Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cuban Government Pulls Plug on “Cubatón”

The Cuban government issued a radio and television ban against depicting reggaeton, an increasingly popular style of music in Latin America.

“Neither vulgarity nor mediocrity will be able to tarnish the richness of Cuban music,” said the president of the Cultural Ministry’s music institute, Orlando Vistel Columbie, to the Cuban state media.  He added, “People can listen to what they want privately. But, that freedom doesn’t include the right to reproduce and disseminate that music.”

Vistel claimed that the prohibition of reggaeton came about due to the genre’s supposed “vulgarity” that includes sexually explicit lyrics and insulting women.

Approximately one year ago, Vistel and Minister of Culture Abel Prieto blasted the hit reggaeton song “Chupi Chupi” and pushed for the disqualification of the song from Cuba’s Lucas awards for music.  (The song’s title, according to Global Voices, is a “playful and unapologetically vulgar ‘ode’ to oral sex”.)

Aside from the ban and criticizing of Cuban reggaeton, which is also known as “Cubatón”, the government has reportedly tried to push more traditional Cuban dance rhythms like danzon towards youth.  Yet their efforts may be all for naught due to the way in which Cubatón music is generally distributed on the island:

With little official support or air time on state-controlled radio, the songs Cuban reggaeton artists record in makeshift studios lined with egg cartons for sound insulation are mostly transmitted though homemade CDs and on computer flash memory sticks.
That is how the tropical fever of reggaeton is sweeping communist-ruled Cuba, captivating its youth and enraging a cultural establishment alarmed by the vulgarity of some of its lyrics, which include phrases like "Coge mi tubo" ("Grab my pipe") and "Metela" ("Stick it in")…
"In Cuba, reggaeton moves thanks to piracy," said (local reggaeton artist) El Micha.
The issues relating to Cubatón, such as the generational rifts between younger and older Cubans, can be seen in the above video for the new documentary El Médico: The Cubatón Story.  (The recently reviewed that film which won this year’s award for best documentary at the New York International Latino Film Festival.)

Video Source– YouTube via user Thomas Allercrantz

Online Sources – Reuters, Bloomberg, Granma, Global Voices, The

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