By Catherine Sawers
Well, they’ve done it again,
I don’t even get the motivation,
One minute this person is listing countries,
The next, they’re obsessed with pygmies,
The female lead did it in Proof of Life,
‘Remember Thailand and Egypt and all the strife?
She sounds like she’s suppressing a hiccup.
I got some skincare the other day,
Where the oils come from, the bottles all say,
Apparently Argan Oil is from Morocco,
In Vietnam they produce oil of Tamanu,
The Macadamia Oil hails from Kenya,
But the Baobab Oil is just from ‘Africa,’
They must have gotten lazy with all this geography,
Unless I’m unaware of the existence of Africa: The Country.
Then I was reading about media in a scholarly journal,
The author waxed about a phenomenon so universal,
That such artists came from places ‘as diverse as,’
Brazil, Hungary, Africa, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, New Zealand and the U.S.,
Don’t think I would know where that is, if you spelled it out?
Try me! I dare you. Of my worldliness I have no doubt,
I can see how Mauritius or Cabo Verde could be a bit tricky,
And we don’t often hear from Madagascar and Djibouti.
But I guarantee that your esteemed readers of scholarly articles,
And cosmetics customers and editors of periodicals,
Could stand a chance to be challenged,
Even a bit of their egos rankled,
If they had to guess where is Mozambique,
Most people will confidently choose Sud-Afrique,
And if they get it wrong and choose Oceania,
That’s their problem if they are so insular.
Don’t worry—they’ll remember it next time Mozambique comes up,
It’s always good to put your mind to the strop,
Speaking of which, I have little to offer as far as reasons,
I don’t think it’s simply laziness or racism,
Because the application of these lacunae is irregular,
And not only committed by Westerners,
If I may, I’d suggest the use of ‘Africa’ is targeted,
At certain emotions and how they are marketed.
The Argan Oil appeals to sun-worshippers,
The Tamanu serves more Buddhist purposes,
Macadamia is for people who put food on their face,
And for all these quirks, people need a sense of place,
But if you’re the one buying Baobab Oil,
You prefer skincare with tones of the primordial,
You want your skin as dewy and fresh as the first humans,
Even though they were more hairy and dirty than such illusions.
And if you’re talking about pop-art or the media,
Whether in academia or Wikipedia,
Let me tell you, there are hipsters everywhere,
Even in Africa they have iTunes and can file share,
You don’t have to say ‘Africa’ like it’s automatically diverse,
Like it doesn’t abide by the laws of the universe,
They have ‘graphic novels’ and all that claptrap,
They, too, can coat entertainment in a veneer of shellac.
And as for you, Meg Ryan,
I know you didn’t write your own lines,
But did you have to say it with that voice?
Name-talent can still exercise their choice,
Whether or not to buy into the sensational tone,
So that your audience need not elicit a groan,
And wish the guerrillas had kidnapped you instead,
But no one wants to see a romance of Russell Crowe and the egghead.