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View Full Version : Cultural Enlightenment vs Cultural Exploitation



Shaman
01-22-2016, 11:48 PM
There is Paul Gauguin and Tahitian culture. There is Pablo Picasso and African culture (the African masks). There is Hi-rez and Norse/Greek/Chinese/Japanese/Egyptian/Mayan/Indian culture, and finally myself with African culture among many others. Where do cultural empowerment and/or awareness begin and where does it cultural exploitation begin/end?

Paul Gauguin is notorious for his views of both Tahiti and its people; his disillusionment with the Paris all led him to choose Tahiti for his next artist there. His time there led to many paintings that “glamorized” the people or more accurately, Tahitian women. All in search for a lost paradise and innocence while never giving the whole story behind the meaning of some of his pieces, one of the most notable pieces being; Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 1897, oil on canvas.

Pablo Picasso, a name known by many, but actual styles known by few beyond Cubism. Later in Picasso’s life, he got drawn to African tribal masks. While many people in France were looking down on African art or being consumed by exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exoticism about the Fon people of the Dahomey kingdom, Picasso found interest in their masks. This led to a few paintings such has Les Demoiselles d'Avignon which as the basis for analytical cubism. While Picasso might not have the same mindset as Gauguin in exploiting the Fon people, he also didn’t bother to try and understand the Fon either. He used the mask without bothering to try and learn the meanings behind, nor tried to explain the meaning to the rest of the French empire.

Hirez…self-explanatory…

Myself, I’m most vocal about the religions of Africa, so that is what I’ll focus on. From the Orisha of Yoruba, the Loa of Vodun, to the stories of the Kono and Ghana people. I’m constantly trying to illustrate the stories that most of the western world tends to pretend doesn’t exist because African mythology has oral tradition of storytelling (I mean we all know that Greek mythologies never got changed because it got written down). I try in my own way to help elevate stories that gave survived the trials of all that has happened in Africa, but can my own actions also be looked at another form of exploitation of a culture that isn’t my own?

Being a black American doesn’t make one anymore African than being a Caucasian American makes one French, British, or Spanish. So in sense, couldn’t my own actions just be viewed as a path I’m walking to achieve artistic notoriety through the legacy of another’s culture? How far down the path must one walk before ones actions go from cultural enlightenment to exploitation?

LelouchLawliet
03-31-2016, 04:23 AM
Too each their own viewpoint and such.
Mine is: So long I'm wrong and proven so, i will gladly accept that. Same in opposite meaning.

Think about this: HiRez may exploit it, but at the same time also educate young generations with fun content. So...in this case in this world is difficult to achieve positive and no negative. Actually, many believe that with every + comes a -. One can say a glass is half full or half empty. One can like an artist because of his songs, other because of his intentions, other because of his beauty etc.

redmist456
04-26-2016, 07:31 AM
"An apple with the seeds of future generations is picked by a farmer, who then proceeds to eat the apple...."

The relationship between farmer and apple tree (exploiter and exploited) is an age old relationship in many communities. Both have a positive and negative side to it. Just like how slavery in the US was bad morally, but good economically. Or how Nazi Camps were bad, but it helped push civil rights back in the US.

The same can be done to culture. Culture is a shared belief among a common group of people. Sure exploiting this culture for your own profit is bad (not evil, just bad), but there is a benefit to it in the end. It may be education of other audiences, it may be to inspire younger generations of the culture's community to learn to respect it. Whatever the case may be, exploitation is always going to bring about reformation, whether for good or for bad.

"...and yet the tree produces apples, hopeful that the farmer will spread its seeds along the Apple Orchard.

Shaman
04-26-2016, 11:47 AM
The same can be done to culture. Culture is a shared belief among a common group of people. Sure exploiting this culture for your own profit is bad (not evil, just bad), but there is a benefit to it in the end. It may be education of other audiences, it may be to inspire younger generations of the culture's community to learn to respect it. Whatever the case may be, exploitation is always going to bring about reformation, whether for good or for bad.
But is it always beneficial? Allow me toe refer back to a religion and culture that has been exploited and demonized to the point that people just don't understand how it actually works, West African Vodun. W.A.V is the source for many African new world belief the two most widely known Louisiana Voodoo and Hatian Voodoo. From early forms of media and news papers demeaning it associating it with satanism, witchcraft, and zombies for political reasons during the time, and this even led to Hollywood depicting voodoo as evil or satanic in such movies as The Skeleton Key, The Devil's Advocate, The Blair Witch Project, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Child's Play, Live and Let Die and don't get me started about princess and the frog.

