Big Freedia receives luke warm reception as Postal Service opener. Does this mean white indie rock fans are….racist?
Oh Salon.com, I like many of your articles but sometimes, just sometimes you print something that is way too ridiculous.
White music fans are afraid of difference: When Postal Service fans get aggressively upset over a black opening act, that’s evidence of a bigger problem.
Wait….WHAT? Come at me again? This sounds like a horrible thing! I better read this and find out what happened! These racist bastards! How could they do whatever they did!
Well, what turns out happened is that some Postal Service fans just didn’t like the opening act for their beloved band. Why? The opening artist was Big Freedia. Yes, she is black, and also transgender. But, her “Sissy Bounce” style is radically different from Postal Service’s more mellow “indie” sound that some claim is “emo”. I had never heard of Big Freedia, so I took a look at some videos online to see what the deal was. What I saw was something so different from Postal Service that it is easily understandable how some fans might be asking, “WTF? How did this get on the same bill?!”
Yes, how did some booty shaking, twerking “Bounce” artist with, what in my opinion is some pretty bad music, end up on the same bill as Postal Service (not that I even listen to Postal Service)? Now, generally speaking, I’m all about diversity at concerts. I like festivals where a wide range of artists are present. I like different music coming together. But I also see nothing redeeming musically about Big Freedia that would make me want to see her. If, say, she opened for The Supersuckers, I’d be wondering what the heck is going on myself, and although I probably wouldn’t boo, I would expect plenty of booing around me.
Ryder lambasted one twitter user for saying, “I thought that I came for The Postal Service and not a twerk show.” Apparently this statement, in her eyes, is deeply racist. Come again? How on earth is this racist!? Here, let me help. IT ISN’T!
Then the article takes a few turns to the weird and goes on about white appropriation of black dance moves, implying it would seem that if Big Freedia was white, the Postal Service crowd would be shaking their booties and loving every second of it. Wait….what? Oddly enough, it seems like on one hand she chastises the Postal Service fans for not trying something new and giving some booty popping and twerking a try, and then at the same time seems to imply that white people aren’t supposed to be doing “black” dance moves because it is appropriation and that’s BAD. Would you make up your mind, lady! What exactly IS a “black” dance move…or a “white” dance move for that matter…and who should be doing what and when in your view? Honestly, I hate twerking with a passion. It’s my least favourite dance move possibly ever. It’s even worse than the Macarena! I don’t like watching it regardless of the race of the dancer. It’s just not a style of dancing that I like. In fact, it’s not a style of dancing that I can watch without wanting to vomit because I can’t help but think what it is doing to a person’s intestines and the end result of this come bathroom time. Does this make me racist?? Apparently, it does.
Furthermore, the writer seems obsessed with Miley Cyrus and her use of twerking. First off, it was news to me that Miley Cyrus was still making music, let alone representing all that is wrong with white musicians and the appropriation of black dance moves. If appropriating is such a horrible thing, we better all stop listening to rock music, because its roots are firmly in the blues, which is seen mainly as a black music style. And, hilariously, the writer says “Over the last few months, there’s been plenty of appropriation of black dance styles….”. Over the last few months? Have you ever heard of Elvis lady?? Do you have any understanding of modern American musical history?
And when some fans said they thought Big Freedia’s show was pretty funny (which I would have to say I believe), that really seems to have gotten to the author of this article who defends Big Freedia as a serious artist that should NOT be laughed at, and goes on to say, “What would be funny is Miley Cyrus twerking, if she didn’t look vaguely like Hitler Youth doing it.” Wow, that’s one bold statement. Who knew Hannah Montana was so evil?!
Ryder is pretty free and open on her feelings about Postal Service, and even goes on to use terms like “lily white” (in almost an insulting way) to describe their music. What? So, Postal Service and their fans are guilty of being too damn white? Is that the problem? Oh come on, lady! We get it, you don’t like Postal Service, and you like Big Freedia and you are pissed because some Postal Service fans expressed their views on the matter. Message loud and clear.
Now, I do applaud Big Freedia on being an out and open transgender artist, and support her in her endeavours. I also applaud The Postal Service on taking a chance and adding Big Freedia as an opening act, bringing diversity and trying to expose people to a different style of music. But at the same time, I understand that not everyone is going to be down with this. It isn’t going to fly with everyone and it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with two divergent music artists sharing the same bill. Assuredly, there were a number of Postal Service fans who headed to the merch booths to buy some Big Freedia CDs and assorted swag. But, I can see how a good number wouldn’t be thrilled with her as an opening act given the style of Postal Service. And, of course, Postal Service is a “white indie band” and therefore this is an issue of race….somehow.
Quite frankly, Katie Ryder’s article is ridiculous, baseless and downright insulting. In fact, she seems more pissed off at the fact that people don’t like this style of music, which she seems to dig, even claiming that some Postal Service fans see this “Sissy Bounce” music as being beneath them, almost putting a “white privilege” and “white supremacy” take on the fact that not everyone is going to be down with twerking and booty popping….two words that make me cringe, let alone the actually act of doing these. I’m sorry Salon and Katy, but your attempts to turn a clearly unracist issue into a racist issue fails, and only helps to water down the issue of racism, taking away from real, honest, dangerous racism that still plagues society. And twerking is STILL gross!
Words by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.