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Thread: Cultural Appropriation and Celebration of Failure to Read the Screen

  1. #76
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    If you were writing a medical novel, wouldn't you care about screwing up the biology? "Nobody cares about all this! Who's going to yell at me, doctors? Who cares if I talk about using a liver for a heart transplant? What matters is the story!"

    In purely unemotional terms, when someone suggests you may be indulging in cultural appropriation, what you have is someone in the know saying "Dude, you're getting it wrong." Which...is kind of something I want to know about my work, preferably before it gets published.
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  2. #77
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RightHoJeeves View Post
    He's clearly a hero for not bowing down to PC law. Please, some respect. He's fighting for all of us.
    The PC police
    They live inside of my head
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  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    I can see some new members haven't read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write.

    Particularly this part:
    I didn't accuse anybody of anything. OP has some concern that he's going to be accused of cultural appropriation. It's not clear that anyone has actually accused him of anything, but he's concerned it might happen. I suggest that he tune out that concern and the voices he hears that cause him to feel the cultural pressure that give rise to the concern. Nothing in that violates the letter or the spirit of the portion of the Newbie Guide you helpfully quoted.

  4. #79
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    Not with the OP's attitude of entitlement. And not with the attitude of "fuck it, write what you want", but with the attitude of "I am borrowing from someone else's culture and I am aware that I am borrowing, therefore I shall treat this thing which is NOT MINE with respect, that I may return it UNDAMAGED. If you tell me that I am misusing it, I will fucking LISTEN and LEARN instead of getting defensive, even if I may not agree with you."
    QFT.

    I really don't get how anyone can logically object to this. And crying "censorship" over someone refusing to buy your book or leaving a bad review is just absurd.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    Must be nice to be able to dismiss valid issues that affect people's lives as "PC noise".
    There's a big distinction between the valid issues that affect people's lives, and the speech and thought code that constitutes PC. I think the speech and thought codes inherent in concepts like cultural appropriation do mre harm than good. But you're painting with a brush that is both broad and unfair if you infer from that that I'm callous to issues of injustice.

  6. #81
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    As I understand it, in Canada, the argument is people who are not POC should not use characters that are. Whatever the word is that means people unaffiliated with the government dictate what people can write and not write - that's the word I would have used instead.

    Hublocker sounds like he knows what he is talking about having lived there with diverse people for 64 years so I say he is most likely qualified to write what he knows. No one is saying bad reviews are censorship. No one is saying writers can only write about themselves. I said if this is allowed to continue it will lead to more things. It's a logical progression.

  7. #82
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    I worry about being culturally correct.

    I've been working on a Weird West novel for some time. One of my main characters is a Lakota Sioux who shape-shifts into a wolf.

    He's also an alcoholic. It makes sense from his background, and it's integral to the story, but I always cringe at the idea that I've written yet another "drunken Injun" stereotype. I can't make him white or sober and still have the same book. To take either aspect from him would completely alter his character and his place in the story.

    If I want to do right by his culture, I can either not write the story, or I can do my research and treat him like a person. I'm choosing to do the second one.
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  8. #83
    Left-Handed Writing Fairy folclor's Avatar
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    I've been reading all of this since last night and it still causes me quite a bit of anxiety. So I'm going to post what's on my mind and hope no one is too angered by it.

    The original premise of the thread has to do with who is 'allowed' to portray First Nations characters in their books. In the US (where I was born and raised) this... this isn't really a thing a lot of people had to think about. I mean, if you're trying to portray a character accurately you do your research. I honestly believe that most people want to portray characters as accurately as possible, keeping in mind that, no matter what the color of skin, the person is still just that, a person, a human.

    I didn't think much about First Nations until I married my husband and moved to Canada. That's not because I didn't care about them, but the area where I grew up was mostly black and Hispanic, so I thought and cared a lot more about that. But once I moved here I realized that this is really a different country. I live in a small town surrounded by Meti settlements and Cree reservations (all different bands). The fact is... you can be considered "not Native enough" (by the band) if your ancestor, five generations back, married someone from a different band. Even if everyone after that married someone from the 'right' band.

    I'm explaining all that to express that I think the original intent of the poster was to express frustration that his work may be attacked because he's not Native enough. It's an unfortunate thing. I have two friends who have to keep proving their genealogy because their bands try to cut them out for not being Native enough, or the "right kind" of Native. You can lose treaty status for this sort of thing. The problem is that if it invades literature as well then it becomes the fear of writing anyone who isn't your skin color for fear of major criticism and the destruction of your work because it's seen as not the right kind of portrayal.

