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#1
Disney is being accused of racism after revealing its new Moana fancy dress costume for children.
The full-body suit is designed to look like Maui, the Polynesian demigod, voiced by Dwayne Johnson in the film.
It features traditional Polynesian tattoos, a grass skirt, a bone necklace and brown skin.
It has provoked criticism from people claiming that Disney is appropriating Polynesian culture and promoting "full-body brownface".

The costume doesn't appear to be on sale at Disney's UK online store but shoppers in the US can buy the "authentic Disney costume" which is described as a zip-up suit complete with "all over Maui body tattoo screen art".
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has issued a statement calling on the company to "listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon."
Disney is yet to comment but others have come to their defence saying it represents "a character, not a culture".


http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37425447/disney-accused-of-brownface-over-moana-costume

Now obviously I'm on the outside looking in on this sort of thing but surely the idea of appropriation in children is ridiculous. I can't imagine looking at whatever the white british equivalent of this costume would be and immediately being offended. I think if there's one thing Disney have had a good track record of over the last 20 years or so it's introducing children to different cultures, not necessarily exploring them deeply or strictly accurately, but showing just enough that kids might get interested in exploring it further.

Is this a serious, widespread issue where people get offended by stuff like this, or are the media too quick to jump on a couple people saying 'many people in my culture are offended by this' and blowing an issue out of proportion in an effort to appear progressive?

Genuinely help me out here because even though I've been in a position to learn about and experience different cultures all my life I genuinely cannot understand identifying with something like this so strongly that it becomes an issue when other people use it in a different way.
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#4
Quote by EndTheRapture51
bloody social justice warriors it's political correctness gone mad!!!


I'm not saying that at all. Just that an attitude like the above is completely foreign (pun not intended) to me and I would like to have it explained by someone who's experienced it.

Like, you see stereotypical British stuff in popular culture all the time and my reaction is a shrug of the shoulders at most. I know we like to feign shock and disgust at how Americans make tea in the microwave and stuff like that but does it really actually matter? Is it comparable? Are other cultures really that homogeneous or is it media boiling things down to seem discerning.

Is it racist to say that only certain people can dress up as certain characters? I mean costumes like this aren't meant in a satirical or malicious way like blackface minstrels of old, it's simply a way to express your love for a character from a different culture. Why are Scandinavians not up in arms about people dressing up as Elsa and calling their pets Olaf and Sven?
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#5
Quote by RAB11
I'm not saying that at all. Just that an attitude like the above is completely foreign (pun not intended) to me and I would like to have it explained by someone who's experienced it.

Like, you see stereotypical British stuff in popular culture all the time and my reaction is a shrug of the shoulders at most. I know we like to feign shock and disgust at how Americans make tea in the microwave and stuff like that but does it really actually matter? Is it comparable? Are other cultures really that homogeneous or is it media boiling things down to seem discerning.

Is it racist to say that only certain people can dress up as certain characters? I mean costumes like this aren't meant in a satirical or malicious way like blackface minstrels of old, it's simply a way to express your love for a character from a different culture. Why are Scandinavians not up in arms about people dressing up as Elsa and calling their pets Olaf and Sven?


It's more about respect for other cultures and their traditions. If you're white and want to wear a sari or a bindhi you better understand the meaning behind what it means to do that. Same with stuff like Native American headdresses or whatever.

A lot of people will take a culture's food or dress, not realising where it comes from and use it with no respect for where it came from. With dwindling cultures like these Pacific islanders it's even more important to keep the origins and history of these traditions intact, and not just make it into "Disney fantasy dress outfit #473".
#6
It has provoked criticism from people claiming that Disney is appropriating Polynesian culture and promoting "full-body brownface"


How can it be brownface if it doesn't have a face? Checkmate, losers.

I'd like to think it's just the minority of people who complain about this kind of thing but who knows anymore?
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#7
Quote by EndTheRapture51
It's more about respect for other cultures and their traditions. If you're white and want to wear a sari or a bindhi you better understand the meaning behind what it means to do that. Same with stuff like Native American headdresses or whatever.

A lot of people will take a culture's food or dress, not realising where it comes from and use it with no respect for where it came from. With dwindling cultures like these Pacific islanders it's even more important to keep the origins and history of these traditions intact, and not just make it into "Disney fantasy dress outfit #473".


