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Old Frightful

H&M...Racist or a breath of fresh air?

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I've been following this on facebook and the comments from white people have been awful and, may I suggest deliberately ignorant of what black people have been through in my lifetime?

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3 hours ago, Dave T said:

I find the questioning whether it is inappropriate strange, when to me it is not even ambiguous - the only factor is whether it was intentional. You can also sense  the eye rolling from a couple of posters too, one making a rather silly point about calling their nephew, and another saying he didn't get the fuss before he worked it out - well I didn't get the fuss before I saw the black kid wearing a top saying monkey either.

But the point was more at the coverage that this is an American thing, when it is absolutely prevalent in the UK and certain parts of Europe (don't know how wide in Europe).

I would also hope that the defence of the people involved is that they did not know the word monkey was used as a racist slur.

I'm sorry Dave but I think you're trying too hard to look for outrage both on the part of users on this forum and with regards to H&M.

It is absurd IMO to suggest that a clothing company with a target market largely of young people and students would do something like this on purpose. It is also hard to believe that somebody hadn't made the link before it made the website; I know I would have. I suspect that quite a large number of people will have seen it before it was put on the website. However, I think that OF makes a decent point when he says that people might have been afraid of being called racist for pointing it out; it is very hard to know how people will take something like that. If I was with a group who were all pointing out how cute the jumper was, I'm not sure I'd be the one to point out it is inappropriate because it is linking monkeys with black people. You could end up being the one viewed with suspicion for seeing that link.

As regards the users, you first of all made the claim that some of them are not aware that monkey is a slur. There is no such post or even implication from a poster that they are unaware of this. We are talking about a child and children are routinely linked with monkeys in our society; to see a picture of a child wearing a top with monkey on it is far from unusual. Both of my children (a boy and a girl) have clothing with monkeys on them. I said I had no idea whether it is just an English thing and also whether black people often use words like 'cheeky monkey' or 'little monkey' when referring to their children. This makes a big difference I think.

However, the reaction suggests to me that they probably don't and you can certainly understand why they wouldn't. I think it's far more likely though that it was a careless mistake brought about by the cultural differences rather than anything more sinister. 

 

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1 hour ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I'm sorry Dave but I think you're trying too hard to look for outrage both on the part of users on this forum and with regards to H&M.

It is absurd IMO to suggest that a clothing company with a target market largely of young people and students would do something like this on purpose. It is also hard to believe that somebody hadn't made the link before it made the website; I know I would have. I suspect that quite a large number of people will have seen it before it was put on the website. However, I think that OF makes a decent point when he says that people might have been afraid of being called racist for pointing it out; it is very hard to know how people will take something like that. If I was with a group who were all pointing out how cute the jumper was, I'm not sure I'd be the one to point out it is inappropriate because it is linking monkeys with black people. You could end up being the one viewed with suspicion for seeing that link.

As regards the users, you first of all made the claim that some of them are not aware that monkey is a slur. There is no such post or even implication from a poster that they are unaware of this. We are talking about a child and children are routinely linked with monkeys in our society; to see a picture of a child wearing a top with monkey on it is far from unusual. Both of my children (a boy and a girl) have clothing with monkeys on them. I said I had no idea whether it is just an English thing and also whether black people often use words like 'cheeky monkey' or 'little monkey' when referring to their children. This makes a big difference I think.

However, the reaction suggests to me that they probably don't and you can certainly understand why they wouldn't. I think it's far more likely though that it was a careless mistake brought about by the cultural differences rather than anything more sinister. 

 

Ok ill be a touch more blunt.

Firstly im not being ott with regards to H and M, I stated I give them the benefit of the doubt, even gave a reason why it may have happened, but it is inappropriate and they agree.

But onto two specific posts on here. First somebody says they didnt see the fuss at first, and that they will have to be careful not to call their relative a monkey in case they get pulled for racism - if that isnt a dig at the 'PC Brigade' then I dont know what is, after almost defending H&M by highlighting they had apologised in their first line.

Another post sees a postet agree with this post and state that they didnt see the issue at first. What does that mean? Until the penny dropped? Because that will literally be the same for anyone, its how the brain works. But the person then goes onto say they dont see anything erong really they just see a kid in a jumper. 

They are two specific examples of what I refer to when I suggest people are playing it down, being ignorant, or indeed rolling their eyes at the PC Brigade.

On a sports forum, and our sport has had issues in this area, I am surprised that people are so blase about it and suggest they didnt really see a great issue. I didnt explicitly state people didnt know monkey was a racist term, but if people dont realise quite quickly what the issue is there then that is what i refer to.

