Sunday, 2 December 2012



By Alexandre Figueiredo - Originally published at the Mingau de Aço's blog - Translated by the author.

How to make the "mass culture" turning to be an alleged social activism? May we make the social movement as merchandise? What the point can make the boundaries between the commercial and artistic concepts? Why the alleged "popular" rhythms cannot trouble the great media companies?

There are questions, so much questions. Questions that show how cultural industry from nowadays bring unusual situations which there's no sense to the old approaches and to the old conflict between the old rich people protectionism and the popular spontaneity.

Reading the Le Monde Diplomatique brazilian publishing, in its november 2012 edition, a reportage originally published on the matrix edition from France, with the english translation at its english editions, called "Angola's defiant kuduro" and had the brazilian title "No ritmo do kuduro", shows this brand new situation about "mass culture".

The reportage also follows the biased way from the commercial pop rhythms widespreads. The journalist Alain Vicky, in this text written by him, he tries to vinculate the kuduro, a dancing pop rhythm made in Angola, to the popular rebellion happened in that country. Alan starts his text describing the african poet Arlindo Babeitos, who was student of the Communication Theory specialist, german philosopher Theodor Adorno, a member from the Frankfurt School, the intelectual german scene which, during the nazism rising, had popularized at the United State exile, in the college ambients.

The reportage made a brief historic from the MPLA (in english - People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party), that started as an activist guerilla movement and afterwards became a political party that won the Angola's presidential elections.

There's the point how kuduro is inserted in that context. The rhythm rised up in that time, the year of 2002, apparently from a mix with african traditional rhythms and hip hop and technopop, and the reportage assigned the kuduro as an "expression from Angola's yongster frustrations".

In practice, however, the kuduro is just a dancing pop rhythm, the one so next to the commercial interests typical in its tendences than any intention to create an alleged new folklore. Kuduro is very known by its commercial potential, but the social activism became a pretext to reinforce its marketing.

The same "activism" speech, at the time that, from the youngsters who consume the "mass culture" all over the world, "social activists" are Madonna and Lady Gaga, was done with the US miami bass, and, in Brazil, with Bahia's axé-music, Rio de Janeiro's "funk carioca" and Pará's tecnobrega.

You can though, for example, if a New York Post reporter writes in the 70s a reportage about the disco music starting with a testimony of the beatnik writer William Burroughs, describing the Counterculture american movement and also the Freedom Riders (a riding movement for the end of the bus stations segregation at the United States) and attributes the Disco Era to the context of the fall of US president Richard Nixon.

The kuduro is very comercial on this way that it made the Europa dance music market goes forward to this cause. In Brazil, entertainers associated as the most grotesque tacky music, as Rio de Janeiro's Latino singer and Bahia's Psirico group, also decided to play kuduro songs.

Musically, kuduro is not more than a mere mixture of european house music with caribbean beats and some african beat. It's just a junction of commercial dancing rhythms done in Angola, what's not any pretext to legitimize the "activist" speech. Also because kuduro is not a thing that Ricky Martin and Shakira are unable to do.

But it's necessary to sell these dancing waves as being "activism", because it makes them to get longer in popularity and to receive, from the government budgets, permanent investments. Even in Angola exists an "collective" organization, the Coletivo Batida, a DJ group vinculated to a local FM radio station.

The "activist" speech also supports from the "new media" tendences, as being to wish to disconnect themselves to the broadcasting media power, as the "brega" brazilian music tendences tried so, and still are trying. Even a citation of a Theodor Adorno's former student, getting sure that Adorno was done a severe media criticism, is supported by this idea.

So he watch the rearticulation of the old media structures and the economic power really works new strategies to the maintenance of the old social structures. The political-mediatic status quo wants that the true activist actions limit to happen in the rich countries, when the emergent and poor countries have to limit the "social activist" as a "entertainment" as and end in itself.

This speech uses the allegation of economic prosperity as a conquest made by popular rebellions. They must to confuse one thing and other, with a sophisticated retoric. Maybe the Bahia's É O Tchan group could have been better successful if they rised under this retoric, a worldwide tendence sponsored by George Soros and his Soros Open Society company, in circa ten years ago.

However, using the "mass culture" from the emergent and poor countries as being a "social activism" is a very biased thesis, which tries to create in those countries a social prosperity what is a very far finality. Moreover, the involved rhythms are merely commercial, and its success is made more from the financial profit, but Economy does not justify the Culture process.

The Alain Vicky's reportage is just a biased make up of a widespread, a way to create the narrative text to join a merely dancing rhythm with a social-politic reality from a country. This process we saw, with so less subtlety, in Rio de Janeiro's "funk carioca", and whose sense of social activism actually is purely false.

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