On the subject of cultural appropriation

One of the current debates is over “cultural appropriation” – The idea that white people should not appropriate the culture of ethnic and racial minorities. I know that you don’t like the term “blue eyed soul.” Have you followed this conversation?

Are you trying to say that I don’t own the style of music that I grew up with and sing? I grew up with this music. It is not about being black or white. That is the most naïve attitude I’ve ever heard in my life. That is so far in the past, I hope, for everyone’s sake. It isn’t even an issue to discuss. The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music. It has nothing to do with “cultural appropriation.”

I agree with you entirely, because…

I’m glad that you do, because anyone who says that should shut the fuck up.

Daryl Hall….

28 thoughts on “On the subject of cultural appropriation”

  1. “Much of it is academic.”

    “Well, then they should go back to school. Academia? Now, there’s a hotbed of idiocy”

    Hard not to like the guy, isn’t it?

  2. Cultural appropriation is totally unacceptable: black men shouldn’t be allowed to wear traditional Western mens’ suits & ties.

    Yours, Deranged Guardianista.

  3. Cultural appropriation is wrong. But if you do the opposite, i.e. refuse to have anything to do with foreign cultures, you’re a xenophobic, racist, Nazi, neo-Nazi, fascist, neo-fasist (add neos to taste).

  4. If cultural appropriation is a bad thing, when is the Pope going to stop appropriating the culture of Jewish men and transvestites?

    Also, are rappers appropriating Papal culture when they ‘bling it up’?

  5. So, ‘Embrace other cultures,’ was just a lie. They didn’t really mean it.

    Wearing the hijab should get you jail time.

  6. Gamecock>

    There was a germ of something sane in this at the start, and that was about the difference between embracing other cultures and making a mockery of their traditions. Of course it’s gone totally mad, since, but those of us who aren’t insane are capable of recognising the difference.

  7. ‘those of us who aren’t insane are capable of recognising the difference.’

    No. Only a Libtard can determine the difference. I’m not qualified. So anything I do is, of course, wrong.

  8. “There was a germ of something sane in this at the start, and that was about the difference between embracing other cultures and making a mockery of their traditions.”

    Go on then, examples of each.

  9. Intractable Potsherd

    The whole concept of cultural appropriation is so wrong I find it hard to argue against it. There isn’t enough logic to grapple with, so any counter-argument consists of vagueness and similes that don’t quite get to the point, and … well, calling people idiots. It isn’t made easier when the claim is made by someone who is wearing jeans and glasses, carrying an iPhone and speaking English, yet, if they stuck by the culture they identify with, few of those things would be part of their history (okay, maybe the iPhone – Apple are happy to sell in any market that can afford their goods). I know it has been a few decades in the making (I still remember when the furore over the Black and White Minstrel Show when I was younger), but it has surely got to a ridiculous stage now – white people with dreadlocks being attacked for “cultural appropriation”, musicians being pigeonholed by skin colour – WTF went wrong with the world?? What is a good argument to use against this bollocks that keeps it within logic – or is it one of the few cases where a good ad hominem with liberal doses of my cultural heritage (Anglo-Saxon and Viking) is the only way to deal with it?

  10. @ IP Liberal doses of Anglo Saxon, even with added Viking are necessary, but barely sufficient.
    Action from those cultures might be needed.

  11. Foreigners are welcome to come and do some cultural appropriation here. The more they appropriate British values such as fair play, tolerance and empathy for the underdog then the more welcome they should be.
    Not appropriating the culture should be considered against them when applying for visa renewal.

  12. @ IP that’s included, along with a sword a spear and a bow. Plus any modern updates put to the same use.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Cultural Apartheid? Where do you even begin with something like Rock and Roll which has taken from British folk, Spanish guitars, French brass, African drums and every other culture it has come across? Are they saying Hitler was right?

    But I object to Hall claiming it is alright to sing what you grew up with. What if he didn’t? An American blues musician was fiddling with his radio one day and he came across Mongolian Throat singing. Which he took up. Never been to Mongolia. Never met one. What is wrong with that? Surely the only interesting question is whether he does it well or not:


    Or what about Jennifer Grout? An American girl who for some reason got interested in Arabic music. She entered “Arabs Got Talent” – which is cultural appropriation in and of itself. She came third. People I know say she was robbed for political reasons – they did not want to give it to the White girl. But even so, she came third. They did not seem to mind. Why should anyone else?


    She does not speak a word of Arabic. I think they were a little flattered myself.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Henry Marsh – “Foreigners are welcome to come and do some cultural appropriation here. The more they appropriate British values such as fair play, tolerance and empathy for the underdog then the more welcome they should be.”

    Didn’t that angry Gay historian get in trouble when he said the London riots were caused by poor young working class Whites adopting the culture of their Jamaican-origin peers?

    Clearly he should have just condemned their cultural appropriation. Then he would have been fine.

  15. As I’ve said before, my daughters attend an all girls school full of posh white kids. They have been banging on about this for ages – all of them desperately going back over family trees to find a fraction of something exotic somewhere. One girl was delighted the other day to find she was 1/16th Egyptian, apparently. They are constantly lecturing each other on their various appropriations – henna tattooes were briefly popular a while back, until someone said they were racist, and that was that. Certain hairstyles are verboten. Certain clothes, too.

    And these are the wives of tomorrow’s leaders, if not the leaders themselves. It’s like one of Ironman’s masturbatory fantasies and it won’t end well, because it can’t end well. People will only put up with this shit for so long. ‘So long’ can = generations, unfortunately, but as Ceaucescu discovered eventually it goes bad.

  16. Why can you not mock other’s traditions? Uluru is supposedly sacred because it was allegedly formed by aboriginal ancestors during the Dreamtime. This is clearly bollocks, so why is it wrong to say so? I don’t see it as remotely helpful to (pretend to) respect someone’s traditions and culture when they are transparently worthless crap.

  17. Jim>

    How about the difference between a respectfully put-together and educational Christmas Fair for kids, and teaching kids that all Christmas means is to sing Santa Claus is Coming to Town?

    I stress that even that latter isn’t a hanging offence, just a ‘we might try harder’.

  18. DocBud>

    “This is clearly bollocks, so why is it wrong to say so?”

    Because it’s not ‘clearly bollocks’ at all, it’s clearly unknowable. You cannot have a valid opinion on the probability of things which are totally outside the model of probability you use to form your estimate. All you’re saying is ‘assume X is true, and X will be true’. Well, I can assume anything you like, but it doesn’t mean much.

  19. No, Dave, it is clearly bollocks. We know how Uluru was formed. We equally know that a god did not form the world in 7 days.

  20. So it’s equally probable that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created Ayer’s Rock.

    Because if it’s not “clearly bollocks” that it was formed by the aboriginal ancestors, then it’s not “clearly bollocks” that His noodly appendages plucked it out of His holy colander.

  21. Doc>

    No, we know how our model says Uhuru could have formed. You’re implicitly assuming the model is correct, but that’s assuming away the question we’re asking.

    Obviously for all practical purposes the scientific model is far and away the most useful, but going beyond that into metaphysics and asking questions like ‘what if some being deliberately set everything in our local universe up to trick us?’, we have no evidence, nothing to hang ‘probability’ off.

    Bloke in Wales>

    No, not equally probable, just equally unknown. We cannot assign probabilities to either of those things, or to the scientific explanation. All we can do is observe that the scientific explanation fits our observations of the apparent local conditions, and since the scientific method is nothing more than a way of describing and modelling apparent local conditions, that’s a circular argument.

    Of course this is angels dancing on the head of a pin stuff – intellectual wanking on a par with solipsism.

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