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Author Topic: Pet Sounds and Race  (Read 17690 times)
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♩♬☮ Billy C ♯♫♩☮
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« on: September 27, 2016, 02:21:36 PM »

I almost didn't post this here, and I may regret doing so, but this showed up in my feed.

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/racializing-rock-the-60s-and-the-white-sounds-of-pet-sounds/
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 02:40:18 PM »

Oh man...I may end up having to move this to the sandbox..bad feeling and instant  regret after reading this

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Pet Sounds, on the other hand, does have racialized aesthetics, as we shall see, but its effect is to make the listener forget about race, seeing the music as colorblind and race-less, which is often a sign of whiteness.
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2016, 02:53:16 PM »

Bad vibrations Billy. Undecided
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 02:54:50 PM »

Yeah...
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2016, 03:02:43 PM »

Must we?

Pet Sounds by those damn animals is now the better thread.  Thud
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2016, 03:05:14 PM »

Agreed...I'm gonna move this to the Sandbox for reasons that will be very obvious for those who have read the article.
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2016, 03:06:00 PM »

I think it's a legitimate topic and if people can be mature when discussing the topic (and the article, which is a whole other thing), it belongs in General On Topic Discussions.

I'm not done with it, but have a problem with this: "Pet Sounds is not a racist text, but its impact was racist because it further encoded rock as a white genre, perpetuating the institutionalized prejudice that relegated African Americans to the margins of rock." I understand the point, but reject it because it would then imply that no white rock band was allowed to make rock music (or they, too, would be encoding rock as a white genre, etc.).

There has been racism and obviously have been racial overtones in rock and roll, rock, pop, or whatever else you want to call it...just as everywhere else. The Beach Boys are credited with some racist statements here and there, especially through modern lenses. But they also idolized black musicians, invited black musicians into the band, etc. The article shades Brian's statement about wanting to make a "white spiritual sound," but I think that's also mistaken. I think it should be taken in almost the opposite way the article implies: I think Brian knew and loved spiritual music, including black spiritual music, but knew the Beach Boys weren't going to sound legitimate aping it. So he didn't really try. He did what he was good at.

Maybe another big problem is, rather than splitting the subgenres apart, we could just not do that. Then the early black influence on rock and roll doesn't disappear when rock forms; soul and R&B and funk are just part of it. And music is, as always, multicolored, multicultural.
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2016, 03:06:49 PM »

Good point...moving it back for now.
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2016, 03:16:54 PM »

OK, I finished the article, and while reading the last paragraphs I was kicking around my big-picture response. I had it! Then, as I read the little bio at the end, it was too good to be true: the author got his Master's in English in 2016. My overarching comment was going to be something saying the article was superficially impressive. It cited relevant material, it had a good amount of historical information, and as I said earlier, there were and are racist and racial aspects of pop music. But the whole thing felt like an assignment to me. I feel like if you told me to write a paper about how Pet Sounds contributed to institutional racism, I could have written this article (without believing much of it). Maybe this guy really does believe it. I assume so. But his conclusions throughout seems intellectually lazy if so. He's playing to an academic bias, as if he's making sure to reach the right conclusions and use the right phrases and citations to ensure this would be acceptable to an academic advisor or professor.

The only issue is that it's bullshit. It's a cleverly assembled article without much substance. A person could discuss the topic far better than this author did, far more convincingly.
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2016, 03:29:46 PM »

What the hell did I just read?
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2016, 03:31:37 PM »

What the hell did I just read?

I dunno. Was it Leskov's "The Enchanted Wanderer?" Camus's "The Stranger?" You need to give us hints.
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2016, 03:32:46 PM »

Haven't read it yet but as someone who works within the Academy and likes The Beach Boys, I am curious.

I have a lot of problems with the institution of academia and, without having read the article yet, it is appears as if this article may be reinforcing the very issues that I have. Nevertheless, I will reserve  my commentary on the article itself until I read it. Nevertheless, I see no problem with engaging with these kinds of interpretations here.

My one comment from what what I have read so far is to question the assumption that "rock became white" (4). Indeed, if you listen to the music on the now famous Anthology of American Folk (the very seeds of what eventually became rock and roll), it is quite difficult to tell what race the singer is - sometimes the singer is black, and sometimes white, and without looking it up or knowing previously, it can be impossible to know. Indeed, the term country blues was used to convey precisely the convergence of different styles from different cultures. Rock and roll, then, from its very inception was a hybrid genre borne out of various, overlapping cultural influences.
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2016, 03:42:02 PM »

Pet Sounds is rock? I've never seen it that way.
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2016, 04:14:23 PM »

Reading the comments below the article is amusing.

I'm not sure what the author's point was (did he even have a point?), but if he expects people to not compose music that reflects their own upbringing and background, he's fighting an uphill battle. The BB's were raised in suburban, mostly-white middle class California. So they're going to write music that reflects that upbringing. So what? What does he expect? If everyone who pretended or purported to perform what we call "Rock Music" all performed music that sounded like Chuck Berry or BB King just to assuage some sort of racial conscience, it would all sound the same and we would lose a lot of variety.

