New rat­ing sys­tem needed for live per­for­mances – Ibo

En­ter­tain­ers en­cour­aged to be more aware of their au­di­ence

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Kim­ber­ley Small Gleaner Writer en­ter­tain­ment@glean­

AMID THE hub­bub of en­ter­tainer Spice’s em­bar­rass­ing per­for­mance re­cently at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre, at a gala cel­e­bra­tion for Ja­maican ath­letes who par­tic­i­pated in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Ibo Cooper has weighed in on the self-pro­claimed Queen of the Stage’s gaffe.

Cooper sug­gests, fol­low­ing this de­ba­cle, that a dis­cus­sion be had around the preser­va­tion of moral­ity through de­vel­op­ing a rat­ing sys­tem for live per­for­mances. He told The Sun­day Gleaner, that in this case, the per­for­mance of dance­hall is such that it may be more ap­pro­pri­ate for an 18-and-over crowd.

“One must re­mem­ber that this was a fam­ily oc­ca­sion,” he said. “This is not about slam­ming dance­hall, but we must know where and when to draw the line.” Cooper elab­o­rated by retelling his ex­pe­ri­ence of dance­hall as be­ing de­cid­edly crude, up­ended by a demon­stra­tion of its con­ver­sion into di­gestible en­ter­tain­ment, for a crowd that de­manded con­ser­vatism.

“It was Fe­bru­ary 11, 1990, the day Man­dela was freed.”

He re­called Mutabaruka be­ing the dee­jay on the day who de­clared over his mi­cro­phone, that where they stood in HalfWayTree should be called ‘Man­dela Park’ “Yel­low Man was the King of Dance­hall at the time and Yel­low was not known for con­scious mu­sic,” Cooper said. Cooper’s anec­dote pre­sented the slack-jawed dance­hall dee­jay as mov­ing to­wards the stage, amid miffs and wary faces.

“We love Man­dela, right?”, Cooper re­called Yel­low Man ask­ing the ap­pre­hen­sive crowd af­ter tak­ing the mi­cro­phone. Yel­low Man then launched into a per­for­mance of a mod­i­fied song, writ­ten and per­formed be­fore in cel­e­bra­tion of the re­lease of Dr Son­jah Stan­ley Ni­aah Gre­gory Isaacs from prison. The open­ing lyrics and hook of the song, ‘Gre­gory free! Gre­gory free!’ changed to ‘Man­dela free! Man­dela free!’, much to the crowd’s de­light. “I am hint­ing that I am sure that Spice’s ma­te­rial could have been mod­i­fied to suit the ath­let­ics theme,” Cooper told The Sun­day Gleaner. “In her favour, she was ap­pro­pri­ately dressed, and she did look like a star,” he said, “and it is un­for­tu­nate that she didn’t mod­ify her ma­te­rial for the oc­ca­sion.” In a TVJ in­ter­view, Spice said, “I al­ways hear peo­ple say­ing they don’t ac­cept dance­hall, but I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced it, and it’s my first time ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such hu­mil­i­a­tion.” And ac­cord­ing to Spice, the pro­ducer of the gala, Len­ford Sal­mon, said that he was un­com­fort­able with her per­for­mance. “I def­i­nitely feel that they have an is­sue with dance­hall cul­ture, and it’s sad enough to say I was ac­tu­ally hired for the event,” Spice added.

For Cooper, he says, “I don’t have a prob­lem with Spice — 18and-over. Movies have rat­ings, maybe shows should have rat­ings,” he sur­mised.

Cooper’s ref­er­ence to Yel­low Man’s demon­stra­tion al­most two decades ago serves as an ex­am­ple which sup­ports the no­tion shared by fel­low ed­u­ca­tor Dr Son­jah Stan­ley Ni­aah, se­nior lec­turer of Cul­tural Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of the West Indies, that dance­hall is ac­cept­able and ef­fec­tive on a na­tional stage.

High­light­ing Ja­maica as an en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tion, Dr Ni­aah noted the re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of Kingston as a Cre­ative City of Mu­sic by UNESCO as one of the moves un­der­taken to sys­tem­at­i­cally es­tab­lish the city as an en­ter­tain­ment cap­i­tal.

“Those ideas are al­ready on the table,” she said when asked about the de­vel­op­ment of a dis­cre­tionary rat­ing sys­tem for live per­for­mances.

“It is part and par­cel of es­tab­lish­ing Kingston as an en­ter­tain­ment zone,” she con­tin­ued.


Even with these con­sid­er­a­tions, tabled un­der the Min­istry of Cul­ture, Gen­der, En­ter­tain­ment and Sport, and the ar­gu­ment of the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of Spice’s re­cent per­for­mance for the Olympians, Ni­aah said, “Na­tional events won’t nec­es­sar­ily need rat­ings.”

“There’s no room for con­tro­versy. We must un­der­stand that na­tional events might have on dis­play things that are of our reper­toire. Ku­mina, mento, re­vival­ism — cul­tural and re­li­gious prac­tices,” she said.

“What con­sti­tutes Ja­maica and Ja­maican per­for­mance, can be on dis­play. We have to know as peo­ple plan­ning events what is ap­pro­pri­ate for what event, and some­times we get the lines crossed,” she said.

“The pro­duc­ers were clearly not un­com­fort­able with Spice be­ing on the show. There was no anx­i­ety, I’m as­sum­ing, about what her per­for­mance would have been. You can ex­pect to be en­ter­tained by Ja­maican pop cul­ture at a na­tional event,” she con­tin­ued.

Ni­aah’s sen­ti­ment re­sounds with Yel­low Man’s pos­i­tive re­cep­tion af­ter ad­just­ing his con­tent to suite the oc­ca­sion with­out com­pro­mis­ing the style of his per­for­mance.

“I am ask­ing the whole of the artiste com­mu­nity that we have to pre­serve our cul­ture, but we also have to pre­serve our moral­ity,” said Cooper. “I am en­cour­ag­ing all artistes, re­gard­less of what genre they prac­tise, to be aware of their au­di­ence.”

Ibo Cooper



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