Tag Archives: responsibility

“Hymn for the Weekend”: Appreciation, Appropriation, and the Exotic Black Woman

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop listening to “Hymn for the Weekend” on repeat.

However, before I had even listened to Chris Martin and Queen Bey meld their voices in a divine mesh of harmonies, I was reading about it on Tumblr.

Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation

The first thing I heard about the video was that it had some pretty rampant cultural appropriation. Since there have been a number of music videos and performances accused of cultural appropriation over the last few years, I wasn’t too surprised to hear about “Hymn for the Weekend” being added to the list.

The video quickly split viewers into two groups, those who considered it cultural appropriation, and those who appreciated the video’s focus on Indian culture. The clip below highlights a few of the key elements that have been discussed and criticized.

This discussion is tricky for a variety of reasons. For example, there is a time and place when a white person can wear Indian clothing and accessories without coming off as disrespectful. In some cases, it’s actually much more respectful to embrace local dress customs than to ignore them.

There are even music videos where diverse customs and styles have been featured without any backlash about appropriation.

This debate can also seem confusing when Indian fans, or fans with Indian heritage, don’t seem to be bothered by the video’s representation of their culture.

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Representation, As In, How We Present Ourselves [I Need To Get Groceries]

Today’s post is going to be a less cohesive than usual since I moved to my new place this past Tuesday night and have a lot to do on my one day off from work, with buying some groceries being very high on that list. Seriously, though, I need food.

[Very valid] Excuses having been made, let’s talk a little bit about how we present ourselves. This shouldn’t be hard seeing as you’re on the internet right this very instant, and you can make like a future employer and type your name into Google to see what pops up. Anything and everything found online, from that garish was-cool-in-the-early-00’s Myspace page to your I-sure-hope-I’ve-added-enough-job-experience LinkedIn account, is something that you can potentially be judged on.

It probably shouldn’t be, but it’s a lot for a single person to keep track of. Now imagine being a business or organization.

Just this week DC Comics faced an incredible amount of criticism due to some of apparel featuring their characters, in particular the vastly different messages that were being communicated in their boys’ and girls’ clothing lines.

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Had It With Litter? [The Power Is Yours!]

You gotta get on my level before we get things started. Roughly this time last year I wrote one of my shortest Shame Days [feature to reappear in good time, never fear] ever, the gist of it being that tossing your cigarette butts on the ground is unconscionable. Those who perpetrate the act themselves stick to the defence that “doing otherwise is inconvenient” and if you don’t think that’s the pettiest, shallowest, most irresponsible front then you should probably stop reading this now.

No, I don’t have patience for any of that, or the myriad of other excuses that smokers tend to put up-

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Giving Money [Minus the Ice Bucket]

I’d say there’s no better time than right now to discuss what we do with our money in light of the hundreds upon thousands of Ice Bucket Challenge videos that have been taking up most of the internet the past few days [FYI, Emily Blunt’s is the best]. Just yesterday my youngest brother posted one to Facebook, so it’s gotten just about as close to home as it possibly can.

Now there’s been a lot of discussion about how this appears to be just the latest trend, which probably has a lot to do with the sheer number of celebrities who are getting in on this. What can’t be argued with, though, is the fact that in a very short time this challenge has resulted in over $50 million being donated for ALS, which is roughly 80% of what the organization raised last year. That’s big, that’s worth applauding. I’m going to end this paragraph on that note.

What else it is, though, is fun. It’s fun watching people like Bill Gates and Nick Offerman get soaked in frigid water and calling out their peers. It’s fun when our peers do it to us, and when we in turn choose to douse ourselves in glacial H2O. That makes it easier to give, I think, there’s this pervasive lightheartedness about it that makes us more inclined to reach into our wallets and give howevermany dollars towards ending Lou Gehrig’s Disease [an ailment I only very recently connected to these shenanigans]. Giving gets infinitely harder when there’s none of that fun involved.

Here’s my favourite scene from a pretty bad 2004 Jackie Chan movie [no offence to Steve Coogan, but we weren’t watching it for him]:

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Shame Day: Whitewashed Bible Movies and the Christians Who Watch Them

I think it only fair, given the current situation in the Gaza Strip, to shout-out the West’s general view of the Middle East today as having honorary Shame Day status [you can check out yesterday’s post for what that’s all about]. Cue my flawless segue into today’s actual topic, which is in regards to the West’s general view of the historical Middle East.

This retreads some pretty well-worn ground for me, because it’s about Hollywood and race. I’ve spotlit problems with the “one size fits all” approach to casting minorities, heavily criticized Hollywood’s attempts to whitewash their remakes of groundbreaking animated films, and outright condemned producers who cite the inevitable change in the industry while stolidly refusing to have any part of it. The difference here is that this time it’s heavily tied into Western Christianity.

It’s been almost 60 years since The Ten Commandments, and I want to say we’ve come a very long way since then. Again note that that’s something I want to say. To be truly and completely honest there is almost nothing I want more than to be able to write to you all and tell you that in six decades we are so, so far from the time when Charles Heston and Anne Baxter were cast as Moses and Nefertiti, respectively. You know what they say, though, you can’t always get what you want. Continue reading

The Mental Health Issue

There’s an entire graveyard of first-drafts of this piece sitting somewhere in the dusty virtual archives of CWR, but after eluding me for so long (and I mean months, people) I finally think I’ve got this complicated and multifaceted post down.

Let’s get right to it.

Mental Disorders Are Partly Your Fault

See this comic?

As much as it’s making a good statement about the way we treat mental illness (and we’ll touch more on that in a second), the simple fact of the matter is that the idea that mental illness is something that just “happens” is wrong. The comic asks us “Would you really tell someone with a broken hand to just ‘get over it’?”. To which I say, “No, but I would yell at him for not wearing cast or for trying to punch through cinder blocks.” Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Superman and Superheroes

GORDON: Up there! In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…! It’s…!

It’s a cheesy rehash of the same joke we closed out on last time!

EVAN: How dare you, sir.

GORDON: Citizens, today our topic of discussion is Superman, and to a lesser extent, superheroes in general- though you could hardly go wrong to kick off a discussion on the subject by starting with the Big Blue Boy Scout.

Who, for the record, I despise. Continue reading