CloverReef

Diversity in Writing Vs Appropriation?

Recommended Posts

Maybe that's true, but you know what? It's not my job to look into each and every persons background and give them their license to complain. I'm not trying to say that they are right, or that they are wrong, I'm just trying to reinforce that they have their right to voice their concerns about it and not be attacked or belittled for doing so. That's it. I honestly don't know if it's cultural appropriation or not, I'm not Navajo, I just read the arguments presented and, upon reading the source, found I could understand why they were upset. That doesn't mean that I am upset about it. That doesn't mean that I don't see JK's side of things here too. But my feelings are irrelevant to that matter anyway.

What did upset me was when Chrissy threw around words like censorship, and segregation, and actively demeaned these people for voicing criticism. What is happening here is not censorship. You cannot advocate an authors right to write about anything she wants with one breath, and then condemn her readers for voicing criticism of what she writes with the next. Do you not understand how hypocritical that is? If people are allowed to write whatever they want, which they should be, then readers, too, have the right to say whatever they want about it in response. You cannot have one without the other, because to suppress that criticism would be censorship. It is honestly upsetting to see people here cluck their tongues and demean these people just for voicing simple criticisms. To quote a very famous, and very important quote: "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" You can disagree with these people all you want, but do not insult them and demean them like that. We're better than that, damn it.

Criticism is valid. Excoriating someone on social media for daring to use a fairly well known and visible piece of cultural belief is bullying. It's not all that complicated. The right for these critics to voice their opinion must be earned by their presenting their criticism in a reasonable manner, and tweets are not it. Crowd-sourcing outrage is not it. Present some serious and credible reasons, but don't stamp feet and add hashtags as emphasis.

The hypocrisy is most evident in the way these social initiatives pick and choose who they'll support. I'm pretty sure it's more offensive for the Navajo Nation to be thought of as needing to be defended by a social media campaign against JK Rowling than anything JK Rowling has written. It's quite condescending, isn't it, this assumption that the tribal elders can't step up and speak for themselves?

And I would posit that it IS our responsibility to do the research before we jump onto the bandwagon, lest we find ourselves supporting someone, or something which turns out to be not what we thought it was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure that was mentioned after you, maybe someone edited it out, maybe I'm just crazy. It doesn't matter in the end. It was mainly Chrissy's points that infuriated me, when she said this:

See, it's a very slippery slope that can be used to justify some very nasty sorts of racism. Frankly, I find the segregation of cultures you're proposing offensive. Essentially, whether you realize you're saying it or not, your argument is no one can interpret any culture other than their own which is frankly disgusting and leads to a whole treasure trove of ignorance that breeds hate and bigotry.

When I wasn't even talking about that. People keep on saying, over and over, that this sort of push back will make people afraid to explore cultures not their own, but will it really? It seems to me that it simply reinforces how important it is to treat other peoples cultural heritage with respect. It's fine to borrow it for a little while, but you sure as hell better treat it with respect and give it back in same state that you borrowed it in. This is a good thing, especially when you remember that the days when you could write whatever the hell you wanted about other races and cultures, without doing a drop of research, and get away with it, weren't so long ago. And people keep on talking about whitewashing, but I don't think that phrase means what you think it means! Whitewashing is what happens when you take a story, that was made by, for, and about, a culture that is not white, and then make an adaptation of it, wherein all the roles are occupied by white people. This is not the same as a work that lacks diversity. Lack of diversity in fiction is an issue, yes, but it is not the same as whitewashing. Exodus: Gods and Kings is whitewashed, Stonewall was whitewashed, that horrible new Michal Jackson film people are making is going to be whitewashed. An original work written with a cast of original, white characters, cannot be. It can be deeply problematic, yes, but that's not the same thing. It's a small distinction yes, but an important one, especially with the rate people are throwing that phrase around.

