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Martin Dust
14-12-2009, 10:23 PM
I've just spent 10 minutes with a guy from Sheffield who talks like he's from Jamaica, except he's white and very middle class!


You're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham

Sprang to mind, I laughed, at him to be honest - what do you guys make of this? I was embarrassed by him.

DannyL
14-12-2009, 10:51 PM
I used to work with a guy who continually used patois despite the fact he was a white Oxford graduate. It was a bit trying but he was a nice bloke ultimately. Bet he didn't speak like that to his mum though.

Two thoughts really - people are always attracted by "the other" and that manifests in lots of different ways with regards to race. Being hugely into black music is one, but putting an accent on - I find it weird 'cos it seems so un-selfexamined. Isn't borrowing the tropes of coolness from another race ultimately kind of racist? If all that matters about black people is that you think they are cool and "borrowing" from them makes you look cool, then how the fuck are you going to relate to them as people? I've got mixed parentage, but I don't find the need to wear it on my sleeve to appear cool - I find people who do a bit annoying and patronising.

Other point - there does seem to be a shift in accent re. people who're twenty five and under (at a guess -sorry if that means I'm talking about anyone here). There's a distinct pattern of speech that people who're kind of the generation below me use that seems to have a black/patois inflection. This probably says something about the spread of language/slang, integration and shifting attitudes towards race, but i don't know what exactly! I always think of the use of the word "bare" as a kind of generational marker here.

baboon2004
14-12-2009, 11:57 PM
I always think of the use of the word "bare" as a kind of generational marker here.

That sounds pretty accurate to me.

Isn't it part of a wider unease that most people have with being themselves, and the way in which their voice gives away information that they feel will 'mark' them in various ways? Everyone changes register a little to fit in with situations (to not do so would be somewhat sociopathic), but some people take it to embarrassing extremes.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 12:00 AM
Being hugely into black music is one

With this, from my personal experience, music is so racially codified still, that a lot of white people who like black music seem to be hugely into it only because there are billions of white people who don't listen to any black music (outside a very small number of things) AT ALL. In reality, those people are usually just into both black and white music kinda equally (I count myself in this category).

DannyL
15-12-2009, 12:38 AM
Yeah maybe. Wasn't try to imply some sort of exclusivity there - if you're a bit of a music nerd chances are you listen to loads of music from all kinds of origin points. Just trying to point out that black music is often attractive to people from other ethnicities, and it's blackness/otherness is a factor here.

I do actually find myself changing accents and speech patterns slightly when I talk to people - always weirds me out a bit when I notice it. This sounds like the opposite of what Mal's interlocutor is doing though - he's imposing the accent on the exchange, rather than responding (even unconsciously) to what's going on.

Tentative Andy
15-12-2009, 12:58 AM
I mostly agree with what Danny said in his first post - but I think also it's sometimes a thing that people pick up via their interest in black music.
I know there's been times when I've posted something on my Twitter feed then gone back and cringed at how I phrased it and how posey it must seem. Without naming names, reckon there are a few others on there who ought to feel the same way.
(Obv this is the dialect aspect of patios rather than accent here).
I also get the impression with some people that it's done as a semi-ironic thing, not sure whether this is better or worse though.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 01:03 AM
It's a distancing of oneself, isn't it? Specifically in the guy in Martin's example. A way for people to be ironically involved via language with the subject they're speaking about, rather than talking from the heart. I generally see it as being either quite sweet - as in they haven't realised what they're doing yet - or that they've got a huge personality disorder.

For some reason you tend to get it most with regard Causasians and Jamaicans, I'd like to know why that is, the 'Cool Mon', white rasta type situation.

My accent goes all over the place but I kinda view it pretty much like baboon says, it's kinda the ability to use different aspects of ones own voice in different situations. Maybe people who slip into patois are trying to learn that and it isn't coming out right. I kinda like playing with accents, I wish I was better at mimicking than I am.

zhao
15-12-2009, 06:19 AM
when you learn english you sound like a Brit if you happen to learn from Brits, you sound like you're from Virginia if you happen to learn from a Southern American, and so the fuck what if you want to speak english with a Jamaican accent.


some people take it to embarrassing extremes.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xJaZatpxa9c&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xJaZatpxa9c&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

how many million times do you think his 100&#37; fake patois was considered "embarrassing" before he started playing sold out shows in Jamaica alongside the biggest reggae artists?

it's not difficult to find white rastas with perfect patois in Germany. at first of course it seemed a bit weird, but i have come to respect them for their choices in life -- "authenticity" is for the birds.

perhaps i feel this way because i myself am an imigrant who moved across the world as a child, who has had to take on foreign mannerisms to survive:

if you like something, go for it. if you love something deeply, don't let fearful people who have no faith or vision stop you from saturating your life with it, and becoming that which you want to be.

with that said, of course it has to be judged on an individual basis... because a lotta cases are clearly just http://media.bigoo.ws/content/gif/music/music_139.gif and that's all they will ever be.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 10:48 AM
Isn't borrowing the tropes of coolness from another race ultimately kind of racist?

I totally disagree with this.

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 10:49 AM
I think Dan's right that age has a big influence in how a 'borrowed' speech idiom comes across. Perhaps there's been a lot more cross-cultural influence even in the last generation or so, as a lot of white kids who've grown up in very mixed inner-city areas (and are either still at school or have left school quite recently) talk in a way that borrows from Jamaican slang and inflection not because they're consciously trying to sound like ragga deejays any more than the black kids are, but just because that's how kids from that demographic talk these days. But above a certain age, I can't help but think you run the risk of coming across a bit Westwood/Ali G.

There's more to than just white kids aping West Indian kids, of course - you've got the London-Asian accent that's kind of Jamaican-infused Bangla-Cockney, for instance. Probably some West African/East African/East Mediterranean influence here and there, too. Which rather makes a mockery of this idea that regional accents in Britain are dying out, because you have all these hybrids popping up through the interaction of immigrant populations with native regional dialects. Fascinating stuff - maybe I've noticed it more than some people because I grew up in a very homogeneous white area and have spent the last ten years living in some of the more mixed bits of London (i.e. not Hampstead or Richmond).

DannyL
15-12-2009, 11:12 AM
I totally disagree with this.

Why? Persuade me otherwise.

zhao
15-12-2009, 11:20 AM
Why? Persuade me otherwise.

it is difficult to judge becasue of the confusion between "race" and "culture".

for instance it is racist to say "black people are better musicians"; but it is not racist, and quite accurate, to say: "african cultures include more diverse, older and richer musical traditions."

different cultures focus on different things. beer is a science in Germany, but the culinary arts are lacking compared to, say, China; while beer doesn't even exist in China but we have amazing cuisines.

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 11:21 AM
I think Dan's right that age has a big influence in how a 'borrowed' speech idiom comes across.


When I got home I spoke to my wife about it and she suggested that we are "maybe" getting old :)

crofton
15-12-2009, 11:24 AM
beer is a science in Germany

hmmph, overrated imo...sorry, back to original discussion.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 11:26 AM
perhaps i feel this way because i myself am an imigrant who moved across the world as a child, who has had to take on foreign mannerisms to survive:


but in your case you were doing so to fit in with your immediate environment, which is understandable - I think the original post was to do with people who take on fake accents purely because they confuse talking a certain way with inhabiting the reality of people who generally talk in that way.

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 11:33 AM
but in your case you were doing so to fit in with your immediate environment, which is understandable...

