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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:31 pm 
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Yes, I speak from an American perspective, I cannot possibly speak from any other, and I in no way mean to speak for any other, either. Yes, I use 'white' to mean white American. But even that is a concept we inherited from White England

I also speak as understanding that yes, White used to be almost exclusively to mean "English". We very much had "Irish Need Not Apply" signs up next to the "No Negroes" and "No Oakies". The difference it makes today is that we still disproportionately oppress Blacks. Irish are now just 'white'. Irish aren't disproportionately targeted, denied employment, imprisoned, etc. No one cares if you're from Oklahoma. We still have rampant poverty and inequality on Native American reservations, rampant fear-mongering over "Mexican immigrants" (regardless of which country they're actually from or how long they've been here), and harassment and violence directed at groups such as Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ, etc.

Yes, we have made a farce out of St. Patrick's Day and, let's be honest, Halloween. We have utterly distorted Norse mythology. We see nothing wrong with "sexy French maid" and "sexy German barmaid" as we do with other problematic cultural caricatures. The main reason these do not get the same outrage is that the people they represent, today, are no longer part of the oppressed group. IMO that doesn't make it okay, but it does greatly diminish it on the 'shit I feel needs to change in this world' list.

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"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:07 pm 
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In the end, it's your choice. You know you are about to do something that will upset and hurt some people. Either you care and don't do it, or you don't care and carry on. If you choose the latter, some of those people probably won't care if they upset you back.

"Cultural Appropriation or, White People Discover That Being Judged Solely As an Involuntary Member of a Group Sucks"

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:03 am 
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There are times when some take everything far too seriously but generally speaking, if everyone isn't laughing, it's not funny.

Teremia, you'll have to let us know how your class goes. It should be interesting.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:23 pm 
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I don't know if 'in bad taste' can get much worse than this:
(Teachers dressed as the MAGA border wall & Mexican people. These are TEACHERS whose student base is about 13% Hispanic.
Middleton, Idaho teachers

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:22 pm 
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I'm with the author of that article on this one. Did no one stop to think this was a bad idea? Why did they think it was funny? :scratch:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:45 pm 
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It's not meant to be amusing. It's meant to be intimidating.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:02 pm 
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That it took place DURING school hours just blows my mind. Just awful.

I got to wondering the other day... I understand what is wrong with 'Blackface' which is a demeaning caricature of someone of another race, creed, etc.. (What the staff at the school did was the same but 'Brownface' /degrading & making fun at the expense of another race of people.) The people from the beauty shop who dressed up as Michael Jackson in different stages of his life, I find that less.. sinister/cruel making that situation hazy, to me anyway. Intention matters, but one cannot always know what another's intention is. It got me to wondering about gender swapping for costume/role playing, is that also a form of 'blackface'? If not, what makes that different? I ask in all sincerity.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:42 pm 
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RoseMorninStar wrote:
That it took place DURING school hours just blows my mind. Just awful.

I got to wondering the other day... I understand what is wrong with 'Blackface' which is a demeaning caricature of someone of another race, creed, etc.. (What the staff at the school did was the same but 'Brownface' /degrading & making fun at the expense of another race of people.) The people from the beauty shop who dressed up as Michael Jackson in different stages of his life, I find that less.. sinister/cruel making that situation hazy, to me anyway. Intention matters, but one cannot always know what another's intention is. It got me to wondering about gender swapping for costume/role playing, is that also a form of 'blackface'? If not, what makes that different? I ask in all sincerity.



I had a much longer post written up but I think by the time I got to the end I think I had sort of distilled down my thoughts so I just left the end.

Especially as we begin to accept (what many other societies have accepted throughout time) that sometimes gender is not as simple as sex, that there are sometimes more than two neatly divided categories, that sometimes one may feel compelled to cross some imaginary dividing line and take on a role that would not traditionally have been theirs. It is something that many cultures recognized, sometimes even celebrated. So even if one do not fall into this category, to merely present as another gender whether in earnesty or only in 'costume', it does not carry that same singular stigma of blackface.

