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Thread: The ol' ethno-tourism question

  1. #1
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    Default The ol' ethno-tourism question

    Sorry if this has come up in one of the other threads and I missed it, but has anyone heard Murs' verses on the topic of white people into hip-hop on the track 'And this is for'? The track's on his album with 9th Wonder, '3:16'.

    Pretty good I reckon, fairly equivocal in that he's acknowledging that probably most of his audience is white and he has worked with a large number of white people in hip-hop... he's mainly just sounds like he's thinking out loud, which is a plus in my mind, but he's basically putting the record straight about what he reckons the boundaries lie with how much an insider can understand what it's like being an outsider.

    I could look at transcribing some lyrics if anyone's interested, can't find any evidence of them online at the mo.

    As an aside, I read an interview with him on some UK hip-hop site where he was saying that grime was the best thing about UK hip-hop. Not wanting to re-open the debate on whether it is hip-hop, but if the "UK hip-hop" scene is as purist as people seem to be suggesting on here then that's a pretty funny slap in the face.

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    Lyrics would be good.

    It seems that the UK hip hop scene is more open to white people than the US one. Which is good i guess. That might be a result of the fact that it is an imported culture, so no one group can really lay claim to it.

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    Fuck boundaries. If you believe in individual liberty, then it is the responsibility of no one but the individual as to how they approach the world.

    http://onepearsallandhisbooks.blogsp...hairstyle.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Pearsall
    Ideological multiculturalism, in its desire to 'celebrate diversity' by calcifying difference, is explicitly anti-individual and weirdly coterminous to nationalisms of all forms that insist there is an 'authentic' way to be a member of any group. Perhaps I am hopelessly libertarian, but I don't think it is anyone but the individual's responsibility and choice as to how they approach the world, especially on benign matters like hairstyles, clothes, music choice, reading matter, and so on. Everyone should have the right to approach the world in whatever way they choose, as long as that doesn't impinge on others' freedoms. If that means white suburban teens dressing in baggy clothes and talking like they're from Brownsville, then that's fine, it's their choice. The ideological multiculturalism that says that there are boundaries beyond which the European/European-descendant cannot pass because of fears of 'appropriation' implicitly implies that all members of other groups cannot behave, dress, or think in ways that might be considered, by some arbitrary standard, 'not of their culture'. Which is, of course, a direct attack on personal liberty.

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    I'm big on scare quotes.

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    Pearsall - I think your reply suggests that you believe every subject ultimately determines their own life based generally on conscious decisions, while I'm more inclined to say that broader structures play a large role in determing how people act or think.

    Also I think appropriation can in certain cirsumstances constitute an attack on other people.

    Mike - I'm quite keen to reply but had better not jump the gun and assume what that rap is on before i hear it ..or read it if you post it. Hearing it might have more impact anyway. I'll host it if you like ...

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    Sorry to be cheap, but it's a "direct attack on personal liberty" to not allow an individual to say someone else shouldn't behave a certain way too. How personal liberty deals with incommensurate ways of living is kind of complicated.

    I'll try to sort out these lyrics anyway, so we don't go arguing over straw men.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaar
    Pearsall - I think your reply suggests that you believe every subject ultimately determines their own life based generally on conscious decisions, while I'm more inclined to say that broader structures play a large role in determing how people act or think.
    Quite obviously people's lifestyles (accent, religion, cultural consumption patterns, etc.) are heavily influenced by their environments (and particularly their parents and friends), and are only partially the result of direct conscious action. That's not my point though. I think that people should have the right to choose how they want to live. Navel-gazing about 'apropriation' generally revolves around the assumption that there is an autonomously correct way to be something. People have been adapting ideas from each other since recorded history began, and there are all kinds of inter-connections between peoples.

    I always find it weird to hear such arguments from self-declared progressives, as it's an obvious loan from nationalism ("this is our people, and our people are this, and don't stray from these arbitrary boundaries I have decided on").

