“To Pimp a Butterfly”
I LEARNED TODAY that Kendrick Lamar won a Grammy award — Best Rap Album of the Year — for his record called “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Good for Kendrick Lamar. More on pimping in a second. But first, here’s how you know you’re getting old or clueless: A guy wins a Grammy. The New York Times (which I read every day) reports the news. It’s big. Even so, I’ve never in my life heard of Kendrick Lamar.
That’s okay, because I don’t know much about rap or hip hop. I do know about butterflies. And Kendrick Lamar ain’t got nothing when it comes to pimping butterflies. Don’t get me wrong. I like what I’ve read about Lamar’s motivation for his album: in part his trip to South Africa, including a visit to Nelson Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island. So I get the pimping — the racism and exploitation — juxtaposed with a gossamer insect, an icon of flight and the light.
“The title grasped the entire concept of the record,” Lamar is quoted as saying on the Grammy’s website. “[I wanted to] break down the idea of being pimped in the industry, in the community and out of all the knowledge that you thought you had known, then discovering new life and wanting to share it.”
Great. All good. But sorry, Lamar, a dude named Scotts has got you beat. The company that brought us Miracle-Gro and lawn chemicals long ago pimped a butterfly. I noticed it first on a Scotts truck on the road in Florida in 2009. (That’s my photo of the truck above.)
Scotts pimped a Monarch.
Or is it a Monarch? Nope. Ain’t no Monarch. This is a pimped mutant butterfly. Scotts took a Monarch’s forewings and most of its hindwings. Fine. But the marketing department added a swallowtail on the pimped mutant’s trailing end.
This butterfly does not exist in nature. Scotts not only pimped a butterfly to greenwash its services, but created a lie in the process. I guess a Monarch wasn’t iconic enough. And I guess that’s marketing.
So here, intact, are a Monarch and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Let the two converge only on a flower near you next summer. In the meantime, I’m off to listen to some Kendrick Lamar … and to search the skies for Taylor Swifts.