Arama They Didn't

4:40 pm - 01/25/2013

AKB48's 'Yuuhi Marie' and Cultural Appropriation?



Yesterday, idol group AKB48 livestreamed their yearly event of 'Request Hour Set List Best 100'. During this, AKB48's Team K performed the coupling track to the new AKB48 single, 'Yuuhi Marie'. However many fans and non-fans alike were disappointed in the outfits the girls performed in. The girls are dressed in Native American-inspired form of dress as seen above and below. It is what is known as cultural appropriation.

Not only because the Native Americans' clothes are not costumes but a lot of the garments also holds cultural and spiritual significance. Thus it should be respected. The outfits in the picture are unrepresentative of the culture and is based on popular caricature that appears on television. As the Native American culture, of course, is not all the same, and there are various tribes. Their varied ways of ritual, beliefs, ways of dressing, and more should be taken into consideration. However the diverse and complex culture is generalised into a single idea based on popular media.



So what's the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?
Daily Sundial:
What’s the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation? The latter is having genuine interest in learning about a people’s history, traditions, language, values and way of life. Appropriation is based on a superficial appreciation of a group and uses
convenient parts of that group’s culture for commercial reasons. It is damaging because doing so ignores the experiences of minorities and
marginalized people.

The painful history of Native Americans includes over 500 years of being colonized, slaughtered and marginalized. However, this history is often mistaught or misrepresented, making cultural appropriation all the easier to commit, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday.

The ignorance or romanticism of native history coupled with the exclusion of native people as producers within the culture industry has allowed for appropriation to be acceptable and fashionable.

“Hipsters turn appropriated culture into a commodity,” said Andrews. “Seeing a cultural identity as something to be purchased rather than lived, and abandon it when it becomes inconvenient or unfashionable without any consequences.”

The real damage is caused not just by one event, but the cumulative effect of appropriation throughout the centuries. Fortunately, the Internet allows for Native Americans and other marginalized groups, as well as those who simply do not appreciate appropriation, to have a greater voice in what gets mass produced. Hopefully, the culture industry will understand that you can’t talk about people as if they do not exist, and be more careful with what they try to sell.

Below are pictures of the said 'costumes'.





However, this is not the first (and maybe not the last time) Japanese artists who done this. Other celebrities include Momoiro Clover Z, and then Koda Kumi and Mizuhara Kiko, both photographed and directed Ninagawa Mika.





So your opinions Arama? I hope we can a non-wank post and discuss it in a civil manner. Do you think it is cultural appropriation? Do you think it's not? Feelings on why people think this is okay?
You can also add more examples if you want.

source: 1, more info on cultural appropriation: 1, 2
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nekobot01 25th-Jan-2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
It's ignorant but, sadly, not any worse than how Americans treat Native culture. e.g. that Victoria's Secret fashion show:

http://nativeappropriations.com/2012/11/guess-we-can-add-victorias-secret-to-the-list.html

And then there are the Redskins, Cleveland Indians, etc. AKB is just following our example.
brucelynn 25th-Jan-2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
Doesn't make it right
kinari_pamyu 25th-Jan-2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Things like this aren't really viewed as inappropriate in Japan/Korea (in my experience) because the homogeneous nature of the population, and mainstream attitudes towards foreigners/cultural properties aren't generally as well informed about the offense using costumes like these can cause.

I'm not defending their use, but you have to consider these things from the perspective of the countries within which they happen, and not how we as non-Japanese view them.

Just as with most concepts related to the 'idol' groups the only thought which was probably put into these costumes was whether they would appeal to the domestic fans and therefore generate more cash.
love_keiko 25th-Jan-2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
yeah....i never buy that explanation of "cultural differences/ homogeneous population" thing. it's a weak ass excuse, IMO.

the same place they go to pick up on these trends (THE INTERNET) is the same place they can go to EDUCATE themselves on why their behavior is inappropriate.

this also applies to incidents of racism and homophobia. i do not tolerate it in my kpop entertainment world and i will not tolerate here.
nice_vibe 25th-Jan-2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's racist, tasteless, and ignorant as fuck and no one should be making excuses for them
falsie 26th-Jan-2013 01:57 am (UTC)
yup
love_keiko 25th-Jan-2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
it is cultural appropriation but i dont have the energy to dive in to WHY rn. *sighs* it totally is.
crumplelush 26th-Jan-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
To be fair, it's pretty obvious why it's cultural appropriation and anyone who needs it pointing out to them probably doesn't see it because they don't agree.
crimsonbreeze 25th-Jan-2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
I honestly think people get way too sensitive with these things lately.