Same could be said of a white kid growing up in a neighbourhood populated mainly by immigrants and their kids, right? Which is different from talking in a certain way just because you think it sounds cool in movies or rap records.

zhao
15-12-2009, 11:33 AM
but in your case you were doing so to fit in with your immediate environment, which is understandable - I think the original post was to do with people who take on fake accents purely because they confuse talking a certain way with inhabiting the reality of people who generally talk in that way.

but none the less the mutability and adaptability of human character is something i view in a positive light.

and while aping (usually of the privileged) the superficial social traits of another (often disenfranchised) group does not give them insight into their reality, and becomes problematic when there are exploitative aspects involved, there is nothing wrong in and of it (the mimicry) self.

zhao
15-12-2009, 11:35 AM
talking in a certain way just because you think it sounds cool in movies or rap records.

i think there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, what so ever.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 11:35 AM
Why? Persuade me otherwise.

There are almost too many reasons to begin listing them. I will try to disaggregate...

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 11:37 AM
i think there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, what so ever.

I wasn't making a value judgement, I was just saying it's a somewhat different phenomenon.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 11:41 AM
But also related in an interesting way. Of course, no one here puts on an accent in order to sound cool--we are all reassuringly authentic. It's other people who have the problem, naturally.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 11:42 AM
i think there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, what so ever.

Aren't modes of speech to some extent cultural capital?

To take an obvious example, upper class boys who speak as though they were working class, are trying to assume some of the supposed 'coolness' of being street, without acknowledging any of the negative factors of poverty of income and opportunity.

If you're doing it to avoid being beaten up in a particular situation, that's one thing. If you're doing it outside of such a situation, it's patronising and stupid.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 11:43 AM
But also related in an interesting way. Of course, no one here puts on an accent in order to sound cool--we are all reassuringly authentic. It's other people who have the problem, naturally.

We're all far too real to need to do that.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 11:44 AM
To take an obvious example, upper class boys who speak as though they were working class, are trying to assume some of the supposed 'coolness' of being street, without acknowledging any of the negative factors of poverty of income and opportunity.

If you're doing it to avoid being beaten up in a particular situation, that's one thing. If you're doing it outside of such a situation, it's patronising and stupid.

Is the reverse true?

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 11:44 AM
To take an obvious example, upper class boys who speak as though they were working class, are trying to assume some of the supposed 'coolness' of being street, without acknowledging any of the negative factors of poverty of income and opportunity.


I don't think I know any actual upper-class people, but I've certainly heard middle-class kids talk like this and it bugs the hell out of me. It's the most irritating accent there is and the people who do it are invariably twats of the highest order.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 11:47 AM
Is the reverse true?

the reverse is much less common, I'll say that. It wouldn't be taking advantage of a power relation, so it's different.

@ Mr Tea - yeah, upper middle class is perhaps what I meant. Shoreditch c*nts is what we're talking. Or are they in Dalston/Bethnal Green now. And they all deserve to die.... London would be so much more fun to go out in.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 11:49 AM
the reverse is much less common, I'll say that. It wouldn't be taking advantage of a power relation, so it's different.

I'm not sure what you mean here--what does its frequency have to do with it? And what do you mean "taking advantage of a power relation"?

massrock
15-12-2009, 11:52 AM
I think Dan's right that age has a big influence in how a 'borrowed' speech idiom comes across. Perhaps there's been a lot more cross-cultural influence even in the last generation or so, as a lot of white kids who've grown up in very mixed inner-city areas (and are either still at school or have left school quite recently) talk in a way that borrows from Jamaican slang and inflection not because they're consciously trying to sound like ragga deejays any more than the black kids are, but just because that's how kids from that demographic talk these days. But above a certain age, I can't help but think you run the risk of coming across a bit Westwood/Ali G.
What about when those kids (of today) grow up a bit, do you think they will change the way they speak?

It's not just growing up in a mixed area. I did but I don't have much of a London Jamaican or London Asian thing going on in my accent I don't think, maybe once in a while by accident or for fun. But I don't think that accent existed in the same way then. (mid 70s - mid 80s).

I did work with a (white) chap in the late 80s who had the thickest 'Jamaican' accent. Really exaggerated and he only listened to the most hardcore and impenetrable ragga. He always kept it up though so I think it had become quite natural for him. Don't know what his black mates must have thought, I think with persistence and commitment anything becomes accepted.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 11:53 AM
I'm not sure what you mean here--what does its frequency have to do with it? And what do you mean "taking advantage of a power relation"?

Frequency has nothing to do with it per se, just an observation.

If you're an upper middle class kid pretnding to be street, then you can just switch and go back to your normal voice and go and get a job in a bank or whatever. You're not 'faking it' because you have to to get somewhere in life.

In terms of the reverse, working class kids pretending to be middle class are first of all usually doing so to avoid the 'negative' connotations heaped onto being working class, in order to avoid the prejudice in certain areas of employment etc towards people who speak with working class accents.

The reasons behind the accent change are, respectively, utterly spurious and stupid; and sadly sometimes necessary to avoid prejudice.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 11:58 AM
There is always somebody more authentic...

vimothy
15-12-2009, 12:03 PM
You two examples are really interesting, though. You claim that the two groups are distinct, but I wonder: do working class kids never put on an accent to sound street? Do middle class kids never pretend to be posher than they are in order to impress a prospective employer?

DannyL
15-12-2009, 12:05 PM
If you're an upper middle class kid pretnding to be street, then you can just switch and go back to your normal voice and go and get a job in a bank or whatever. You're not 'faking it' because you have to to get somewhere in life.



This was the case with the Oxford grad guy I mentioned above. Didn't talk like that on the phone at work, for instance. But happy to the rest of the time.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 12:05 PM
Yeah, but there's a difference between harmless inauthenticity, and inauthenticity that is usurping characterisitcs of a group of people less powerful than you.

massrock
15-12-2009, 12:07 PM
That's one interesting thing about living in a different country or even city, many people won't be able to decode the 'class' origin of an accent so readily.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 12:07 PM
Yeah, but there's a difference between harmless inauthenticity, and inauthenticity that is usurping characterisitcs of a group of people less powerful than you.

But what happens when working class kids sound more working class to impress their friends? And what happens when middle class kids sound more middle class to impress their friends?

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 12:09 PM
You two examples are really interesting, though. You claim that the two groups are distinct, but I wonder: do working class kids never put on an accent to sound street? Do middle class kids never pretend to be posher than they are in order to impress a prospective employer?

I agree, the groups aren't distinct, but social groups always bleed into one another.

The latter - yes, but they don't have to do it in as many cases. I certainly do it myself, as a middle-middle class type, but if I didn't, I dion't think I'd suffer particularly.

Working class kids putting on an accent to sound street - sure they do. Depends where you grow up, I guess, and I suppose street is a bit of an inexact term.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 12:12 PM
But what happens when working class kids sound more working class to impress their friends? And what happens when middle class kids sound more middle class to impress their friends?

er, blatant cases are worse than marginal cases?

massrock
15-12-2009, 12:15 PM
LOL, dubstepforum. Innit doe bruv.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 12:21 PM
They're all inexact: that's the point. You and Danny are engaged in a little power play yourselves here: stating the acceptable limits of identity, validating racial categories, taking as given a monolithic conception of that most mistreated of phrases, "power relations".

I much prefer cultural miscegenation. And incidentally, if Dissensus is anything to go by, so do most people here--including you!

Tentative Andy
15-12-2009, 12:27 PM
LOL, dubstepforum. Innit doe bruv.

Hehehe.

