2 years ago
caricakes
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The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie
As I've already written before, I enjoyed God Help the Girl as a film, but I stumbled upon an article on Pitchfork that made me look at it from a much different angle.

The casting call stated that Stuart Murdoch and the rest of the team were "open to Eve’s nationality (e.g. British, French, Australian)," which to me reads as "any kind of white girl." This makes the fact that there are zero non-white actors seen anywhere in the film a little suspicious. Not one. I know Glasgow isn't this white-washed.

As Sarah Sahim writes in the aforementioned article, "The optimistic, happy-go-lucky and painstakingly adorable aesthetic evidenced in every character he created is founded in Whiteness. Whiteness is beauty; Whiteness is what gives the character the ability to dream of fostering a career in music; Whiteness is what enables the audience to empathize with Eve’s character. A recurring filler in the film was a fictitious radio show where two men try to decipher what "real" indie is and every band mentioned is white, enforcing the film’s aspirational Whiteness."
www.youtube.com1DAA50E1-0355-420D-A1AD-2C244287F3DCCreated with sketchtool.
This has always been a trend in indie music. The once small scene was meant to be a breakaway from traditional Western pop culture, but now it seems to be at the head of it. Even at its genesis though, it was predominately white which undoubtably helped its rise in success.

"White art is deemed more worthy of respect, and so white audiences respond to it positively—it is set up for success. It’s evidenced the last week of news: be it the insidious petition urging Glastonbury to drop Kanye West in favor of a "rock band" (read: a white artist), or the repeated co-option of Indian and Desi pop culture by Major Lazer going unremarked upon."

I'm not knocking any of the musicians I mention below (I actually enjoy most of their music) but I just want to bring up a few points.
MGMT
They do just as much drugs as anyone in the rap game but somehow never get shit for it?
No Doubt
Bindis are cool on white girls but M.I.A gets in deep trouble for using traditional South and South Eastern Asian dress in her live sets.
Jamie xx
Uses traditional African and Caribbean rhythms in his music and receives praised, while other artists use similar techniques and are labels 'exotic or returning to their roots.'
Diplo
As Sarah writes, "White art additionally dilutes and flattens aspects of other cultures' music that it adopts in the process of making them more "accessible" for those whose curiosity does not extend beyond the parameters of Europe and North America. (ie Diplo)"
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Definitely an interesting argument. I can see the issue in film, but I wonder how much white musicians get put ahead of non-white musicians in the indie scene? I genuinely have no idea!