Ultimately I would say when minority Americans tell us how something affects them, we should do them the very great honour of simply believing them and not engaging in hurtful behaviors, rather than telling them why it shouldn't be hurtful, why this time it isn't racist, why this example was okay. (I know that wasn't what you were doing, again, I cut off the whole first half of the post)

Just as we expect men to believe us when we as women tell them how something affects us negatively, rather than them trying to explain to us why we shouldn't feel that way.

Always brings to mind the Planet of the Apes movie (I forget which title, now) where we get the "An ape may say 'no' to a human, but a human may never again say 'no' to an ape." The reason didn't matter, the intent was not the issue, the history simply cannot be erased because it is inconvenient to the present.

Notice that it never even pretended that certain apes could not specifically hate humans, or that specific humans could not deeply feel for an identify with the situation of the apes. It just didn't matter to the particular issue - there are things that the oppressors (even former oppressors) can't do that the oppressed may. And no matter how 'unfair' the oppressors think this duality is, it isn't as unfair as the situation that brought it about.

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"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:19 am 
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Thanks elengil. That's helpful but still a bit confusing. I understand (or at least I believe I understand) why 'blackface' (or whatever culture is being demeaned/ridiculed) is awful and cruel and should not be done. However I love to dress up and make/wear costumes.. what might be offensive is sometimes murkier/harder to understand. Completely made up characters like hobbits are safe territory, but what about SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) for example: Nordic wear or other historical reenactment.

I've never watched Planet of the Apes. It's come up several times recently in conversation. Maybe that's a hint I need to watch it. ;)

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 Post subject: Cultural Appropriation
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:37 am 
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I’ve seen two of the modern Apes movies so far, and they’re excellent.

As for Northern European costuming, speaking as one of them, I can’t imagine being offended.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:32 pm 
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I would find a 'sexy nurse' costume offensive because it stereotypes nurses (and demeans women in general). If someone wore one to a Halloween or costume party, I'd probably let it pass, but if it was done in a mainstream movie or TV show, that's a different story. I imagine there would be a pretty strong protest from nurses in general if that happened. Nurses have fought long and hard to be recognized as something other than the 'doctors' handmaidens', and wouldn't take kindly to the portrayal!

So much depends on context and intent.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:47 pm 
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But nursing isn't a culture; it's a profession. So, while I understand why you'd be offended by a sexy nurse* outfit, it's not quite the same thing as cultural appropriation.


*Insert any other "sexy" thing here because that seems to be a staple of Halloween costumes. My daughter dressed as a sexy pirate or something this year. :roll: I dressed up as a prostitute for a party when I was in college. A party for mentally challenged young adults that my fraternity was sponsoring. The first night I met Craig for a date. :help:

We make dumb decisions at that age.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:51 pm 
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RoseMorninStar wrote:
Thanks elengil. That's helpful but still a bit confusing. I understand (or at least I believe I understand) why 'blackface' (or whatever culture is being demeaned/ridiculed) is awful and cruel and should not be done. However I love to dress up and make/wear costumes.. what might be offensive is sometimes murkier/harder to understand. Completely made up characters like hobbits are safe territory, but what about SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) for example: Nordic wear or other historical reenactment.

I've never watched Planet of the Apes. It's come up several times recently in conversation. Maybe that's a hint I need to watch it. ;)


(after looking it up) that particular line was in Battle for the Planet of the Apes which I believe was the last of the original movies.

I don't think it's just dressing up that's the problem - though some individuals may take offense no matter what. Mostly I think the core issue in most of these cases is the changing of skin color given its very specific problematic history.

There actually is discussion within the SCA about how to best approach cultures which are not European to ensure accurate and respectful portrayal. Recently the group has tried to push for broader inclucivity by removing language from its mission statement about being focused on medieval Europe, which has left some worried about people trying to, say, portray Native Americans.

There have been some informal discussions about how one might react to seeing someone dressed in regalia at an event, and IMO the most important thing to do is not just assume that they aren't Native American. Cultures and ethnicities blend enough that it's hard to tell who may or may not belong to a group simply by looking at them.

Otherwise, in general it was Europeans (not all cultures, but many prominent ones - English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, for some examples) who have exported their cultures around the globe so it's hard to argue that others cannot portray those European cultures, especially as there were more than just white people in Europe in the middle ages.

