Anyone’s Business: Appropriation Verses Admiration

by: In Our Words Staff


Welcome back to Anyone’s Business,  an article made by you.  We pose a question, your write back in the comments.  Keep it respectful.

Artists use fashions, languages, musical styles, objects of religious, spiritual, or cultural significance of cultures they were neither born into or raised near.  It can be a difficult line to see at times, but when do artists cross from appreciating another culture, from using style to provoke thought or show an in depth interest, to outright stealing.  Better yet, how does one work with symbols and styles from other cultures with respect?  

Patrick found a few examples of things that he likes (even loves) but at a point verge into being dangerously culturally appropriative real:

Marina and The Diamonds, in her “How To Be A Heartbreaker” video is obviously going for butchy-Americana, then a Native American headdress is donned.

After Michael  Jackson’s death, as tribute, Harper’s Bazzar ran a feature on his fantastic costumes.  Without a black model.

Devendra Banhart’s “Carmentsita” features himself  and, his then partner, Natalie Portman enacting a 60s Hindi drama.  Neither is Indian, but Banhart was raised by a mother who followed an Indian religious leader.  

On the song “Kiss Them For Me”  Siouxsee and the Banshees borrow heavily from Indian music and imagery, and their lead singers name in itself is an alteration of an Native American tribal name.  


One response to “Anyone’s Business: Appropriation Verses Admiration

  1. I’ve had discussions on cultural appropriation with my friends before and one instance, with a Tumblr troll. I think it’s naive to lump every example of ‘appropriation’ into the box of racism or ignorance. Someone *usually white hipsters* appropriating Native designs, totems, clothing is a much more problematic and complex example of racism than say *American-tweens* appropriating kawaii pop culture. The former has deep historical roots of racism attached to it and should be examined and critiqued. However, I have witnessed people literally call out non-japanese kawaii fans for being just as racist when the reality is that the entire foundation of that particular movement lies in POP-CULTURE-CAPITALISM. The entire culture of the latter is rooted in the reality of commercialism so therefore it NEEDS & WANTS & BENEFITS from appropriation. More people need to use their critical thinking skills when examining issues like this but then again these are DEM INTERNETS so it probably won’t happen. I’M TALKING TO YOU TUMBLR HOES.

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