Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 93591 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #75 on: April 04, 2017, 04:26:50 PM »
Has anyone here ever wondered why hardly anyone outside of the USA ever think or worry about "cultural appropriation"?
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #76 on: April 04, 2017, 04:44:16 PM »
Black artists insist that painting of lynching victim by White artist be destroyed: link.
And we all know that extreme examples discredit an entire idea, right?

The idea itself is extreme.
Ipse dixit.

You can disprove my assertion with a counterexample.  Got one?
Several have already been linked in this thread.
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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #77 on: April 04, 2017, 04:59:14 PM »
Yeah, I find narrative fiction to be a whole *hell* of a lot more powerful than real world examples because fiction can contextualize itself whereas we can make up reasons for why real-life stuff happen. Do you really not see this happening IRL though? A couple of examples right off the top of my head:

- The music industry whitewashing black music in the 50s, particularly in the form of Elvis Presley but it was a thing that happened fairly regularly (and even the black musicians who gained popularity were generally "safe" acts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard - and no offense to those guys, they were pioneers too - who sang music originally written by/for more "dangerous" acts like Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton). There is a very solid argument that can be made that rock and roll, particularly early, pre-British Invasion rock and roll, is black rhythm and blues sung by white people and/or for white audiences.

- The relatively recent trend of people from outside of the region of the Middle East / North Africa taking up belly dancing because they thought it was cool (not the bad part) and in doing so ignoring and not really even caring about the history and culture of it.

- College frat boys glomming onto the Dave Chappelle Show in the early 2000s and transforming what was actually a very intelligent and well thought out program (seriously... the blind black Klansman sketch is as good as anything SNL or Key and Peele ever made, as is the sketch about different music styles with John Mayer) into "WHAT DID THE FIVE FINGERS SAY TO THE FACE I'M RICK JAMES BEEEEEEEEEEEYOTCH" (which, even at that, the Charlie Murphy stories were hilarious but they were about a whole hell of a lot more than Rick James fitting into a modern Mantan role - as the Prince one elucidated as well, it's how black folks with sometimes widely disparate backgrounds and varying degrees of success were still able to find common ground and have a good time with each other based on, yes, their shared black culture).

- Selena Gomez going around wearing a bindi because it looked cool and sexy and, like, hinduism lol. I think there's a general movement towards syncretizing a lot of Indian culture into American but, well, needless to say there are casualties along the way.

- That whole shitshow around Miley Cyrus and twerking. White people can twerk, don't get me wrong, but once again, there's this whole history and culture that kind of sits around that dance style (not on the level of belly dancing, but still) and that whole "lol let's get a person with a very black butt to go out and do this while Cyrus eggs her on" was distasteful as fuuuuuuuuck.

I imagine that you'll find excuses that make all of this not really cultural appropriation or not, like, all that bad. As a white male, I know that *I* am not particularly heavily impacted by any of these things myself. However, if you'd care to listen to the minorities whose cultures are being syncretized and now and then trampled all over (for instance, here and here and here*) you would see that, whether *you* are offended by some of this stuff or not, *other people* are. And no, these folks are not saying that they have some sort of right to not be offended. They are saying, generally, that they would appreciate it if their own culture was accorded with the same level of respect that white American culture is afforded.

I want to point out here too that I am a *huge* fan of syncretism and cultural exchange in the manner that The Latinist pointed out. Frankly, the cultural exchange is what makes American culture so amazing: we're kind of good at it, and whatever other issues we have with race and class, I actually think that we do an overall OK job of acknowledging, tolerating, and enjoying other cultures. A huge part of why we are so good at this relative to the rest of the world, though, is that we *do* ask these questions of ourselves, and the moment we stop doing so we turn into... something more like what we were in the 50s or what Japan sometimes is today (and don't get me wrong *there* too: sometimes they do some really interesting syncretistic shit, too, like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Cowboy Bebop, but... Cowboy Bebop gets *really* racist at a couple points in ways that an Americanized version of those combined tropes wouldn't because Japan, I think, lacks that cultural awareness). We have a strong and admiral legacy of anti-racism in this country precisely because we've had to deal with race and bigotry to a much greater extent than most other First World countries have had to. The same applies to culture: we're not just naturally better at this because we're American, we're better at this because we *consider* this shit.

