Tuesday Reads: Cultural Appropriation Edition

Good Morning!!

First, a quick follow-up: I’ve been writing about the delay of stimulus payments to 30 million seniors, disabled people, veterans, railroad pensioners. Last Thursday, the Social Security Administration finally sent information to enable the IRS to send out the direct deposits/checks, but there’s still no information available on when these vulnerable Americans will receive the much needed assistance.

Newsweek tried to get some answers, but hit a brick wall: SSI Stimulus Check Update as IRS Stays Silent Over Payments For Social Security Recipients.

Many recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other federal benefits are still waiting to receive their stimulus fund. The Internal Revenue Service has yet to announce a payment date, as of Tuesday….

On March 25, the SSA provided the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the paperwork needed for stimulus payments to be issued to federal benefit recipients following pressure from the House Ways and Means Committee. The IRS has yet to respond to Newsweek‘s requests for a comment since the SSA sent the required paperwork.

The SSA website also currently states that “the IRS decided to pay EIPs [Economic Impact Payments] first only to people who filed a 2020 or 2019 tax return, and to people who used the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool to receive a previous EIP. Some Social Security beneficiaries may have received a recent EIP if they filed a tax return with the IRS.”

People who were too poor to file a tax return have been left twisting in the wind. They are advised to use the “check my payment” link at the IRS, but when they do, they are told there is no information available.

Asked whether it had received any information on a stimulus payment date for federal benefit recipients, a spokesperson for NACHA (National Automated Clearing House Association), which manages the ACH Network, the national automated clearing house for electronic funds transfers, told Newsweek this Monday: “We haven’t gotten anything.”

Newsweek has contacted the IRS, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Bureau of the Fiscal Service for comment.

The SSA website currently advises: “Please refer to the IRS’ website for the latest information about economic impact payments (EIP). Please do not contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) with questions about EIPs. Our representatives do not have information to answer your EIP questions. The IRS, not SSA, processes all EIPs.”

A spokesperson for the SSA told Newsweek on March 26: “As you may already know, many Social Security beneficiaries have already received their EIPs. The final files we sent to IRS yesterday morning [Thursday] will address those recipients who don’t normally file a tax return with the IRS.”

Now for my main topic: Cultural Appropriation

Wikipedia: Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

I seldom watch late night entertainment programs, but yesterday there was a strong reaction to a Tonight Show segment. A white TikTok “influencer,” Addison Rae, appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show to perform several dance routines. The problem is that she copied them from Black women on TicToc and failed to credit them or the Black artists who performed the songs she danced to.

From the LA Times story: Addison Rae taught Jimmy Fallon TikTok dances, but Twitter remembers who created them.

Many of TikTok’s viral dance challenges were started by Black creators, but you wouldn’t know that by watching Friday’s episode of “The Tonight Show,” which saw one of the app’s biggest stars, Addison Rae, perform several dances without crediting their choreographers.

What was intended as a fun moment between Rae and host Jimmy Fallon — who are both white — backfired over the weekend as Twitter users demanded recognition for the people whose choreography was featured on the show.

“Stealing from black entertainers and having white ‘creators’ regurgitate it to the masses is american history 101,” one person tweeted after Fallon shared a clip of Rae busting a move to eight different songs.

“I think Black creators should just stop creating content for like a good 6 months and just observe what these people come up with,” wrote another in a tweet that had amassed more than 261,000 likes….

Included in the TikTok dance compilation were:

  • “Do It Again” (recorded by Pia Mia, choreographed by @noahschnapp)
  • “Savage Love” (recorded and choreographed by @jasonderulo)
  • “Corvette Corvette” (recorded by Popp Hunna, choreographed by @yvnggprince)
  • “Laffy Taffy” (recorded by D4L, choreographed by @flyboyfu)
  • “Savage” (recorded by Megan Thee Stallion, choreographed by @keke.janjah)
  • “Blinding Lights” (recorded by the Weeknd, choreographed by @macdaddyz)
  • “Up” (recorded by Cardi B, choreographed by @theemyanicole)
  • “Fergalicious” (recorded by Fergie and will.i.am, choreographed by @thegilberttwins).