Criticism is valid. Excoriating someone on social media for daring to use a fairly well known and visible piece of cultural belief is bullying. It's not all that complicated. The right for these critics to voice their opinion must be earned by their presenting their criticism in a reasonable manner, and tweets are not it. Crowd-sourcing outrage is not it. Present some serious and credible reasons, but don't stamp feet and add hashtags as emphasis.

If this is how you feel, then I think I can understand. But, I'm not willing to right off an entire swathe of people, and what I believe to be valid criticisms, just because of a vocal few dragging the rest down. Yes, there are people that are bringing the rest down with their behavior, but, I think it would be wrong of me to just throw out the whole point because of that. Like it or lump it, we live in a social media age, and that has changed the way we communicate, unfortunately part of those changes is to make it easier to say mean things and get away with it. But I don't have the energy or the dedication to give each and every one a scolding. Why should we punish those who have genuine concerns for the actions of those they have no responsibility over? Yes, there are assholes in the mix, but many of these people have valid concerns, valid complaints, we shouldn't punish them for the things they can't control.

Edited by LockedBox

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I was demeaning about the people making the tweets / tumblr posts because I'm sick and tired of the internet trying to tell people when they should be offended by something. I'm tired of women on campus who have no clue what real sexism is calling everything misogyny. And I'm tired of people outside of a culture telling a people of a culture that they should be offended by something. It goes on A LOT and it belittles actual issues. I see it a lot when I grade essays, apparently letting people know they're ignorant for not acknowledging that they're being marginalized is en vogue. Maybe I'm touchy because I've been dealing with things of this nature all semester long. And yes, that argument for separation of cultures is something people are saying within the tumblr-sphere.

Also the argument I made earlier is part of the horse shoe theory, that's been proven correct again and again, it essentially states that when a movement reaches the furthest part of the left it starts to lean to the far right in its ideologies. And that's what's been happening lately with on the topic of cultural appropriation.

Further, when someone claims that a culture/nationality/race/ethnicity etc, should be offended because you are, you're actually... well I see Bronxie just made that point.

It's also somewhat interesting that the Navajo have a tradition of embracing authors who use their culture as inspiration, and none of the people quoted in any news article are Navajo. There's a Cherokee woman very upset and an Ojibwe woman but no article I've found mentions a single Navajo as being upset over it. One mentions the Navajo praising the X-files episode from the 90s, and Hillman's novel, but nothing from verified Navajo people, (I don't count comments because they're unverifiable). Interestingly enough there was a Teen Wolf episode about skin-changers recently, and no one made a peep.

--Sincerely, a multi-ethnic woman sick of the internet.

Edited by ChrissyQuinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to sit next to Chrissy on the "sick of the Internet" bench.

Your definition of "whitewashing" is lacking outside the Urban Dictionary. It is this utterly inexplicable habit of redefining words that makes any rational discussion impossible, you know. It's disingenuous for you to say to me that I don't understand what you meant, or that I missed your point, because of course I will misunderstand, if you insist on redefining words.

(I've growled at my child for the very same offense, I confess. I'm not interested in Internet slang and usage. My love affair is with the English language, with all its quirks and foibles, with its contrary rules and seductive cadences, with the way one can paint in measured syllables and capture the universe in the turn of a phrase.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not saying that your points are invalid, I was just a bit confused as to why you were accusing me of such things when that was not the point I was trying to make. I can see how I was misconstrued now, but at the time I was very confused and a little upset. These are not beliefs I hold and are not beliefs I was trying to communicate. I never intended to communicate otherwise, merely state that it is our responsibility as authors to be aware of the sort of power we can wield, and to treat material we borrow from with the utmost respect.

