebook with the response to a comment goes back to the Facebook homepage now. Nothing more to see there now. They're still on Twitter though.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:47 AM on July 14, 2011


Thanks, bitteschoen; I tried to find their FB page but couldn't. I bet they're still feeling the fallout, eh?

BTW I found an amusing gif, made out of the same pic as the image macro I posted previously. As horrible and tasteless as this wedding was, in terms of internet humor... it's the gift that keeps on giving!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:54 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, of course you are free to comment anything you like on any topic you like. Feel free! It's the internet! But you are perfectly capable of being equally the hate mongers that you so loath from the other side of the political spectrum. And apparently, equally capable of enjoying it.

I expect the full fury of each and every one of you to be unleashed at every woman who dares wear a hoopskirt, from now on. Afterall, that's RACIST 19th century/antebellum bullshit, right there. Clearly, style is all it takes to invoke every unpleasant detail of a particular period.

And furthermore, i expect you all to immediately dial back your wardrobes to a more civilized era, sometime between JFK and Ronny Raygun, whenever that was. Everything has gone down hill since then, for certain.

And no more beards, at all. That's from the worst days of racism and genocide in America.

And lets have an end to all these long-haired kids running around, like it was 1970 again. That's SO anti-gay! How can these kids dare going around looking like the bad old days of anti-gay police actions?
posted by Goofyy at 6:02 AM on July 14, 2011


Goofyy: Ok, so you're taking the 'what does it really mean to dress retro' kind of line. Thats more interesting.

I think for me there's something about it being a wedding. If it was just a couple of drunk people turning up at a fancy dress party in pith helmets, it wouldn't mean anything. But this is a celebratory event, possibly meant to be one of the greatest days in that couple's life, and they spent a large amount of money recreating a specific scenario in meticulous detail, and invited all their friends and family to join in. They worked on this for months and months.

From there, I think moxiedoll puts it best:
I'm not outraged, I'm just entirely convinced that these people are assholes. This wedding was incredibly expensive - I, therefore, assume that these people are wealthy and (relatively recently) educated. To say that the theme is problematic (a term, in this context, that anyone who went to college in the 20 year span around which these folks undoubtedly were would have had some glancing familiarity with) would be an enormous understatement. And yet - here they are! Either they are racist, or they completely don't care whether they appear to be racist. For me - in either case - wow, boy, are they assholes!
posted by memebake at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2011


A final note from me on this.

1. There is nothing in these photos that you would not find in the lobbies of numerous hotels, restaurants and bars across South Africa.

I can go into the Mt Nelson (a favourite of various national ministers and foreign dignitaries) and probably find every piece of decoration in use here. Pith helmets, pictures of various dead Brits and busted old rifles included. They have a restaurant actually called 'The Cape Colony' for crying out loud.

2. As I've mentioned before pre-1010 Colonial era has little to no racial stigma in South Africa. So much so you can go the The Castle of Good Hope, the very epitome of the colonial era in Cape Town, which now also houses the Western Cape Army HQ and be greeted by black soldiers in colonial Dutch and British style military uniforms.

The Castle in fact still flies Union Jack and Dutch flags on it's ramparts. Hell they still fly the Apartheid era SA flag (the only building in SA to do so officially) as well.

Another example. I can recall a recent commercial here for a 4X4 which has Boer Commandos and British Redcoats racing to take their positions on a hill only to be beaten by a contingent of Zulu Impi warriors in said 4X4. Everyone gathers round and has a big ol' laugh.

3. The complaints about the make up of the staff are nothing short of ridiculous veering on to outright ignorance.

4. The complaints about the make up of the guests are slightly less ridiculous. That is unfortunately a legacy of enforced segregation pre-1991.

Personally I finished high school in the mid-90's and university in the early 2000's and I'll admit I do not have any close black friends. Co-workers and acquaintances who I've gone out to lunch with and had a beer after work? Sure. But all my really close friends are from my high school and university days.

