Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cultural Identity Theft

“You can’t steal a gift. Bird [Charlie Parker] gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.” -- Dizzy Gillespie 

Regarding Miley Cyrus and twerking ...
 
MISappropriation. That's the problem: misappropriation. Appropriation is a good and necessary thing for the creation of art and the furtherance of ALL culture. Flamenco dance has its roots in Jewish folk dance. Traditional Mexican music has Germanic roots. The French borrowed the necktie from the Croatians. The Beatles covered the Isley Brothers and George Clinton covers the Beatles. You can't steal ideas and you can't steal culture. The worst you can do is disrespect and exploit a people.
 
Mockery is disrespect and misappropriation. Ignorantly lifting culture without attempting to understand it is misappropriation.
 
Learning dance moves, singing a certain kind of song, dressing like a different group; admiring the "other" so much you want to be like them in some small way -- this isn't disrespect. It's the sincerest form of respect. It says, "Your culture enriches my life." It expresses love and admiration, like a child who loves an adult so much she mimics the adult's speech patterns and gestures.
 
We are all learning how to be human, and NO ONE gets to tell you where you can take your lessons.

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