I am a mixture of cultures, but one of them is commonly used for these things... I'm Mexican. So, as long as things are done for pure recreation, like this, I think it's ok.

Reminds me when Gwen Stefani was all for the cholo-Mexican image back in her first solo album. I honestly thought she made it look cool and nobody in Mexico gave a damn about it.

I just think we should relax. If they were insulting the suits, stepping over them or something... that's another thing. But well, that's just how I think.
a_cheshire_grin 25th-Jan-2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you, because:

a_cheshire_grin 25th-Jan-2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh...no, no, no! What the fuck are they doing? This is not cute or anything. This is really offensive! -.-
alli07x3 25th-Jan-2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
why does everyone disrespect native americans.....
tsk tsk tsk akb and others..
tpavels 25th-Jan-2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
In Europe and Asia no one cares about Native Americans. Most people outside US doesnt know that they exists nowdays.

Edited at 2013-01-25 09:45 pm (UTC)
crumplelush 26th-Jan-2013 01:42 am (UTC)
Really? I'm from the UK which is in Europe, and last time I checked I knew a lot about native Americans. We get taught about it in schools and everything.
bittersweet_bun 25th-Jan-2013 09:46 pm (UTC)
It comes from ignorance and I'm not saying it in a mean way, I'm saying it in the basic definition of the word which is 'not knowing'. The rest of the world follows what white people show when it comes to these cultural portrayals. And probably because they've seen White Americans wear them for fashion, they think it's acceptable to wear them too. Japan isn't exposed to Native Americans and their opinions, so they don't know what they're doing is wrong.

That doesn't mean they shouldn't be criticized though.
ayumwu 26th-Jan-2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
THIS. everyone on this page needs to read your comment.

it doesn't mean that they're not wrong from ignorance but that means that they don't fully deserve the bashing that's been given...there is no one to blame other than the government and the construction of the society that they're taught in.
nalty7 25th-Jan-2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
I think they did a good job when they wore traditional clothing (i don't remember which country's) in Gugutasu no Sora but the native american culture is a sensitive issue and Japan as many other countries are ignorant about this so I wouldn't call it cultural appropriation.More like a stupid and offensive western trend that stylists/management of AKB decided to follow.I don't blame the girls since they don't really have a choice in wearing team outfits but I can understand that someone could be offended by it or disappointed by the group.
uncieloazul 25th-Jan-2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
perfect comment! ♥
zeli17 25th-Jan-2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
Only Yuuko seems to be in a costume (what is that headdress anyways). The rest are in "native american inspired" or "western inspired" twists that you might see on the street. Taking inspiration from Native American culture is not cultural appropriation. They're also not overtly sexualizing Native Women.

If there was no headdress, this would be completely benign in my opinion.
crimsonbreeze 25th-Jan-2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
That's kinda how I feel too.
age_of_green 25th-Jan-2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
The TL;DR of this is the Japan/Korea and other countries in the area are about 50 years behind North America when it comes to racism-and it's called google, they couldn't look this up before making themselves look dumb?
love_keiko 25th-Jan-2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
aplause.gif
ichigobanana 25th-Jan-2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
I guess Japan doesn't care that much about histories of nations they weren't involved with directly? I bet the girls don't know much about what actually happened (and I know they should).
myharu 25th-Jan-2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
I really can't stand for cultural appropriation, as an AKB fan I am disappointed and wish there was a way I could personally tell them how offensive they were.

Edited at 2013-01-25 10:31 pm (UTC)
baboy_19 25th-Jan-2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
okay IMO, fashion wise sure..but to act like they're making fun of them is not..!
blame the designer that made them wear it..but blame the artist how they act upon with it...specially if it's candid...
sapphoatsunset 25th-Jan-2013 10:43 pm (UTC)
I think they're buying into the stereotype. But, they tend to do the same with cowboys. It's like cowboys & Indians (native Americans) is a favored trope.

*shrug* We likely do the same in America with geisha so it likely balances out.
bittersweet_bun 25th-Jan-2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
*shrug* We likely do the same in America with geisha so it likely balances out.

