Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 35773 times)

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Offline superdave

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some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« on: April 03, 2017, 09:09:18 PM »
I've never really felt like I totally groked this idea, but people whose opinions I generally trust seem to think it's a problem, so I am trying.

So I thought to myself, can I think of any time that my culture was appropriated, and how did I feel.

The best things I can come up with are as follows.
1)  That time Madonna studied Kabalah
2)  The yiddish  / klezmer fad in the late 2000s
3)  The entire surf rock movement of the 50s.
4) Kosher style restaurants that are not actually kosher.

and well, the problem is that my initial reaction is anger and disgust, but that feeling subsides quickly.  At the time, the Madonna thing bothered me because it was so blatant that someone was using a part of my culture to just sell celebs pseudoscience, and this bothered me a lot, but after a bit I realized it didn't really harm me any way and I stopped caring.  in the case of 3, well some of the greatest music of all time came out of that era.
In the case of number 2, again, it didn't feel very good that people were so superficially glomming onto a part of my culture but that feeling came and went.  AFter all, they were not really hurting me.

The last one is most annoying in a practical sense because well, kosher style is not really a style at all, they usually mean, traditional eastern european food, but again same deal.

So at the end of the day, I kinda get where some of the anger comes from but personally don't feel like this is a big deal. 
*that is not to say other people's feeling are invalid, I just cant seem to work myself up over this.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 10:10:48 PM by superdave »
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 09:14:50 PM »
Some of my favorite experiences/languages/people are the result of a massive mish-mashup of two or more cultures. Hard to find fault, really, unless someone is deliberately mocking your culture.

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 09:46:37 PM »
Some of my favorite experiences/languages/people are the result of a massive mish-mashup of two or more cultures. Hard to find fault, really, unless someone is deliberately mocking your culture.

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 09:57:54 PM »
I wonder, is this sense (not from the OP but from the first response, which is itself indicative of values shared by an awful lot of people here, judging from previous arguments) actually *worse* because we all think of ourselves as skeptics and so just assume that whatever we think about this subject is therefore correct, or is it just basically the same as our background culture(s) and it's just odious because we ought to know better? I'm torn.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2017, 10:03:53 PM »
To me the issue is not merely being influenced by or even adopting elements of another culture; such syncretism is inevitable in our global society.  The problem specifically is the adoption of culturally-significant practices of a minority culture by members of a dominant in a way that neglects the cultural and historical context: i.e., as fashion.  Members of the dominant culture are then able to "play" a game of exotic dress-up without experiencing—or even understanding or appreciating—the discrimination and oppression experienced daily by members of the minority culture and which so often are tied to and integral to the development of these unique cultural elements.
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2017, 10:14:06 PM »
Some of my favorite experiences/languages/people are the result of a massive mish-mashup of two or more cultures. Hard to find fault, really, unless someone is deliberately mocking your culture.

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No idea whose feelings you're talking about...?

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Offline Redamare

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2017, 11:30:10 PM »
Well, I think it's probably great when two cultures combine in a way that gives us something cool. But it's better still if actual members of those cultures had a say in creating it.
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2017, 11:31:17 PM »
Good thing the Phoenicians didn't keep the alphabet to themselves.

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Offline jt512

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 01:59:31 AM »
I've never really felt like I totally groked this idea, but people whose opinions I generally trust seem to think it's a problem, so I am trying.

So I thought to myself, can I think of any time that my culture was appropriated, and how did I feel.

The best things I can come up with are as follows.
1)  That time Madonna studied Kabalah
2)  The yiddish  / klezmer fad in the late 2000s
3)  The entire surf rock movement of the 50s.
4)  Kosher style restaurants that are not actually kosher.

Apparently we share a similar ethnic background, but I find none of the things you listed offensive, event transiently.  Using your numbers:

1)  If I ever knew that Madonna had studied Kabbalah, it was so insignificant to me that I forgot it.  Having been reminded of it now, I couldn't care less.  If she has an interest in Kabbalah, why would that bother me?

2) I was not aware that either Yiddish or klezmer music was ever a fad.  I enjoy klezmer music and wish I had known it had become popular.  I do not see why non-Jews should not appreciate, play, or adapt klezmer music.  Who cares?  As to Yiddish, linguists have recently pronounced it a dead language.  When I heard this I was shocked, because Yiddish was spoken in my home when I was a child.  Too bad the fad didn't continue; maybe there would still be Yiddish speakers around if it had.

3)  I don't know what this refers to.

4)  Even most Jewish delicatessens aren't kosher.  They don't serve dairy foods and meat on separate plates with separate silverware, and I guarantee they will serve you a glass of milk with your chopped liver.  Only a small subset of "glott kosher" restaurants follow the kosher dietary "laws."

Quote
kosher style is not really a style at all, they usually mean, traditional eastern european food, but again same deal.

"Kosher style" basically means that the boiled chicken (and everything else) has been run through the deflavorizing machine.  But, as you imply, that's true with much of Eastern European cuisine.  But, that should hardly be a surprise since most Ashkenazi Jews are of Eastern European heritage.  If you want "kosher" food that actually has some taste, go to Israel and order falafel and hummus.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 02:26:25 AM by jt512 »

Offline jt512

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2017, 02:07:51 AM »
To me the issue is not merely being influenced by or even adopting elements of another culture; such syncretism is inevitable in our global society.  The problem specifically is the adoption of culturally-significant practices of a minority culture by members of a dominant in a way that neglects the cultural and historical context: i.e., as fashion.  Members of the dominant culture are then able to "play" a game of exotic dress-up without experiencing—or even understanding or appreciating—the discrimination and oppression experienced daily by members of the minority culture and which so often are tied to and integral to the development of these unique cultural elements.

