Thursday, December 15, 2011

racism at Racialicious, or Florence + The Machine and Bali

 I suspect antiracists are more obsessed with racial purity than racists are. Racists, at least, will happily eat fried chicken and not worry about whether they're appropriating a black thing.

Which doesn't really have anything to do with this post. For once, I'm grateful to Racialicious because one of their writers' accusation that Florence + The Machine had made a racist video taught me something about Balinese religion that I hadn't known.



In the comments at ‘No Light, No Light’: White Supremacy all dressed up in a pop video is still White Supremacy | Racialicious, SFFSzmutko writes:
What is shown in the video is not blackface, nor is it representative in Voodoo. The faith that is represented here is Balinesian (spelling?) and the ritual, which they actually brought in a shaman dancer of the faith for those scenes. The body paint is part of the ritual, it is a dark green body pain with red flashes on the face, to mirror the frogs of the region. To call it blackface is actually exceptionally offensive to the Balinese faith, and I hope the writer of this article apologizes. That is the equivalent of calling a Catholic Deacon Robe a Klan Robe. It is offensive and transferring the meaning of one onto something completely different and feels as if research was not done in the writing of this article. The immediate assumption of blackface and accusations of thus actually seem to be racially based against Miss Welch (an artist who has taken forefront involvement in many Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald Tribute concerts) caucasion roots.

Also the Dog Days video, the Gospel Choir is used to represent Florence's Gospel roots in terms of her music. Its like why the 60s mod women are there, because the 60s inspire her. Also she does not make herself "whiter" in the video, whe is dressed in Japanese Kabuki Garb complete with Kabuki Makeup. The reason everything blows up at the end is that it is the removal of inspiration until only Florence is left. It is a representation of her roots in music.

Also, maybe it is because I have research the Balinese Faith, but the ritual's meaning is similar to the song the choir is singing. I took the video to be ABOUT running from the unfamiliar and taking shelter in the familiar. I thought that it was ABOUT ignorance.
Other commenters dismiss that, because antiracists have a powerful streak of US imperialism which says other cultures don't matter. If something makes antiracists think of something that had racist connotations in the US, those connotations matter more than, well, the truth.

When antiracists waved away the Balinese origin of the imagery, Ohmansteve wrote:
I find the insinuation that the Balinese body paint used to become the frog in the ritual dance that the shaman in this video is showcasing is blackface, and that it is a representation of Voodoo, instead of the Balinesian faith, to be racist and to reek of poor research. Shame on this site for not doing research, and jumping to the conclusion that body paint in a white person's video must be blackface. Thank you for the bald faced racism here, go research the Balinese religion.
Sunmelive added:
RACISM? WHERE?! Flo is a woman who has just gotten out of a relationship. She still loves this person so she holds on to his memory and all the negative energy that came with their relationship. It is making her self destructive, the asian man painted dark green with bright red lips tries to help her through a Balinese ritual dance called a sanghyang but she refuses because that's all she has at this point. So he uses the doll to weaken her and force her to see reason.
ETA: Sanghyang - Wikipedia

Sanghyang dan kecak 1926 (Silent) - YouTube :

ETA 2: The existence of Balinese voodoo.