Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 33548 times)

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2017, 09:20:46 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.
Jesus. We are really running the gamut here... we started out with "waaaah your examples of having your Jewish heritage don't bother my Gentile ass so therefore they are invalid" to "waaaaaah you can't interpret my childhood like that!!!!"*, and now we even have some fun little racism! Granted that last bit was introduced by the forum edgelord but still... maybe the whiners should think a bit about why they're butt hurt...

*I do wonder what Tim Burton would have to say about that angle, actually. I know he was inspired by Christmas and Halloween decorations being around at the same time, but works once published exist outside of an artist's conception of what they're "supposed" to be about and who knows, maybe Burton *did* intend to invoke parallels to cultural appropriation (which may be relatively new as a term but sure as hell wasnt New as a concept in 1994).
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Offline superdave

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2017, 09:55:10 AM »
the cultural appropriation argument for Nightmare sounds pretty strong, even if the phrase was not en vogue at the time.  The plot is literally that.

Offline seamas

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2017, 10:12:14 AM »
3)  The entire surf rock movement of the 50s.

Laying sole claim to the Phrygian Dominant scale would be a half appropriation from other cultures that have made use of that mode for as long as the Jews.

I was listening to a NPR program yesterday where a cookbook author was interviewed--she had recently written a cookbook of Jewish cooking, from around the world and history. Even before the Diaspora, Jews were fairly widely spread, and picked up and appropriated all manners of cooking and ingredients--much was picked up from India and Babylon--and things picked up there originated in China, etc

Then post-diaspora the large merchant class of Jews emerged throughout Europe, moving goods and cultures--a huge factor in bringing new world crops and foods and recipes to Europe was through Jewish merchants. They essentially saw the value and demand for appropriation.

I think appropriation of these things (clothing,  cuisine, music) is simply a matter of human curiosity and creativity.

I am also thinking of the very vibrant "food truck" industry, where people from, say China or Vietnam or Korea adopt Mexican recipes (and vise versa)or ideas and create something new.

I don't quite get the idea that people can or should put a lid on appropriation-- as if they can preserve culture like some museum specimen, or that simply by being born into some "culture" you are forever beholden not to step beyond the boundary that some authority set.

Offline superdave

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2017, 10:14:35 AM »
The more I think about this, I think the problem is really one of plagiarism without citation.

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2017, 10:31:10 AM »
The more I think about this, I think the problem is really one of plagiarism without citation.

Almost

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

From this article:

Quote
In short: Cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.

But that’s only the most basic definition.

A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.


That’s why cultural appropriation is not the same as cultural exchange, when people share mutually with each other – because cultural exchange lacks that systemic power dynamic.

It’s also not the same as assimilation, when marginalized people adopt elements of the dominant culture in order to survive conditions that make life more of a struggle if they don’t.

Some say, for instance, that non-Western people who wear jeans and Indigenous people who speak English are taking from dominant cultures, too.

But marginalized groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun.

A classic example is wearing braids or locs in your hair. If a black woman wears braids or locs to work in an office-type job, there's a chance she gets judged for being "too ethnic," or not dressing appropriately. There's an enormous pressure on women of color to force their hair to look (and have the texture of) white woman hair. If a white woman then wears braids, she is doing it for the look, not because she needs to manage the texture of her hair, and probably won't be criticized for it the same way the black woman would. So there she gets to have the fun benefit of another culture with all the benefit of being a member of a dominant class of people. This would feel really crappy to a woman of color because then she is aware of the fact that this white woman more permissibly displays aspects of her own culture than she herself is able to because of the way social oppression works.

This topic is a lot deeper than deciding if something is "offensive," or not.
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Online SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2017, 10:35:24 AM »
The more I think about this, I think the problem is really one of plagiarism without citation.

Almost

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

From this article:

Quote
In short: Cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.

But that’s only the most basic definition.

A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.


That’s why cultural appropriation is not the same as cultural exchange, when people share mutually with each other – because cultural exchange lacks that systemic power dynamic.

It’s also not the same as assimilation, when marginalized people adopt elements of the dominant culture in order to survive conditions that make life more of a struggle if they don’t.