Random little thought: would people say that addressing people as 'mate' is a marker of either being working-class or approximating towards working-class? In the past it obv would have been one of the two in any situation, but it seems like one of those things that's passed into the general culture and become an almost neutral term.
Myself, I prefer 'buddy' anyway (think that's an Invernesian/North-Eastern thing originally?).

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 12:31 PM
Ha, 'buddy' sounds (or, in this context, looks) totally American to me - I can't really imagine anyone in Britain using it. But then, I've never been to Inverness.

zhao
15-12-2009, 12:31 PM
Aren't modes of speech to some extent cultural capital?

To take an obvious example, upper class boys who speak as though they were working class, are trying to assume some of the supposed 'coolness' of being street, without acknowledging any of the negative factors of poverty of income and opportunity.

If you're doing it to avoid being beaten up in a particular situation, that's one thing. If you're doing it outside of such a situation, it's patronising and stupid.

like i said, when there are exploitative undertones, (or overtones), or done in an insensitive manner, it becomes problematic, but i completely disagree with you that any sort of conscious imitation is automatically "stupid" and "patronising".

i wouldn't mind losing some of my californian accent and perhaps trying on the age old british affectation so popular in hollywood for a bit.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 12:34 PM
while beer doesn't even exist in China but we have amazing cuisines.

um...

<a href="http://s46.photobucket.com/albums/f119/mistersloane/?action=view&current=images.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f119/mistersloane/images.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 12:37 PM
What about when those kids (of today) grow up a bit, do you think they will change the way they speak?


Yeah, you tend to see over 25s kinda dropping it from what I've seen, more to do with workplace I think than anything else.

I like the new race-less UK accent, I think it's great, and kinda futuristic. We talked about this on some thread ages ago but I can't find it now.

zhao
15-12-2009, 12:38 PM
and is it a problem when ghetto kids try to look like they're from the Hamptons? (half of Hilfiger's winning strategy way back when)

zhao
15-12-2009, 12:39 PM
um...

<a href="http://s46.photobucket.com/albums/f119/mistersloane/?action=view&current=images.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f119/mistersloane/images.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

Tsingtao was a brewry started by Germans and it is a German beer.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 12:39 PM
i wouldn't mind losing some of my californian accent and perhaps trying on the age old british affectation so popular in hollywood for a bit.

I've always wanted to talk like that as well, I think it would be really shocking if non-white people suddenly started doing that, as well as being hilarious and kinda suave.

Tentative Andy
15-12-2009, 12:39 PM
Ha, 'buddy' sounds (or, in this context, looks) totally American to me - I can't really imagine anyone in Britain using it. But then, I've never been to Inverness.

You're not missing much, etc etc. Oh ho ho.
But yeah, it's kind of an odd one right enough, no idea where it came from originally. Heard people shortening it to 'bud' or 'buds' quite often too (I don't do that though - not working-class enough ;) ).


Edit: have I just made Invernesians into an exotic Other. I sure hope so!

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 12:39 PM
Tsingtao was a brewry started by Germans.

yeah but it's been in China since 1903!

zhao
15-12-2009, 12:41 PM
yeah but it's been in China since 1903!

but of course still a cultural import.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 12:43 PM
Tsingtao was a brewry started by Germans and it is a German beer.

British actually, didn't know that.

http://thechinabeat.blogspot.com/2009/06/tsingtao-beer-complex-brew.html

DannyL
15-12-2009, 12:44 PM
They're all inexact: that's the point. You and Danny are engaged in a little power play yourselves here: stating the acceptable limits of identity, validating racial categories, taking as given a monolithic conception of that most mistreated of phrases, "power relations".

I much prefer cultural miscegenation. And incidentally, if Dissensus is anything to go by, so do most people here--including you!

That’s the point though. Identities are enacted socially. They don’t all just happen in a big void. Me objecting to someone aping another pattern of speech for reasons of coolness is part of this…. If you’re in favour of miscegenation, then some respect for other cultures surely is part of this – acknowledging and recognising their boundaries and point of differences even as they change and mutate - otherwise it all just becomes a big soup where everything is the same. Or are you saying a rich white guy speaking patois is exactly the same as a poor black guy speaking the same? That’s ignoring the whole context in which these dialects are spoken within.

viktorvaughn
15-12-2009, 12:45 PM
Hehehe.

Random little thought: would people say that addressing people as 'mate' is a marker of either being working-class or approximating towards working-class? In the past it obv would have been one of the two in any situation, but it seems like one of those things that's passed into the general culture and become an almost neutral term.
Myself, I prefer 'buddy' anyway (think that's an Invernesian/North-Eastern thing originally?).

I think mate has gone neutral now, tons of people say it.

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 12:53 PM
Or are you saying a rich white guy speaking patois is exactly the same as a poor black guy speaking the same?

But what about a working-class black kid, a working-class white kid and a working-class South Asian kid talking in more or less the same dialect/accent/idiom because they've grown up together and that's just how they talk? In other words it's a result of a convergence of speech patterns, not one group adopting an idiom that 'belongs' to another but rather, mutual influence.

People can end up with usages in their language that have originated in other cultures without it necessarily being a case of bankers from Surrey trying to sound like Buju Banton...can't they?

Pestario
15-12-2009, 12:57 PM
That's one interesting thing about living in a different country or even city, many people won't be able to decode the 'class' origin of an accent so readily.

yes, especially Australian accents in London/Uk: silly but harmless to most people

vimothy
15-12-2009, 01:10 PM
Or are you saying a rich white guy speaking patois is exactly the same as a poor black guy speaking the same? That’s ignoring the whole context in which these dialects are spoken within.

I'm not saying that. . However: back in the early '90s when I wore baggy jeans, listened to hip-hop, and road a skateboard, I was in school in the Netherlands. I remember walking down the hall and a couple of frat boy types passed me and said, "guess that's what they call a wigger". Reference to the term "n*gger" notwithstanding, you both seem to be in agreement. White people shouldn't try to act (or speak) black. And what does it mean to "act black"? It means here that there are ways of being that are unique to the different races, and that we must respect that uniqueness. But of course none of these things are actually true.


* * * * *

On power relations, I am reminded of an off-the-cuff footnote in Reassembling the Social on the way that sociology has often "substituted an invisible, unmovable, and homogeneous world of power for itself":


That this lesson is easy to forget is shown dramatically by the transatlantic destiny of Michel Foucault. No one was more precise in his analytical decomposition of the tiny ingredients from which power is made, and no one was more critical of social explanations. And yet, as soon as Foucault was translated, he was immediately turned into the one who had "revealed" power relations behind every innocuous activity: madness, natural history, sex, administration, etc. This proves again withn what energy the notion of social explanation should be fought: even the genius of Michel Foucault could not prevent such a total inversion.

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 01:41 PM
They're all inexact: that's the point. You and Danny are engaged in a little power play yourselves here: stating the acceptable limits of identity, validating racial categories, taking as given a monolithic conception of that most mistreated of phrases, "power relations".

I much prefer cultural miscegenation. And incidentally, if Dissensus is anything to go by, so do most people here--including you!

No time to answer in full, but about minority groups that aren't in favour of complete cultural miscegenation and want to protect what they see as their culture? Do cultural/communal rights not count?

