British rapper Stormzy, seen here at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, led a chorus of “Fuck Boris” during his performance at Glastonbury last Friday.
Photo: Twocoms / Shutterstock
The reaction to British rapper Stormzy’s incantation to chant “Fuck Boris” at Glastonbury stands in great contrast to the furore surrounding Tun Tonnar’s rap about Joe Thein et al.
Whatever you think of Boris Johnson’s bumbling and controversial pronouncements, the man tipped to be Britain’s next prime minister is a virtuoso at manipulating the media with a sense of self-deprecating humour that is deeply lacking in Luxembourg politicians.
Claiming, with clear irony, that Stormzy had actually been singing “back Boris”, Johnson said that “there may have been some problems with the acoustics that caused him to be briefly misunderstood”.
Compare this to the faux outrage and humourless reaction to Tun Tonnar’s “FCK Lëtzebuerg”, which ended with the Luxembourg performer in court facing slander charges by politicians Fred Keup, and Joe Thein as well as Dan Schmitz, a man who has been prosecuted for social media hate speech. When Tonnar was acquitted, two of the three original plaintiffs launched an appeal against the court’s decision, backed by the public prosecutor.
What the plaintiffs fail to understand--and it is a lesson that has been ignored by censors and the morally outraged for decades, if not centuries--is that taking legal action against art (no matter what you might think about the actual merit of the work in question) only provides more publicity, and more fuel to the argument of the artist. The longer the Tun Tonnar case continues, the more people will side with the rapper against the pompous offence felt by his targets.
Johnson’s perfect response--misread by most of the UK media as the Tory candidate being actually tone deaf to Stormzy’s intention--will have done just the opposite. He has diffused the fallout from Friday’s performance and taken back control of the situation. Thein, Keup and co would do well to learn from such a master of the media.