The issue of vulgarity in Carnival has for some time been discussed in different circles and seems to be continuing. Even this newspaper carried editorials by guests who are of the opinion that we have lost our way in designing costumes for masqueraders. People are concerned that the costumes, especially for women, are getting skimpier and skimpier, revealing private parts in public.
It is quite interesting this year to see that Kirk Seetahal, a man who has been a key figure in Carnival for some years, joining the moans. He expressed his disgust in social media and in local news on the costumes advertised for this year which, he said, are just too revealing and can spoil the Carnival product. While some may criticize him, and as he said call him a prude, his comments must not go unnoticed especially by those who are responsible for setting standards for the event. Seetahal said that the recent trend is bothering.
In making his point, he made it clear that he is supportive of women’s rights to choose and be in control of their bodies, what they choose to wear, and how they choose to be perceived in the public. However, some people may think his statement is ambiguous ambiguous, which sets a double standard that can lead to some confusion. We ask the question, should there be grey areas in dealing with the argument of standards? For clarity, some people may prefer black or white.
Seetahal, who is now advisor to the Spice Mas Corporation, said he is concerned about the recent trend in costume designs, which seems to focus on shock value and immodesty over everything else. He said in the media that he is not a prude nor is he advocating sensibility; but his question is, is it necessary for one’s “bamcee” and vagina to be exposed on the road in a Carnival costume in order to have a good time? He is of the opinion that masqueraders think they only look good if they are sexualized. But, isn’t he in a position to effect change?
The SMC Advisor reminded mas players that Carnival is not just for them, it is for the entire family. This is certainly good thinking since most times grandparents choose to be on the side-walk looking on with their grandchildren while the parents are reveling in the bands. So is respect for the seniors a thing of the past? Seetahal’s questions here are “What sort of message are you sending to the children of the nation? Are you a mother? Are you a sister? Are you somebody’s wife or girlfriend? Are you employed?
I am asking the question, no judgement here, but maybe a judge because I am concerned about the message are you sending. Must you be totally exposed to have a good time on the road?”
The Bishop of the Anglican Church, The Rt Rev Leopold Friday seems to have similar observation as stated in a circular, that people sometimes seem to be misusing their freedom and, from time to time, continue to do so and make wrong choices. The Bishop warns that this is where sin, evil and immorality come in; when wrong choices are made. While wrong choices can be made in church, at school, on the playing field, at the workplace or during Carnival, this newspaper has chosen to focus on this time of the year with the Carnival season upon us.
The Bishop is asking people to encourage each other to make the right choices wherever they may be. Speaking in biblical context, His Lordship said that In the Old and New Testaments, people are informed of several festivals and festivities where they ate, drank and enjoyed themselves; in some instances this went on for days. However, the Bishop stressed the importance in making the right
choices when we celebrate.
In sharing his observation, His Lordship said that some wrong choices have been made, and they need to be addressed. High on the Bishop’s list are the lyrics in some calypso and soca songs which are degrading to women and some are openly suggestive and vulgar. This newspaper has recently learnt that there is a law in Venezuela to govern the social responsibility of both radio and television which was recently amended to include social media. The government is focusing on cleaning up the environment, but isn’t there the need to clean up the thoughts of our young generation who may not even be aware of the negative impact of what they bombard the airwaves and buses with?
The Anglican church leader had much to say too on the attire and behavior of some masqueraders with the promotion of “less is best”, referring to nakedness; the name given to some shows for example “Dirty Soca”; and the overconsumption of alcohol and aerated beverages and sodas.
Bishop Friday is imploring the Ministry of Culture, the Carnival Development Committee, the
Calypsonian Associations, the Steel Pan Movement, the Mas Bands Associations and all who participate in Carnival directly or indirectly to promote what is healthy, clean and beneficial for the social, cultural, ethical, economic, political and wholesome development.
Let’s promote what is good in our premier festival the church leader said and let’s not throw
away the baby with the bath water.
May a spirit of right judgment prevail!