Final Week reflection

As this whole process comes to a close, I have to say in all it was a positive experience. It was nice to see one idea come together, after 10 weeks of working through the challenges and opportunities that are stirred from people of different minds and specialties. Everyone in our group has something to contribute and challenge during the whole process. Ironically, I think the most challenging part of the whole assignment was remembering to add to the blog. Our group faced a few scheduling challenges but regardless, we always managed to make up for the lost time, finding another time to meet and work. It helped that when we were in our meetings we didn’t dilly-dally, but got straight to business. I am very excited to share our presentation after 10 weeks and found we all enjoyed the process and actually had fun doing it.

Week 7-9//

During the last few weeks of the group work we started to bring our research and ideas into a physical form. Breaking up elements of the script into manageable sections for each individual to tackle. Coming together in the last week to consolidate the whole thing into one clear argument. Below is a working conclusion I wrote based on what the other members of my group put together. Although, in this state, it is unfinished and raw it is intended to help communicate why the our research in the end matters

Our research matters because we are showing that the album listener is provided with an incorrect view of prison reality, never fully recognizing the authenticity of prison life.

The success of Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album is not based on its ability to memorialize the actual lived experience of prisoners in Folsom in 1968, but rather the whole production of its memoriam. From what we have shown, by breaking the album into perceived and conceived space, we as listeners are coming away from the album with a more critical gaze. As a listener, even considering the obvious cultural implications of recording an album in a prison: highlighting a space that is normally considered separate, we do not initially leave the album feeling ambivalent or discomforted by what we’ve heard. We instead are actually entertained. A result that is supported by the fact that after its release, the album climbed to the top of the charts, redeemed Cash’s declining image, became memorialized in films, and remembered in a gift shop. Folsom Prison Museum commemorating Cash’s visit on their website, stating: In the museum description it reads ‘you can still discover the reasons for Johnny Cash’s “Blues” at Folsom State Prison. Learn how the prison was fashioned gray granite from the surrounding rock quarries. The museum features a wealth of photographs, old hemp ropes used to hang prisoners, [and] memorabilia from Johnny Cash’s famed concert shows…’ sentence to explain why this matters

The Folsom Prison album offers an inauthentic sonic perception of prison’s reality as Columbia records conceive a homogenized ‘happy go lucky’ group of outlaws. Their claps, woots, and hollers are edited and manipulated to enhance to the music not to present an argument for reform. But from what we’ve determined, to bring the prisoners to the forefront, to recognize the ways their sounds have been manipulated by the space directs a new narrative. The prisoners on the album are not the authentic lived experience.

“I Walk the Line”: Cash on the border

(Short Recap of the sub-section of the team’s topic I’m doing research on) This should have appeared on 22/2/19 but I uploaded in the 17-18 section by mistake. It was done before our group decided to alter the direction of our research, so new material will be uploaded soon.

Incited by the live version of “I Walk the Line” found on Johnny Cash’s At San Quentin album, I began thinking about the further possible significations of the song’s refrain: “Because you’re mine / I walk the line”. Indeed, ‘walking the line’, tracing the borderline between two states of perception, two diametrically opposed opinions, between different social roles can be seen as a defining metaphor for the sense of “America” as perceived by artists like Johnny Cash. However, the ‘line’ as a symbol of liminality does not only function divisively. Comparing Johnny Cash’s artistic and political liminality to Robert Frost’s “Mending a Wall”, one understands that the line one traces, the fence one is always so keen on rebuilding does not only divide: it eventually becomes an substantial end in and of itself, be it within a socio-political or a purely aesthetic setting. The lines is transformed into the ‘ideal’ scape in which the two sides interact and through which they find ground for escape: this is a defining trait in the works of writers like Whitman, Melville, Kerouac, and musicians like the blues singer Charley Patton ( — his mixed-race identity paradoxically placed him centre-stage in the developing Delta-Blues scene of the 1920s), Miles Davis, Bob Dylan — all walking side-by-side with Johnn Cash. Following Deleuze’s discussion on the superiority of American Literature, “to leave , to escape, is to trace a line”. On the whole, Deleuze’s essay “De la supériorité de la littérature anglaise-américaine” found in Dialogues, and his argument about American writers who find themselves bravely tracing and experimenting with borderlines is crucial as to our understanding “I Walk the Line” as an all-encompassing metaphor for Cash’s artistic and political personna and, simultaneously, to our piercing through all the performative/ political symbols which abound in the Folsom Prison and San Quentin recordings.

