signal boost: Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music

You should definitely check out Bianca Laureano’s article, Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music. She discusses how music made by people of culture, music culture made for and by people of color, has become something to be appropriated for popular (usually white) entertainment- and that it is they who assign a capitalist value to our work, and create a system that ensures them as the major beneficiaries. I see you Diplo. She uses the Major Lazer faux-credited Pon De Floor, a beat that’s become recently even more popular through Beyonce’s use of the track in her Run The World (Girls), and its video as the gateway to a very necessary conversation we all need to have.

After doing some searching I found the video for Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor. I was immediately excited because the dancing in the video was very much the kind of Dancehall I find fascinating, yet also complex as it is overly sexually graphic…I was excited about was that the women dancing were large bodied women. Some may even call them “fat dancers” yet for me their bodies were so much like my own it was as though I was watching myself dance…

My online searching led me to the shocking knowledge that Major Lazer  is a fictional Black cyborg created by two White men, Diplo  from Philidelphia (of M.I.A. fame), and Switch from the UK who specializes in “House” music…I realized that two White men created this image of Major Lazer, created the music, and then used Black and brown bodies in the videos…It’s 1 thing to have people of Color do the videos I love, and it’s another when White boys do it. Not that I love it any less (but I kinda do), but now it’s a different perspective with over-sexualized components.

At the end of the day I kind of feel duped, hoodwinked, bamboozled. I fell for imagery that was crafted by outsiders to represent something meaningful that I valued as an important part of my Caribbean identity. There are revolutionary aspects, yet there are so few in comparison to how many troubling aspects of the music, imagery and representations of Major Lazer…

I now understand that Major Lazer is a symbol, yet I’m unclear what it represents because I realize it does not represent me or the community I find myself a part of. I’d love to hear what those of you who either identify with any of the artists we mentioned her or who enjoy Major Lazer think. This is definitely me as an “outsider” to some extent but an “insider” in others. An interesting space to occupy.

It’s a fascinating article, you should definitely read in full.


signal boost: On living in Disneyland

On the recent royal wedding and the world’s fascination:

I have spent much of the last few months trying to avoid coverage of the royal wedding from the domestic media, but it has oddly been harder to get away from noise about it from abroad, particularly from US sources online and particularly on Tumblr yesterday.

The thing is, it often seems like USAmericans aren’t quite convinced that Europe is real. Europe is where the history comes from (because of course there was nobody having any history in the Americas before white explorers turned up in the Early Modern era), but history’s happened now so of course Europe’s not really still there.

When it comes to things like the royal wedding this seems to be writ most large in the disturbing amount of USAmericans I come across gleefully sitting down with their popcorn to watch something that might as well be a film, full of sparkles and silly hats and ostentatious wealth that seems like it springs out of nowhere. It’s a spectacle, a slice of entertainment from one of those funny, fairytale countries with their odd accents and silly languages and castles that are like, totally awesome.

It’s nice that you like our monarchy so damn much; maybe you’d like to have them back so it can be your wealth being robbed for centuries, your people being enslaved and their land stolen, your tax money being wasted on a family of work-shy inbreds who act as a constant, concrete reminder that being white, wealthy, male, and having the right parents is what really matters in society. Perhaps you’d like the delegation of royal powers to turn your government’s executive branch into effectively an elected dictatorship. Perhaps you’d enjoy seeing aristocratic connections override merit and achievement when it comes to educational advantages, or jobs. Perhaps you’d like to see all the gold and jewels and velvet on display and think lovingly of how it unapologetically represents a long, long history of colonialism, slavery and genocide.

This isn’t Disneyland; the prince and the princess won’t live happily ever after on love and fairydust but on the taxes of the British public and the blood of centuries of slaves, on the back of a country built on brutality and conquest and atrocities. This is real and it fucking matters.

thesixpennybook @ tumblr

Food for thought.

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