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“WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE OPENING FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE???”
August 1, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe


 
I love Big Freedia but I've never heard of the Postal Service. Do I need to turn in my White Person card?
posted by desjardins at 10:28 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm as white as they come, and the little bit of Big Freedia I've just listened to online is about a million times better than the Postal Service.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I paid those forty bucks to nod gently for two hours with my arms crossed, not to have fun and move around and stuff. This is an outrage
posted by theodolite at 10:34 AM on August 1, 2013 [53 favorites]


Yeah, the only bad thing I can say about Big Freedia is that it is physically impossible to read while listening to her. She was my jam for a while on my commute, and I just had to give up reading. I also had to concentrate on not twerking my azz everywhere on the T.

The only good thing I can say about the Postal Service is that they're touring with Big Freedia.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:35 AM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Your favorite side project sucks." Really, are we still doing this here?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:36 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


This seems to be going the long way around for its "OMG outrage!" angle. I mean if Postal Service had had an opening act by a black band who basically did the same kind of stuff as Postal Service and people had been cracking wise about it on twitter that would be one thing; but it's hardly shocking news that people who go to a concert for one genre of music are often not particularly pleased if the opening act is in a completely different genre. Had Postal Service chosen Miley Cyrus as its opening act, you can bet there'd have been a lot of twitter snarking and it wouldn't have been based on the fact that Miley Cyrus is "too black" for the Postal Service fans.
posted by yoink at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2013 [43 favorites]


I don't know. It really seems less "White people being nasty" and more "People going to a show expecting a certain kind of music are disappointed to find that the opening act is nothing like the music they came to enjoy", which seems at least kind of understandable. I saw Eminem at Warped Tour (or something like that; definitely not his crowd) back when his first album came out, and plenty of people were throwing water bottles on the stage and booing him. Same thing.
posted by KGMoney at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE FREAKING OUT OVER THE OPENING ACT???
posted by ogooglebar at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the horror/disgust visible in that San Francisco twerking video.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:38 AM on August 1, 2013


Curse you, YOINK!
posted by KGMoney at 10:38 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm as white as they come, and the little bit of Big Freedia I've just listened to online is about a million times better than the Postal Service.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that apparently Postal Service are big enough fans to put them on their bill, too, regardless of how narrow-minded some of their fans may be...
posted by saulgoodman at 10:38 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those tweets are awful, but I'm getting really tired of this trend in journalism. There's no indication of whether most of the fans there knew what the opening act was or enjoyed it. Just looking for clueless/racist people on Twitter doesn't make a story.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:39 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I never thought I would be talking about Miley Cyrus on the internet but I think her love of Twerking is entirely unironic.

Miley Cyrus on stage with Juicy J
Interview with hot 97 and the absolutely ridiculous "old man" Ebro. That dude should be fired.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:39 AM on August 1, 2013


an older white gentleman was staring at me while simultaneously doing a line of cocaine during postal service's set at coachella.

i like their music, but the postal service just really isn't "concert" music to me... i didn't pay $40 bucks to watch people around me cuddle and wish they were reenacting garden state.

(well i really didn't, but i don't really want to either)

big freedia on the other hand...

also
Cause somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin', HA! / Twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk / Twerk, Miley, Miley, twerk / Twerk, Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley, twerk / Twerk, yeah, uh-huh / Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley / Only in America (youtube)
posted by raihan_ at 10:40 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Curse you, YOINK!

Consider me your opening act of the appropriate genre.
posted by yoink at 10:41 AM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


people who go to a concert for one genre of music are often not particularly pleased if the opening act is in a completely different genre

Not even remotely the same genre(s), but I went to a show where the Blood Brothers opened for Coheed and Cambria. The crowd was... not receptive.
posted by phong3d at 10:41 AM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe The Postal Service was envisioning a reaction more like this.
posted by orme at 10:42 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm having a few different reactions to this. One is that, unless I missed something, the article doesn't really talk about the reaction during the actual show - just a bunch of Twitter responses. I wonder what the in-show reaction was? That seems sort of important.

Another reaction is that it's unclear to me why people need to explain that Postal Service sucks. That seems neither here nor there.

Thirdly, although it does indeed smack a little of "OMG outrage," it's disingenuous to ignore the racial angle. While the tweets are not quite publicshaming-level - close, though, if you like your racism a little more subtle than usual for that blog - those tweets are real, exist, and represent some portion of Postal Service fans. That sucks.

I'll sort through these feelings and get back to you, how bout.
posted by ORthey at 10:42 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was cool with the article while they were exploring the racism of Postal Service Fans and talking about music I haven't heard of, but then they had to go and spoil it by sounding weirdly racist themselves with a completely unrelated attack on Miley Cyrus,

I get that the article writers think the Miley Cyrus twerking stuff is appropriation, but sometimes stuff is loved because it is loved. I feel uncomfortable with the implication that because she's poppy and white, she has no right to wear a "grill" or "twerk". (In quotes because I feel a million miles away from both these phenomena)
posted by zoo at 10:44 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the second time I've been told by MeFi that I'm supposed to hate Postal Service. Did I miss something or is it just the inevitable passing of time again?
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The same thing happened in 1967 when Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 10:45 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the second time I've been told by MeFi that I'm supposed to hate Postal Service.

It's cool to hate them, didn't you hear?
posted by ORthey at 10:45 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll echo the disappointment with the article. I couldn't help but laugh when they had their bit about "how often do people expect to like the opening act?"

Me? Always. Pretty much every time. One of the reasons I always enjoyed seeing certain acts like NIN or Tool on tour was that they spent a lot of time carefully selecting openers that they felt were both good enough and similar enough to what their crowd wanted. I learned about Dresden Dolls, Crystal Castles, and Meshuggah as openers, and I like them all just fine.

I'll agree that a lot of the tweets are cringe-worthy, but the article seems like it's trying WAY too hard to make an issue out of this.
posted by GoingToShopping at 10:46 AM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


As anyone who has ever been to a metal or hardcore concert knows, griping about the opening band is par for the course.

"Can you believe they had some shitty deathgrind band open up for my favorite post-metal drone band?!?!"
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Some fans said the show “cracked [them] up.” One wrote, “I knew Ben Gibbard had to have some humor in there somewhere.” But what exactly was funny? Freedia’s act isn’t tongue-in-cheek.

This seems like kind of bullshit (and very Salon-like -- dear god I hate Salon these days). I'm not super-familiar with bounce, but from what I do know, it's plenty funny, and (usually) intentionally so.
posted by eugenen at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I went to a show where the Blood Brothers opened for Coheed and Cambria.

My hatred is overpowered only by my jealousy.

Why are there still genre wars? We live in an age where Justice can play old Metallica at a show and the crowd goes nuts. Who cares anymore? If I went to a Postal Service show and the opening act was Big Freedia, or Gent and Jaws, or hell, Carcass, I'd be thrilled.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honestly, it doesn't seem too surprising to me that people would annoyed by going to see one kind of music and having an opener in an entirely different genre. You don't have to complicate this with a bunch of discussion regarding the cultural significance of twerking. For instance, this is an old article by Tom Breihan describing seeing Sleater-Kinney paired with Belle & Sebastian. Breihan mentions that quite a few of the B&S fans didn't know what to make of S-K.

From personal experience, I once saw a triple bill of Slint, the GZA, and Sonic Youth. All landmark bands musicians playing landmark music. the GZA got a surprisingly muted reception, however, because people who like Slint and Sonic Youth don't necessarily have much interest in landmark rap albums. You can get mad about it, or deal with the fact that some pairings don't work as well as others.

If anything, this speaks well of the Postal Service's preference in music (assuming that they were responsible for the pairing), and is a nice reminder that musicians have more complicated tastes than their fans may assume.

tl;dr: yoink gets it right.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well look, Who shows up to see the opening act let alone bothers to tweet about them.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:50 AM on August 1, 2013


Some things I would be interested in on this topic:

1. More specifics about whiteness, masculinity, "authenticity". I mean, I know a lot of trendy white people in their twenties, and they are mostly obsessive Big Freedia fans - this in Minneapolis! This type of article tends to assume a unified white identity (but wait, I'm not saying "not all people are like that", see point 2) when actually there are all kinds of ways for white people to be problematic about music...or rather, there's all kinds of different audiences with different concerns about sex and masculinity. And I find it both interesting and politically useful to think about how those different white subjectivities are contoured.

2. Should white people be into Big Freedia, at least at the level of going to a show? What I see on teh tumblrs is pretty much a lot of African-American tumblr-ites complaining that white people ruin every goddamn Big Freedia show. I guess one solution would be to have this situation, where you're already expecting a lot of white people anyway so at least you know what you're in for. But I'm quite serious - it's a little troubling to me to imagine someone whose music is really pretty audience-specific (queer POC) being taken up so aggressively by white people. The white people I know who like Big Freedia are, while to the left of center and probably less likely to do "I'm going to touch your hair"-level racist stuff, pretty much part of various white arts scenes and don't know a lot of people of color.

3. I hope that was not a really tough show to play. I always assume that Big Freedia is just this really tough individual who would not be phased by some audience obnoxiousness, but I hope it wasn't horrible and demoralizing.

4. Bounce makes me really aware of the ways in which I am socialized [a particular kind of] white, and ways that I am an outlier as a queer person. Like, I am not especially into music that is extremely sexually explicit, or dance moves that are really sexually explicit. Watching people twerk has certainly been educational, since I ended up realizing how much effort, control and skill it takes to be good at it, and that made me kind of mentally decenter my own feelings about dance music and dance moves. And it made me realize that, while I'm basically okay about my own "sex is private, not public; sexual display by strangers isn't appealing" ways of thinking, I certainly have realized that this is a contingent way to think about stuff.

5. Back when I went to shows, if you didn't like the opening act you would just, you know, hang out. Maybe grumble a little bit if they were truly terrible.
posted by Frowner at 10:50 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is the second time I've been told by MeFi that I'm supposed to hate Postal Service.

If The Postal Service is wrong I don't want to be right.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:51 AM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not super-familiar with bounce, but from what I do know, it's plenty funny, and (usually) intentionally so.

I've only watched a couple youtube videos, and I'd have to agree. It's so far over the top that part of it has to be intentionally so.
posted by LionIndex at 10:51 AM on August 1, 2013


Since everyone else is weighing in: I like both Big Freedia AND Postal Service. I like bands and music and dancing and I like music and also I like butts and also sometimes nodding my head to things wistfully
posted by naju at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


I like Big Freedia and the Postal Service? I would've thought it was pretty fantastic if I was at that show and Freedia opened? I don't feel like I'm that huge of an outlier, but I also don't use Twitter so maybe that says more about my personal position than the first two things.
posted by penduluum at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2013


This actually makes me kind of regret not spending more than was really practical for me to go to one of the Postal Service reunion shows. Seeing a bounce act open wouldn't be disappointing: it would be icing on the cake.

Oddly enough, the one Death Cab concert I've been to was one where I went because I actually really wanted to see one of the opening acts--The New Pornographers.
posted by kagredon at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cause somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin', HA! / Twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk / Twerk, Miley, Miley, twerk / Twerk, Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley, twerk / Twerk, yeah, uh-huh / Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley / Only in America

Feds still lurking
They see I'm still putting work in
Cause somewhere in America
Miley Cyrus is still twerkin'


People think its a dumb line, I think its a great line. Its like one of those Jay Z lines that you gotta think about.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's happened before - by accident, though. Many years ago, a wayward chord accidentally summoned The Mothership to a Hootie concert.
posted by jquinby at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw a Dead Milkmen/Salt N' Pepa double bill in Philadelphia in 1990. The fans of both were generally nonplussed by the other, and the mosh pit in particular did not go over well. Still, it was a good time, and there was a whole crowd dance along to the Monkey, Junkie, Honky.
posted by malphigian at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that pop music today (and, oh hell, by "today" let's just say "the last hundred years") is as much about tribal affiliation as it is music. A lot of people go to shows to be with "my people", not to really listen closely to (as in "understand") the music, and certainly not to expand their musical horizons. Which is not a criticism, really; I understand that desire, at least with young people, whose "my people" bones are still knitting together.

The racial segregation of musical genres is hardly something new; the indie ghetto is not that unusual in this regard. Go to a Lady Antebellum show sometime. And Postal Service fans probably live in segregated neighborhoods and go to segregated schools too.

Should people be exposed to things that are weird and confusing and unexpected? Sure. Are they likely to have unhappy reactions? Yep. That's how the human mind works. But some of those "what is this bullshit?" tweeters are going to find themselves fans of Big Freedia, or something even weirder, someday. I think it's a terrible idea to forever judge young people on the stupidly blinkered things they say today from the perspective of older, wiser (maybe) people, who probably said stuff that was ten times dumber when they were young; I know I did.
posted by Fnarf at 10:55 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


On her website Big Freedia’s bio reads:

Though gay and proud, Big Freedia asserts that her (Freedia is a he but uses the feminine pronoun for her stage persona) sexuality has little to do with her music and rejects the term Sissy Bounce (the queer brand of Bounce). ’All Bounce is Bounce,’ he insists. ‘There’s no need to separate it out. All types of people—gay, straight, rich, poor, black, white come to my shows.’
posted by josher71 at 10:56 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Should white people be into Big Freedia, at least at the level of going to a show?

Seriously? Man. You're racist if you don't like Big Freedia AND you're a racist appropriationist if you DO like Big Freedia. I'm terrified to actually listen to Big Freedia now.

Don't you think when we get to this point (I mean, the author of the linked piece is a young white woman who is criticizing white people for not liking certain aspects of black popular culture while at the same time criticizing another young white woman for liking pretty much the same aspects of black popular culture) we're just kinda going out of our way to find reasons to put people in the wrong? "The way I enjoy so-and-so is cool and proves I'm open minded and a citizen of the world; the way you enjoy it is appropriation and proves how clueless and Hitler-Youth-ey you are!"
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on August 1, 2013 [27 favorites]


Also, I thought that Miley Cyrus in a baggy unicorn costume (which for some reason I remembered as a rabbit costume) video to be one of the creepier white-person-cultural-appropriation videos I've seen. Like, let's take twerking - which is about both physical skill and sexuality - and de-sex it so that it's okay for a white girl to perform it; let's take something that is, aesthetically, about a particular communal experience of performance and sexuality, that is about really aggressively seductive artifice, and turn it into some kind of weird early-Harmony-Korine grunge-era baggy costume black and white nonsense. And of course, the contrast between "regular twerking" and the special unique princess white girl doing this twerking - it's like white women who cover Wu-Tang Clan on the ukelele while wearing cute vintage dresses, the contrast between a hypostasized "blackness" and white femininity is supposed to be charming and quirky when really it's gross and racist.
posted by Frowner at 10:57 AM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


You should really watch her twerking on stage with Juicy J I linked upthread.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:58 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just saw Big Freedia open for the Postal Service last week (the last show she played on their tour). For the most part the audience was enthusiastic, way more so than I expected, actually; there was lots of cheering for the dancers, and she didn't have much trouble getting the crowd into the show. At the same time the group sitting behind me was not happy with her act and spent the entire time commenting on it in a borderline-racist kinda way. And I got to see Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, and Jimmy Tamburello twerk!