And as for the whitewashing thing, I'm not claiming responsibility for that. I claim responsibility for a everything else, but I stand by that. That is what the term has always meant. Its in the route of the word for heavens sake. To white wash is to erase all reference to colour until only white remains, be it in film or in writing or in the history books. It is not the same as excluding minority groups. Lets take my piece of fiction MBWLAYWGS for example. It is about a romance between two white men. It has no characters of colour amount it's main cast. Is this problematic? Yes, a little. Theresa was written as a person of mixed race, but she's only one minor character amougst many, so there's definitely a noticeable lack of diversity there. It's something I regret now, and something I'm trying not to repeat in the future, because while Victorian England was definitely white dominated, it was not and never was, soley inhabited by white people. People of colour were always there, and I ought to have been recognized them more. But that isn't the same as white washing. I'm not taking a story away from a person of colour. I'm not taking a story about people of colour and changing it so it is about white people. I just, didn't include any. A lack of inclusion and diversity is not the same as whitewashing. Whitewashing is when you erase people of colour, not when you simply neglect them. The latter is still a serious issue, yes, but they are not the same. You do everyone a disservice by getting them confused.

This is a good article on the subject. It's focused at film, but I think it sums up the issue rather nicely, and can be applied easily enough to other media.

Edited by LockedBox

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still fail to see how JK Rowling's use of the notion of Skinwalkers is a form of whitewashing. I do, however, see it as both a patronizing exercise in people knowing better than the Navajo tribal elders, much like that group at the museum knew better than the kimono-clad Japanese-American women, and as an exercise in reverse racism.

The only thing being whitewashed here is the motivation of the protesters, and I am quite certain there isn't enough calcimine in existence to lighten the stain of cyberbullying. There is no difference between what these people are doing, and a gaggle of preteen girls making another child's life a misery. Both are equally repugnant.

This discussion has gone far afield of Clover's original inquiry, but to try and bring this around to the topic again, as writers, we cannot and should not allow the Internet and its flash crowds of delusional trolls dictate what we write. Culture is in the public domain, and it is not so sacred a cow that we cannot use it. If you believe otherwise, then yes, you are supporting censorship, and that is a slippery slope I cannot countenance.

Edited by BronxWench

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Victorian England wasn't as lily white as most think, nor was it the melting pot London is today--but it was somewhere between. This was an era when the sun never set on the British Empire and trade with India and China was very important. There's also the Gypsy ( the romnichel or romani ) who while shit all over in Victorian literature get a nod in most Novels. Even Moonstone, a victorian novel by Wilkie Collins has indian characters in it. And people of african decent actually did find themselves in high society on occasion. It's even in literature at the time, though the only instance that comes to mind is Miss Swartz in Thackeray's Vanity Faire.

White washing in fiction and movies is also an issue of lack of inclusion, pretending it's not is needless nitpicking. Take modern day writing set in the victorian era, it's white washed. There's a problem when literature from the actual time period features more people of color than modern interpretations. But that's another issue entirely.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go appropriate culture while I write about pre Christian welsh deities, and slavic monsters while neither slavic nor welsh. Oh and it's set in an eastern European feudal type society while I'm not eastern European so there's that too.

Edited by ChrissyQuinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

White washing in fiction and movies is also an issue of lack of inclusion, pretending it's not is needless nitpicking. Take modern day writing set in the victorian era, it's white washed. There's a problem when literature from the actual time period features more people of color than modern interpretations. But that's another issue entirely.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go appropriate culture while I write about pre Christian welsh deities, and slavic monsters while neither slavic nor welsh. Oh and it's set in an eastern European feudal type society while I'm not eastern European so there's that too.

Now that's a discussion worth having, but you're right. It's not germane here. We'll have to take that one up at some point.

And yes, please! Go appropriate, because I need my fix!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Victorian England wasn't as lily white as most think, nor was it the melting pot London is today--but it was somewhere between. This was an era when the sun never set on the British Empire and trade with India and China was very important. There's also the Gypsy ( the romnichel or romani ) who while shit all over in Victorian literature get a nod in most Novels. Even Moonstone, a victorian novel by Wilkie Collins has indian characters in it. And people of african decent actually did find themselves in high society on occasion. It's even in literature at the time, though the only instance that comes to mind is Miss Swartz in Thackeray's Vanity Faire.

