Monday, April 2, 2012

Cultural Appropriation: Right or Wrong?

We picked this photo, by Nathan Small, because we thought the chick was smoking hot, and we like her eyebrows a lot. But we know this photo could be deemed controversial, so we're accompanying with this educational point-counterpoint.

If you are not interested in that you can just stare at the photo. Your call.

There is a debate about cultural appropriation. Here are two sides of the argument, reduced to a simple paragraph.

It is absolutely flat out wrong to appropriate Native American culture or ethnic identity. It perpetuates stereotypes, extends the Caucasian hegemonic position of abusive dominance, and sends the message that it is OK to depict Native Americans and, by logical extension, other under-represented minority segments of society, in a simplistic, reductionist way that damages the cause of tolerance, multiculturalism, and understanding.

It's OK to use images based on American ethnographic history for artistic purposes. There is no harm in a nude model, for example, drawing inspiration from well-known Native American (or American Indian) themes. Those include the eagle feather head-dress and the greeting with hand up-raised, palm facing forward. The model (and artist) are creating visual interest, thematic cohesion, and a sense of mischievous playfulness, nothing more.

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