    But, having firebombed that field of straw men, I'll see the lyrics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michael
    Sorry to be cheap, but it's a "direct attack on personal liberty" to not allow an individual to say someone else shouldn't behave a certain way too. How personal liberty deals with incommensurate ways of living is kind of complicated.
    What is the correct way of being white? What is the correct way of being black? What is the correct way of being Chinese, or French, or Persian, or whatever? Isn't that what this boils down to, that there is some kind of correct way of being a member of a racial/ethnic group, and to adapt ideas that someone from another group came up with is a bad, bad, baaaad thing.

    In fact, I think that these appropriations/cross-pollinations/whatever (specifically: white suburban youths dressing and speaking like a specific type of inner-city African-American) often (hell, usually) come across as foolish or clumsy, but it's not my business to say that they can't do it, and it ain't yours either.

  9. #9
    Omaar Guest

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    So to take an example from my country (New Zealand), I don't think as a Pakeha (European) I have any 'right' at all to adopt a moko (maori tattoo). I would consider it insulting to Maori to approriate their culture in this way. This view is shared by some Maori, certainly not all, but I don't believe its an impingement on my freedom to act with this kind of respect. This is maybe an extreme example, and I feel it is approriate to approriate Maori culture in other ways ... language perhaps? -but this I consider a way of showing respect rather than exercising my right to act 'freely'.

    There are numerous examples of Maori culture being approprited for commercial gain, and while some Maori may approve of this and some may disapprove, I don't view it very positively.

    e.g : Moko restaurant in amdsterdam ... I just found this article and haven't read it yet so am unsure of the quality, but it mentions some examples of this kind of appropriation:

    " Robbie Williams has recently had a Māori design tattooed on his arm;
    soccer demi-god Eric Cantona appeared on the cover of British style mag GQ face-painted with a moko;
    Designer Thierry Mugler used masks inspired by moko to launch his spring/summer collection;
    an ad for Poloroid cameras features an archetypal boyfriend-your-parents-were- afraid-of adorned with an imitation moko; ... Paco Rabanne's Spring 1998 collection featured two models wearing metal outfits echoing the stylised moko of the film Once Were Warriors; .."

    http://awanderingminstreli.tripod.com/tamoko.htm

    I don't think this POV requires any notion of authenticity - it's more along the lines of an argument for a type of Cultural Intellectual Property.

    Mike maybe you had better post those lyrics up or this thread may spin off on a tangent ....!

  10. #10
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    this quote is pretty superb though:

    "You should be happy to have a tribute to your country and your people"

    spokesperson for fashion designer Thierry Mugler.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaar
    So to take an example from my country (New Zealand), I don't think as a Pakeha (European) I have any 'right' at all to adopt a moko (maori tattoo). I would consider it insulting to Maori to approriate their culture in this way. This view is shared by some Maori, certainly not all, but I don't believe its an impingement on my freedom to act with this kind of respect. This is maybe an extreme example, and I feel it is approriate to approriate Maori culture in other ways ... language perhaps? -but this I consider a way of showing respect rather than exercising my right to act 'freely'.
    No, it is absolutely your right to get a Maori tattoo if you choose to get one. Your view of it as something you don't want to do because you feel it is insulting is entirely separate from your right to be free to do it if you choose to. You wouldn't do it because you feel that it is insulting - entirely fair (I wouldn't have it done either). That doesn't mean that you have no right to do it. Now, if you were to exercise your legitimate right to get such a tattoo you would be taking on the responsibility for others' reactions to it - the exercising of rights comes with bearing responsibility for your actions.

    Now, you may say that a white dude who gets a Maori tattoo is being disrespectful or unwise or whatever, but he absolutely has the right to do something that you may consider a mistake. Everyone has to set their boundaries for themselves. Also, think about your reaction to people from non-Western cultures appropriating things from Western culture(s). How much do you care about such appropriations? Are you offended by Iranian metalheads or Japanese teens eating hamburgers or Nigerians in three-piece suits?