Okay, but expecting a six year old to do that is unrealistic. Like I said, it might spark an interest in that culture in a young person, and as they get older and more mature, they'll start learning more and respecting it properly. Why are certain aspects of white culture not this sacred and protected? Is there even such a thing as white culture?

I mean I can see why something like Johnny Depp playing Tonto is actually deeply offensive, but like I said, Disney's animated wing tend to treat other cultures with a great deal of care and respect, most likely because their offices are probably a huge melting pot of these cultures in the first place. I think inviting people to experience and participate in these cultures from a young age is only a good thing, and when they get older and more aware, then worry about whether they're misusing it or not. We should be looking to share and teach this stuff, not segregate it and treat it as taboo.
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#8
lmao that's awesome.
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#9
I guess the contention is that A: there are certain groups who historically have faced serious aggressions and prejudices from other groups and B: the cultures those groups are from have certain sacred and/or culturally significant objects which are often enough reduced to fashion objects by Western nations. They don't like this.

It'd be the same as them taking one of our sacred cows and using it for shallow purposes, only with an insult to injury thrown in. Or so the theory goes.

Either way I'm not the only one noticing that whoever wears that kind of has to "black up" through the fabric? While the morris-dancers have their soot-face tradition I'm not sure the same can be said here.. But I'm not sure that anyone who starts a thread with "more cultural appropriation rubbish" is really interested in having this explained to them.

My recommendation? Buy 4 or 5 of these outfits before they're discontinued, and sell them in a few years at a premium.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Sep 22, 2016,
#10
Quote by RAB11
Okay, but expecting a six year old to do that is unrealistic. Like I said, it might spark an interest in that culture in a young person, and as they get older and more mature, they'll start learning more and respecting it properly. Why are certain aspects of white culture not this sacred and protected? Is there even such a thing as white culture?

I mean I can see why something like Johnny Depp playing Tonto is actually deeply offensive, but like I said, Disney's animated wing tend to treat other cultures with a great deal of care and respect, most likely because their offices are probably a huge melting pot of these cultures in the first place. I think inviting people to experience and participate in these cultures from a young age is only a good thing, and when they get older and more aware, then worry about whether they're misusing it or not. We should be looking to share and teach this stuff, not segregate it and treat it as taboo.


Not really. When I was 6 years old I was interested in ancient Egyptians. Maybe my parents pushed me towards it to it wasn't just a "hey the pyramids are cool and Anubis looks scary" attitude - I got bought some books about the topic and really got to learn things about that period of history and have quite a wide appreciation of it now I have grown up.

You can't expect a 6 year old to do it themselves but you expect adults, like parents, or even the company of Disney itself, to instil an appreciation of different cultures beyond just the aesthetics of it.

As a father I thought that'd be obvious to you.
#11
Quote by Banjocal


It'd be the same as them taking one of our sacred cows and using it for shallow purposes, only with an insult to injury thrown in. Or so the theory goes.

.


Okay, so to sort of help my understanding here, if we both consider ourselves to be white, British males (Lyle too), what is our sacred cow? What is the equivalent so that I can experience this feeling and hence understand it?
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#12
Quote by RAB11
Okay, so to sort of help my understanding here, if we both consider ourselves to be white, British males (Lyle too), what is our sacred cow? What is the equivalent so that I can experience this feeling and hence understand it?


we are in a post-cultural secular society so have no sacred cows
#13
Quote by RAB11
Okay, so to sort of help my understanding here, if we both consider ourselves to be white, British males (Lyle too), what is our sacred cow? What is the equivalent so that I can experience this feeling and hence understand it?
I'm going to repeat that I don't believe you really want to understand it, but I'll give you the benefit of doubt.

Their point is that we don't really have much like that in our culture. Our culture(s) are built much more on appropriation of other cultures (Brits do have their own cultural *things* but they're scarce). So the best you can do is think "okay, if this piece of headgear were to mean an absolute ton to my people, be worn only by those whom my people believe are in touch with sacred things, and be a symbol of our unity to us, especially in times of religious and racial persecution, how would I feel if some hipster came along and wore it like it was the fashion accessory that most Western clothes are?"