I know that! I said that myself! When I say dominated I mean that in the strictest sense of the word, they dominated, they held dominion. They held power and influence over other racial groups. The media was controlled by and produced for white people, white voices and figures were raised above the rest, and as such, we are left with a predominantly white image of the period that does not accurately portray the true racial makeup of the period. Not, dominated as in, there were more of them. And I'm going to have to dissaggree with you on the point about the phrase "whitewashing" and the use thereof. These are separate issues. Lumping them all in together further confuses discussion. And this discussion has proven confusing enough already. Can we please just keep on saying the word and meaning what it actually means, if only for the sake of clarity?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can we please just keep on saying the word and meaning what it actually means, if only for the sake of clarity?

I am. It doesn't have as strict of a definition as most would think. It's definition is "to whiten" or to "hide ones flaws."



The media was controlled by and produced for white people, white voices and figures were raised above the rest, and as such, we are left with a predominantly white image of the period that does not accurately portray the true racial makeup of the period.

This is a gross overstatement as I just pointed out. We aren't left with a predominantly white image of the period, I just gave you two examples of novels from the period that have non-white characters and there are many more of them. Viewed through an anglo lens, certainly, but there is plenty of scholarship over othering in Victorian literature. The predominantly white interpretation of the period comes from modern media more than it does any historical source. Assimilation was also considered ideal at the time.

oriental1.gif

victoria-teatime21.jpg

but as I said... this is a different argument entirely for another time.

Edited by ChrissyQuinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you please reiterate your point for me, because I don't understand what you are trying to say here. I used my own fic as an example of how a person might subconsciously exude people of colour from a setting that they should, by rights, hold a prominent place in. You rebutted by reiterating that yes, there were a lot of people of colour. I reaffirmed that, the key phrase being "we are left with a predominantly white image of the period that does not accurately portray the true racial makeup of the period." . Now, you're irritated with me for agreeing with you? I don't understand what you want from me exactly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This discussion has gone far afield of Clover's original inquiry, but to try and bring this around to the topic again, as writers, we cannot and should not allow the Internet and its flash crowds of delusional trolls dictate what we write. Culture is in the public domain, and it is not so sacred a cow that we cannot use it. If you believe otherwise, then yes, you are supporting censorship, and that is a slippery slope I cannot countenance.

Ha thank you for addressing my OP.

I really didn't intend for a debate to break out when I started this, but debates are healthy and often fascinating as long as people don't get too pissed off. This one remained civil I think, though. (Very much so compared to the one on facebook...)

I know other writers with very diverse representations of cultures in their stories who worry about this sort of thing as well. I thought it might be useful for people like us to get some perspective on the subject. I'm never going to stop worrying about other people's feelings. It's my nature, and as frustrating as it can be, I like that part of me. So I'd still like to hear how you guys figure out the best way to be respectful in your own stories. I think Chrissy gave a good example in her first post about the dude sitting on the porch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in a neighborhood that is culturally and racially diverse, in a city that's the same, and I simply don't think about it. Being respectful is part of who I am.

An example for me is the D&D games that went on around my dining table when Elderspawn was still in high school. There was such a cast of characters: a Muslim boy, a Hindu boy, a Russian agnostic, a Cuban-Irish boy, my Irish-Swedish kid, and an Italian kid with an allergy to Parmesan cheese, poor bugger. I'd make snacks for them, and it just never occurred to me until one kid mentioned it that I served things that were all halal, beef-free, and allergy safe. I called it being a halfway competent mom, personally. You just take everyone into consideration, and it works.

So, when I write, I just do the same thing. I don't care about skin color, or faith, or gender. It's all about people, and putting them in a setting that challenges them, and seeing how they deal with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cultural Appropriation is utter fascist bullshit. The idea behind is that it is “racist” to enjoy anything that isn’t of “your culture”.

