Question about Halloween costumes and cultural appropriation

posted 2 years ago in The Lounge
  • poll: Is my costume idea cultural appropriation?
    Yes : (11 votes)
    18 %
    No : (49 votes)
    82 %
  • Post # 16
    Member
    3530 posts
    Sugar bee

    kes18 :  In a world where everyone is offended by everything, it’s hard to say “if it offends, get rid of it”. I understand not making a skin tone part of the costume, but one of Maui’s defining characteristics is his tattoos so I understand why Disney would want to include them and the difficulty of doing so without offending. I have no problem with a group of people saying something deeply hurts them and to honor those feelings, but the line seems awfully blurry and in this case it seemed to me that Disney was trying to honor that culture, not mock it. 

    Post # 17
    Member
    5897 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    whitums :  You say that that we live in a time when “everyone is offended by everything” and also that the line is pretty blury.

    I want to offer the idea that yes, you are right, the line is very blury.  There isn’t a clear and bright right and wong on this and different people will have different opinions.  If you are stuck in the blurry zone, or just don’t know much about the motivation behind these things, it can feel like everyone is offended by everything…but allowing yourself to see it that way is kind of a cop out.  It absolves you from trying to understand and it discounts the completely valid reason that some people may be offended by certian things.  

    Post # 18
    Member
    3530 posts
    Sugar bee

    cbgg :  It’s not a cop out, unless I use it as an excuse to do whatever the hell I want with little regard for others. I’m sure some people do that, but I don’t. I am commenting on the fact that most people on this thread have stated that it’s not appropriation if someone is dressing as a character. So I offered the example of Maui, a character in a movie, who’s costume deeply offended people and therefore was pulled from shelves. I want to understand why that costume is not okay, but the other examples in this thread are okay. There was also a thread a while back where a bee’s limo driver wore a Mr. T mask. One person was offended by a white person wearing the mask of a black person, and everyone came to the OP’s defense saying Mr. T is a character and therefore it wasn’t offensive. So why is that okay but Maui is not? I have no problem respecting people’s feelings, but I do have a problem with people cherry picking what is okay and what is not. 

    Post # 19
    Member
    127 posts
    Blushing bee

    TwilightRarity :  But that’s the problem, even when you’re doing that, there are the people who are “professionally offended” and will find a way to raise a stink over something that was never someone trying to be hurtful or inconsiderate in the first place. Intent being a factor goes out the window when people start saying everything is wrong.

    EG I’ve seen a few people complaining that boys (usually young teens, ‘too old’ to put effort into a costume but want candy) go as ‘girls’  by grabbing some of their sister or mom’s clothes and messily smear on eyeshadow and bright lipstick. In their eyes, it’s offensive to either women because you’re mocking them, or offensive to trans people because it’s ‘funny’ that you’re a boy dressed as a girl. 

    I’m wondering how long until, on behalf of wiccans, someone cries foul on people dressing up as witches for Halloween. Highly doubt it’ll be the wiccans making a stink.

    Post # 20
    Member
    9132 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

    The thing is, it’s not “everyone” being offended by “everything”. It’s consistently minorities, people of color, traditionally disenfranchised people being offended by white people appropriately them and their culture in some way that continues to de-legitimize their equality. It’s just common decency to try to recognize that and avoid it, and ask a question if you’re not sure, like the OP did.

    If everyone was offended by everything, we wouldn’t have a Pussy Grabber in Chief. 

    Post # 21
    Member
    9025 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    whitums :  The thing is those tattoos aren’t just tattoo’s, they have cultural meaning. For example it offends me when people appropriate my cultures art and symbols because they have meaning and there are rules around who and when they can be used, the same thing for these tattoo’s. 

     

    Post # 22
    Member
    5897 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    whitums :  To me it sounds like your desire is that there be a clear line between what is offensive to people and what is not, and I just don’t think that’s realisic.  I feel like the bees on this thread have suggesed many criteria – is it about putting on someone’s skin, is it about a culture or a character, is it a character founded in sterotypes, does it have important religious or cultural signifigance.  

    But one definition just isn’t going to happen.

    Post # 23
    Member
    3530 posts
    Sugar bee

    j_jaye :  well so wait, one person told me it was the skin color and now you’re telling me it’s the tattoos. Did the movie itself and the characters offend you, or is it the concept of someone wearing tattoos of significant meaning the problem? I’m genuinely trying to understand, because I’m getting so many inconsistent responses. And again, we are talking about a character in a movie, much like the OP is talking about a character, but OP is being told “no that’s totally cool, it’s just a character” which is very different from the responses I’m getting. 