(The Postal Service were outstanding, too. Overall a great show.)
posted by asterix at 10:58 AM on August 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Seriously? Man. You're racist if you don't like Big Freedia AND you're a racist appropriationist if you DO like Big Freedia. I'm terrified to actually listen to Big Freedia now.

This is a really unfair misreading of Frowner's comment.
posted by kagredon at 10:59 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first opening act - Baths - was, uh, not my cup of tea, though.
posted by asterix at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


And of course, the contrast between "regular twerking" and the special unique princess white girl doing this twerking - it's like white women who cover Wu-Tang Clan on the ukelele while wearing cute vintage dresses, the contrast between a hypostasized "blackness" and white femininity is supposed to be charming and quirky when really it's gross and racist.

This is a good excuse for a small derail to post an excellent ukelele cover R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" that is not, I think, particularly racist. Also one by JGL.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


My version of this is when I saw AFI open for Sick of It All at the Glasshouse 12ish years ago.

Tattooed vegan emo kids on one side, giant iron-pumping jersey wearing hardcore kids on the other.

It was friendly for the most part, but the AFI kids were definitely scared of the floor punching and whatnot.
posted by sideshow at 11:02 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So glad I'm not a youth these days, it all sounds terribly complicated.

(Looking forward to the Knapsack reunion this year! (I wonder how long my old knees will let me pogo?))
posted by entropicamericana at 11:02 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first opening act - Baths - was, uh, not my cup of tea, though.

His first album was weird & queasy & god bless him for doing his thing, but I too do not get the appeal.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:03 AM on August 1, 2013


I'm really partial to Young the Giant's cover, which I was afraid was going to be really "haha, ironic white indie guys covering an R&B song," but pretty wholeheartedly embraced that the reason people like "Ignition (Remix)" is because it's so fucking fun.
posted by kagredon at 11:03 AM on August 1, 2013


There seems to be a need to find a villain we can all rally against, in order to show how much better we are as people. But I don't see a villain here. Just people expressing their disappointment at an opening act that had nothing in common with the main event. Is it really racist?

I'm remember one of the first concerts I ever attended was Wham! with the opening act of Katrina and the Waves. The audience *hated* Katrina and the Waves! H A T E D I mean, booing, throwing shit at the stage, yelling for her to get off, it was intense. At one point, she stopped in the middle of a song and pleaded with the audience, "Come on guys, give us a chance!" They didn't give her a chance.

Also:

Reminds me of the horror/disgust visible in that San Francisco twerking video.

I saw smiling, amusement, confusion, but no disgust. None. Where was the disgust?
posted by MoxieProxy at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


But what exactly was funny? Freedia’s act isn’t tongue-in-cheek.

I love bounce, and it's intentionally, on-purpose no-holds-barred funny. It's just an inclusive, everyone laugh-and-have-fun comedy rather than exclusive, judgemental mocking comedy, so Slate probably wasn't used to it.

That said, if you don't like the opener and think it's out of step with the rest of the act, don't go racist, people. It's like when Ice-T played the first Lollapalooza, geeze, get with the century already.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't you think when we get to this point (I mean, the author of the linked piece is a young white woman who is criticizing white people for not liking certain aspects of black popular culture while at the same time criticizing another young white woman for liking pretty much the same aspects of black popular culture) we're just kinda going out of our way to find reasons to put people in the wrong? "The way I enjoy so-and-so is cool and proves I'm open minded and a citizen of the world; the way you enjoy it is appropriation and proves how clueless and Hitler-Youth-ey you are!"

See, the thing is I don't know.

I'm not going to any Big Freedia shows, though.

On a lived-experience level, I'm pretty troubled by the way the white hipsters I know are about their obsessive fandom. It just seems like they are people who are really, aggressively white and live really segregated lives (while being, as I say, left of center and not as obnoxiously racist as some white folks) and then, woo-hoo, we're going to every Big Freedia show and standing up in front and taking up all the space. I would be less troubled by this if various tumblr-ites whose tumblrs I enjoy a lot and whose writing I respect hadn't talked about what a bummer this was for them. And of course, if there wasn't a sort of creepy history of white people interacting with black cultural production in ways that are Not Very Good.

I would not want to go to a show knowing that the presence of white people was making it less of a safe/culturally comfortable event for people of color.

This does conflict with all that "art is universal" stuff. And of course, anyone is free to attend anything. But it gives me a lot of pause just because as a white person, I have kind of seen us ruin a lot of things. This does not make me happy, nor do I think I'm exempt from it, but it's something I've observed.
posted by Frowner at 11:05 AM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Should white people be into Big Freedia, at least at the level of going to a show? [...] The white people I know who like Big Freedia are, while to the left of center and probably less likely to do "I'm going to touch your hair"-level racist stuff, pretty much part of various white arts scenes and don't know a lot of people of color.

I really, really, really don't think that the answer to "you don't know a lot of people of color" should be "therefore you shouldn't go to an event that will have a lot of people of color at it". Concern about cultural appropriation is legit, but if it leads you to never engaging with other cultures at all something's seriously fucked up.
posted by asterix at 11:06 AM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


I would be less troubled by this if various tumblr-ites whose tumblrs I enjoy a lot and whose writing I respect hadn't talked about what a bummer this was for them.

Links?
posted by josher71 at 11:07 AM on August 1, 2013


And of course, if there wasn't a sort of creepy history of white people interacting with black cultural production in ways that are Not Very Good.

Well one way I interperate that Jay Z line, disregarding any possible drug references. Is not that Miley, and young white people, are appropriating black cultural products, but that black cultural products are appropriating young white people.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 AM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is a really unkind misreading of Frowner's comment.

I've reread Frowner's comment several times trying to see what I missed and I can't see how Frowner is NOT saying that if a white person wants to attend a Big Freedia show they are probably racist. If you thought Frowner was joking I would draw your attention to the part that reads "I'm quite serious."
posted by yoink at 11:09 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


at a show in the 90s, ani difranco had a dj who was a woman come out and do some spinning and singing over it in a very much not ani difranco way. that was the same show that maceo parker opened and then through out the show randomly there was just this huge funk explosion all over her folky little stage - ani's there in her typical punk hippie clothes and then just a line a gorgeously suited men. i'm pretty sure once the dj joined in.

it. was. awesome.

if i were willing to pay for a postal service show (love them - i just don't normally shell out for the big shows) i would have LOVED to see big freedia open.
posted by nadawi at 11:10 AM on August 1, 2013


I really, really, really don't think that the answer to "you don't know a lot of people of color" should be "therefore you shouldn't go to an event that will have a lot of people of color at it". Concern about cultural appropriation is legit, but if it leads you to never engaging with other cultures at all something's seriously fucked up.

Oh, I know! I think cultural appropriation is a weird and poorly theorized lens through which to view the world, but I also think it points at some really-existing issues that aren't easy to fix.

(And that maybe can't be fixed at the level of culture at all - like, fundamentally, me staying home from the Big Freedia show (I like Big Freedia, I mean; it's not like I wouldn't consider going to a show)...well, me staying home doesn't actually change power relations in this country, right? It doesn't fix a goddamn thing about white supremacy. Obviously because white supremacy is a bigger/more complicated/more structural problem instead of just a "wrong thinking/wrong speaking/appropriation" problem. At the same time, knowing as I do that there are a reasonable number of people who feel like white folks (specifically white queers) should not Go To All The Bounce Shows, that makes me feel sort of icky about going.)
posted by Frowner at 11:11 AM on August 1, 2013


Frowner did not say it would be racist to go to a Big Freedia show, just that Frowner finds it troubling.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2013


On a lived-experience level, I'm pretty troubled by the way the white hipsters I know are about their obsessive fandom. It just seems like they are people who are really, aggressively white and live really segregated lives (while being, as I say, left of center and not as obnoxiously racist as some white folks) and then, woo-hoo, we're going to every Big Freedia show and standing up in front and taking up all the space.

Yikes. I'd really like to see somewhat more rigorous discussion of what it means to be "aggressively white" before I characterize people's by all accounts sincere enjoyment of something that may be outside their usual cultural comfort zone as "taking up all the space." Jeez. I really think this sort of thing makes the world a worse place.
posted by eugenen at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


ORthey: ...the article doesn't really talk about the reaction during the actual show...

My son saw this show at the Greek in Berkeley on Friday, and says the crowd seemed to enjoy Big Freedia.
posted by ogooglebar at 11:13 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only good thing to come of this obviously controversy-baiting (and somewhat offensively racist) article is that it's introduced me to Big Freedia. Ya'll Get Back Now just put a humongous smile on my face and I'm going to go dig for more.

Also, the thought of Big Freedia opening for the Postal Service makes me laugh, not because "omg black/white people music," whatever that's even supposed to mean, but because the contrast between the two acts is just delightful. It's like when Nine Inch Nails toured with Saul Williams; the incongruity is itself something that just works and enriches both artists.
posted by byanyothername at 11:15 AM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


i would LOVE if being around big freedia brought out in jenny lewis the weird and wonderful stuff she wrote with rilo kiley before execution of all things. i like the deep and swaying jenny, and i don't mind some of the 80s throwback jenny, but i'd love more stuff like the frug to bubble up.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've reread Frowner's comment several times trying to see what I missed and I can't see how Frowner is NOT saying that if a white person wants to attend a Big Freedia show they are probably racist. If you thought Frowner was joking I would draw your attention to the part that reads "I'm quite serious."

I think white people are all, in a sense, "racist". I mean, we become "white" (rather than pinkish-beige/olive-pink/etc) through a set of racist cultural operations. "Whiteness" doesn't exist without racism. Pinkish-beige/etc people exist whether there is racism or not. Like, if racism magically vanished overnight and all its structures were dismantled, I would still be a pinkish person.

Maybe I wasn't super clear, though. I don't think going to a Big Freedia show is a sign that You The Attendee are so much more racist than me the person who stays home. I think that it's possible that white people going to a Big Freedia show may by their actions perpetuate some rather depressing and common cultural effects - white folks take up a thing that was originally geared at people of color, it changes and becomes more geared to white people, the artists find that really hard and sometimes traumatic to negotiate, the people who were the original audience and who developed communities and rituals around the thing lose out.

I don't think that white people "stepping back" is going to fix racism, any more than buying from the farmer's market is going to fix capitalism. I do think that it is useful for white people to examine situations and see whether stepping back is helpful/good/more in line with our beliefs and goals.
posted by Frowner at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I once saw The Melvins open for Primus. The Melvins opening for any band, in any genre, is a bigger disconnect than Big Fredia opening for The Postal Service.
posted by zippy at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went to a Big Freedia show more-or-less by accident and it was so much fun. I find it hard to believe that even (many, or most) people not anticipating that kind of music wouldn't at least crack a smile after seeing what the dancers are up to, and be at least somewhat entertained by Big Freedia's stage presence and crowd exhortations. There is definitely a "hipster" component to Freedia's shows from what I saw, and Ben Gibbard is probably included in that, but if Freedia doesn't have a problem with that, why should anyone else? She seems to be a very very inclusive type person.
posted by cell divide at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do African Americans feel that white people ruin a Big Freedia show? This isn't a rhetorical question, I'm honestly curious. I'm sure there's stuff you could do that would ruin a show in racial ways, but are they ruining it by their mere presence or is it something more?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:25 AM on August 1, 2013


If you compare how Big Freedia invokes all kinds of 80s-dance-music tropes (byanyothername's link is a great example) but makes it into something inexplicably modern to what The Postal Service does with Pet-Shop-Boys-style synthpop, it doesn't seem that weird at all.
posted by kagredon at 11:26 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think that white people "stepping back" is going to fix racism, any more than buying from the farmer's market is going to fix capitalism. I do think that it is useful for white people to examine situations and see whether stepping back is helpful/good/more in line with our beliefs and goals.

Concern about how participation in things that apparently crosses racial lines (e.g. white people going to a concert that is catering to a mostly black audience) makes sense. However, it also fells like excessive "examination" of the racial reading of such situations before participating can lead to chilling effects on attendance and inter-racial interaction. This lack of interaction could further exacerbate the problem, etc.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:26 AM on August 1, 2013


I don't think Frowner is calling anyone racist for appreciating Big Freedia while being white. I think Frowner is rightfully pointing out that appreciating it in some kind of ironic way, in contrast to the way other fans may appreciate it, may be insulting to other fans, black or white.

I've said roughly the same thing as frowner is saying, I think I said it about Maclemore, and I got the "you are the real racist" treatment. I just thought that Maclemore took a cheap shot at rap culture with Thrift Shop.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of racism is just emotional repression. A lot of people who enjoy 'interesting' music might be afraid of ass emotions. I used to be afraid. The problem with butt magic is that if you are butt Merlin and you come upon an unsuspecting village in say, Belgium, and wave your distaff, the people might turn their cheeks and run! No, you have to use red wine.
posted by Teakettle at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


On a lived-experience level, I'm pretty troubled by the way the white hipsters I know are about their obsessive fandom. It just seems like they are people who are really, aggressively white and live really segregated lives (while being, as I say, left of center and not as obnoxiously racist as some white folks) and then, woo-hoo, we're going to every Big Freedia show and standing up in front and taking up all the space. I would be less troubled by this if various tumblr-ites whose tumblrs I enjoy a lot and whose writing I respect hadn't talked about what a bummer this was for them. And of course, if there wasn't a sort of creepy history of white people interacting with black cultural production in ways that are Not Very Good.