Some say, for instance, that non-Western people who wear jeans and Indigenous people who speak English are taking from dominant cultures, too.

But marginalized groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun.

A classic example is wearing braids or locs in your hair. If a black woman wears braids or locs to work in an office-type job, there's a chance she gets judged for being "too ethnic," or not dressing appropriately. There's an enormous pressure on women of color to force their hair to look (and have the texture of) white woman hair. If a white woman then wears braids, she is doing it for the look, not because she needs to manage the texture of her hair, and probably won't be criticized for it the same way the black woman would. So there she gets to have the fun benefit of another culture with all the benefit of being a member of a dominant class of people. This would feel really crappy to a woman of color because then she is aware of the fact that this white woman more permissibly displays aspects of her own culture than she herself is able to because of the way social oppression works.

This topic is a lot deeper than deciding if something is "offensive," or not.
Nailed it. There is the benign and there is the harmful, and the inability to discern between the harmful and the benign indicates a lack of intellectual honesty and maturity.
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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2017, 10:38:10 AM »
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Nailed it. There is the benign and there is the harmful, and the inability to discern between the harmful and the benign indicates a lack of intellectual honesty and maturity.

I'm not quiiiite ready to ascribe motivations, but it does require a certain amount of self-awareness to talk about this stuff.
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Offline superdave

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2017, 10:39:51 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2017, 10:48:40 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?
A promising solution, but then we'd have to put aside identity politics and give up the righteous glow that comes with fighting for marginal cultures against shameless borrowers of ancient ideas.

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Online Ah.hell

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2017, 10:50:05 AM »
Having thought about the notion some, I generally come down to, cultural appropriation is a concept that covers a lot of things.  Some bad, some good, some indifferent.  We ought to address the bad, celebrate the good and ignore the indifferent.   It can go a long way towards having the minority groups in question accepted by the majority culture which is generally for the good.  It can also result in the majority culture taking the bits of the minority culture they like while continuing to marginalize the minorities.  Its complicated man.

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2017, 10:50:40 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?

This question is an important one to address.

On some level, ideally yes. But... and I cannot overstate how big of a but this is... it's impossible in these kinds of conversations to talk about what ideally ought to be when things are as bad as they are. Right now we are in a triage phase where we need to stop implicit bias and all of the other things that make people of marginalized cultures feel stress, depression, defeat, anger, frustration etc. as part of their daily lives. We are so far from ideal right now that it isn't even funny. To try to proceed as though that is the goal without acknowledging how hard it is to be just to exist as a member of a marginalized culture/class is basically tone-deaf until these major issues are completely resolved.
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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2017, 10:52:39 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?
A promising solution, but then we'd have to put aside identity politics and give up the righteous glow that comes with fighting for marginal cultures against shameless borrowers of ancient ideas.

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It must be so nice to be so removed from issues of sexism/classism/racism to have the luxury of derision of those trying to make things more fair for everyone.
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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2017, 10:57:16 AM »
Before anyone goes on, I highly recommend watching this to understand what cultural appropriation really is.

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Offline superdave

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2017, 11:01:30 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?

This question is an important one to address.

On some level, ideally yes. But... and I cannot overstate how big of a but this is... it's impossible in these kinds of conversations to talk about what ideally ought to be when things are as bad as they are. Right now we are in a triage phase where we need to stop implicit bias and all of the other things that make people of marginalized cultures feel stress, depression, defeat, anger, frustration etc. as part of their daily lives. We are so far from ideal right now that it isn't even funny. To try to proceed as though that is the goal without acknowledging how hard it is to be just to exist as a member of a marginalized culture/class is basically tone-deaf until these major issues are completely resolved.

fair enough.

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2017, 11:04:09 AM »
in the hair example...wouldn't the ideal outcome be to encourage a culture where both women can feel comfortable with whatever hair they want?
A promising solution, but then we'd have to put aside identity politics and give up the righteous glow that comes with fighting for marginal cultures against shameless borrowers of ancient ideas.

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It must be so nice to be so removed from issues of sexism/classism/racism to have the luxury of derision of those trying to make things more fair for everyone.
You can call it fairness if you like. Looks like shaming to me.

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