I mean an example some people give without the appropriation element is that some Indian folks feel that we took their food but continued to say they smelt like curry.
Last edited by Banjocal at Sep 22, 2016,
#14
Quote by EndTheRapture51
Not really. When I was 6 years old I was interested in ancient Egyptians. Maybe my parents pushed me towards it to it wasn't just a "hey the pyramids are cool and Anubis looks scary" attitude - I got bought some books about the topic and really got to learn things about that period of history and have quite a wide appreciation of it now I have grown up.

You can't expect a 6 year old to do it themselves but you expect adults, like parents, or even the company of Disney itself, to instil an appreciation of different cultures beyond just the aesthetics of it.

As a father I thought that'd be obvious to you.


I was the same with the Ancient Greeks. I doubt I ever dressed in a toga, but if I did I guarantee it would have been out of appreciation rather than intention to disrespect, because concepts like that never occurred to me. I naturally gained an appreciation and respect for different cultures as I was exposed to them, and I see this sort of thing as similar.

And even though I'm a parent I'm not sure I have relevant insight into it. My son is nearly two, he's only just starting to explore connections between things, like he can identify superheroes as a collective group for example, or hear a song from a show or film he likes and immediately mention its name. But I can't explain any grand ideas like cultural appropriation to him yet. But I have given thought about how I am going to handle stuff like this in the future and at the moment my plan is to give him the benefit of the doubt, and if I feel he's crossed a line or could have been more thoughtful, try to explain what that means. But until them I'm happy to just let him be a kid.
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#15
You don't need to "explain cultural appropriation" to him you just need to raise him in a manner that he doesn't need cultural appropriation explained to him because he is inquisitive and learns not to take things at face value and has a deeper understanding and appreciation of things and how they might mean more to people from other cultures.
#16
Quote by EndTheRapture51
You don't need to "explain cultural appropriation" to him you just need to raise him in a manner that he doesn't need cultural appropriation explained to him because he is inquisitive and learns not to take things at face value and has a deeper understanding and appreciation of things and how they might mean more to people from other cultures.


I agree. But where does him not dressing like a Pacific god for halloween come into it?

I just guess it's because my experience of culture has never been clearcut. The only time I've experienced "we identify as X, this is how we do things" is when an old Jewish couple across the road from us invited a bunch of young families from the street over for Chanukah, the kids were all taught about the traditions and what thr symbols met, the adults got drunk and ate Jewish food. And that was educational rather than trying to preach or whatever. But after that I've found culture to be much more fluid and that while you can have a great deal of respect for tradition, it doesn't mean thr same thing to everyone, and doesn't detract from modern culture either. Seeking to exclude people from this is detrimental to understanding it.
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#17
Tell me about the Pacific god he is dressing up as then.

No one is saying people should be excluded from different cultures anywhere in this thread. Just have appropriate understanding of it. You just seem like you have made your mind up already and don't want to change your ways though.
#18
Quote by Banjocal
But I'm not sure that anyone who starts a thread with "more cultural appropriation rubbish" is really interested in having this explained to them.


Fair enough, I was too flippant with my thread title.

I think people are misunderstanding my issue with this. I get why cultural appropriation is a bad thing. What I don't understand is the need to make everything about appropriation. Or why the initial reaction is to condemn rather than educate.

Say you're from a Pacific background and a kid shows up trick or treating while wearing this costume. Instead of admonishing the kid or his parents for doing something they perceived as totally innocent, why not be positive, acknowledge their lack of understanding and say 'hey, cool tattoos, I've got some too." No different from any of the little white lies we tell our kids on a daily basis, and that then opens the door for you to explain what they mean, why you have them, and might lead that kid to go home and start looking things up for himself, like you did with Ancient Egyptians or I did with Ancient Greeks. As that kid gets older, he'll come to the realisation by himself that maybe the costume was in poor taste, but at the time it was a completely innocent mistake. Or he might just move on to another fad when the next Disney film comes out. There are ways of handling offence that can make it a positive learning experience for all, and I think a company like Disney deserves the benefit of the doubt where things like this are concerned. Look through the credits of any Disney animated film and you'll find names from all sorts of cultures around the world. I'm sure they get this.
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#19
I follow you.