Big Freedia shows are explicitly, joyously inclusive, radically egalitarian spaces. Everyone, regardless of who you are and where you come from, should feel free to go and have fun and maybe have their worldview expanded a little bit. It doesn't surprise me that the tumblr social justice crew is going to find reasons to make exclusive something that's not exclusive at all - that explicitly rejects exclusivity through all of its (sweaty) pores - but seriously Freedia is pointing the way forward for our society AND having a tremendous amount of fun doing it, and that is an amazing and important thing.
posted by naju at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


I just thought that Maclemore took a cheap shot at rap culture with Thrift Shop.

Quite literally. IT WAS ONLY 99 CENTS!
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:30 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of racism is just emotional repression. A lot of people who enjoy 'interesting' music might be afraid of ass emotions. I used to be afraid. The problem with butt magic is that if you are butt Merlin and you come upon an unsuspecting village in say, Belgium, and wave your distaff, the people might turn their cheeks and run! No, you have to use red wine.

I put on my robe and wizard hat. I come across your unsuspecting village in Belgium and wave my distaff. I use red wine.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:31 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can look at pictures of butts on the internet all day (obviously), but the internet is still in your head space. Eventually if your posture is bad your shoulders curl over your heart and your brain can't send butt messages, it's like there's a mountain of carrots in St. Louis on the pony express and your butt is in Reno. You have to harness more ponies by using deep breathing exercises to open up channels to rectal Thermopylae or at least your gonads, the butt is really just a peninsula.
posted by Teakettle at 11:34 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Quite literally. IT WAS ONLY 99 CENTS!

$1.29 for the album version though :(
posted by kagredon at 11:35 AM on August 1, 2013


If concern about appropriation is leading you to avoid mixed-race spaces, then your concern may be leading you in the wrong direction.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


You can look at pictures of butts on the internet all day (obviously), but the internet is still in your head space. Eventually if your posture is bad your shoulders curl over your heart and your brain can't send butt messages, it's like there's a mountain of carrots in St. Louis on the pony express and your butt is in Reno. You have to harness more ponies by using deep breathing exercises to open up channels to rectal Thermopylae or at least your gonads, the butt is really just a peninsula.

MetaFilter: butts
posted by Going To Maine at 11:37 AM on August 1, 2013


I actually feel strongly about this, and if you look you will notice that emotional dispositions and posture, body tension are intertwined - working at a desk too much will make your voice constrained and non-buttish, and having a good butt balanced life will make you walk taller and talk like Simon Cowell or Emeril.
posted by Teakettle at 11:40 AM on August 1, 2013


I had to sit through Half Japanese when I went to see Nirvana in 1994 and I've been very suspicious of the Japanese people ever since.
posted by xmutex at 11:42 AM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think some of my possible misgivings about 'white appropriation' overlap with my misgivings about a more general tendency: conspicuous consumption of pop culture as an indicator or signaling of 'cool'. As in, "my attendance at the shows of certain acts (who are distinguished by their obscurity, or their cachet among certain subcultures) indicates how much cooler I am than those of you who do not attend these things."

And, I think, for good and ill, one particular way that some white folks signal cooler-than-thou is to conspicuously consume African American popular culture. So, this is good in that it can engender an actual, authentic appreciation of the artistic expression of another culture. But that potential for good is substantially curtailed if the white folks who enjoy said culture continue to lead largely segregated lives.

I think if a white person goes to see an African American act, and does so mainly to accrue some cultural capital bragging rights among their white friends, that's not so great. If they go out of a genuine appreciation of the act, that's good, but the good is limited if the only connection they make is to the artist, as a fan. If they go to a show because they genuinely appreciate it, and that leads to them meeting and bonding with others, who happen to be African American, over a shared love of the act, then that is awesome, in my estimation.
posted by fikri at 11:43 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


i think there's a lot to discuss/critique about macklemore - he absolutely swings his invisible backpack around at times. but i also think he's aware of it, and aware of how he's treated differently by the press because of his themes and skin color.

from "a wake" -
They say it's so refreshing to hear somebody on records - No guns, no drugs, no sex, just truth
The guns that's America, the drugs are what they gave to us - And sex sells itself, don't judge 'til it's you
Ah, I'm not more or less conscious - The rappers rappin' 'bout them strippers up on a pole, popping
These interviews are obnoxious - Saying that 'it’s poetry, you’re so well spoken,' stop it.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


White appropriation seems like a topic that's frequently brought up on message boards where predominately over-concerned white people hang out.
posted by xmutex at 11:46 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I actually feel strongly about this, and if you look you will notice that emotional dispositions and posture, body tension are intertwined - working at a desk too much will make your voice constrained and non-buttish, and having a good butt balanced life will make you walk taller and talk like Simon Cowell or Emeril.

That's fair, and I don't want to come across as dismissive of a personal philosophies; I too think that sitting around all day is not great. I just find the word "butt" to be funny.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:47 AM on August 1, 2013


adding to my macklemore comment - i do think that (almost entirely white) hipster hip hop is given a lot more leeway by the mainstream with regards to humor than mainstream hip hop. the mainstream seems eager to excuse problematic music by white artists as just joking but sees everything that kanye or jay-z say as absolutely serious. i find this to be utterly lame.
posted by nadawi at 11:57 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think if a white person goes to see an African American act, and does so mainly to accrue some cultural capital bragging rights among their white friends, that's not so great. If they go out of a genuine appreciation of the act, that's good, but the good is limited if the only connection they make is to the artist, as a fan. If they go to a show because they genuinely appreciate it, and that leads to them meeting and bonding with others, who happen to be African American, over a shared love of the act, then that is awesome, in my estimation.

What if you aren't white or African American? What if you are half-Mexican and all-Gay? May I go to whatever show I want? With whomever I want? And once there, may I socialize with whomever I want in whatever fashion I want? And will I still get the "awesome" points?

This is getting complicated. :-)
\
posted by MoxieProxy at 12:01 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe I wasn't super clear, though. I don't think going to a Big Freedia show is a sign that You The Attendee are so much more racist than me the person who stays home. I think that it's possible that white people going to a Big Freedia show may by their actions perpetuate some rather depressing and common cultural effects - white folks take up a thing that was originally geared at people of color, it changes and becomes more geared to white people, the artists find that really hard and sometimes traumatic to negotiate, the people who were the original audience and who developed communities and rituals around the thing lose out.

You really go through life thinking stuff like this? And sometimes saying it out loud?
posted by xmutex at 12:04 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Chinese Jet Pilot: "The same thing happened in 1967 when Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees."

Haha! What a hilarious joke! No need to click the link and confirm that this post was, is, and will remain a delightful jape.
posted by Gin and Comics at 12:07 PM on August 1, 2013


White appropriation seems like a topic that's frequently brought up on message boards where predominately over-concerned white people hang out.

i dunno - i've seen a lot of bloggers/youtubers/etc who aren't white discussing miley and appropriateion all over my twitter. and frowner is discussing the discussion he's seen from black people on tumblr. it doesn't seem to be solely a white guilt issue or whatever.
posted by nadawi at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yikes! I attended probably a good half-dozen shows on what I think was the first Postal Service tour; Cex opened. If Twitter or Tumblr would have existed in 2003, they would have been blowing up with comments much like those noted in the OP. For the duration of his sets, bewildered nod-rock fans would appear to vacillate between wary bemusement, mild anger, and abject terror, particularly when he started taking off his clothes and spitting weird, raunchy rap in everyone's faces. So a decade ago, I can attest: Postal Service fans were similarly upset by Cex (who is white). The incongruousness between their stylistic approaches just seemed to blow people's minds, stranger-in-a-strange-land style.

This specific instance might be more a case of Postal Service being exceedingly accessible, even downright bland, and their less nimble-eared listeners being all but entirely unwilling to peek out of their ultra-easy-listening comfort zones. After that first tour wrapped, I had a lengthy discussion with a musician friend about what he felt was Postal Service's utter lack of perceived dangerousness, how any music that was loud or sexualized was frequently viewed as an open challenge to casual listeners' inherent desire for painstakingly palatable alt-pop, and what effect that had on the Postal Service/Cex tour. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of how much nerd umbrage I used to feel whenever I deemed an opening act to be an inappropriate match for the headliner -- turns out not all shows have to be monotonous in style and sound in order to be good.

I've since seen some truly amazing mixed-genre tours (P.O.S. opening for The Hold Steady instantly comes to mind), and I'd absolutely love to see this bill. We could all use a little more Big Freedia in our lives!
posted by divined by radio at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]



You really go through life thinking stuff like this? And sometimes saying it out loud?


Even worse that than! I've been known to read books which make these arguments! And have conversations with friends in which they talk about their work as writers of color and the difficulty in negotiating race and audience! It's horrible. I don't know how I manage not to kill myself and end my own suffering.
posted by Frowner at 12:10 PM on August 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Maybe I wasn't super clear, though. I don't think going to a Big Freedia show is a sign that You The Attendee are so much more racist than me the person who stays home. I think that it's possible that white people going to a Big Freedia show may by their actions perpetuate some rather depressing and common cultural effects - white folks take up a thing that was originally geared at people of color, it changes and becomes more geared to white people, the artists find that really hard and sometimes traumatic to negotiate, the people who were the original audience and who developed communities and rituals around the thing lose out.

You really go through life thinking stuff like this? And sometimes saying it out loud?


As a neurotic person, I have these kinds of concerns too. Honestly, if you think about all the arguments about how rock groups get ruined by hitting the mainstream, it's not a stretch to think about how these kinds of effects could also occur across racial lines.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:12 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


EPMD Crossover
posted by Ad hominem at 12:15 PM on August 1, 2013


You really go through life thinking stuff like this? And sometimes saying it out loud?

I know, right? Get ready to grab your smelling salts-- I even have a friend who read one of those book things once! And then told me about it!
posted by threeants at 12:17 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oddly enough, the one Death Cab concert I've been to was one where I went because I actually really wanted to see one of the opening acts--The New Pornographers.

Heh. I went to a Death Cab show years ago largely drawn by the promise of Stars opening for them, but got bait-and-switched with Youth Group, who were okay, but, you know, weren't Stars.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2013


It's also surprising that this thread has gone on so long with mention that bastion of cultural commentary, Animal House: Otis Day and the Knights play at the frat house vs. Otis Day and the Knights playing at a black club. (No clip of the latter on Youtube, though there is one of the frat brothers leaving it quite rapidly as the band plays on.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:22 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I lost faith in this "journalist" and her critical thinking thinking skills when I read the line in paragraph 5 about the internet harlem shake videos imitating the "real dance of that name"

10 seconds on wikipedia and she could have gotten that one right.
posted by Megafly at 12:22 PM on August 1, 2013


the article doesn't really talk about the reaction during the actual show...

Here's my Totally Factual and Accurate dramatization of what may have at one of these shows:

Stephie: So are we all set to get see The Postal Service?
Chance : Oh yeah. I found my favorite old cardigan to go with my hyperwashed v-neck
Stephie: Nice. And I just filled up the thermos with chamomile tea. Let's go get chillll

MOMENTS LATER

Chance : Oh boy I'm so excited! Here pass me the thermos.
Stephie: Here. Careful! It's still a little hot. Blow on it. Hey I wonder who the opening act is.
Chance : Yeah. I've never heard of Big Freedia. Sounds like world music??

BIG FREEDIA CONVENES ON STAGE AND BEGINS, MUSICO-SEXUAL CHAOS ENSUES

Stephie: What is this this, Chance?! What is happening...
Chance : I don't know! My body...it feels strange...must. Resist. Urge...to...TWEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRKKKKKK

MEANWHILE ON A DISTANT PLANET

Luke : What's brong Ben?
Obi-wan: I've just felt a disturbance in the Force. As if a million butts cried out and then were silenced by superhot rhythms

FIN

posted by Doleful Creature at 12:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [22 favorites]


Paying your rent by 'appropriating' the vocabulary of learned valueless sensitivity by writing high brow outrage pieces which allow your audience to feel superior to who they imagine the other readers are is far more troubling to me than this invented controversy. Butts.
posted by Teakettle at 12:27 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Personally, I feel for the person who has to clean up after a Big Freedia show. I mean look at this, there's ass EVERYWHERE!(nsfw)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:32 PM on August 1, 2013


Maureen's got five sisters.
They all got ass.
One of 'em has eyes as big as Jolly Ranchers.
Beautiful girl, beautiful girl.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I saw a band that wasn't Swans open for Swans. Talk about a musical disconnect!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:37 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maureen's got five sisters.
They all got ass.
One of 'em has eyes as big as Jolly Ranchers.
Beautiful girl, beautiful girl.


Just had to stop by to drop off that deep cut, didn't you? Though, given that this is a Postal Service reunion tour, the audience might have been more familiar with that than with Freedia...
posted by Going To Maine at 12:39 PM on August 1, 2013


mumble mumble mumble party mumble mumble mumble in the mashed potatoes
posted by entropicamericana at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


You really go through life thinking stuff like this? And sometimes saying it out loud?

...do you not?

Personally, Frowner and others discussing it have vocalized a concern I have about this weekend - I'm going to Osheaga, which is essentially a indie-rock festival in a white-but-diverse city (Montreal), and I was/am super-excited to see Frank Ocean* and to a lesser extent Kendrick Lamar. And those concerns definitely exist, especially as someone who grew up in very white-bread towns. In my personal calculus, it won't stop me from going to the shows, but still.

Hell, another band playing there, A Tribe Called Red**, recently had to tweet and ask their fans to stop wearing "headdresses and war paint"! link. People can, while enjoying the music/etc of a culture they didn't grow up in, do problematic things and make people uncomfortable. Thinking about that and how to avoid is is a good thing.

*Except that like two days ago he cancelled due to vocal chord issues. Broke my heart.
**Seriously if you haven't listened to them, do it now!

posted by Lemurrhea at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Damn,Na Who Mad is a great song. It is almost too aggressive could easily see MC Ride doing it. I definitely here some of Reich's phase music as well as a pretty clear Kris Kross shout out with the repeaded "miggity" starting at 2:10

Ok, maybe there isnt't a Kriss Kross reference in there but I want it to be true.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2013


I was thinking the other day that if my buddy and his girlfriend ever came down to Atlanta that I would take them up to a Mexican place on Buford Highway that had a live mariachi band playing while we were there. My assumptions for this were twofold: one, that my buddy's girlfriend was from Tepoztlan so she would naturally appreciate it and two, that the place seemed authentic, as in the food wasn't egregiously Tex-Mex and the clientele seemed to be predominantly Latino.

