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(2,841 posts)
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 02:55 AM Feb 2016

Cultural appropriation isnít (always) a bad thing

Cultural appropriation is a “trending” topic because of the pop-culture practice of exploring other – sometimes obscure and far-flung – cultures in order to enhance the latter’s visual and aural aesthetics. It is common for people to call out celebrities for “appropriating” a certain culture in the way they dress and, in the case of musical artists, also in their concert and music video set designs.

On the one hand, the clip is a whirlwind view of the colorful and exotic side of India, complete with peacocks, dilapidated movie theaters, the Holi festival and a child dressed as a Hindu deity. It also portrays Beyonce as a Bollywood superstar drenched in jewels, intricate fabrics and henna. The video is a visual spectacle. It really does make you want to go to India to see and experience all that. Where do I sign?

On the other hand, that’s apparently just the tip of the iceberg of Indian culture. On teenvogue.com, Priya-Alika Elias wrote, “But that’s just a tiny part of who we are, and that’s the only part the West ever chooses to depict. That depiction is the reason white people still ask if I’ve ever charmed a snake. The India of ‘HFTW’ is an India that bears very little relation to the real India, which is complex beyond belief.”

But then, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley and Natassja Omidina Gunasena insist that “Beyonce as a Bollywood star is not cultural appropriation” on time.com. They write, “In fact, while folks in the South Asian diaspora point fingers at Beyonce for her inauthenticity, others expressed how empowering it is for them to see a dark-skinned woman portraying a Bollywood star.”

The point of it all is that cultural appropriation is as subjective as subjective can get. Some think it’s a grave offense while others believe it’s not a big deal. Still others say it can actually be a good thing. However comical, this definition from urbandictionary.com seems to be the one that really sums up the whole debate as it stands right now:

“The ridiculous notion that being of a different culture or race (especially white) means that you are not allowed to adopt things from other cultures. This does nothing but support segregation and hinder progress in the world. All it serves to do is to promote segregation and racism.”

Depriving members of a particular culture, even a dominant and privileged one, the opportunity to pick up aspects of another culture does nothing to encourage the former to have a deeper understanding of the latter. Instead of bridging distances and promoting global interaction, accusations of cultural appropriation only make people afraid to explore outside their own culture because of the perception being lobbied that it’s negative, when it need not be.

On theatlantic.com, Jenni Avins has this to say, “In the 21st century, cultural appropriation – like globalization – isn’t just inevitable; it’s potentially positive. We have to stop guarding cultures and subcultures in efforts to preserve them. It’s naïve, paternalistic, and counterproductive. Plus, it’s just not how culture or creativity work. The exchange of ideas, styles, and traditions is one of the tenets and joys of a modern, multicultural society


More cultural crusader nonsense. I understand and respect some Indians who find the video offensive, but I also understand and respect those that found it a beautiful tribute to their culture. To politicize it is in this global world is just so tiresome.

Plus I found Beyonce to be absolutely ravishing in the video and aspiring. I'm sure some of her fans, especially young black girls, will take some interest in Bollywood and Indian cultures in general from the MV itself. Afterall that is how cultural exchange works no?
7 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Cultural appropriation isnít (always) a bad thing (Original Post) romanic Feb 2016 OP
everything is appropriation of some sort. it's all a matter of degree nt msongs Feb 2016 #1
Funny that this example centers around Bollywood, cemaphonic Feb 2016 #2
I don't know who doesn't get this. All art, music, culture, etc. influences all others. Warren DeMontague Feb 2016 #3
It's gotten to a point romanic Feb 2016 #5
It never was. Inkfreak Feb 2016 #4
"Cultural appropriation" is how human cultures develop and progress Crunchy Frog Feb 2016 #6
Paul Simon got similar heat for "Graceland". Buns_of_Fire Feb 2016 #7


(4,138 posts)
2. Funny that this example centers around Bollywood,
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 04:26 AM
Feb 2016

an aspect of Indian culture appropriated from the US. Outside of blatantly insulting stuff like the old minstrel shows, so-called cultural appropriation is a positive enhancement for all.

Warren DeMontague

(80,708 posts)
3. I don't know who doesn't get this. All art, music, culture, etc. influences all others.
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 05:03 AM
Feb 2016

Especially at points of interaction.

I think one should be bright enough to distinguish between negative/harmful stereotyping or ripping off, and being genuinely influenced and appreciative.


(2,841 posts)
5. It's gotten to a point
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 10:11 AM
Feb 2016

being appreciative and influenced from other cultures is considered a racist/bigoted act. If it's not henna, its Dia De Los Muertos makeup or taking a yoga class or cafeteria food not being authentic enough. It's gotten ridiculous and tribalistic.

Only positive I can think of is that seems like a lot of people have collectively rolled thier eyes at the narrative being pushed by the likes of Buzzfeed and Vox. The stink over HOTW video is'nt really that big. Folks are tired of these -usually- white owned clickbait sites telling them what the new flavor of selective outrage of the month is it seems.

Crunchy Frog

(26,512 posts)
6. "Cultural appropriation" is how human cultures develop and progress
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 01:03 PM
Feb 2016

and has been since the dawn of humanity.


(17,018 posts)
7. Paul Simon got similar heat for "Graceland".
Sat Feb 27, 2016, 01:56 PM
Feb 2016
What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. ~Paul Simon

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