“Cultural Appropriation” is a term out of today’s Newspeak lexicon. It’s basically the equivalent of shouting “bad dog!” whenever a White person dares eat sushi, read The Bhaghavad Gita, or just try to engage in a little yoga. (The advanced guard of gentrifying Urban Elf fascism!)
Nowhere do we see this reflected more than in popular culture. Where a regular stream of hems and haws about the “whitewashing” of characters and Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s await any intrepid young Googler. But notice there is never a complaint when a POC shows up in a previously White franchise, universe, or historical epoch. In fact it’s downright celebrated in this, our newly minted current year.
From the latest installment of Star Wars, to the spires of Hogwarts it seems as if the march of Diversity, Inc. goes forward without opposition. Despite the lulz and dank memes of #BoycottStarWarsVII, demands for ever more “representation” seem to be growing in a galaxy far, far, away. And in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling even seems to have no problem “erasing” her original vision for a newer and far more “diverse” one.
Of course the worst culprits of what I’ll call “Whiteouting” (it’s as if a thousand sociology grad students cried out at once and were suddendly silenced), have to be historical dramas. I first noticed this as a boy watching the film Robin Hood:Prince of Theives where Morgan Freeman plays a rather swarthy moor. Things have only “progressed” in our time, so to speak. Recently I was rather “triggered” by two television show posters. One for the series Once Upon a Time featuring a Black Sir Lancelot, and the other a Beowulf adaptation with a Black supporting character. More so then Star Wars or Harry Potter or any other contemporary “universe” these instances of “Whiteouting” bothered me. It’s because they are the ultimate acts of White erasure.
It takes two of our greatest myths, Arthur and Beowulf, and hands them over to the destructive forces of our time. Don’t even get me started on the angle of miscegenation between Lancelot and Guinevere (is not even adultery sacred!)
All of this jabbering about our rather inane popular culture has a serious point though. Who we are is revealed to us by the myths we tell ourselves and our children. Many can barely recall Arthur and Beowulf enough to defend them, hence the rabid fights over Star Wars and Harry Potter (another subject, another time). Through “Whiteouting” our enemies hope to render our identities blank slates to become “new men” (or is it last?)
It’s why unplugging from our postmodern swamp is so important. So is telling our own stories, building our own “counterculture” and owning the legends of our ancestors. Resistance means defiance.
What is more defiant than taking what is rightfully yours?