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 01:44 PM
[QUOTE=vimothy;215331]However: back in the early '90s when I wore baggy jeans, listened to hip-hop, and road a skateboard, I was in school in the Netherlands. /QUOTE]

Just an aside - I've never understood why these things have to go together - I love hip hop, but that's separate from what I like to wear and what social activities I like....to me breaking down those kind of connections is real cultural miscegenation, not takin on all the tropes of some sphere you like. ie unpackaging things...

vimothy
15-12-2009, 01:49 PM
No time to answer in full, but about minority groups that aren't in favour of complete cultural miscegenation and want to protect what they see as their culture? Do cultural/communal rights not count

This course of action is open to any and all and is frequently invoked--by the BNP, for example. But it's more complicated than the racial or cultural purists would have you believe.


Just an aside - I've never understood why these things have to go together - I love hip hop, but that's separate from what I like to wear and what social activities I like....to me breaking down those kind of connections is real cultural miscegenation, not takin on all the tropes of some sphere you like. ie unpackaging things...

Indeed. Why should wearing baggy jeans mean I was acting black? What does the way I dress have to do with anything...?

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 01:50 PM
No time to answer in full, but about minority groups that aren't in favour of complete cultural miscegenation and want to protect what they see as their culture? Do cultural/communal rights not count?

Sure, but what groups might be especially keen to do this? At a guess I'd imagine orthodox Jews, maybe - but are Hebrew-derived slang terms and usages common amonst da yoof? Probably not, as orthodox Jews tend to form very insular communities and not mix much with outsiders. OTOH, do Brits of West Indian origin lose a lot of sleep over the popularity of Red Stripe here or the prevalence of 'batty-boy' as an insult? Let's not get all well-meaning-white-liberals-taking-offence-on-other-people's-behalf about this.

slightly crooked
15-12-2009, 01:55 PM
I've always wanted to talk like that as well, I think it would be really shocking if non-white people suddenly started doing that, as well as being hilarious and kinda suave.

http://insidegossip.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/eubank2.jpg

padraig (u.s.)
15-12-2009, 02:12 PM
Yeah, but there's a difference between harmless inauthenticity, and inauthenticity that is usurping characterisitcs of a group of people less powerful than you.

who decides what is harmless and what is not? you? if not, who? and in cases where it's not clear (i.e., between different minority groups) how is it determined which groups are more & less powerful in relation to each other? and thus when it's "usurping" and when it's a "survival technique"?


about minority groups that aren't in favour of complete cultural miscegenation and want to protect what they see as their culture?

firstly, culture is fluid. and - for better or worse - increasingly fluid as the world becomes, as/re access to information at least, smaller. secondly, are you not speaking for minority groups here, e.g. usurping them?

obv there are examples that are accurate - the one I immediately thought of was Native Americans, who get a particularly raw deal when it comes to cultural expropriation & usurpation. I don't think your points are totally invalid - what's wrong is the sweeping generalizations & as Vim alludes to the oversimplification of what are in fact complex & dynamic "power relations". and your/whoever positioning as a gatekeeper of what is "authentic" and what isn't.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 02:15 PM
http://insidegossip.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/eubank2.jpg

Yeah! I always thought Eubank was really cool.

padraig (u.s.)
15-12-2009, 02:16 PM
Or are you saying a rich white guy speaking patois is exactly the same as a poor black guy speaking the same?

no one said that though. you & baboon keep setting up the most extreme strawmen & then saying "wait, but surely you're not defending that". I don't think anyone is defending anything specific so much as saying that the ideas of authenticity, identity, etc. are problematic and not easily defined. actually, it's an argument for context, not against.

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 02:17 PM
Blimey!

DannyL
15-12-2009, 02:30 PM
White people shouldn't try to act (or speak) black.

No, that’s not what I’m trying to say at all. It should be obvious to anyone that’s there’s going to be a lot of blurring with regards to accents, characteristics, behaviours etc with regards to race in modern Britain. This is what I was getting at in mentioning changes to speech with regard to the yoot dem in my first post. If you don’t recognise stuff like that, you’ve got your head in the sand. I work with kids and I see an intense fascination with their own racial backgrounds, slang, their speech patterns etc – the context as Padraig says. What I was initially objecting to was the plucking of signifiers like accent/dialect outside of their context and employing them without that kind of sensitivity and awareness. This sounds to me what was going on re. the opening post. I might be totally wrong, obviously, but it reminded of other times I’ve encountered similar borrowings in my own life (that have really got on my tits).

Speech acts are public and that another’s objections/imitation of how one is speaking are part of the act, the other half of the equation. I interpreted what you wrote up thread as saying well, you can’t criticise or react then (even if its heartfelt), which seems absurd in the extreme.

DannyL
15-12-2009, 02:31 PM
Blimey!

See what you've started?

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 02:57 PM
What I was initially objecting to was the plucking of signifiers like accent/dialect outside of their context and employing them without that kind of sensitivity and awareness. This sounds to me what was going on re. the opening post. I might be totally wrong, obviously, but it reminded of other times I’ve encountered similar borrowings in my own life (that have really got on my tits).


Correct and I did leave thinking What A Twat.

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 03:02 PM
Yeah! I always thought Eubank was really cool.

Same here. The man's just doing his own thing and I really respect that.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 04:48 PM
What I was initially objecting to was the plucking of signifiers like accent/dialect outside of their context and employing them without that kind of sensitivity and awareness.

But who could satisfy standards like that? I’m sure that I would find a middle class Oxford graduate talking patois hideously embarrassing were I to meet him. However, I wouldn’t want to generalise from that probable fact the rule that “borrowing the tropes of coolness from another race ultimately kind of racist”. I like those early Cream recordings, but I wouldn’t assume that Clapton was a racist because he played guitar like a black person. Even in order to say something like that in the specific, rather than the general, you would have to know a lot (obviously, I’m not talking about the linguistic short-hand we all employ in our day-to-day lives. As I said, I’m sure I would have found it embarrassing too). You would have to know that the person was borrowing these tropes in order to be cool, where appearing cool is understood in only the most mercenary and shallow way, and, reaching inside that affinity, understand that it rests on a one-to-one identity of said tropes with black people. Far too much knowledge to merely assume, in other words.

Putting an accent on is weird, and extremely common. We all do it all of the time. But this is a trivial fact—you can’t short-circuit these things and go straight to the generalisations: “imitation of the way other races act is racist”. I think the formulation of that proposition is more troubling than the act of imitation itself. If I pretend to be a woman, because I think women are cool (or anything), is that sexist? It might be, I suppose. But it depends on the specifics, at which point this is either going to get complicated or circular or both.

Finally, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t react to the way people speak or don’t speak. I work at a university, and I spend most of my day walking around sneering at the idiot teenagers. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I try to be careful about leaping from a visceral feeling to abstract categories. I’m sure that they’re not all idiots; it just looks that way from where I’m standing. And where am I standing? There’s a kind of stupidity to the white Oxbridge rasta, but there’s also a kind of equivalence. Dreadlocks are probably okay, listening to reggae is probably okay, but the accent takes identification a bit too far for comfort—the accent is where I draw the line. Okay, not all the time, I still use it for comedic or ironic effect, but that’s because I “get” it, unlike the naive dupes who just feel affinity and go for it.

But this little bit of output gap, this space between ironic cool and occluded mimicry, this is no more or less arbitrary than anything else, no more or less constructed and held temporarily in place by social ties. My own accent: Is it authentic? More authentic than the white rasta’s? Than yours?

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 07:04 PM
No, it doesn't make Clapton racist that he played the blues - it's the fact that he famously said Enoch Powell was right in his "rivers of blood" speech and called for 'wogs' to be thrown out of Britain (http://www.wordmagazine.co.uk/content/eric-claptons-enoch-was-right-speech) that does that! Come on vim, were you going for deliberate irony there or what? ;)

On the subject of white rastas, I have to say I have an almost pathological prejudice against white people with dreadlocks.