Honestly, I don't know any more than the theory because I lack the experience (and have an empathy problem). As with all things there's a standard deviation and there are plenty of people who see it as cultural appreciation and enjoy seeing people doing things related to their culture.

As for kids? I doubt you'll find many people who will be truly riled about a kid in, say, a headdress, but at the same time they might be inclined to try and explain why it's important to them. And it's the parents of the kid they may feel resentful towards idk. I think that events like halloween are way more complex than people give credit but someome like Ali or Aeolian Harmony are more likely to be read up on that.
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#20
The brown face aspect does sound problematic tbh

tbh
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#21
The best example of something i could think of would be red poppies. In the commonwealth (and maybe elsewhere) they're associated with veterans and wartime remembrance especially WW1. If it suddenly became fashionable to wear one in China you might think that'd be appropriation, or at least completely missing the point.
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#22
Quote by Gatecrasher53
The best example of something i could think of would be red poppies. In the commonwealth (and maybe elsewhere) they're associated with veterans and wartime remembrance especially WW1. If it suddenly became fashionable to wear one in China you might think that'd be appropriation, or at least completely missing the point.


Sure, but I wouldn't get angry about it. If I came face to face with someone wearing the poppy and I was talking to them I might explain the significance but otherwise I'd just get on with my life.
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#23
Quote by RAB11
I was the same with the Ancient Greeks. I doubt I ever dressed in a toga, but if I did I guarantee it would have been out of appreciation rather than intention to disrespect, because concepts like that never occurred to me. I naturally gained an appreciation and respect for different cultures as I was exposed to them, and I see this sort of thing as similar.

And even though I'm a parent I'm not sure I have relevant insight into it. My son is nearly two, he's only just starting to explore connections between things, like he can identify superheroes as a collective group for example, or hear a song from a show or film he likes and immediately mention its name. But I can't explain any grand ideas like cultural appropriation to him yet. But I have given thought about how I am going to handle stuff like this in the future and at the moment my plan is to give him the benefit of the doubt, and if I feel he's crossed a line or could have been more thoughtful, try to explain what that means. But until them I'm happy to just let him be a kid.
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#24
Quote by RAB11
Sure, but I wouldn't get angry about it. If I came face to face with someone wearing the poppy and I was talking to them I might explain the significance but otherwise I'd just get on with my life.


you're not an oppressed minority tho
#25
Question: are the nazis an oppressed minority?


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Last edited by Banjocal at Sep 22, 2016,
#26
Quote by EndTheRapture51
you're not an oppressed minority tho


I have no interest in having this discussion.
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#27
Quote by Banjocal
Question: are the nazi's an oppressed minority?
No, their broad Aryan shoulders carry the weight of inferior races' disgust as easily as the air.
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#28
@RAB
Thats where i think the outrage part is a different issue. Instead of using it as an opportunity to mix cultures and educate, some people'd rather ban and shame. It would be better for everyone to understand not to wear something rather than shame them into compliance which is where i agree with you.
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Last edited by Gatecrasher53 at Sep 22, 2016,
#29
Quote by RAB11
I have no interest in having this discussion.


don't start a thread about a difficult topic if you just want people to validate your opinions as opposed to challenging them then
#30
Quote by EndTheRapture51
don't start a thread about a difficult topic if you just want people to validate your opinions as opposed to challenging them then


I started this thread attempting to understand. Your post implied I was incapable of understanding, because of my circumstances.

And if white people are incapable of understanding cultural appropriation, why should the onus be on us to make sure we're not doing it?

I can get even more ridiculous because it's that sort of thing which turned the safe space thread into a shit storm. I thought we were having a decent discussion up until that point. Just because neither have completely come around to the other's view doesn't mean I'm being a brick wall to your points. I'm taking them on board, it just hasn't completely changed my opinion yet. Frankly I'm insulted that you're accusing me of wanting validation when I've been open and civil the entire time.
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#31
Its also a bit unique cause living with other cultures would allow natural mixing, but this Hollywood/disney thing where they take a lens, focus on a specific group, and then broadcast it to the world. Someone's bound to take offense at something.
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#32
Quote by RAB11
I started this thread attempting to understand. Your post implied I was incapable of understanding, because of my circumstances.

