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Point, Counterpoint
April 10, 2012 12:57 PM   Subscribe

International street artist ABOVE (Wikipedia; Flickr pool; interview from 2009) convinced diamond traders at Johannesburg's Jewel City to let him paint their exterior wall with the phrase "Diamonds Are A Woman's Best Friend" ... but he didn't mention that he would be adding "And A Man's Worst Enemy" to the adjacent wall.
posted by mrgrimm (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm, I like the tricksyness of this, and I think getting the word out about blood diamonds is definitely important but I'm not sure the phrase "And A Man's Worst Enemy" is the most effective way of doing that.

I mean, when I first read it, I thought it was trying to make some kind of "war of the sexes" point about how it sucks for men to have to buy expensive diamonds for their ladyfriends.
posted by overglow at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yes, tricksy, but perhaps a little too subtle. I was expecting to see an image of death to counterpoint the image of diamonds from the other wall.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:15 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think I might have done "And Man's Worst Enemy."
posted by roll truck roll at 1:25 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


His first draft was "And a Mutilated Liberian Child's Worst Enemy" but the wall wasn't big enough.
posted by Renoroc at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


overglow, I think that would depend on how much the Western ideal of an expensive diamond is entrenched in South Africa, and how much lesser or greater the public political awareness of the message about blood diamonds has common currency. I can't answer that from here.
posted by dhartung at 1:56 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about "When the shit hits the fan, you'll find out they're actually worthless"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, they are pretty sharp.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:09 PM on April 10, 2012


And how is this not incredibly sexist? Even knowing the point it's trying to make it's hard not to see this pointing the finger at women.
posted by KS at 2:54 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think I might have done "And Man's Worst Enemy."

Maybe it's a mistake in the vein of "One small step for man".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:28 PM on April 10, 2012


KS: "it's hard not to see this pointing the finger at women"

I dunno, I managed to see it as pointing the finger at DeBeers and the advertising industry. It wasn't hard at all.

But, as people point out, I took it to be blaming the diamond industry for selling overpriced rocks, not for the blood diamond angle.
posted by Bugbread at 5:53 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wall vandalized with graffiti. Film at eleven.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:21 PM on April 10, 2012


Diamonds are to die for
posted by Thorzdad at 5:25 AM on April 11, 2012


Actually, the film is available right now!
posted by No-sword at 6:25 AM on April 11, 2012


Yeah, I think it's sexist myself. It basically says that women are materialistic assholes, and men suffer because they have to buy them expensive rocks. Any other themes are shouted down by a very loud sexist theme, intentional or not. So please tone down the pats on the back, dude.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:20 AM on April 11, 2012


please tone down the pats on the back, dude.

Who's patting whose what?

It basically says that women are materialistic assholes, and men suffer because they have to buy them expensive rocks. Any other themes are shouted down by a very loud sexist theme, intentional or not.

At it's most fundamental, I think it takes a well-known cliche ("diamonds are a woman's (or more insultingly, a girl's) best friend") and subverts it to critique the labor practices of the diamond industry. I agree the use of "man" in the second part is problematic. I assume there are female diamond workers in South Africa, and that message explicitly excludes them.

However ... according to the famous Liz Stanton list of 10 reasons never to accept a diamond gift (Mefi thread here):

"Many diamond mining camps enforce all-male, no-family rules."

Obviously, the abuses of the diamond industry affect men, women, and children, but if all the workers are men, it makes the commentary a little more accurate.

If you're objecting to the sexism in the critique, though, I think you would object much more to the diamond-ring engagement industry in toto. I don't see a lot of men wearing diamond rings. Earrings, a few, but I still say 90%+ of diamond jewelry demand comes from women.

So yeah, I suppose it is sexist, but the entire situation is sexist. If women stopped accepting (or wanting) diamond engagement rings, that would be a huge blow to a very brutal industry.

I'm not sure whether or not it's intentional, but regardless of how you slice it, the whole issue is loaded by sex.

Diamonds: Nothing Says I Love You Like a Superficial and Overvalued Rock Clawed from the Guts of the Earth by African Slave Labour
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on April 11, 2012


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