“It is possible that writing [and singing, song-writing] has an intrinsic relationship with lines of flight. To write is to trace lines of flight which are not imaginary, and which one is indeed forced to follow, because in reality writing involves us there, draws us in there.” Deleuze,”De la supériorité de la littérature anglaise-américaine”

Gilles Deleuze, Dialogues. 1. “Un Entretien, qu’est-ce que c’est, à quoi ça sert?” 2. “De la supériorité de la littérature anglaise-américaine” (On the superiority of Anglo-American literature)

Cf. The case of George Jackson and his murder at San Quentin in 1971. Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson”, would be an equally useful example of what an artist makes of an activist transcending boundaries and crossing lines.

[I Walk the line, Forever Words (Johnny Cash’s posthumous selection of poems and unrecorded songs, Robert Frost, “Mending a Wall”]

Cf. The Man in White — Cash’s fictional biography of St Paul — side by side with poem “Job” — binary equivalents to the construction of The Man in Black

[The Man in Black:”I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times”]

The notion of “double-bind” in Dewey and Derrida is another useful phenomenological tool to take the analysis a step further into a more theoretical field

Week 3: ‘Across the Line’: Johnny Cash and Folsom Prison

For this week, we started to narrow done our ideas into what could become a provocative research question: To what extent does Johnny Cash’s live at San Quentin Album reflect his public image both as an outlaw and an artist.

We have then broken down the question into subgroups of ideas that might help to supplement our research:

Research for next week:

  1. Image; Outlaw/Artist.
  2. From there how does his image translate into the live concert
  3. Imagine within the Album

As we each tactical what these categories can mean for answering our question, we are additionally trying to form a theoretical analysis to better support our argument. As of right now, the themes and trends were are finding have been giving our group a lot of information to consider such as:

  • Johnny cash
  • Found live footage of the San Quentin performance: showed evidence of prison life. Clearly edited, why? Who was the audience the footage was intended for????
  • Frank Sinatra came three years before Johnny Cash, intending to record an album in the prison but the album was never made/released.
  • Photograph of Johnny Cash, was he an outlaw?
  • Going to prison to play was intended to address Prison Reform. Activism, he donated money to build a chapel.
  • Other performs who went to Prison: Bonnie Tyler, Sex Pistols
  • Johnny Cash’s conventional life of Prison remains, limited new ideas
  • Theories: popular opinion, Adeino/Bach
  • Johnny cash met with nixon five months after San Quentin.
  • Laughter as the only opportunity to free themselves from their situation.
  • How does the prison halls accomodate for the sound?
  • The album was made after his downfall in his career from his drug addiction and problems. Did he have anywhere else to go? Columbia records was not advocating the performance.
  • Limited capacity, some prisoners couldn’t get into the hall and were shut out.
  • When Bob Dylan played, prisoners were not allowed in to watch.

But with all that said, we do feel that an analysis based on linguistic or visual response could only support our argument further.

Script for Categories 1,2 and 3

Category 1: Own stories

 

Many women decided to show their support to the trending hashtag by sharing their own stories on Twitter. Twitter as a platform enables them to share what they want to say to the world (this within the limit of 140 characters per a tweet) and this twitter storm enabled them to feel validated in sharing their experience with sexual misconduct as it rendered them part of a bigger movement of sensitization about the reality of what women go through on a day to day basis. Victims finally had a place where they could voice their stories and, allegedly, be heard and believed. It is something women can all relate to, even those who do not usually engage in ‘social media politics’ felt like they could because they were asked to share their own personal stories. As the multitude of tweets show and even as a quote from some of them, it is nearly impossible to find a woman who cannot on some level say me too. From the 15th of October Twitter was flooded with stories and what we would like to address here is who these stories were heard by.