Edit:


But this little bit of output gap, this space between ironic cool and occluded mimicry, this is no more or less arbitrary than anything else, no more or less constructed and held temporarily in place by social ties. My own accent: Is it authentic? More authentic than the white rasta’s? Than yours?

Really good point.

zhao
15-12-2009, 07:31 PM
There’s a kind of stupidity to the white Oxbridge rasta, but there’s also a kind of equivalence. Dreadlocks are probably okay, listening to reggae is probably okay, but the accent takes identification a bit too far for comfort

again, UNLESS YOU ARE GENTLEMAN.

don't know why you people keep side stepping this great example, which proves that if someone's affectation is REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY good and convincing, then it's ok and no one in their right mind would consider it embarrassing or stupid.


My own accent: Is it authentic? More authentic than the white rasta’s? Than yours?

and what about someone like me to whom english was a second language? did it matter if i learned BBC english, Texan English, Ebonics, or Patois? would any of them be any more or less "authentic" than another?

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 07:43 PM
Interesting point Zhao but in a sense it still makes me feel like they are mocking and such is the tradition in the UK when people "do" accents that are not their own.

vimothy
15-12-2009, 09:04 PM
Bit worried that I may have started talking gibberish there for a minute. I've had a smoke now and I feel a lot better.

Fundamentally, my objections can all be boiled down to something very simple: there is no "authenticity" to anything anyway. You can't just reach out your hands as an uninvolved observer and grab hold of a stable identity and say that it represents the essential core of what it is to be black or white or poor or rich or male or female or... These are all in flux and always have been (patios itself being the result of a process of miscegenation) and we're in there with 'em.

I'm not making the argument, however, that these identities don't exist. Just because they are "social constructs", doesn't mean that they aren't real, that they don't have as much (more, even) agency than you or me.

But because there's no stable ground on which to stand, there's nowhere from which to police these identities, no way to own them and speak for them or of them. An Oxbridge rasta might make us feel uncomfortable, , but we have no measure that would allow us to know that "this thing is worse/more racist than the widespread appropriation of other cultures by us". Furthermore, this is I think the real issue of concern in the abstract. The white rasta is embarrassing in his naive overidentification--polite society knows how to play it cool and maintain distance (but it's a difference in degree, not in kind, and at times you do have to wonder whether the ironic inhabitant of other cultures is really more self-aware than the naive enthusiast, but that's for another time).

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 09:22 PM
again,[SIZE="5"]
and what about someone like me to whom english was a second language? did it matter if i learned BBC english, Texan English, Ebonics, or Patois? would any of them be any more or less "authentic" than another?

Well you probably learnt to talk like the people you were surrounded by as you were learning the language, just like any of us learning any language, including a first language. Of course you could have gone out of your way to learn to talk like a Texan rancher or a BBC newsreader or whatever, but given that you were living in California it would at least seem a bit odd. And you can insist that it's your right to talk however you wish (which it is, of course) but it would be very disingenuous of you to then make out like you were mystified or indignant if other people found it pretentious, offensive or ridiculous. Pretentious in the literal sense of pretending to be someone or something you're not, I mean.

It's the going-out-of-your-way to sound like people from a group you've never really had much contact with that people don't like, I think. So our hypothetical cod-Rasta Oxbridge graduate is in a very different camp from, say, a white kid growing up in a mixed neighbourhood with lots of black/Asian/Latino friends and classmates, or you growing up in California.

Again, I'm not saying it's terrible or racist or anything like that, just that there is a reason why in one kind of circumstance it can be viewed as 'appropriation' whereas in another it's just someone talking in the way that comes naturally to them because of the area where they grew up.

martin
15-12-2009, 09:33 PM
No, I'm sorry. White rastas are wrong and should be criminalised. You can trot out as many arguments to the contrary, produce as many sociological examples as you like. But Spiral Tribe / Back To The Planet fucked it up for all 'white rastas' in 1992 and there's no point of return, ever.

martin
15-12-2009, 09:37 PM
I don't think 'mate' is (c) the working class anymore. But it's the best to use if you bump into someone in the pub and say "Sorry, mate". Saying "Sorry, pal" or "Sorry, friend" sounds like you're gearing up to glass them.

mixed_biscuits
15-12-2009, 09:41 PM
It's not the particular quality of that which is assumed that riles people, but that this borrowing is considered necessary in the first place - it's a diss to the prevailing culture and an inauthentic move.

Behaviour can be more or less authentic, if we take authentic to mean 'fitting to context (the context being, for example, past behaviour or the surrounding culture).

Mr. Tea
15-12-2009, 09:46 PM
And why's this thread called 'patter' - I thought that meant the spiel a magician or salesman comes out with to pull the wool over your eyes? Or is it patois for 'patois'?

mixed_biscuits
15-12-2009, 09:54 PM
That's not to say that just because most people find inauthentic behaviour irritating doesn't make it bad - brave is the man who dares to be inauthentic, who fashions himself as he wishes, not as time and circumstance conspire!

(Seen?)

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 10:00 PM
And why's this thread called 'patter' - I thought that meant the spiel a magician or salesman comes out with to pull the wool over your eyes? Or is it patois for 'patois'?

Because I felt it was "prepared".

baboon2004
15-12-2009, 10:16 PM
who decides what is harmless and what is not? you? if not, who? and in cases where it's not clear (i.e., between different minority groups) how is it determined which groups are more & less powerful in relation to each other? and thus when it's "usurping" and when it's a "survival technique"?

firstly, culture is fluid. and - for better or worse - increasingly fluid as the world becomes, as/re access to information at least, smaller. secondly, are you not speaking for minority groups here, e.g. usurping them?

obv there are examples that are accurate - the one I immediately thought of was Native Americans, who get a particularly raw deal when it comes to cultural expropriation & usurpation. I don't think your points are totally invalid - what's wrong is the sweeping generalizations & as Vim alludes to the oversimplification of what are in fact complex & dynamic "power relations". and your/whoever positioning as a gatekeeper of what is "authentic" and what isn't.

that kind of extreme relativist devil's advocate point of view is fine, and I never denied that power relations were complex, but if you're saying anything goes because there is no way of ascertaining anything objectively, then that's a fundamental point of difference. Sometimes which group is more powerful is very clear, and sometimes something is clearly inauthentic.

Not speaking for minority groups, rather suggesting they MIGHT not want their culture used in that way. Maybe they would, but maybe they wouldn't.

mixed_biscuits
15-12-2009, 10:26 PM
Authentic behaviour is also 'prepared', but the preparation has been done for one - one talks and acts the way one does because one's environment has led one ineluctably to do so.

Ironically, the more authentic the behaviour, the less say one has had in it.

The authentic man is a self-effacing figure, through whom we can see society.

If one decides to act inauthentically, then one must create the environment oneself (and still with the backdrop of one's local milieu to contend with).

A push to inauthenticity (accelerating purposefully away from one's habitual, authentic ways) is easily forgiven when it brings one closer to local norms, rather than further away from them - it's called 'fitting in'.

Personal inauthenticity is generally pleasing when it panders to the locally dominant group.
Personal inauthenticity is generally displeasing when it undermines the locally dominant group (for instance, by identifying with a non-local group).
Personal authenticity is generally pleasing when it panders to the locally dominant group.
Personal authenticity is generally displeasing when it undermines the locally dominant group.
Inauthenticity as such is not always displeasing.

mistersloane
15-12-2009, 10:43 PM
I don't think 'mate' is (c) the working class anymore. But it's the best to use if you bump into someone in the pub and say "Sorry, mate". Saying "Sorry, pal" or "Sorry, friend" sounds like you're gearing up to glass them.