I dont buy the stuff about people being scared of saying owt about it before it was published either. I would be more inclined to believe that people who photograph this and then sign it off are looking at hundreds of images and probably dont even read the clothing. Or the language issue.

 

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5 hours ago, Dave T said:

I find the questioning whether it is inappropriate strange, when to me it is not even ambiguous - the only factor is whether it was intentional. You can also sense  the eye rolling from a couple of posters too, one making a rather silly point about calling their nephew, and another saying he didn't get the fuss before he worked it out - well I didn't get the fuss before I saw the black kid wearing a top saying monkey either.

But the point was more at the coverage that this is an American thing, when it is absolutely prevalent in the UK and certain parts of Europe (don't know how wide in Europe).

I would also hope that the defence of the people involved is that they did not know the word monkey was used as a racist slur.

A couple of us couldn't actually read what was on the hoodie until we zoomed in on the words, which is why we didn't get it.  As soon as we could actually read what was on the hoodie, we got it.

Stop trying to create Outrage! when it doesn't exist.

And yes, I need to make sure I don't call my nephew a 'cheeky monkey' because these days people will report all sorts of things.  Being part of a mixed race family means I tend to forget that people outside of the family don't know that we are family and so we know where we stand on these matters.

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2 minutes ago, Saintslass said:

A couple of us couldn't actually read what was on the hoodie until we zoomed in on the words, which is why we didn't get it.  As soon as we could actually read what was on the hoodie, we got it.

Stop trying to create Outrage! when it doesn't exist.

And yes, I need to make sure I don't call my nephew a 'cheeky monkey' because these days people will report all sorts of things.  Being part of a mixed race family means I tend to forget that people outside of the family don't know that we are family and so we know where we stand on these matters.

So you didnt get the fuss until you read it? Me neither. There is no fuss until you read it. Its the words that are an issue. Isnt that a weird thing to post?

Id be surprised if anybody saw anybody fooling around with a black child and calling them a little/cheeky monkey and picked up their phone to call the police straight away. If its something you already do i assume you havent been arrested?

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3 minutes ago, Dave T said:

So you didnt get the fuss until you read it? Me neither. There is no fuss until you read it. Its the words that are an issue. Isnt that a weird thing to post?

 

What?  Why is it weird?  I simply relayed the process I went through.  If you don't want to read what I post then just stick me on ignore.

Quote

Id be surprised if anybody saw anybody fooling around with a black child and calling them a little/cheeky monkey and picked up their phone to call the police straight away. If its something you already do i assume you havent been arrested?

Again, what?  My nephew is black.  I call him cheeky monkey at home, just as I call my non-black child relatives cheeky monkey.  But I must remember not to do it in public in case someone hears me and reports me for something I'm not guilty of.  Until this story happened I hadn't even given it a moment's thought.  Now I have.  I was simply reflecting in my post, just as other people do on here. 

You haven't been watching/reading/listening to the news if you think that what I described in my post doesn't happen, ie people hear something, jump to the wrong conclusion and reports what they think they have heard.  

 

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1 minute ago, Saintslass said:

What?  Why is it weird?  I simply relayed the process I went through.  If you don't want to read what I post then just stick me on ignore.

Again, what?  My nephew is black.  I call him cheeky monkey at home, just as I call my non-black child relatives cheeky monkey.  But I must remember not to do it in public in case someone hears me and reports me for something I'm not guilty of.  Until this story happened I hadn't even given it a moment's thought.  Now I have.  I was simply reflecting in my post, just as other people do on here. 

You haven't been watching/reading/listening to the news if you think that what I described in my post doesn't happen, ie people hear something, jump to the wrong conclusion and reports what they think they have heard.  

 

If you insist.

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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

Ok ill be a touch more blunt.

Firstly im not being ott with regards to H and M, I stated I give them the benefit of the doubt, even gave a reason why it may have happened, but it is inappropriate and they agree.

But onto two specific posts on here. First somebody says they didnt see the fuss at first, and that they will have to be careful not to call their relative a monkey in case they get pulled for racism - if that isnt a dig at the 'PC Brigade' then I dont know what is, after almost defending H&M by highlighting they had apologised in their first line.

Another post sees a postet agree with this post and state that they didnt see the issue at first. What does that mean? Until the penny dropped? Because that will literally be the same for anyone, its how the brain works. But the person then goes onto say they dont see anything erong really they just see a kid in a jumper. 

They are two specific examples of what I refer to when I suggest people are playing it down, being ignorant, or indeed rolling their eyes at the PC Brigade.