There is very little that doesn't exploit it negatively with little positive understanding or reformation about it which shows cultural exploitation is only good if its allowed to be good which vodun was not in fear of how the belief could rally the oppressed people during the time of cultural suppression in the states.

redmist456
04-26-2016, 12:51 PM
But is it always beneficial? Allow me toe refer back to a religion and culture that has been exploited and demonized to the point that people just don't understand how it actually works, West African Vodun. W.A.V is the source for many African new world belief the two most widely known Louisiana Voodoo and Hatian Voodoo. From early forms of media and news papers demeaning it associating it with satanism, witchcraft, and zombies for political reasons during the time, and this even led to Hollywood depicting voodoo as evil or satanic in such movies as The Skeleton Key, The Devil's Advocate, The Blair Witch Project, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Child's Play, Live and Let Die and don't get me started about princess and the frog.

There is very little that doesn't exploit it negatively with little positive understanding or reformation about it which shows cultural exploitation is only good if its allowed to be good which vodun was not in fear of how the belief could rally the oppressed people during the time of cultural suppression in the states.

Research: it's what separates the wise from the meek. These media outlets, imo, are one form of exposure to these "exploited" cultures. It is up to inquisitive players to learn more about them.

A Case Study:

Hou Yi is a Defender of Earth in SMITE, but an inquisitive player would suggest otherwise. His original lore had him as a tyrant king who ruled China.

Or like how worship in voodoo is actually tied to Christian moral and religious beliefs.

Demonizing a culture was a particularly common thing in the past, which of course indirectly leads to the loss of cultural identity of society. Exposing a culture out in the open, even if you present it in a bad way, is sure to spark interest in minds of very inquisitive people. The truth will eventually come out in conclusion of this exploitation.

To me, the ends justify the means. Culture is, after all, connected to other cultures in one way or another. Cultures rise and fall. It is up to us, the stewards of our heritage, to renew this long lost spark, whether through exploitation or enlightenment.

RippleApple
04-26-2016, 04:50 PM
An average human being is his own universe. He is capable of nothing and anything. He only chooses to be bound by the past or slave to the future according to his own whims. Standing in a sea of torches that represent dreams, he is naturally drawn toward the largest flame. Yet he always has the choice to remain alone in the night, independent, steadfast against the field of flame threatening to consume him.

Cultural appropriation is one such flame. It is an ideal held by many. The opposite is also true.

Wisdom is knowing when to do nothing. Cultural insensitivity doesn't matter to a normal person in their own universe nor should it. It may exist alongside other large flames. It may attempt to consume other large flames. It may engage in battle with many other large flames. It may prove victorious. But it's a violation of fundamental human rights to force an ideal upon an individual person indefinitely.

A person always has the choice to take no action, and it's selfish for them to do so, yet that selfishness is not evil.

I choose to do nothing for exactly this reason. I'm not drawn in by the temptation to do or be good. It is an earthly desire that leads to nothing but destruction of other flames, other ways of life. Which is exactly what it seeks to prevent in this specific case. Doing nothing, not worrying about the past or how I fit into this particular facet of the universe is neither good nor evil, and not choosing to do good doesn't inherently make me evil.

I would rather be neutral than hurt another person, and that's when I'm confident that I am the truest form of good possible; the status of how I personally treat people I haven't even met is more important than me than being pressured by others into doing what they consider to be good.

I'm aware and accept that I am my own universe. I don't need to collide with another flame. I'm fine by myself the way I am.

SirKeksalot
04-26-2016, 09:15 PM
It doesn't sound like you're using a culture to promote yourself or your business, and make art out of a passion for what fascinates you. This is not taking advantage of a culture; rather, it is little more than the pursuit of what you love.

Drago55577
04-27-2016, 05:38 PM
Using another culture isn't a bad thing, unless you exploit it for money without actually teaching others about the Culture. Everything is free to be used, and there's no problem with that, but using it without telling people about it, possibly ingraining stereotypes into people about what they do, how they act etc, isn't a good thing. So in essence, do whatever you want as long as it isn't falsely slandering their name or image.

Otherwise, if you make the effort to keep to the culture and make sure people understand what it is, use it for whatever you want. Art, business etc.

None of this "You can't have Dreadlocks because it's my culture not yours."

ChromosomaExtra
05-21-2016, 12:23 AM
Well, I don't agree with many things. Firstly, culture is a belief and a way of acting, so it's normal to criticize it. Nevertheless, I can agree that using a demonized form of this culture isn't right ( imagine if all the Vodun guys in the world brang Walt Disney in tribunal for defamation, I'd love it).
But using a culture even only as inspiration (so not giving precise information about it ) is totally correct. I can use your way of life how the fuck I want, to criticize it, talk about it, make a story inspired by it etc. Culture isn't owned by anyone and therefore , until not twisted for propaganda, cannot bbe exploited.