Thursday, August 20, 2009

What do you thinkkkkk / Trolls & Baiting

blah, Im trying to hash a lot of things out here. As much as 'ghettotech' grows on me as a scene, it certainly involves a lot of reckoning, doesnt it?

I want to avoid a common attack theme tho, which often raise issues as 'gotcha' moments proving the supposed huge racism/sexism of those spoiled hipster kids.[here,here,etc] Hipster audiences might have complicated and jarring relations and our fair share of delusional bigots, but I'm not convinced its so much more complicated and fraught than race relations in America as a whole. It also ignores the mixed backgrounds, huges #s of PoCs, women amoung them.

Mad Decent in particular seem especially prone to this attack, in part becuase they seem most inclined to be pressing buttons and putting out outragous marketing. (and :.?) they are also the biggest and thus attract the most conversation/heat. Them & Radioclit certainly jar me the most.

I think there is certainly a difference between something snarky / cheeky / hitorical / self-referencial like these:

which highlight ideas of orientalism and audience and seem to draw the conversation out vs. take it to this level:

Which seems, at least to me & please tell me how you all feel, as just offensive, the only sort of convo i see coming out of it would be some old ish on 'irony'.

Mad Decents recentish post here shows they certainly feeling some hate. 'Pon the Floor's youtube has tons of comments, mostly in the range of - cool / WTF / disturbing / LOL / ugly bitches / crazy / gross / awesome. Confuzed people wondering : a joke? a parody of islanders? 'setting us back'? AIDS/Nggr comments!? One of those vids that attracts the worst of the internet..

I'm sort of surprised 'Pon de Floor' got it more than 'Hold the Line', in which 2 whitey + jewish guy make a vid of a macho black dude fighting vampires, having babes around his throne & saving them from switchbladed fat darker girl, inna space. All this makes me uncomfortable! and I'm certainly not the only one:

Comments @ Vimeo + Youtube
Comments @ TheFader
Comments @ Couch Sessions
Hipster Runofff
Passion of the Weiss Messageboards

I wanna try to link to as many convos on this as possible, feel free to add any...

A comment at mad decent states:

mad decent, you’ve played me for a fool. I followed the buzz for over a year now. downloaded the leaks. went to the shows. I bought the album with real cash money. I preordered that shit and hyped it just like I hyped every mix with diplo’s name on it since I first heard AEIOU, relaxed to Florida, and played the annie mac and essential mixes out.

My only question now: is the white vampire character our latest example of familiar and played hipster irony, or simply autobiography?

all this major lazer / racism talk distracts us from the misogyny of your project / record label / white boyz club.

yes, diplo, switch, et al. are carnivorous cultural tourists.

yes, major lazer is a perverse retro-futurist blackface project.

yes, ‘Pon De Floor’ video makes a all-too cartoonish and historically-entrenched spectacle of black sexuality and reproductive parts.

But are we surprised?

diplo, switch, et al. have made y’alls careers exploiting the creativity and musical genius of brown and black women (and children).

And the diplo jock-riders at fader and pitchfork have been too busy praising white male deejays while muting the sweat and brilliance of the brown and black women at the mike.

(Please revisit M.I.A.’s interview before Kala dropped.)

Face it, mad decent, you wouldn’t be shit if it weren’t for the sweat and talent of black and brown women. And how do you thank these females that made you so dope?

You shove camera up their skirts in Rio and call it a Documentary-on-Blast.

You plaster images of bare-breasted black women to promote your ‘Mid-Summer Bash’ a couple of weeks ago.

And you mask a blackface project behind anonymous black hype men and rump-shaking teenagers. Hipster gods diplo and switch lay in the cut at shows in three-piece suits like cowards, hiding behind homoerotic [?] cartoons of a muscular black Jamaican minstrel they spent their careers impersonating.

And now hipster gods diplo and switch are mum and out of sight, anonymous behind the pussy lips on an unsigned video that doesn’t even credit vbyz kartel. But why would he want his name on that garbage anyway? diplo and switch obviously don’t.

Forget the nonsense questioning whether it would be okay for a black or West Indian man to make this garbage. Black male artists have been catching hell for years, and rightfully so, for their misogyny. Ask Tricia Rose. Ask Patricia Hill Collins. Its also an insult to the West Indian dancehall culture you are trying to ‘spread,’ ‘praise,’ appropriate, digest, and regurgitate to say that it is essentially misogynist, authentically exploitative of women, women’s labor, and women’s bodies. And even if it were: this is your album, and it doesn’t belong to an amorphous foreign, exotic, and fictional ‘culture.’