Twitter’s workings make some accounts verified and high-profile, giving them much more visibility than normal accounts, therefore, while some tweets got over one thousand likes and hundreds of retweets, some got absolutely none.
As you can see, while a simple generic tweet saying just #metoo got 1.3k likes, more detailed tweets where women have taken their time and braved to share what has happened to them get none or very few likes or retweets. This arguably validates certain voices more than others.

But then again, does it really matter how many times a tweet was seen? Is that really what validates an experience and the contribution to the movement? We don’t believe that any experience is more valid than any other, and all women sharing this are of the same opinion, but it is arguable that by enabling some tweets to be seen more than others, putting them at the forefront of the twitter storm, it seems that the way that Twitter works is somehow validating some people’s #metoo over others.

This said, we do take into account that it is arguable whether this really matters, what matters most is that these people sharing their #metoo stories got the movement off the ground and the issue recognised and talked about.

 

 

Category 2: Skeptics

 

  • Very few at the beginning, because there was a general enthusiasm for the movement and little reflection on what it actually means and was consequences it would have.
  • These Tweeters share their doubt about the movement’s purpose and whether it will really change anything, which is an understandable position to hold about an activist movement on social media. They ask, what will tweeting #metoo change? They have voiced their experience over and over again and have not been heard or believed, and indeed, doubt whether simply tweeting that them too have been wronged and made a victim will change the way they feel about it or the way in which people listen to what they have to say.
  • This tweet has noticed the same point we made in contrasting high-profile accounts with normal ones, (read tweet)
  • It is notable to say that in this section, we have found very few liked and retweeted tweets, and they are not very numerous.
  • It seems that people generally do not want to go against a popular trend, which is a way to qualify this twitter storm, on such a public platform. If they were to voice their full opinion about the movement they could easily be attacked and shamed by anyone, and there is no telling where this attack will end, the more a tweet is responded to, the more it is retweeted, the more it becomes visible. Therefore, many people surely restricted themselves to go against the movement, afraid they will be talked down to and labelled as an ‘anti-feminist’.
  • So their voices are somewhat stifled too.

 

 

Category 3: Allies

 

  • Many did not necessarily share their story but did share their support or simply reposted the generic tweet (show) to help raise awareness about the movement. This copy/paste action is very representative of twitter storms in general and is how they get off the ground.
  • A lot of women simply rejoiced in the movement, in knowing that they are not alone and urging women to share their stories and speak up showing respect for those who have and comforting victims.
  • Many accounts have actually been created for the sole purpose of adding their tweet to the #metoo movement.
  • On some level, it seems to twitter movement has become some kind of trend, of fashion, where everyone must say #metoo and be part of this new and online feminist movement, part of all the ‘sisters’ who unite with similar stories. It enables anyone and everyone to feel like they are an activist of a sort and somehow this has become something that all women needed to be part of, and should even feel bad if they didn’t take part, it became something ‘cool’, the new trend to adopt. To the extent that accounts were created for that sole purpose, to be included.
  • Talk about the tshirts and tweets that did not relate to the movement but said #metoo? (see with girls)
  • It can be contended that this twitter storm, while it has very serious grounds and a powerful message, quickly became a sort of frenzy or a trend because of the way the social media platform and our society in general functions, where something becomes popular and therefore needs to be adopted by all, which on some level took a lot from the movement, rendering it less serious and profound but rather a cool new feminist hashtag, because it’s become ‘cool’ to be a feminist. And it took a lot from the voices of the victims, this aspect of the movement somewhat took what was a serious and difficult thing to say for a lot women and changed it into something that makes them part of a trend. This way, as a platform that creates trends and is used by so many, Twitter has arguably made of the #metoo movement a sort of trend, the ‘new thing to do’ in October 2017.