(The choreographers’ names have been shared by Twitter users and confirmed by Buzzfeed.)

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rae’s performance to Cardi B’s “Up” along with the original performance by TheMayaNicole. See what you think.

More from Popsugar: The Tonight Show’s Addison Rae Fumble Is an Unfortunate Reflection of Our Creator Culture.

If you want to see a TikTok dance skit, why not ask the original artists to participate? That’s a question The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Addison Rae face after March 26th’s episode. The well-known creator walked Fallon through a few of the app’s most popular choreography in a sketch, similar to a video released with Charli D’Amelio last year. Quickly after airing, the clip faced criticism as viewers wondered why the creatives who actually created the dances didn’t get screen time — or at the very least, proper credit.

This controversy is not new for Rae, who faced similar pushback after she and D’Amelio became the face of a “Renegade” dance routine, which was originally created by Jalaiah Harmon. Intentional or not, Rae and D’Amelio’s names were synonymous with choreography they had no hand in. They went as far as to perform the dance at a 2020 NBA All Star game without Harmon. Harmon eventually got her dues, but only after publicly reclaiming the viral dance. Rae and D’Amelo need only whisper and their combined 100+ million followers would come running, so why did Harmon practically need a megaphone to get her credit? Her experience is a disappointing reflection of how art is co-opted on social media, especially from Black creatives.

You can’t separate Rae’s success from the work of Black TikTokers. Some of her most viewed videos are built on their choreography, like the “Savage” routine originated by Keara Wilson. (Wilson told POPSUGAR she doesn’t wish any backlash against Rae because she knows “how toxic the internet can be.” She said, “Yes of course it’s always nice to be credited but just having my dance on the show is an honor in itself.”)

As Twitter user @blackamazon wrote, “This is why I bang on EVERYBODY about the economics and race of social media. ‘Tik tok dances’ the names of the artists not there. The actual choreographers not there. She’s on national television but where are the Black kids who actually made these.” Another user, @868nathan, wrote, “The fact that Addison Rae is championed for ‘Tik Tok Dances’ whilst the black creatives that made them never get the same platform will never sit right with me.”

This reminds me of the days when white recording artists like Pat Boone released pathetic cover versions of songs by Black musicians like Little Richard. The good news in those days was that people who heard the covers sought out the originals and eventually the Black artists became well known and successful. The same thing happened again in the 1960s with British and American bands who covered performances by Black blues musicians.

Futurity (Feb. 3, 2017): How the 1950s Made Pat Boone a Rock Star.

While some early rock ‘n’ roll acts receive little critical respect, historically speaking, these same musicians and singers played an important role in bridging musical styles and bringing cultures together, writes Aquila, professor emeritus of history and American studies at Penn State, in his book, Let’s Rock! How 1950s America Created Elvis and the Rock & Roll Craze (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

“I spend a lot of time discussing Pat Boone and other pop rockers in the book. Boone refers to himself not as the father of rock ‘n’ roll, but as the midwife of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Aquila.

“What he means by this is that his versions of Little Richard’s songs may not be as good as Little Richard’s originals, but Little Richard couldn’t get played on mainstream radio stations back in the ’50s, due to racism and other reasons. But, after the kids listened to Boone’s music, they tended to go on and want the real thing.”

Boone spent most of his early career covering rhythm-and-blues songs, like Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” Boone’s versions, however, were influenced by pop styles and standards that were tamer and more familiar to white audiences of the time. He also sanitized Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame,” for his white audience’s ears and, apparently, their grammar. He tried, for instance, to change the title of the song to “Isn’t That a Shame.”

While many music critics now consider this artistic theft or cultural appropriation, Aquila says that some black artists at the time appreciated Boone’s cover songs.

