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Shocking ad where a skinhead ‘steals’ a man’s briefcase is a masterclass on perception

Point of view makes all the difference.

1986 skinhead ad, the guardian, point of view

An iconic 1986 ad from The Guardian.

In 1986, The Guardian, a mainstream left-wing newspaper in the UK, created a campaign to show the importance of having as many perspectives on world events as possible. The ad focuses on what appears to be a skinhead wrestling the briefcase out of an older man’s hands.

The ad was recently resurfaced on X by Massimo, a popular account that curates videos on science, art and technology. The video received over 150,000 views in a single day.

“An event, seen from one point of view, gives one impression,” the narrator says, as we see a skinhead running towards a man in what appears to be an attempt to steal his briefcase. “Seen from another point of view, it gives quite a different impression,” the narrator says as the angle shifts to show that the skinhead’s motivation is much different than most initially assumed.

When we see the incident from both angles, the skinhead saves the older gentleman from being hit by a load of bricks falling off a broken scaffolding above his head. “It’s only when you see the full picture that you can really understand what’s going on,” says the voiceover.

The ad is one of the most influential in UK history because it’s a dramatic reminder for people to reevaluate their prejudices, remain open-minded and see things from other people’s points of view.

Speaking of perception, it’s worth noting that there is a difference between UK and American skinhead cultures. In the UK, skinheads are a working-class subculture that is not traditionally racist. However, there are racist factions, as opposed to the US, where the subculture is synonymous with white racism.

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