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Remix my music, please.
March 15, 2012 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Sarah Fimm wants to inspire people to use their creative talents to promote human rights. To that end, she's encouraging people to take portions of her and fellow artists' works Everything Becomes Whole" - music, lyrics, images and music video - to create new presentations focusing attention on ending slavery.

In this age of fair use hyper concern and monitoring of the sharing of artists works by the RIAA and record labels, to have an artist actively asking people to "Download the raw stems and build your own remix" is refreshing. I've found some examples of others permitting it, but am not aware of other artists using it as a form of promoting a cause.

Sarah's grandmother is a survivor of the holocaust, which may explain her personal interest in INSPIRE, her new effort to promote awareness and action against slavery. She is working with photographer Heyrik Chasse and videographer Erik Montovano.
posted by grimjeer (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh man, I hate that I'm starting to sound like The Grinch Who Stole Awareness in threads like these, especially as I work in communications, but - cool remixes not withstanding - I can't help but feel that "awareness" has become a latter-day conscience balm. We use it as a salve to excuse the comfortable, inescapable hypocrisy of (modern?) life.

I feel like stuff like this represents a horrible nadir of consumerism and identity politics - where individual choices and individual actions matter most of all, a kind of hyper-real where believing or feeling something is as real as doing something.

The arrogant, simplistic and crushingly naive preamble to the website only confirms this for me. (Slavery is real. This site is a for inspiring all minds to take a moment to consider that as long as we live in a world where slavery is permitted, no one is free. This site is meant to serve as a beacon to all those who want to help end slavery in our world today. This is a place to engage and use your voice right now to change history. )

Posting on Facebook how much you hate slavery is not action. Some dude in Mali neither knows nor gives a fuck that you wrote a song about how bad slavery is. Neither does the pimp in Houston.

I assume that most people I meet are down on slavery, think people with cancer deserve support, don't want to encourage massacres or whatever the freak thing is doing the rounds this week. Liking or disliking a thing - both literally and figuratively - is not the same as engaging with it. Buying something to express your like/dislike more fully is usually not, either.

I hate this cultural thing, where people are incapable or uninterested in engaging with the world, outside of themselves. Political action becomes something that can only be achieved through individual expression - not even individual action. "I hate Whatever, and you should, too." It's a noxious, horrible, effective and efficient PR trick. If you really give a fucking shit about slavery - beyond clicking on a link or writing a song about it - you need to be engaging with it; "I hate slavery, so I donate my time to such and such to oppose it in country X, give money to fund Y which focuses on supporting victims of sex trafficking, wrote to my local politician about it, and submitted my response to a senate inquiry on the matter." But that second part - the action part - gets dropped off this stuff. I hate slavery, is a motivation; it's the start, not the end.

This, this isn't even about slavery. It's about Slavery. As if that dude in Mali and pimp in Houston have anything in common. The things that led them to thinking that what they're doing is okay, and the forces that enabled them to hold slaves are - entirely - different. They are complex, multifarious, cultural, economic, social and more. There certainly isn't a "solution"; there may not even be solutions, certainly there are no easy ones.

And yet, movements like this are happy to outsource the thinking. A mouth-agape kind of response that is currently giving us the special-interest-beholden governments we deserve the world over. It's enough that I, Joe and Jane public, am against something. I'll outsource the thinking to the govt, that's what they're meant to do. I don't need to understand something to hate it! And I certainly don't need to understand it to do something about it, heck no!

Forgive me, I'm starting to sound like Faze. But shit like this just gets my back right up. It marginalises both the actual victims of these situations, our own culpability in creating maintaining the circumstances for their exploitation, and the actual work - stretching back centuries in this case - of the people trying to change things. Don't know their names? That's because the problem is bigger than them and personal brand, and they know it.

It reduces complex problems to simplistic fairy-tales, with equally simplistic solutions that are easily chewed, digested, then ejected by the public in search of the next empathy Happymeal they can find. It also leads to resentment and frustration about lack of action, lack of caring, and ultimately a kind of inertial helplessness, wherein people feel that they've "already done their part".

