Tag: cultural appropriation

April 6, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

“Toya is more Asian than Asian people!”

My Chinese-Canadian coworker laughs. I, on the other hand, am chastened. I quickly make an excuse, and withdraw from the conversation.

Now, to some people in my circle, my coworker’s off-the-cuff accolade would have been something to be proud of. Otaku (or anime/manga fans to the uninitiated) live for compliments like those. We pepper our speech with common Japanese phrases, bend our minds around the playing of Go, memorize major Japanese holidays and customs, and refer to each other using the proper honorifics.

However, to me, the mad lust for some Otaku to approximate Japanese culture seems like just another way to fetishize another culture. My friends who have been into anime and manga longer than I have regale me with tales of Asian fetishes and white people who claim to be “eggs” – white on the outside, but yellow on the inside. My friend Hae, who is Korean, is viewed with abject lust by the younger boys at the ‘Con. She remembers the early 90s, before anime became mainstream, and she was followed around by freaky boys who wanted to take her picture or stroke her hair. (And for those in the know, Hae is not a cosplayer. She was simply an Asian girl walking in a land of Asiaphillia.)

That being the case, I have watched the evolution of Gwen Stefani with quite a bit of interest. As a teen rebelling from a hip-hop saturated reality, I was ushered into the world of alternative rock by No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom.” The pink haired, bindi sporting rock siren embodied a complete and total escape from bland suburban girlhood and her fashion sense was an interesting mix of Jamaican, Southeast Asian, and So-Cal culture. A decade passes and Gwen reinvents herself again, cavorting around in Alice and Wonderland get-ups and cooing about Harajuku style on multiple tracks. Completely co-opting Harajuku fashion, Gwen remade herself as the Great Gaijin Guru – importing Asian fashion and style, manifested in the pimping of the four Japanese girls who tour with her as a flesh and blood underscore to her credibility.

At first, the shout-out to Japanese style was cool – finally, we little Otaku had a voice. Fruits style was suddenly cool in America. And while I was underwhelmed at her fashion choices – as an onee-kei girl to the core, Harajuku fashion just wasn’t my thing – overall, I was pleased that someone so prominent on the world’s stage gave props to yet another cool aspect of our increasingly global culture.

However, after reading her interview in Bust Magazine’s “Love Issue” – which included yet another rehash of “Margaret Cho needs to stop talking shit and do the research!” – I started to wonder: how many of us anime-loving Otaku are actually appropriating Asian culture? We greedily accost people from Japan, asking to practice our elementary Japanese, eat sushi, ramen, and Pocky by the pound and consume everything we can find about Japanese culture. Are we “respecting the culture” as Gwen asserts, or are we trying to force our beliefs about Japanese culture onto Japanese reality? Read the Post Rise of the Culture Vultures

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Yes, that headline is meant to be provocative. Who counts as “white”? Is there such a thing as “black” music? There are no easy answers to any of these questions, of course. But lately I’ve seen quite a bit of discussion on this topic, particularly when it comes to so-called “blue-eyed soul.”

L.A. Times music critic Ann Powers recently wrote of Joss Stone:

If there’s one fault on “Introducing,” it’s that Stone’s comfort level with that tradition remains too high. Throughout the album, she sings in a voice she learned from those soul albums; the lilt of coastal England never surfaces. Crafting a new self from beloved popular cultural sources, Stone is very much of her generation; it’s her sincerity, her refusal to see that identity as artificial, that singles her out.

That led Salon’s music blog, Audiofile, to ask: Does Joss Stone sound too black?

But isn’t the argument that only certain types of people have the “right” to sing certain types of music hopelessly reductive? Should only poor white people play punk music? Do Northern-born blacks have less purchase on the blues than those born in the South? Can someone from California honestly play bluegrass? The truth may be distasteful, but scholars and critics like Nick Tosches, Eric Lott and Greil Marcus have shown that, for better or worse (and I firmly say it’s the former), popular culture is one long story of cultural alchemy. Call it exchange, call it theft, call it what you will, but without the interplay between cultures, our world would be radically different.

Read the Post Should white people make black music?

November 22, 2006 / / Uncategorized

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!


Read the Post YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

November 20, 2006 / / Uncategorized
November 17, 2006 / / Uncategorized
November 8, 2006 / / Uncategorized
November 3, 2006 / / Uncategorized

by guest contributor blackamazon, originally published at Having Read the Fine Print…

powdered wig sofia coppola marie antoinetteI have recently taken to using a term “Sofia Coppola feminism” and I intended to define it and then had an awesome/interesting time for the past couple of days but with the rising of the ugly head of this, felt it was apropos.

In short, SCF or “hipster feminism” is a parasitic feminism that not only ignores but is dependent on class, race, and cultural appropriation and subjugation. It is a feminism that demands emptiness (real or invented) of reflection, instead replacing it with self involvement. It requires that culture and emotion be reduced to tropes and materials so that possession of these trinkets is possession of the cultural significance. Removing it from actual experience and grounding it in blank slate whiteness and upper class (educationally or monetarily) wrenches it from the hands of those who experience it and tries to force them into a position of subjugation if they reject the positioning.

I came up with the term in my head when I was reading coverage of Marie Antoinette, Coppola’s most recent film. The article was in GQ and there was this kind of flip dismissal of the French booing

with words like

“It’s booing they do it more in Europe”

or

Well it’s art?

or

THEY’RE JUST JEALOUS

or

It’s what the French do….

Please understand I have not seen this film yet but my first reaction, being familiar with the director, the subject, and the director’s previous work is

VIVA LA FRANCE!

SCF ( the acronym) is a feminism that takes the idea “the personal is political” and runs AWAY with it in an awful, self absorbed, culturally decentering, yet culturally parasiting way.

SC’s three films have the proud distinction of being movies that I can’t sit through.

And I mean I can’t as in I watched The Virgin Suicides in bits and pieces over seven years before my rolling my eyes as the dumbshit kicks in.

Her talent is very visual and shehas an amazing facility for capturing ephemera.

Except she constantly tries to force this ephemera, this barely there-ness into some heavy social context.

The Virgin Suicides focuses on whiteness and pureness as the holy grail, meanwhile almost unmoors it entirely from the specificity of time frame, and the graveness of the matter. Read the Post Sofia Coppola feminism: dependent on class, race, and cultural subjugation