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?
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
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