If We’re Not Cancelling Slowthai For His Boris Johnson Severed Head Stunt, We Need To Forgive Kathy Griffin Too

Nothing great about decapitation.

British rapper Slowthai is not in the least bit shy about his political views, either in his songs or on stage. However, his performance at the Mercury Prize ceremony may have gone a tad too far. Yelling ‘f**k Boris Johnson’ is one thing, but Slowthai also flailed around a severed head prop with the aforementioned politician’s likeness.

In May of 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency, comedian Kathy Griffin posed in a now infamous photoshoot with a similarly disturbing effigy, only it was Donald Trump’s image that had been moulded in plastic and dipped in fake blood.

Kathy lost her job at CNN, got placed on the no-fly list, and still gets harassed by strangers more than two years on. She’s been on Hollywood’s blacklist. Slowthai has faced the fury of the Twitterati and a handful of morning show hosts and… that’s about it.

Kathy retracted the photo and apologised. Slowthai is selling t-shirts.

So despite the similar circumstances, why are the reactions so different? Slowthai may have built his artistic brand around political commentary, but Kathy Griffin has also spent her whole career being controversial.


For a start, being hounded by the leader of the free world is obviously going to escalate things. For once, a Trump celeb feud was actually somewhat warranted, but still dude – you should know not to send your millions of devotees after one person. On the other hand, as far as anyone knows, the British PM hasn’t said anything about slowthai’s stunt.

Then there’s the two years of total political chaos creating the perfect storm for this kind of thing. There are plenty of op-eds out there lamenting the ‘normalisation of political violence’, and whilst the severed heads clearly have an artistic purpose, the world has definitely gotten a lot angrier.

There’s no question that brandishing a severed head – even a fake one – is shocking and distasteful. Most of us would agree on that.

Regardless of how you feel about the artists, or the world leaders they mock, or even how they go about it, it’s not exactly fair that one has to fall so much further and harder than the other. Cancel both or neither, cause there’s nothing great about a double standard.

People Will Literally Fork Out Cash To Avoid Your 'Thoughts And Prayers'

Do 'thoughts and prayers' really work?

In the wake of natural disasters and mass shootings, the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers’ has become so ubiquitous that it’s turned into the world’s most depressing meme.

Despite the good intentions, it’s the kind of response that is often criticised as a way for political leaders to eschew responsibility. Bad press aside, it’s still pretty surprising that people hate thoughts and prayers enough to pay to avoid them.

Pay the prayer away. Credit: Giphy

Atheist and agnostic participants in the study paid an average of $3.50 to request that Christians keep them out of their conversations with the big guy. That’s an egregious amount of money to spend for the sake of pettiness. You could buy a coffee with that.

Credit: Giphy

For the study, researchers gave $5 to a few hundred North Carolinians in the wake of 2018’s Hurricane Florence, and offered them the opportunity to exchange some of it for thoughts or prayers. They could choose anything from a priestly intercession to a humble spot in the mind of a non-religious person.

Credit: Giphy

It makes some sense that religious participants put a premium of $7 on priestly prayers. Regardless of whether it works or not, at least they believe it does. There’s no evidence that vaginal steaming works either but it hasn’t stopped Gwyneth Paltrow from profiting off it.

At any rate, praying Hurricane Dorian away does a hell of a lot less damage than nuking it would’ve, so maybe Evangelicals are the States’ saving grace.

Credit: Giphy

Receiving free money, only to squander it on some kind of grand statement about how terrible organised religion is seems like insanity to me. Not very logical or rational at all. After all, it’s not like they were paying to avoid a politician’s thoughts and prayers – that I could definitely relate to.

Credit: Giphy

Obviously, practical assistance in responding to and preventing disasters is the best way to go, but that’s not always possible for the average Joe. It seems a little tragic that even the simple kindness of expressing sympathy can be made political.

Baby boomer aunts on Facebook be like, ‘Checkmate, atheists’. Credit: Giphy

Might want to rethink that Hallmark card, next time.

Remember McFly? They're Giving Us The Noughties Boy Band Reunion No One Asked For

Go back to 2009, and stay there.

For nearly a decade, they’ve lain dormant. But with a cryptic GIF posted to their social media accounts, McFly have announced an end to their slumber (in the form of an Instagram live). The fans have gone wild – could this mean new music? A tour? But it’s time to look past the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia and ignore the hype beast, because the vibes of the 00s are well and truly over.

The boy bands of the noughties were charming, but in a pop-punk way. McFly had the whole package – grating vocals, hard-hitting electric guitar riffs, percussion that could probably blow up your headphones. Despite the romantic themes, you’d be hard pressed to describe their style as sweet and syrupy. Groups like 5ive and Busted were stylistic similar, churning out rock-like anthems rather than chill grooves.

However, the world has changed a lot in the time since the McFly era – we’ve left the cocoon of youthful innocence. There’s already enough yelling happening all the time, and the sweetness of modern pop is the perfect escape. It’s great to be able to throw on some Westlife to remind yourself of a better time, but the new generation of boy bands are serenaders of a different kind.

Compare the early 00s hits to those of One Direction, or the softboi revolution that is BTS. See what I mean? Still catchy, but way more mellow than their predecessors.

The worst possible outcome here is for McFly to fall into the same trap that so many before them have – too much synth. Fall Out Boy did it, and Panic! At The Disco did too, relying on the popularity of electronica and leaving their old, punk rock ways behind. It’s not like the new stuff is objectively bad, it’s just disappointing for the fans who have been with them since the beginning.

If McFly go down the modern Top 40 route, they might regain commercial success, but run the risk of alienating most of their audience. Then again, given that most of that audience have long since left their teenage rebellion behind, they’re probably not the best market to capture.

Boy bands like McFly have been cited as influences for groups that are far more recognisable to the modern youth. One Direction, 5SOS and The Vamps have all paid homage to them. The best case scenario is that they come out of the other side of this mysterious announcement with their legacy intact.

And to any of the other noughties boy bands considering a reunion – just don’t. Everyone will remember you more fondly if you just grow old gracefully.

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