Is Elvis Presley too problematic to be embraced by young generations? † NOW

After the movies rocket man and Bohemian Rhapsody had brought the music of Elton Johns and Queens to younger generations, there is now the film Elvis by Baz Luhrmann. But young people at TikTok mainly talk about the problematic aspects of Elvis Presley, which are hardly discussed in the film. Young people accuse him of cultural appropriation and care

“Absolutely Spectacular”, “An Ingeniously Told True Story” and “A Movie That Beautifully Captures the Essence of Elvis”; these are just some of the superlatives Presley’s ex-wife, daughter and granddaughter used for the film Elvis talk about.

Although the family was not directly involved in the making of the film about Presley (played by Austin Butler) and his relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks), they will participate in several promotional events surrounding the release.

The Presley family’s approval seems to automatically mean that serious critical notes about ‘The King of Rock’ n ‘Roll’ are missing from the film. This is the criticism of young people at TikTok. They talk about cultural appropriation (adoption of elements from another culture, often of a dominant culture), which Presley is said to have committed, and the fact that he started a relationship with his eventual wife Priscilla when she was only fourteen years old . .

‘The King’ would have acquired black music

IN Elvis shows how Presley grows up in a neighborhood where mostly black people live: this is where his love of ‘black’ music comes from. The artist can be found on Beale Street, a street in Memphis known for its many iconic blues bars. Discussions have been going on for decades about Presley’s use of musical elements traditionally owned by the black community.

Presley wrote a bit of his own music throughout his career, recording many songs that were originally performed by black artists who had a much smaller reach. The artist broke through at a time when the United States was still divided by racial segregation. Back then, black artists certainly did not get the same opportunities as white musicians.

So was Hunting dog, previously recorded by black record artist Big Mama Thornton, did not really become a big hit until Presley took the plunge. Critics – over the years and now on TikTok – say that Presley routinely ran off with black artists’ music for his own gain without giving them enough credit for it. But the film shows that Presley had great respect for the musicians, whose music he also presented to a white audience. In addition, he kept in good contact with the artists.

Musician Dara Tucker, who also teaches music history at TikTok, points out that Presley never portrayed himself as the ‘king’ of his genre. In a 1957 interview, he certainly did not invent rock and roll and said that no one can interpret the genre as well as black artists.

Professor Michael T. Bertrand, who wrote the book Race, Rock and Elvis wrote, saying that there can be no doubt that Presley has benefited greatly from the music of black Americans. He adds that it was especially the music industry of the time – in a time of racial segregation – where Presley was honored as the only one, while his black colleagues were nowhere near the honor they deserved.

Austin Butler plays Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis.


Austin Butler plays Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's film Elvis.

Austin Butler plays Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis.

Photo: BrunoPress

Young generation falls over age difference and care

The film presents the beginning of the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla mainly romantically. Director Luhrmann deftly omits to mention the age difference between the two. Since Presley is in Germany for military service as a 24-year-old, Priscilla is only 14 years old – a fact that the younger generation of TikTokkers cannot ignore.

“I wanted to see the movie, but Elvis met his wife when she was 14. (…) I know the man is dead, but I can not see the movie because of this,” writes a young TikTok user, which gets millions of views and more than 250,000 likes for its posting.

There are several users who describe the story between Elvis and Priscilla as care – to build a bond of trust with a minor and then exploit it. For example, friends of Presley said at the time that he admitted to styling her to his ideal image in terms of clothing, makeup and hairstyle to prepare her as his bride. Priscilla later called herself Presley’s “personal, living doll” in an interview.

Criticism does not affect streaming and cinema characters

The fact that there are quite a few comments online about the way Presley is being honored in this film does not mean that Elvis not a commercial success. The film has already earned more than $ 124 million worldwide (more than $ 122 million).

The effect of the film can also be seen on music streaming services: a week after the release, the streaming numbers for Presley’s music increased according to. billboard an increase of 53 percent over the week before.

So there is a renewed interest in the music from ‘The King’. But also particularly interested in who Presley really was.

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