At a concert, for example, Aquila writes that Domino introduced Boone to the audience and, pointing to one of his diamond rings, added that Boone’s version of “Ain’t That a Shame” bought him that ring.

It’s still pathetic that our white-dominated culture made this happen and even more pathetic that it is still happening on social media platforms like TikTok and mainstream TV programs.

Some politics news, links only

Buzzfeed: US Cases Of COVID-19 Are Rising Again, Sparking Fears Of A Fourth Major Surge.

Josh Rogin at The Washington Post: Opinion: The WHO covid report is fatally flawed, and a real investigation has yet to take place.

Aaron Rupar at Vox: Birx rightly said most US Covid-19 deaths were preventable. But she won’t acknowledge her complicity.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post: Opinion: The GOP is facing a sickness deeper than the coronavirus.

Raw Story: Trump lashes out at Fauci and Birx in bizarre press release issued from Mar-a-Lago.

The Washington Post: New accounts detail how New York health officials were told to prioritize coronavirus testing of people connected to Andrew Cuomo.

The Guardian: Asian American woman, 65, attacked in New York as witnesses stood by.

The Guardian: Sherry Vill is latest to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct.

That’s it for me today. What’s on your mind?

39 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Cultural Appropriation Edition”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a great Tuesday everyone!!

  2. dakinikat says:

    Ah, the sweet smell of huckabux spreading shit around …

    • dakinikat says:

      and guess whose state was next?

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s actually a ban on experimental medical treatment of youth. All usual pediatric healthcare is unaffected.

      Children are too young to give informed consent to receiving drugs which cause irreversible harm, including sterility and increased risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, let alone medical or surgical castration and amputation of other healthy body parts. Consider that 80-90% of kids who think they’re trans don’t think so a few years later. Also consider that medical / surgical transition does not improve kids’ mental health. Then, consider that many of these kids are depressed and/or autistic. None of this should dictate treatment with off-label drugs or surgery that’s not been studied in children. Careful, empathetic counseling (not conversion) and mental-health care is what’s needed.

      What teenager doesn’t feel uncomfortable with their bodies in this culture? But no one is born in the wrong body.

      These kids aren’t old enough to vote, drive, buy alcohol, or take out a loan independently. They certainly aren’t competent enough to make irreversible decisions which have life-long effects. That’s for when they’re adults.

      • quixote says:

        I haven’t been reading the details because my bogosity meter has been maxing out, but I suspected as much.

        It sure seems like a better solution for kids who are desperate for a different gender role is to broaden the scope of who can take on which gender roles. Meaning stop worrying about tomboys or boys who like to cook. Stop the bullying. Stop all the social crap. Seems like a much more direct solution than medication which means a lifetime on drugs and side effects to force biology to fit a sick society.

        But that solution is no use to maintaining The Patriarchy™ so what am I thinking.

        • NW Luna says:

          Yep. Used to be kids were encouraged to play with whatever toys regardless of stereotypes. Girls were encouraged to play and build things with Legos. Now they make ‘girl’ Legos in pink and soft purple and sparkle.

          One of the criteria for gender dysphoria is “discomfort with expected gender roles.” Hell, that just means the kid has a personality and a thinking brain!

      • NW Luna says:

        It’s amazing how quickly we went from, “Toys shouldn’t be gender signifiers!” to “If a boy plays with dolls, he’s probably trans.”

      • djmm says:

        “What teenager doesn’t feel uncomfortable with their bodies in this culture?”

        When I had health in high school, long ago I admit, we were told it was normal to feel uncomfortable with the changes one’s body was going through.

        Of course, there are true trans and non-binary people, but I worry that some children and teens are pushed into it because they don’t fit precisely into expected gender roles. (Has anyone noticed that in some ways those expected roles seem to be more conscripted today than in the past?)

        It seems reasonable to put off radical and sometimes irreversible medical treatment until they are adults.

