A 22-year-old Australian man, Fabian Natoli, is under fire for a culturally insensitive Instagram post, which he has since deleted after causing offense among Australians.
The young man living in Sydney, who formerly played rugby for the Manly Marlins, apologized profusely after receiving criticism for his flaming social faux pas, The Guardian reported.
The row began when musician Thelma Plum shared a screenshot of Natoli — who is white — dressed as a caricature of an indigenous Australian and posing with a gasoline can on Instagram. Plum captioned the image by calling Natoli the “dead sh*t of the day.”
Sparking an Internet fury, this picture of Natoli went viral and consequently received much backlash from social media users who took turns disparaging the athlete for his poor form.
There has been enough reporting on this shit for people to know it's wrong. Apology or not this is clearly racist and so was it's intent. pic.twitter.com/XZZ5O5k76r— Ryan Griffen (@RyanJGriffen) October 3, 2016
What did I tell you about white dudes with dreadlocks? Gronks. pic.twitter.com/rvm4dlDhJ8— BRIGGS AKA BIG SIGH (@BriggsGE) October 3, 2016
Although it’s unknown when Natoli originally posted the picture of himself at what he claimed to be an “Australian-themed party,” the controversial image further fuels the ongoing debate over cultural appropriation and slander.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation, but who is to judge when this line gets crossed? Some may argue that in contemporary society it’s okay to be culturally or racially “blind,” but perhaps this only erases the distinctions which make individual cultures unique or powerful.
Recently, fashion designer Marc Jacobs and author Lionel Shriver were both accused of appropriating other cultures to the extent of being called “racist,” and have angered many of their fans for their insensitivity.
Both Jacobs and Shriver defended their points of view, despite the backlash. Likewise, Natoli offered a tone-deaf explanation that he intended “no racism,” but clearly if he had to apologize for it, then he is likely guilty of such accusations. He argued that those who are now name-calling him are "no worse" than he is.
He said, “I’ve said sorry and I genuinely meant it… saw the jerry can, picked it up to take what I thought was a funny photo, clearly knowing now that it wasn’t and it was offensive to a lot of people.”
Banner photo credit: Twitter, @BriggsGE