Which is really fucking weird because that would be like if a buddy of mine who wasn't Chinese invited me to a Chinese restaurant just because of my ethnicity. It's also really fucking weird because I have no clue how I really define my terms for authenticity nor why I cherish it aside from this general feeling that this is just what I, as a progressive-minded individual, should do. It separates me from those yuppie pretenders who eat at Asian fusion places and thus it makes me... better? More aware?

The moment reminded me of how I felt as a Chinese immigrant growing up in the US. The ways dialogues about race used to work out in my mind when I would eat at a place my parents would consider authetnic: "Well they're never going to order phoenix claws, they're going to get fried rice and beef and broccoli and think that they're having an experience."

If you're a minority, people don't often assume good faith on your cultural capital. It's not safe for you to go sit down at a sports bar and enjoy a beer in the Midwest if you're not white. You get looks. You get odd questions. A lot of people a lot of the time are assholes. There are very few spaces where you feel comfortable. It may not seem obvious but it's a kind of privilege to walk into an establishment knowing that people with a similar racial makeup will be there. Its a privilege to feel comfortable that most of the spaces you walk into are this way. You don't have that anxiety in the back of your mind about just who you are and what your real self is. It's why there are clusters of ethnic storefronts and restaurants in cities that have a substantial minority population.

Anecdote time: my dad loves steaks. He loves grilling and he loves tearing into a hunk of juicy red meat. But he hates being asked if he knows how steaks are cooked. He got that question a lot when we used to dine out at Tex-Mex places and American buffets. He never seemed to mind being asked how long he's lived in the US, though. 20 years, he'd say. We're almost American.

As a family, we would regularly be seated next to the kitchen or the bathroom at Cracker Barrels and Ryan's. My mom once explained to me that Chinese people don't tip, at least not in her long experience managing buffets. She doesn't find fault in that logic. That's why she tips 20% where ever she goes in spite of the service.

I don't remember the rubbernecking as a kid but I do as an adult. It's part of the reason why I try not to eat at one of those 'all-American' establishments whenever I'm traveling through the South or going out West or generally going anywhere that's rural. I can't imagine what it would be like to be black on a roadtrip given this nation's history and the persistence of institutional racism. My lived experience causes me a lot of anxiety at times but I know it's nothing in the face of something like the racist monoliths that make up a lot of American society. The incarceration or dropout rates for my demographic aren't nearly so bad.

Ben Gibbard inviting Big Freedia on stage does not make it an exclusive safe space. This is an instance where the cross-cultural connection is explicit. I can't imagine Big Freedia not knowing what audience she would be playing to. The Salon article is hypercritical of the attendees because it is holier-than-thou. The writer knows who Big Freedia is and thus he or she can trade that capital for liberal brownie points. But the author doesn't acknowledge, as Frowner does so much more clearly and succinctly than I am capable of, that they are encouraging the invasion of these safe spaces by a predominantly white, middle-class audience. It doesn't acknowledge that the only reason it offers for doing so is for liberal brownie points.

There are so many glorious goddamn ways you can have a cross cultural experience that ensures the agency of the minority community. There are festivals and panels and dine-in days and parades that invite you, as a open-minded person, to experience the culture without fear of intruding on a private moment. There are friends to be made and people to talk to who will invite you into a safe space and who will encourage you to see it from their perspective. There was this concert which, from the sound of things, was an overwhelming success. This was an awesome thing! I don't know how you could see it otherwise. But crucial to that was allowing an artist like Big Freedia to know just what audience she was playing to. She chose to play to this crowd. She may not be choosing to play to the gaggle of Salon readers looking for an epiphany in the same way that a gay bar does not often choose to play host to a straight bachelorette party even though it often has to.

Not everyone will mind, no. But some people will. Some people will feel their space or their culture violated by outsiders. It is not your right to have an enlightening, cross-cultural experience at the cost of someone else's comfort. It is your right, however, to be considerate in the same way as it's mine not to be an asshole to my buddy's girlfriend.
posted by dubusadus at 12:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


the music fest headdress thing has got to fucking stop. apparently most of the bigger festivals just have tents set up specifically for selling them.
posted by nadawi at 12:53 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Tribe Called Red are brilliant.
posted by Kitteh at 1:05 PM on August 1, 2013


If "going to a Big Freedia show as a white person" is an invasion of the "safe space" they've created for poc, then the band shouldn't have agreed to open for Ben Gibbard, who is literally the whitest person I have ever heard about

On the other hand, they did agree to open for Ben Gibbard, so maybe it's fair to say that they themselves don't view their shows as spaces that will be harmed by the inclusion of CIS WHITE MALES, and maybe we should wonder what that means about our tumblr-social-justice mental gymnastics?
posted by downing street memo at 1:16 PM on August 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Most of the comments here have orbited mostly around race. For me, when I've gone to Big Freedia and Katie Red (another bounce artist), the most powerful and subversive moments have been when you see the twerking butts of the background dancers, and you don't know if they are cis or trans, men or women. That moment of disorientation is a big part of the power of their performances, I think.
posted by umbú at 1:17 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


If "going to a Big Freedia show as a white person" is an invasion of the "safe space" they've created for poc, then the band shouldn't have agreed to open for Ben Gibbard, who is literally the whitest person I have ever heard about


the only person it this thread to say safe space is making this exact point. maybe you missed it?


Ben Gibbard inviting Big Freedia on stage does not make it an exclusive safe space. This is an instance where the cross-cultural connection is explicit. I can't imagine Big Freedia not knowing what audience she would be playing to.
posted by nadawi at 1:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty darn white. I own a Postal Service record. I'm a big fan of Big Freedia, and bounce in general, and I have been to Big Fredia shows. You know how I would mainly describe the crowd and the general vibe at these shows?

Azz Everywhere.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I seriously shudder to think of what modern popular music would look like if white people took the Tumblr SJ brigade's advice and, say, declined to listen to hip hop. We'd be in Lawrence Welk territory or something.
posted by downing street memo at 1:26 PM on August 1, 2013


it's fun to strike out at the tumblr sj brigade, but as far as i can tell no one in this thread is suggesting that white people don't listen to hip hop, or that white people avoid all shows featuring hip hop artists. what i'm reading is that some people have made choices for themselves about how and where they consume music where there can be a component of appropriation. and even the people saying that are also saying that this article has done a pretty awful job at discussing appropriation or racism and seems to just being pretty standard clickbait.
posted by nadawi at 1:34 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Big Freedia but I've never heard of the Postal Service. Do I need to turn in my White Person card?
posted by desjardins


depends, do you even own a tv?
posted by p3on at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2013


I've been thinking recently about the whole idea of cultural appropriation, which is a term that, when i was younger, seemed to have been used mostly to discuss how cultural activities produced by one cultural group get replicated by another cultural group, outside of context, for the purposes of profit. That definition has widened to the point where it, at times, seems like the term is becoming problematic as a critical apparatus in that it raises more questions than it answers.

So I've been thinking about what I mean when I use the term, and that thinking led me to contemplate Bix Beiderbecke, (who was, for those who don't know, a white cornet player who was a contemporary of Louis Armstrong) because I don't think that Beiderbecke was guilty of some kind of appropriation. Armstrong and other black musicians certainly didn't see him that way; he was seen as a peer, and well-respected for his unique playing style and his talent. What makes him different than, say, the Rolling Stones, or Elvis, or Miley Cyrus?

For me, i think the difference might come down to being a member vs. being a consumer. Membership, I think, requires affection, and responsibility. it requires work and allegiance. Consumerism requires none of those things (it requires only money), and of course, the same person could easily slip back and forth between the two, but on the whole, I think that what made Beiderbecke a member and not a consumer was that he belonged to jazz, rather than the other way around.

I think that conversations around appropriation need to recognize also that culture is not owned in the first place, not really, and it hasn't got a location. One might be able to argue that jazz was largely a cultural activity originally practiced mostly by black people from New Orleans, but it isn't that simple: as a genre, jazz owes a lot to European classical music and to the Cajun culture of New Orleans which itself is a merging of French and African cultures. So then were the original practitioners of jazz "appropriating" those aspects of European culture that became part of jazz? I don't think we'd say they were, because they were members of the local culture, and their daily lives were infused with it.

Membership, and the affection and responsibility it engenders is the key here, I think. And as I grow older I find it harder and harder to find meaning in judgements on other people's motives, but more and more important to question my own, not in an attempt to prove or validate my various cultural choices (I love jazz, and hip hop, for example, and can't remember a time when I did not, going all the way back to my childhood) but rather to constantly push myself toward genuine membership and away from mere consumption.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Terrible choice for an opener. Even if I did like Big Freedia, that music wouldn't put me in the mood to see some Postal Service.

We had a really confusing main stage schedule at the Calgary folk festival last Sunday: Caravan Palace, World Party, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Whatever energy Caravan Palace created in the crowd was thoroughly destroyed by World Party. And I say this as someone who thought Caravan Palace was terrible, and was there mainly to see Kurt Vile.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:56 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there is some discussion to be had about We Can't Stop beyond the Twerking aspect.

It is a very clear "hip hop" song. With very clear rap influences. Just the title Can't Stop seems to me to be a clear reference to Sure Shot by the Beastie Boys, as well as about a million other songs. She also quotes the song La Di Da Di within the song itself "la di da di we like to party"

What is interesting to me is that it isn't a cutsie cover, but a track written and produced by relatively well known trap music producer Mike WiLL Made It, who typically works with artists like Gucci Mane,Rick Ross, Future and 2 Chainz.

What kind of appropriation is this?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Terrible choice for an opener. Even if I did like Big Freedia, that music wouldn't put me in the mood to see some Postal Service.

What do you think the Postal Service's set was like? I think people are confusing the Iron & Wine cover of "Such Great Heights" with the original; it was actually a really high-energy show. Big Freedia was a *great* choice for an opener.
posted by asterix at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2013


Yeah, the whole Big Freedia + Postal Service thing was like Worst Amazon Recommendation Ever. ("If you like kittens, you'll LOVE chainsaws!")

What got me the most was how completely non-erotic the whole thing was. I mean yeah, it was hot girls gyrating their asses for nearly an hour, but it was like ... watching gymnastics or something. Very athletic. Not very hot. In fact, I'm not even sure they were trying to be hot.

Also, how come nobody's talking about the first opener, Baths? My god, that shit sounded awful. The guy's voice literally sounded like a dentist's drill. I would have left, except there was no place to go. It was terrifying.
posted by evil otto at 2:28 PM on August 1, 2013


It's like you don't even read my comments, evil otto.
posted by asterix at 2:30 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like you don't even read my comments, evil otto.

do you feel you must interject here because he's getting carried away feeling sorry for himself, with these revisions and gaps in history?
posted by kagredon at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2013


watching gymnastics or something

New Olympic sport? Pretty sure we would win the first couple times at least until other countries get their twerk programs off the ground.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:50 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


i bet there is some amazing international underground club twerking going on right this very second. though, it would probably take them a little bit of time to organize and find sponsors.
posted by nadawi at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2013


is there a specific name for the handstand variation - but, seriously, even at my fittest i don't think i could have pulled that off without a concussion or breaking something. i'm always so impressed by that one - although, it does seem to be a move always filmed in progress, rarely in mount or dismount...
posted by nadawi at 3:07 PM on August 1, 2013


Haha, woah! There are a lot of people getting crazy with the deep thinking about the social politics of going to a show! I'd like to break it down in some very simple terms, maybe naively simple: if I'm putting on a show and you would like to pay to come to that show, I don't care what politics are involved, you are very welcome to come through those doors!

You know, a lot of music specifically addresses this kind of hyperanalytical positioning that the author of the linked piece and a few commenters here are displaying. For example, the self-described "queer electro-hop duo" Double Duchess have a track called "Why U" that is literally the duo reciting lists of expectations they've heard: why you wear your hair like that? why you act like that? why you gotta dance like that? etc.

Their response to each grouping of those questions? "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"

Amen.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:44 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's fun to strike out at the tumblr sj brigade, but as far as i can tell no one in this thread is suggesting that white people don't listen to hip hop, or that white people avoid all shows featuring hip hop artists

Yeah, but the article kind of indirectly is. And it's certainly doing quite the contortionist #sj act to manufacture some outrage.
posted by graphnerd at 4:01 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like you guys don't even read my long-winded, 800+ word comments sometimes.

The twerking sidebar also makes me re-evaluate Tim & Eric's video for Major Lazer. That was the first time I was exposed to bounce and I thought both the genre and the dancing were amazing though the video initially came off as kind of minstrel show-ish. I had a buddy of mine once summarize it as that music video where 'black people do silly things'. Given his appreciation for Tim & Eric and silly things, I think it actually opened his eyes a little to New Orleans's hip-hop. In retrospect, I do think the video ended up being a good thing for him and the video really did celebrate the music and highlight the dance moves in a positive way. Makes me wonder if my buddy's still twerking, wherever he is.
posted by dubusadus at 4:28 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool and the Gang opened for Van Halen last year.
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 4:44 PM on August 1, 2013


Man, this whole thing just looks weird to me. Like, bounce started getting big in my circles about five years ago — it's just now part of the regular rotation, especially Freedia and Katey Red (who show up on DJ Jubilee mixes forever).

There are questions of appropriation for the Miley Cyrus stuff — if you can't see them, you're probably on the colonial side rather than the colonized.
posted by klangklangston at 4:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a particularly dumb high schooler I was really excited to go see a Jimmy Cliff concert at Pier Six, a concert pavilion at Baltimore Harbor. Before the show I thought, Says here it's a double bill with Fela Kuti... who the fuck is Fela Kuti?

Needless to say, I was delighted. It was a long concert, the weather was perfect, and I wish you were there.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are questions of appropriation for the Miley Cyrus stuff — if you can't see them, you're probably on the colonial side rather than the colonized.

Serious question: are there "questions of appropriation" for, say, Dave Brubeck?
posted by downing street memo at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like this must be something Ben Gibbard really likes, because I remember being very confused going to see Franz Ferdinand opening for Death Cab. I enjoy both bands, but the concert just felt like a jumbled mess.