* That's a longer article about a lot of things, but Chappelle has said on several occasions that the Rick James sketch was a huge part of why he stopped doing the show at the height of its popularity.
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #78 on: April 04, 2017, 05:00:49 PM »
Has anyone here ever wondered why hardly anyone outside of the USA ever think or worry about "cultural appropriation"?
You mean, like, India? Or did you just mean monoculture Scandinavian countries?
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #79 on: April 04, 2017, 05:07:22 PM »
Controversial real world example, Rachel Dolezal.
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #80 on: April 04, 2017, 05:15:11 PM »
Has anyone here ever wondered why hardly anyone outside of the USA ever think or worry about "cultural appropriation"?
You mean, like, India? Or did you just mean monoculture Scandinavian countries?

Scandinavian countries are not monocultural like you imagine. I know it's a common American narrative, but it simply isn't true:

Quote
As of 2016, Statistics Sweden reported that around 2,320,000 or 23.2% of the inhabitants of Sweden were from a foreign background: that is, each such person either had been born abroad or had been born in Sweden to two parents who themselves had both been born abroad.

Quote
According to Eurostat, in 2010, there were 1.33 million foreign-born residents in Sweden, corresponding to 14.3% of the total population. Of these, 859,000 (64.3%) were born outside the EU and 477,000 (35.7%) were born in another EU Member State.

(click to show/hide)

There are also various historical native minorities (native to particular areas), like Samis and Tornedalians, though these are rather small.

Also, as we established in an earlier thread, Stockholm is a more global city than many American and Canadian cities.
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Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #81 on: April 04, 2017, 05:28:16 PM »
Has anyone here ever wondered why hardly anyone outside of the USA ever think or worry about "cultural appropriation"?
You mean, like, India? Or did you just mean monoculture Scandinavian countries?
People in Ireland sure as hell dont give a fuck about cultural appropriation, because PC culture is for american nerds and we arent nerds!
I do hear alot of whining about how America created a bastardised and patronising version of our culture though and how an American beer company deciding that our national holiday (on which drinking was prohibited) would be the day when everyone gets pissed,thus cementing the idea of my people as fucking alcoholics in the minds eye of the world.
But fuck PC concepts, because we are all manly men and women and when they do it about us its ignorant but black people need to lighten up because music belongs to the world and shit.
See also- The harm done by mcdojos and the appropriation of asian martial culture to the people who attended them and to the cultural legacy of places like China whose opera stars were forced to ape the western idea of what their culture was in order to stay in business, thus almost losing an amazing piece of culture because people in the west didnt buy tickets unless they thought they were looking at 'monks'.
Can you find plus points in the above? Probably. Does that mean people from those cultures should stop being unhappy about it? No.

Edited last sentence after posting.

Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #82 on: April 04, 2017, 05:58:45 PM »
Many American and Canadian cities are also *extremely* monocultural. Like, the entire Midwest is a lot like that (I mean, to a point): there is not a great deal of non-American culture that happens in Indianapolis (source: I lived in this place so I know it) and while even a place like Seattle is becoming quite a bit more multicultural, the Pacific Northwest also has a long, long legacy of being a very white, monocultural place. I would go so far as to argue that the places where you see actual cultural exchange taking place aren't these places that you believe that your Swedish cities compare favorably to, it's in places like New York City (the birthplace of *so much* American culture, from beat poetry to modern folk music to... I mean, at some point if you're not sure where some American cultural phenomenon took place, you just assume it took place in NYC) or New Orleans (the birthplace of jazz in the form of Dixieland), or places with a very strong and solid black subculture like Chicago or Atlanta, or, hell, even places with a strong non-dominant mid-American culture, like Nashville or San Francisco.

