Saturday, February 13, 2016

Appropriation of Culture in Music Artistry


The issue of appropriation of culture in music is controversially discussed raising concerns for the use of culture as backdrops.  The argument goes that as an artist unveils the video of music scenes appear of a particular culture and people of that particular region.  The criticism is with the prop effects of the scene in and of itself without any voice as to the culture and potential input.  The concern as well is the possibility of creating stereotypes when using a culture or region as background to the displayed video.  Indeed digital media has become highly creative.

Related to appropriation is the message impact of choreography.  What value do we give music artistry without choreography, where the choreography is intended to pass on a message or be expressive of an idea or even a point of view as Beyonc√©’s choreographed Super Bowl L half time performance?  Could one argue that the artist is “appropriating” a message that can be misconstrued by listeners and viewers of the video or the live performance or both?   Seldom does one see a digital or live performance devoid of some form of a background or a choreographed component of the whole performance augmenting to the value of the artistry.

An artist can be standing in a desert showing dryness along with lyrics implying lack of human responsibility.  Can one argue that the artist is appropriating the issue of climate change for his or her financial gain?  The same can be said of an artist with the back drop of famished dying young children in Africa with lyrics of the need for love.  Could one argue then that the artist is misappropriating the plight of hungry children in the world? 

A lot of care is evidently taken by all these artistic examples to either embellish a performance’s appeal to the masses, elevate discussion of an issue, bring meaning to a subject of our time, or conversely just being creative and doing something for the sake of it being novel.  The artistry is without saying the central valuing aspect of the performance itself as a whole.  The meaning and the implications is not what gets copyright attention.  The line that should not be crossed is when the performance is offensive, disrespectful, and an exaggeration.  Digital musical performances will continue to appropriate particular themes, cultures, ideas, and messages to void the risk of otherwise being banal.


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