Appropriation or Appreciation?

By | January 11, 2023

Is designing and/or wearing Hawaiian dresses cultural appropriation? Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur discuss on The Young Turks. Take our poll

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There's this legendary fashion designer Who's no longer with us he passed away But he was known as like the his name's Alfred Shaheen I've talked about him on The bonus episode before but he was Known as the master printer because he Would print these textiles that were Just super vibrant really beautiful and Unique Um pretty groundbreaking especially with The use of metallics uh in the designs That he would do my favorite era of his Designs go to go back to the 1950s Although he was designing clothes for Decades after that but the 1950s stuff Is like what really stands out to me so A lot of his stuff uh happens to be Collector's items he was originally from Lebanon but he immigrated to Hawaii and That's where he started his business and You know just really succeeded but Anyway I want to show you examples of His work um here's one 1950s uh Polynesian inspired Alfred Shaheen dress Um so vintage birds of paradise sarong Dress So I can't afford that dress it's Currently on sale right now for um you Know just a measly twelve hundred Dollars I think that one actually is Like 750 or something but So would you be a bad person if you wore That dress and you weren't of Polynesian Descent

And was he a bad guy for making these Dresses I want to give you another Example Here's another one from the 1950s an Alfred Shaheen original Um there is some I look I don't know how To read it but clearly there's some Asian text on it Are you a bad person for wearing that Dress are you a bad person for Designing That dress He even had some Indian inspired dresses From the 1950s here's an example of that Um Aishwarya our producer uh who's Producing right now as we speak ashwari If I wore that dress to work would you Be offended by it just give me a nod or A no she would not be offended by it Thank you that means uh you're a Reasonable person but yeah I mean like Clearly He loved and appreciated these cultures Was inspired by it and were inspired by All sorts of things that ends up kind of Being communicated through the work that We do I just I I don't know man I just don't get I don't I'm just tired of like turning normal People who aren't really doing anything Wrong into like vicious enemies that we Need to fight can we fight the actual Bad guys yeah so look I'm going to give You my opinion that I'm going to give

You the opinion of one of our viewers Who disagrees with us and then we'll Talk through okay so actually let me go To their opinion first Savage Lou writes In on Twitch holy crap I disagree so Much on their take here no what she did Was not cultural appropriation but Despite all her admiration and Appreciation for Japanese culture it Does not let her make the claim quote I Am Japanese what if it was Black Culture Would she be able to get away with Claiming herself as black well look Savage You know Probably in in mainstream media no she Would not be allowed to say that and she Would probably have a ton of uh Criticism for it Um but I I wouldn't criticize her and And and it depends On how she says it and and so I would Say it in that context if she was saying It like I love Black Culture No I'm totally fine with that and even If she said I'm black and She doesn't mean biological She's not being literal I think that's The issue I don't look I'm gonna be Maybe unfair to the writer but I don't Think I'm being unfair I think I'm Actually reading what the writer is Doing Um pretty clearly

The writer knows that Gwen Stefani is Not being literal when she says I'm Japanese She's trying to say that I relate to Japanese culture that I connect with it She knows that the writer knows that but The writer chose to portray it as if Gwen Stefani is literally saying no no I'm of Japanese descent Yeah and that's the problem with the Media right now right not only do you Have to be so precise and careful with Your wording you also have to make sure You include all sorts of caveats like Beating a dead horse with caveats so People don't intentionally misrepresent What you're saying and I'm saying as Someone who has to deal with that Literally on a daily basis that I'm Exhausted I'm tired of it I'm tired of Like the cottage industry and I think Twitter's a good example of it of people Who go out of their way to make others Look like bad people when they know They're not bad people because that's How they build a name for themselves Either on social media or in the media Or in in the media like actual you know Journalist media It's exhausting and it turns good people Into bad people for no freaking reason At all and I think we need to stop doing That So and by the way this also creates a

Culture where everybody's fake because If you actually speak in at any moment In a way that is slightly unguarded oh You're toast uh that's why everybody has Those stupid fake PR statements that Their PR agent wrote for them because Man you step an inch out of line Everybody can't wait to jump on you Um and so meanwhile then on the other Hand you have these right Wingers who Are like oh man I'm just doing Freedom Man I'm Politically Incorrect and then They'll say actually terrible things and By the way when the media pretends That saying you like Japanese culture is The same thing as what the right wing is Saying when they say awful things about Japanese culture Well that muddies the water then you Don't know who the good guys are and bad Guys are and that's also crime against The truth I'm gonna read one last Comment here and then and then tie it Into my what I was gonna say Blazer also Wrote it on Twitch saying I think some folks have a fundamental Misunderstanding of what cultural Appropriation is you can wear and make Clothing from other cultures for example The appropriation part comes when you Take complete credit for and or monetize It without giving new credit to the Original creators So that's almost exactly what I said

During the segment uh during the main Show right and so here whether it's Alfred Shaheen or Gwen Stefani I see no Evidence of her doing not giving credit Um uh to the original culture at all and So it's it's just not cultural Appropriation so in my case for example I remember when I was growing up Hannah Barbera uh the cartoons uh had Um like this race around the world and When they got to Turkey I was super Excited that it was my country and then They were representing it and then they Would wear Goofy fuzzes and do weird Stereotypes not turkey and then I'd be a Little disappointed I'm like huh It's not really how turkey is at all Like defense is literally banned it's Illegal you can't wear it and so let Alone the other things Well look it didn't it wasn't the end of The world I recovered but yeah that was A wrong way to represent culture and in Arguably cultural appropriation But when Um Trudeau got in trouble for dressing Up as Aladdin And oh and he got a trouble for two Things dressing up is Aladdin I think on Halloween or a costume party or Something and and going to an Indian Wedding and him and his wife wearing Traditional Indian clothing [Music]

But going to an Indian wedding and Wearing Indian clothes is respectful It's he's not going to the wedding like Oh wait till they see this I'm gonna Just appropriate their culture right From underneath their nose Come on guys we got to be able to make Distinctions we got to be able to do Nuance and Aladdin doesn't paint middle Easterners in a negative light it's a Very rare Middle Eastern hero in one of Our stories that's a good thing not a Bad thing We've got to be able to make that Distinction And look we do want to know what you Think so we have a poll on this at polls is it wrong for someone to Make money off of products or services That were influenced by a culture or Heritage different from their own yes or No [Music] Um so answer how you'd like uh you guys Of course are free to disagree with us I Won't be offended by that I made my Strong case you should make yours and we Look forward to hearing what you guys Have to say and I'm sorry one last thing On polls uh last night for most school We also have a very uh dramatic and Important poll Um Is sourdough bread sour pulse

That American people need to know thanks For watching The Young Turks I really Appreciate it another way to show Support is through YouTube memberships You'll get to interact with us more There's live chat emojis badges you've Got emojis of me Anna John Jr so those Are super fun but you also get playback Of our exclusive member only shows and Specials right after they air so all That all you got to do is click that Join button right underneath the video Thank you