Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Time to end dancehall protectonism

Published:Tuesday | May 30, 2017 | 12:54 AM

I found it Interesting that Jamaicans are concluding that a Japanese didn't get the language right as the reason for her not winning the Magnum Kings and Queens competition 2017. It is the same narrative spewed by a Hollywood director recently regarding Jamaican films not being able to make it into the mainstream film markets.

This kind of protectionist, nationalist philosophy is baseless. Art is about evoking feelings from an audience, and this can be done in various ways, not just with the use of language. In no way was Rankin Pumpkin in keeping with dancehall's standards, but her reason was not a lack of command of the Jamaican language. From what I saw, she had some presence, a little mystique, and obviously, some voting public support, but she lacked the flow that makes dancehall what it is.

A dancehall clash is an intimidating, gladiatorial sport. Rankin's opponent, Suspense, proved that she was better prepared, including costume and props, to support her lyrical imagery.

The alleged threats and racist intimidation Rankin Pumpkin received have been part of dancehall's culture for many years, and they have no place in a growing genre. That kind of primitive reaction against things some Jamaicans do not like is akin to toxic partisan politics.

I maintain that Jamaicans cannot afford to be racist or even protectionist because there is nothing to protect. When Japanese or Canadians use Jamaica's culture to plan concerts or to make cross-over hit songs, it is not appropriation, rather it is colonisation in reverse, according to Miss Lou. We should be focused on sending the culture out to the world to colonise the world in subtle ways, using dance, music, drama, films, and other visual expressions so that Jamaicans may be respected for everything that we are.