In other words, by this SJW logic, we’re all racists for enjoying Studio Ghibli movies, or for eating Chinese Food. DAFAQ? It doesn’t make any sense. SJWs made this term up so they can bully artists and writers, to control what can and cannot be expressed. That is it.

I will say this, if you’re going to write about a culture outside your own, take time to research about a culture if you’re gonna write about it.

For example, compare Disney’s Peter Pan’s portrayal of Native Americans, vs say Pocahontas. One was goofy made up shit, one actually did some research. Also, concerning race relations, write your characters, all the characters as people first. Think of race/culture in terms of something like sports teams and or heck fandoms. At the core of everything we’re all just people. How we look, dress, talk like, believe, etc. that’s all external trappings. Nothing is sacred. Don’t worry about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Hey,

I may be an old Swamp Yankee (figure that one out), but I enjoy Japanese culture and food along with other trappings from those islands. 

However, that being said… Why do people get upset at what is written in literature? JK Rowling has her way of seeing things that may be her ideal and not reflect reality. I would think that people would enjoy her book series and not over-analyze it. It seems like it takes too much away from just sitting down with a good book and reading it for pleasure.

What do I know?

Edited by Guest

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think in some cases, seeing something you are passionate about (whether it be religion or culture or race or something different entirely) written full of inaccuracies, stereotypes, etc, can be frustrating. Even more so if that writing is given credence, popularity or validation of any other type. I understand why some might get upset in those circumstances. But when it comes to fantasy like JK Rowling, where everything is just a product of her imagination, it becomes a grey area. On one hand, fantasy is fantasy. She is clearly not saying her universe is based in fact. On the other hand, if someone feels her portrayal demeans or trivializes their culture or something else they’re passionate about, their hurt and frustration is valid. But should writers and other artists cater to anyone and everyone who might be offended by their stories? Fuck no. I think writers and other artists should cater to the issues they’re passionate about.

Whether you’re respectful within reason, hypersensitive to the feelings of select/all  readers, or throw caution to the wind and go batshit crazy with weird verging-on-insensitive cultural theories/fantasies, all writers need to feel this out and decide where they stand for themselves. You know, so long as you’re not blatantly and aggressively mean-spirited. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve never had an issue with fantasy, and after a lifetime of seeing people get my religious beliefs breathtakingly wrong. I don’t get bothered by that, either. I write what I write, and while I do research because I prefer being accurate, I don’t expect everything I read to come with an extensive bibliography of source materials. However, if you take something so far out of the realm of probability without explanation, it is likely to jar me out of the story, and then you’ve lost me.

The whole point of telling stories is to probe the sore spots. We expose what’s wrong (at least in our estimation) with society, and put it out there. If we offend, well, then, think about WHY we offended you. I think if you find yourself being frequently offended, my question to you is why are you looking for things which will offend you? Why not go find something you’d like and give being angry a vacation?

The world is so much more than the sum of one person’s experience. Chris enjoys Japanese culture and food, and if sometimes his portrayals verge on being anime tropes, that’s not a bad thing. It was the Japanese themselves who created those tropes, after all. He’s still working within the cultural parameters, and maybe one day, he’ll travel to Japan and see it all firsthand. I like ancient history, so it might be a bit harder for me, but hey, I can see what’s left, right?

It’s called fiction for a reason...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I completely agree BW. Even if I might not operate the same way. Who knows. I think tropes and stereotypes have a place in fiction, even if they do offend. Even though I see how it could hurt or offend some readers, and I empathize with them, but at the same time, the campy gay guy stereotype for instance is a reviled by a lot of people in the gay community, but campy gay guys exist. We can’t shy away from campy characters just because they are demonized by a stereotype, we just have to do them well, right? And I love fiction writing for the things you mentioned, the social commentary, the messages, the exploring of things that might or do offend, the speaking to issues in negative and positive ways. 

I dunno if I’m making sense anymore. Arguing with someone at the same time I’m writing this about something else lol. Makes my thoughts all jumbled! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If free speech is a right, then one has a duty to be offended (at times), otherwise the freedom of speech isn’t being fully exercised, IMO.  

