Monday, October 18, 2010

Jean-Paul Guerlain Racist Gaffe

Everybody in perfume blogosphere's talking about it, so let me add my two cents: yes, it was deplorable, and as I felt in the Helen Thomas case, people should stop putting microphones in front of racists, especially senile ones that can't control being impolite. His career had a good run; maybe it's time he went his merry way and let people remember him for Nahema, Chamade, Vetiver and Sophie. Hey, I love Charles Mingus' music, but he was apparently no picnic of a person, either. I'm not saying it shouldn't have been publicized - people have the right to know if the company they buy goods from is putting racism out there. Beauty products shape how young people perceive beauty and themselves. But the guy is almost 100 years old (actually, I don't know how old he really is - old enough to stop driving the Guerlain bus), and besides, idiots don't deserve the spotlight. Put JPG in the Paris Hilton files (remember her n-word gaffe directed at young filmmakers?), let's close the door on this issue (edited to add: it should be noted he has apologized) and continue appreciating the art aside from the personality behind the work.

He toiled so hard for Samsara - what a stupid thing for him to say. A labor of love isn't the same thing as actual physical labor. Perfumers don't labor as hard as a pianist who sits at a piano laboriously learning to play an instrument with his hands, let alone toil in the sun all day pulling out and collecting the materials needed to produce perfume.

Hopefully, this gaffe will become a reminder to all of us who love perfume, that the people who labor are the ones we never hear from, or see, whose names aren't splashed before the names of fancy bottles of smell. Having a brilliant mind or idea shouldn't mean bosses, innovators and upper management should take all the credit. Good ideas don't come to fruition without the help and support of so many others who do the actual back-breaking work of making things happen in real life. What about the Guerlain customer base which happens to be global and multiethnic? Didn't some of them work hard and save up to buy from you? Learn your manners, perfume industry. A little time off and gratitude for success will do JPG and others who appease racists in the industry some good.

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One more additional comment: For those racists who appease racists by rationalizing racist remarks saying opposition to racist remarks is fascistic, I say anyone who is hurt by racist comments have the right not only to speak against them but to boycott whatever product they wish to boycott. It seems more fascistic to try to quiet down any opposition to such freedom of speech, as people have the freedom to voice opposition and to boycott all the same. For those racists saying the offended are hypersensitive, understand that your insensitivity and willful ignorance are precisely what make you racist.