The amount of trolling that has happened since Kreayshawn popped up in the blog world is unprecedented. Everyone has an opinion, and typically a rather strong one, about this small white girl who’s producing strange rap music and even stranger videos.
….the most striking claim I kept coming across- was that she was… inauthentic. That her identity was fake, a lie. That she was “acting,” or “calculating,” or sneakily appropriating… how the hell could random Internet commenters watch one video and know who she is and who she’s not?
There are a few possible answers to this question…
1. The way we think about music is entirely wrapped up in the concept of identity.
… I think the source people look for is not God so much as the artist’s “soul.” This, after all, is why so much press about musicians focuses on their back stories, heartbreaks, and tragedies: We like to imagine that the sounds they’re making are some raw, uncalculated outpouring of the soul inside.
…pop music– more than almost any other art– sits right at the intersection between being yourself and finding something better than yourself to be.
Musicians are expected to write a great part and convincingly act the role at the same time. And even after that, we’re not really judging them on how compelling the identity they’re offering us is– we judge them based on which types of identities we personally need or aspire to at the moment. There is no identity politics quite as nuanced or complicated as people arguing about music.
2. “Fake” is subjective.
…we all tend to subscribe to certain ways of behaving– to consider them normal and not-an-act– and look at everything else as false, cramped, and artificial. The assumption is that everyone else is going to absurd lengths to seem a certain way, whereas you and the people you understand are just being yourselves.
There’s surely no better example of this habit than the word “hipster,” a pejorative people lob at anyone who’s even slightly more interested in current trends than they are. That person must be doing it on purpose, to seem cool and superior, right? Which is possibly how you look to someone slightly less interested in current trends than you are– but you’re normal, and not trying too hard at all.
3. The limits of what people are prepared or unprepared to believe tend to say more about their own imagination and experience of the world than they do about reality.
… At times, one gets the sense that we feel a need to plug everyone into some kind of role or context, simply out of suspicion and fear– as if they’d have too much latitude to hoodwink us were we to actually believe what they told us about themselves and judge them as-is.
4. We are suspicious of enjoying anything anyone else has told us about.
….The problem people talk about now is not scarcity but glut: a glut of music available to consume, a glut of media to tell you about it, a glut of things that desperately want your attention. Somewhere along the way, the default mode has taken a hard shift in the direction of showing your discernment by not liking things..
It’s interesting, though, just how overclocked a bullshit detector can get– to the point where we’re verging on a kind of paranoia about things that are, in the end, mostly trying to offer us pleasure. There’s some kind of whiff of it in just knowing that some artist couldn’t possibly be what she seems, and must be part of an elaborate plot to trick people less savvy than you are. Or maybe that line of thinking just makes us feel more clever than saying something sucks. (More here)