Bruno Mars? I’m sorry. My children are embarrassed, but I’m clueless.

Asking me to sing the words to a Bruno Mars song would be like having asked my parents to sing “Maggie’s Farm” by Dylan back in ’68. They would not have known the words and could have cared less about the singer.

And like my parents before me, if a Bruno Mars song came on the radio today, I am certain I would not recognize it. However, a recent social controversy about his music has me wound tighter than a Prince guitar solo.

Following his Grammy win for album of the year, Bruno Mars was attacked as being—gasp—a “cultural appropriator.”

Now many of you keeping score at home may not know of this hideous offending label. Cultural appropriation is a politically correct concept whereby the people who give a rat’s fanny about such things judge and admonish others for adopting elements of a minority culture into something they are doing. The cultural appropriator becomes the Charles Manson of whoever has been offended.

The labeling of things as cultural appropriation runs the gambit of items, the seriousness of which likely depends on the sensitivity of those claiming to be offended. Human outcry can be effective. Just ask the Miami Redskins Red Hawks.

Of course, it also begs the question of why so many people (me included) wear Scottish kilts on St. Patrick’s Day. Pat ran the snakes off an entirely different island for goodness sake. I suppose cultural confusion cannot properly be the subject of appropriation. But I digress.

Back to Bruno Mars. He is being attacked as having committed the social faux paus of—and I swear I am not making this up—singing rhythm and blues. You see, Bruno Mars is from Hawaii with a Filipina mother and a Puerto Rican/Jewish father. While this is not exactly a subject deserving of a new Warren Commission, according to many it disqualifies Mars from being Grammy-worthy.

Note that in preparation for this article, I did listen to some Bruno Mars music. I’m not sure what a Hawaiian/Filipina/Puerto Rican/Jewish singer is supposed to sound like, but Mars does an excellent job at it.

And, for me, there’s the rub. If I like it, why should I care about DNA of the singer? Isn’t it time to celebrate cultures with the enthusiasm of a Bootsy Collins bass line? After all, we’ve been doing it in Ludlow and Bromley for years now.

From the time that the first middle-class couple wandered down Sleepy Hollow Road in their minivan to eat at the Catfish Ranch, we embraced the sharing of our unique Twin City culture. We wanted all to know that Ludlow/Bromley are, in fact, the crossroads of a continent.

Today those visiting the Ludlow-Bromley Yacht Club for a quiet sunset know they leave with a part of the Twin Cities in their soul (or is it on their sole—whatever). Even Jerry Springer hits downtown Ludlow every couple of weeks for a cup of coffee and some good folk music.

As long as you bring money, come on down and misappropriate the be-jeez out of our culture. If it’s on a night Greg Shumate and the Drysdales are playing at the Yacht Club, I bet we can get them to do a Bruno Mars song.

Rick Robinson’s latest novel, The Promise of Cedar Key, is available on Amazon and at Joseph Beth in Crestview Hills.


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