Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Cultural Appropriation?

There is a great deal of concern these days over cultural appropriation. You know, wearing Chinese dresses when you're not Chinese, or having dreadlocks when you're not a Rastafarian. Or white European actors playing oriental roles. Etc.

Maxine Peake as Hamlet.
Woman playing a man? Appropriation?
The fact that she is not Danish? Appropriation?
On one level of course it seems fine. The days of 'blacking up' are well and truly over. I think it is a little odd, however when it comes to actors and actresses as it seems to be part of their job to persuade us that they are someone else. Taken to its logical extreme, you would not have a black man or woman playing anything but an 'culturally appropriate' black role, which seems to me to be a backwards step. And of course, a woman playing a man would be verboten (please ignore the fact that women should only be played by young men when Shakespeare is being performed).

It also seems to go rather against the whole 'there are no fixed genders or identities' schtick. After all, if a woman can identify as a man, and I have to take her seriously, why can't a white European male identify as an Asian woman? But logic has never really been part of this conversation. And I fear it never will.

So I am feeling culturally appropriated against. My culture is being appropriated by fashionistas who have no faith. See here, here. They are using the cultural symbols and identity marker of my faith and wearing then to other ends. And please don't say that they are part of Western cultural identity, because a Bishop's mitre is not, and neither is the Sacred Heart (definitely not in a WASP culture).

Indeed our culture is not only being appropriated, but it is being mocked: what other conclusion could we come up with when a 'rainbow' cloak is worn? Let's face it, the designer is not referencing the berit with Noah.

So why can this happen for us, and not for others, and how can it be that we allow, and promote it? It would rather be like Malcolm X loaning the grease paint for 'black-up Thursday'.

Oh well, come the Revolution.

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