Thursday, April 14, 2011

Should I get Bubbie a guitar, too?

Have you seen this video of five North Korean kindergarteners playing guitar?

If not, take a look. Then scroll ever so quickly through the comments on YouTube for a taste. (A blog post and more comments also here.) Warning: Do not linger too long or read too many b/c you might become upset.

I think it is interesting that a number of comments seem to express a certain kind of disgust with the virtuosity itself of the children's performance: A dismissal of its "authenticity" b/c the commenters assume that if the performers are North Korean, then their ability to perform at all results from lunatic Soviet style training. Or intense tiger mothering at the level of the nation state.

Had the children been white and American, I wonder whether or not the video would have prompted the same kinds of responses. I suppose there might have been comments about obnoxious stage parents and doomed child stars and so on, but I think "talent" might have been used to describe the children themselves.

The response "frightening" is also worth examining. What is frightening here? That such young children can perform to such a level? What one imagines might have been the experiences of the children themselves? Or the idea that such a performance can be produced from sheer will and exertion that those of us gawking at the video simply could not muster?

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