When it comes to Cultural appropriation there is a fine line between racism and authentically appropriating something. ‘Cultural appropriation’ means to adapt a certain part of another culture, although in the twenty first century it is evident that this is becoming unauthorised or unethical. Often cultural appropriation is identified with film, celebrities and throughout the media with examples such as the recent Miley Cyrus as host of the VMA’s or Selena Gomez.
Whether it is obvious or subtle most films produced around the world can be classified as ‘transnational‘ where not only the cast and/or genre are from around the world but also the behind the scenes crew as well as writers and directors. Ezra and Rowden suggest that Transnational cinema “comprises both globalisation…and the counter hegemonic responses of filmmakers from former colonial and third world countries” (2006, p.1). They further go on to describe how transnational film can be identified as creating links across a range of institutions and nations. Transnational films are a reflection of the ever increasing influence of globalisation and the profound impacts of a variety of technologies and platforms such as the Internet and social media.
Throughout humanity we have this constant desire to be ‘connected’ to the rest of the world, whether it be through travel, our tangible objects and even cinema. Through cultural appropriation this can be seen as a form of becoming ‘culturally immersed’ in a culture opposite to our own. Although this is a fault that filmmakers and the general society miss, rather than ‘cultural exchange’ we are grasping aspects of certain minorities or societies that appeal to us most rather than becoming entirely immersed.
There are endless amounts of examples of cultural appropriation one in particular I find interesting, Disney and their creation of Aladdin. Only subtly in the lyrics of ‘Arabian Night’, the lyrics “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” outraged members of the arabic community. Protesters rallied that Disney were portraying them in a racist and unethical way, forcing the company to change an re-release the movie with new lyrics. Below are of the old and new song listen carefully to spot the differences:
Cultural appropriation with the example of Disney amplifies this idea that society can be paralleled to scavengers, digging for what appeals to them rather than being content with all.
In comparison to years ago it can be said that society is embellishing cultural appropriation, youth is fuelling this. another category under cultural appropriation, common more so in the 1800’s. This was a way some white people would become characters of colour for entertainment and distinguish the hierarchy in society. In today’s society we identify similarities to this, such as celebrities adapting to cornrows and common rappers expressing emotion towards the oppression of people of colour. Cultural appropriation presents itself in multiple forms.
As the world has evolved cultural appropriation has as well. In the case of black face often it was used to distinguish the hierarchy in society, whereas nowadays we intend for ‘cultural exchange’. Rather we adapt the culture’s stereotype and create films with a western or american outlook.