i don’t know how i feel about ‘appropriation’. currently, every subculture is so mashed up its insane. a great insane. like language for example, up thru the 90s, slang separated generations, sub-cultures (ethnicities), regions.. now, it’s a free-for-all.. (the 90s were really the beginning of mashup culture, but i guess that’s for another time…) my social life from 8-18 was dominated by whether or not something was or could be legitimately black (too black, not black enough, acting black, etc), individuality and taste (again, for later…) I’m thinking these days appropriation is generally ‘bad’, by default, just don’t do it.
perhaps if you grew up WITHIN the culture and understand it from an authentic angle, perhaps… but if it’s a just a romantic infatuation or simple interest then you are a tourist at best and a zoo patron at worst. you are there to point and look (and laugh); an entire culture up to that point as novelty. but where do people like tarantino stand with kill bill, or wu-tang and their choice of samples? they never come off as mockery, but can it be just as superficial an influence? i mean, this really goes back to elvis/chuck berry – rock/r ‘n b – (rock & roll was code for white artists; rhythm & blues was code for black artists.) one of the elvis ‘creators’ said something to the effect ‘we needed a white boy that could sing like a black boy.’ because whites wanted to listen to black music, they just didn’t want to buy black music, ‘race records’ they were sometimes called; so appropriation as business model. but then you have people like eminem that are using, what was traditionally a ‘black’ medium, with zero sense of appropriation.
so it’s more of an apparent appropriation relative to context. as well as the beastie boys. (the only unfortunate part of their early fame imho were their success based on party songs which i think degraded their overall message and influence, as well as encouraged white mcs and audiences to follow with their own easy to recognize superficialities, leading to cats like vanilla ice). i wonder if jimi hendrix was accused of trying to be white, especially since his fame in america only came from being successful in england? but jimi also backed little richard on guitar in his early days. like i said earlier white=rock & black=r&b.
and then there’s the concept of ‘advocacy’. is it okay or less insensitive if you have a japanese director, crew, etc…? i really dont know. i don’t think so though.
i’ve been trying to find a place in my life where i may cross the line from fandom to cultural insensitivity.. so, my current /new infatuation with dr who… i can build me a TARDIS, wear a bow tie, run around with a sonic screwdriver, etc… and thats fine, cosplay.. but once i start reducing the concept of dr who and all of english culture I’ve ‘learned’ from watching the doctor down to ‘fish and chips’ and ‘spots of tea’ im being culturally insensitive.
american parties seem mainly innocent and non-offensive… probably because we don’t really respect those kinds of parties either?
i think though, to wrap this around to a lot of what’s been going on this week, ‘racism’ is a very powerful word and powerful concept and should not be used lightly. ‘culturally insensitive’ is probably the more common expression. avril lavigne is not continuing nor encourage systemic discrimination, she’s just a selfish north american that thinks the rest of the world is for her own novelty.