On a sports forum, and our sport has had issues in this area, I am surprised that people are so blase about it and suggest they didnt really see a great issue. I didnt explicitly state people didnt know monkey was a racist term, but if people dont realise quite quickly what the issue is there then that is what i refer to.

I dont buy the stuff about people being scared of saying owt about it before it was published either. I would be more inclined to believe that people who photograph this and then sign it off are looking at hundreds of images and probably dont even read the clothing. Or the language issue.

 

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt that just because they don't see this as a huge issue it doesn't mean that are blase about racism. 

People are playing it down because they recognise that is far more likely to be an unfortunate mistake than anything malicious. This is a picture of a child who has a jumper with monkey written on it and children are often called monkeys. The fact that the child was black and H&M haven't picked up on the obvious connotations is extremely embarrassing for them and they will pay the price.

However, it is a huge over reaction to see it as anything more than that. There was a similar incident a few years back when Zara released t-shirts that looked incredibly like holocaust outfits. I don't remember feeling that I was not taking the holocaust seriously because I thought it was nothing more than a clumsy and ridiculous mistake.

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27 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt that just because they don't see this as a huge issue it doesn't mean that are blase about racism. 

People are playing it down because they recognise that is far more likely to be an unfortunate mistake than anything malicious. This is a picture of a child who has a jumper with monkey written on it and children are often called monkeys. The fact that the child was black and H&M haven't picked up on the obvious connotations is extremely embarrassing for them and they will pay the price.

However, it is a huge over reaction to see it as anything more than that. There was a similar incident a few years back when Zara released t-shirts that looked incredibly like holocaust outfits. I don't remember feeling that I was not taking the holocaust seriously because I thought it was nothing more than a clumsy and ridiculous mistake.

Again, i referred to it as an error by H&M and offeredexplanations as to how it may have come about. Why do you keep ignoring that?

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Sadly we live in a world where people sometimes read more into things that aren’t intended.

Certainly H&M were ill advised to do this given the historic linkage of monkey references with racism. The flip side though is that the term “cheeky monkey” is historically a term of endearment. 

I believe that on this particular website page the next image to this was a white kid wearing a hoodie that says “Jungle Survival Expert”. I’m guessing that had they reversed the models and got the white kid wearing the monkey top and the black kid wearing the survival top some people would still have read racist connotations into it “are they saying black kids are more suited to living in the jungle ?”

Of course they could have got around the problem by using only white child models, but then somebody would have accused them of racism for not using any black children.

Seems to me the only solution is to not sell children’s clothes with jungle animals or phrases on, that’s the only way they won’t offend anyone.

I am very much in favour of trying to eradicate racism in our society, but there are enough serious issues of racism to tackle without inventing ones like this. Does anyone really think H&M set out to be overtly and deliberately racist here ? 

 

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25 minutes ago, Derwent said:

 

I am very much in favour of trying to eradicate racism in our society, but there are enough serious issues of racism to tackle without inventing ones like this. Does anyone really think H&M set out to be overtly and deliberately racist here ? 

 

No I don’t, but I think the problem here as I alluded to earlier is that white people, very mainly white people, the same white people who often loudly proclaim that racism either doesn’t exist anymore or is “just as bad on both sides” are queuing up on social media to say they can’t see what the problem is.

On a personal note I can remember my mother being spat at in a shop and being called an “Irish #####” I was too small to do anything about it. I remember a testimonial match at Thrum Hall between a team made up of black players and Halifax, the monkey noises from a section of the crowd were obscene and when the invitation team scored a bunch of bananas was thrown into the in goal area. A bit of a digression but not that long ago in historical terms. 

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32 minutes ago, Derwent said:

Sadly we live in a world where people sometimes read more into things that aren’t intended.

Certainly H&M were ill advised to do this given the historic linkage of monkey references with racism. The flip side though is that the term “cheeky monkey” is historically a term of endearment. 

I believe that on this particular website page the next image to this was a white kid wearing a hoodie that says “Jungle Survival Expert”. I’m guessing that had they reversed the models and got the white kid wearing the monkey top and the black kid wearing the survival top some people would still have read racist connotations into it “are they saying black kids are more suited to living in the jungle ?”

Of course they could have got around the problem by using only white child models, but then somebody would have accused them of racism for not using any black children.

Seems to me the only solution is to not sell children’s clothes with jungle animals or phrases on, that’s the only way they won’t offend anyone.

I am very much in favour of trying to eradicate racism in our society, but there are enough serious issues of racism to tackle without inventing ones like this. Does anyone really think H&M set out to be overtly and deliberately racist here ? 

 

I dont think anybody has claimed deliberate racism here from H&M, but it was inappropriate, something they have accepted. I actually think they have pulled the jumper which seems unnecessary.