Postal Service is a bit more danceable, but the acts still felt rather far apart. Maybe it's just that Gibbard thinks his music is more high energy and exciting than I do.
posted by politikitty at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2013


Miley Cyrus twerking reminds me of that Lindsey Stirling video where it's obvious that both of them recognize that it's good for their brand/identity/cultural capital to show that they 'get' minority culture but they don't recognize why that kind of self-centered appropriation is problematic. Twerking out of the limelight is... I don't know, eye-opening at best and racist at worst? It's not like there's a council of elders that convene to discuss the cultural impact and appropriation of twerking so I guess it's hard to judge except on an individual basis.

I want to say that it's a lot like the Schwyzer incident where it seems like it's someone adopting an identity more than they are a value while bragging the entire time for the attention. Sort of like when George Clooney rented a satellite in Sudan or Amanda Palmer on... everything, I guess. Maybe it lays the groundwork for others to follow but it's also Machiavellian in that it seems to be motivated by profit-seeking more than some internal compass.

On preview, downing street memo, no, because Brubeck wasn't appropriating for the attention. He was a committed and excellent musician and I think it's pretty obvious given his history that his interest was in the music, not the image of him being in an integrated band (which wouldn't even have been worth much in the culture of the 60s). There are issues with the predominantly white media covering Brubeck more than his contemporaries, though, which Brubeck is said to have famously acknowledged.
posted by dubusadus at 5:43 PM on August 1, 2013


On the other hand, they did agree to open for Ben Gibbard, so maybe it's fair to say that they themselves don't view their shows as spaces that will be harmed by the inclusion of CIS WHITE MALES, and maybe we should wonder what that means about our tumblr-social-justice mental gymnastics?

It's funny how the inclusion of CIS and MALES in your comment kind of gives the impression that you're not actually participating in the discussion but instead just taking an opportunity to shit on people for thinking seriously about things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brubeck wasn't appropriating for the attention. He was a committed and excellent musician and I think it's pretty obvious given his history that his interest was in the music

And I mean, that's sort of the thing here, right? How can we seriously claim that Miley Cyrus isn't herself a "committed and excellent musician"? How do we know she's "appropriating for the attention"? I mean, I'm not a fan of her work or anything, but I'm not sure how anyone can doubt her level of commitment, or call into question the reasons why she makes the artistic choices she does.

And this to me illustrates the futility - and ultimate destructiveness - of thinking about culture in this zero-sum framework. "We Can't Stop" has gotten decent-enough reviews that it's clearly got some artistic merit. As Ad hominem mentions she worked with a renowned trap producer. This isn't some absurd blackface; it's a bona-fide, additive cultural document.

It's funny how the inclusion of CIS and MALES in your comment kind of gives the impression that you're not actually participating in the discussion but instead just taking an opportunity to shit on people for thinking seriously about things.

This is ironic, coming from the king of drive-by thread-shit favorite mongering, but in actuality I included "cis males" because Big Freedia's shows also speak uniquely to LGBTQ folks.
posted by downing street memo at 6:02 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


eh i honestly don't like these kind of articles. I like indie rock. i don't like twerk or bounce or any of that. I KNOW i'm an uptight white guy; I know I'm totally rockist and whatever. but when I'm going to see a band like The National or Bright Eyes or The Postal Service I'm going to get into a certain headspace, a mood of melencholy and contemplation. if i want bounce or super-sexualized music I'd go to a concert for that.

i tend to prefer opening acts at least have some connection to the main act
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



Let's not lose sight of the fact that apparently Postal Service are big enough fans to put them on their bill, too, regardless of how narrow-minded some of their fans may be...


yeah and? this sort of thing never goes well. bands like The Melvins and Sonic Youth used to get support slots by famous, cooler bands but the crowds treated them badly. crowds didn't like Titus Andronicus when they opened for The Pogues and probably ignored Fucked Up when they opened for Foo Fighters. a band and its fans might not share the same tastes
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:08 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


with miley specifically - i just think it's a memory of where she came from - and i don't mean daughter of extreme privilege and disney star - but, about her hit, "party in the usa" she said that she didn't even listen to jay-z - that it wasn't her scene. and then she cut all her hair off and got a new set of friends and influences and basically becomes this different person. that's going to be eyed suspiciously even if it isn't entirely fair (whatever that means).

i think she's right about something though - people sometimes forget what 20 feels like - maybe not how she means - but we do forget, i think, how it felt to be the first one who had some societal agitation ideas (according to you) and think that everyone should instantly see that we're no where near the same person we were even 18 months earlier. i imagine she'll calm some as we all do and find a nice mid point between hannah montana and grill wearing twerking 20 year old.
posted by nadawi at 6:09 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's easy enough to see who an opening act is for a big act like the postal service and if it's not your thing, plan to either wander the grounds or catch up on your words with friends when the opener comes on. it just doesn't seem like that big of a deal. but as has been mentioned, complaining about the opener is just as much fun as the show sometimes.
posted by nadawi at 6:11 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


i think this isn't about RACE but about SEX. i'm not specifically a fan of The Postal Service, but I like bands like them. and part of the attraction is that its usually less sexually explicit than most modern pop or dance music; music for people who maybe aren't getting as laid as much as they should. and what sexuality there is is more gentle, romantic, or whatever. wheraes bounce/twerk/whatever is just so explicit and in your face, and its not erally what I want when I'm going out to an indie rock show
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


the indie rock kids (who loved postal service) that i hung out with got laid all the fucking time, even if they liked to pretend to be above it all.

if it's not what you want, go to a different show. i imagine the opening act was advertised before hand. like, no one showed up and was surprised to see the double billing unless they were seriously not paying attention.
posted by nadawi at 6:16 PM on August 1, 2013


"Serious question: are there "questions of appropriation" for, say, Dave Brubeck?"

It's not so much a serious question as something for you to argue against, it looks like, but if you're interested in addressing that seriously, you might compare and contrast Brubeck's history with black musicians, including organizing an integrated band in the Army, well before he had a jazz career. He played with a lot of black musicians — and jazz is a different community than pop, so that context matters too. And, when he had a chance to appropriate credit for jazz, notably in the Time story, he went and apologized to Duke Ellington.

Now, go ahead and justify the deep connection that Miley Cyrus has had to hip hop and bounce as an idiom, with years of paying dues and a respectful relationship toward her forerunners, as well as a general appreciation and ability to talk about African-American culture.

Also, realize that you're wading into a discussion here with what's coming across as a pretty snotty attitude, and the discussion has a history of, well, over a hundred years. It's a bit TRA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU to try to ground Miley Cyrus in Dave Brubeck rather than Elvis Presley; it's an attempt to flatten the issue purely to race in order to rail against that flattening.
posted by klangklangston at 6:26 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


if it's not what you want, go to a different show. i imagine the opening act was advertised before hand. like, no one showed up and was surprised to see the double billing unless they were seriously not paying attention.

I doubt that this was a double-billing situation, especially given the Freedia wasn't on all the tour dates. Big Freedia was probably mentioned in advance, but hardly in any kind of large type. Still, this is getting into minutia.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:45 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I'm somewhat a fan of The Postal Service. Never heard of Big Freedia before, but after just the 20 seconds I've now listened to I can say, yeah, if I'd gone to a Postal Service concert and that was the opening act, I'd have had a WTF reaction. But race is not why. I'm a white gay guy, and I went to see Swing Out Sister just a month ago - Had the opening act for that gig been, say, a Guns'n'Roses cover band, I would have had exactly the same WTF reaction. To my mind, and taste, this is just a problem of wildly differing music genres that I don't want to hear at the same time.
posted by dnash at 6:56 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it is more complex, it is a bigger world with more money these days and much better discovery for lesser known artists.

Mike Will wants a mainstream audience as much as Miley wants to weather the transition to adult star. Justin Timberlake did it working with Timberland.

Miley moves him and everyone he works with closer to the mainstream.

Anyone can google Mike Will and get to something like Turn on the Lights then it's one step to Karate Chop.

Miley has coattails for a lot of people.

Nobody wants to toil in anonymity anymore out of ideological purity.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:59 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's easy enough to see who an opening act is for a big act like the postal service and if it's not your thing, plan to either wander the grounds or catch up on your words with friends when the opener comes on.

Yeah, but sometimes you want a warm up, not just a time filler.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:59 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


i guess i'm just an outlier - as i mention upthread, i enjoyed some dj scratching dance music type stuff at an ani difranco show. i'd rather see what my favorite musician enjoyed than what they think i thought sounded most like them.
posted by nadawi at 7:03 PM on August 1, 2013


After all this I don't know what Postal Service even sounds like. I am imagining some shit like Baby Imma Want you by Bread. Or maybe Air but lighter.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:17 PM on August 1, 2013


Sounds like Starbucks Music.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What! With an invitation like that, how can I resist?
(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan : The Dntel song that featured Ben Gibbard and made the Postal Service happen
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight : maybe the best song on the album
Such Great Heights : the song on the album that made them famous but is kind of over-rated (according to me)
Natural Anthem : the last song on the album, which I thought was totally amazing, but then I liked the Jimmy Tamborello contributions more than the Ben Gibbard ones.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


You can also think of the Postal Service as the band that Owl City has become famous for completely ripping off, but that may be less helpful.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm bumping we will become silhouettes

It's about nuclear war right? I like how upbeat it is. It is like "The Lighter Side of Annihilation". I mean, you may be dead but you will be a silhouette right?

Not bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That one also got a cover by The Shins, back when both the Shins and folk covers of pop were cool.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:40 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight are such great, gentle songs.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:53 PM on August 1, 2013


actually listening back i forgot how beat-orientated The Postal Service is... do people still use the term 'indietronica'? so i guess coming from a background where they use beats and samples, they'd be cool with Big Freedia, but its still a huge jump for their audience
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:01 PM on August 1, 2013


yeah, all the songs have dance beats and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight has some of the hallmarks of modern rap, rolls etc.

Oddly close to "Cloud Rap". I could see Lil B rapping over some of this.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:18 PM on August 1, 2013


In case you're unaware (which is possible, not a lot of info to go on here), the Postal Service's album is ten years old at this point, and also the first or second highest-selling on Sub Pop. I'd have a hard time plotting out the influence, but it's extended a fair ways since the release.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:33 PM on August 1, 2013


Yeah. It could take 10 years. Rap fans think a Garry Glitter sample is way the fuck out there.

Really I'm thinking they have the same influences some kind of dance music empath could probably identify.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


you might compare and contrast Brubeck's history with black musicians... go ahead and justify the deep connection that Miley Cyrus has had to hip hop and bounce as an idiom, with years of paying dues and a respectful relationship toward her forerunners,... a bit TRA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU to try to ground Miley Cyrus in Dave Brubeck rather than Elvis Presley; it's an attempt to flatten the issue purely to race in order to rail against that flattening.

Cyrus hasn't done anything for "many years", being 20. But like Brubeck and unlike Elvis, she's worked extensively with African-American musicians and producers, and knows enough about the bounce scene to show some good taste in who she collaborates with. That's been mentioned several times in this thread, and it's a bit TRA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU to keep pretending you don't know that.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with charlemagne that it's about sex, not race (though of course those two things are intertwined in a lot of ways). A big part of what defines Postal Service as indie is the lack of explicit sexuality in their music, both lyrically and melodically. Most mainstream pop music is very sexually explicit; that's why Cyrus twerking is a pop video. That aggressive, demanding sexuality is exactly what a lot of indie people go to indie pop shows to escape (cf. Aubrey Plaza's routine about "I'm so tired of songs telling me what to do with my ass.") So having a whole lot of very aggressive sexuality and lyrics demanding ass feels to Postal Service fans kinda like their safe space has been invaded. It was done with the singer's invitation, of course, and that suggests that Gibbard might hate his fans as much as Kurt Cobain used to.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:07 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I just don't really get the argument people are making here. Did people say dumb things on Twitter? Um, maybe. But I don't consider one of my functions in life to be "person who carefully monitors twitter for poorly stated thoughts". But okay, whatever, I'll let you have this one. People said dumb things on twitter. Shocker. Go ahead and write an article about it.

But the larger point some are making here makes no sense to me. Big Freedia sounds nothing like the Postal Service. And I'm supposed to feel bad about not enjoying them? Why? Because they're black? Now I'm obligated to like anything black people do, just because they're black?

I was at one of these shows, and, while I wasn't angry about Big Freedia opening, it was definitely a thing I didn't get. I mean, you put aside the whole butt dancing thing, and the music just doesn't seem to have a whole lot to it. Lots of repetitive sampling of really heavy techno. And what Freedia was doing, I wouldn't even call it rapping. My girlfriend compared it to the kind of encouragement you hear from spin class instructors. "Get it get it!" "Do it do it!" "Go go go go!" Really nothing like the Postal Service. And I'm not even saying Freedia was bad, just that I didn't get it. And the butt dancing thing, it seemed like more of a performance piece than anything else. It seemed kind of acrobatic. Mildly amusing, but we didn't like rock out to it or anything. Really we thought it was kinda boring. After about 15 minutes it was like, "yeah yeah, asses shaking, get on with it..."

Anyway, I know some people have this big need to find significance in the smallest things, especially when it affords them the opportunity to make others feel unenlightened, but really, this is merely a matter of taste. It's disingenuous at best to imply that Big Freedia sounds anything like the Postal Service, or that disliking this choice in opener somehow makes one a racist. Really, the only interesting part of this is that Gibbard purposefully chose openers that would upstage him. I mean, nobody's talking about how great the actual show was, because the Postal Service was great and we expected them to be great. I can only imagine that Gibbard knew this would happen and that he did it on purpose. Not quite sure what he was trying to achieve, but job well done, I guess.
posted by evil otto at 2:36 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


go ahead and justify the deep connection that Miley Cyrus has had to hip hop and bounce as an idiom,

I wrote a little thing about this part of the comment when I wasn't tired and then deleted it, but now I have less self control and someone else just addressed it too so fuck it I'm going to say stuff about it too.

If Miley Cyrus is 20, she was raised in a time when hip-hop is pervasive in many practically unavoidable contexts. By which I mean that like it or not hip-hop was almost certainly part of her story of being who she is today, part of her sonic self.

So, what do you say to that? That you can't sing the songs you were raised on? That's wrong and bullshit. That's not to say that it couldn't end up more wrong if she was completely tone deaf about how her expression of her experience interacts with race issues.... but my point is simply that she has a perfect right to stage a ouroboros of a détournement on the sonic detritus of her own damn childhood, she doesn't need a deeper connection than what she already has. Bounce I don't know about, so I can't say.
posted by tychotesla at 2:48 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I think it's wrong to assume that we, the audience, were aware of Big Freedia's cultural context. I mean, the whole thing about her being this big GLBTQ icon, and the controversy about white hipsters listening to her, I didn't know about any of that. It's possible that, had I known, I may have gotten more out of her act. Sure, I could have done this research ahead of time, but how often is it necessary to do that for an opening act? Usually we just assume they're a lesser-known band that kinda sounds like the headliner.

