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Mojo Juju Responds To Andrew Bolt’s “Reductive” Comments About Her Song ‘Native Tongue’

Written by Tom Williams on November 27, 2018

Melbourne-based musician of Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) and Filipino descent, Mojo Juju, has responded to a column written by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, in which he shared his views of her popular single ‘Native Tongue’.

In a column published by News Corp earlier this month titled ‘ACADEMIC COMPLAINS: MORRISON’S MUSIC IS TOO WHITE’, Bolt disapproved of RMIT University academic Catherine Strong’s criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recently released Spotify playlists, which she said “featured a lot of white males, mostly a bit past their use-by date”.

In her column, published by The Conversation, Ms. Strong cited Mojo Juju’s work as a good example of music “grappling with what it means to be Australian”.

In response to Strong’s article, Andrew Bolt claimed the lecturer had used “the yardstick of identity politics” in her analysis of Morrison’s musical habits, and offered up his thoughts on the meaning behind ‘Native Tongue’.

“Seriously? Morrison is meant to bop in his car to a song complaining about being an Aboriginal who ‘doesn’t speak my father’s tongue’?” he wrote.

“Is music listening a political activity or an aesthetic one? Should we listen out of pity or for our pleasure?

“Can Morrison please be allowed to listen to music to please himself, rather than to further some political agenda?”

In a self-described “love letter” to Bolt in response to his comments, Mojo Juju congratulated him on “doing such an excellent job of demonstrating some of the reasons why writing a song and an album like ‘Native Tongue’ was so important”.

“Unfortunately, I think Mr. Bolt may have missed some of the nuances of my song,” she wrote.

“The song ‘Native Tongue’ is not a ‘complaint’ as he suggested, and I think to view it as complaining would be slightly reductive, but that’s just my opinion.

“I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures. This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment.”

Mojo Juju said Bolt was “wrong to suggest that listening to music is purely an aesthetic pursuit”.

“Sure, we all listen to music for pleasure, but music has always held a mirror to society,” she said. “It has always been a snapshot of the issues that affect the people.

“Sure, ScoMo should listen to whatever music he likes when he is turning those snags on his BBQ or cruisin’ around in his luxury car, but if he cared about what is happening out in this Country that he is supposedly leading he would listen to more of our voices.”

Mojo Juju also said she was “inclined to think” that the messages in ‘Native Tongue’ might resonate with Scott Morrison’s constituents more than he or Mr. Bolt might expect.

“While my exact mixed heritage may not be the norm, the feelings I raise in the song are more common than he might realise,” she said.

“Regardless of whether ScoMo can personally relate to the lyrics or the experience, as a leader, he should be concerned with how his constituents relate to this song and what they experience.

“I believe that good leadership is about listening. I also believe that music is a powerful communication tool, one that transgresses time, geography, age, gender and race. Music can unite, divide, and inspire revolutions, across generations.”

In closing, Mojo Juju said, “So thank you Mr. Bolt, for highlighting an important issue and including me in the conversation.”

Read her full statement alongside the J Award-winning video for ‘Native Tongue’, below.

This isn’t the first time Andrew Bolt has caught the eye of Australian musicians. He was famously scathed in The Drones’ song ‘Taman Shud’ a few years ago, which he said proved he was “offending the right people”.

Mojo Juju Statement (27/11/18):

Of all the amazing things that have been happening in my world of late, (from ARIA nominations, Dreamtime & J Awards to sold out shows and more…) I think one of my biggest highlights was seeing Native Tongue referenced in Andrew Bolt’s column.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Andrew Bolt for his recent shout out and also congratulate him on doing such an excellent job of demonstrating some of the reasons why writing a song and an album like Native Tongue was so important to me. (Whether he intended to or not).

While defending Scott Morrison’s right to listen to whatever music he likes, Mr. Bolt managed to highlight a huge failing in the approach to leadership and governance in this country… (one of many if we are being honest)… you can read the article here if you like:
https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/academic-complains-morrisons-music-is-too-white/news-story/ee33826c54898e3b701e3131fd01e138

Unfortunately, I think Mr. Bolt may have missed some of the nuances of my song.

The song ‘Native Tongue’ is not a ‘complaint’ as he suggested, and I think to view it as complaining would be slightly reductive, but that’s just my opinion. I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures. This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment.

Due to the overwhelming response I have received to this song and the stories that people have since shared with me of their own experiences, I am inclined to think that this is a topic that resonates with a LOT more of Scott Morrison’s constituents than either he or Mr. Bolt might like to recognise. And while my exact mixed heritage may not be the norm, the feelings I raise in the song are more common than he might realise. Regardless of whether ScoMo can personally relate to the lyrics or the experience, as a leader, he should be concerned with how his constituents relate to this song and what they experience.

I believe that good leadership is about listening.

I also believe that music is a powerful communication tool, one that transgresses time, geography, age, gender and race. Music can unite, divide, and inspire revolutions, across generations.

Mr. Bolt is wrong to suggest that listening to music is PURELY an aesthetic pursuit. Sure, we all listen to music for pleasure, but music has always held a mirror to society. It has always been a snapshot of the issues that affect the people.

Sure, ScoMO should listen to whatever music he likes when he is turning those snags on his BBQ or cruisin’ around in his luxury car, but if he cared about what is happening out in this Country that he is supposedly leading he would listen to more of our voices.

So thank you Mr. Bolt, for highlighting an important issue and including me in the conversation.

Love Mojo xx

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