Tyga doing “poverty tourism”?

Apparently people were upset about Tyga’s video shoot for 1 of 1 in Jamaica. One writer called it “poverty tourism”. Others were irked that he did not use a “local” girl in the video, as opposed to the white (American-born, Pakistani and German) model he cast as the lead female.

Some thoughts:

  1. There are white Jamaicans. Many of them.
  2. Is it really such a prestigious, life-changing, beneficial honor to be cast in a Tyga video?
  3. Is it really such an honor to be cast in a video as an objectified female, almost clothes-free, no less, with no agency and no voice?
  4. What is an authentic Jamaican? Who gets to decide?
  5. Is Tyga only half authentic, as his father is Jamaican, thus he is not free to cast white foreign women, as opposed to casting Jamaicans?
  6. If he had cast a “local” Jamaican girl, should she have been from the “ghetto,” the middle class, or uptown (a rich, usually light-skinned girl)?
  7. If he had cast a “local” Jamaican girl, how would she have benefitted from participating? What would she have been paid? Who would be most deserving of the honor (refer to #6)?

Tyga also apparently said Jamaica is “like the ghetto back home, only more undeveloped.” This is true. In some parts, it is perhaps worse than the ghetto. In other regions, it resembles Beverly Hills. This dichotomy is present in Jamaica, just like most other countries in the world.

All these questions raise the issue of cultural appropriation and authenticity. As usual, there are more questions than answers and I am not so qualified to answer, only to ask. I do know, however, that it is a mediocre song, at best, and not worth all the fuss.

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