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Angus Take House

Worst Take of the Week: Lana Heals Palestine vs Don’t Posh-Shame Me

Can good vibes and loving energy heal the world? Unrelated: does talking about posh people's poshness somehow divide Britain more??
(Image: Alamy/Telegraph)

Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.

TAKE #1:

What’s the story? Lana Del Rey has come under criticism from many of her fans for agreeing to perform at a music festival in Tel Aviv.
Reasonable Take: Don’t play in Israel unless you fully understand what that means.
Just Good Vibes: I see your conflict that’s been raging since the middle of the 20th century, but I’ve got to wonder whether my 2016 hit “Lust for Life” featuring The Weeknd might be the turning point we’ve been waiting for.


The conversation around whether or not artists playing in Israel is an endorsement of state violence is nothing new. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has made himself clear on it enough times; more recently, so has Nick Cave. The debate usually rages around whether or not playing in Tel Aviv signals an approval of violence against Palestine, or whether, actually, music knows no boundaries, or some bollocks like that. That said, in all that time, none of them have issued an explanation quite as wavy as:

“But could a person as good intentioned as I not perhaps with my presence bring attention to the fact that something should change and that a singer with a loving energy can help shift the energetic vibration of a location for the higher good even if it’s just for a minute?”

Aye. In defending her decision to play in Israel, singer Lana Del Rey has channeled the shell-shocked ramblings of an acid house DJ talking about the Haçienda days 20 years on. Look, everything is energy. I’m energy, you’re energy, war is energy, peace is energy. All we gotta do is, change the energy man. In a way, this is in keeping with Lana Del Rey’s California dreamer character – complete with chakras and world peace vibes – but in another way… don’t ask whether your songs can help shift the “energetic vibration” of Israel and Palestine you numpty!

To be fair to her, Lana Del Rey did issue a longer statement, yet as with Thom Yorke before her, she used the analogy of Trump’s America to explain her stance – a comparison that stands up for all of about 10 seconds. As many have pointed out, playing in Israel can look like a tacit endorsement of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Israeli politicians have publicly praised artists for agreeing to perform in the country, and denounced artists who chose not to perform. At the start of this year an anti-Israel boycott lobby announced they were launching a lawsuit against the two New Zealand women who convinced Lorde not to perform in Tel Aviv. Culture is a part of the war, whether Radiohead or Lana Del Rey like it or not.


Groups like a PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) have long pushed for an acknowledgement of the ways in which culture is used to present a veneer of respectability. Music festivals present an attractive face of Israel that distracts from the complex conflict playing out in the occupied territories, which is why people are so angry with what Lana Del Rey has said. The suggestion that the good vibes of your music could heal some wounds is particularly insulting when in all reality they could actually be used to mask oppression. As good as “Video Games” is.

TAKE #2:

What’s the story? Jeremy Corbyn has said the BBC should publish data on BBC employee’s social class, in an effort to highlight inequality in the media.
Reasonable Take: Oi! Tim Wonnacott! Your days are numbered!
Dover Sole Meuniere: Highlighting division is actually sowing the seeds for more division. The best way to deal with division is just never mention it.

This week, as part of a talk at Edinburgh TV festival, Jeremy Corbyn made a series of RaDiCaL suggestions about how to improve the state of the media in the UK, including a class audit of the BBC, in order to make the institution more transparent about the makeup of its employees. It would be an important step, particularly considering how class has been largely neglected in many recent conversations about equality in the media. And if you’re still not convinced it’s a smart move, think about the demographics of the UK and then remind yourself that Michael Portillo has had a regular documentary series about his favourite railway lines for approaching a decade.


The comments have sparked a conversation among journalists, many of whom are appalled at the suggestion that the makeup of the UK’s media might merit some deeper examination. Or that a monopoly of journalists from privileged backgrounds might have, in some small way, contributed to the media’s complete and continuing inability to comprehend the political unrest in the country that has unfolded in recent years.

Writing for the Times of London, Ed Conway has come out all guns blazing, declaring “Corbyn has no right to judge my background”. He reckons the Labour leader's attempt at fixing things is only going to cause more problems. He explains that while he was fortunate enough to be privately educated, this was only due in part to the life insurance left after his father’s death. These are, obviously, tragic circumstances, but again its an attempt to deflect structural issues with personal experience. It’s not a criticism of the individual to engage with the fact that a glut of privately educated people sits at the top of the media. It’s not a personal attack to engage with that.

Yet what really “sticks in the craw”, to use the Conway’s own language, is this bit:

“Why this fixation with classifying people on the basis not of performance or ability but on stuff they couldn’t influence: their parents’ jobs, the education their parents chose for them? Surely this only perpetuates the notion that our fates are sealed by our parents’ status or our skin colour? Surely that risks sowing division rather than solving it?”

This laissez-faire bullshit that you make your own success – wisdom coincidentally parroted largely by blokes who had their successes made for them a long time ago – is self-interested and short-sighted. It’s an instant, defensive sting attack that misreads “let’s make things fairer” as “let’s put all posh people in a bin and roll them down a hill”. Have a bit of humility mate! You’re well off and that’s contributed to your success! Go eat a bag of Tyrrells about it!

PRIME CUT: Shift THIS energy Del Rey!