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Irish beauty video team defends 'IRA-look' machine gun model to represent Northern Ireland in the '70s

By Caitlin McBride and David Young

Published 18/03/2016

Creators of the '100 years of Irish beauty' viral video (above) have defended their inclusion of a model wielding a machine gun to represent the 1970s.

The popular video series portrays decades worth of beauty trends in two minute videos around the world with Ireland's version released ahead of St Patrick's Day on Thursday.

Controversial '100 years of Irish beauty' video includes a model wielding a machine gun
Controversial '100 years of Irish beauty' video includes a model wielding a machine gun

The video by Cut, which sees a side by side of beauty looks in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is pretty generic until the 1970s - when the model holds a machine gun.

Writer Josh Potter, who was involved in the project, said they were not "glorifying violence or terrorism" with the "IRA look".

"We used a look inspired by women who were fighting in the Irish Republican Army. Whether or not we were glorifying violence or terrorism by including the IRA look was a question I asked of myself and I think we asked of each other," he said in a behind the scenes video explainer (below).

"I wanted to use the look simply because it reflected the violence of the time period. I think we would have done a disservice to the project by leaving that look out, because that would have whitewashed a large part of North Ireland's history."

Speaking from Dublin, Irish Labour Party Senator Mairia Cahill, who comes from west Belfast, said: "I think this is possibly one of the stupidest videos I've ever seen.

"Had it been a historical video, there are other ways of documenting the conflict. However, this is, as the title reflects, supposed to be about beauty and fashion. The IRA previously used pictures of females in miniskirts with guns in an act of propaganda to sex up their 'struggle'.

"But the reality is, the IRA oppressed women just as much as anyone else. Their movement was a masochistic organisation run by violent men.

"The makers of this film fail to grasp the reality. There was nothing beautiful about murder and mayhem. No glory in the act of taking lives through beating, shooting and bombing men, women and children to death."

DUP MLA Paula Bradley was scathing of what she called a glorification of murder and terrorism.

"To include terrorism in a feature supposedly dedicated to beauty is an obvious glorification of those involved in murder.

"To go on and defend that decision compounds the offence they've caused, as well as their own ignorance. There are plenty of strong, positive female role models who could define Northern Ireland in the 1970s far better than those who were attempting to murder their neighbours.

"The women who stood against such violence would be more appropriate to take inspiration from, not least because they far outnumbered the small clique engaged in murders and bombings."

Ms Bradley was fiercely critical of other Cut videos in the same series - some of which have been viewed up to 28 million times - singling out one on Korea.

"In the video dedicated to Korea, the smiling image of a North Korean woman does little to reflect she is representing a country generally accepted as one of the world's worst violators of human rights," she said.

"It is, of course, about as accurate a depiction as IRA women representing Northern Ireland."

The video also showed the need to resist attempts to rewrite history, Ms Bradley claimed.

"The positive image of a modern Northern Ireland has been hugely successful in attracting both tourism and investment.

"It's disappointing that such a one-sided and cliched view of the terrorism that blighted our country for so long is still prevalent."

UUP MLA Alastair Patterson backed up the stance that there were better female role models from 1970s Northern Ireland.

"Any serious attempt to look back on the role of women in the Northern Ireland of the 1970s would do better to focus on the Greenfinches of the UDR and the female RUC officers who held the line against the terror campaign of the IRA." the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA said.

Janet Coulter, senior lecturer in Fashion at Ulster University, also slammed the production.

"What an inaccurate and misinformed video," she said. "It does a disservice to all Irish women - and to fashion."

Senator Cahill sent a powerful message to the people behind the video: "Perhaps the film-makers should stick to fashion and hairstyles and leave the ugly side of the Troubles in Northern Ireland to documentary-makers. That way, there is no risk of young, impressionable women being influenced by their crap."

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