Own your shit, mad decent. Take responsibility for your product.

I agree with some, certainly not all of the sentiment there. Its interesting b/c it seems exactly like the sort of comment they were aiming to get on that post. Esp when they post nonsense like this, proudly attaching this video.

Its as if
a. they really believe they are somehow responsible for crazy dancehall videos shown on TV.
b. its a good thing that a clearly creepy 'look at this shocking behavior' video is representing daggering & "our main dude Skeritt Boy" throws a large table at some young woman. Like they see themselves as heroes in some grand controversy.

And thats where i get frustrated. Because it seems like 'trying to stir up controversy' clouds out 'trying to stir up a conversation'.


Rolfe Bautista said...

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The Hairdryer Treatment said...

a lot of good ideas in here and you certainly summed up some of my recent feelings on this stuff. this kind of irony bordering on offensiveness is def an issue within the most awesomist genre of GLOBAL GHETTOTECH and it's nice to put all this shit out there and compile some of the other voices of dissent/critical thinking. quite simply, there are a shitload of DIPLO STANS ar far as the eye can see who think dude's ish is beyond reproach and those people just play a part in furthering/commodifying the ignorance. your distinction between the 'snarky / cheeky / hitorical / self-referencial' secousse flyers and the more crass minstrel-y fu-na-nana and major lazer art is an important one, but i still wonder if some of that irony is going over people's heads. for example, the tintin and orientialsm cover refix flyers. i get them, i think they're clever, but i'm fairly certain a number of the people who view those flyers are seeing them a different way than you and i and are drawn in more to the advertised arab s-exotica tropes like 'harem nights' and 'bellydancing' (obv). shit, why not take it further and have a suicide vest night or oil excavation party?

those two flyers sort of remind me of the michelle obama new yorker cover and how it was consumed by various people and the controversy and discussions it generated. it's implied/intended that the consumer should view the secousse posters from a post-colonial perspective of snarky tongue-in-cheek irony, but what are people taking away from them who don't? are they further perpetuating stereotypes of these exotic others? the other thing you didn't mention in your post is the recent uk vs. bk secousse flyer/invite. that one irked me a little more than your examples and i just thought it was rather ridiculous: the artwork featured some sort of african pygmy covered in blood and the party was billed as "showcasing the most exotic sounds of all continents" and bringing an "unrelenting tribal riot" that is the "real sound of the jungle." none of that imagery is particularly forward-thinking or clever to me, it's just cheese. and yeah, the entire major lazer album is just so ridiculous. minus 'cash flow,' i can't fuck with any of that and i totally agree with the passion of the weiss dude's (who is not passion of the weiss) review that all the ja (and uptown) vocalists put in some throwaway verses. album was shit, basically. i had some other points but i can't remember what they are now, might come back later.

rachel said...

i shoulda mentioned UKvsBK as its kinda what started this post and yeah, none of that stuff feels clever. its hard, because i kinda like the first set of posters, i read it as 'yes, we are a buncha largely white kids listening to this music and we know how complicated that is' but maybe thats too much credit. i think a lot of it tries to play it both ways disingenuously. Its also certainly hard to talk about when people seem so intent on making something offensive / stirring shit up that it draws the conversation to a really bad place. It probably wouldn't bother me as much if they were out there themselves having these conversations and explaining their art to the public/fans/critics. I tried to look for radioclit/majorlazer interview discussing their imagery, all i found was a little clip by diplo on how the major lazer character 'brings fun back into dancehall'. Like if youre putting out stuff thats basically blackface, be responsive to your critics.

weasel said...

in my opinion this has not really much to do with race.
it is more about a certain arrogance or envy (?) of intellectuals towards less educated people. the way how the pon di floor video is making fun of most of the trashy jamaican videos (see movado so special and others) brought the following picture up in me:

imagine wealthy and well educated people dressing up as street bums and acting stupid and pretending to be all fun and crazy and without restraint.
now while i can see how people might think its cool to be "ghetto", especially liberal white dudes that grew up on black music, it's certainly not cool for the actual ghetto people to be impersonated. let alone to be made fun of.

