it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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and in the winter, extra blankets for the cold

Nalo and Hal and Ben (in the comments of Hal's blog post) between them pretty much sum up what seems to me a practical and balanced series of approaches and definitions to the cultural appropriation issue. Somewhere in here the thing that's been bugging me about the whole issue is put into words and made clear--that the issue is not that people-in-power must be limited to art deriving only from their own cultural traditions--and that's a straw man, something so obviously foolish that it can be immediately dismissed--but that: (to quote Hal)

Like, the issues involved in *how* white artists write about black characters (representation) gets swallowed up into this (completely different) argument about whether white artists have the *right* to use black aesthetic forms (appropriation); the confusion of representation-is-appropriation shifts the question onto whether white artists have the *right* to write about black characters; this can be dismissed as an absurdity, and *hey presto!*, anything goes.

It seems to me like there's two problems here and that -- from both sides of the argument -- the whole question of whether non-X have a right to represent X becomes a way of not engaging with either of them.

So my point here is really to say, wait a minute, if we confuse the map with the territory and argue about whether an outsider has a right to make the map, whether the people who don't own the territory have any right to map it, then we're missing the real issues: is the territory being snatched here(appropriation)? and is the map accurate or inaccurate (representation)?

And to quote Nalo:

People need to be free to make art about whatever they wish, in whatever mode they wish. I do it; why shouldn't other people?

What worries me, though, is that whenever someone avows that, it results in a deafening chorus of privileged culture white folks yelling, "fuckn' 'A,' man! See? I *don't* have to think about this shit after all! M/i/g/h/t/, er ART makes right!" Now, you don't seem to be saying this at all. Let me be clear about that. Yet a whopping bunch of people who don't want to think of themselves as relatively privileged will cherry-pick from your comment the bits they like.

And then there's the Paul Simon vs. Single Gun Theory example, which I think sums up the issue nicely.

Yes. That. That thing. *points at it.* That's the thing I have been fumbling around, flailing at, trying to find a way to say, and failing utterly.

But Hal and Nalo are both smarter than I am, so it's no surprise.
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