    I agree that anyone who writes a character from a different culture should extensively research it and talk to members of that culture. Stereotypes have roots, but no one is a complete stereotype and no character should be written as such.

  9. #84
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    I like the term you use, "thought code". I think it gets at the insidious nature of this debate. It goes far beyond mere insensitivities. There are ways to obstruct free speech and hinder the publishing industry decision makers when large groups of people are complaining using vague terms such as "cultural appropriation" and "epistemological insiderism" (a new one in academia where writers' culture is considered for topics he/she is qualified to write about).

  10. #85
    Cazart! nighttimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Underdawg47 View Post
    It sounds like human history to me. What culture has not taken from other cultures? Who still lives on the land of their ancestors? Apparently all of our ancestors came from Africa and now we are spread across the globe conquering and reconquering lands. In similar ways Israel thinks they have the right to take back ancient land that they once owned in the Bible, yet they stole their land from the Canaanites. It is hard to say who originally owned the land first.

    Not only do we steal land, but we have stolen other people's cultures through the millennia and adopted them into our own since the beginning of time. Our language is a mixture of different languages, our art is a mixture of different cultural influences and so is our music. So why should Native Americans be exempt? Yes, our ancestors robbed the native people's of their land and killed them in the process. Our ancestors did horrible things I know, but what do we do now? Is it right to punish those living now for the sins of their forefathers? Do we start by removing native words and copied artwork from our own culture? Should we tread lightly as if on eggshells careful not to copy anything that may or not have been native American in origin? Where does it end? How how back through history can we take this?

    I feel for the plight of those suffering at the hands of oppressors, no matter what race they happen to be, but political correctness just seems to me to be an overcompensation for guilt directed in the wrong way. I don't see anything wrong in adopting language, art, and myths into the evolving culture of modern day society. This has always been what we are as a people. I think if we want to help those are oppressed, then we give them the tools to succeed, raise them out of poverty, and go after and punish those who would oppress them economically.
    Spoken like a White gay male soaking in his own precious privilege to take for himself anything he wants from another culture, make a buck off of it, and congratulate himself for being so clever for being able to monetize what someone else did first and better.

    You're very concerned that you shouldn't be feeling guilty of the transgressions of White people who lived before you, but in your own way, you're justifying the oppression, exploitation and subjugation of other races and groups because what does that stuff in the past matter when "political correctness" annoys you now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    Original Poster here. Otherwise known as the whining tit.

    I didn't know what BME meant until I looked it up.

    I grew up in the only French-Canadian family in an Anglophone community in western Canada with two nearby Indian reserves. I'm not going into a long "some of my best friends are aboriginal" defense, that's not necessary, all I want to add is that I've seen plenty of ethnic minority and race prejudice close-up in my 64 years on this planet. And I have plenty of grist for the mill in that regard.
    That's nice. But living for six decades doesn't mean you know how ethnic minorities (or POC's--a term you disdain) live with, react to, and struggle with race-based prejudice.

    And because you don't, you'll need more grist for that mill.

    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    What does it have to do with "everyone knowing their place?" EVERYONE should be free to write about whatever the hell they want.
    EVERYONE is free to write about whatever the hell they want. Everyone is NOT free to stereotype, slight, demean, or make up stuff when they are writing. Not without being called out and held accountable for being a bad and lazy writer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    What is POC?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Clover View Post
    You sure you want to get cocky about this, after having to ask what PoC is?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    Yup.

    Don't follow PC acronyms at all.
    It's 2017. You realize Black people don't go by "Negro" any more, right?

    It doesn't make you a rugged individualist because you're not aware "people of color" is an informed and respectful way to refer to others unlike you. What it does suggest is despite your 64 years of life, you've chosen to remain blissfully ignorant of your own racial insensitivity.

    You don't have to be a Native American or a lesbian or a Latino to be able to write Native American, lesbian or Latino characters. You do have to know what the hell you're writing about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    Hublocker sounds like he knows what he is talking about having lived there with diverse people for 64 years so I say he is most likely qualified to write what he knows. No one is saying bad reviews are censorship. No one is saying writers can only write about themselves. I said if this is allowed to continue it will lead to more things. It's a logical progression.
    It's an equally logical progression if writers write what they want and nobody calls them on it when it is wrong it will lead to more things and those things are shitty books that are lousy with people of color who only exist in the imagination of the writer.
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  11. #86
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    So you have read Hublocker's book he hasn't published and came to these conclusions?