And if white people are incapable of understanding cultural appropriation, why should the onus be on us to make sure we're not doing it?

I can get even more ridiculous because it's that sort of thing which turned the safe space thread into a shit storm. I thought we were having a decent discussion up until that point. Just because neither have completely come around to the other's view doesn't mean I'm being a brick wall to your points. I'm taking them on board, it just hasn't completely changed my opinion yet. Frankly I'm insulted that you're accusing me of wanting validation when I've been open and civil the entire time.


You were the one who threw your toys out of the pram and decided you didn't want to discuss it any more mate.

The context of being an oppressed minority is important in understanding this issue, and you have decided you do not want to discuss it.

You wouldn't be bothered by the Chinese poppy example because you're a majority in our country. If you weren't a majority in Britain and all your Chinese superiors and bosses started wearing the poppy as a fashion statement without associating or respecting the war connotations of it, you might feel differently.
#33
The thing of putting brown skin on seems not good.
cat
#34
Quote by EndTheRapture51
You were the one who threw your toys out of the pram and decided you didn't want to discuss it any more mate.

The context of being an oppressed minority is important in understanding this issue, and you have decided you do not want to discuss it.

You wouldn't be bothered by the Chinese poppy example because you're a majority in our country. If you weren't a majority in Britain and all your Chinese superiors and bosses started wearing the poppy as a fashion statement without associating or respecting the war connotations of it, you might feel differently.


I agree that it's relevant, but you posted very bluntly as if to say 'you haven't experienced this, so you can't comment'. So I responded bluntly as well. A better example would be me visiting China and seeing everyone wear the poppy. Sure, it might irk me, but personally I am more of a 'live and let live' sort of person. Unless I felt people were wearing it in order to insult me, I'd let them get on with their lives. But this is all hypothetical.

In terms of me 'not wanting to discuss', I'm happy to discuss but let's keep a bit of respect here instead of snarky one liners. 'you're not part of an oppressed minority' does absolutely nothing to foster discussion. You literally had an argument with Ali about this very thing in another thread three weeks ago. So if you want to continue to exchange ideas, brilliant, I'm all ears (or eyes, as it were). But if you're just interested in telling me I'm wrong then I don't see the point in carrying on.
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#35
Quote by EndTheRapture51
Just have appropriate understanding of it.

Who decides this tho? Do aspects of a culture become intellectual property of the (minority) culture? And where do you draw the line with regards to what shared aspects of different culture are the property of which culture?
#36
YHUIhsigjfosjgj this thread, jaysus.
o()o

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#37
Quote by EpiExplorer
YHUIhsigjfosjgj this thread, jaysus.


Why is this the standard response to any thread on this sort of subject? Apart from the last couple posts between me and Rapture I don't see anything wrong with what's been posted (at least the serious posts anyway, which are the majority)
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#38
So, does this mean merchandising is racist?

I mean, what colour should the 'skin' have been?
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#39
Quote by RAB11
I agree that it's relevant, but you posted very bluntly as if to say 'you haven't experienced this, so you can't comment'. So I responded bluntly as well. A better example would be me visiting China and seeing everyone wear the poppy. Sure, it might irk me, but personally I am more of a 'live and let live' sort of person. Unless I felt people were wearing it in order to insult me, I'd let them get on with their lives. But this is all hypothetical.

In terms of me 'not wanting to discuss', I'm happy to discuss but let's keep a bit of respect here instead of snarky one liners. 'you're not part of an oppressed minority' does absolutely nothing to foster discussion. You literally had an argument with Ali about this very thing in another thread three weeks ago. So if you want to continue to exchange ideas, brilliant, I'm all ears (or eyes, as it were). But if you're just interested in telling me I'm wrong then I don't see the point in carrying on.


That's the kind of person you are. You're also a white bloke living in one of the richest countries in the world. Surely it's not challenging to see why why someone who is in a less privileged position compared to you might take exception to a rich mega corporation taking valued and loved parts of their culture, exporting it to the West, and selling it as Halloween outfits?
#40
Quote by slapsymcdougal
So, does this mean merchandising is racist?

I mean, what colour should the 'skin' have been?
tbh I think they could have dodged a bullet by using that seethrough wearable tattoo fabric but then the Daily Mail would accuse them of rearing kids
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