We should also note that it wasnt the term 'cheeky monkey' that was used, it was 'coolest monkey in the jungle'. The other jumper had no mention of monkey at all and id be very surprised had this been highlighted if the two kids would have worn the opposite jumpers.

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I think the problem is that it is easy to criticise adverts like these and nearly everyone will agree.

However, my personal experience is that in the workplace racism is much more difficult to prove.

As a union rep I have found that managers are unwilling to deal with racist comments unless there is absolute proof.

Again, managers who are very pc about such adverts are often unwilling to speak up when there is a real issue. 

 

 

 

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Too much has been made of this. The PC Brigade now jump on anything and shout "Racism". There is no Intention for anything Racist there, except for those that look for it. I highly doubt this was done on purpose and most people dont see much in it. Sadly some of the PC Brigade are more Racist than a Neonazi as they look for things that are not there.

Just because a kid has dark skin, doesnt mean he cant be called a "Monkey" like kids with lighter skin. How far do we go with this? Cant we ever give a Black kid a banana with other kids at home? Treatment all the same not make exceptions.

Racism does exist in many areas of life. Yes we do need to stand up andcriticise it when its there. But we also need to have some Balance. Sometimes the alleged Racism, is not Racism, but the Twisted logic of a section of Society. Sadly this inbalance has created a Platform for Idiots like Black Lives Matter. Society needs to get back to getting the Balance right on many things. Sadly that wont happen.

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8 hours ago, Lounge Room Lizard said:

Too much has been made of this. The PC Brigade now jump on anything and shout "Racism". There is no Intention for anything Racist there, except for those that look for it. I highly doubt this was done on purpose and most people dont see much in it. Sadly some of the PC Brigade are more Racist than a Neonazi as they look for things that are not there.

Just because a kid has dark skin, doesnt mean he cant be called a "Monkey" like kids with lighter skin. How far do we go with this? Cant we ever give a Black kid a banana with other kids at home? Treatment all the same not make exceptions.

Racism does exist in many areas of life. Yes we do need to stand up andcriticise it when its there. But we also need to have some Balance. Sometimes the alleged Racism, is not Racism, but the Twisted logic of a section of Society. Sadly this inbalance has created a Platform for Idiots like Black Lives Matter. Society needs to get back to getting the Balance right on many things. Sadly that wont happen.

Sorry Si, but this is exactly the sort of response I was referring to above.

If you can’t see why black children shouldn’t be called monkeys then you need to take a look at yourself 

“some of the pc brigade are more racist than neo nazis” I’ll put  myself in that brigade and say I’ve never advocated genocide against any race, but once again I covered this kind of nonsense above 

Edited by Phil
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If a kid and their parent choose to go out and buy that jumper that is cool, i dont really know why H&M took it off sale.

A corporation dressing a black kid in a sweater saying 'Coolest Monkey in the Jungle' is a different thing.

When talking about racism, i find it pretty shocking that somebody would yearn for yesteryear when society had the balance right! Jeez.

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20 minutes ago, Phil said:

Sorry Si, but this is exactly the sort of response I was referring to above.

If you can’t see why black children shouldn’t be called monkeys then you need to take a look at yourself 

“some of the pc brigade are more racist than neo nazis” I’ll put  myself in that brigade and say I’ve never advocated genocide against any race, but once again I covered this kind of nonsense above 

Sorry disagree. Treat every kid/person the same. All kids are "Monkeys", no matter what colour skin or Background. Its a shame we are now having to create exceptions for certain people so as to avoid being a racist. 

To try and created something Racist from that Situation is wrong. To point Fingers at people and call them racist, just because society has created a world of hate and often misunderstanding is both sad and wrong. 

Black Lives Matter are no better than Neo Nazis or Antifa. If you Support them  and their views fair enough and thats your choice. I just dont agree with it. As is often now the case,we have lost the Balance of a normal view point and certain groups use that.  

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14 hours ago, Dave T said:

If you insist.

I don't insist on anything.  Do you know the difference between insisting and explaining?  Others understood what I wrote.  Your particular agenda is of no interest to me one way or another.

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

If a kid and their parent choose to go out and buy that jumper that is cool, i dont really know why H&M took it off sale.

Because the link between the logo and racism had been made.  Duh.

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To say there was an air of trepidation about me when I started this thread is summat of an understatement, hence the "please be careful" bit in the initial post.

Thankfully, despite very differing views from people, nobody as far as I can tell, has resorted to abuse yet which is great, thanks for that.