However the combination of a private high school (especially in the early-90s, less so now), a Computer Science/Maths major and being a comic collecting role-playing geek did not bring me into many social circles where there was anything else but other pasty faced white males.

My sister-in-law, who is ten years my junior, attended a government school in a rural province and studied in the health sciences has many more non-white friends and colleagues than me. My (white) next door neighbour's 13 year old son does nothing much else in the afternoons except play cricket in the driveway with his (non-white) pals. The younger you are the more chance that you've grown up with non-white people around, so the situation is improving.
posted by PenDevil at 6:42 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


The younger you are the more chance that you've grown up with non-white people around, so the situation is improving.

I have seen this in South Africa. My colleague's 11 year old daughter's birthday looked like it was in a mixed race country
posted by infini at 7:10 AM on July 14, 2011


Look, just because it's your heritage doesn't mean it's not racist. Sorry. Just like the Confederate Battle Flag being flown in a fair number of southern US states — that's racist too.

Likewise, that there are plenty of other racist institutions (still flying the Apartheid flag? Motherfucking burn that shit. Jesus.) only makes this less racist by comparison, but doesn't mean it's not racist. Just because something else is worse does mean this isn't bad.

Complaints about the staff are buttressed by the colonial dress they made the servants wear — it would be much less offensive if it wasn't a direct echo of an incredibly racist time in the relation to, you know, black people.
posted by klangklangston at 8:47 AM on July 14, 2011


You're not even calling them racist because they're flying the Confederate Battle Flag. You're calling them racist because they dared wear replica Civil War era shoes.

And if the fezzes (which by the way have even less a colonial connection in SA than you think considering we have a significant Muslim population who wear them to this day) who offend you what about the shirts and pants? After all those were introduced by colonists as well.

Would it have been less racist if the waiters were working something less colonial. Perhaps loin cloths and beadwork?
posted by PenDevil at 9:42 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You're not even calling them racist because they're flying the Confederate Battle Flag. You're calling them racist because they dared wear replica Civil War era shoes."

Well, and that they re-enacted a Colonial celebration with absolutely no circumspection or consciousness of the fraught territory they were wading into. You know, like I said. I'm not really sure where you're getting the shoes thing.

I'm not sure why you're having trouble acknowledging that colonialism was a racist project and instead want to focus on shoes.

"And if the fezzes (which by the way have even less a colonial connection in SA than you think considering we have a significant Muslim population who wear them to this day) who offend you what about the shirts and pants? After all those were introduced by colonists as well.

Would it have been less racist if the waiters were working something less colonial. Perhaps loin cloths and beadwork?
"

Do they wear loin cloths and beadwork in their general working life? Or are you just grasping for more stereotypes in order to make the general cluelessness of the wedding seem more palatable in comparison?

And by the way, conflating Muslims with other religions (and Arabs and Turks with other ethnic groups) based on skin color, that's kind of one of those Orientalist missteps that, you know, looks oblivious and privileged.
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Link is dead, photobucket is dead. I'm assuming it was pulled because of all the attention. Guessing from comments, it appears I missed one hella klan party...
posted by dejah420 at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2011


...until my Raj era wedding! I actually really like the aesthetics of the Colonial Africa wedding, even if there's a slightly whiffy dead elephant in the room, but as a bit of an Indiaphile, the Raj is the only way to go for me.

