You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they going to come from?”- Roger Meyers Jr.
I am writing to you in light of your recent Venus X article published online. I must say it was one of the most oxymoronic interviews I’ve encountered when discussing cultural appropriation. The latter has been the hot topic of post-modernist conversations for a while, I’m sure you’re aware. Which is why the lack of an in depth breakdown to Venus X’s claims is a bit disappointing. So I took it upon myself to provide your journalistic team with a follow up.
First, to expect continuity and consistency from a creative is nearly impossible and arguably hurtful to their artistic growth. That being said, Venus X’s arguments throughout the article are dispersed and contradictory. It is a little far fetch to claim that GHE20 GOTH1K is political in nature, and that “the politics are radical. They’re anti-capitalist…”
The definition of capitalism according to Webster dictionary is: an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations.
Venus X’s agenda is to own her own company and brand. Otherwise what use would there be in demanding recognition from Rihanna? I believe Venus has a clothing line or merchandise that she is herself both developing and selling, no? I believe her partner is also an entrepreneur and is doing quite well with his endeavors for Hood by Air, no?
Perhaps I misunderstood.
And if so, I invite your readers and Venus X to visit Cuba and experience the anti-capitalistic sentiment first hand. I have. Will you share everything with me Venus X? I like London, Prague, and Paris too.
I would not have questioned her credibility had she said “Rihanna where is my check?” rather than try to pull the wool over our eyes and sell the integrity of the brand with passionate keywords or by claiming misrepresentation. Venus X admits that had she received the recognition from Rihanna for being the creator of ghetto goth, it would not have bothered her so much. So misrepresentation is not the real issue for our trendsetter…
I would also advise against believing the “there’s no place for the influencers to be involved.” Yet our innovator is on a worldwide tour with M.I.A. Perhaps on a private plane? (minus the champagne) And has been featured in major media outlets. Have you read the Daily Beast article of April 2013 entirely dedicated to GHET20 GOTH1K? The Daily Beast is a NATIONAL outlet, with a little over one million unique visitors per month… Need I mention Hood by Air receiving mainstream recognition? Most brands have to pay Rihanna for an endorsement yet Venus X got it for free and received the platform as a brand ambassador! Instead of indulging in it, Venus follows Rihanna’s example by being a vampire to her “own” trend and appropriating a subculture “devoted to the people.”
Perhaps the issue becomes “appropriation” since subcultures are being used by mainstream artists and consumed by society. But how exactly are you deserving of full recognition for a mashup? Ghetto x Goth has a long list of predecessors before Venus X or Rihanna - Missy and Aaliyah, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Girl Talk, the Europe misfits for starting the Gothic trend, Charles Burroughs for inspiring Kurt Cobain, etc. And what about GHET20 GOTH1K being “pro-freedom?” So you see, darling, there is nothing more oxymoronic than to be pro-freedom and to reference inspiration but to try and appropriate a cultural phenomenon.
Do you remember Napster? I loved Napster – it was the best thing to have happened to my musical palette… but it killed the radio star. “In 1998, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing was roughly $15 billion. By 2009 it had plunged to $6.3 billion and is expected to drop to $5.5 billion by next year […] the labels reacted out of fear and insecurity: The RIAA began filing thousands of civil lawsuits against P2P file-sharers. Says [Micheal] Lustig: ‘Napster comes along, and how do they defend themselves? They sued their customers, alienating the very people who could save them!’”http://www.vulture.com/2013/11/music-industry-1998-beginning-of-the-end.html
Serious question Venus X, have you ever downloaded free music? Of course you have! You’re a 90s baby AND a DJ.
Jonathan Lethem in his piece Ecstasy of Influence states: “The idea that culture can be property-intellectual property-is used to justify everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to the infringement suit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell against the publishers of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone. Corporations like Celera Genomics have filed for patents for human genes, while the Recording Industry Association of America has sued music downloaders for copyright infringement, reaching out-of-court settlements for thousands of dollars with defendants as young as twelve.” It’s a brilliant article for those interested in copyright infringement and intellectual property.
I also encourage you to look into Creative Commons. Oh! And watch RIP! A REMIX MANIFESTO. It’s incredible.
“Everything is a rip off, nature rips off of nature. It’s amazing what we would be able to create if we didn’t NEED to get credit for it. Imagine that?”- A very good friend of mine.
That is PRO-FREEDOM.
Alas, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and it stinks… but I do hope that my opinion has enlightened and inspired you to understand that imitation is in fact flattery.
Response to the Fader article http://www.thefader.com/2013/11/15/interview-venus-x-rihanna-ghetto-goth-ghe20-gothi1/