    Post # 25
    Member
    2595 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2015

    Trevor.Philips :  I’d recommend reading this article on cultural appropriation:

    everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

    It’s not just about the gold dress. Of course a white women can wear a gold dress. But you’re dressing up as people from a minority culture for fun; so to me that does seem inappropriate. But I’m white too so I can’t talk, and say we had someone Puerto Rican weigh in on this thread; it doesn’t mean that they speak for their entire minority.

    I suppose it also depends on how you plan to dress up the ‘costumes’ and how you intend to conduct yourselves while dressed up. Isn’t there a Caucasian music video with a woman in a gold dress? I just don’t really see the point, especially not if it may offend a group of people.

    Let’s not even go down the road of how Halloween has been taken away and bastardized into something it isn’t by North Americans, and then by other countries too…perhaps the entire subject is moot.

    Post # 26
    Member
    5897 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    lolot :  Exactly.

    It’s pretty uncool to dismiss people saying something offensive without trying to understand why and I feel that’s what people are doing when they use terms like “PC culture” etc.  It can often be hard to “get it” if you don’t have a shared experience, but it can help if you try to draw connecting with other similar experiences (for example, potentially with your experiences of sexism), or seek out and listen to the stories of others.

     

    Post # 27
    Member
    3530 posts
    Sugar bee

    cbgg :  that’s fair. 

    And with that I am bowing out. I don’t feel like being villanized anymore tonight simply for asking questions and pointing out inconsistencies in responses. Have a good night ladies. 

    Post # 28
    Member
    5897 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    whitums :  Not sure if I cam across as confronational or agressive, I certainly wasn’t intending it. 

    I think your question about Maoi is fair – it never would have occured to me that his tattoos would be a problem, but apparently it was controversial enough for Disney to listen up.  Snd for what it’s worth I’ve gone to halloween in day of the dead make up – didn’t occur to me until this very thread that that was offensive to some people!  Whooops…

    Post # 29
    Member
    9025 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    whitums :  The skin colour is also an issue but someone had already covered that. You brought up the tattoo’s so I thought it was fair to point out that the use of cultural symbols like tattoo’s is also a form of cultural appropriation. 

    A lot of representation of minorities in movies offends me. Disney often does it, even though I tend to think they are trying to represent those cultures in a positive way but they do get things incorrect at times. But I don’t like a company taking ownership and bastardising another cultures story for profit. Which is what Disney does. They are not doing it as cultural exchange and in partnership with that culture.

    The PCC on Oahu is another prime example. 

     The whole so called “tribal” tattoo trend is appropriation. Often the only motivation of people who get these types of tattoo’s is because they think they look cool/good. But each of those symbols have meaning. They tell  a story. And there is a right and wrong way to use them as per that particular culture. A prime example is I was at a festival with some elders (sharing our culture) and one elder got extremely upset after being approached by a woman. She had shown the elder her tattoo and barking on how supportive of our culture she was. The tattoo was a culturally offensive symbol and also a symbol that only men (as per our culture) could use. 

    It also goes beyond just the misunderstanding of the particular item (whether language, symbols, clothing, food or art) but also to the fact that whites have a long history of stealing and repressing our culture. My grandparents and parents grew up in a time (40-50+ yrs ago so not that long ago) where speaking our language was not allowed by law. Where you had to get permission as an indigenous person to marry another indigenous person and marrying a non-indigenous person was illegal. You couldn’t vote and had to have permission to work or leave the reservation. So I find it hard how people can not understand how appropriating our culture, a culture which you (the general you) guys have for centuries been telling us is wrong/dirty/primitive/backward/immoral or any of the other descriptors used, is offensive to us.

    Post # 30
    Member
    9815 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: September 2013

    whitums :  I meant to come back and post this since it reminded me of it and I read it awhile ago.  Mostly it is because you are taking things from oppressed or colonized minorities, using it for entertainment, and then you get to take it off at the end of the day.  Although not sure if you’re checking anymore. But thought I’d post in case your son still wanted to dress up as maui.  It can be done, just in the right way I think. I saw someone who did this way – a shark head and torso and then human legs and a skirt.  

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/parenting/01-02-2017/how-to-dress-your-pakeha-child-up-as-maui-or-moana-without-appropriating-pasifika-culture/ 

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