Another week, another set of manufactured outrages. New absurdities have been discovered recently in the UK as the Labour politician, Dawn Butler, has criticised the TV chef, and self-appointed guardian of the nation’s sugar levels, Jamie Oliver, for ‘cultural appropriation.’ His crime? Launching a product called ‘Punchy Jerk Rice,’ which, according to Butler, is ‘appropriation from Jamaica’ and ‘needs to stop.’
A while ago I visited Auckland Museum, and while wandering around I came across a cabinet which had a set of china on display. This china was decorated with Maori designs, yet was obviously made by Europeans. The information plaque pointed out that this was considered to be cultural appropriation. Which personally I believe to be complete nonsense. We all use aspects of various cultures in our daily lives all the time. We have more restaurants and take-aways which sell asian, indian and other cultures foods than we do European foods for example. Our language is peppered with words from the Latin and French languages. A lot of furniture design in New Zealand has it’s roots in Scandinavia. You also must realise that not everyone who wears a necklace with a cross on it, is a Christian. These are but a few simple examples.
What some people call cultural appropriation, others call the sharing of ideas to enhance progress and the acceptance of other cultures. Which should be a good thing, right?
It seems that in New Zealand, if you borrow something from a particular culture in any way, but mostly in a way that people from that culture do not profit from it, then it’s demonised as cultural appropriation. But, if it means they will get millions of dollars for it, they will try and make it compulsory and ram it down your throat at every opportunity – like their language. It seems they want it both ways!