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Singbellring View Post
    I like the term you use, "thought code". I think it gets at the insidious nature of this debate. It goes far beyond mere insensitivities. There are ways to obstruct free speech and hinder the publishing industry decision makers when large groups of people are complaining using vague terms such as "cultural appropriation" and "epistemological insiderism" (a new one in academia where writers' culture is considered for topics he/she is qualified to write about).
    Coming directly to this and posting immediately after I approved your registration when I can see that you haven't even read the Newbie Guide or introduced yourself looks less than stellar.

    I'm also going to point out that, as an academic, I know damn well what "cultural appropriation" and "epistemological insiderism" mean. Neither of them are new; both were being used when I started graduate studies in the 1980s. If you don't know what they mean, or how to use them correctly, that's a problem with you, not other people.

    I'd suggest you not post again until you've read the Newbie Guide.

  13. #88
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNG01 View Post
    There's a big distinction between the valid issues that affect people's lives, and the speech and thought code that constitutes PC.
    Care to make that distinction?

    I think the speech and thought codes inherent in concepts like cultural appropriation do mre harm than good.
    I'm not sure what you're saying here...that the concept of people acknowledging cultural appropriation exists is harmful...?

    But you're painting with a brush that is both broad and unfair if you infer from that that I'm callous to issues of injustice.
    I'm basing that off your immediate jump to "ignore the PC noise and write what you want" to the OP. The OP, whose posts show, time and again, a lack of understanding and respect towards the VERY PEOPLE he wants to write about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    Hublocker sounds like he knows what he is talking about having lived there with diverse people for 64 years
    O rly? Hmm. Can you show me what led you to think that the OP "knows what he is talking about", cause all I'm seeing are these lovely posts of his:

    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post

    Oops. I used the word Indian. As a (mostly) white person I'm required by PC law to use the words aboriginal or First Nations.

    Only Indians can use the word "Indian" and they do.

    In the U.S. you frequently say "Native American."

    Anyway, I have a novel I'm preparing to pitch after working on it for two years and it has two FN characters in it, and one is a jerk and the other is a woman with possibly a disappeared sibling. In case you don't know, the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women is significant in Canada.

    Seeing as I'm white (I can't prove my 19th century aboriginal heritage) and I don't depict either one as a saint I might as well give up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    I didn't know what BME meant until I looked it up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    What is POC?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Clover View Post
    You sure you want to get cocky about this, after having to ask what PoC is?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    Yup.

    Don't follow PC acronyms at all.
    He has displayed arrogance and complete disregard for terms which marginalized people deem appropriate or inappropriate as it applies to them. "PC acronyms", I guess. But THIS IS THE PERSON to whom you guys are choosing to say "ignore all these PC police". All of our concerns with regards to his flippant, disrespectful attitude is just "noise". Really? This is the one you guys are choosing to fight for? Are there no other writers who want to write characters from other cultures who're actually, you know, respectful, that you guys can get behind? My writing group has quite a few white people, some of whom choose to write PoC characters, and they approach their work with pride -- they do their research, they listen to people from marginalized groups, they're open to critique, they don't get defensive and whine about minority issues. I would fight to the death for their right to write marginalized characters, refer them to agents I know, and do so proudly, because their work is incredible and important and should be read. But THE OP??? REALLY??? WHAT AM I MISSING HERE OH GAWD *rolls around in bog*
    Last edited by Putputt; 05-19-2017 at 09:35 PM.
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  14. #89
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    We exist in a place where J@mes P@tterson can write Alex Cross and have it shelved as crime fiction, but if it had been written by someone who looks like Alex Cross, it would more likely be shelved as African American fiction or given a short print run. JP is praised for diversity and "edginess" while someone who might have the same background and experiences as that diverse / edgy detective is pigeon-holed and told their book likely won't appeal to mainstream readers.

  15. #90
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
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    Someone taking the side against the need to be "PC" please explain to me exactly what you're protesting. Is it that you don't want to have to do research? You don't want to use names correctly? You don't want to actually talk to anyone who's a member of the groups you want to write about? Because so far that's really all I see anyone suggesting is needed.