It's so self-centered and inward-looking. Yes, there is a lot history of protest movements and song - but those songs were a product of movements, not movements in themselves.

Change comes from action - political action. "Liking" is not a substitute. Singing a song for all the other people that care about it, is not political action. Acting like slavery needs a "lighthouse" is not action. You can't "use your voice right now to change history" if you're just talking to yourself. Complex problems, complex solutions. It sucks, but the sooner we as a society fundamentally understand this, the sooner we can really accomplish things.
posted by smoke at 6:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [49 favorites]


Smoke, I cannot favourite your comment enough. This is why I love metafilter. I've been sitting here getting angrier and angrier about this and you come along and put it into far better words than I am capable of.
posted by Wantok at 6:25 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


very well said, smoke.
posted by Think_Long at 6:45 PM on March 15, 2012


Wow. Artistic images of violence against women....and dolls.

Clap......clap.........clap....
posted by vitabellosi at 6:51 PM on March 15, 2012


As far as the whole philosophy behind this site and Sarah Fimm's endeavor here, I couldn't have said it better than smoke.

Otherwise, this woman's vocal persona and delivery, and that ghastly over-dramatic and ultimately embarrassing video all really rub me the wrong way aesthetically and artistically. Just wondering, (cause I'm way out of certain pop music loops) is this woman *famous*? Not that it matters either way, but, just kinda curious.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:55 PM on March 15, 2012


It reduces complex problems to simplistic fairy-tales, with equally simplistic solutions that are easily chewed, digested, then ejected by the public in search of the next empathy Happymeal they can find. It also leads to resentment and frustration about lack of action, lack of caring, and ultimately a kind of inertial helplessness, wherein people feel that they've "already done their part".

This also applies to Kony 2012 in particular, all Slactivism in general.
posted by philip-random at 7:04 PM on March 15, 2012


yikes, what's with the women/dolls imagery?? and the Mr. Evil character in the video is questionable too...
but good for her with her remix policy.
posted by Bwithh at 7:23 PM on March 15, 2012


smoke: “Change comes from action - political action. ‘Liking’ is not a substitute. Singing a song for all the other people that care about it, is not political action. Acting like slavery needs a ‘lighthouse’ is not action. You can't ‘use your voice right now to change history’ if you're just talking to yourself. Complex problems, complex solutions. It sucks, but the sooner we as a society fundamentally understand this, the sooner we can really accomplish things.”

Hrm. I have to say – I sympathize with this view. I absolutely abhorred the "KONY 2012" video, with its hand-wringing and juvenile simplification. And I had some interesting discussions pointing out the stupidity of it all on Facebook. It just seemed so dumb, and it quite frankly annoyed the crap out of me.

And I'll admit that I have some of the same feelings when I look at Sarah Fimm's site, though I'm sure she's doing what she believes is right.

But after having some of these conversations and thinking over the stance I was taking on this, I also have to say that I think my "it rubs me the wrong way!" reactions are a bit dated and probably not entirely righteous. There's a fair amount of cynical resignation to my own ineffectualness and disdain for anybody who acts as though they have the ability to change things. I have to admit that's personally motivated on my part.

More importantly, I think it's factually incorrect; at least to a large extent. The internet made it incorrect. I'm old enough to remember that, twenty years ago, it still made sense to make a strong distinction between talking about something and actually doing something to change it. It made sense. That distinction is not an obvious one anymore, and people are just starting to realize it.

I mean – I didn't even notice it until the whole Susan G Komen thing, which made it blindingly clear. And the Bank of America fee thing was a big one, too. The huge thing here is that, more than ever before, we have power if we act as a group on the internet to raise awareness and to make it known that something needs to stop. Sure, congresspeople were always a phone call away, but now they're a click away, and more importantly that click can be automated, and thousands of people can make something an issue and blog about it and get someone talking about something on the floor of Congress in a matter of hours.

