Thursday, February 8, 2007

Giving unwanted publicity to the spoiled rich kids...

Interesting story from Eric Grandy of The Stranger this week. Apparently Phantom Planet frontman Alex Greenwald has a new band called Blackblack, of which his girlfriend Diva Haskins and her sister Lola (daughters of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins) are also members.

According to the article, the band supported Deerhoof's show at Seattle's Neumo's on Feb. 1, donned in black face paint and dodging all sorts of audience accusations of blackface (see left). The band claimed that they were just trying to appear spooky, that there were no intended racial connotations, yet appeared at their Portland show the next evening dressed in white, presumably a result of those accusations. The Stranger quotes Ben Parrish of Kill Rock Stars as calling the issue not "a PC issue, but an asshole issue" - that the band simply hadn't been thinking about possible interpretations and were honestly pleading ignorance. A look at Blackblack's MySpace page suggests that this is in fact the case - the group appears in photos wearing everything from blood to half-assed skull paint, though Parrish suggests that the ambiguity of their appearance allowed the group to raise controversy that would compensate for their "boring music." (And yes, Blackblack's music is quite on the bland side...)

Is it overly cautious to associate black paint with blackface in this context? Race is such a touchy subject these days, especially when it's difficult to draw a line between overt political correctness and simply-conducted respect, but it's also noteworthy that darkness has a "spooky" or negative association because of its racial origin, and I'm not sure whether our generation's past that association or not. The band had claimed, at their Seattle show, that they were painted black to appear as shadows, so their ignorance may very well have been genuine, given that black will always be a color whether relative to skin or not.

However, Charlie Salas-Humaras of opener Leti Angel called Blackblack a bunch of "rich L.A. kids looking for free publicity" - what better way to get that publicity than to ignite tension and claim innocent ignorance? But if articles on the subject give bands like this undeserved press, is it a better option to give them no publicity whatsoever while letting their actions go unpunished? Blackblack has a message board and not a single person used it to bring up this incident. I'm undecided on this one.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

China! Our stream is back up!
http://kupstream.ups.edu/listen.pls
Benny and I are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-5, whatever that means.