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Over-thinking, or legit issue (regarding social awareness in my writing) (1 Viewer)

EternalGreen

Senior Member
tell us more, dissenting opinion

About how cultural appropriation is real? I am no expert on this topic, but I know enough to hold justified belief.

Call it whatever you like, "cultural appropriation" is an unequal exchange of culture between two groups of unequal power.

If black musicians get ignored on the basis of their race, which they do, and Elvis Presley gets famous based on the false belief he invented their music, that's an unequal exchange.

People might say that ideas comprise culture and ideas can't be stolen. That's not entirely true. In computing, when a piece of information is "moved," it's actually being deleted in one place and copied in another place. If the privileged group destroys the oppressed group's culture then recreates a mockery of it for their own purposes, how else can we describe that than as a coercive motion of ideas, a theft?

Don't take my word for it. Go read. Education can really change your life; it did for me.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
To add to eternal green's opinion. Culture and language is mainly American and English which is true in the USA. Most history seems to emphasize the accomplishments that aren't achieved by minorities. History has been used as a tool to create a perception of different cultures such as immigrants in some countries like my own. You either fail to learn English as a student or they take you out of school in the USA. Cultures are erased by a process I think is called cultural assimilation.

https://www.google.com/search?q=cul...hUKEwiCidngt_LvAhU5RDABHRSbD2EQ4dUDCAc&uact=5

Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society's majority group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially .



I don't honestly think you can please both people, minorities and people who are not minorities. I don't know what to suggest other than to write what you please. That is I think fiction needs representation. But at the same time, I wouldn't fault anyone based on race to write about a different race. I'd be inclusive in fiction. I'd like to think stereotypes does damage culturally. Don't use stereotypes and write about a unique experience if you have the research to support it. Do justice by creating a stereotype character that erases the perception of what it means to be that character. I would call this a new experience, that many racial minorities would be willing to tell.
 
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Ajoy

Senior Member
I think the issue is completely legit and as writers in this day and age, it is our job to ask the kind of questions you are asking and look at our writing critically through lenses such as cultural appropriation and representation.

I cannot remember where I read it, but once piece of advice that I did come across was to yes, include diverse characters, but in most cases it is best not to write a POV character from an identity group significantly different from your own. Like, as a white person, don't write a story of the black experience...I think this is generally good advice. That said, I think writing stories with diverse characters is important, but probably a good idea to also get some diversity in the beta readers to make sure representation was respectful and accurate.

I honestly think that the example for your situation is probably fine, but great that you're looking at it critically. :)
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Write what you want, when you want. Don't use Twitter, Facebook or watch mainstream media. Unless you actually want cliches. In which case reverse the advised.

So write the Turner Diaries if you feel like it?

Forget the medium of critique. I don't use social media, and here I am performing the dreaded role of SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR you have heard so much about.

You could just ignore problems that don't effect you and plug your ears when people say you're contributing to them, but is that really how you want to live life?

I don't know about you, but if someone asks me to consider if my work is hurting people for a few literal minutes, I might actually do it.

As artists, the value of our work comes from the thoughts and feelings it invokes in other people. If other people think your work is overbearing, ignorant, and hurtful, it might be because that work is bad.

No one wants to be like a bad comedian who complains he's being "cancelled by the SJWs" when no one laughs at his jokes.

Only a terrible chef responds to all criticism with "I cook what I want!"
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
So write the Turner Diaries if you feel like it?

Forget the medium of critique. I don't use social media, and here I am performing the dreaded role of SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR you have heard so much about.

You could just ignore problems that don't effect you and plug your ears when people say you're contributing to them, but is that really how you want to live life?

I don't know about you, but if someone asks me to consider if my work is hurting people for a few literal minutes, I might actually do it.

As artists, the value of our work comes from the thoughts and feelings it invokes in other people. If other people think your work is overbearing, ignorant, and hurtful, it might be because that work is bad.

No one wants to be like a bad comedian who complains he's being "cancelled by the SJWs" when no one laughs at his jokes.

Only a terrible chef responds to all criticism with "I cook what I want!"

I cook what I want.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Okay. If you want to make a dish of raw hamburger and a fountain of scampering ants, feel free. But if you serve that to your customers, you’re losing your license.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
A lot of issues written by the media and press don't represent an individual as they should. They have done sociological studies on movies. Categorizing an individual can lead to discrimination and prejudice. They have done a lot of sociological studies on movies.

https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/chapter/reducing-discrimination/

According to the above link it's ok to socialize and group with a certain ethnic group.

Philip lopate has a quite contrary view. He says in his book: "to show and tell: the craft of literary nonfiction," that there are idiosyncrasies, tics, anti-social mannerisms and that sets people apart from the majority.

Culture okay if I were to paraphrase him is a goldmine, source, and a way to erase perceptions and rewrite cliches.