Anyway, to my mind, this is all moot. While I was sorta bored by Big Freedia, fucking Baths punished my ears in an absolutely unconscionable fashion. Fuck him in his fucking eye.
posted by evil otto at 3:15 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


tychotesia, that's a really good point. A lot of (older) (white) critics are very insistent on maintaining hip-hop's role as "black people's CNN", with the first two words the most important. But it hasn't been that for a long time. Hip-hop has been the dominant form of popular music for about twenty years. For anyone Cyrus' age, hip-hop is just what pop music sounds like, and anyone making pop music is going to draw from it. What's more, it's now a major corporate brand. That's why I'm not so bothered by cutesy ukulele versions of gangster rap; gangster rap is not authentic folk expression of the fury of the streets, it's a big-money corporate product which fully deserves to have its machismo mocked.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:54 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Miley Cyrus is 20, she was raised in a time when hip-hop is pervasive in many practically unavoidable contexts. By which I mean that like it or not hip-hop was almost certainly part of her story of being who she is today, part of her sonic self.

That's why i brought up Biederbecke, above. The night life, when he was skipping school to sneak into speakeasies, was jazz-infused. It was part of his culture and he fell in love with the music.

I'm almost 20 years older than Miley Cyrus and I grew up listening to hip hop. I taped "The Message" off the radio when I was 8. That made me unusual for a white kid in 1982, but in the intervening 20 years, hip hop is a major part of pop music. I had to explain rapping and sampling to my parents. My children do not have to explain them to me. Miley Cyrus loving it and making music and music videos influenced by it seems less like appropriation to me and more like she entered her 20s and lost interest in the musical styles that she enjoyed as a teenager, which most of us have done.

This is only part of why I think appropriation is a poor critical lens through which to view the choices of artists. I'm thinking of Living Colour's song "Pride," in which Corey Glover assays the various ways black men and black musicians get objectified. Part of that involves answering the (rather ahistorical and stupid) question "why are these black men playing hard rock":

Don't ask me why I play this music
'cause it's my culture
so naturally to use it.
I state my claim to say
it's here for all to play


I feel like hip hop is Miley Cyrus's culture. Her relationship to it is complex, to be sure, but I'm betting she is more a member and less a consumer.

( Here I'm going to recommend a fantastic book of poems "L-Vis Lives" by the great Kevin Coval, in which he examines the whole subject of appropriation with an awareness of race, history, and with compassion. Plus the poetry is pretty fucking dope. )
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weirder about the "appropriation" language is the idea that people - in any considerable, appreciable number - consume music primarily in order to accrue status, as opposed to just liking the music.
posted by downing street memo at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Cyrus hasn't done anything for "many years", being 20.

Well, since 2006, then.

But like Brubeck and unlike Elvis, she's worked extensively with African-American musicians and producers,"

Really? Dave Brubeck only worked with African American musicians on one album, that he specifically wanted to sound "black"? Your "extensively" means "one album"?

and knows enough about the bounce scene to show some good taste in who she collaborates with.

Wait, which bounce artists? She's worked, so far, with Pharell, Mike Will Made It, Wiz Khalifa… none of them are bounce artists.

That's been mentioned several times in this thread, and it's a bit TRA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU to keep pretending you don't know that.

I don't remember it being mentioned, but if it was, it was wrong. You repeating something that's wrong doesn't make it right.

"If Miley Cyrus is 20, she was raised in a time when hip-hop is pervasive in many practically unavoidable contexts. By which I mean that like it or not hip-hop was almost certainly part of her story of being who she is today, part of her sonic self."

Sure, however, that doesn't excuse her from appropriating or being oblivious. Jump blues was part of Elvis's sonic self too.

"So, what do you say to that? That you can't sing the songs you were raised on? That's wrong and bullshit."

First off, white people don't have an inalienable right to black culture — she's been raised with songs that say "nigger" too, but her saying it would be a major faux pas. So, no, that's not bullshit.

Second off, bounce is its own subgenre/subculture within hip hop — while hip hop in general is more integrated into pop music than maybe ever before (though euro house seems to have subsumed a lot of that, e.g. Rhianna's We Found Love), that doesn't mean that all subcultures are equivalent and fungible, especially given hip hop's strong regional background. Treating hip hop as one monolithic influence is, again, a sign that you're a colonizer, not a participant in the culture.

"That's not to say that it couldn't end up more wrong if she was completely tone deaf about how her expression of her experience interacts with race issues.... but my point is simply that she has a perfect right to stage a ouroboros of a détournement on the sonic detritus of her own damn childhood, she doesn't need a deeper connection than what she already has. Bounce I don't know about, so I can't say.

She is tone deaf to cultural context, similar to her cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It's like if Frank Sinatra covered Strange Fruit as a swingin' croon.

" A lot of (older) (white) critics are very insistent on maintaining hip-hop's role as "black people's CNN", with the first two words the most important. But it hasn't been that for a long time."

Erm. Maybe you, as a white guy, don't get to say that it's not black people's music anymore. Because that reads as a pretty racist act of appropriation. White people can work within the idiom, but when you look at innovation in hip hop, and compare it even as a tremendously broad genre (almost as broad as "rock"), it still primarily comes out of black communities, again, especially because of the regional, community based set of subgenres. Trap, bounce, footwork, juke, hyphy, you can name a single city that each of those came out of — those are real cultures.

"I feel like hip hop is Miley Cyrus's culture. Her relationship to it is complex, to be sure, but I'm betting she is more a member and less a consumer."

How is she more a member than a consumer? You think she was taping The Message off the radio? You think she was able to separate the bravado of rap from the social milieu and hasn't just appropriated things like grills and chains as a signifier of empty consumption, rather than a signifier of unbankable money? You think she can name the four/five elements or has an informed opinion on whether beatboxing counts as its own element? You think she grew up on a corner with a cypher? Outside of the broad, reductive argument that hip hop is, just, like everywhere, and is best understood exactly like rock or techno, you think she has a solid claim to be a member and not a consumer?

"Weirder about the "appropriation" language is the idea that people - in any considerable, appreciable number - consume music primarily in order to accrue status, as opposed to just liking the music."

Yeah, so, musical taste has been a social marker since forever, so while it may seem weird for you, arguing for an unreflective, uncritical enjoyment of music is, yet again, one of those privileged arguments that ignores the actual practice and function that music takes within culture. "I just like it," may be a valid sentiment, but it's an idiotic argument.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


A handy reference for folks looking to move further: Edward Said's Orientalism's sections on how Islam is treated in the West as understood in terms of Christianity is being mirrored here in how hip hop is being understood in terms of rock.
posted by klangklangston at 9:26 AM on August 2, 2013


How is she more a member than a consumer? You think she was taping The Message off the radio? You think she was able to separate the bravado of rap from the social milieu and hasn't just appropriated things like grills and chains as a signifier of empty consumption, rather than a signifier of unbankable money? You think she can name the four/five elements or has an informed opinion on whether beatboxing counts as its own element? You think she grew up on a corner with a cypher? Outside of the broad, reductive argument that hip hop is, just, like everywhere, and is best understood exactly like rock or techno, you think she has a solid claim to be a member and not a consumer?

I doubt she could answer your questions about cyphers and beatboxing, but then I doubt many people whose membership you wouldn't call into question could.

My two reasons for assuming she's probably more a member and less a consumer are A); based on the few times I've listened to her music (including this video), she seems to love music and she seems to be having fun & B): right now, there is no real evidence to the contrary, and in absence of something like an interview or some other primary source insight into her motives, I prefer to assume good faith rather than bad faith.

Her crime, from your arguments, seems to be that when she was a teenager and her career was not very much under her control, she performed one kind of style of pop music, and now that she's an adult, with a young adult's musical tastes and has more agency, she's performing a different kind of music. Either way, the stuff she was performing before was also a style of music that originated amongst predominately black musicians. The major difference is that she was born closer to beginnings of hip hop than to the beginnings of pop/rock. Why, when every kind of music she's ever performed was invented by mostly black people, was her early career not an example of appropriation, but her current album is?

I'm not at all meaning to suggest that the thing people attempt to describe by using the noun "appropriation" isn't happening, btw. I'm suggesting that the terminology and its many uses are vague and not at all useful in describing what's happening. In particular, the framework assumes culture can be owned, and that it has a location.

Edward Said's Orientalism's sections on how Islam is treated in the West as understood in terms of Christianity is being mirrored here in how hip hop is being understood in terms of rock.

Can you explain this more? My understanding of Said (and it's be a good 10 years since I've read him) is that he sees Orientalism as a lens through which the West views the East so as to make the various projects of imperialism easier - the main goal being to create a picture of complex cultures that allow those who'd exploit or make war on them to dismiss them and/or dismiss guilt about profiting off their suffering. I'm not seeing how that relates to how people might evaluate hip hop on rock and roll's terms. I'm also not sure I see evidence than anyone is doing that in the first place, though I'm not saying it isn't happening; I just don't see it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:46 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so, musical taste has been a social marker since forever, so while it may seem weird for you, arguing for an unreflective, uncritical enjoyment of music is, yet again, one of those privileged arguments that ignores the actual practice and function that music takes within culture. "I just like it," may be a valid sentiment, but it's an idiotic argument.

I'm not "arguing for" anything. I'm arguing that "actual practice and function" between people and music, and in my experience between musicians and music, is "wow, that sounds cool, I will buy/pirate/cover/experiment with it." That's it. Meta-discussions of the cultural role of music are academic and internet-fueled ones that nearly all people, and most musicians, are entirely uninterested in.

The language of "appropriation", however, implies "taking", which implies volition. "I am associating myself with a minority culture in order to accrue status" would be appropriation if it were an even remotely accurate narrative of the way that most people interact with music. But it isn't. To the extent there are ironic hipsters out there twerking to Big Freedia because they think black queer culture is funny, let's call them out on it. But given the irony-deficient status of the vast, vast majority of normal people (those who haven't been subjected to the endless questioning of their own tastes and motives that comes with being a very active internet participant), I'm pretty sure it's not actually all that common.

When people listen to, dance to, or play music that's not from their cultural milieu, they deserve the benefit of the doubt, because that's precisely how new culture is created. And if people are in fear of being called racist for experimenting with cultural forms that aren't their own - and I know that this conversation has been more nuanced than this, but what do you think the average person will take away? - we're going to get a lot less of that.
posted by downing street memo at 9:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know, the idea of black people as some kind of pure wellspring of authenticity that gets tapped with varying degrees of legitimacy by white people is actually pretty fucking condescending. It's a very close cousin of the "black people got natch'll rhythm" stereotype. Dominant, imperial cultures do this all over the world, of course; they attribute special qualities of warmth, spontaneous (but unreflective) creativity, earthiness, honesty and authenticity to subjugated or oppressed peoples. The "magic negro" character in the movies is a classic example of the trope, but you'll find the same basic role being fulfilled by magic Irishmen, magic Country Bumpkins, magic Indians etc. etc. etc. It's always basically the same story: "you need to learn to lose your cultured inhibitions, become more in tune with your feelings, tap into your spontaneously creative self" etc. It's the same basic cultural narrative behind this idea of their being an endless wellspring of "authentic" black music that if white people try to employ they will inevitably fuck up. Because, you know, white people drive like this (selfconscious, sexually uptight, intellectualizing etc. etc.) while black people drive like this (spontaneous, sexually liberated, earthy, rooted in feelings rather than intellect etc. etc. etc.).

All of this is A) false and B) rooted in cultural discourses that, even when employed in such a way as to suggest respect for "black culture" (and criticism of "white culture") seem to me to ultimately reinforce racist, and oppressive, attitudes towards black people. The fact is that ALL cultural products are fantastically mixed. If you go looking for some "pure" black origin of Jazz* music, for example, you're going to be very sorely disappointed. Black jazz musicians in the teens and twenties weren't just unthinkingly and unreflectingly embodying the "black experience," they were eagerly absorbing all the musical influences they could--picking stuff up from all over the musical map. Jazz music would be unimaginable without the influence of a host of "white" European (particularly Jewish) influences, just as those would be unimaginable with a host of subcontinental, Turkish, Rom and Moorish influences etc. etc. etc. The same is true of Rhythm and Blues (the ridiculously simplifying notion, for example, that Elvis simply "appropriated" black music is just "not even wrong." The roots of rockabilly music simply cannot be meaningfully disentangled along racial lines. There's not a black artist who influenced Elvis who wasn't also influenced by white artists and vice versa.)

The notion that there should be some sort of cultural policing whereby black artists get shut off into their own special little racially pure preserve and only those white artists who receive proper "approval" (although who the hell is supposed to be providing this accreditation?) are allowed to occasionally go and learn from them is inimical to everything that has ever, in fact, made popular culture in either the white or black communities in the US vital and creative. And it's ultimately based not on "cultural respect" but, in fact, cultural condescension. "White" culture is presumed to be sufficiently robust and sufficiently "universal" that anyone is allowed to play with it in whatever way they want (can you imagine anyone on Metafilter ever offering the opinion that black people should think very hard before attending X mostly white cultural event because their attendance might make the white people their uncomfortable and not being, quite rightly, howled down?), black culture is a rare and precious "natural" resource that needs special protection--like a zoo.

*(The word "Jazz"--by the way--always seems to me to sum up very nicely both the ridiculously simplifying myths of racial purity that structure so much of our casual thinking about popular culture AND the far richer and more complex reality. Like many, I grew up learning over and over that "Jazz" was "black slang" for sex--and that this was also the case for the term "rock n' roll." The point of this folk etymology, of course, was precisely to reinforce the myth of special black "authenticity": a good little laugh at the "clueless" uptight white folks who didn't realize that they were using this "earthy," embodied, sexual term: in other words, black music = sex, white music = thinking. In fact, though, "Jazz" is a word that comes out of white communities on the west coast of the US. It means "spirit" or "gumption," more or less, and is very close to the word "spunk"--ironically giving it a sexual connotation as well [semen-spunk-jazz-jizz]. It's a word white people applied to music being played by white bands that were playing what they identified as 'black' music, but it eventually got "appropriated" by black musicians to describe their own music. So, in fact, it's a term that right from the outset marks the fact that there is no such thing as a racially 'pure' Jazz music--it's hybrids and cross-fertilization all the way down.)
posted by yoink at 10:28 AM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I been listening to this interview with Jay Z . He touches on how the demographic of his audience has changed and pushing hip hop into new markets.

