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  1. #31
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    That was one of my original questions - whether or not appropriation is always a negative/disrespectful/hegemonic process.
    Appropriation is like eating. It can be done in thoughtful, constructive and respectful ways, or in thoughtless, greedy and unhealthy ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    It's like the "The Last Airbender vs. Thor" casting issue: is casting a black guy to play an originally white character as bad as casting a bunch of white guys to play originally Inuit/Asian/whatever characters? There are factors outside the issue in focus to consider, I think.
    Awhile back there was a play called "The Elephant Man" based on the life of J. C. Merrick who lived with severe physical deformities. In the movie version, the actor wore complicated "make-up" based on plaster casts taken of Mr. Merrick. In the play version, the actor wore no make up at all, and conveyed the essence of the deformities, and more importantly the non-physical suffering they precipitated, entirely through his acting. Obviously, actors suffering from the same disfiguring condition were not available to take the part; but just as obviously, the external appearance was not necessary for an effective portrayal.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  2. #32
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    In New Zealand, many aspects of Maori (the native people) culture has been adopted in the culture as a whole. Mostly people are very good at doing so without crossing the line. I believe the reason it works so well is just how vocal Maori have been about where that line lies. It is expected that you consult the appropriate people if you make some broad public statement in some way, that will step on toes. There are processes written into legislation (and others that are simply commonly accepted and expected) about how to consult local tribes and cultural protocol that must be followed regarding usage of resources, cultural treasures, sacred places and imagery etc. But in terms of the every day, non-Maori have learned what the meaning of certain words/practices/perfomances/items etc have so they understand the significance of them and how you behave toward them. Additionally everyone has a general understanding of the overall cultural ethos of the Maori, so people can anticipate what things might be considered disrespectful or inappropriate.

    So I do think that balance can be struck. However, it does take time and a lot of effort for the changes to take place and for people to accept them.
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  3. #33
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    Cultural appropriation is more like a perspective on acculturation than a category of it. The underdog's specifically.
    In that context, all acculturation would be appropriation, then?

    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I don't think you're being defensive. I just struggle to think of anyone who would not be guilty of cultural insensitivity under your working definition. If everyone is guilty of a crime, you probably need to rewrite that law.

    Yes, you're overthinking it
    Either that, or we have a long way to go... :/

    I see. It's a habit of mine. ^_^''

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Appropriation is like eating. It can be done in thoughtful, constructive and respectful ways, or in thoughtless, greedy and unhealthy ways.
    Does it depend on whether the majority is the one doing it or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Awhile back there was a play called "The Elephant Man" based on the life of J. C. Merrick who lived with severe physical deformities. In the movie version, the actor wore complicated "make-up" based on plaster casts taken of Mr. Merrick. In the play version, the actor wore no make up at all, and conveyed the essence of the deformities, and more importantly the non-physical suffering they precipitated, entirely through his acting. Obviously, actors suffering from the same disfiguring condition were not available to take the part; but just as obviously, the external appearance was not necessary for an effective portrayal.
    Interesting. In that case, at least, the lack of actors with physical deformities could be to blame.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    In New Zealand, many aspects of Maori (the native people) culture has been adopted in the culture as a whole. Mostly people are very good at doing so without crossing the line. I believe the reason it works so well is just how vocal Maori have been about where that line lies. It is expected that you consult the appropriate people if you make some broad public statement in some way, that will step on toes. There are processes written into legislation (and others that are simply commonly accepted and expected) about how to consult local tribes and cultural protocol that must be followed regarding usage of resources, cultural treasures, sacred places and imagery etc. But in terms of the every day, non-Maori have learned what the meaning of certain words/practices/perfomances/items etc have so they understand the significance of them and how you behave toward them. Additionally everyone has a general understanding of the overall cultural ethos of the Maori, so people can anticipate what things might be considered disrespectful or inappropriate.

    So I do think that balance can be struck. However, it does take time and a lot of effort for the changes to take place and for people to accept them.
    That seems to be what the SJ movement is aiming for.
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  4. #34
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Dealing with cultural identities is really the same thing as dealing with individual identities. People all place value in one aspect of who they are, be it their languge or glasses, or maybe a very arbritary seeming thing. When you appropriate something like that, it can feel like the you're trivializing it in their eyes, and thus trivializing them, even if it isn't your intent. We all just need to learn to be sensitive to each other to a reasonable degree and then put our foot down if we feel like our sensitivity is being used as a point of control.

    Minority cultures are more sensitive about certain things because historically, there's a tendency for majority to use a distorted image of a minority culture as a way to denigrate and disenfranchise them. I think in the usage of image of another culture, respect is needed, and intent should be the judge of inappropriateness.

    There are just no ways of making blanket statements here. I grew up in a majority Hispanic, yet still American culture very close to the country of their roots. As a result, most people I knew were not easily offended about references to their own culture. For instance, I was astounded once to hear that some Mexican-American lady in California was on a cruisade to get rid of images of the 'sleepy Mexican' in a sombrero, when most people I knew loved those depictions. Speedy Gonzales and Slow Poke Rodriguez were also very popular characters where I was from, but when I moved North, all of a sudden they were referred to as symbols of racial insensitivity.

  5. #35
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    Does it depend on whether the majority is the one doing it or not?
    No. This might change the exact mechanisms of showing respect, or staying "healthy", but appropriation can be done in a positive way, either way. (Come to think of it, when a minority culture takes on the customs of the majority, this is not called appropriation, is it? )

    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    Interesting. In that case, at least, the lack of actors with physical deformities could be to blame.
    Yes, but why I mentioned this example is that one performance tried to reproduce the character's physical appearance as closely as possible using makeup, etc. while the other deemed this unnecessary, and relied on acting ability alone. This artistic decision was actually applauded by critics, if I recall correctly.

