Saturday, August 03, 2013

White Racists Can't Deal With Criticism, Not Even From Other White People

It started with an excellent article about fans of the group Postal Service and their racist reaction when New Orleans sissy bounce rapper Big Freedia performed as their opening act.

White Music Fans Are Afraid of Difference

 One New Orleanian commented and that prompted someone else to respond and then I responded to that response. You can see it all here or on the Salon site.

Victor Pizarro
As a native New Orleanian, I think the author of the article is SPOT ON and completely on to something. The only telling points missed were the connections to bounce, call and response, and African roots inherent in the music (see "The World that Made New Orleans" by Ned Sublette). The comments and reactions to Freedia do have everything to do with cultural whiteness and ultimately, fear. The comment thread listed here is absolutely telling. Art and music are subjective tastes, but person after person has commented here about Freedia's lack of talent. I suppose New Orleanians must have awful, shitty musical tastes, seeing as we're never exposed to a variety of music. Freedia is a hard worker and puts everything into each show. These comments not only insult Freedia but New Orleans as a whole as well.
Shit like this makes all of us down here just want to secede from the nation. Don't worry, we'll take the jazz, bounce, seafood, Mardi Gras, and oil and gas with us. No worries.
@Victor Pizarro As a native New Orleanian I think your comment helps to demonstrate how self-absorbed and vapid New Orleans culture is becoming. With the the exception of Trombone Shorty and Lightwire theater, the only acts from New Orleans getting any national attention are both minstrel shows right out of Spike Lee's Bamboozled. The first is the "sissy bounce" drag queen minstrel shows of Big Freedia, and the other is a male dance minstrel show in the 610 Stompers. 

When we created Jazz and exported it to the world, it was about the best of New Orleans, now we are exporting the worst of New Orleans, and when others see it for what it is and express their displeasure with it we play haughty and talk about how others simply aren't sophisticated enough to "get it." And let's ascribe the worst traits in people who don't like our leading minstrel show in Big Freedia: they must be racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist all wrapped into one. 

New Orleans put its musical preservation into hyperdrive, and the result was that it locked the many young talented musicians into the 1920s. New Orleanians no longer innovate in music. We have the musical talent in New Orleans to innovate new musical styles as impressive as Jazz and beyond. But we can't do that, because we preserve the past at all expenses, and so pretend that a minstrel show is more musical innovation coming from New Orleans, and when everybody else dislikes it we talk about "cultural whiteness" and fear and blah blah blah. But the defenders of "sissy bounce" won't tell you is that it wasn't black music writers who pushed the music to the forefront -- it was southern white music writers who fell in love with the black-gay-drag-queen minstrel and promoted it as a cultural revolution. Now, white people have to act like it is something special and not a totally obnoxious repetitive uncreative misntrel that it is, or be colored as racists hicks because they don't "get" something about black culture. But if black culture got it so good why didn't black music writers hawk it to the general population? 
Jake Hamby
@Robert1969 Thanks for writing that. It explains so much about what seems to be going on here. I can't stand whiny indie bands like The Postal Service, so I'd be happy to believe that their fans were turned off by Big Freedia out of racism, since there was plenty on display in comments.
Like another commenter here, I wouldn't mind listening to bounce music for a few minutes, which I suppose means I like Big Freedia more than TPS, but that genre is far too repetitive and uptempo for my taste. The big question is why they would be picked as an opening act when the two style clearly don't mesh.
Your comment about white people reviving an old genre as a type of modern minstrel makes a lot of sense and is in line with the theme of the article about white musicians appropriating a black style without an understanding of the origins and historical context, as well as with my own personal prejudices about white indie hipsters appropriating black music by promoting it (like, for example, an opening act for a completely different genre) *in addition to* white hipsters reflexively responding with racism to a musical act that they wouldn't have liked anyway.
bint alshamsa
@Robert1969 Wow! You really are out of touch and uninformed. You think that Trombone Shorty and Lightwire are the only acts getting national attention right now? I can't think of anything funnier than that. There's Christian Scott, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Los Hombres Calientes, the Devin Phillips Quartet. I could go on and on.
When we created Jazz, we had to listen to the same kind of foolishness you're spouting here. Jazz wasn't considered the best of New Orleans. It wasn't even considered a legitimate music genre. It was considered "n-word" music that only white drug addicts liked to listen to. NOW white people like to pretend as if they were always able to appreciate Jazz. That certainly isn't anything even close to reality.
Back then cultural whiteness defined it as nothing more than just cacophony, lacking proper structure and format. It wasn't until Southern white musicians fell in love with it that it began to be recognized as a legitimate art form. So, is it any surprise that sissy bounce didn't start getting more recognition until it began to interest Southern white musicians? Not if you're someone with any knowledge of how American music has traditionally spread.
The truth is, black people in the general population have been familiar with sissy bounce. It's just white squares and L7s like you who didn't know about it. As usual, y'all don't pay any attention to what's going on in non-white cultures until we've been doing something for decades.

1 comment:

Monica Roberts said...

That comment threat got out of control fast...and I'm about to put somebody on blast for the 'Blacks are more homophobic' lie