I use 'sorry, fella' alot, especially with girls.

Slothrop
15-12-2009, 11:23 PM
The white rasta is embarrassing in his naive overidentification--polite society knows how to play it cool and maintain distance (but it's a difference in degree, not in kind, and at times you do have to wonder whether the ironic inhabitant of other cultures is really more self-aware than the naive enthusiast, but that's for another time).
I'd say that the thing that makes yer public school cockerneys and oxbridge rastas embarassing is that they give the appearance of making a grab for cultural capital and failing - and you lower your opinion of them because they seem to need to make a try-hard attempt to act like something they're not in order to get on socially. It's embarassing in the same way as someone's dad trying to use slang. (http://xkcd.com/166/)

To be honest, appropriation of (sub)cultural capital doesn't bother me that much - partly because it's always been a part of youth / street culture to be in a constant linguistic arms race to stay ahead of the wannabes - and the very existence of that arms race is maybe part of what gives definition to the subculture[1] - and partly because most of what we're talking about is obvious enough to be funnier than it is insulting.

And partly because, as other people have suggested, there is question to be asked about where to draw the line - if it's bad to appropriate a way of speaking from a group you don't belong to (even if you like how it sounds), is it alright to appropriate a way a way of dressing (if you like how it looks) or your choice of music (even if you like how it sounds)? Is everyone not from an estate in east london doing a little to undermine grime culture if they listen to it?

[1] similar to the way that a subculture disdains non subcultural media but is partly validated by its impact on them.

zhao
16-12-2009, 05:21 AM
No, I'm sorry. White rastas are wrong and should be criminalised. You can trot out as many arguments to the contrary, produce as many sociological examples as you like. But Spiral Tribe / Back To The Planet fucked it up for all 'white rastas' in 1992 and there's no point of return, ever.

right, people like YT, Collie Budz, Gentleman, etc, etc, etc, etc, should be locked up.

and people like you have no business participating in any way in music coming from different ethno-economic-cultural backgrounds than your own, things such as hiphop, house, techno, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

padraig (u.s.)
16-12-2009, 06:45 AM
but if you're saying anything goes

I'm - very clearly - not saying that. I am saying that there is no universal law of authenticity that allows you or anyone else to sit around determining in the abstract on what is and isn't acceptable. I am saying you have to use your best judgment & common sense based on the context of each situation, & indeed, sometimes it will be very clear whether something is or isn't right. sometimes it won't be so clear. I am also saying that you run into trouble very quickly when you start trying to synthesize vague absolutes about "power relations" & so on.


Not speaking for minority groups, rather suggesting they MIGHT not want their culture used in that way.

so you're defending - but not speaking for - hypothetical minority groups who may or may not feel the same way you do about who is and is not allowed to, depending on the pov, usurp/venerate pieces of their cultures? that it, pretty much? cos I'm not sure how it's different from every other middle-class white guy (not excluding myself) telling mostly other middle-class white guys, on the behalf of non-middle class white people, what is & isn't cool. albeit a version dressed up w/a bit of garbled sociology - as opposed to sneering hipster condescension or whatever - & run through a p.c. wringer.

grizzleb
16-12-2009, 07:50 AM
I basically agree with padraig. Regarding the example used, if someone who is of a rich, white oxford background and surrounded by people who emphasise that culture, and you didn't like it - I'm sure a good way to distance that might be to 'act black', and in that context I can't see how you would say that it's a bad thing. I can't see anything wrong with people trying to relate to their perceptions of other cultures and use those as part of their personality. I guess the problem I have with it is that neither group should really hold much stock in such trivial things as accent, clothing, or music you enjoy. These days everyone 'wears' different kinds of cultural garb, and there's no 'authentic' or 'inauthentic' way to go about it. 'Being true to your background' well, what if that background is one of racist mysogyny? I'd rather be a patois spoutin' wigga myself...

grizzleb
16-12-2009, 07:53 AM
It's not the particular quality of that which is assumed that riles people, but that this borrowing is considered necessary in the first place - it's a diss to the prevailing culture and an inauthentic move.

Behaviour can be more or less authentic, if we take authentic to mean 'fitting to context (the context being, for example, past behaviour or the surrounding culture).
Surely by this rule, a truly authentic person or culture is one which entirely static. I wouldn't call that authentic at all, I'd call that dead. Or if I'm not being sarcastic, set in their ways, nobody is like that, and no society has ever been.

Sure, you can laugh at people who have some daft affectation - but (back to slightly tongue in cheek) wouldn't THAT be racist?

luka
16-12-2009, 08:18 AM
i grew up around mostly black kids. i wanted to talk like them. why is that?
i never took it to extremes but i did adopt cadences and intonations and stuff. who wouldn't? some of that stuff still lingers in my ever shifting accent.
west indians have a nice way of talking. who wouldn't want to sound like that? you dont get no one trying to sound nigerian do you?
i wonder if passionate joyceans adopt a dublin brogue.

mixed_biscuits
16-12-2009, 08:32 AM
Surely by this rule, a truly authentic person or culture is one which entirely static. I wouldn't call that authentic at all, I'd call that dead. Or if I'm not being sarcastic, set in their ways, nobody is like that, and no society has ever been.

Well, societies aren't static because people will always make inauthentic moves - there will always be some behaviour that deviates from the prevailing norm. So, yes, there is no absolutely authentic person, but there are, relatively speaking, people who act less authentically or more so.

Bear in mind that the popular conception of authenticity, as commodified in theme bars, for instance, freezes culture in time, as you say.

Madonna shows how far inauthenticity can take you.

grizzleb
16-12-2009, 08:57 AM
It seems arbitrary to call style bars authentic and madonna inauthentic to me. For me the possibility of what you can 'authenticity' is excluded for me wholly as a rule from culture, it's not possible to act wholly under the prevailing norms because there is never a single set of standards for a particular area, or group (household), outside say maybe heavily codeified religious or fraternal organisations. The very fact of culture excludes authenticity.

martin
16-12-2009, 09:47 AM
right, people like YT, Collie Budz, Gentleman, etc, etc, etc, etc, should be locked up.

Hang on, hang on. Since when was YT a white rasta? Or Collie Budz for that matter?

Mr. Tea
16-12-2009, 09:59 AM
I've decided I quite like 'bare' as an intensifier. As in, "It's bare cold today", meaning cold and nothing but cold.

Since this is mainly a spoken usage, an alternative interpretation would be "so cold even a bear would be forced to admit it was cold".

vimothy
16-12-2009, 10:39 AM
No, I'm sorry. White rastas are wrong and should be criminalised. You can trot out as many arguments to the contrary, produce as many sociological examples as you like. But Spiral Tribe / Back To The Planet fucked it up for all 'white rastas' in 1992 and there's no point of return, ever.

Hey man, it wasn't me who broght sociology into it. Hate Spiral Tribe all you want, but I'm arguing against the possibility of sociological explanations for your personal likes and dislikes.

martin
16-12-2009, 11:21 AM
Hey man, it wasn't me who broght sociology into it. Hate Spiral Tribe all you want, but I'm arguing against the possibility of sociological explanations for your personal likes and dislikes.

