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.

No, You Aren’t African!

Keep A Child Alive, you do good work, but…

Please quit with these “I Am African” campaigns!!

Painting yourself with “tribal markings”, and really what the heck does that mean and posing with the illusion of nudity does nothing to make white Hollywood heavy-hitters African, know why? They’re not. They have the ‘privilege’ (remember that word) of washing out those markings, putting on their thousand dollar clothes, and walking off the sets! Know what us Africans get to do, keep being African. Having DNA that can be ”traced back” to Africa doesn’t give you the first idea of what it means to be African.

And we don’t really appreciate the victimization either.

Oh, and the homogenization is getting old.

Just In Case Airbender Wasn’t Bad Enough

From Racebending.com:

Hollywood is adapting the classic manga and anime AKIRA to the silver screen. Given the current lack of lead roles for actors of color in the science fiction genre, the complex characters of AKIRA would be a great opportunity for Asian American actors. Will directors Albert and Allen Hughes cast Asian American actors to play the iconic roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo?

The latest draft script for Akira is reportedly set in “Neo-Manhattan” instead of Neo-Tokyo. Given the prominence and popularity of the original Akira, we know fans will be closely following the development of this Warner Bros. production. On March 22nd, 2011, Deadline.com reported that eight actors have been invited to audition–all of the actors are white.

FAQ about Akira from Racebending.com

One would think that after The Last Airbender caused so much controversy and did a lot worse than the makers were expecting, this wouldn’t happen again. Not only are they removing the original setting, which I assume is to make it more “relatable” [insert *side-eye* here] or whatever BS they want to feed us, they are keeping the japanese names all the while buzzing for white actors to get involved with the project.

Yet again, Hollywood targets the young white male demographic and takes it even further by shamelessly appropriating a culture for entertainment purposes. Go you, Hollywood! Go you.

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