  12. #12
    Omaar Guest

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    Just addressing the latter point for the mo cos I am meant to be working ..

    Iraninan metalheads - I don't think anyone owns the intellectual property on metal and I don't think this is going to cause anyone any hurt to anyone. maybe. but then metal and being offensive are kinda linked in together so maybe thats a more complicated issue.

    Nigerian suits and Japanese teens eating hamburgers - I think those are slightly different cases cos that is more like cultural imperialism rather than cultural appropriation. I'm not offended by it but I think its a bit sad, partly depending on whether the suits are imported and whether the burgers are made by an American fast food giant.

    Don't you think you don't have a right to do something that is hurtful to someone else? If you can resasonably expect that someone will be offended by your actions? i.e. some Maori being offended by Pakeha having Moko?

    Having said that I think it is OK to be offensive sometimes. Maybe if it is for the greater good. I don't know where I'm going with this so I'm going to cut this short now.

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    No, everyone absolutely has the right to hold offensive ideas and do offensive things. Being offensive and giving offence is an absolute unquestionable right. This does not mean that it is advisable to go out of your way to be a dick to someone, just that it should be a person's right to say or do whatever they feel like as long as it doesn't physically hurt someone else.

    That's the absolute core of anyone's commitment to free speech - whether you support people's right to say, believe, or do things that you think are deeply morally questionable. I think Holocaust deniers are odious scumbags, but they have the right to believe that the Jews, for the arcane motives generally attributed to them, concocted 'the Holohoax' as long as they don't physically act on it.

    I am, in case you hadn't guessed, a hard-line free speech fanatic.

    And, 'cultural imperialism' is such a canard. No one is forcing the (hypothetical) Nigerian into a suit, or the (hypothetical) Japanese teens to eat hamburgers. Marketing opens the door, but you walk through it. Do these people not have agency over their own decisions? Has it not occurred to you that much of this cross-cultural traffic is driven by a natural and healthy curiosity about other people and how they live and what they do? The success of any cultural export, from Hollywood to Bollywood, is down to whether it appeals to people. If people don't like it, then they won't use it. If it connects, then it works. Simple.

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    That's a bit ranty. Apologies. Bed time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearsall
    No, everyone absolutely has the right to hold offensive ideas and do offensive things. Being offensive and giving offence is an absolute unquestionable right. This does not mean that it is advisable to go out of your way to be a dick to someone, just that it should be a person's right to say or do whatever they feel like as long as it doesn't physically hurt someone else.

    That's the absolute core of anyone's commitment to free speech - whether you support people's right to say, believe, or do things that you think are deeply morally questionable. I think Holocaust deniers are odious scumbags, but they have the right to believe that the Jews, for the arcane motives generally attributed to them, concocted 'the Holohoax' as long as they don't physically act on it.

    I am, in case you hadn't guessed, a hard-line free speech fanatic.
    Ok, but what about when holocaust denial DOES physically hurt people? For example Mr. A Bigot publishes a pamphlet called, say, 'Did 6 Million Really Die?' and in it says something like 'Soon those who believe the holocaust happened will want another one, and those who don't will want to have one' and Mr. B Bonehead reads i, goes out and kills a jew.

    Anyway, I'm not a believer in free speech as such so I shouldn't get into this too much.

    And, 'cultural imperialism' is such a canard. No one is forcing the (hypothetical) Nigerian into a suit, or the (hypothetical) Japanese teens to eat hamburgers. Marketing opens the door, but you walk through it. Do these people not have agency over their own decisions? Has it not occurred to you that much of this cross-cultural traffic is driven by a natural and healthy curiosity about other people and how they live and what they do? The success of any cultural export, from Hollywood to Bollywood, is down to whether it appeals to people. If people don't like it, then they won't use it. If it connects, then it works. Simple.
    No, but Robbie Williams IS forcing Maori to have their cultural heritage belittled by his addoption of it.

    It's Persall vs. The Wellingtonians!!!

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