Well, it's 'sociological' in that white rastas sadly still inhabit our society. But the main reason I don't like them is cos they smell.

baboon2004
16-12-2009, 11:22 AM
I'm - very clearly - not saying that. I am saying that there is no universal law of authenticity that allows you or anyone else to sit around determining in the abstract on what is and isn't acceptable. I am saying you have to use your best judgment & common sense based on the context of each situation, & indeed, sometimes it will be very clear whether something is or isn't right. sometimes it won't be so clear. I am also saying that you run into trouble very quickly when you start trying to synthesize vague absolutes about "power relations" & so on.

so you're defending - but not speaking for - hypothetical minority groups who may or may not feel the same way you do about who is and is not allowed to, depending on the pov, usurp/venerate pieces of their cultures? that it, pretty much? cos I'm not sure how it's different from every other middle-class white guy (not excluding myself) telling mostly other middle-class white guys, on the behalf of non-middle class white people, what is & isn't cool. albeit a version dressed up w/a bit of garbled sociology - as opposed to sneering hipster condescension or whatever - & run through a p.c. wringer.

I wasn't arguing that there is a universal law of authenticity. As to talking in the abstrast - I was trying to give a real-life example in my first post to AVOID it becoming abstract! This whole discussion came from the original example that Martin posted, and the example I gave from real-life experience of when this kind of practice is inauthentic and annoying. Of course you have to take each case in context and on its own merits - that's why I'm not able to answer some of the devil's advocate questions thrown at me about what if such and such...

As to hypothetical minority groups...well, no, I'm just speaking from what I've observed about various minorities... Just as some pubs have a minority identity (as in, a space where people who feel themselves in a minority in some way or other, want to be with others from that minority, and dont' appreciate members of the majority being there), and some places are 'mixed'...extrapolating from this, I think it is overwhelmingly likely that some people will be cool with other people borrowing 'their culture', and some people won't be.

I don't know what a PC wringer is.

Anyways, I think the key question is - why does most (not all, obv) inauthentic behaviour (again, talking from real life experience, not in the abstract) involve, for example, white people trying to ape the stereotype of black people's style, and not vice versa? If there was true miscegenation of culture, I think that would be cool- but there quite clearly isn't. Most of it runs in one direction.

grizzleb
16-12-2009, 11:38 AM
Anyways, I think the key question is - why does most (not all, obv) inauthentic behaviour (again, talking from real life experience, not in the abstract) involve, for example, white people trying to ape the stereotype of black people's style, and not vice versa? If there was true miscegenation of culture, I think that would be cool- but there quite clearly isn't. Most of it runs in one direction.

http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?t=9651&page=3&highlight=dollaz

vimothy
16-12-2009, 11:40 AM
Most of it runs in one direction.

Are you sure about that?

grizzleb
16-12-2009, 11:42 AM
Hey man, it wasn't me who broght sociology into it. Hate Spiral Tribe all you want, but I'm arguing against the possibility of sociological explanations for your personal likes and dislikes.
Just seen this comment - yes!

Mr. Tea
16-12-2009, 12:08 PM
I don't know what a PC wringer is.

I think the word 'hand' is missing. ;)



Anyways, I think the key question is - why does most (not all, obv) inauthentic behaviour (again, talking from real life experience, not in the abstract) involve, for example, white people trying to ape the stereotype of black people's style, and not vice versa? If there was true miscegenation of culture, I think that would be cool- but there quite clearly isn't. Most of it runs in one direction.

What about a black guy who wears a suit and works in an office - is he 'inauthentic'? Is he a 'blonkey'?

Tentative Andy
16-12-2009, 12:29 PM
As to hypothetical minority groups...well, no, I'm just speaking from what I've observed about various minorities... Just as some pubs have a minority identity (as in, a space where people who feel themselves in a minority in some way or other, want to be with others from that minority, and dont' appreciate members of the majority being there), and some places are 'mixed'...extrapolating from this, I think it is overwhelmingly likely that some people will be cool with other people borrowing 'their culture', and some people won't be.



Hmmm, can sort of see what you're getting at here, but something seems a bit dodgy about this. It's coming close to saying 'Hey, let's just leave everyone in their own little corners, with their own petty little prejudices'.
At the very least, I don't see why people who do wish to totally isolate themselves from the outside world like this need (or deserve) our support and protection in doing so.

Apologies in advance if I'm misinterpreting/misrepresenting you here.

massrock
16-12-2009, 12:29 PM
Well, societies aren't static because people will always make inauthentic moves - there will always be some behaviour that deviates from the prevailing norm. So, yes, there is no absolutely authentic person, but there are, relatively speaking, people who act less authentically or more so.
Really don't get why are equating authenticity with matching prevailing norms.

I'd say in most cases someone who uncritically (or deliberately) attempts to match up to some 'prevailing norm' (as many do of course) is going to be quite inauthentic (alienated) at least some of the time.

Bear in mind that the popular conception of authenticity, as commodified in theme bars, for instance, freezes culture in time, as you say.
If that really is a popular conception of authenticity then it's obviously an inauthentic one.

I think theme bars for the most part quite clearly set out to celebrate an exaggerated and simplified lcd caricature that's amusing / reassuring. It's not really claiming to be true to life is it?

baboon2004
16-12-2009, 01:41 PM
What about a black guy who wears a suit and works in an office - is he 'inauthentic'? Is he a 'blonkey'?

My friend's Dad, who's Nigerian, wore a suit every day of his life, just to fit in and be 'taken seriously'. What I'm saying is that inauthenticity that goes that way, is usually* predicated on need to fit in, etc.

*let's say often, rather than usually.

baboon2004
16-12-2009, 01:43 PM
Hmmm, can sort of see what you're getting at here, but something seems a bit dodgy about this. It's coming close to saying 'Hey, let's just leave everyone in their own little corners, with their own petty little prejudices'.
At the very least, I don't see why people who do wish to totally isolate themselves from the outside world like this need (or deserve) our support and protection in doing so.

Apologies in advance if I'm misinterpreting/misrepresenting you here.

OK, quick real world example, black pub/club in Herne Hill that I went into with a couple of white friends (i'm white, too) - we weren't made to feel utterly unwelcome, but it was clear that our presence wasn't 100 per cent desired. Other black pubs I've been to/go to, no such feeling.

baboon2004
16-12-2009, 01:44 PM
Are you sure about that?

not 100 per cent, but in my experience it definitely does, and crucially, there are difference reasons for doing so (see ^^). sorry, gotta dash, would expand on this.

padraig (u.s.)
16-12-2009, 02:30 PM
except none of these are far-fetched devil's advocate questions. they're very basic objections to your unified theory of the authentic. you don't seem to have an answer for them, which doesn't surprise me as it's a kinda indefensible theory.


I think it is overwhelmingly likely that some people will be cool with [blank], and some people won't be.

oh I see. so some people are OK with a certain thing and other people aren't? right. see how quickly you run into those problems when you try to make sweeping statements?


why does most (not all, obv) inauthentic behaviour (again, talking from real life experience, not in the abstract) involve, for example, white people trying to ape the stereotype of black people's style

it doesn't, though. maybe that's just what you're most aware of. and even if there has - of course - been a great deal of white people borrowing from black (& other) cultures who's going to determine what is OK & what's not? when it's expropriation and when it's homage?

mixed_biscuits
16-12-2009, 03:12 PM
Really don't get why are equating authenticity with matching prevailing norms.

I'd say in most cases someone who uncritically (or deliberately) attempts to match up to some 'prevailing norm' (as many do of course) is going to be quite inauthentic (alienated) at least some of the time.