Like BW, I too will put in some research into the story, creating backgrounds, etc, because I like a certain plausible realism to it, but there are definitely elements that aren’t realistic.  Heck, some of my characters would likely have been labeled as sex offenders a long time ago….  That said, there are aspects of the story where the research isn’t needed, and a stereotype works adequately because it’s not the main point.  (ie, a waiter, a clerk, or otherwise unimportant role).

Just my $0.02 worth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Thanks BW.

That being said, if I couldn’t find something in the Shinto or Zen Buddhism religions of Japan to help me, I came up with my own take on them. I did not want to either get wrong or offend certain adherents to those two forms of worship by misappropriating their beliefs too much. Since a lot of Japanese pre-history is still unknown, I came up with an ancient religion of my own which is only meant for a targeted story.

I did actual research before I began my main story... 

I took Furred Dragons and Giant Turtles (think ‘luck’ dragons or ‘Gamera’) as good guys. I pitted them against evil fire-horses.

Using my imagination and blending this into modern Japanese society, I am attempting my own take on a country unlike any other. Working into my story secret societies, magic, symbiotic relationships, a character endowed by his gods with meta-human abilities like a few of his ancestors, extinct religions and languages, symbolism and whatever else I can think of add into the mix. With this though, there has to be something to tie it all together and not be too far out of the realm of modern Japanese beliefs, philosophy or religion.

Also, as I have said, Japan is basically a standalone society which in many instances borrowed heavily from their neighbors and shaped it to be their own. That is what I have added to my main story. I have tried to used Japan’s uniqueness as it is truly one of the most interesting places that I have ever encountered.

This is a roundabout way of me saying how much I love Japanese manga/anime and why I write my stories based on one of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...Huh, maybe a little late to this meeting.  Hi, I’m JimBob, and I’m usually a late for everything (Waves hand).
 
To answer CloverReef’s main questions:
 
Barring the obvious like exploiting stereotypes and fetishizing a culture, or claiming a piece of that culture as your own and ignoring the history behind it, where do you think the line in the sand is?
 
I think that, for the most part, it is every author’s own decisions, reactions, and thoughts on that matter.  I think that, as long as you attempt to be as respectful to each culture that one uses, that you take the time to research and, perhaps, add some background into it to provide that knowledge and, in a way, show that you’re not saying it’s yours, that the thin red line stops at the point where, as you put it, one exploits, claims, or otherwise fetishizes a culture.
 
Between crafting a diverse world with fully fleshed out characters of existing cultures and appropriating and exploiting?
 
I think that a diverse world has to have some ‘appropriation’ (as used in the term of the article) for it to be accepted.  Just as with fully fleshed out characters.  (Hey, hey, put those pitchforks down and hear me out before I get them rammed somewhere I don’t want them to be...)  The wide range of human cultures on Earth alone, just to keep this example easy enough, cannot simply be a one dimensional stance.  Good and Evil are not black and white, so to speak.  A diverse world would have its history, would have its own ideas and religions.  Using something that is familiar (Let’s just say a pantheon of gods, to make this easy) could be construed as appropriating, but also help to bridge the gap between the reader and the world created.  (My thoughts go to the old Battlestar Galactica in this one; What?  I’m not the only one who watched it...  Wait, I am?  Well...  Anyway, I believe it was Mormon wedding ceremonies were used as a wedding tradition on there; Greek and Roman mythology was bastardized and twisted; et cetera, et cetera).
 
How can writers avoid white-washing stories and still be 100% respectful?
 
This one’s a tricky question to answer.  No matter what, someone’s going to be offended.  No matter what, someone’s going to get up in arms about how the elderly Japanese man is the mentor, ‘that’s stereotypical’.  Yet, if he wasn’t the mentor, they would be up in arms about how it’s always the white American is, and ‘that’s whitewashing’.  There is no way to be 100% respectful.  All one can do is be as respectful as they can.
 