Part of an essayist 's job is to rescue a word that has fallen under a disapproving shadow and turn it into a more positive light. ( page 71)

My words not his ( he has a different opinion than me) he disagrees with writings characters with the potential to offend people. He says facts are marvelous at delimiting and inscribing destinies. Say if you are a Mormon or a Jew. Or even if the person's sexual identity is different. He says make facts up and also include the truth. Narrative essayists supposedly tell a story. What is more he says it's somewhat possible you just need to have sympathy and research.

Montaigne wrote an essay that people born with one less human organ such as an eye for example are not monsters. It's rare to relate to people's inconsistencies and flaws. But he wrote essays to humanize people faced with prejudice.

This is a tall order and is a difficult subject to write without offending people.

If you want to truly write the other character Philip lopate says read every literature you can find on it such as essays and read literature on this very people you are writing about. Study lopate 's list of essayists to understand how to depict their feelings to.learn their emotions, and etc what has been mentioned. This helps create sympathy in the mind of the reader.

I have a book of the essays he compiled in a volume.

One of the recommend autobiographies on racism is: "incidents in the life of a slave girl,"which is in the public domain. Which would look at racism through the eyes of someone who faced that crisis.

I recommend Philip lopate's book for the recommended list on what to read. I can copy and paste some suggestions from the book I own. He has a huge essay collection in one volume which I own but maybe I can type up the title. Maybe I will type it later as I forgot the name. It is also by Philip lopate.

Read autobiography, memoirs, diaries, memoirs, recent essayists, letters, history about the character you want or wish to portray. Classic essays also help to elucidate what is on his reading list such as Montaigne.
 
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TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Okay. If you want to make a dish of raw hamburger and a fountain of scampering ants, feel free. But if you serve that to your customers, you’re losing your license.

More people like raw meat than not. It's just that Twitter, Facebook and the mainstream media convince people otherwise. I write for the real world, not some extended adolescence masquerading as virtue.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
Turner Diaries
Turner Diaries is a good case-study because while it certainly has artistic merit (or at least artistic competency) it is severely lacking in the realms of moral merit. I see a couple interesting ideas floating around here...morality outsourced to individual affection (Az) morality outsourced to collective affection (EG), and morality derived from an external standard. One of the difficult things about the Turner Diaries is that while many might argue "that hurts me" there are a minority of others who would argue with equal fervor "this helps me." Deriving morality from the reactions of others is essentially impossible due to the variability of human affection, so I'm extremely skeptical of any moral system that roots its authority in the alleged 'experiences' of humanity. Like it or not, everyone here holds the same skepticism to some degree: we have all rejected genuine critique of our work because we believed, on some level, that the perceptions (or articulations) of a reader were off-base. There was an implicit outsourcing of artistic merit to some unspoken external monolith, some concept of what a specific piece was, or ought to be, or how it ought to be perceived.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that when people claim cultural appropriation is harmful, I'm skeptical, if only because there's a failure to explain why cultural appropriation is immoral in the first place. I'd also like to point out that much contemporary horror is just as needlessly violent and hateful as the Turner Diaries, but for some reason no one cares because it "isn't racist." Literally the "I hate everyone equally" meme.
More people like raw meat than not. It's just that Twitter, Facebook and the mainstream media convince people otherwise. I write for the real world, not some extended adolescence masquerading as virtue
This is a really weird point to make about The Turner Diaries, of all things.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I do not believe writing the Turner Diaries was morally wrong because it is bad art. However, I do believe that the value of art is derived from people's feelings.

The Turner Diaries inspired multiple murders in the real world. In the same way, books that promote harmful stereotypes to a lesser extent can lead to discrimination.

On the other hand, things like violent video games, despite what baby boomers claim, do not cause real-world violence.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
This is a very long-winded way of saying that when people claim cultural appropriation is harmful, I'm skeptical, if only because there's a failure to explain why cultural appropriation is immoral in the first place.

I've been doing a lot of anti-racism reading and self education lately. I'm still very much learning, but the sense that I get is that because cultural appropriation describes the practice of typically western-culture/whites exploiting the practices/art/etc. of non-western/non-white people, the immorality would come in the continued exploitation of a marginalized group by a dominant group.

One example can be seen with sports teams that make money (for mostly white people) off of mascots or names depicting aspects of native culture while people of that native culture have been systematically removed through genocide, forced assimilation (where the very cultural elements being mocked and exploited are forbidden to the people being assimilated), and eugenics (blood quantum requirements), causing harm continuing to this day (by white people and the western system). While that is not a direct cause and effect, the cultural appropriation in that case is just another part of a system of harm that has been going strong for hundreds of years. The immorality comes in knowingly continuing to participate in that system of harm.

There are so many examples that fit into this, but going back to the OP's concern, white author's benefiting from writing about marginalized groups while the people from those groups get passed over - as writers, I think we can at least analyze what we're doing from a cultural appropriation lense with a critical eye, and work not to participate in the system of harm.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Sure but they'll try anything to make a buck. There is no scientific validity behind it at all.

