Talon Marks

Bruno Mars is Innocent

John Chavez

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Bruno Mars, the famous and acclaimed American pop music icon, has recently been accused of cultural appropriation by the online community. The debate started when an online activist accused Mars of using music that has been associated with African-American culture.

This, of course, is absurd. Mars is simply expressing himself in his own way.

This kind of reaction shows that many of the online and social community lack a decent understanding of what cultural appropriation actually is.

Over the last week, Twitter has lit up with battles both accusing and defending Mars of appropriating black culture.

While these discussions show that we are starting to think in the right direction, it is being misdirected at Mars.

Cultural appropriation carries with it a negative view of the culture that it is taking from.

When someone commits cultural appropriation, they give a derogatory and disrespectful take on what they are representing.

In other words, what appropriation boils down to is the mishandling or parody of the basic ideas of someone else’s culture.

It shows a lack of understanding or an unwillingness to understand another culture.

Now, try to apply the definition of cultural appropriation to Mars and his music. Take a look at Mars’ hit “Uptown Funk” as an example.

Embed from Getty Images

The funk music genre has historically black roots, and has been around since the1960’s.

Now, in the song, Mars clearly is emulating this type of music. But, he is not disrespecting or making fun of this culture in anyway, shape, or form.

In fact, the style of the music is deliberately using callbacks to older music to show recognition or honoring.

In order for the accusations of cultural apportion to be validated, there would have to be a parody of the culture present.

Since Mars’ style lacks any of this, the accusations are unfounded and unwarranted.

Though it is true that Mars himself does not come from a background that his music reflects, seeing as his father is Jewish and Puerto Rican and his mother was Filipino.

However, how he portrays the music he creates is what really matters, and it is wrong to accuse him of such.

People’s hearts are in the right place when looking out for appropriation. However, they also need to be careful before they make any accusations, and need to stop and think before they rush in.

Cultural appropriation is certainly something to be wary of.

However, it has been wrongly thrown around in recent memory whenever someone tries to portray another culture.

People on Earth have many different cultures, all with great ideas. As long as the proper respect and care is shown, cultural appropriation will not be a problem.

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John Chavez, Staff Writer
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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.
Bruno Mars is Innocent