    By extension, then, indigenous people (or black people, or handicapped people, or . . . ) do not need to be played by actors with the same physical appearance or actual background, though that can add to the realism if such are available.

    Separate from this, but going back to the OP: there is the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  6. #36
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    Dealing with cultural identities is really the same thing as dealing with individual identities. People all place value in one aspect of who they are, be it their languge or glasses, or maybe a very arbritary seeming thing. When you appropriate something like that, it can feel like the you're trivializing it in their eyes, and thus trivializing them, even if it isn't your intent. We all just need to learn to be sensitive to each other to a reasonable degree and then put our foot down if we feel like our sensitivity is being used as a point of control.

    Minority cultures are more sensitive about certain things because historically, there's a tendency for majority to use a distorted image of a minority culture as a way to denigrate and disenfranchise them. I think in the usage of image of another culture, respect is needed, and intent should be the judge of inappropriateness.

    There are just no ways of making blanket statements here. I grew up in a majority Hispanic, yet still American culture very close to the country of their roots. As a result, most people I knew were not easily offended about references to their own culture. For instance, I was astounded once to hear that some Mexican-American lady in California was on a cruisade to get rid of images of the 'sleepy Mexican' in a sombrero, when most people I knew loved those depictions. Speedy Gonzales and Slow Poke Rodriguez were also very popular characters where I was from, but when I moved North, all of a sudden they were referred to as symbols of racial insensitivity.
    Interesting! They were popular among people of Latino descent, you mean?

    Also, the bolded is exactly why this is a hot-button topic... Due to sheer history, a white person calling a black person, er... you know, is a much more oppressive act than the inverse - calling white people "crackers" doesn't remind them of their own status in an unequal society. The assymetry of appropriation is a reflection of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    No. This might change the exact mechanisms of showing respect, or staying "healthy", but appropriation can be done in a positive way, either way. (Come to think of it, when a minority culture takes on the customs of the majority, this is not called appropriation, is it? )
    It's risky, but I think it can be done. You have to be very cautious and ask for some feedback to avoid faux passes, IMHO.

    Also, see my answer to Qlip above.

    Yes, but why I mentioned this example is that one performance tried to reproduce the character's physical appearance as closely as possible using makeup, etc. while the other deemed this unnecessary, and relied on acting ability alone. This artistic decision was actually applauded by critics, if I recall correctly.

    By extension, then, indigenous people (or black people, or handicapped people, or . . . ) do not need to be played by actors with the same physical appearance or actual background, though that can add to the realism if such are available.

    Separate from this, but going back to the OP: there is the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Well, casting white characters as ethnic minorities has a bit of... uncomfortable history behind it - portraying the "other" in a caricatured or fetishistic way without having to deal with real people who might object to that portrayal, y'know?

    Still, for a small production, if there's no one available, I guess it can be done right when done with sensitivity.

    Dunno about the handicapped... You might wanna ask someone who pertains to that minority.
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  7. #37
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Here's something I hadn't thought about... I recently read a post (at Womanist Musings, I think?) that presented fictional allegories of real-life oppression - such as the X-Men - as appropriative, since they deal with very different contexts of discrimination (for instance, mutants in the series have potentially dangerous powers, unlike LGBT people). Agree? Disagree?
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  8. #38
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    This is an old thread. That said, I don't think I need to make a new one with the same name.

    The things I wonder about appropriation are:

    1) Can a group own a culture? I suppose to some degree it can claim 'rightful ownership', and but at what point does it become public? This brings to mind other questions about authenticity and 'posers'.
    2) For me the bigger question is: does re-interpreting another culture destroy the original? Some people talk about 'stealing' other cultures, as if it is something there is a limited amount of that is being taken. But I question that - I see culture more like a flame or a candle. Bring another candle to it and you can "take" the flame but the original is the same.


    Personally, I for the most part do not stake my identity in my cultural heritage. While it IS a part of understanding the full picture of who I am, I would emphasize beliefs I hold (values) and my present accomplishments as a much more important aspect of my identity than the religion I was born into (which I reject, if I practiced I might feel different) or the ancestral homes of my grandparents, which basically influence my appearance but that's it (with only some invisible customs perhaps filtered down). So the sensitivities here are hard for me to grasp.

    At the same time, I recognize that for other people, their self definition is very strongly based in inherent cultural traits. While I question this (seems stagnant and potentially prejudicial if there is an assumption of traits being connected to that group on the basis of simply being in that group), I'm not prone to tell people that they can't do this.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  9. #39
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    One impression of Asians in America (maybe not as much as it used to be) is that they all know martial arts. And appropriating Asian culture usually involves learning martial arts yourself. Every other corner in any given city, there's a mcdojo or cobra kai school teaching the "ways of the East", but the culture as a whole relegates the Asians as "geisha fucktoys" for the females and "small dicked nerds" for the males. I think other cultures tend to experience similar things. It's funny how the best parts of the culture are borrowed and claimed, while the reality and complexity of people are reduced to demeaning stereotypes. Same thing happens to blacks. Many racists love the blues, rock n roll, and hip hop, but actual black people are "niggers who want handouts" (one particularly lame example is when southern whites in the early 20 century said they invented jazz). Native Americans might be admired for their spirit and imagery, but that's about it.

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