Music is just music, right?

Bruno Mars has been accused of cultural appropriation, one of those sins of the modern world. But it’s very difficult indeed to work out what he is in fact guilty of unless it’s simply noting what seems to work and then using it. Something which all humans seem guilty of:

Singer Bruno Mars has been accused of cultural appropriation for adopting African-American musical styles, but some black musicians are stepping up to his defense.

The brouhaha started over the weekend with the publication of a video rant in which a black writer and activist accused Mars of ripping off the cultural heritage of black musicians.

That there are some African influences in modern music isn’t going to be denied by anyone. But we do have two further things to point out.

The first is that this is how civilisation works. We note that Ugg has a new mammoth hunting method and we copy it. We note that the Celts have iron tips to their spears and we either appropriate them or die upon them. Some young men have a newish form of music which attracts the babes – the usual motivation for prancing upon stage after all – and that gets copied. And?

The other thing we might say is that perhaps such appropriation is bad. It’s bad when white guys wear sombreros and eat tacos (no, a real recent example) and it’s bad when white guys – or filipino-puerto rican jews – lift African musical themes.

OK, then it’s clearly just as bad that those African derived musicians use the English language, electronic instruments and machine woven clothes. If appropriation is bad then appropriation is bad, no?

We’d go with the idea that civilisation is noting then copying what works. But then we’ve no education in grievance studies.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. “We’d go with the idea that civilisation is noting then copying what works. But then we’ve no education in grievance studies.”

    But Grievance Studies is not civilization. Grievance Studies is starting from a preconception, that Whitey’s success is what made black people fail, not anything as pedestrian as a black person’s laziness (or excuse-making), and then devise corollaries to fault Whitey for the equivalent of stepping on a pavement crack. Any African American who still cannot see himself as “American” should be honored that the culture at large continues to adopt black innovations in music, food, and fashion.

    It is a weapon not a principle. Otherwise, Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be shunned-for-life by her colleagues for once falsely claiming to be a Cherokee Indian to profit from a program academia adopted, under pressure from the government, to pretend race were a qualification to do a job.

  2. And who is this “black writer and activist” of whom we speak? One “Seren Sensei Aishitemasu” (probably born with a name like Dorothy Watson), who has (1) a YouTube channel, (2) a Twitter feed, and (3) a self-published e-book. Oh, and she thinks all white people are racist. Because they are white.

    The real question isn’t whether Bruno Mars has appropriated anything, it is this: Why would anyone give a flying handshake what an absolute nobody like Senen Sensei Aishitemasu thinks about anything? Seriously. Why would anyone outside of her family and circle of friends care what she thinks about Bruno Mars.

    Mars should tell her to stuff it.

    • You induced me to follow (to look for!) the link to the Daily Mail. Aishitemasu says, “He is not black at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres.” Sounds like an entertaining stage act, in the footsteps of Eminem and Al Jolson. “He takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it.” Ah! We call this “doing a cover.” He might need to pay royalties, but not to a race.

      The article quotes the Cambridge Dictionary on cultural appropriation: ‘the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.’ I think this last means, “especially without learning what pound-of-flesh the Grievance Industry intends to force you to pay for your transgression.”

      Aishitemasu is indeed the only opponent the Daily Mail was able to find.

      Debate is raging

      Sic.

  3. I am happy to have Apartheid in cultural arenas – as long as it is consistent. So Black musicians have to give up guitars, trumpets and musical notation. They can keep the banjo and perhaps some drums. If they are made of wooden logs.

  4. So Bruno Mars (or Peter Gene Hernandez as I am probably not allowed to say even though his birth name is so much classier than his nom de plumage) is not allowed to play African American music because he is a half-Filipino Jewish Puerto Rican?

    On the bright side he dresses like it.

    Still perhaps he, Nicole Scherzinger and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett can get together in order to celebrate every Filipino’s natural musical outlet – appearing on American Idol.

  5. They’ve really jumped the shark on this one. Isn’t ‘cultural appropriation’ about the powerful culture (ie white people, and only white people) ‘stealing’ culture from weaker groups?

    Bruno Mars is a Filipino they can’t be considered to have power over anyone*

    *Actually they can because the Australasian people who populate South East Asia displaced aboriginal people who still live in small communities all over the region but no SJW gives a shit about them because they’re not being oppressed by Anglo-Saxons.