When one of our students suggested a cowboy outfit for Halloween another student, blue hair, into cosplay, immediately replied: no way, cultural appropriation. Although from a generation that as a child has dressed up as cowboy, indian and black piet,
it immediately hit home. True! That's what it is.
The blue haired student knows. Through her culture of cosplay, dressing up, she experiences that looking like something is a powerful thing. A dark princess is a whole story. It comes with all kinds
of attributes: being into romance, but with a cruel streak. Strong but sensitive. It's not just a black dress and excessive eye make- up. Taking the form is claiming the qualities that go with it. Dressing like Cow girls would suggest you are rowdy, funny,
into drinking and flirting and maybe sex, loyal, of humble background, and have a big mouth but a good heart.
When something is a culture or a style i snot exactly clear. Cowboy is a profession with a very distinct culture, it is not something your
are born into. Not like being Polynesian, Aboriginal or Inuit. Then, as an aboriginal, you don't need to do or have any of the cultural attributes, tattoos, scars, performing rituals, to be an aboriginal. Still, it is considered your right to claim these things
as belonging to you, through your culture. Some cultures are simply too new or too multi ethnic to have a clear claim to specific cultural expression other then speaking the language. For Americans it would be hard to say which music is the most American.
Claiming to be a cowboy by wearing the clothes is on the edge of the definition of cultural appropriation. More often it is used in the context of white people or businesses using and claiming the culture of minorities. For example: rock and roll is said
to have originated from black music. But this sound was then bleached into a more commercially attractive version by record companies. That's Cultural Appropriation. Recent examples are designs from Nike that feature Polynesian tribal tattoo. After a
big social media campaign they were taken of the market. Cultural Appropriation. Don't steal cultural cool for profit.
Making use of cultural expressions that are obviously not your own is strange. What could be your motive to do so? Well, to mock,
to have fun, to make an impression. To make money selling them. Why would you adopt these cultural traits? Because it works. Fringes make you a cowboy-ee person. Tribal patterns wilden you, purify you. It is an amulet.
But is it always bad to adopt
what you are not? Couldn't that also be called emancipation, liberation? A first step to truly adopting the values these cultural tokens represent? Well. Money is a part of it. Maybe it is always childish or inappropriate to do so. Using it for profit is obviously
a sign of a lack of respect.
Cultural Appropriation is mostly mentioned in a racial context. Is it also possible to steal cool while being part of the same culture? Interesting question. If we take the racial component out of the equation what remains
is that more established groups adopt the cultural style of culture minorities. As a show of sympathy, to claim the values, to be cool or to make a profit.
Haven't you noticed that the esthetics of the cultural creatives are more or less obligatory
in restaurants and cafe's. This 'we are the 99%' feeling. The 'we are people run, not profit driven', 'home made small scale farming' atmosphere? A cultural mimicry at best. Is it that innocent? Isn't there a little more to it.
Couldn't an argument
be made that gentrification is in fact cultural Appropriation? Can a way of living be marked up to a culture you need to respect? Instead of just a phase in real estate development... shouldn't we take ourselves more seriously as representatives of a culture
rather than just call of Alternatives'? Isn't our shared belief system beyond mere style?