Methodology of the project

This post will explain my methodologies ( how I categorize the  posters in order to make the comparison)

In our material analysis (the design of the posters itself),

  • introduce the factors in terms of the style of the posters (forms, colors, symbols, gestures, expressions, text)
  • control variables: (time, location, artists(and their background)), it’s important to take the historical situation of the country into consideration. Thus, the posters are grouped by a certain time period/ regions/ historical events.
  • For example, Mao swims across the Yangzi River in 16th July 1966 was portrayed by many over the Culture Revolution(1966-76). By comparing the posters that based on the same events in the same period from different regions, we are able to recognize the distinctiveness and similarity of the art style of the posters in rural and urban areas. Similarly, comparing the posters on this topic that produced in the 1960s with their counterpart in 70s, we found that the local publishers often occupied  the work from local artists and the purpose of the posters varied from the simple promotion of the national leader to the theme that promoting the youth in swimming as a national sport.
  • vis-a-vis, I decide to focus on a certain time period in my second group – the first half of the Cultural Revolution(1966-71) when the revolutionary spirit had its strongest impact on the nation and most widely controlled by the central. Comparing the region and style of the posters: a)In all these posters,  how the imagery of Mao was represented: no matter how Mao was depicted, he had to be painted hong, guang, liang (红光亮, red, bright, and shining); no grey was allowed for shading, and the use of black was interpreted as an indication that the artist harbored counter-revolutionary intentions. His face was painted usually in reddish and other warm tones, and in such a way that it appeared smooth and seemed to radiate as the primary source of light in a composition. In many instances, Mao’s head seemed to be surrounded by a halo which emanated a divine light, illuminating the faces of the people standing in his presence. b)the facial expression and gesture of the people and their dressing. c) analyzing the localisation of the posters from different regions. b)how the posters itself links with the popular culture of the mass ( the song: Dong Fang Hong(East Is Red), visualization of the song)
  • In USSR, the massive territory and occupation area across the state with different languages and customs. Examples that how the poster of the leader (Stalin) was localized in style and text. (Russia, Azerbaijan, and Poland)

other points:

  • the similarity of the political aftermath in both Russia and China: The decline of the visibility of Mao’s posters/portray/status in the public place in the 1970s (Reported by New York Times1971) and the destalinization in Russia after Stalin’s death: Nikita Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech in 1956.
  • visual propaganda Vs literary propaganda: As a visual propaganda, posters of the Leader help the people to visualize and recognize the national leader through imagery, as the large population of Communist China was illiterate. In 1964, the literary propaganda (Quotation from Chairman Mao,毛主席语录, also known as the ‘Little Red Book’) was promoted from the central and enforced by the People’s Liberation Army.  Did the literary propaganda (“little red book”) replace the visual propaganda (mainly the posters)?– the literary propaganda delivers more messages than the laconic poster that presents simple and strong messages.

 

 

Presentation Introduction Outline

It is the introduction outline for now.

Background history

NS is a dance-based white working class youth subculture from the late 1960s – 19b0s. Every Saturday, young people from Northern England will travel hundreds of miles to attend the all-nighter club and dance until the next morning. The music played in the clubs is based on American black soul records, and the dancing style is very emotional and energetic in NS scene.

The emerge of NS scene is followed by the arrival of American soul music in Britain 1960s, during the British Mod movement, finding the rare records becomes popular among British youth, and this trend remains in Northern England in the late 60s. Later on, the establishment of the clubs like Wigan Casino and Twisted Wheel helps NS scene reach its peak in the mid-70s. Finally, the abusive use of the drug and the change of musical interest caused the decline of NS in the late-70s, clubs were shutting down by the police intervention. But still, nowadays there are some NS events taking places and people participating in NS scene, e.g. Levenna McIean

Main argument

To what extent can NS be considered a form cultural appropriation?

Opposing to cultural appropriation, NS is an example of transculturation.

Definitions

Cultural Appropriation – an unauthorized adoption which a dominant culture uses elements from the other minority cultures, including tradition, language, food, music, symbols, folklore, etc.

Transculturation – a process whereby cultural forms literally move through time and space where they interact with other cultural forms and settings, influence each other, produce new forms, and change the cultural settings.

Outline

In this presentation, we will divide our research of NS into 4 sections:

3 sections of its uniqueness(the mixture with British culture creating a new cultural setting) – dance, place, and music.1 section of the main argument.

1 section of the main argument.

