Beyond the theft alone, appropriation tends to be ruthlessly destructive to the original performance being absconded with. Why? Because it reimagines the act, the dance, the song, or piece of art as a solitary, disconnected moment in time. Dance is joy in the shadow of oppression. “Constructing the black male body as a site of pleasure and power, rap and the dances associated with it suggest vibrancy, intensity, and an unsurpassed joy in living.” [bell] hooks writes, “It emerged in the streets—outside the confines of a domesticity shaped and informed by poverty, outside enclosed spaces where young male bodies had to be contained and controlled.” This rebellious spirit lives on in the form and motion of the dance, even if it is never displayed on the surface.
But when these dances are turned into to Emotes, their connections with poverty and racism are elided and they are reduced to nothing more than a funny dance, cut off and erased, made vanilla and palatable. This is not simply bad luck, it is the latest in a long trend of omission. In his book, “Everything But The Burden,” Greg Tate points out that “The black body is a desired taboo, something to be possessed and something to be erased…” Shoot becomes Hype, Milly Rock becomes Swipe It. Blackness becomes a grey area, becomes bundles of mocap data, and is made ultimately invisible.
Yussef Cole on rebrand, resale.
From an article about the appropriation of African American dance moves in the videogame Fortnite. Very specifically, it’s about the appropriation and sale of dance moves, in a way that profits the white establishment (i.e. Epic Games), rather than the unremunerated creators…