    So what is it you're so up at arms about?
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  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ Litke View Post
    This, exactly. If your perspective is that you shouldn't be held responsible for what your ancestors did, as if it's not still happening, you're too ignorant to write about the subject.
    I’ve been meaning to ask a few specific questions for some time now, and this looks like a terrific opportunity to do so. As a sort of sub-topic of this fascinating thread. I hope they won’t be too much of a bother. It really is time to zero in a bit into specific concepts, I believe, in order to work out the exact mechanics there.

    Question 1: Suppose one lives in Canada, but is first generation Canada-born, and one’s ancestors are from Slovakia. Does one then imagine out of a sense of communion that olden Slovakia had oppressed native Canadians? Or is one exempt from the inherited racial guilt? Or is it more of a having the right skin color in the wrong place thing and the guilt is not genetic or national, but more epidermal?

    Question 2: Suppose one is not a Slovak, but solid Canadian stock since at least the late 1700’s, and say Welsh-Cumbrian from before that. Yet none of one’s Canadian ancestors oppressed anyone. Some of them tended animals, others worked in townships, but not one of them has ever oppressed in any way a native Canadian. Now, does this lack of a direct lineage to an oppressor shield one from the inherited stain, or is it not a question so much of direct genetic inheritance, but more of a quantum mutual-influence thing? As in—X number of your ethnicity has done a bad thing, and therefore your genes are affected too? If yes—is there a specific number of ethnicity members that have to do the bad thing until you’re tainted too? Or, going further still--do country borders stop it? If you are of the "guilty ethnicity", but have never set foot in the country in which the crimes took place, do you only become guilty once you cross the border?

    Question 3: In case it’s not a quantum genetic sympathy thing, but a direct descendant thing. Suppose one’s direct ancestor was responsible for oppressing or even massacring native Canadians back in 1824. Is this family curse forever, or not? If not—is there a specific number of generations after which it is lifted, or is the a percentage of blood-mixing after which the family is no longer the original one and the curse no longer works, or is it there forever in anyone who has any connection to the original ancestor, until a specific act of reparation is carried out? If it’s the reparation thing—does one descendant doing it fix things, or do all the descendant have to do this? And also—just once, or annually?

    Question 4: Is this only a thing to do with other ethnicities? If, for example, one is white, from Scottish stock, and one’s great-grandmother was an ax murderer, but only killed Scottish stock whites from her own village—does that mean you also have to feel guilty about it even now? Or is it less generationally contagious if the victims are from your own ethnicity? When does it become a generational crime against other ethnicities—if it’s not the same sub-branch of white but a different type of white (for example Celts killing Slavs), or only if it’s a totally different skin color and culture?

    Question 5: If it’s possible to be guilty but not have done anything bad yourself, is it then also possible to be awesome by remote influence? If the bad deeds of one’s ancestor make ‘guilt points’ for the descendant, do the good deeds make ‘awesome points’? If yes—how many ‘awesome points’ make the ‘guilt points’ go away?

    Question 6: Leaving ancestors alone and shifting to the here and now. Suppose one’s cousin works in a corporation that pollutes native Canadian land. Does that make one guilty by association or by shared genome? What purification ritual should be done to scrub clean the stain on one character? Or is the whole clan cursed from now on? Or the whole ethnos?

    Thank you very much in advance should answers be forthcoming, have a nice weekend.

    I invite nighttimer to also meditate on these questions, as the user also sounds perhaps representative of a certain school of thought on the subject.

    EDIT: We live in times in which it is expected to wear allegiances on one's sleeve. I'm progressive. Been zooming deep into the mechanics of any issue ever since the obligatory breakdowns after high school.
    Last edited by JCornelius; 05-19-2017 at 10:03 PM.

  17. #92
    Left-Handed Writing Fairy folclor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    We exist in a place where J@mes P@tterson can write Alex Cross and have it shelved as crime fiction, but if it had been written by someone who looks like Alex Cross, it would more likely be shelved as African American fiction or given a short print run. JP is praised for diversity and "edginess" while someone who might have the same background and experiences as that diverse / edgy detective is pigeon-holed and told their book likely won't appeal to mainstream readers.
    Wow, really? That's ridiculous. Really, we should be living in a time where people are judged on their merits, talents, and skill, not their skin color. That's really disgusting...

  18. #93
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Riiight:

    When I tell members to refrain from dismissively referring to "PC" I'm not kidding. Again:

    Per The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write.

    Particularly this part:

    Quote Originally Posted by MacAllister View Post
    The complexity and diversity in our backgrounds can be much more difficult to face and deal with, honestly, when things are couched in terms of "gosh, it was all just in good fun" because of the built-in refusal to examine underlying attitudes of exclusion, or "I'm normal and you're not" -- which by extension implies that anyone who insists on examining exactly that is humorless and "PC."