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"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:10 pm 
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I'm reminded that on this very board people complained about hypothetical casting of non-white actors in the hypothetical Amazon LOTR series as members of imaginary fantasy races. And the minor fainting fit people had over a few non-white extras in the Hobbit. Where do we get off complaining about other people complaining about white people dressing as real non-white people?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:16 pm 
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Agreed Suny, Sexy nurse, sexy cop, sexy teacher, sexy schoolgirl (ugh!), sexy female robot (sex bot), sexy convict, sexy nun :shock: :scratch: etc..

Laly, There are many costumes we dressed up in as kids that would be no-no's today; any native (Indian, Inuit/Yupik, Aborigine, etc..) Gypsy, Voodoo priest/priestess, Geisha, etc.. I suppose hula dancer/belidi dancer, whirling dervish, and traditional dancers/performers (like a Sumo wrestler) from other cultures would be offensive too. As a kid I recall being very proud to dress up as a Native American (I may have some Native American ancestry, but it would be several generations back). It's stuff like this I find most confusing.

elengil wrote:
I don't think it's just dressing up that's the problem - though some individuals may take offense no matter what. Mostly I think the core issue in most of these cases is the changing of skin color given its very specific problematic history.

I did some looking around on the internet for 'offensive costumes'. Some were in very bad taste (a giant 'boob') but most did not change skin color but were still what many would consider in the (demeaning/derogatory) spirit of blackface. A snake charmer, a Sultan, a 'Rasta' costume, Day of the Dead inspired costumes, a hobo (making fun of the homeless) and the other costuming mentioned earlier in my post.

As Frelga points out, it's certainly not a simple topic.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:30 pm 
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RoseMorninStar wrote:
I did some looking around on the internet for 'offensive costumes'. Some were in very bad taste (a giant 'boob') but most did not change skin color but were still what many would consider in the (demeaning/derogatory) spirit of blackface. A snake charmer, a Sultan, a 'Rasta' costume, Day of the Dead inspired costumes, a hobo (making fun of the homeless) and the other costuming mentioned earlier in my post.

As Frelga points out, it's certainly not a simple topic.


You're right, I was speaking more to you personally, that I doubt 'dressing up' would be a problem because I didn't understand your statement of loving to 'dress up' including those types of costumes. But yes, there are certainly offensive ways of dressing up beyond skin color. /sigh/

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"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:41 pm 
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For many years I used to belidi dance (Middle Eastern 'belly' dance) and had many costumes from several cultures. I've belonged to a Civil war group. I've done Renaissance costumes/Ren faires. I've got a hobbit costume. We've had Japanese students who gave us yukatas & I've dressed in those. I used to do art appreciation for children & I'd often dress up in costume to do my presentations. I never went in 'blackface' but I'd have to think back to determine if anything I dressed as might be thought of as offensive. I don't THINK so, but this conversation had me wondering about the many things I've dressed up as over the years.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:48 pm 
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So should I get offended when every American dresses up like a Leprechaun in a red wig and says "Begorrah" on St Patrick's Day? :)

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:05 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
So should I get offended when every American dresses up like a Leprechaun in a red wig and says "Begorrah" on St Patrick's Day? :)


Actually I think you just touched on something. Something can be offensive even if an individual does not feel offended, no? There isn't really a thing someone 'should' be offended over so much as other people shouldn't be offensive by doing said thing.

But then if no one is offended, is it still offensive? :scratch:

Like all things in communication, there are two parts, what is given and what is received. And they don't always align.

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"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:48 pm 
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But how can anyone know that "no one" will be offended?

I honestly don't know. My personal list of excusable "cultural appropriation" would include the cases of people who are making a serious study of another culture's art, music, or costume—trying to learn, trying to get it right. I've heard of musicians in Japan studying the music of Bach so seriously that they ended up becoming Lutherans. :D Not that that's necessary to studying the music of Bach, but it does demonstrate commitment. I would also include people in this country in dual-culture marriages, who are trying to help pass on their spouse's culture to their children and, for example, want to be able to bring correctly made dishes to family gatherings.

Not that those are the only time it's OK. But ethnic considerations are slippery. Last century, Norwegians and Swedes used to tell raucous, sometimes off-color jokes about each other, because of course the two cultures were diametrically different. :roll: These days they're just silly nostalgia, but they used to lead to fistfights now and then.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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