As BW and DP have said, I put research into my stories as well.  I like getting plausible elements within (sometimes, yes, things have to be...altered.  Hell, Blood and Honour, I’ve made a...minor alteration with regards to one of my characters (though, historically, this isn’t the first time, just unheard of within the timeframe and situation of BaH).  If I get the sense that someone is trying to put in an effort to be respectful towards something, then I don’t become offended.  (...007 Goldeneye, one of the scenes shows a Canadian Naval Admiral being killed and his ID and et cetera stolen because of seduction and ineptitude...  This was changed from the original (which was an American) because the USN was up in arms about how ‘that wouldn’t be the case’...  I looked at it like ‘The guy’s human, it happens...’).
 
Or are there certain mistakes some of us make that piss you off?
 
When it comes to being pissed off, it’s a lot more about people making a big deal out of what could be construed as nothing.  Using the example above, who cares what nationality?  People are people; people f*ck up, it’s what makes us all human.  When it does come down to writing, and I haven’t seen it here, but a lot of what pisses me off is a result of taking something important or sensitive in nature (i.e. rape, culture, sexuality, religion, et cetera) and turning it into nothing more than a stereotypical joke.  (In this case, something like having a white guy playing a Japanese guy and going way out of the way to be insulting, including stuff like massive buck-teeth (rabbit buck teeth) and speaking gibberish (I can’t remember what movie that was, but that was like ‘Come on, give me a flocking break here!’).
 
Or do you have tips to go by to avoid appropriating in your own stories?
 
Like I said before, in my opinion, one has to ‘appropriate’ some aspects of a culture in order for the reader to better connect with a given world.  (Okay, all of you in the back with the pitchforks still raised, calm down!)  By using something familiar (maybe it’s the ancient Romans, maybe it’s magic, maybe it’s a Samurai and the Samurai code) it allows the reader an idea, something they can understand or, in the case, maybe something that they may research to better understand.  (Hey, now, get the pitchforks away from me, you angry mob!) 
 
Of course, as stated, there will always be someone ready to start a mob, ready to incite some riot over what they perceive as offense.  As ourselves, we don’t get to choose what someone takes offense to.  BW may not care about the use of Marvel’s Thor (Sorry, if I got that wrong...  Don’t hurt me please!), but the guy next to her may be sitting there going ‘Damn Hollywood and that tights wearing mockery of Thor!!!!’  Ultimately, I can’t choose for them and they can’t choose for me...  All I’d be asking is not to ruin it for someone else who doesn’t get offended by something.
 
Okay, so that was it.  Anyone still there?  (Tumbleweed rolls down the street for a moment before it, too, grows legs and gets the Hell out of dodge.  A slow breeze whistles through the emptiness)  Well, that was unexpected.
 
My apologies for the longwinded and probably boring post, not sure if that made sense or if I was just rambling.  Seventeen hours awake does nothing for logical thought.
 
Tcr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:lol:  Most of the folk I know who are Asatru don’t get too wound up about the Marvel version of their gods. I honor them, of course, like a good little pagan, but Thor isn’t one of my go-to gods (although Loki, well… if he really looked like Tom Hiddleston, I might be seriously tempted...). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking about this subject the other day when I was watching the trailer for Moana and learned that the concept of “mana”—which I’ve been using in my story “Eddie Forever” as a word for magical energy—comes from Polynesia. Is that cultural appropriation? I’m sure I’m not using the word in precisely the way that its coiners intended; I'm simply using it to refer to magical energy because I’ve seen others use it that way. So is that not cultural appropriation, because the word has taken on a meaning and identity separate from its origin? Or does that make it the worst kind of cultural appropriation, because it popularizes a distortion of the word’s original meaning?

I’m gonna be honest: I don’t really care all that much. Because I imagine that for every ancient Polynesian who would be upset about the modern world’s misuse of a sacred concept, there would probably be another who liked the idea that the word lives on around the globe today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now