Ariana Grande is tiny, isn’t she? There’s 15cm of heels at one end, and perhaps 60cm of hair at the other, but in between there’s hardly anything at all. Obviously the heels come off, and the hair might too, and without them she can probably walk down any street in near anonymity. On stage though, at the One Love Manchester concert on Monday, she became an avatar.

No, I’m not gushing. It’s just a fact. Will he have been watching, do you think, the next terrorist? The one we don’t know about yet. The next man — and it will be a man — to ram a car into people, or plunge a knife into people, or explode himself amid people, or do whatever sordid act of nihilism comes around next. Very possibly, because these guys are hypocrites, and need to know what to hate. For them, Grande was already an avatar, of everything they cannot allow to stand. Yet there she was, standing anyway. All 150cm of her. Even after all.

Concerts like that in Manchester are not pitched at potential terrorists. I get that. Still, perhaps we quietly kid ourselves about the effect they might have. Perhaps we think the next terrorist will be watching, and have an epiphany. “Sheesh!” we might imagine he’ll think. “This looks great! So I’m going to stop watching videos of my fellow murderers in Syria, mansplaining Islam while holding up a finger. And instead I shall watch Katy Perry, perhaps singing Roar, and then I shall buy myself some golden hotpants and go clubbing. For I see now that the other side of this cultural divide, with its feminised fun, and glitter, and dancing, and faintly sexualised hugs from Miley Cyrus is simply a far happier place to be.”

Read the full article by Hugo Rifkind at The Australian (subscription only).

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