    • NW Luna says:

      Short interview here with Keira Bell, the desister who won her recent case in the UK against the Tavistock Center for rushing her into irreversible “affirmation” treatment without proper counseling or informed consent. Verdict is that children are too young to give informed consent. Listen to her and see how “reversible” this treatment isn’t.

      Growing up, Keira Bell felt confused and distressed by her body. At 16, she became one of thousands of girls, some as young as 10 or 11, referred to the Tavistock and Portman Trust. After three one-hour appointments she was prescribed puberty blockers before she was put on testosterone.
      Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Ms Bell said she was “delighted” with the ruling. “This judgment is not political, it’s about protecting vulnerable children,” she said.

      Longer interview here:

  3. dakinikat says:

    That Karen looks like a housewife at a Jazzercise class. I wouldn’t call that dancing.

    • dakinikat says:

      and I chased down the rest of the videos on that link above … those kids are amazing. Jimmy Fallon has done this before too … shame on him!

      • Enheduanna says:

        Never watch him. Remember when he “fluffed” Dump’s hair and laughed and laughed with him on his show? Me either but I heard about it and saw the clips.

    • quixote says:

      Honestly. Pathetic. Is she not fit enough to do the moves right? That bad a dancer? Given what a milquetoast she made of it, maybe it’s just as well she didn’t give credit where it was due.

      Because that’s the bigger issue: the whole rush to be the twittest with the mostest caused by the social media and Goog reward system. It’s always caused this kind of BS, right from the start.

      The reward system needs to go back to citing your original sources. We have several hundred years of data showing that works!

    • NW Luna says:

      Please. “Karen” as an anti-woman slur was started by an incel about his ex-wife, for the usual incel-ish reasons. There are other descriptors which carry less incel taint.

    • djmm says:

      Copyright protects choreography in a fixed tangible medium, including video recordings.

      Click to access circ52.pdf

      To have a televised performance of someone else’s choreography without their permission, much less attribution, would seem a violation of copyright. Registration is needed to sue for infringement, and provides other advantages, but the copyright exists from the time the work of art is created and is vested in the creator. It only costs about $35 to register the work, through the US Copyright Office.

      • djmm says:

        So sorry – I thought I was posting a link, not the entire pdf!!!

      • quixote says:

        Hmmm. Interesting. Go for it, TheMayaNicole! Especially given what a drab lifeless shadow of the original whatshername made of it.

        Not quite as bad as drawing a smiley face and calling it the Mona Lisa, but definitely a travesty.

  4. NW Luna says:

    My local jazz station has a show on which the originals of tunes are played, followed by some of the covers — often by famous musicians — which have been recorded since the original.

    I almost always think the original versions of the songs by the original musicians sound best!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Finally! The press secretary addressed the issue of the missing stimulus payments. Supposedly they will go out over the weekend and be delivered by April 7. Sorry I can’t link, but there is a story at Bloomberg.

    • quixote says:

      It’s this one, I think?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, thanks. The story is all over now. This shows that when people are really vocal on Twitter it eventually has an effect.

        I know people probably think I’m silly for posting about this, but it involves 30 million people, some if whom are really struggling.

        • palhart says:

          No, I don’t think your reporting is silly and have gotten upset for the umpteenth time about how cruelly poor, sick, disabled individuals are treated in this so-called “Christian” nation. Mitch is absurdly worried about people receiving these stimulus checks will stop working altogether, like $1,400 comes close to paying all their bills, especially their healthcare if they have insurance and can hold on to it. Utterly shameful.

        • quixote says:

          Silly? Silly?? Hell, no.In that 30,000,000 are the poorest of the poor, as you say, which is probably why the Repubs thought they could get away with bashing at them.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks ! Good to know!

  6. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Waiting for the cries of “Resign!” from the Republicans.

      • quixote says:

        The overly practical part of my mind keeps wondering how men who are as offputting as all these totally la-la wingnuts manage to get any woman to stay in the same room with them for longer than it takes to back out.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He is already considering resigning.