A Reflection on Paul Simon’s “Homeless”
An assignment in World Music required us to view Paul Simon’s “Homeless” video from his Graceland album.
Prior to watching the video, I didn’t have much of a view of South African music or life in general, because I’d never really paid attention to it. I have to be honest and say that history was never really a strong subject for me, which is part of the reason for taking this course. After viewing the video, my impression of South Africa is oppression and struggle, yet of Native peoples striving to maintain their authenticity of culture. While they are surviving poverty, they are keeping their stories alive with performance art and appear joyful in doing so.
The South African music and costume is comparable to that of Native Americans and other tribal people that also have struggled against the contemporary world. Their tribal dances are also closely related to that of Native American culture, which both undoubtedly contain movements that mimic nature. Yet the video has blended wardrobe and lighter movements as well as “everyday life”, presumably to accentuate that South African blacks dress just like regular people.
As a whole, I think that mainstream performers have a huge influence on raising political and economic awareness, specifically of apartheid in this case. Depending on the viewer or listener, global pop music performance can educate and inform viewers of political and economic conditions. However, it can also reinforce old views and stereotypes about black South Africans.