 

Gaby: the importance of place in NS movement

(i)What was the original purpose of the creation of NS Power

(ii)The idea of “pilgrimage”: the importance of travelling as a group for NS in a religious aspect, with case study of Wigan Casino

(iii)How did its affiliation with Black American soul music make NS into a global subculture.

Oliver: music(haven’t got the script yet)

Leah: further explanation of the main argument – NS as a form of transculturation rather than cultural appropriation.

From Cultural Appropriation to Transculturation

Following our difficult discussion on Thursday over the question we had originally decided on (which we deemed a little too broad and descriptive without a strong argument)  I explored an idea that I thought united all of our research together – the question of cultural appropriation.

“We were using the black industrial music of the late 1960s to say something about our white industrial lives in the 1970s.” –https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/oct/11/norhern-soul-rebellion-dance-floor-paul-mason

BACKGROUND

Cultural appropriation is often mentioned but undertheorized in critical rhetorical and media studies.

  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2004) offers two definitions of the verb ‘‘appropriate’’ relevant to the use of the term by critical scholars: ‘‘to take exclusive possession of’’ and ‘‘to take or make use of without authority or right.’ Cultural appropriation, if one uses Twitter as a theory book, is a neoliberal concept of culture that see culture effectively as a commodity. It is only objectionable when a member of a dominant cultural group appropriates from a member of a marginalized group.
  • “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.” This can include “the unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.” Susan Scafidi, law professor at Fordham University. 

  • “For me, the definition of appropriation originates in its inversion, cultural autonomy. Cultural autonomy signifies a right to cultural specificity, a right to one’s origins and histories as told from within the culture and not as mediated from without.” – Loretta Todd

  • Historical perspective: Dominant system owing to murder, displacement, and oppression of indigenous peoples by Western colonists, conditions which contribute to forced cultural assimilation. Therefore native people wearing jeans is not cultural appropriation but a consequence of forced assimilation.
  • Sally Haslanger explains: “In cases of structural oppression, there may not be an oppressor, in the sense of an agent responsible for the oppression.” Haslanger’s focus here is on how to assign moral responsibility to agents who are privileged within an oppressive system
  • According to Kristie Dotson, “epistemic violence is a failure of an audience to communicatively reciprocate, either intentionally or unintentionally, in linguistic exchanges owning to pernicious ignorance.”

EFFECTS

  • (Mis)representation, assimilation, and loss of economic opportunity might be among the harms of cultural appropriation.
  • Dominating systems so as to silence and speak for individuals who are already socially marginalized.
  • Members of dominant cultures, in virtue of their social status, already tend to have what Fricker calls a “credibility excess”: their credibility is inflated beyond what is epistemically warranted.36
  • Appropriation can harm by interacting with preexisting social injustices to compromise and distort the communicative ability and social credibility of members of marginalized groups

Loretta Todd – “Appropriation also occurs when someone else becomes the expert on your experience and is deemed more knowledgeable about who you are than yourself.”

ALTERNATIVE MODES TO THINKING ABOUT CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

These theories argue against essentialist concern surrounding current debate around cultural appropriation:

  • Adam Schutz “acts of radical sympathy and imaginative identification, are possible across racial lines”
  • Writing for The Daily Beast, John McWhorter specifically defended white appropriation of African-American music as “cross-fertilization”, and something which is usually done out of admiration of the cultures being imitated, with no intent to harm them
  • TRANSCULTURATION:
    • Rogers offers an alternative model of “transculturation” – a reconceptualization of culture as dialogic or conjectural:

“Transculturation posits culture as a relational phenomenon constituted by acts of appropriation, not an entity that merely participates in appropriation. Tensions exist between the need to challenge essentialism and the use of essentialist notions such as ownership and degradation to criticize the exploitation of colonized cultures.” – Rogers

  • Lull (2000) describes transculturation as ‘‘a process whereby cultural forms literally move through time and space where they interact with other cultural forms and settings, influence each other, produce new forms, and change the cultural settings’’ (p. 242).
  • cultural elements created from and/or by multiple cultures, such that identification of a single originating culture is problematic, for example, multiple cultural appropriations structured in the dynamics of globalization and transnational capitalism creating hybrid forms.

