Beyonce and the politics of cultural dominance

beyonce-black-panther-party

I confess, I am a culturally alienated, old, disconnected 1960s and ‘70s radical trying to live and struggle for revolutionary change in a world that might have passed me by, because I cannot for the life of me understand how Beyonce’s commodified caricature of black opposition was in any way progressive. Instead what I saw was the cultural power of neoliberal capitalism to co-opt opposition, monetize it and provide some mindless entertainment all at the same time. I didn’t see opposition; I saw the imagery and symbols of authentic black radicalism grotesquely transformed into a de-politicized spectacle by gyrating, light-skinned … Continue reading

Rethinking cultural appropriation

In my article ‘The trouble with cultural appropriation’ I took a critical stance against this concept and it’s popularisation through social media. I argued that the use of the concept, and much of the online bluster around it, often employs moralistic and essentialist presuppositions. Since I probably came across as a mansplaining arsehole I’ve written this follow up piece to take a more sympathetic angle. It’s always worth guarding against the cheaper arguments against so-called ‘identity politics’. For starters, it’s good that there is a debate around this issue. Social media has many faults, but it has allowed new spaces … Continue reading

The trouble with cultural appropriation

In recent years, I’ve heard a lot of talk about cultural appropriation in the music industry. Not least about Miley Cyrus and the spectacle of ‘twerking’, but also Macklemore and Iggy Azalea (bog-standard targets). The charge of cultural appropriation alleges that these artists have stolen their style from black performers, and it seems clear that there is more than a hint of truth to this claim. But it shouldn’t be implied that this is just a cultural question. The more serious cases being the fact that there is a Blues root to almost all music today. Black talent has been … Continue reading