Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Carolyn Cooper | Where's the body of evidence?

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Not a thing was wrong with Spice's performance at the tribute concert for our athletes. Her body language was rather restrained. She adjusted her moves to fit the family event. Spice's performance wasn't even PG - parental guidance suggested. And it most certainly was not X-rated.

True, Spice's dress was peppery. The flesh-coloured lining created the illusion that her flesh was exposed. But it was not. Sexiness is often about appearance masquerading as reality. I'm so sorry for men who discover in bed that the sexy bombshell they thought they had seduced is actually a collection of completely false body parts. More trick than treat!

False hair, false eyelashes, false fingernails, false breasts, false bottom! What else? False shape! All the pounds of very real flesh tightly compacted by Spanks. The body taking a serious spanking! More like murderation. I can just imagine the relief when the Spanks finally comes off and the body gets a chance to release itself from the stifling contraction. It must be absolutely orgasmic.




So what's all the fuss about? It must have been Spice's lyrics: "Mi know mi good-good an mi body just a wine an a . . . boom-boom-boom." If you think about it, these lyrics are an excellent theme song for our athletes. That's exactly what they strenuously train for. To be good-good!

And the bodies of our top athletes just a go boom-boom-boom when dem tek off an a run down di gold medal dem. Of course, unlike Spice, the athletes not wining until dem done win. Dem heading straight ahead for victory. But just think of wining as a symbol of the body in top form. The athlete in full control of his or her muscular gyrations!

Plus, there's a striking similarity between the skimpy athletic wear sported by women on the track and dancehall dress. Those running shorts look a lot like b***y riders. Objectively speaking. The female form on beautiful display! Just think of how the Williams sisters have perfected the art of making demure tennis wear look ultra sexy. And the athletic shorts worn by men are also very revealing. Viewers get an eyeful of the length, heft and firmness of barely concealed body parts.




For many uptight moralisers, the real problem with Spice's performance was her unashamed celebration of her body. The rhythmic left-right movement of "this thing round a back ya" is as precise as indicator lights. Independent suspension! Fundamentalist Christians believe that it's a sin to take such pleasure in one's body. And sex is nothing but a necessary evil to make babies.

So is pure wickedness for Spice to go on stage and revel in the fact that her body good-good and it a boom-boom-boom. The moral majority were full of righteous indignation. They worked themselves into a frenzy in our local papers. A pious Observer editorial on Thursday, October 20, 'When not to 'Spice up' an event', came to an unsurprising conclusion:

"The real point to be made, however, is that not every performer is suited to every event. One size doesn't fit all. While some Jamaicans are quite happy with racy dancehall lyrics or even slackness in the privacy of their homes or cars, they don't expect it in church or at official functions."

But this time, Spice didn't do "racy dancehall lyrics or even slackness". It's not as if she performed the raw version of 'So Mi Like It'. That video has attracted almost 65 million views. It is not for the faint of heart. Critics often condemn dancehall artistes wholesale without listening to what they actually say and do on particular occasions. It's a knee-jerk reaction.




Then this cocksure distinction between private pleasure in slackness and public condemnation at 'official functions' goes straight to the bottom of the hypocrisy of our society. Talking about sex in public is evil. But public criminality is not. The real slackness in Jamaica today is not a DJ bigging up her body. What is truly obscene is our depraved legal system.

In theory, it works according to long-established rules. One is innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor's job is to provide credible evidence, generally collected by the police, to prove the defendant's guilt, beyond reasonable doubt, to the satisfaction of the jury. Sometimes, the prosecution fails because the defendant is, in fact, innocent. Or insufficient evidence is presented. Or the jury simply refuses to convict despite credible evidence.

In practice, our legal system doesn't always work according to the rules. Witnesses for the prosecution are often intimidated, paid off or both. High-profile 'innocents' can criminally walk free. And low-profile victims of the system are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. If they're lucky!

I suppose we could launch a national 'Poor People's Lives Matter' campaign to draw attention to the inequities in our legal system. But who or what is going to protect protesters? The same forces against which we are protesting? Hardly likely! Proverbial wisdom tells us that we must leave certain people to God. S/He will efficiently dispense justice in due course. But we really shouldn't have to depend on long-term divine intervention. Justice for all Jamaicans, rich and poor, ought to be humanly possible here and now.

- Carolyn Cooper, PhD is a specialist on culture and development. Email feedback to and