Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Word that Shall Not Be Spoken

There's one word I heard a lot this week that I will not type for fear that it has some Voldemort-type properties.  There was also a lot of online conversation about the lines between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation, like this piece on Jezebel (interesting links and comments also), and this piece on Slate.  The author of the Slate article, Tressie McMillian Cottom, also wrote this academic looking article about Country, Hip Hop crossover and representations of black women's bodies.  I haven't read it yet, but it looks really interesting and hopefully it will answer so many questions that I've been kicking around as I listen to the country station.

At our house, M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" has been in heavy rotation at our house (LB says "Play again? Play again?"), a year after everyone else.  When it came out, the video for the song was heavily critiqued for its orientalist imagery.  Here's a nice balanced discussion.  Video aside, M.I.A. is ethnically Tamil, Sri Lankan, raised largely in London performing music rooted in Black America.  And she does it well.  So does M.I.A. have credibility because she's good, because she's not performing class, because her body is covered, because she is brown? (I'm not even trying to have answers to all those questions.)

And then there's this monstrosity (below).  I think what I said when I watched this with B was "is this performance art or something."  I don't even understand how Lil' Debbie manages to fit so many offensive images into one video, but she does.  I need to keep this one on file for future exhibit As about race, gender, sexuality, and cultural appropriation.


  1. I hadn't seen the Lil Debbie video and I'm pretty horrified. But I'm glad you shared it. We're sporting a Macklemore "Thrift Shop" addiction at our house. Ruby calls it the bicycle song (the first part of the video) and thankfully doesn't parrot the words!

  2. I'd heard part of "Thrift Shop" before, but I'd never listened to the words-that's my kind of song!