Which, speaking of... your 14.3% or 23% numbers are also *extremely* misleading to compare. First up, the US is *massive* compared to Sweden. No offense to Sweden - I actually like Scandinavia - but your entire country is roughly the size of California, our 3rd largest state, and it has as many people in it as North Carolina, its 10th most populous. Ignoring Alaska because nobody lives there, we're talking about a land mass almost 10 times as big as yours with roughly 30 times as many people living here. Our cities are *way* spread out - I feel like this is a thing that Americans don't fully get until they go to Europe and vice versa - and as such the sheer amount of space has helped to create a Southern culture that differs greatly from Northeastern that itself differs from Midwestern, Southwestern, and the Pacific Coast. But even *that* doesn't begin to tell the whole story. Whether or not there are still people moving in *now*, this is a nation of immigrants, some of them here by choice, some of them not. There are vast parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas, for instance, that still maintain a relatively strong German community. To take things to an extreme there are pockets of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio where people actually speak a separate language that's kind of a pidgin of German and English (and yes, I know that Europe has some crazy dialects and there are likely pockets of Sweden that do something similar, but consider that this is a phenomenon that occurred in the last 250-300 years and is just plain caused by people from entirely different parts of the world living near each other). A big part of what makes NYC and Chicago what they are are the large Italian/Jewish/Irish and Irish/Polish sub-populations that have, even a hundred years plus on, only kind of "melted" into the rest of the nation (this whole "American melting pot" thing is a massive misnomer anyway; even when the term first came out in the early part of the 20th century, people thought it was kind of garbage; a comparison to a symphony orchestra was one of many that was considered more apt). There are *literally* more people of Irish descent who live in the US than there are people who live in Ireland. Then of course there are Native Americans, who aren't particularly numerous but do represent a decent-sized minority in some parts of the country (the Pacific Northwest for instance). The fact that many of these folks are now 4th and 5th generation Americans (or in the case of NAs, "we've been here a lot longer than you" generation) doesn't really even begin to tell the story of American diversity.

And then of course there is the black subculture (which itself is overly reductive - Atlanta's black community shares a lot of common ground with Chicago's but there are also a *lot* of differences, for example). There are close to 5 times as many African Americans living in the US as there are Swedish people in Sweden. I would go so far as to say that black culture is so far removed from white culture that culturally speaking it may as well be coming from another country. It makes up more than 12% of our population, so if you're really interested in comparing cultural diversity, before you even *start* to look at Sweden's 14% or 23% foreign-born people compared to the US, you need to take that 12% into account. *Plus* all the people who aren't literally just off the boat but who are still members of very, very different cultures, some of which have integrated, some of which haven't. *Plus* the ingrained cultural differences you get when take these disparate cultures, add in population centers and distance, and marinate for a hundred or 200 years. I'm sorry, but there's a reason why "we" (by which I mean a whole bunch of people completely unrelated to me except that we live in the same country) created jazz and rock and R&B and the blues and Tex-Mex and Cajun and so on and so forth: we have *massive* cultural exchange on a level that "you" (by which I mean, people probably only tangentially related to you) haven't experienced since the 900s AD.

(note: if you wanted to compare us to, say, Canada instead of Scandinavia there might be a better point to make. Even the United Kingdom has its own deal with the Commonwealth that makes it fairly unique amongst Europe. But no, those statistics? They don't begin to tell the story here.)
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #83 on: April 04, 2017, 06:01:54 PM »
Has anyone here ever wondered why hardly anyone outside of the USA ever think or worry about "cultural appropriation"?
You mean, like, India? Or did you just mean monoculture Scandinavian countries?
People in Ireland sure as hell dont give a fuck about cultural appropriation, because PC culture is for american nerds and we arent nerds!
I do hear alot of whining about how America created a bastardised and patronising version of our culture though and how an American beer company deciding that our national holiday (on which drinking was prohibited) would be the day when everyone gets pissed,thus cementing the idea of my people as fucking alcoholics in the minds eye of the world.
But fuck PC concepts, because we are all manly men and women and when they do it about us its ignorant but black people need to lighten up because music belongs to the world and shit.
See also- The harm done by mcdojos and the appropriation of asian martial culture to the people who attended them and to the cultural legacy of places like China whose opera stars were forced to ape the western idea of what their culture was in order to stay in business, thus almost losing an amazing piece of culture because people in the west didnt buy tickets unless they thought they were looking at 'monks'.
Can you find plus points in the above? Probably. Does that mean people from those cultures should stop being unhappy about it? No.

Edited last sentence after posting.
Yeah, and as alluded to in my previous novel-length post, Ireland is particularly problematic because or the presence of the "nation" of Irish-Americans who started with Irish pride but morphed it into something that's their own a long, long time ago. I mean, that don't excuse St. Paddy's Day (and really, nothing will *ever* to me excuse the city of Chicago coloring the river green for a week) but we're not even really culturally appropriating *Ireland* so much as we are our own Irish-American subculture. Well, we're doing the latter as well I guess, unless leprechauns really are as numerous as I have been led to believe...
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #84 on: April 04, 2017, 06:38:05 PM »
The reason you are appropriating Irish American culture is because Irish culture itself had no one looking out for it when it migrated to the US. It was get in the door and stop sticking out.
Thats why I think its a great case study because other cultures can avoid the pitfalls of culturaly orphaned generations disowned by their parent because they dont match up any more.
More so, you in the US may be celebrating Irish Americanness but your media portrayal DOES leak out and does affect the way we are viewed (as having a particular problem with spousal abuse for example, which is not actually borne out) world wide.
I have also found some Americans I have spoken to, to have somewhat appropriated the troubles into their identity which pretty much disgusts me.
I dont point it out because I think its a particularly bad case but it is a clear case that had effects I wish it did not.
Its also the case I use most often because those Im arguing with irl have an actual connection to it and usually stop to think.
The chinese example is far worse and even more clear cut in my opinion though. The number of mighty whitey movies for example point to a desire for the trappings of those cultures but with a handsome white protagonist instead of those unhandsome asianses that you cant have as a romantic lead apparently. Its not like inviting someone to a party and putting their food on the table to be enjoyed, its like taking the food and slamming the door in their face.

Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #85 on: April 04, 2017, 06:54:23 PM »
The reason you are appropriating Irish American culture is because Irish culture itself had no one looking out for it when it migrated to the US. It was get in the door and stop sticking out.
Thats why I think its a great case study because other cultures can avoid the pitfalls of culturaly orphaned generations disowned by their parent because they dont match up any more.
More so, you in the US may be celebrating Irish Americanness but your media portrayal DOES leak out and does affect the way we are viewed (as having a particular problem with spousal abuse for example, which is not actually borne out) world wide.
I have also found some Americans I have spoken to, to have somewhat appropriated the troubles into their identity which pretty much disgusts me.
I dont point it out because I think its a particularly bad case but it is a clear case that had effects I wish it did not.
Its also the case I use most often because those Im arguing with irl have an actual connection to it and usually stop to think.
The chinese example is far worse and even more clear cut in my opinion though. The number of mighty whitey movies for example point to a desire for the trappings of those cultures but with a handsome white protagonist instead of those unhandsome asianses that you cant have as a romantic lead apparently. Its not like inviting someone to a party and putting their food on the table to be enjoyed, its like taking the food and slamming the door in their face.
Yeah, great points!
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #86 on: April 04, 2017, 07:07:44 PM »
Yes, American cinema can be a lot like stealing Asian food.


Offline jt512

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #87 on: April 04, 2017, 07:27:59 PM »
Yeah, and as alluded to in my previous novel-length post, Ireland is particularly problematic because or the presence of the "nation" of Irish-Americans who started with Irish pride but morphed it into something that's their own a long, long time ago. I mean, that don't excuse St. Paddy's Day (and really, nothing will *ever* to me excuse the city of Chicago coloring the river green for a week) but we're not even really culturally appropriating *Ireland* so much as we are our own Irish-American subculture. Well, we're doing the latter as well I guess, unless leprechauns really are as numerous as I have been led to believe...

A decade ago we would have said "celebrating" the culture.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #88 on: April 04, 2017, 07:37:29 PM »
Yeah, and as alluded to in my previous novel-length post, Ireland is particularly problematic because or the presence of the "nation" of Irish-Americans who started with Irish pride but morphed it into something that's their own a long, long time ago. I mean, that don't excuse St. Paddy's Day (and really, nothing will *ever* to me excuse the city of Chicago coloring the river green for a week) but we're not even really culturally appropriating *Ireland* so much as we are our own Irish-American subculture. Well, we're doing the latter as well I guess, unless leprechauns really are as numerous as I have been led to believe...

A decade ago we would have said "celebrating" the culture.
Good thing we as skeptics know better than to argue that the way we did things a decade ago is correct because it's the way we did things a decade ago, because that would be a facile argument.
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Offline jt512

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #89 on: April 04, 2017, 07:44:33 PM »
Yeah, and as alluded to in my previous novel-length post, Ireland is particularly problematic because or the presence of the "nation" of Irish-Americans who started with Irish pride but morphed it into something that's their own a long, long time ago. I mean, that don't excuse St. Paddy's Day (and really, nothing will *ever* to me excuse the city of Chicago coloring the river green for a week) but we're not even really culturally appropriating *Ireland* so much as we are our own Irish-American subculture. Well, we're doing the latter as well I guess, unless leprechauns really are as numerous as I have been led to believe...

A decade ago we would have said "celebrating" the culture.
Good thing we as skeptics know better than to argue that the way we did things a decade ago is correct because it's the way we did things a decade ago, because that would be a facile argument.

Good thing skeptics don't just jump glom onto every bit of PC nonsense that comes along.
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