Mastodon’s “The Motherload” and the backlash

Mastodon’s video for “The Motherlode“, which sees the band accompanied by twerking dancers has gathered an awful lot of negative criticism. Dom Lawson didn’t pull any punches writing in The Guardian, calling it misogynistic.

It’s probably ironic or something. Well, no. It’s still sexist. I don’t care how much irony you throw at this. It was sexist when it happened in past videos and it’s still sexist now. The fact that Mastodon are an ostensibly bright bunch and very much not from the heavy metal old school – where, back in the hallowed day, sexism was widely tolerated – is not a sufficient get-out clause by any stretch. Neither is this video excused from being tarred with the sexist brush because a proportion of women immersed in alternative culture have decided that it’s OK.

On the other hand, there is a very different perspectice from one of the dancers in the video, who defends it from the full bingo card’s worth of social justice accusations, uncuding the charge of “cultural appropriation”.

Another is the concern for cultural appropriation. From us and from them. The fear of metal being “tainted”, the fear of the band using a dance form associated with black culture for their own gain. These fears boil down into my one response: we all belong.

Much as I respect Dom Lawson, maybe it isn’t always for white males to decide what’s sexist and racist?

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6 Responses to Mastodon’s “The Motherload” and the backlash

  1. Simon Brunning says:

    Sorry, Tim – I disagree.

    Of course we need to listen to women. We need to listen a lot more. But the fact that one or two people don’t see a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one, whether they be men or women. It isn’t only men who contribute to the patriarchal society that we live in.

    And we really need to call out and challenge misogyny wherever and wherever we see it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. It’s not that we need to defend women – they are perfectly capable of defending themselves. But doing what we think is right is perfectly OK.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I may not have expressed myself clearly. The point I was trying to make was that we should listen to more that one point of view rather than making instant judgements. I do think the blog post from Jade, the dancer in the video, represents a valid voice that deserves to be heard. Dom Lawson’s opposing opinion is equally valid.

    I do think the video is tacky, tasteless and offensive, and doesn’t do a lot for Mastodon’s reputation. But it’s not as if anyone is being forced to watch it.

  3. I always laugh when white men happily, in the names of feminism and anti-racism, dismiss the opinions of black women.

    Moderator’s note – Corrected Will’s original post and deleted the follow-ups)

  4. Tim Hall says:

    I agree we have a duty to oppose sexism and racism when it comes to behaviour towards real people, whether it’s in the workplace or online harrassment.

    But when it comes to art and entertainment, I’m very wary of anything that amounts to a call for censorship. Criticism is fine, and Dom Lawson is doing his job as a rock critic here. But too much of the culture wars I’ve seen play out in the science fiction and tabletop RPG worlds go beyond that. It’s reached the point where “social justice” has become associated with censorship and witch-hunts.

    Good art should provoke and challenge, and needs to be free to be controversal. A culture of knee-jerk outrage creates a climate of fear, and you end up with situations like that Banksy mural getting destroyed because some ignoramus thought it was racist.

  5. Full agreement, and I’m afraid to google about the Banksy mural because humans are rarely worse than when they think they’re being righteous.

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