It’s cultural appropriation when the Subject takes the Other’s customs as accessories; it’s cultural appropriation when the ideological Majority (re)interprets the Minority’s norms and tastes. Is it a gushing compliment when the latter inserts former’s cultural mise-en-scene?
I love these songs and the music videos. I know that cheerleaders, lacrosse players, and football players are not exclusively North American “properties.” Nonetheless, I wonder about the line that separates an effective incorporation of another’s look-and-feel from satire from shameless borrowing.*
It’s harder to avoid consciously emulating others’ visual representations of themselves because their lifestyles and fashion choices are but an app and internet connection away. The disconnect for me is that the clothes and sets signify North American culture but the people in it are not North American (geo-politically speaking). It seems real but it isn’t.
AOA‘s “Heart Attack”
EXO‘s “Love Me Right”
* The art direction of Shinee’s “1 of 1” mv is a fantastic nod to New Jack Swing and fashion trends of the 90s. Uncut version of Troublemaker’s “Tell Me Now” mv. Psy’s “Gangnam Style” does not satirize directly American culture but because much of American popular culture is tied to excess and luxury, I thought it a fitting example — and the blog post is excellently written.
PS. Many members of Kpop groups (and likely creative staff) were born in or group up in Canada and the US, so it makes sense why they would bring a Westerner’s visual style perspective. They still have to abide by the customs of their ethnic heritage (what is considered offensive and what isn’t), so depictions of violence, sexuality, and mind-altering landscapes would necessarily be affected.