This year’s Summer Ball headliner was announced a couple of weeks ago, via the somewhat protracted method of a quiz – where the first letter of five somewhat transparently James Bond themed questions allowed students to spell out the artist’s name.
How successful this method of engaging with the notoriously apathetic student body was, I have no idea – I assume buzzwords like ‘interactive’, ‘immersion’ and ‘360-degree storyscaping’ were used in whatever hell hole of a committee dreamt up this particular marketing idea, while other words like ‘maybe just email everyone with the headliner in the subject line so they still find out even though they’ll delete the email along with every other email anyone has ever got from the Union’ were brushed under the tea, coffee and danishes table.
If you haven’t heard from a friend (either because you don’t have any or because you have friends who have better things to talk about – like the socioeconomic state of Syria, or Eurovision or something), or failed to see the rather menacing posters and leaflets littered around FiveSixEight, the headliner for this year’s Summer Ball is the so-called Professor Green.
This seems like a great match. Imperial is a University; Green is apparently a Professor. Green hasn’t been popular since 2010; the Union has no money. Imperial has a history of ethics issues and inviting hate speakers; Green assaulted a Durham student when booked for their Freshers’ Week event. Wait. What?
Let me start again. On Friday 3rd October, 2014, a man slapped a teenager. At the Durham Freshers ball. Whilst performing on stage. With a security guard present to suppress any response. That man has since been contracted for an estimated £10,000 to headline the Imperial Summer Ball. See the problem here?
For some background, you should watch the videos – a quick Google of “Professor Green slaps” will get you two taken from different angles. “That’s what you get if you call me a ct” shouts the triumphant happy slapper, before segueing smoothly into the presumably rhetorical “Are we going to have a f*ing good time tonight or what?” Not so PG after all.
What is most unnerving about this incident is Professor Green’s apparent lack of contrition, telling the Mirror: “I don’t reflect on things like that”. He stated, “If someone abuses you and throws their hand up at your face, then someone says that you hit a fan I’m just like like what fan? It happened. I mean, what’s happened to rock and roll? I don’t understand why it became such a big thing.”
Now whether or not it could be claimed that by hiring Green the Union is implicitly condoning his actions, the question must be asked as to who on earth thought that this was a good idea. It should be noted at this point that the Union, insecure in its own ability to choose and book a ‘big name’ artist and presumably scared of any involvement of students in the Ball’s running since the debacle of 2011, when general incompetence and unrealistic expectations led to a loss of £120,000 over the course of one badly attended evening, hired an external agency to recommend and book the acts.
The unfortunate thing is that the agency, the Union, and Green’s self inflated sense of importance are right. Whether or not brand ICU will benefit from being linked to an unapologetic thug, Professor Green’s name (and to a lesser extent, face) attached to the summer ball has seen a huge spike in ticket sales, increased on last year, and reports of “well excited” freshers.
And what if the incident is repeated at Imperial? One Durham student, “gutted” to have missed the freshers ball, told The Tab Durham that paying almost £40 to attend would have been “worth it to see a internationally renowned rap artist bitch slap a teenager”.
Whether or not the staff involved in the decision making process that led to booking the so called Professor were aware of the incident leads to two conclusions. Either they knew about the incident; having spent more than 5 minutes researching the person they were spending half a year’s salary on in a single evening and decided that this was something they were ok with, or they do have a moral compass but, failing to have done the initial research and finding out too late, are now unable to back out of the contract. While the reader can draw their own conclusions, past experience would suggest that the simplest explanation here is incompetence.