Rodríguez Riot!

I would fume when someone would ask if I had heard the new electro song ‘Sugar Man”, because I knew the original was a beautiful piece of art. Though, I had very little knowledge about the artist Sixto Rodriguez until my recent experience of the Malik Bendjelloul‘s documentary ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ (2012). After the singer/songwriter’s debut album drop in the early 1970’s, it soon became what was seen as a dud in the music industry. Rodriguez who was humbly situated in Detroit was oblivious about his career boom in South Africa during the time of apartheid which he was an iconic influence during the movement for the nation.

I was instantly intrigued after viewing this film; being informed of an artist I adored but knew nothing about, however, after delving further within this case I discovered multiple views of ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ which came off as an inspirational story. Michael Titlestad’s article paints another picture of Rodriguez’s movement and tour within the South African nation, though having a strong opinion against Sixto’s influence on the people which I believe are valid, I strongly disagree and find it baffling that Titlestad sees himself as a music critic in his work sledging the frail artist’s performance. “The Big Top Arena at Carnival City was the perfect venue for Rodriguez that night. He made a fool of himself.” (Titlestad, 2013)

As I did find Rodriguez’s story truly amazing, I do agree with Titlestad in believing that the story as some times did come off as a set up and believably was a “narrative scam” (Titlestad, 2013), suggesting that people’s political stance and human rights empowerment were not indicated by Rodriguez and his anti-establishment esque notions, his works were an element of this view but not necessarily the ring leader “Rodriguez fans were generally anti-establishment and opposed to apartheid is mere fabrication” (Titlestad, 2013). though Johnathan Hyslop largely agrees with Titlestad, acknowledging “as I watched Sugar Man, I knew that I was being manipulated.” (Hysplop, 2013) His work focuses immensely on the impact of American rock music in general, having an effect on white South African youth during apartheid as they undoubtedly had more power than the black revolt during this oppression.

After looking into Rodriguez’s journey I began thinking about contemporary music and it’s battle, politically. This led me to the band ‘Pussy Riot’, who are a Russian feminist punk rock protest band. Founded in 2011, the band’s purpose is to perform provocative guerrilla-like performances in peculiar destinations, sharing with the online world simultaneously. Their aim is to protest feminism, LGBT Rights, and ultimately an opposition to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bikini Kill and the 1990s riot grrrl movement were catalysts for Pussy Riot in their fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin via public performance art. This makes sense aesthetically and politically in Russia, where feminist politics are scarce (Pelly, 2012)

Sixto Rodriguez was an inspirational man, musically and beyond that was seen as an icon in South Africa. Blurred lines are ever present in his involvement within the apartheid movement and I believe that it was a tame one that Sixto possessed, in no form intending to compel people to think a certain way. We are informed about the art of music and it’s influence on a community whereby seen it can be perceived politically as shown in the cases Sixto Rodriguez in South Africa and Pussy Riot in Russia.

References:

  • Hyslop, J (2013) “Days of Miracle and Wonder”? Conformity and Revolt in Searching for Sugar Man, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, 14:4, 490-501, DOI: 10.1080/17533171.2013.841066 [date accessed: 03 Sept 2015]
  • Pelly, J 2012, ‘”We Are All Pussy Riot”: Kathleen Hanna Speaks on the Jailed Feminist Punk Group’, Pitchfork, [date accessed: 03 Sept 2015] < http://pitchfork.com/news/47516-interview-kathleen-hanna-on-pussy-riot/ >
  • Titlestad, M (2013) Searching for the Sugar-coated Man, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, 14:4, 466-470, DOI: 10.1080/17533171.2013.841061 [date accessed: 03 Sept 2015]
  • StudioCanal UK, 2012, ‘Searching for Sugar Man – Official UK Trailer‘, YouTube, 22 June < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKXewWDh1og > [date accessed: 03 Sept 2015]
  •  Гараджа Матвеева, 2012, ‘Панк-молебен “Богородица, Путина прогони” Pussy Riot в Храме’, YouTube, 21 Feb, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCasuaAczKY > [date accessed: 03 Sept 2015]

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“K-Pop and Nollywood Sitting In A Tree”

Relatively fresh scenes within the industry, Nollywood and Korean Cinema have not held back in what has been seen as influential content which has attracted the western world. Nollywood and the movement known as the ‘Korean Wave’ have established quite renowned placement within the entertainment industry where their works can be easily accessed through an array of platforms.

Nollywood is the term given to the Nigerian film industry. Emerging in the 1990’s, it has achieved unprecedented success in the homeland (Okome, 2007.) Though, when first introduced to this industry I thought “Surely, they mean Hollywood or Bollywood” as they are undoubtedly familiar. Nollywood gained international recognition for it’s films in the early 2000’s and In 2007, an estimated 1,687 feature films were produced in the country and put straight onto video for distribution rather then the more conventional theatre debut claiming them a spot on the podium at the thirds biggest film industry in the world, surprisingly with the industry’s young age and ‘shoestring budgets’ (Okome 2007). They show a mixture of melodrama often with middle class and upper class citizens, but with a high infusion of animist and magical culture providing solutions to problems that wouldn’t crop up in a Hollywood drama. The films encompass traditional characters and situations as well as television serials imported from places like Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Korea — countries that produce large numbers of TV soap operas.

Nollywood has seemed to start walking on its own, and this can be seen as an example of anti-globalisation. Today’s mainstream cinema depicts globalisation in all forms, whereby Nollywood’s organic nature displays itself as graffiti not being visible to all eyes around the country, but extensively present (Andrews, 2009)

In the same standards and dancing on the same bandwagon is Korean Cinema, it too has generated great success, impacting collectives of people globally. The Asian market for popular media has become that of a phenomenon with the advancement in social networking and content sharing. Korean film has increased drastically in popularity as seen by online broadcasters, placing at the 7th highest film producer in the world, with national film attendance totals by 2000 exceeding 70 million (Ryoo, 2009).

It is now one of the biggest exporters of music, film, and TV series in the Asian pacific. One popular example that made it to a western audience with an abundant of western influences was Psy’s “Gangnam Style” viral video.

It raised awareness for the genre of Korean pop music in the world, whom “are often seen as showing a fuller affinity for the region’s character, and to express more soulfulness than Western music”( Ryoo, W., p.140). The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised it as a force for world peace, saying: “There are no languages required in the musical world…Through this promotion of arts we can better understand the culture and civilisations of other people…” (Heal, 2013). The flow of content across different platforms has allowed Korean cinema to take full advantage of the world wide web and establish a strong fan base internationally, the South Korean government stated the success of ‘Gangnam Style’ brought $13.4 million to the countries audio sector. (Sherwin, 2012).

Nollywood and Korean Cinema have emerged themselves in the entertainment industry and ultimately the world in terms of film, television and music. Not only has it generated revenue for each nation but it also has shared with the world the importance of their cultural identity, sharing messages that are globally alike and understood with many audiences.

References: