Arcade Fire Exploited Haiti, and Almost No One Noticed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Months before Arcade Fire’s new album came out, I learned of its existence when social media pointed me to a website with some chalked, black and white patterns spelling out “Reflektor.” The designs seemed strange and foreign, and I was intrigued about what the music might sound like—not because I knew what the accompanying imagery meant, but precisely because I didn’t.

 

This, of course, was the intended effect. It turns out those designs were inspired by Haitian veve graffiti, used in syncretistic Vodoun practices to summon the Loa (angels or spirits, messengers to the deity). But presented out of context, to the typically unknowing fan like me, they connoted something else: mystery, exoticness, esotericism.

 

Reflektor itself—now released and at the top of the charts—and the rest of its marketing campaign went all-in on the Haitian tropes. During some promotional concerts the band donned Kanaval masks, coopting a symbol that holds multifaceted, complex meaning for Haitians during Carnival but that was reduced to flat shorthand for “party!” during a raucous SNL appearance. The music evokes similar stereotypes. In the song “Flashbulb Eyes,” glimmering marimbas will, for many listeners, conjure a specific idealization of the Caribbean (where Haiti is located), while singer Win Butler wails about cameras stealing souls. The band’s music used to feel interesting by virtue of its heart-on-sleeve confrontation with mortality; now, it borrows its edginess by leaning on preconceptions about a foreign region.

 

So with Reflektor, Arcade Fire has employed an old trick. Use seemingly “exotic” cultural elements, regardless of their original context, to grab attention; profit. It’s a model Urban Outfitters, for example, has gotten in trouble for. Many iconic white musicians, from the Beatles to Madonna, from Elvis to Eminem, have done the same, to varying levels of controversy: Most everyone agrees cultural mixing can lead to innovative art, but there are sensitive and insensitive ways to do it, ways that perpetuate inequality and ways that work against it.

 

At Chart Attack, native Bahamian writer Jordan Darville makes a convincing case that Reflektor’s marketing fell on the side of “insensitive”:

 

    Discussing the album with Zane Lowe, Win Butler described the new sound as “a mashup of Studio 54 and Haitian voodoo music.” It was the beginning of Arcade Fire’s campaign focus: using appropriated visuals to contrast their maroon beginnings as loudly as possible. This method of marketing does nothing to combat – and in all likelihood reinforces – this overarching perspective of Caribbean islands being resources for awakening of white souls.

 

 Read more:

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/arcade-fire-exploited-haiti-and-almost-no-one-noticed/281377/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAVE THE DATE: 12/12/13

 

 

Jaffa Films in association with Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees will host “Bon Bagay: Haitian Art Auction & Charity Event” to help empower the lives of women and young girls of gender based violence in Haiti & the Dominican Republic, an evening of art, music, food, guest speakers and film to support aid organizations in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the fight of civil rights and citizenship for hundreds of thousands Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants

 

 

 

Take home a masterpiece for the holidays and make a difference in the life of a Haitian – 100% of all art sales go to charity. 

 

 

 

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WEST INDIAN DAY PARADE NYC

This past Labor Day, Monday, Jaffa Films Creative Director and roving photographer, Andrea Cauthen, captured these sights during the forty-sixth annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. The city’s largest parade drew thousands of revelers, many wearing colorful costumes, and waving flags to celebrate their Caribbean heritage.

Haiti was representing!!

Charity to Sponsor Haitian Runners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Haiti humanitarian group for Hollywood actor Sean Penn announced Friday that it will sponsor five Haitian runners so they can compete in the New York City Marathon in November.

 

Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization will accept the top three men and two women finishers in a rare half-marathon that will wind through the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Sunday.

 

Ron Baldwin, executive director of J/P HRO, said the decision to sponsor Haitian runners in the world’s largest marathon was inspired in part by an Associated Press story. The January report featured a Haitian distance runner named Astrel Clovis who faces numerous obstacles as he runs through the hilly streets of Port-au-Prince three years after the Jan. 12 earthquake devastated the capital.

 

“It’s an inspiring story,” Baldwin said of Clovis. “After the earthquake, he’s running. He’s self-training, and has no support. We decided let’s give that guy a chance. And it grew from there to build a whole team.”

