2006 Asia Youth Culture Camp: Doing Cultural Spaces in Asia (Gwangju, October 27~28 2006)
Panel: Popular Culture and Music Industry in Asian Dynamics
Re-defining the Aesthetics of Hip Hop Music in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the first generation of hip hop music gained public attention with Softhard and LMF in the mid-1980s and early 1990s respectively. As a result of glocalization, particular histories and cultural specificities are constructed within the local hip hop music scene.
This paper is based on a case study from November 2005: Fama (a local hip hop group) performed its latest song “Dating Chet Lam,” featuring the singing and guitar phrases of Chet Lam, a local singer-songwriter. One rapper (C-Kwan) lip-synced with Lam’s distinctive phrases in the performance, while another (6Wing) rapped a commentary making fun of the song’s lyrics. The audience members screamed and applauded not for the content or the flow of rapping, but especially for the realness of which C-Kwan was able to imitate Lam’s singing.
While aesthetic standards within US hip hop culture involve rapping and DJing techniques, I argue that the aesthetics of local hip hop music have been augmented with different meanings towards appreciation. Hong Kong hip hop is not just about the flow and lyrical meaning of the rapping, or the sampling techniques and background arrangements of the DJs’ productions. In fact, admire for the ability to imitate takes priority over all the above aesthetic standards.
By re-defining the aesthetics of hip hop music in a local context, this presentation will focus on the attitudes of local audiences and artists towards hip hop music. Both social and historical factors will be analyzed to explain the reasons behind these locally-developed attitudes.
The Politics and Economics of Music: Case of Chinese Rock Music in Malaysia
Chan Lih Shing (& Wang Lay Kim)
In 1986, the Home Ministry banned all open-air rock concerts. The authorities labeled such concerts as deviant. They particularly singled out Malay rock concerts arguing that such concerts transgressed the National Culture Policy. The National Culture Policy is based on the Malay culture, and Islam. However, in 2000, a transnational company sponsored a rock concert featuring a number of local groups that are popular with the youth were allowed to go on stage in Kuala Lumpur. It is apparent that policies are implemented inconsistently. It is in this backdrop this paper examines a local independent label rock group called Hung Huo. The group adopts a DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit to produce and distribute their own albums. This is a deliberate act on the part of the group to resist control by and dependence on big companies in the music industry. This paper will look at the political and economic factors that impinge on the development Huang Huo as well as their freedom to explore different musical styles.
Panel: Art, Creative Industries and Cultural Policies
Consumption as Emancipation, But What Comes After We Are Emancipated?: Theories on Culture in Postwar-Japan
Motoaki Takahara (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Culture became an important issue both in production and consumption after creative economy arises. At this stage culture has particular ambiguity; on the one hand it is seen as the source of creativity and profit. On the other hand it is indicated as a causes of the trouble especially among youth.
Japan is not an exception in this ambiguity. Japanese government is trying to activate youth’s creativity and utilize it in “content business” —mainly game and anime industries— as the next leading commodities of the state.
In the meantime the most popular theory of the reason why “freeter” (the shortened form of “free albeiter”, which has similar nuance as McJob workers in English) increased is also culture. According to this theory, they escape from the world of labor, being too much absorbed into cultural or hobby activity, so they are responsible even if they are low-paid.
Hence the concept of culture is in a contradictory position in current Japan. In this presentation I try to look back the position of culture in social and political theories in postwar-Japan.
The first example is Japanese mass-society theory, which emerged just after the defeat of World War II, when nobody believed Japan would become the second richest country. At this time consumption, or being able to buy things except food expenses, is interpreted simply as democratization, or even emancipation, from the defeat, poverty, the past oppressive military state, and also the traditional feudalistic social hierarchy.
This original view has been casting a shadow on the continued debate on culture, especially on the left side. Japanese version of old left, postmodernism, and cultural studies share the common optimistic perception on culture, which clearly differs the English version of these concepts.
One important result of it is, after Japan has got into creative economy era, it became so difficult to articulate culture and the global transformation of labor market. At what point can we celebrate culture, if it could not create employment, after all? On the contrary, industrial sector has not understood the utility of creativity in Japan, and post-industrial sector —typically freelance and fluid employment— is increasing only as subcontractors of existing huge conglomerates and another freeter farm. Here I try to portrait the Japanese context of “informational society” (M. Castells), from middle-ranged historical analysis on theories of culture.
From Innocence to Self-consciousness : The Flight of Thai Creative Class
Creative class as a key concept invented by Richard Florida, a professor of Regional Development, Carnegie Mellon University, USA, in his bestseller book, “The Rise of The Creative Class” (2002). Within this concept, Florida believed an appropriation of creative labour by creative ethos could result in products as much as in social. It argued that work-related activities provided a better way to achieve well-being and human development.
This key concept referred to creative workers in United State of America in 1990’s, who worked in what was meant by creative industries, advertisement, architecture, Arts, crafts, design, fashion design, film, entertainment software, television & radio, performance, printing, software design, etc. And as far as it can expected, this concept also referred to new cultural economy produced by Tony Blair’s Creative Industries Task Force (CITF) in 1998. No doubt that there were national-cultural and socio-political explanations for the differences between how creative workers were perceived and constituted in the UK, North America and the least of the World. To my knowledge, many countries in Asia have the media and cultural policy like Blair’s Creative Industries Task Force, such as Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, and Thailand. But there is not yet to be a study that inquires into the different national and regional formations of creative class.
In this paper, I will investigate the nature of the Thai creative classes through their self-directed productions and consumption of products. In doing so, I would like to talk about “Dek Toe” or “Innocence” in English, the documentary film which directed and self-funded by Areeya Sirisopa, former Miss Thailand and Nisa Kongsri, an advertising creative professional. The film was shot at Baan Mae Toe School, a hill tribe village, Chiang Mai, North of Thailand and about a journey of senior pupils, Mor 3., from the hill to the sea at the first of their lives. The first shown of Dek Toe was at Pusan Film festival 2005 and at Lido art house in Bangkok two months later. After the show at Lido, its has Dek Toe’s phenomenon in Thailand. For instances, the directors received a ton of good review for audience and Baan Mae Toe School got donation of money more enough for pupil’s free lunch again. Ironically, however, the phenomenon was so complicated, between film market and non-market value, human development and representation of the hill tribe, ethos of directors and creative capital. So how, we might ask, can Thai creative class be political creativity enough for socioeconomic development?