There'd be cricket, polo & pig-sticking; elevenses, cucumber sandwiches and gin & tonics. Maybe a spot of hunting. The chaps would be dressed either as dashing cavalry officers, or else as dapper magistrates or sub-district superintendents. The memsahibs would naturally be butt-ugly & with their heads up their arses, and spend most of their time bitchily gossiping over games of whist, or else collapsing in a heat-induced swoon (relieved only through the efforts of the punkah-wallahs), but nevertheless confident in the fact that they're outnumbered by the menfolk by about 10:1, so even the homeliest can be assured of landing a pukka gentleman. For a bit of authenticity, though, I'd hire a bunch of local prostitutes to play the part of kitchen maids & cleaners, so the male guests will be able to diddle them on the side, and they can double as nautch-girls for the bachelor party the night before.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:07 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


you know, when i was a kid in the 60s, i played cowboys and indians and hid in the "foxholes" near the swamp pointing sticks at cessnas coming into the airport and pretending they were "japs"

then i grew up and history stopped being a kid's game and i stopped romanticizing it

i am not outraged - i am amused by the folly of misplaced, feeble nostalgia for times that people don't understand, and embarrass themselves further by accumulating tacky props and temp-job "servants" as if they were living out a rejected script from fantasy island

i am even more amused by the narcissistic rage displayed by those who would defend such shallow temporal appropriation and claim it as some kind of heritage

is this the best you can do for culture?

let me be absolutely clear - i'm not condemning you, calling you racist or evil - i'm LAUGHING at you and your utter lack of perspective and taste

at least the SCA have sense enough to laugh at themselves as they pretend to be knights and princesses - what's your excuse?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:41 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ubu, my sensibilities are deeply lacerated.
posted by infini at 3:20 PM on July 14, 2011


Jeeves! I say, here's a native in the clubhouse, and she has the damned impudence to speak! Have her removed at once or there'll be the devil to pay!

just getting into character
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:59 PM on July 14, 2011


And if the fezzes (which by the way have even less a colonial connection in SA than you think considering we have a significant Muslim population who wear them to this day) who offend you what about the shirts and pants? After all those were introduced by colonists as well.

Well, if this isn't just a disingenuous argument, I would say this is analogous to saying it's okay if I have a party with just black people in chains being whipped as part of my Southern Culture Ball and defend it by saying this is just the same as what S&M aficionados voluntarily do.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2011


welovepictures (the blog that had the photos) have issued a statement; they seem to be saying that people were getting the wrong end of the stick, but at the same time they also apologise for presenting the photos in a way that allowed people to get the wrong end of the stick.
On behalf of welovepictures, we feel it necessary to respond to those who we have offended by the wedding titled Colonial African Wedding, posted on our blog recently. The images were maliciously taken out of context in a report by an American online gossip site.

We would like to point out:

- that the theme chosen by the couple was in fact based on Sydney Pollack’s film “Out of Africa” and that it was not, in any reasonable interpretation of that term, a celebration of colonialism. By titling the blog post “Colonial African Wedding”, we were naive not to consider the negative implications of using the word “colonial" in the blog title. In hindsight, we understand that this word carries a significant amount of hurt and pain. For this we offer our sincerest apologies.

- that the waitrons who served at the wedding, at the couple’s request, comprised of all race groups found in South Africa, including people of European descent.

- that it was certainly not our intention to offend, belittle or in any other way cause harm to anyone through our work.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge that some of the images, when viewed out of context, could be misinterpreted and regarded as insensitive and offensive. For this we are deeply sorry and offer our sincere apologies to everyone who may have been genuinely offended or hurt by them.
Jezebel have also covered the apology - I think Jezebel may be the people that originally bought the photos to people's attention, hence they are presumably the 'online gossip site' mentioned by welovepictures.
posted by memebake at 9:17 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was walking up Shortmarket Street in Cape Town today and ambled past an African gentleman wearing a red fez chatting on a cell phone.

Was I wrong to smack the fez off is head and shout "YOU ARE FREE OF THE COLONIALIST YOKE! RUN FREE BROTHER!"?

(Only one of the above sentences is true.)
posted by PenDevil at 5:56 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey look, privilege denying dude is back! How are your no black friends doing?
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 AM on August 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was walking up Shortmarket Street in Cape Town today and ambled past an African gentleman wearing a red fez chatting on a cell phone.

your commitment to walking past people of all colors is an inspiration to all of us
posted by pyramid termite at 1:40 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


How'd you know the gentleman was African?
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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