This is Diddy's shiny suit theory. Spread hip-hop by whatever means necessary, even Miley Cyrus.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:27 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This showed up on youtube today, just saw it. Imagine my surprise Big Sean - Fire.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:53 AM on August 2, 2013


Wow, what yoink said.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:16 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I regret that I have only one favorite to give to yoink's comment.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:04 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe even 2 years ago I would have disagreed with Yoink. I would have said that within mass media there is limited bandwidth, and we need to be careful not to crowd out or stifle those with viewpoints not within the mainstream culture of straight white males. Not that those viewpoints are more authentic, but they are as valuable as those from within the mainstream.

I would have said that mainstream culture seeks its own, and tends to exclude, not through overt malice, but because of cold hard cash, anyone with a differing viewpoint. And those who want to become mainstream successes need to at least pretend to share that viewpoint.

That is why I linked that EPMD song Crossover. It was about their struggle with the contradiction, how to achieve success within mainstream culture while maintaining your own point of view.

I've become convinced that mass media is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Because of the internet you don't have to go dig in some record store and devote your life to finding out who influenced Elvis. You can google and find dozens of opinions. You look up Blurred Lines and right there it says

"Blurred Lines" was produced by Thicke and Williams with an intention of creating a sound similar to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up".

I guess I'm really saying Yay Internet. Yoink's dream of an egalitarian exchange only happens when we have egalitarian means of communications.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:00 PM on August 2, 2013


"My two reasons for assuming she's probably more a member and less a consumer are A); based on the few times I've listened to her music (including this video), she seems to love music and she seems to be having fun & B): right now, there is no real evidence to the contrary, and in absence of something like an interview or some other primary source insight into her motives, I prefer to assume good faith rather than bad faith."

A) Having fun is a pretty low bar. Elvis certainly was having fun on his records. B) I tend to assume that absent evidence to the contrary, someone new to a genre who's presenting those signifiers lacks the context to represent them in a considered, intentional way. Give Hannah Montana more time to stick to this — moving beyond an appropriative fad — and it'd be fair to give her the benefit of the doubt. Instead, she comes across as a mix of naiveté and privilege.

"Her crime, from your arguments, seems to be that when she was a teenager and her career was not very much under her control, she performed one kind of style of pop music, and now that she's an adult, with a young adult's musical tastes and has more agency, she's performing a different kind of music."

No, and that's a pretty obviously incomplete way of describing her career — it's being wary of someone who is presenting elements of a culture in a caricatured way without any sort of justification or bona fides that might earn her more of the benefit of the doubt. That she lacked agency isn't an argument that she was secretly some member of hip hop culture.

"I'm not at all meaning to suggest that the thing people attempt to describe by using the noun "appropriation" isn't happening, btw. I'm suggesting that the terminology and its many uses are vague and not at all useful in describing what's happening. In particular, the framework assumes culture can be owned, and that it has a location."

I don't understand how you can claim that you're a huge hip hop fan and not realize that hip hop very much does have locations, from the local subcultural scenes — including bounce — to the mythical location of "the streets." That's one of the bigger differences from how rock is currently constituted — outside of nominal, generally interchangeable regional scenes, the last big located rock movement I can think of is grunge.

But seriously, if you taped The Message: How can you not locate that in New York in the early '80s? How can you think about The Bridge without location? The Wu Tang Clan rep Staten Island; T.I. reps Atlanta; E-40 is located in Oakland. (My napkin thesis would be that sense of location as something that distinguishes hip hop traditionally from global pop, which is much more Cyrus's milieu).

"Can you explain this more? My understanding of Said (and it's be a good 10 years since I've read him) is that he sees Orientalism as a lens through which the West views the East so as to make the various projects of imperialism easier - the main goal being to create a picture of complex cultures that allow those who'd exploit or make war on them to dismiss them and/or dismiss guilt about profiting off their suffering. I'm not seeing how that relates to how people might evaluate hip hop on rock and roll's terms. I'm also not sure I see evidence than anyone is doing that in the first place, though I'm not saying it isn't happening; I just don't see it."

Just to add a little more depth to that, since I think you did get my gist, I was specifically referencing his discussion of things like referring to Mohammed as like Christ for Islam, which rewrites the internal narrative of Muslims into terms controlled by the West — it is to make the process of imperialism easier, and Western imperialism also applies to subaltern communities in America, e.g. African Americans. Casting hip hop in terms of it being something that simply requires being alive in America to be a member — not a consumer — of is ignoring the internal signifiers of hip hop in order to make the imperial project of appropriation easier.

"I'm not "arguing for" anything. I'm arguing that "actual practice and function" between people and music, and in my experience between musicians and music, is "wow, that sounds cool, I will buy/pirate/cover/experiment with it." That's it. Meta-discussions of the cultural role of music are academic and internet-fueled ones that nearly all people, and most musicians, are entirely uninterested in."

Your experience is too limited, then, and you should be wary of generalizing from it. When De La Soul did Ego Trippin' pt. 2, it wasn't just "Hey, Big Daddy Kane sounds cool, let's riff on that!" Many musicians I know have a pretty good grasp of their musical history within their preferred genre/subgenre, and generally a less rich grasp of music outside of that. And while a shallow magpie aesthetic is its own thing, that doesn't mean that's hip hop (or rock, or whatever), nor that it's the only way to approach it or how musicians approach it broadly. M.I.A. didn't just sample Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja because it sounded cool, but also because of how it reflected her identity and how she wanted to locate her music.

Claiming that "nearly all people" are uninterested in this is just a handy way of saying that you're uninterested in it, and it's an argument from idiocy. Sorry.

"The language of "appropriation", however, implies "taking", which implies volition.

Moderately, but that's a weird place to ground your argument. Appropriation can happen without self-awareness, or the belief that one is appropriating.

"I am associating myself with a minority culture in order to accrue status" would be appropriation if it were an even remotely accurate narrative of the way that most people interact with music.

So, there's no such thing as appropriation? Dave Brubeck apologized for nothing? Because your phrasing means that you're pretty much denying it's a thing that happens at all, which, as prior noted, is pretty much a sign that you're an appropriator.

But it isn't.

Bullshit.

To the extent there are ironic hipsters out there twerking to Big Freedia because they think black queer culture is funny, let's call them out on it.

This is a straw man.

But given the irony-deficient status of the vast, vast majority of normal people (those who haven't been subjected to the endless questioning of their own tastes and motives that comes with being a very active internet participant), I'm pretty sure it's not actually all that common.

Appropriation doesn't need to be conscious, first off, despite your hangup earlier on volition. Second off, making this about irony is missing the point. "Hipsters" and irony can be bound up in appropriation, but they're not necessary. Led Zepplin weren't ironically stealing blues songs; neither were the Rolling Stones. Both were appropriating with no particular care for the desires of the people they were appropriating from.
posted by klangklangston at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2013


That's one of the bigger differences from how rock is currently constituted — outside of nominal, generally interchangeable regional scenes, the last big located rock movement I can think of is grunge.

In fairness, some bands will strongly associate themselves with particular regions, regardless of the apparent formlessness.

Both were appropriating with no particular care for the desires of the people they were appropriating from.

For clarity, what were/are those desires?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:16 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You know, the idea of black people as some kind of pure wellspring of authenticity that gets tapped with varying degrees of legitimacy by white people is actually pretty fucking condescending."

Well, since it hasn't really come up here, I can only understand this as responding to comments generally made, rather than something important here. I do think of Obama as black; I don't think of Obama as a wellspring of authenticity. In fact, since I've argued before that authenticity is pretty meaningless as an aesthetic marker, I think I've done a pretty good job of avoiding talking about authenticity at all here — I agree that it's the wrong way to frame these arguments, because it goes too much to judging someone else's internal states in order to justify an aesthetic judgment.

"The fact is that ALL cultural products are fantastically mixed. If you go looking for some "pure" black origin of Jazz* music, for example, you're going to be very sorely disappointed. Black jazz musicians in the teens and twenties weren't just unthinkingly and unreflectingly embodying the "black experience," they were eagerly absorbing all the musical influences they could--picking stuff up from all over the musical map. Jazz music would be unimaginable without the influence of a host of "white" European (particularly Jewish) influences, just as those would be unimaginable with a host of subcontinental, Turkish, Rom and Moorish influences etc. etc. etc."

Again with the straw men! You cannot seriously argue that jazz was not a primarily black idiom that spoke to the black experience in America and was made in even more explicitly segregated times. Well, you could, but you'd be both racist and appropriating black culture in order to assuage your guilt over listening to it.

"The same is true of Rhythm and Blues (the ridiculously simplifying notion, for example, that Elvis simply "appropriated" black music is just "not even wrong." The roots of rockabilly music simply cannot be meaningfully disentangled along racial lines. There's not a black artist who influenced Elvis who wasn't also influenced by white artists and vice versa.)"

See, and here I am thinking that straight up stealing writing credit for songs would count as appropriation; that he did it to white people too is not an argument that it is not appropriation. It takes a lot of rationalization to not see that.

"The notion that there should be some sort of cultural policing whereby black artists get shut off into their own special little racially pure preserve and only those white artists who receive proper "approval" (although who the hell is supposed to be providing this accreditation?) are allowed to occasionally go and learn from them is inimical to everything that has ever, in fact, made popular culture in either the white or black communities in the US vital and creative."

***scrolls up***

Nope, I never said there was a culture police. I don't see anyone else saying so either. Perhaps you've mistaken this straw man for something seriously argued? Are you just so used to dealing with idiots that you respond to them even when they're not in the thread?

"And it's ultimately based not on "cultural respect" but, in fact, cultural condescension. "White" culture is presumed to be sufficiently robust and sufficiently "universal" that anyone is allowed to play with it in whatever way they want (can you imagine anyone on Metafilter ever offering the opinion that black people should think very hard before attending X mostly white cultural event because their attendance might make the white people their uncomfortable and not being, quite rightly, howled down?), black culture is a rare and precious "natural" resource that needs special protection--like a zoo."

This is nonsense for this discussion, and not only because it ignores that white culture IS normative in America. But getting to these reductive reversals just ends up sounding like ;_; white people can't say "nigger."

"It's a word white people applied to music being played by white bands that were playing what they identified as 'black' music, but it eventually got "appropriated" by black musicians to describe their own music. So, in fact, it's a term that right from the outset marks the fact that there is no such thing as a racially 'pure' Jazz music--it's hybrids and cross-fertilization all the way down."

The mistake, again, is focusing on this idea of "purity" rather than plurality, and a recognition that black voices were systematically, institutionally erased from history. No one seriously disputes that what we call jazz didn't come out of black communities in New Orleans and Chicago, just as no one seriously disputes that blues didn't come out of black communities, nor that jump blues or rhythm and blues didn't come out of black communities. Reformulating into only a melting pot framework ignores that and reads, again, as a justification for writing black people out of their own history.

"For clarity, what were/are those desires?"

To be recognized and/or paid.
posted by klangklangston at 4:23 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking back, so many of these objections just read like the ol' "I don't see race" colorblind canard. Race still matters in America and in culture, from the expectations of the Postal Service audience to Miley Cyrus's signifiers without signifyin'.
posted by klangklangston at 4:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah it used to be about boroughs. Brooklyn/Bronx/Queens/Harlem. I mean I'm no rap historian but part of it was how rap grew out of block parties, standard MC battles, and lack of mainstream exposure. People from Mount Vernon, like Heavy D or even Staten Island were suspect luckily Wu Tang had ODB, who was from Brooklyn.

People cared about that stuff.

Was a long time before we heard anything that wasn't from NY or LA, maybe it was Geto Boys from Houston or Arrested Development from Atlanta, maybe someone else I don't remember

Of course there was all kinds of shit going on outside of New York. But it never got national attention.

I talked about Lil Flip's I can Do Dat in the last OF thread and how that kind of regional rap may be a thing of the past due to Youtube and Twitter.

I mean Big Sean reps detroit, but he has more in common with Kanye than Danny Brown or Black Milk. And Kanye has like nothing in common with Chicago "drill" artists.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:32 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This thread has careened between a few extremes on either side of that argument. If you're suggesting that the Postal Service's audience's expectations had a racial bias then we're going back in the other direction pretty hard.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:34 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Race still matters in America and in culture, from the expectations of the Postal Service audience to Miley Cyrus's signifiers without signifyin'.

Huh? I can think of a number of black artists whose music would have gone better with The Postal Service.
posted by evil otto at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


First off, white people don't have an inalienable right to black culture — she's been raised with songs that say "nigger" too, but her saying it would be a major faux pas. So, no, that's not bullshit.

The analogy from collaborating with black musicians and making music influenced by black artists to using a racial slur is certainly bullshit.
posted by eugenen at 4:50 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If you're suggesting that the Postal Service's audience's expectations had a racial bias then we're going back in the other direction pretty hard."

I think that race certainly plays into the way that Big Freedia was received. That doesn't mean that everyone in the Postal Service audience is racist or anything, but I don't think there's any way to talk about the reactions without talking about race.

"The analogy from collaborating with black musicians and making music influenced by black artists to using a racial slur is certainly bullshit."

"Nigger" is part of African American culture, and has a lot of different meanings and is heavily context dependent. White artists do not have an inalienable right to African American culture, and "nigger" is a pretty unarguable example of the fact that just growing up with exposure to something doesn't make it yours to appropriate. Either you didn't understand the point, or you're being intentionally obtuse.
posted by klangklangston at 4:55 PM on August 2, 2013


"Nigger" is part of African American culture, and has a lot of different meanings and is heavily context dependent. White artists do not have an inalienable right to African American culture, and "nigger" is a pretty unarguable example of the fact that just growing up with exposure to something doesn't make it yours to appropriate. Either you didn't understand the point, or you're being intentionally obtuse.