    Which reminds me -- accusing each other of "being PC" when you disagree really isn't cool. And what it usually boils down to is that someone is being a jerk or a bigot -- maybe inadvertently, maybe not -- and gets called on it which makes that person defensive.

  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    So you have read Hublocker's book he hasn't published and came to these conclusions?
    Nope. I read Hublocker's posts he published and came to those conclusions.

    And your point is...?
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  20. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by folclor View Post
    Wow, really? That's ridiculous. Really, we should be living in a time where people are judged on their merits, talents, and skill, not their skin color. That's really disgusting...
    You're right. It's awful.

    And I'm always a little surprised when someone says they're shocked that this is the nature of the world, because it's always been the nature of the world. There are those who work to improve things, but it's a non-linear path, and I'm not at all sure it's a fight humanity is ever going to win. The dominant culture likes to stay dominant, and will cultivate liars, cheaters, thieves and murderers in order to do it.

    I wonder, sometimes, how much overlap there is between people who have the knee-jerk reaction of "Don't tell me what to write" and people who genuinely don't know (or don't believe) we live in an artificially stratified society.
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    Putputt, try talking to Hublocker before you margianalize him. But I don't think he needs to explain himself to this witch hunt.

    And Amen JCornelius.

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    Write whatever you want or the censorship and silencing of writers and artists will continue and worsen. If it is allowed to continue, a writer will only be allowed to write characters that are exactly the same as the writer. The next step will be to say men cannot write women characters.

    Mark Twain is a great example of what using POC characters can do for society. I'd say stand your ground and defend your opinions no matter what. Many authors have taken hits for having a different opinion but they keep at it. If you don't get published you could always self-publish.
    Quote Originally Posted by JNG01 View Post
    Hublocker, just ignore all the PC noise. A lot of great works of fiction never would have come to be if their authors had been concerned with cultural pressure (like PC). Write your story, do your best to sell it, and let the chips fall where they may.
    You're both advocating ignoring the voices of marginalised people who don't have the privilege to ignore "PC" issues because, for them, they aren't interesting philosophical ponderings but real life. Everyday life.

    Do you really think that's okay, and right?

  23. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCornelius View Post
    Iíve been meaning to ask about a few specific questions, and this looks like a terrific opportunity to ask them. As a sort of sub-topic of this fascinating thread. I hope they wonít be too much of a bother. It really is time to zero in a bit into specific concepts, I believe, in order to work out the exact mechanics there.

    Question 1:
    Question 2:
    Question 3:
    Question 4:
    Question 5:
    I don't think guilt is at all the right response, and (aside from a few loud voices) it's not what anyone is trying to achieve.

    Feeling guilty about being white, or male or Christian, or straight isn't going to help anyone, nor is assigning guilt to the the "appropriate" levels.

    People have been bringing "guilt" into the conversation for decades as a way to dismiss the concerns of those who have genuine complaints. "Well, I never owned a slave, so I don't owe Black people anything." or "My ancestors were abolitionists" (or arrived after 1860, or have Cherokee blood, etc.) Or god forbid the "They've stolen our white culture" whine -- as if "white" were actually a culture of its own. It's just another way to brush off actual oppression and appropriation.

    Talk of "guilt" is worthless.

    Talk about writing characters of all cultures as well-rounded, complete people. Listen when someone says "Models shouldn't wear Cherokee war bonnets to represent Native American culture" and think about why instead of having a knee-jerk response. Talk about examining the basis of racial stereotypes instead of using them as-is. Acknowledge the benefit of privilege and, when you can, use it to boost the signal on those who don't have it.
    -- Myrea
    "When it comes down to it itís always, always you and the white page. At the end of the day if the page is blank, itís won. Donít let the page win."
    Alasdair Stewart

  24. #99
    Thread surfer and virtual bartender L. Y.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    Putputt, try talking to Hublocker before you margianalize him. But I don't think he needs to explain himself to this witch hunt.

    And Amen JCornelius.
    You seem to be missing the point. I would advise you to go back and read the tone of his posts before you stick your neck out even further.
    Write. Edit. Rinse, repeat.

    Edit with your head. Write with your heart.


  25. #100
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio_of_Mullets View Post
    Putputt, try talking to Hublocker before you margianalize him. But I don't think he needs to explain himself to this witch hunt.
    Bless your heart.

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