With all the cross conversation, I initially took this to mean “Why are we ragging on Elvis, and ignoring Pat Boone?”
Yes… I can’t possible know shit. I only have a Phd in cold cultural history and all. I’m very sure the fine folks at wikipedia are just as well versed in that as I am.
Of course he was racist. He was a politically conservative White guy in 1950’s America.
Racist is the default.
A system where predominantly white music executives recruited majority white teen dudes to play their version of black musicians that they loved? Suuuuure, that was all wrapped up by 1969. /s
Ouch, that’s a bit patronizing, since this is an example of the problem, not a bonus. There was a whole class of Muddy Waters-levels artists who deserved more than a “good living” scrambling around clubs, or being opening acts for copy-cat white kids making a lot more than them, both in up-front money and career-over-time money.
I never said “Elvis = bad.” For many, Elvis’s success only reinforced the idea that only white guys could be true mainstream idols and he reinforced color lines more than he broke them. It was artists like Aretha Franklin, and then Michael Jackson who proved that black people could be mainstream idols on non-white terms. Don’t give their credit to Elvis.
The Elvis machine took more than they deserved while he was alive, and I will say that it is somehow comforting that a lot of the black artists who were smothered by it at the time will have longer and deeper influences overall.
Thank you for sharing. This is what I love best in Boing Boing comments: the occasional personal anecdote about family history, plain and simple, a slice of America’s biographical pie.
I think the primary problem here in this thread is that some people are still stuck on understanding the difference between racism (systemic inequalities based on skin color, cultural norms, etc.) and bigotry (personal hatred of another group due to factors like skin color, cultural norms, etc.).
I think you just summed up most discussions on… well, almost anything in America that involve race!
I never did. I am only making a very measured defense of Elvis as a man and as a cultural force, whereas I think you guys are pouring all the anger over segregation and injustice into an Elvis-shaped vessel.
I agree. And I’m not sure where (or if) you got the idea I felt otherwise. All I ever said was basically “Elvis helped get the ball rolling in his own way.”
It’s easy for us in 2019 to be cognizant of these issues, but it’s an impossible thought experiment to imagine that if we were white American adults in 1955, having grown up in that environment, that we would somehow still be as woke as we are now.
OK. I did not mean to be patronizing. Please trust that I am asking this respectfully: is there something in that wikipedia clip that is factually incorrect? Or is there a vitally important omission that proves the opposite?
“Let me tell you the definitive truth about Elvis Presley and racism… with Elvis, there was not a single drop of racism in that man. And when I say that, believe me I should know.” – B.B. King
(Trying to find a better source for this article, newspaper of origin does not appear to have it archived online.)
You realize he can be influential and the American music industry can be shot through with racism? It’s not either/or here.
given that most of those people are still alive, I don’t think that’s the case.
You know, I get talked down to all the time here. It’s dehumanizing. It makes me NOT want to be here (which I’m sure many around here would cheer and be glad to see). If you don’t mean to be patronizing, then please don’t be.
Can we always be sure of tone of voice in print? I know I misread things sometimes. I also know I infer intent that sometimes isn’t there.
Elvis certainly benefited from his skin color, as a white male I know I have benefited, so I imagine have you. Why is it so controversial to defend the person while still acknowledging the environment he lived in?
The Manics Street Preachers are far-left by European standards, so not really Republican supporter material.
From the same album. No it’s not. It was a bad time in my life and those few years are a blur.
In other words, YOU don’t believe I’ve been treated in a particular way, because “we” can’t be sure of tone of voice.
I KNOW when I’m being condescended to, okay, because that’s happened for the past 42 fucking years of MY LIFE. Don’t fucking tell me what I know and don’t fucking know.
How much proof would one have needed? #fallacies
Well, but how can we tell tone from these pictures? And also, that was in the past, we know better now, right? /s
How interesting that Nixon - Nixon! - apparently swallowed the Russian’s public / PR “tough guys” image, hook, line, and sinker.
Ruthlessness isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of desperation. And indeed it wasn’t so many years later that the “strong society” of the USSR broke apart.
Sometimes one can even misread themselves.
No, clearly I’ve just been misreading people all this time, and no one has ever been condescending to me here, ever. It’s all in my pretty little head.
It’s not impossible at all. For example, the heterosexual majority over age 40 can use our individual and societal attitudes toward LGTBQ rights in the period from approx. 1995-2015 as a similar measure of how “woke” we were and are as individuals.
And if Sheriff Clark and George Wallace didn’t decide to be tools of white supremacy, someone else would have filled that role, right? Don’t blame them, blame the society of the 1950s!
Besides, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be talking about racism now!
That’d be a fairly narrow measure. There are plenty of rich racists who are supportive of LGBTQ rights.
It’s notable that the area of civil rights that has seen the most striking progress over the last few decades (LGBTQ) is one of the few areas where reform does not immediately threaten existing wealth and power relationships.