The reason white artists cannot get away with using "nigger" has nothing to do with not having a "right" -- whatever that means -- to black culture. It has to do with the fact that it's a slur. It is sui generis in that it has been appropriated (in the best possible way) and augmented to mean something different when used by African Americans than when used by whites. You can't argue from "nigger" to Miley Cyrus.
posted by eugenen at 5:06 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The reason white artists cannot get away with using "nigger" has nothing to do with not having a "right" -- whatever that means -- to black culture. It has to do with the fact that it's a slur. It is sui generis in that it has been appropriated (in the best possible way) and augmented to mean something different when used by African Americans than when used by whites. You can't argue from "nigger" to Miley Cyrus."

Well, yes, it does. If you'd thought through your objection a bit more, you'd realize that it's not a slur when used by black people (generally) and is a slur when used by white people (generally). Since the argument was that Miley Cyrus had a right to hip hop culture — of which the use of "nigger" is a constituent — by dint of her exposure, the socially forbidden status of "nigger" shows that the broader argument that Cyrus has a right to incorporate context-free signifiers of black culture is false. Giving the word some sui generis magic power by deeming it a "slur" is out of touch with both how the word is used in hip hop and ignores the broader argument.
posted by klangklangston at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2013


Here is an interesting exchange between HOT 97's program director and rapper Riff Raff about this subject. Kinda the opposite from when he called Miley Cyrus the twerk queen and called her "ratchet" as a compliment.

I mean we ain't going to solve this when it seems like the one of the main gatekeepers through most of rap's history is cheering her on.

It's almost like it is a business and when Riff Raff makes it look dumb they don't like it and when Miley Cyrus makes it look damn near wholesome they like it.

I hesitate to link this one but Charlamagne froim power 105 has his own take.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's not a slur when used by black people (generally) and is a slur when used by white people (generally).

That's exactly the point, and the reason it's offensive for a white person to use it is not because to do so would be to "appropriate" the term. It's because -- and you really can't just handwave this away -- it's a slur, inherently offensive except in certain very specific contexts. Unlike, say, using musical signifiers prevalent in hip-hop.

But if you're really sticking with this insane analogy, good luck to you.
posted by eugenen at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's not a slur when used by black people (generally) and is a slur when used by white people (generally).

That's exactly the point, and the reason it's offensive for a white person to use it is not because to do so would be to "appropriate" the term. It's because -- and you really can't just handwave this away -- it's a slur, inherently offensive except in certain very specific contexts. Unlike, say, using musical signifiers prevalent in hip-hop.


This actually seems difficult to disentangle. Could a white person, completely immersed in hip-hop culture, drop the n-word? And if he/she did, and it were permissible, would it be because the context allowed it, or because the person had apparently "earned" the right to appropriate the word?

I think that race certainly plays into the way that Big Freedia was received. That doesn't mean that everyone in the Postal Service audience is racist or anything, but I don't think there's any way to talk about the reactions without talking about race.

I disagree. I think that many of the earlier posts in the thread have pointed out that certain act pairings don't seem to make sense. There can be a racial element to that, but it isn't inextricably present. While Freedia's race may have played in for some dissatisfied audience members, it seems a bit crude to suggest that it generally played into the responses of all attendees more than how getting azz everywhere doesn't mix well with dreaming about Clark Gable.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's one of the bigger differences from how rock is currently constituted — outside of nominal, generally interchangeable regional scenes, the last big located rock movement I can think of is grunge.

David Brook's much-mocked Springsteen essay gets why this isn't true
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:46 PM on August 2, 2013


"That's exactly the point, and the reason it's offensive for a white person to use it is not because to do so would be to "appropriate" the term. It's because -- and you really can't just handwave this away -- it's a slur, inherently offensive except in certain very specific contexts. Unlike, say, using musical signifiers prevalent in hip-hop.

First off, arguing that anything is "inherently offensive" is pretty much bullshit, because "offensive" isn't a clear category. So, you start wrong there. It's not inherently offensive (or at least I hope not) for us to talk about "nigger" as a term; it's not necessarily offensive for black people to use it even though they can also use it as a slur — Dick Gregory actually has a fair amount to say on this. You're being needlessly reductive and trying to substitute moral opprobrium for examination.

Second off, we're not just talking about musical signifiers — twerking and grills and wanting the album to "sound black" are not simply musical riffs.

Third, all of those are bound up in contexts that are obviously not as black and white (no pun intended) as "nigger," which is the point of using that not as a direct analogy, but as a way of disproving the previous thesis.

But if you're really sticking with this insane analogy, good luck to you.

Hey, look, if you wanna play the aghast white guy on this, more power to you, but your pussyfooting is your own constraint, not mine. For an example that's less directly bound, the appropriation or reproduction by caricature of Native American headdresses is another place where general American/white culture has been permeated with the headdress as a stereotype, but where that appropriation cannot be justified by cultural familiarity. I'm in no position to weigh the relative fuck-uppedness of media portrayals of blacks versus Native Americans, but that's a huge corpus for the perils of appropriation of subcultural signifiers.
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 PM on August 2, 2013


"I disagree. I think that many of the earlier posts in the thread have pointed out that certain act pairings don't seem to make sense. There can be a racial element to that, but it isn't inextricably present. While Freedia's race may have played in for some dissatisfied audience members, it seems a bit crude to suggest that it generally played into the responses of all attendees more than how getting azz everywhere doesn't mix well with dreaming about Clark Gable."

I don't think it's inextricably present; I think it's present in this particular case, given the tweeted reactions. I do think there's a fair point made way upthread that these tweets aren't necessarily representative of Postal Service audiences in general; I don't think they're Skrewdriver. But I do think that tweeting things like whether Postal Service was "on crack" deserves critical appraisal.

I'll also say that part of this may be based on my seeing Big Freedia a couple of times — it's actually hard to imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and moved. She's an ecstatic explosion, worth a million of the maundering "religious experiences" wan indie kids think they're having.

"David Brook's much-mocked Springsteen essay gets why this isn't true"

No, it doesn't really, and it really deserves to be mocked. (Especially because 'since grunge' doesn't include Springsteen, a firmly pre-grunge musician.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:34 PM on August 2, 2013


I think we're barely disagreeing at this point. However...

But I do think that tweeting things like whether Postal Service was "on crack" deserves critical appraisal.

Why? My supposition here is that you're drawing some kind of connection between crack and blackness, but that seems like a very deliberately stretched reading. "On crack" could easily just be being used in the vernacular sense, meaning crazy. No reason to read racism into it. It just seems simpler to assume that people are complaining about opener mismatch. (see the comment by divined by radio about the Postal Service having Cex open for them back in the day.) Complaining that an opener is terrible is not particularly ecceptional material.

I'll also say that part of this may be based on my seeing Big Freedia a couple of times — it's actually hard to imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and moved. She's an ecstatic explosion, worth a million of the maundering "religious experiences" wan indie kids think they're having.

Non one in this thread has mentioned having a "religious experience" in the context of the Postal Service yet, so you may indeed be showing your bias. I love seeing Girl Talk and Dan Deacon, but know people who would absolutely hate the collective dance orgies that those shows create. It's not hard to expect that people going to see a quiet pop band really wouldn't want to be compelled to start dancing.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


For clarity, what were/are those desires?"

To be recognized and/or paid.


But you have a problem with The Rolling Stones "appropriating" music, even though they paid, recognized, and hired as their opening acts a great many of the African-American musicians whose songs they played. Meantime, the people whose desires you worry are being ignored are saying they don't agree with the offense you're taking on their behalf. Now it may be that those particular gatekeepers are following the money, but isn't that money-following as much part of contemporary hip-hop as the deep (and exclusive) wellspring of authenticity you otherwise regard it as?

I'll also say that part of this may be based on my seeing Big Freedia a couple of times — it's actually hard to imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and moved. She's an ecstatic explosion, worth a million of the maundering "religious experiences" wan indie kids think they're having.


Your favorite band sucks is irrelevant. I'm getting the feeling you're not real into The Postal Service. That's fine. But that may be why you can't imagine anyone liking The Postal Service and not liking Big Freeda for any reason other than race-discomfort, and that's not so fine..
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:33 PM on August 2, 2013


There is an interview I saw a few weeks back with either pharrell or Trinidad James where he says with a straight face Miley Cyrus was always a secret rap fan. Apparently she knows every Gucci Mane song, which is a feat. I've reached my Miley Cyrus limit for one day though. Doing that Big Sean video I linked was a huge boost for him, so she gets credit for that.

but really, we got a prison guard perpetrating like he was a drug kingpin so how serious is all this.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


like the monkey, part of signifying is being a trickster. It is part tall tales and hubris. It is saying you are the best even when you don't have an album. It is talking the birds out of the trees. It is something that peoples that object to the braggadocio in rap will never understand.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:01 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, look, if you wanna play the aghast white guy on this, more power to you,

I'm only aghast at the scope and breadth of the finger-wagging, and the mental gymnastics required to pull it off.
posted by eugenen at 10:31 PM on August 2, 2013


"But you have a problem with The Rolling Stones "appropriating" music, even though they paid, recognized, and hired as their opening acts a great many of the African-American musicians whose songs they played."

As a recent example, the Rolling Stones had to be sued to pay Robert Johnson's estate royalties over Stop Breakin' Down and Love in Vain. I have a problem with Mick Jagger writing to Melody Maker to tell them that, "These legendary characters wouldn't mean a light commercially today if groups were not going round Britain doing their numbers." You don't think there's any appropriation when Muddy Waters says, "They stole my music but they gave me my name"?

"Meantime, the people whose desires you worry are being ignored are saying they don't agree with the offense you're taking on their behalf."

Oh shit you've got a black friend who totally says it's cool?

"Now it may be that those particular gatekeepers are following the money, but isn't that money-following as much part of contemporary hip-hop as the deep (and exclusive) wellspring of authenticity you otherwise regard it as?"

What did I just say about authenticity? Didn't you read that? You're replying as if you did, but your replies make me dubious.

"Your favorite band sucks is irrelevant. I'm getting the feeling you're not real into The Postal Service. That's fine. But that may be why you can't imagine anyone liking The Postal Service and not liking Big Freeda for any reason other than race-discomfort, and that's not so fine.."

Yeah, that was actually an aside to Charlemagne, but I didn't say that there's no reason other than race discomfort for not liking Freedia and Postal Service; I said I couldn't imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and loving it. Anyone, black, white, whatever, if you see her and don't like it you're pretty much a terrible person. (Since you're going out of your way for uncharitable readings, I may as well fuck with you — not liking Big Freedia's live show is pretty much the moral equivalent of being Hitler.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 PM on August 2, 2013


""On crack" could easily just be being used in the vernacular sense, meaning crazy."

Crackhead and "on crack" carry racist baggage.

I don't think that it's an inevitable reading; I do think that it's one that needs to be discussed.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 PM on August 2, 2013


Dude, if you're going to whine about being read uncharitably, it's a bad move to pretend I'm referring to a fictional black friend when I linked to the words of some of the biggest DJs in hip-hop, who have infinitely deeper knowledge and credibility than you.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:06 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that interview at all supports your point — Riff Raff gets fairly called out there by Ebro, who is very concerned with authenticity, appropriation and respect. Ebro calls him out over trying to justify with tattoos and a new watch (and Riff Raff says he didn't even know who Ebro was). Riff Raff felt beefed too.

So while your black friend may have said it was totally cool for Riff Raff to perform as he does, Ebro grilled him over the same issues we've been talking about here and the Ebro interview is what you linked to.
posted by klangklangston at 11:34 PM on August 2, 2013


Mm, this is a little bit of an improvement- you're at least acknowledging what was at the link instead if pretending someone said something not even close to what they actually said. Now if only you would do that *before* being busted on strawmannung while wailing about being strawmanned.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2013


Right, so you agree that it didn't support your point and that it was Ebro being critical of Riff Raff's performance, not Ebro saying that there wasn't anything offensive in Riff Raff's performance. Glad you made that improvement — did you just finish the video too?
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 PM on August 2, 2013


The reason I linked to both those clips was that Ebro treats Miley Cyrus very differently than he treats Riff Raff. Wanna see something weird? Check out how they treat Trinidad James.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:34 AM on August 3, 2013


This one is funny too Rosenberg and Nicki Minaj.Rosenberg talks shit about the biggest women in rap and they make him apologize. Miley Cyrus sure gets VIP treatment at HOT 97.

I don't even have a point to prove anymore. I'm just piling on hot 97 for being hypocrites.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:33 AM on August 3, 2013


There are questions of appropriation for the Miley Cyrus stuff — if you can't see them, you're probably on the colonial side rather than the colonized.

She's just going the well trodden route of the bubblegum pop star remaking her image by getting credit and prestige from working with Black artists/producers and doing (what is perceived as) Black music, because in US popular culture, African-Americans are the guardians of folkish authenticity. That this consistently works (Jusdtin Timberlake) says a lot about racial assumptions in America of course.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:22 AM on August 3, 2013


""On crack" could easily just be being used in the vernacular sense, meaning crazy."

Crackhead and "on crack" carry racist baggage.

I don't think that it's an inevitable reading; I do think that it's one that needs to be discussed.


So this seems like the point where we have probably reached a dead end, or that needs to go in a different direction. That is, my feeling is that we are discussing how "on crack" can have a racist connotation right now, and that there isn't much left to go over. My feeling is that there's very scanty evidence in this situation regarding that particular tweet or the entire article, which reads the scene in a deliberately alarmist way. You disagree, I think.

That said, we both agree that maybe some of the fans of the Postal Service present at the event had racially charged reasons for objecting, but neither of us seems to think that they are particularly representative of the whole. And in that case, even if the particular "on crack" tweet was made by one racist guy/gal at the show, it would seem to say little new about the whole. But we really have little evidence to go on.

My question, I suppose, is: what do you think a discussion of the racist reading of "on crack" entails? What is the terminus for such a discussion?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've used 'on crack' and I've never thought of it having a racist connotation, just one of being strung out, crazy.

I'll also say that part of this may be based on my seeing Big Freedia a couple of times — it's actually hard to imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and moved. She's an ecstatic explosion, worth a million of the maundering "religious experiences" wan indie kids think they're having.

Everyone gets turned on by different things, and some people are more about the Postal Service's yearning than overt twerking.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's actually hard to imagine seeing her and not being drawn in and moved. She's an ecstatic explosion, worth a million of the maundering "religious experiences" wan indie kids think they're having.

Oh yeah, look at all those idiots who think they enjoy music you hate.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:55 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


My musical tastes are for the most part well outside the mainstream but "you don't really enjoy that" is a new one on me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:34 PM on August 4, 2013


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