Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Branded

Justin Timberlake is rebranding as a white man, according to somebody in something called The Outline:
A powerline stretches across a backdrop of golden fields. A stem of grain cuts through the sun shining in an empty forest. Justin Timberlake is cold and alone in the woods, staring at something we can’t see. Now he is kneeling in a snowy field, lost in thought and then a second later arms stretched up toward the heavens. Now he is walking fully-clothed through a quiet stream. He is gazing out at some snowy mountains. Next he is on a cliff gazing out over an autumnal wilderness scene. Something is weighing on Justin Timberlake’s mind, but what could it be?

We don’t know yet, but what we do know is Justin Timberlake is now very deep. The trailer for Timberlake’s new album Man of the Woods presents the former NSYNC heartthrob looking pensive in various natural settings, hitting every note of the “white man finding himself in the empty West” trope that has long been part of America’s romantic fictional past (and Levi’s commercials). In case the shots of Timberlake running through empty fields that cut to a shot of a band of horses running through snowy mountains aren’t enough, his wife Jessica Biel and his producer Pharrell are there to hammer the point home in a voiceover. “It feels like mountains, trees, campfires, like Wild West, but now,” says Biel. “It just feels so earthy,” says Pharrell shortly before a black and white shot of him in a studio pronouncing something, presumably a song from the album, as “a smash.
Here's the video

 

Well it's certainly chock full of implicit white concepts, which the Outline lists in order of offense. Objectively, the imagery of the stage show and the outdoors co-exist clumsily. Nothing evokes a wheat field less than a lit stage, and vice versa.

Timberlake is from Tennessee, and has always been appropriating an urban aesthetic. White stars have resorted to country and whiter genres later in their career in the past, after having appropriated an urban aesthetic in a fashion to which conventional culture is increasingly hostile. Timberlake might be one of the last of a type: the white performer of black popular music. Timberlake's career pivot can also be seen as bailing out of an increasingly untenable persona, politically and socially.

Appropriation will eventually be stamped out. But branding as a white person isn't really allowed either. As the Outline article ends, Timberlake will "...only have to live with himself for pandering to a whiter America."
Pandering to a more chromatic America will be greatly restricted for whites--who will, in all likelihood, become less interesting to diverse American audiences, though I expect white characters will retain a certain interest despite it all because, when it's all said and done, whites are frankly more interesting than the vibrant.

I think of us as being in the appropriation phase of civil rights, where the seizure of material and cultural wealth is systematized (and blurred--barring white men from Star Wars or whatever is both). There are aspects to it. There's the campaign for "inclusion" such as forcing diversity on such as Star Wars. There's also a regulatory function developing. From Slate via Steve Sailer:
How “sensitivity readers” are changing the publishing ecosystem—and raising new questions about what makes a great book.
By Katy Waldman
… When she began to craft her second novel, The Upside of Unrequited, about twin sisters navigating the shoals of high school romance, she was determined not to make the same mistake. And so before her manuscript went to print, she reached out to a group of “sensitivity readers.” These advising angels—part fact-checkers, part cultural ambassadors—are new additions to the book publishing ecosystem. Either hired by individual authors or by publishing houses, sensitivity readers are members of a minority group tasked specifically with examining manuscripts for hurtful, inaccurate, or inappropriate depictions of that group.
The monetization of such regulatory functions is a promising growth industry within the civil rights racket. As Sailer says of his "voluntary auxiliary thought police"--who've been at it a while--they increasingly want to "go pro". The lack of real and meaningful work out there and the likely chaotic nature of the average volunteer thought cop must only magnify their desire.
Interesting times ahead.

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