same goes for the daggering part, i think its more of a sexual than a race thing. maybe the fascination for daggering within the hipster scene comes from a desire to behave so unconstrained and sexual themselves, while their intellectual super-ego doesn't let them.
now maybe this could be brought down to racial//cultural differences, but it hink its not about making fun or exhibiting them, but more about adoration and envy.

now that i think about it, the musical production of the ML album goes into a similar direction. its not actually making fun of something, but it is adopting the dirtier, rougher, "lower" ghetto produtcion standards, because they seem to be cool and hip to the western non-ghetto intellectual. while probably most jamaican producers would rather strive for really polished pop productions. and not make it sound cheap and plasticish intentionally.

so, to me it seems to be not a race thing but more of a social//intellectual issue.

excuse my language, i'm no native speaker and still a little drunk.

Anonymous said...

think the secousse thing might be more carnival zombie than african pygmy. don't know if that makes a difference to how you lot look at it....

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm pretty sure that the photo is of a Ghost dancer from Colombia's Baranquilla carnival like this one...

..rather than an 'african pygmy'.

Dave Quam said...

yeah that radioclit mix cover is pretty bad. I like the mix fine and I don't think they had any sort of bad intention, just a pretty poor choice as far as attaching that artwork to their mix.

Good questions you bring up in this post, your blog is becoming one of my favorites

Birdseed said...

Great post. You're definitely not the only one who's bothered by this stuff. It runs through in a lot of the music too, I think - have you heard the Major Lazer track "Zumbi" (not, thankfully, on the album) in which Andy Milonakis faux-patoises himself through a horrible caricature of a general-exotic cannibal-voodoo islander?

By my thinking the aim of this shit is not to stir controversy but to try to defuse it, which they fail at spectacularly. Gingerly stepping around the colonial imagery to try to be as neutral as possible would be related to a political awareness in which the whole enterprise is highly questionable in the first place, so in order to try to avoid being hypocritical they pretend it's all some sort of ironic game instead. By ignoring the social and political aspects, and just making it all a laugh, they don't have to actually face up to the real issues.

Maybe it's working to some extent, eh? We're here talking about the visual imagery rather than the core of the enterprise.

Canaille said...

Tout à fait d'accord avec ce que tu dénonces. Ces illustrations de maD dECENT me dégoutent et le clip Pon the floor, franchement, il me rend triste. C'est simplement un bon exemple de la décadence de l'art.

Décu aussi de voir qu'ils n'ont pas été à la hauteur de rentrer dans le débat semiomusical que lancait Kris Jay.

Par contre les affiches secousse, là il y a un peu de recherche. Mais comme tu sais sûrement que "Tintin au congo" qu'ils utilisent, en France, a été viré des rayons enfants à cause de contenus considérés à tendance raciste...

szenon said...

I just discovered this blog, as I haven't been a voracious internet reader...and may still not qualify as one. However I want to THANK YOU for asking all these questions. For all the rejoicing in new layers and new speeds of referentiality (word?) in recent hipster culture..., there needs to be some reflection and consideration of what you are bringing up in this blog.
For me, the Major Lazer video celebrates a style of dance that racist whites might use to justify their racism... But really, to say that such dancing demeans blacks is like saying that Kid Rock's career demeans all whites. Those diamonds and parrot heads are stupid and way late in the meme game. And some of the real crime of this video has to do with a corporate tinged sense of fashion and aesthetics (homogenization of global ghetto tech via American Apparel-ization of the fashion market?)

Maybe the mainstream world is richer for accepting daggering (the dance not the fucking technique) as something that anyone can have a go at if they are feelin' it.

Billy P said...

Anybody else notice the countervailing theme among (mostly-white) bloggers that basically runs along the lines of "I know the struggle"? Everyone wants to keep their precious new discoveries safe from the grubby hands of the "hipster" masses and their best instrument for doing so is to position themselves as the high-minded sentinels of some sort of third-world protectorate.

What makes it even more hilarious is the implicit othering and dehumanizing involved in saying that the dudes at Mad Decent are pigs for making a video playing up the sexual motifs in dancehall, etc, because they are white, privileged, etc while giving a pass to the whole third-world for the same thing. Which of you two is really calling people animalistic?

Stop with this ridiculous, posturing inversion of the white man's burden, Jane Fonda.

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