Actually, there's a lot. The APA (American Psychological Association):

"Some studies have yielded nonsignificant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer. But when one combines all relevant empirical studies using meta-analytic techniques, five separate effects emerge with considerable consistency. Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior. Average effect sizes for experimental studies (which help establish causality) and correlational studies (which allow examination of serious violent behavior) appear comparable (Anderson & Bushman, 2001)."

Craig A. Anderson, PhD

BTW, I'm not saying it should be a valid defense in any crime. How someone gets mean and/or stupid doesn't matter.
 
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BornForBurning

Senior Member
Actually, there's a lot. The APA (American Psychological Association):
I did not know any of that, but I've been saying this for years, just based on personal observation. For background, I was intensely into video games for years. I have seen close friends threaten to murder each other. They meant it, I know these guys. If nothing else, video games are hyper-stimulating. They make you feel crazy, disoriented and balloon-headed. The idea that exposure to media violence wouldn't incite short-term aggression is utterly laughable. It's like trying to argue that exposure to a naked body won't incite desire.
 

ehbowen

Senior Member
This (cultural appropriation) is an issue which I am going to be dealing with. In the (supernatural) trilogy I'm working on, I've plotted in a scene where, after a lapse of nearly two hundred years, the spiritual personage most directly responsible for influencing the American Revolution confronts one of the guardian spirits of the Native Americans. Not in a violent way, more a somewhat-cordial meeting of former enemies, but...

I'm planning to handle it in a similar way to what Louis L'Amour did in Last Of the Breed, when the Russian Colonel Zamatev attempted to turn Major Makatozi, a Sioux/Cheyenne Native American, against the United States by saying that "...you are one of those from whom your country was taken?" L'Amour has Makatozi calmly reply, "As we had taken it from others." What I'm planning is more along the lines of stewardship and what was done with the land; the plains where the buffalo once roamed now feed the world and the mines which exploited the resources built the arsenal of democracy which defeated totalitarianism in the 1940s.

I may not make anyone happy, except myself. Still, while I'm not seriously considering structural changes to the scene, if there are "tweaks" which could be made in deference to the sensitivities of either side, I'm willing to consider them. But as of right now I'm not really sure as to where to turn to get thoughtful criticism from the Native American perspective. I'll look more seriously when I get closer to pulling everything together, though.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Board Moderator
This (cultural appropriation) is an issue which I am going to be dealing with. In the (supernatural) trilogy I'm working on, I've plotted in a scene where, after a lapse of nearly two hundred years, the spiritual personage most directly responsible for influencing the American Revolution confronts one of the guardian spirits of the Native Americans. Not in a violent way, more a somewhat-cordial meeting of former enemies, but...

I'm planning to handle it in a similar way to what Louis L'Amour did in Last Of the Breed, when the Russian Colonel Zamatev attempted to turn Major Makatozi, a Sioux/Cheyenne Native American, against the United States by saying that "...you are one of those from whom your country was taken?" L'Amour has Makatozi calmly reply, "As we had taken it from others." What I'm planning is more along the lines of stewardship and what was done with the land; the plains where the buffalo once roamed now feed the world and the mines which exploited the resources built the arsenal of democracy which defeated totalitarianism in the 1940s.

I may not make anyone happy, except myself. Still, while I'm not seriously considering structural changes to the scene, if there are "tweaks" which could be made in deference to the sensitivities of either side, I'm willing to consider them. But as of right now I'm not really sure as to where to turn to get thoughtful criticism from the Native American perspective. I'll look more seriously when I get closer to pulling everything together, though.

I haven't read Last of the Breed, but I see it is written in 1987. I would be careful to use it as a reference point for the recognition of cultural issues. Attitudes and awareness have changed a lot since then. I think it's one thing to incorporate native customs, but if you are speaking to stewardship or ownership of land, I would suggest incorporating a balanced viewpoint around the land treaties.

It’s good that you will seek an aboriginal critique. You might try finding a scholar at your local university. Pretty much all of the universities in my local area have introduced faculties of First Nations and Indigenous studies. I always find this topic incredibly fascinating. How the European and Indigenous people collided with divergent views of the best utilization of land and its development. And the older I get, the more I can sympathize with First Nations beliefs.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Board Moderator
It's a legitimate issue, and important to consider as you are.

I struggle with a similar issue as well. I am incorporating various cultural upbringings and expectations into my characters’ motivations. My story takes place in New York City, which is a melting pot for various ethnicities. I spent a lot of time there and try to base my characters on people I met there, and other people I know from various cultures, but I do worry that I will be inauthentic or cliche.

But, we can’t write all our stories in a homogeneous vacuum, because that would be politically incorrect and boring. We have to take the risk but do it thoughtfully and respectfully.

 

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