The real story about Harry's latest dust-up isn't that he's got the sensitivity of a brick; it's that his carpet matches his drapes.
No, really. Towards the end of his funny but controversial video, he pretends he's in charge of his platoon, barks orders and asks if anybody's got questions. A cadet asks, "Are your pubes ginger, too?"
To which his royal dudeness replied: "Yes, they are." Now, I don't know about you, but if this movie's the original release, I can't wait for the sequel. It'll be slow in coming, though, because Harry's getting the freckles lynched off his face for some of the things he filmed himself saying. Still, give the guy his due--he's hilarious.
Take his send up of his grandmother. You know, the woman Cate Blanchett played a few years ago. In the video, Harry pretends he's on the phone with The Queen and ends the conversation with, "God save you."
Now, that's funny. Here's exactly what he said: "Send my love to the corgis. I've got to go, got to go, bye. God Save You."
I'm sorry, but John Stewart on his best day...
So, what are we to do with a risqué home video that inadvertently went public? It's not like he posted it on MySpace. Somebody stole it. Do we have the right to judge it if we weren't meant to see it?
Either way, Harry's video proves he's more court jester than royal racist. Take a look at the context of the two most objectionable things he said:
1) Calling a fellow soldier a "paki." Context: Harry panned his camera over an airport waiting lounge where many of the British troops were lying on the floor sleeping or resting. He was making fun of the whole scene when the camera settled briefly on a soldier with Middle Eastern features. This is what Harry said: 'Ah, our little Paki friend...Ahmed."
2) Calling another fellow soldier a "raghead." Context: Harry's filming an apparently white soldier who seems to lift the back of his shirt to hide his face, creating a sort of turban effect. Harry says, "F*** me, you look like a raghead!"
Insensitive? Yes. Racist? Hmm. As a gay, South American Jew, I know what it feels like to be the target of offensive insults. I'm considered one-stop-shopping by discerning bigots. If Harry had directed his slurs at any of my tribes, I'd be pissed off too. But I'd also appreciate the context. Sensitivity toward ethnic groups is usually the first thing to go when you're getting shot at by some of its members.
If an average-joe soldier filmed that video, nobody would blink an eye. We'd pass it off for what it was--blowing off steam. But of course, we can't because of the film's principal players (one assumes the star slept with the director to get the part). This is DIANA'S SON, after all, the third in line to the throne. He insulted millions of British citizens who are of Middle Eastern descent. Yo, King-in-waiting, you can't do that. Never mind bad governance, it's bad comedy. Attack people at your station in life or above--like you did with grandma--and you'll get lots of laughs. Attack those below your station and you'll get lots of grief.
There's no debating that Harry was wrong in using slurs. I'm just saying watch the video all the way through or you'll miss the best parts.
Author, columnist and TV personality Mike Alvear writes about sex, love and vodka.