 

Clovis has a good shot at making the cut for New York. He is a favorite among the more than 50 registered runners participating in Sunday’s government-organized race. He finished second in a marathon in neighboring Dominican Republic in December with a time of 2 hours and 42 minutes.

 

“This is my dream — to participate in a marathon, out in the world,” Clovis said by phone. “I’m very excited to represent Haiti in the New York marathon, if I qualify.”

 

Read more

 

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sean-penn-charity-sponsor-haitian-runners-19296640#.UaqE_YIQSnY

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Haitian bands say Michel Martelly is censoring carnival songs

As ‘Sweet Micky,’ Haiti’s charismatic president built a reputation as the king of carnival by denouncing governments, mooning politicians and being outrageously anti-establish-ment.

 

Now, as president of Haiti, some say Michel Martelly is banning other artists from taking part in this year’s carnival celebration for doing the same thing he did as a singer: criticizing the government.

 

Lead singers behind some of this season’s most controversial carnival tunes — most of them critical of the Martelly government — say they were disinvited from being among the 15 bands to be featured on floats for this year’s carnival.

“As young artists, we learned how to do this from him, watching him denounce government after government,” said Don Kato of the group Brothers Posse, whose alleged ban has lit up social media and become a lead story for Haitian journalists. “It makes no sense that as an artist I can’t sing about the environment I am living in, and you want to sanction me because I’m not singing in favor of you.”

Political pulse

In a country where past carnival songs have predicted the fate of governments, carnival lyrics are viewed as the social and political pulse of the country. In the past 20 years, some have even predicted the fates of governments, which Martelly acknowledged in a radio interview Friday, saying songs have the power to “overthrow a government.” Already, political journalists and opposition lawmakers are employing the song lyrics in their own analysis of Haiti’s current rough political waters.

In the interview on Port-au-Prince’s Scoop FM radio, Martelly said it’s not automatic that an artist would be chosen to perform during carnival. He added that Kato’s song “doesn’t bother me.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/08/3224517/haitian-bands-say-martelly-censuring.html#storylink=cpy

Haiti’s carnival festivities start

 

 

 

 

Jacmel, Haiti – Haiti’s annual Carnival festivities have erupted in the streets of the coastal town of Jacmel.

 

 

Thousands of revelers danced and hopped in Jacmel’s streets Sunday afternoon as a parade of people wearing papier-mache masks and costumes to celebrate the pre-Lenten holiday passed through the streets.

The country’s Carnival celebration begins each year in this town on the southern coast revered for its artisans and artists.

The event is typically followed a week later by a big street party in Haiti’s capital. But the administration of President Michel Martelly has held carnival outside Port-au-Prince in an effort to spread resources and bring tourists to the countryside.

Carnival will take place next weekend in Haiti’s second largest city, in the north, Cap-Haitien.

 

Jean-Léon Destiné, Dancer, Dies at 94

 Jean-Léon Destiné, a Haitian dancer and choreographer who brought his country’s traditional music and dance to concert stages around the world, died on Jan. 22 at his home in Manhattan. He was 94. His family confirmed the death.

Considered the father of Haitian professional dance, Mr. Destiné first came to international attention in the 1940s and remained prominent for decades afterward.

As a dancer, he performed well into old age. In 2003, reviewing a program at Symphony Space in New York in which he appeared, Anna Kisselgoff wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Destiné’s number stopped the show. She added, “He looked agile and nuanced, mesmerizing in a bent-legged solo.”

 

 

 

 

As a choreographer, he directed own ensemble, which came to be known as the Destiné Afro-Haitian Dance Company.

The company, which presented work from throughout the Caribbean, was devoted in particular to dances from Haiti. Accompanied by vibrant drumming — Mr. Destiné collaborated for many years with the distinguished Haitian drummer Alphonse Cimber — these dances were often infused with elements of voodoo tradition.

As reviewers noted, Mr. Destiné and company could dance, to all appearances, as if possessed.

Much of Mr. Destiné’s work also functioned as commentary on Haiti’s legacy of colonialism and slavery. In “Slave Dance,” a solo piece he choreographed and performed, the dancer begins in bondage only to emerge, in astonished joy, a free man.

Read more here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/arts/dance/jean-leon-destine-haitian-dancer-and-choreographer-dies-at-94.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&