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2017, 02:49:29 AM »
I recently read an article that explains how the movie A Nightmare Before Christmas is all about cultural appropriation.

Here it is.

And here are just a few relevant excerpts:

Quote
Jack starts the movie uninspired. While everyone else in Halloween Town is ecstatic with that year’s Halloween extravaganza, their Pumpkin King has grown bored of his aesthetic. Of course then Jack wanders off, discovers Christmas Town, and is overjoyed to discover what is surrounding him...

...Jack has bits and pieces of what Christmas looks like, but he has no context for what actually makes Christmas what it is. Because of that, his experiments fail and he’s left frustrated by the whole process....

...The entirety of the “Making Christmas” montage highlights how one culture can cheapen another’s through careless imitation. They’re doing the standard making of the presents, wrapping the gifts, and getting the sleigh ready, but they’re “improving” it all by making it scary and gory. The similarities to fashion companies faking traditional tribal designs (but twisting them to be trendy) are apt. There’s a sense of entitlement here; entitlement and arrogance. The only person in town who questions all of it is Sally. Even though she’s nervous around the man she has feelings for, Sally tries her best to reason with Jack, but he doesn’t listen to her warnings...

...Of course, when this all backfires completely and Jack is left with his project in burning shambles around him, he has the good sense to realize he’s at fault for all of it. And being the hero of the story, he of course makes things right by saving Santa and Sally from Oogie Boogie’s clutches. With Boogie defeated, Jack apologizes earnestly to Santa for messing this all up. And Santa… is still pissed. And it’s great. He is clearly put out and doesn’t cheerily wave off the whole experience. Because like marginalized people when their cultures are appropriated, it’s not Santa’s responsibility to be tactful when dealing with someone who kidnapped him, disrespected his work, and then nearly got him killed. His snippy reaction is absolutely appropriate for the situation.

I recommend you go read the whole thing. And watch the movie. Because it's a great movie.

Offline jt512

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2017, 03:33:41 AM »
I recently read an article that explains how the movie A Nightmare Before Christmas is all about cultural appropriation.

Here it is.

And here are just a few relevant excerpts:

Quote
Jack starts the movie uninspired. While everyone else in Halloween Town is ecstatic with that year’s Halloween extravaganza, their Pumpkin King has grown bored of his aesthetic. Of course then Jack wanders off, discovers Christmas Town, and is overjoyed to discover what is surrounding him...

...Jack has bits and pieces of what Christmas looks like, but he has no context for what actually makes Christmas what it is. Because of that, his experiments fail and he’s left frustrated by the whole process....

...The entirety of the “Making Christmas” montage highlights how one culture can cheapen another’s through careless imitation. They’re doing the standard making of the presents, wrapping the gifts, and getting the sleigh ready, but they’re “improving” it all by making it scary and gory. The similarities to fashion companies faking traditional tribal designs (but twisting them to be trendy) are apt. There’s a sense of entitlement here; entitlement and arrogance. The only person in town who questions all of it is Sally. Even though she’s nervous around the man she has feelings for, Sally tries her best to reason with Jack, but he doesn’t listen to her warnings...

...Of course, when this all backfires completely and Jack is left with his project in burning shambles around him, he has the good sense to realize he’s at fault for all of it. And being the hero of the story, he of course makes things right by saving Santa and Sally from Oogie Boogie’s clutches. With Boogie defeated, Jack apologizes earnestly to Santa for messing this all up. And Santa… is still pissed. And it’s great. He is clearly put out and doesn’t cheerily wave off the whole experience. Because like marginalized people when their cultures are appropriated, it’s not Santa’s responsibility to be tactful when dealing with someone who kidnapped him, disrespected his work, and then nearly got him killed. His snippy reaction is absolutely appropriate for the situation.

I recommend you go read the whole thing. And watch the movie. Because it's a great movie.

Poe's Law illustrated.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2017, 04:43:45 AM »
Remember those old terms cultural diffusion and "melting pot?"  Supposedly people learning from each other's cultures, sharing ideas, eating new foods, etc... was supposed to be this great thing that allowed us all to be unique and still American (obviously this applies only to US posters here)?

I mean we took St Patrick's day and made it about Irish "themed" parades.  Halloween is some bastardized pagan holiday.  Arguably so is Christmas.  Hello, on Thanksgiving little kids dress up as the people our ancestors slaughtered to celebrate coming together and stuffing our faces.

That some of the same people who think that race is entirely a social construct buy into the notion of authentic culture...  Somebody should tell the neo-cons that that isn't what traditional conservatives believe, or the afro-centrists that Shafrequa isn't a traditional African name, or the Sunnis that suicide attacks actually hopped over culturally from the Shia branch of the faith.

This coming Christmas, when you're eating Americanized Chinese food, and thinking about if the reason so many Christians dislike the Mormons is because they call themselves Christians while believing in radically different things, thusly misappropriation the label in their eyes... remember that you don't care, and those fried egg rolls are delicious.
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Offline frothy

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2017, 05:24:12 AM »
If the majority culture is stopped from adopting things from minority cultures, but not vice versa, won't that ultimately lead to the extinction of the various aspects of the minority culture?

Offline superdave

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2017, 06:49:34 AM »
Thought about it some more. I think the issue is that by removing the original culture from the practice,you are denying someone the chance to appreciate and learn about that culture and also denying tthat culture an opportunity to contribute something new. 

Maybe someone out there might tone down harsh feelings for a culture or ethnicitity if they were to learn that something they really enjoy comes from that culture, for example.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

 

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