BTW, I think someone needs to have the writer of that article read this, since he seems so obsessed with the origins of their music.
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2016, 04:22:44 PM »


... if he expects people to not compose music that reflects their own upbringing and background, he's fighting an uphill battle. The BB's were raised in suburban, mostly-white middle class California. So they're going to write music that reflects that upbringing. So what? What does he expect? If everyone who pretended or purported to perform what we call "Rock Music" all performed music that sounded like Chuck Berry or BB King just to assuage some sort of racial conscience, it would all sound the same and we would lose a lot of variety.


You're dead-on. It's a touchy subject, and I get why, but this is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't proposition. To stay within one's culture, that's racist by propagating the dominant culture. To imitate minority cultures is very widely panned as cultural appropriation. Real artists almost always do some of each (in the good sense, not the insulting sense).
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2016, 04:30:54 PM »

Seems to me this guy is trying to destroy every 'white' artist in music history Roll Eyes

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To do black music so selfishly
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"Hey" there's a concept that works
Twenty million other white rappers emerge'
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« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2016, 04:53:01 PM »

OK, I finished the article, and while reading the last paragraphs I was kicking around my big-picture response. I had it! Then, as I read the little bio at the end, it was too good to be true: the author got his Master's in English in 2016. My overarching comment was going to be something saying the article was superficially impressive. It cited relevant material, it had a good amount of historical information, and as I said earlier, there were and are racist and racial aspects of pop music. But the whole thing felt like an assignment to me. I feel like if you told me to write a paper about how Pet Sounds contributed to institutional racism, I could have written this article (without believing much of it). Maybe this guy really does believe it. I assume so. But his conclusions throughout seems intellectually lazy if so. He's playing to an academic bias, as if he's making sure to reach the right conclusions and use the right phrases and citations to ensure this would be acceptable to an academic advisor or professor.

The only issue is that it's bullshit. It's a cleverly assembled article without much substance. A person could discuss the topic far better than this author did, far more convincingly.

That's exactly what I thought.  It reads like an essay I would write to sort of pull the wool over the professor's eyes, knowing he is not familiar with what I'm writing about.  Make it long enough, use enough references and the right phrases and he's bound to give me a good grade, even if the point I'm trying to make doesn't really pan out at the end of the essay. 

Aside from that, it goes along with a trend I've been noticing.  Maybe it is being amplified by social media, but I've been noticing more instances of "white people shouldn't do this" as if white people aren't allowed to mix with black culture.  It's ironic that these people are actually calling for reverse segregation, such as the UCLA students that want their own "Afro-house" for black students only. 
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2016, 04:53:59 PM »

There is a difference between imitating or appropriating a culture thats not yours, and being influenced by another culture. The first leads to a weak parody of the original culture. The second can lead to a merging and melding of ideas that transcend both cultures to become something unique.

I think Pet Sounds represents influence rather than appropriation. And without the free flow of cultural influence, our world would be missing much of what makes it beautiful.

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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2016, 05:00:56 PM »

There is a difference between imitating or appropriating a culture thats not yours, and being influenced by another culture. The first leads to a weak parody of the original culture. The second can lead to a merging and melding of ideas that transcend both cultures to become something unique.
I mostly agree with this, but with the unfortunate caveat that the difference between the two is subjective: I might truly love reggae [Note: I hate reggae. Ed.] and truly be playing it to the best of my ability out of respect, but the listener might see a Scandinavian-American Upper Midwesterner appropriating Jamaican music. A little generosity of spirit is important on all fronts.

And without the free flow of cultural influence, our world would be missing much of what makes it beautiful.

That's wisdom. And so to debase it, let me add: inbreeding is gross. This counts for culture, too.
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2016, 05:28:05 PM »

There is a difference between imitating or appropriating a culture thats not yours, and being influenced by another culture. The first leads to a weak parody of the original culture. The second can lead to a merging and melding of ideas that transcend both cultures to become something unique.

I think Pet Sounds represents influence rather than appropriation. And without the free flow of cultural influence, our world would be missing much of what makes it beautiful.




100% with you
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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2016, 05:46:03 PM »

All we need now is Rocky's "book" Grin
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2016, 05:55:45 PM »

The evil of things like "cultural appropriation", like "microagreessions", "intersectionality" and "safe spaces" are concepts propagated by fascists.

America at its best is an exercise in cultural appropriation.

Now excuse me - my Kung Pao fajitas are ready.
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« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2016, 06:12:37 PM »

Quote
Now excuse me - my Kung Pao fajitas are ready.

That actually sounds awesome LOL
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2016, 07:27:56 PM »

The evil of things like "cultural appropriation", like "microagreessions", "intersectionality" and "safe spaces" are concepts propagated by fascists.

America at its best is an exercise in cultural appropriation.

Now excuse me - my Kung Pao fajitas are ready.


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« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2016, 08:09:57 PM »

What the hell did I just read?

A dump truck sized load of pure hogwash.  Roll Eyes
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