Well you can be authentic a) to yourself (your current behaviour fits well with previous behaviour) or b) to others (your behaviour fits with surrounding behaviour), as, by my earlier definition, authenticity is degree of fit to context (either temporal, which would load on personal behaviour, or spatial, which would load on fit with others' behaviour). Alienation would involve a tension between a) and b) (note that this tension exists because of the (assumed) consistency of personality within the person afflicted).

That said, I would expect most people to have little difficulty inadvertantly matching prevailing norms, seeing as these norms are embodied in people in the first place.

The middle class, white rasta is behaving inauthentically with regard to others (his behaviour is unusual in the immediate social context and cannot be explained by what is known by others of his past behaviour), but, I suppose, might be authentic to himself (if it has some fit with his previous internal states). Similarly, Madonna's inauthentic (unpredictable) behaviour could be said to be personally authentic, as she is wont to behave ostensibly inauthentically in the way that she does.


I think theme bars for the most part quite clearly set out to celebrate an exaggerated and simplified lcd caricature that's amusing / reassuring. It's not really claiming to be true to life is it?

I suppose there is that, but 'authentic' behaviour by the other is usually expected to satisfy either a (fit with previous behaviour) or b (fit with immediate context). Simplification and caricature emphasises both fits by reducing incongruous behaviours and emphasising congruent ones, as well as, with some poetic license, recreating the wider context with reference to which its authenticity is to be judged.

padraig (u.s.)
16-12-2009, 05:15 PM
hey baboon - clear your pm box dude.

baboon2004
16-12-2009, 09:57 PM
except none of these are far-fetched devil's advocate questions. they're very basic objections to your unified theory of the authentic. you don't seem to have an answer for them, which doesn't surprise me as it's a kinda indefensible theory.

oh I see. so some people are OK with a certain thing and other people aren't? right. see how quickly you run into those problems when you try to make sweeping statements?

it doesn't, though. maybe that's just what you're most aware of. and even if there has - of course - been a great deal of white people borrowing from black (& other) cultures who's going to determine what is OK & what's not? when it's expropriation and when it's homage?

Box cleared.

But I wasn't trying a unified theory of the authentic at all...of course there's no such possibility. I don't have an answer for some of the marginal questions, no.

2nd point - analogy: one jewish friend is offended by a contentious jewish joke. another jewish friend isn't. do you tell the joke in front of both of them? Probably not - more important is to avoid offending the first person, in my view.

3rd point - Ok, fair enough to say that - I don't agree. A certain kind of 'cool' has become soemthing attached to being seen to be street, ghetto, whatever - people who don't live those realities can pick and choose the tropes of that 'lifestyle' without ever having to confront its reality, and I think that's kind of fucked up.

Papercut
16-12-2009, 10:58 PM
For me, that sort of behaviour is embarresing and makes me uncomfortable because it makes me think that the other person is perhaps ashamed of who they are and is trying to cloak it, probably for the sake of other people. Whats wrong with being a normal white guy from some normal background?

I'm still in my mid-late 20s but i like getting older because more and more you just accept who you are, who you aren't and get comfortable with that. People who have confidence and acceptence in who they are, are in my experience, good to be around and interesting. Also honesty is a good characteristic thats attractive and good to be around.

So white guys pretending to be rastas doesn't sit right with me. It seems insecure and dishonest, and when it comes to first impressions it would probably put me off someone because of those characteristics.

Mr. Tea
17-12-2009, 02:56 PM
3rd point - Ok, fair enough to say that - I don't agree. A certain kind of 'cool' has become soemthing attached to being seen to be street, ghetto, whatever - people who don't live those realities can pick and choose the tropes of that 'lifestyle' without ever having to confront its reality, and I think that's kind of fucked up.

Would I sound like a total dick for suggesting that this sentence makes me think of university-educated, middle-class white blokes who listen to hip-hop, dancehall and grime all the time? That's not a rhetorical question, and I'm not sure I even really think that...I'm certainly not saying that people "shouldn't" listen to some kinds of music. I don't listen to tons of hip-hop myself but I can listen to old blues records without feeling the need to imagine I'm a black plantation labourer in the Deep South in the '30s. And taste in music is a bit different from taste in clothes, which of course affects how you come across to other people the moment you step out your front door. So I suppose I've answered my own question, really.

Very good points from Papercut about people who seem to be insecure that their ethnicity and social background makes them 'inherently' uncool, too.

vimothy
17-12-2009, 03:01 PM
A certain kind of 'cool' has become soemthing attached to being seen to be street, ghetto, whatever - people who don't live those realities can pick and choose the tropes of that 'lifestyle' without ever having to confront its reality, and I think that's kind of fucked up.

http://news.softpedia.com/images/news2/50-Cents-si-a-amenintat-cu-arma-protejatu-2.jpg

baboon2004
17-12-2009, 03:09 PM
Would I sound like a total dick for suggesting that this sentence makes me think of university-educated, middle-class white blokes who listen to hip-hop, dancehall and grime all the time? That's not a rhetorical question, and I'm not sure I even really think that...I'm certainly not saying that people "shouldn't" listen to some kinds of music. I don't listen to tons of hip-hop myself but I can listen to old blues records without feeling the need to imagine I'm a black plantation labourer in the Deep South in the '30s. And taste in music is a bit different from taste in clothes, which of course affects how you come across to other people the moment you step out your front door. So I suppose I've answered my own question, really.

Very good points from Papercut about people who seem to be insecure that their ethnicity and social background makes them 'inherently' uncool, too.

Thing I find difficult about these threads is a) remembering what the various different strands are, and b) forgetting to repeat a precondition of what I'm arguing in each different post!

Think I said somewhere (if I didn't, I meant to) that I was thinking not about consuming culture, but about pretending to be something you're not (by taking on an accent, for example) in order to gain some kind of cultural cachet that is attributed by the group you're part of to a group with more disadvantages than your group has, attributed in some way because these disadvantages are glamorised - having your cake and eating it, really. To be honest i don't see what's particularly controversial about that. And of course that's an oversimplistic formulation, cos life's not simple etc etc.

Which is what you've said with the difference between music/clothes. And then of course there's accents.

Obv groups bleed into one another etc etc, and I'm sure it's possible to pick many holes in the above formulation, but that's roughly what I'm trying to say.

baboon2004
17-12-2009, 03:20 PM
http://news.softpedia.com/images/news2/50-Cents-si-a-amenintat-cu-arma-protejatu-2.jpg

http://www.poster.net/scarface/scarface-scarface-al-pacino-9970072.jpg

it's, er, acting. i guess my problem would be with people who can't see the difference between that and reality. Maybe I just dislike a particualr kind of fantasist...

vimothy
17-12-2009, 03:44 PM
I'm not sure Fiddy can tell the difference...

viktorvaughn
17-12-2009, 03:46 PM
Bit of an aside but I often think when people chat about hip-hop & black culture being adapted and appropriated by whiter and less deprived people that it's not one way traffic.

Look at Wu Tang - a bunch of black New York junior mcs sitting around watching kung fu movies and before you know it they have taken the name from the Wu Dang area in China, rechristened Staten Isloand Shoalin, taken Chinese kung fu personas etc and generally we think that's cool (at least I do:)) rather than cheeky or fake.

Likewise Hip hops notorious obsession with Scarface, Godfather and Italian mafia narratives - you can see it in Wu Gambinos, Scarface (the rapper) and lots of other things.

Haven't read the whole debate but maybe this is interesting.

luka
18-12-2009, 07:32 AM
black people in east london love putting on cockney accents.