Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is it because I is black?

Everyone knows tabloid sub editors are in daily competition to invent the most sensational and the dreariest headlines. It’s a hands down winner if they can score a double whammy by bagging both trophies with the same banner. You know the type of thing – Devastating earthquake in Peru orphans llama. It’s not a race that attracts any particular accolade, just the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve turned attention away from a rival for twenty-four little hours.

Humans are, by nature a competitive species. We are the only subjects of the animal kingdom who hold sporting competitions, rate our television programmes and stab each other with umbrellas in jumble sale queues. We even developed opposable thumbs so that our right hand wouldn’t know what our left was doing most of the time and when it did, we could pound them together in an activity we call ‘clapping’. There are some humans - we call them celebrities - who have become so addicted to this sound that they must perform ever more daring feats to get lots of people to do this on their behalf. These are amongst the most competitive and saddest humans of all.

There is a special category of these called ‘movie stars’. Despite spending a great deal of money to make ‘motion pictures’ in order to convince us that they are the sort of desirable alpha specimens that nine tenths of the world wants to shag, none seem willing or able to have their own babies with their own partner. Actually some do, if they can be guaranteed to have one that’s a different colour from them. Imagine the empty, pointless sham that would have been Michael Jackson’s life had he not fathered three ivory tots? Oh, my theory is shattering here.

The news is breaking all over the world today that our Madge - pop icon, movie star, children’s author, yoga queen and global healer has ‘adopted’ a one-year-old Malawian baby called David. The quotation marks are indicative of the reports that the time-poor star side-stepped all the usual red tape by previewing eligible candidates on the Harrods website and having their customer service department mop up the formalities. Tabloids have been unusually reticent. Could there be a competition going on for the dullest headline imaginable? The story itself is hardly worthy of a raised eyebrow. The well worn track between third world orphanages and first class departure lounges needs no sign posting. Angelina Jolie has contributed .01 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions with her journeys alone.

Ever since legendary stage star Josephine Baker set up her multiracial ‘Rainbow Tribe’ half a century ago, celebs have been bagging destitute infants up in Prada baby-grows and whisking them off to a future of drug-addled identity crises and serial single-parenthood. Baker recruited twelve children from across the multicultural spectrum to share her French chateau, Les Milandes and four marriages. Eventually going broke, she resorted to begging in the streets to feed them. Luckily Princess Grace of Monaco was there to pick up the pieces and fashion them into a modest villa on the Riviera to house the tribe.

Madge’s website reveals only that she is in Malawi as an ambassador for a project called Raising Malawi which claims to be a relief project in the impoverished, AIDS ravaged country. The title is rather uncomfortably close to Raising Arizona, a film about a couple who steal a baby. Madge has been visiting orphanages in Malawi, bringing her own special form of cheer to the desperate victims of famine and disease all week. Baby David, although chosen from the orphanage, is not exactly an orphan in that he appears to have lots of relatives including a very vocal father. Yohame Banda announced gleefully,

‘I am the father of David, who has been adopted. I am very, very happy because as you can see there is poverty in this village and I know he will be very well looked after in America.’ Mr Banda might want to read Christina Crawford’s Mommie Dearest before issuing too many more press statements. He added that he had been assured David would make regular visits to Malawi so that, ‘he will know his roots.’ I suspect the roots he will get to know most intimately are those of his bottle-blond adoptive mother.

How will baby David Ciccone slot himself in with Madge’s two ‘natural’ offspring? Lourdes has the distinction of being the only child born from donor sperm that was part of an artist’s rider. On Madge’s Blond Ambition Tour, it came between 10oz macrobiotic green salad and 14m litres of Evian water (not Perrier, Volvic or that crap Tesco stuff). Little Rocco is thought to have been conceived during a stunt that went horribly wrong on the Guy Ritchie film Snatch. One of Madge’s closest pals, (ok it’s Rupert Everett), confides that she prefers to think of her children’s births as immaculate conceptions. They were both very clean when she got them anyway.

Not since Alex Haley’s 1970s blockbuster Roots, have so many stars been called to Africa in search of their soul birthplace. Those who can’t bring home a souvenir baby of their own can at least ensure that their bland white child is the holder of a Namibian, Tanzanian or Malawian passport. There can be more loving way to achieve world peace. I’m thinking about those poor tabloid subs though. What about Madge’s Roots Drama – Emergency Stylist Called? I suppose it’s old news by now. They’ve probably moved on to Posh and Becks and their plans to build a new poverty-free African republic on their Hertfordshire estate. It is to be named Howarwi.

Art by Romare Bearden

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