It is simply not possible to imagine that happening before the advent of the internet. It was inconceivable in my youth. I grew up a punk, and I remember a year after I graduated from high school, in 1999, the buzz I felt talking with people who'd actually been at the Battle for Seattle protesting the WTO. But they did nothing. The power structures were intact. They inconvenienced people for a while, but it was dangerous and difficult and blunt. It meant something that the WTO had to close the conference early, I know, but it meant nothing to the general project of the WTO.

Today, everything is porous, everything is accessible, and the voices of millions upon millions of people actually have a certain amount of strength. We can have a worldwide conversation about the WTO; we can share our knowledge; we can learn its strengths and weaknesses, maybe even talk to people associated with it, etc. This is a tremendous thing; it's hard to overstate this. Things have changed in a massive, massive way.

And even the "KONY 2012" thing, as much as I hate to admit it, is an example of this. That freaking video has 80 million views on Youtube. 80 million. In the space of a week or two! For a conservative estimate, assume that every person who watched it viewed it four times; that's 20 million people that have watched that video! The absolute largest media outlets, with billion-dollar platforms and expensive marketing and blanketing of media, would have had some trouble putting fifteen minutes of video in front of two million people in 1990.

I don't really put that down to the Invisible Children people, I guess, but I have to say – they are correct in the video when they assert that we have more power on this front than we've ever had before. 'Liking' something really does have a certain amount of force. Sharing stuff with friends can have a massive impact. I may not like the campaign, but you know what? Everybody on the internet knows who Joseph Kony is now. They don't even have to do their silly "blanket the night" thing with the posters – we all know the situation, and we'll think about it when we vote. Our representatives know that we know, too; they've heard, and they'll keep it in mind. This is power, and it's not a small thing. The internet has changed the equation on this point.
posted by koeselitz at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is perhaps worth remembering that both Bank of America and Susan G. Komen are consumer organizations. They collect money directly from individuals, and the actions of individuals acting en masse feed directly back to both organizations.

Stuff that's truly horrendous (or certainly more so that a $5 fee on customers), stuff like coltan mining, deforestation, inhumane labor practices — our comfort is predicated on this stuff, but it's completely removed from our grasp. We don't pay for it directly, we don't buy it. It's bought and paid for by intermediaries of intermediaries. It's like supermakets trying and failing to track conditions at their meat suppliers, because the supply chain is too complicated and obscure.
posted by Nomyte at 10:09 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


A little tangential I suppose, but I popped into this thread because I love Sarah Fimm (but haven't really followed her much). Nexus is a beautiful, lovely album that everyone should hear.
posted by byanyothername at 10:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sidenote: as an artist and a musician, I think all art is political.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:03 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


True, Whitney Houston was a resoundingly Conservative artist.
posted by philip-random at 12:39 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the thoughtful dialogue on this. This variety of expression is one of the reasons I belong to Metafilter.

I do hope those who are so very angry at the nature of this posting find some constructive way of channeling that energy before it dissipates, unused
posted by grimjeer at 4:43 AM on March 16, 2012


I can't help but feel that "awareness" has become a latter-day conscience balm. We use it as a salve to excuse the comfortable, inescapable hypocrisy of (modern?) life.

Oh, god, TESTIFY. Yes. I have never gotten the sense behind any of the bazillion "awareness" campaigns, because -- honestly, what does "awareness" really do?

"Hey! This is child abuse awareness week!"
"Okay? And what does that mean?"
"Be aware that child abuse happens!"
"...That's it? You don't need me to...do anything else?"
"Nope, just be aware that it happens!"
"Uh....okay, got it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on March 16, 2012


is this woman *famous*?

She opened for an electronic artist I saw a few years ago and based on that I'd say no. Her music is pretty but not spectacular IMO.
posted by immlass at 8:12 AM on March 16, 2012


Finally an artist with the PR acuity of Bono and the musical stylings of Evanescence!
posted by threeants at 11:01 PM on March 16, 2012


(apologies for snarking -- this project just seems unusually chutzponic. Like, there's almost nothing of actual substance about slavery...contained...in it.)
posted by threeants at 11:03 PM on March 16, 2012


I'm actually in favor of slavery







... but only for robots

posted by philip-random at 11:21 PM on March 16, 2012


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