    Lull adds the dynamic of indigenization, in which ‘‘imported cultural elements take on local features as the cultural hybrids develop’’ (p. 244).

CONCLUSION

This research was beneficial to thinking about ways we could formulate an argument against Northern Soul as a form of Cultural Appropriation. Although certain factors do exist that are problematic particularly in the loss of economic opportunity as will be mentioned by Oli in his study of white-labelling, owing to its historical and geographical specificity and its affinity with the lived experiences of African Americans through music, as well as its hybrid fusion of dance, music and fashion it can be argued that Northern Soul can be considered potentially as a form of transculturation as explained by Rogers. I found Lull’s statement on how imported cultural elements take on local features as the cultural hybrids develop particularly relevant when thinking about how Northern Soul has been received internationally and further exemplified by Pharrell stating that Northern Soul is “English Culture.” 

Deptford Northern Soul Club

A club dedicated to Northern Soul opened in September 2016 in Deptford, in South East London. Advertized through social medias such as Instagram or Facebook, it’s been a year and a half since two lifelong friends, William J. Foot and Lewis J. Henderson (see picture below) since they decided to reecreate a “gimmick and fancy dress free Northern Soul night in the cultural centre of the world, Deptford” After their first night was sold out in 2016, Northern Soul Nights are happening on a monthly basis “bringing the sounds of Northern Soul to the next generation.”. However, which generation ? It is true that Deptford is a new “regenerating” area, which seems to follow the steps of the Peckham district in London. However, because it is still in London, the cultural hub of the UK, it can be considered as not being an authentic Northern Soul night. Even though the music and atmosphere might be the same, what made the Northern Soul so atypic was that they were happening in the North. The people attending those northern soul nights will probably not be Northerners, but potentially snobbish Southerners that try to transform something that was considered as unfashionable back in the 1980s into something “in” for London, just as many contemporary subcultural attempts.

 

Instagram : DeptfordNorthernSoulClub

Facebook page: Deptford Northern Soul Club

http://www.deptfordnorthernsoulclub.co.uk/about

 

Comparison Ideas

Hey guys,

 

Here’s the notes about the Data Comparison that we discussed today:

 

  1. Own Stories
    1. Compare high profile/verified tweets with the bulk of people sharing their stories
    2. Twitter in it’s workings facilitates verified or high profile accounts being seen more than ordinary ones
    3. This arguably validates their voices more than others.
    4. Potential counter-argument?
  2. Skeptics
    1. Very few at the beginning, because of general enthusiasm for the movement and little reflection on what it actually means
    2. Noticed our point from slide 1 about celebrities having more valid experiences.
    3. Hardly any verified or liked/retweeted tweets in this section.
    4. People not wanting to go against a popular trend – so easily attacked by anyone.
    5. People who don’t necessarily agree with this movement still deserve a voice in this movement.
  3. Allies
    1. How many people are allies or actually victims
    2. ‘Copy and paste’ phase of the twitter storm which is reflective of the twitter storm in general
    3. People creating accounts for Me Too only.
    4. Me Too as a trend or a frenzy rather than something more profound. Takes a voice away from people involved in the movement.
  4. Men
    1. Split into people redefining the movement, people owning up to what they have done, and personally victims.
    2. The movement needs to include everyone for it to be a good movement.
    3. Provides a voice to victims and to victimisers to apologise, but they haven’t used that opportunity, and is it justified or enough of an apology?
    4. Questions about redefining the movement and who it is for.
    5. Tarana Burke – who the movement is for?
    6. The Me Too hashtag has been around for much longer than last october and used for a variety of purposes. Our question is who decided the boundaries of the Me Too movement? Why did people take Alyssa Milano’s tweet to be the boundaries of the movement? The point that the men make about the movement being gendered is factual, but the point that they feel that their voices are not as valid is due to the way that these boundaries were drawn. This reflects society in general where victimisation of women is very easy and men are seen as stronger and less vulnerable.

CONCLUSION: Linking twitter to social media as a mode of communication and how this shapes internet activism in the modern age.