Sorry, it doesn't balance out. You can't justify ignorance with even more ignorance. That's not how it works. Everyone should be criticized.
frequency 25th-Jan-2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Do you think it is cultural appropriation?

yup, especially after seeing that .gif up there.

Feelings on why people think this is okay?

people think it's okay because they're ignorant as fuck.
zeli17 25th-Jan-2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
people think it's okay because they're ignorant as fuck.

Or like many responses here, did not see the video, just the OP and the pictures above.
nogizaka46 25th-Jan-2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
Oh shut the hell up!
littleplastikme 25th-Jan-2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
Sigh. As soon as I saw Yuko wearing the headdress, I knew it would only be a matter of time before shit hit the fan...at least on the internet.

Did the members wearing the costumes know it was bad? Most likely not. Did their management? Probably not either. Does that make it right? No.

I just hope people don't blame the girls.
brucelynn 25th-Jan-2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
Did their management? Probably not either.

I am gonna call bullshit on that one

You have to do a certain amount of research to get the attire accurate and with that research you can see how it can be disrespectful.

I just think they didn't care.
hisjulliet 25th-Jan-2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
racist, ignorant, tactless, gross, disgusting, and I'm tired of it
uledy 25th-Jan-2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
smdh @ the people excusing this under the guise of ignorance. there's no excuse. call it for what it is. it's not that they don't know, it's that they refuse to know and they honestly don't give a damn.


Edited at 2013-01-25 11:37 pm (UTC)
brucelynn 25th-Jan-2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
I agree , I am not gonna blame the girls ( as much I hate AKB48 ) because they appear to be under alot of control and it really on the disturbing side .

But I agree , I just think that whomever told them to do this just didn't care.
umbrellaphone 25th-Jan-2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
It's ignorance, but at the same time just judging from the comments here, the matter is seen too black & white. As much as we want to think that "cultural appropriation" is a universal concept, it really isn't, and personally I think that's also a kind of ignorance. Social issues (or rather concepts) like "racism" or "cultural appropriation" derived primarily from America, and there really isn't an equivalent term for "cultural appropriation" in other languages or countries. There is an irony in that it's a "Western concept" about preserving a culture, except now we want to push this concept into another culture that's "not educated enough" in Western eyes. Sounds familiar?

If we look at history, Europeans colonized and took over the native grounds, so Americans and Europeans are generally aware of the history. But Asia in general has little relation with what happened and therefore does not have enough exposure to North American natives to fully grasp the picture. They don't study American history because it's not practical there, just like Americans likely won't be required to study the history of another country (in their perspective).

I would also say Western mainstream pop culture also plays a part in exposing the "wrong message" when it comes to how indigenous people are depicted and what is appropriate fashion statement. I think Japan should still be a lot more aware of cultural sensitivity and have more resources available in Japanese, but I don't think this should viewed as simple as because "they're dumb" and "it's Japan the racist country".

Edited at 2013-01-25 11:51 pm (UTC)
taciturndream 25th-Jan-2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
+1
mrwaffle 26th-Jan-2013 12:01 am (UTC)
Wow, just wow at all those American comments. Hurling what is essentially abuse at another nation for being ignorant of an AMERICAN-CENTRIC issue is just... wow. I don't think you're going to educate Japan by throwing a brick through their front window and calling them "ignorant racists".

Not to mention, they probably only know of Native Americans through things like Disney cartoons... how can you expect them to know there's a deeper issue when all they've ever watched is pocahontas? -_- do you really think your average American will google the history of ninjas (in Japanese of course!) before dressing up as one for halloween? Really?

That doesn't make it "right", but seriously, yelling the loudest doesn't make you right, it just makes people not want to listen to you.

Edited at 2013-01-26 12:06 am (UTC)
iheartdarkblue 26th-Jan-2013 12:08 am (UTC)
Uh if they're going to base an entire culture on a commercial Disney movie and not even bother to educate themselves, then they are being willfully ignorant.
liime_arix 26th-Jan-2013 12:22 am (UTC)
Here's the google plus page: http://www.google.com/intl/ja/+/project48/
Please flood I'll happily join you.
myharu 26th-Jan-2013 12:17 am (UTC)
I remember when Shinee did something similar and some people on my tlist was complaining that people were making a big deal out of it...
brucelynn 26th-Jan-2013 12:20 am (UTC)
LOL that post surfaced this comm too and it was a mess
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