Some pretty happy stuff
May 23, 2013 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Lindsey Stirling in Kenya..
posted by HuronBob (16 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I only discovered Lindsey Stirling a few months ago. I guess she is no longer my special secret love. You others? Welcome.
posted by SPrintF at 10:46 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, after posting this, I did a bit of googling regarding the vocalist, Alisha Popat, and found this.... the internet is a wormhole.... dig deeper.
posted by HuronBob at 10:50 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

In Kenya, you say.
posted by unliteral at 10:54 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

And, a bit more.
posted by HuronBob at 10:56 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a good thing Médecins Sans Frontières has been able to fly a team in there so quickly to help with all those aching smile muscles.
posted by pracowity at 1:29 AM on May 24, 2013

Aye, but is she there also proselytizing for LDS?
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:19 AM on May 24, 2013

We found love in a hopeless place: "Once again, the amazing transformation that Africa is ever burdened with granting to soul-searching westerners has magically taken place."
posted by ChuraChura at 7:05 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by garlic at 7:09 AM on May 24, 2013

I have to sympathize with that opinion piece (as much as I enjoy Stirling's music and approach to it), Africans must be thoroughly fed up by now with all the silly Westerners that drop over there for a quick dose of magical self-discovery or whatever they call it these days. Sigh.
posted by Iosephus at 8:02 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Ugh! Pretty, privileged white girl goes to the third world to use brown people as a multi-cultural backdrop for her video. Ick ick ick.
posted by LarryC at 11:08 AM on May 24, 2013

Sigh, indeed. Just keep diggin.

Thank you HuronBob. I've spent about 8 or 10 hours on this. I believed I knew what I was seeing. I was dismissive. I was puzzled. I was enraged. I was saddened enough that tears rolled down my cheeks. I laughed out loud at the sheer audacity and complexity and beauty and joy brought into play. So many threads with so much significance yet the edges barely frayed..

And I'm sure I still don't know the tiniest part of what's hiding in plain sight.

But that's as it's meant to be.

My hat goes off to the people who put your first two videos together, those who posted them to youtube at the time they did, and those still promoting one of them. What a truly wonderful, beautiful and amazing thing to do.

A hat tip to you too. Thanks for introducing it subtly.
posted by Ahab at 11:29 AM on May 24, 2013

Well crap. I really like Lindsey's music and choreography, but there has always been something off about her. Especially her choice of mostly plastic people to accompany her.

Now this video is no longer a musician, just another missionary going to Africa. And that Oh Africa song is completely atrocious.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2013

It's a good thing Médecins Sans Frontières has been able to fly a team in there so quickly to help with all those aching smile muscles.

Of course they are smiling! They got to be around a white person! And to hear a violin! It was obviously the best day in their African lives!
posted by LarryC at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My kid has been learning violin since last October. She loves violin, she loves dubstep, and she asked me one day to search YouTube for dubstep violin, and that's how we found Lindsey Stirling.

My kid loves the shit out of Lindsey Stirling, and her CD is overplayed in our house.

That little Celtic ass shaking and kicking thing she does? Yeah, my kid does that now, and it drives her teacher nuts (because unlike Lindsey, my kid's bow flies all over the place once she starts her little boogie).

She seems like an awesome person and in an interview with Strings magazine she discusses being YouTube famous, and how she's basically had to work really hard at promoting herself online and maintaining a fanbase.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2013

About a fifth of Kenya's population lives in cities, in places like Nairobi. But for the few documentaries on Kenya, Kenya as synecdoche is represented as being very rural, distant and exotic, and nothing like what most citizens of the United States are presumably used to. The effect seems to make all Kenyan (and often African) culture into valuable Matryoshka dolls filled with preciousness. Again, it's probably not surprising that when you usually see an American in Kenya bridging this oh-so-complicated diversity gap, it's usually someone white, someone from a middle class background, and someone who decidedly has no real history with the nation except to have heard it in an infomercial or picked it seemingly at random.

Themes usually include the message of diversity and open-mindedness and, if you're lucky, they'll acknowledge and reject Neocolonialism. And if you're very, very lucky, they might acknowledge contemporary institutions of debt and their effect on local politics. Commentary on the efficacy of the government as a broad institution is rare and commenting on the specifics of politics and different government institutions thereof is nonexistent. But of course we talk about our politics in this way but who cares about important issues when it's not your country?

A rare documentary or movie or television show on one that exhibits the tourist or even the immigrant perspective of what it's like to live in the United States and of those that do exist, it's usually about the minority status of second, third, fourth, and so on generations, not the zero generation or the first.

Now imagine a film crew going into the rural foothills of Appalachia, documenting the human rights abuses in the coal mines with themes of charity by way of foreign aid (money, armed forces, etc) or with the same theme of preciousness above, all smiles as these natives practice their inexplicable ritual of gutting deer despite other readily available food sources, moody music as the wise, elderly filial head sits constructing a warm quilt for her kin, all interspersed with soaring scenes of exotic mountains, and all this made, produced, and directed by a foreign television crew who conclude that vital aid should be sent to these poor but happy wretches living in their hastily constructed shacks in the trees. This is how it would be presented, in that rhetoric. It's the same rhetoric that makes it so that all white, Christian extremists are clownish nutjobs while brown, Muslim extremists are all dangerous terrorists. It's one that makes government heads of African nations ruthless, genocidal dictators while Putin is seen as dangerous, clever, masculine, and powerful.

I don't make anything of Lindsey Stirling. But from what I can tell by this video and by the mere fact that she was elevated to the status of an American icon by way of a banal and reductive television show slides her somewhat closer to Amanda Palmer and further away from Tunde Adebimpe. And the way I see it is this: one goes to rural Kenya to make a personally meaningful and spiritual video without really getting into the depths of what she's doing while the other wrestles with his identity and, in the process of doing so, has pushed the discussion of music from navel-gazing nationalism to one that shows bands like Tinariwen can be just as political and just as musical as Woody Guthrie or Janis Joplin.
posted by dubusadus at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been stewing over this for a couple of days now... and decided to vet these videos by my wife, whose opinion I respect beyond almost anyone else. She has very good friends doing work in Kenya...

She agreed with most of you, that the featuring of a white person in these videos is just.plain.wrong....

I regret the post, and apologize for my ignorance as to the dynamics at work here....
posted by HuronBob at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2013

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