Copyright: Public Domain / Used With Permission

Bruno Mars has been accused of cultural appropriation, one of those sins of the modern world. But it’s very difficult indeed to work out what he is in fact guilty of unless it’s simply noting what seems to work and then using it. Something which all humans seem guilty of:

Singer Bruno Mars has been accused of cultural appropriation for adopting African-American musical styles, but some black musicians are stepping up to his defense.

The brouhaha started over the weekend with the publication of a video rant in which a black writer and activist accused Mars of ripping off the cultural heritage of black musicians.

That there are some African influences in modern music isn’t going to be denied by anyone. But we do have two further things to point out.

The first is that this is how civilisation works. We note that Ugg has a new mammoth hunting method and we copy it. We note that the Celts have iron tips to their spears and we either appropriate them or die upon them. Some young men have a newish form of music which attracts the babes – the usual motivation for prancing upon stage after all – and that gets copied. And?

The other thing we might say is that perhaps such appropriation is bad. It’s bad when white guys wear sombreros and eat tacos (no, a real recent example) and it’s bad when white guys – or filipino-puerto rican jews – lift African musical themes.

OK, then it’s clearly just as bad that those African derived musicians use the English language, electronic instruments and machine woven clothes. If appropriation is bad then appropriation is bad, no?

We’d go with the idea that civilisation is noting then copying what works. But then we’ve no education in grievance studies.