Obviously though, there are differing views that are poles apart and I wonder whether it's worth continuing the debate as some folk will never agree.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle of it all really, although I'm certain someone will probably want to take me up on that, seeing as the subject raises hackles very easily.

As with most, I can't believe the advert set out to be racist, surely no company in their right minds would do that. I'm fairly certain also somebody on here posted something along the lines of "the fact that the marketing panel at H&M doesn't have one black person in it speaks volumes", again I think that's a dangerous statement to make about the company and perhaps that's why I can't see it anymore.

My "breath of fresh air" take on the subject was that it would be wonderful if a company could be confident about placing an advert such as the one in discussion here in the knowledge that nobody would think about passing comment on it. Clearly you only have to glance at the views on this thread to realise we're, sadly, a long way from that happening. It's a great shame because, as has already been said, the little lad's parents must have been happy with the advert and, I'm sure, extremely proud their son was chosen to be a model. In my opinion it would have been a great way to stick two fingers up at the racist crowd by showing they were comfortable with the advert.

As has already been commented, the original advert also featured another little lad, white this time, modelling a different top with a different slogan on it. I can't help but wonder if there was a discussion before release of the advert, along the lines of "Should we have the white child wear the monkey top and the black child wear the survivor top instead?". I would love to have been party to that meeting.

 

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1 hour ago, Saintslass said:

Because the link between the logo and racism had been made.  Duh.

Please don't finish your posts like that.

The racist link was putting a black kid in that sweatshirt - removing that image was enough. It isn't the jumper that was deemed racist, it was the image.

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1 hour ago, Old Frightful said:

1 - As with most, I can't believe the advert set out to be racist, surely no company in their right minds would do that. I'm fairly certain also somebody on here posted something along the lines of "the fact that the marketing panel at H&M doesn't have one black person in it speaks volumes", again I think that's a dangerous statement to make about the company and perhaps that's why I can't see it anymore.

2 - My "breath of fresh air" take on the subject was that it would be wonderful if a company could be confident about placing an advert such as the one in discussion here in the knowledge that nobody would think about passing comment on it. Clearly you only have to glance at the views on this thread to realise we're, sadly, a long way from that happening. It's a great shame because, as has already been said, the little lad's parents must have been happy with the advert and, I'm sure, extremely proud their son was chosen to be a model. In my opinion it would have been a great way to stick two fingers up at the racist crowd by showing they were comfortable with the advert.

As has already been commented, the original advert also featured another little lad, white this time, modelling a different top with a different slogan on it. I can't help but wonder if there was a discussion before release of the advert, along the lines of "Should we have the white child wear the monkey top and the black child wear the survivor top instead?". I would love to have been party to that meeting.

 

1 - This seems to be a relatively universal viewpoint, definitely the case on this thread. The line you refer to I think came from the Independent article I linked to, I'm not sure anybody here said that.

2 - I think the problem with this is that this doesn't stick two fingers up to the racist crowd - it just enforces their view that black people are monkeys. If it was Yaya Toure (or similar) wearing that slogan on a shirt to be challenging then that would make sense, but this wasn't done in a challenging way, it was simply using a word that is often used to denigrate black people.

On your point about the parents and the meeting etc. it would be good to hear a bit more from H&M around the process, who was at the photo shoot, how it was decided who wears what, and how many people saw it and approved it before it went live. I am involved in signing off of marketing material and it would involve probably 20 pairs of eyes seeing something before it went live.

 

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2 hours ago, Lounge Room Lizard said:

Sorry disagree. Treat every kid/person the same. All kids are "Monkeys", no matter what colour skin or Background. Its a shame we are now having to create exceptions for certain people so as to avoid being a racist. 

To try and created something Racist from that Situation is wrong. To point Fingers at people and call them racist, just because society has created a world of hate and often misunderstanding is both sad and wrong. 

Black Lives Matter are no better than Neo Nazis or Antifa. If you Support them  and their views fair enough and thats your choice. I just dont agree with it. As is often now the case,we have lost the Balance of a normal view point and certain groups use that.  

If black people are against being labelled monkeys, or having bananas thrown at them, or monkey chants at them (all still things that occur) - why are you so passionate about defending your right to call black kids monkeys?

All kids are not monkeys, it is a word we choose (and I call my daughter it), but we moderate our language all the time, if I am told that calling a black person is racist, then why would I want to insist I am allowed to?

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

The racist link was putting a black kid in that sweatshirt - removing that image was enough. It isn't the jumper that was deemed racist, it was the image.

However, the next sweatshirt along was being worn by a white boy with another monkey and jungle message on it which was highlighted as reinforcing racism, so H&M dropped the whole lot.

 

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