Wednesday, May 2, 2018

And Today's "Cultural Appropriation" Stupidity

Oh, you're going to love this.

So a week or so ago, a young high school girl in Salt Lake City went to her prom wearing a qipao, a Chinese dress that ... well, below is a picture of the young lady, named Keziah Ginger Daum, with her date.   She is wearing the dress in question.

Now, I think that we can all agree that the young lady looks quite beautiful in the dress, and in a perfect (i.e., "normal") world, everyone would say the same thing.  I can certainly imagine that her peers at the dance envied her choice of attire and her date surely thought her striking in a good way.

Miss Daum was looking, so this article states, for a unique look for her senior prom, and went searching in a "vintage shop" for just the right way to make a great fashion statement and to look her absolute best.  And you'd think she accomplished that, right?  I know that I certainly thought she had done a good job in selecting that look.  So did people at the prom.

She thought so as well, posting prom pictures on Twitter for the world, or at least her "followers", to see.  The one at left is indeed one of them, shared with the Twitterverse or whatever it's called.  There are a number of them if you actually want to go check them out, although that might be a bit stalky.  You should already have gotten the idea.

Well, apparently that was not the right dress to have worn.  Not, it should be pointed out, because it was not "prom-appropriate", or because it was, well, red, or because there are any laws in the State of Utah forbidding it.

Nope.  She has gotten a firestorm of criticism for wearing a Chinese style of dress.  Yep, she is being criticized for what the not-happy-unless-being-offended, snowflake world refers to as "cultural appropriation."  Now, regular readers here will recall that one of the most widely-read pieces of the nearly 900 I've done on this site deals with "cultural appropriation", specifically this one here that I urge you to read, dealing with insufferable students at Oberlin College complaining that their sushi wasn't made right.

Now, let's be quite clear here.  There are no written rules about the interaction between cultures; "cultural appropriation" -- the use by one culture of an attribute of another, sort of like definitional Halloween -- was fine for many years until someone realized it was a way to bash and embarrass ... OK, let's call it what it is ... white people.  Keziah is, of course, white.

Up until a couple three years ago or so, it was perfectly fine for me to eat sushi, or wear a Hawaiian shirt, or use a help desk (apparently that is now culturally Indian) or go to a casino (culturally the other kind of Indian).  You get the idea.

So what would have happened had Miss Daum been, say, black?  Do you think the leftist trolls of the Internet would have slammed her for cultural appropriation for wearing a qipao then?  I think I digress, though.

Imitation, as we know, is the sincerest form of flattery.  That a bunch of Hondurans are trying to climb our as-yet inadequate border walls to become Americans is a perfect example of that.  They want our culture, presumably.  I like sushi, barbecue, and spaghetti, and pad thai.  I don't like kimchi, or borscht, or anything in an Indian restaurant.  I don't really care if Hiroki, Bubba, Luigi and Chulalungkorn are happy but Sun-Woo and Boris and Vijay are not.

There was a Seinfeld episode where Jerry was about to date a young lady named Donna Chang he had not met.  He tells his friends that he loves Chinese women, whereupon one of them says that's "racist."  "It's not racist", Jerry replies, "if you like their race."  (For the record, Donna turned out not to be Chinese at all, but I digress.)

That line is the essence of the stupidity of seeing cultural appropriation as a bad thing.  Cultures arise and they develop their art, their food, their music, their attire, their names, their words.  Other cultures become aware, and choose to accept or reject those attributes as personal preferences -- something not at all specific to Americans, or even white people, if you were to look at the playlist of an Iranian teen's smart-phone music library.

It's all, my friends, about what happens when the cultures meet, as in a pretty teenager in Salt Lake City choosing to wear a qipao to her prom.  Leftist snowflakes see it as cultural appropriation, and somehow a bad thing to be condemned in profane rants.  I prefer to see it as a beautiful picture of the meeting of two cultures, a Western girl wearing a Chinese dress because she likes the way she looks in it.

I like my way of thinking better.  A lot better.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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  1. My mother is 52 and Chinese. She said the girl "looked very lovely" in the dress and was excited that she wore it. I guess she doesn't mind having her culture "appropriated".

  2. Appreciate the idea that exploring another culture and using it is a GOOD thing. Chinese should be thrilled, not offended, and what I read says the ones in China that heard about this story applaud her.