Janelle Monae, an African-American, stole this song from the white, British composer Charlie Chaplin, and white, british lyricists John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, who originally had their song stolen from white brits by Nat King Cole.
See how ridiculous it starts to get when we talk about people stealing cultures? It’s just a great song, isn’t it?
So the final point on the topic is the question, what happens here in Korea, when expats living here see something that vaguely resembles their culture back home, but it’s been changed in unexpected ways. It’s analogous to the question of what Koreans do, or ought to do, when they see artifacts from their culture being co-opted by other cultures – Hollywood remakes (my sassy girl), Japanese repackagings (kimuchi) and even Korean-engineered revisions aimed at a new audience (Wondergirls). I step into a Korean wedding hall, and I see an aisle, candles, a white gown, I hear Mendelssohn’s march, and a bouquet being tossed… yet it’s all two steps sideways from the weddings I saw back home.
This can be quite off-putting, even to me, and I’ve been here relatively forever.
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