Cara Delevingne’s ‘Peg the Patriarchy’ moment from the 2021 Met Gala undoubtedly missed the mark. Delevingne and Dior both failed to credit the original creator of the slogan, a black, queer sex educator Luna Matatas. Beyond this transgression, Delevingne’s message and its delivery were blatant examples of the contradictory messages often encoded in mainstream depictions of non-normative sexualities. Delevingne clearly thought her stunt was groundbreaking, or at the very least, intelligent and thought-provoking. This begs the question of why, exactly, mainstream representations of non-normative sexualities so often miss the mark, and often do more harm than good.
In late April of this year, it was announced that twelve of the wealthiest and best supported teams from across Europe would be competing in a new competition across Europe. The Super League was to be played in place of the current Champions League. However, places in the Super League would not be decided on where a side finished in the existing domestic league table but instead the league would have no relegation or promotion and access to the league would have been based on prior agreement by the founding clubs. These clubs were the richest with the largest global audiences but not necessarily the best achieving teams. Within three days of the announcement of the new league, all of the English teams who had committed to participating had withdrawn in the face of giant public backlash. The proposal was, seemingly without exception, hated by every football fan including those of the teams that would have joined the league. So why did this particular proposal arouse such anger and disgust?
Mimicking a rock concert, I had to pre-book my space for the Hillsong service online before attending. Once on-site, I was scanned in by ushers with radios and shown to the seat listed on my ticket. Doors opened to the venue 30 minutes prior to the beginning of service, there was a sound desk, a series of serious-looking cameras and a small team of staff dressed in black managing the audio and visual aids for the accessible service. I was seated in the middle of what was previously the mosh pit. Chipped wooden floors vibrated beneath my boots as the congregation cheered and stamped their feet welcoming the leading band onto the stage to a well-produced modern video of young people running through the streets of London in search of their faith to a timed light show. If the sing-a-long style lyrics and catchy musical riffs weren’t about Jesus, I would have mistaken my being at a rock concert rather than a church service.
The notion of the Unreliable Narrator is, for me, not a critique of the perceived moral failings of the anthropological project, but a methodological narrative construct integral to the work of writing culture. The question of unreliability is not a question of believability but of what parts of a complex and convoluted truth we the readers are willing to sign on to and invest in. It reflects an understanding and acceptance that no single truth is wholly accurate but also that no individual account is without some measure of reality.