On July 12 (Local Time), an investigation has been initiated against a library in London over an event that was reportedly done to ‘promote reading among kids’. As per reports, the event included one performer who was dressed in a ‘Rainbow Monkey’ costume with fake genitalia hanging out and exposed buttocks.
In a video that has gone viral on social media platforms, the “Monkey” character runs out from the library on the street with two other performers holding a placard. The event was held at London’s Redbridge library.
They all break into dance outside. Most of the people who saw the video are outraged as the Monkey’s fake genitalia kept flapping in all directions as he danced on the street. The Redbridge Library claimed the event was to ‘promote reading among kids’ between the ages of four to eleven. However, the blatant obscenity in front of children and families attracted strong criticism among social media users.
The actor belonged to a troupe of street performers associated with one Mandinga Arts that is based in Clapham South in London. The group’s website reads that it has “a distinctive style bringing together live music, carnival, street costume, puppetry and dance, drawing on diverse influences from Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.” The monkey was part of its walkabout acts. People who come across indecent costumes took social media platforms to criticise the event.
Strong criticism followed
People across social media platforms called out the said library for endorsement and promotion of the blatantly obscene act.
All future events of the ‘dildo monkey’ reading to children have been cancelled. Redbridge Libraries has apologised, although it initially laughed about it when challenged, saying ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. Here’s a video of the ‘education’ https://t.co/iQleEL2Eyl 2/2— ripx4nutmeg (@ripx4nutmeg) July 11, 2021
I mean how many librarian/councillor eyes had to behold the Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey before he was released into the wild to delight the children of Redbridge? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/SbkDerdDZb— Janice Turner (@VictoriaPeckham) July 11, 2021
Some people questioned the Redbridge Labour council that had reportedly organised the event. Some users stated that initially when they tried to complain to the council, they were blocked while the council defended the act.
Redbridge Labour commissioned a furry rainbow monkey with a huge dildo and exposed anus to dance in front of children as part of a reading project at libraries this summer. People complained to Labour and were blocked and called 'lecturing Johnny come latelys' by its leader 1/2 pic.twitter.com/UTT1DZz5Jb— ripx4nutmeg (@ripx4nutmeg) July 11, 2021
Redbridge Libraries issue apology
An apology has been issued by Redbridge Libraries for hosting the performance. Notably, they blamed the charity Vision for the lapse of judgement in choosing the group for the event. In a statement, they said, “We are utterly appalled by the unacceptable event at Redbridge Libraries on Saturday organised by our independent leisure contractor, Vision. The contractor had commissioned characters to support the start of the Summer Reading Challenge, but the costume in question was wholly inappropriate for the intended audience.”
What action has been taken against the team or person from Redbridge Libraries who thought it was hilarious when made aware of? ‘When you’ve got it, flaunt it’ was the response. pic.twitter.com/5lgeKorly3— Yasser Din (@yasser_din) July 10, 2021
It further added that a full and thorough investigation had been initiated. “We sincerely apologise for the offence and distress this has caused,” the statement read. But there is more to the story. One of the comments under a tweet by Redbridge Libraries pointed out that the Library was well aware of the costumes and even made indirect reference to the hanging genitalia in the comments.
Vision have apologised to residents for an event earlier today that included an inappropriate costume. The council leader and deputy have expressed their strong condemnation to Vision for this costume and the offence it has caused. https://t.co/m5sjTWhvLE— Redbridge Council (@RedbridgeLive) July 10, 2021
An investigation initiated by Council Leader
Jas Athwal, Council Leader, issued a strong statement against the event and called it “disgusting”. He added that the charity had confirmed that all scheduled events had been cancelled.
I was appalled by the event our independent leisure contractor organised at Redbridge Libraries on Saturday.— Jas Athwal (@Jas_Athwal) July 12, 2021
I have launched a full investigation into the incident and will put stringent measures in place to ensure something like this can’t happen again.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/0RtHL4hjVz
Notably, the incident took a political turn as some of the comments were directed at the members of the Labour Party who dominates the Redbridge Council. Athwal, who is a member of the Labour Party, got irked by such comments, and in one of the replies, he said he would not take lectures from a Johnny-come-lately. The phrase means ‘a person who is new to the scene or has come late for the event’.
No it’s not. As soon as I learned of this I took immediate action. I contacted Vision & they have have confirmed that all subsequent events have been cancelled. I will deal with this Monday morning. This was a couple of hours ago will not take lectures from a Johnny come lately.— Jas Athwal (@Jas_Athwal) July 10, 2021
The reply was directed to Conservative Campaigner Has Ahmed, who had said, “Apparently, this is meant to encourage kids in Redbridge to pick up reading for summer. Please tell me the rationale behind these indecent costumes that were shown to families and done so publicly. Is this really necessary?”
Interestingly, Mandinga Arts has worked with Redbridge Libraries on several projects. Earlier in 2021, they participated in the Day of the Dead celebrations. Redbridge Libraries itself has a controversial history of using ‘not-so-decent’ characters for its events. Last year, they hosted a week of “inclusive Story Time for LGBT+ History Month” with drag article Mama G. The same artist has promoted the Summer Reading Challenge for Kent Libraries this year.