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Is Rihanna Redefining Her Image with Seapunk SNL Performance?

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Look I could be wrong, Rihanna could actually be evolving in taste and truly be redefining her interests, without the help of external roles (i.e. PR execs). But, in the performance, she seems to be interpreting a culture and art to generate revenue and popularity.

Those images Rihanna "cultivated" essentially pull from a group of artists called seapunks. Maybe artists is a stretch, but they're just young people who dress in a palette of green, listen to bass music, and create art (music or graphic) that satirizes the internet and art itself.

All in all, they're youth before anything -- they're not a movement because they don't assemble and mobilize. But they're a community who communicates via the internet. The inclusion of this subculture's aesthetic, in a way, reduces the integrity of the audience, the artist, and the art. It waters everything down.

I don't wanna give seapunks too much credit, because some of facets of this micro-culture aren't rooted in any type of oppression or repression, like movements usually are. Just saying, it's not the Harlem renaissance, but it's still a culture.

Maybe I'm looking too much into it, because either way, Rihanna looked great in the cam jacket and it was, by SNL standards, a unique performance. Azealia Banks also released a video this week for her tune "Atlantis" that deploys the same signifiers, yet Banks has more in common with that culture than RiRi does, so my judgement isn't too harsh.

It just sucks to get a ripe, underground idea and then have it reinterpreted in an awkward inauthentic context, communicating something so commercial to a targeted group. Especially when the original idea is kinda commenting on all of that already.

But this is the business of pop and just music in general. Sacred is temporary, even art that makes fun of being sacred.


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Ryan Morejon

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