I have criticised the book ‘Before They Pass Away’ before,
and after having spent some quality time reading ShortList, a magazine aimed at men and distributed free at British airports, it’s time to do so again. (Women are supposedly not interested in cars, sport, MALE fashion and business, so they get their own magazine called Stylist instead, produced by the same company, but this post is dedicated to the awfulness of Jimmy Nelson, so the sexism of British media will have to be dealt with later).
Anyway, ShortList talked about the book Before They Pass Away, and provided some quotes from the writer and photographer Jimmy Nelson who has produced the book, and Jesus fucking christ, if I was suspicious of this book before, I wouldn’t even look at it after having read what he had to say about the subjects of his photos.
When talking about the Huli of Papua New Guinea he says;
Every valley in Papua New Guinea has its own unique tribe. The wildest were the Huli. They used to be cannibals. They’re essentially like Avatar, but real.
I mean, the fuck? He’s not even trying to not be objectifying here.
But don’t think it stops with Jimmy dehumanising an entire people, he’s also having a go at the non-Western beauty ideals of the Samburu in Kenya.
The men are as vain as the women. People even think they are women because they spend time grooming and putting on make-up, and they can literally go out and kill a lion with their bare hands.
Yes, effeminate brutes, noble savages, what more could a white Brit be looking for !? Now really.
The name of the project and book is incredibly problematic in itself, but coupled with Jimmy’s attitude, it just gets too much. But what more to expect from a man who, I’m not making this up, decided to document the aesthetics of indigenous peoples because he started to lose his hair. His chapter on Tibet is the result of him, and I quote ‘finding [him]self amongst people with no hair’.