Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume

maui

It’s a bit early for Halloween costume controversies , but the outrage machine is ever vigilant, and has provided a provocative ethics quiz, though not a difficult one if one isn’t the Headless Horseman.

Disney released a Halloween costume for kids that will allow tykes to dress up as the Polynesian demi-god Maui, a character in its new animated movie “Moana.” This is classic Disney cross-marketing, what Wells Fargo would call “cross-selling,” and what Elizabeth Warren would call “evil,” because it makes money for a big corporation. The difference is that Disney allows customers to actually purchase such products intentionally, while Wells Fargo charges customers for products without their knowing it.

Wait, how did I get off on Wells Fargo and Warren? Right: the next post. Sorry.

Back to Maui: The costume features a body-suit with thin brown material covered by traditional Polynesian tattoos, as well as a grass skirt and a plastic bone necklace. As soon as it was released on the web, the costume was attacked as racist (it’s the equivalent of blackface, critics say) and an example of cultural appropriation. Marama Fox, co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party, said that selling the costume is “no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle” while Pasifika news site Samoa Planet described the release as “cultural appropriation at its most offensive worst”.  The New Zealand Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.“ Translation: “Bend to our will, or else.”

Activist Chelsie Haunani Fairchild argued on Facebook that Disney was encouraging a children to wear “the skin of another race.”

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” Fairchild argued in a video.

Oh, let’s!

Your Ethics Alarms (Ridiculously Early Halloween) Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there anything genuinely unethical about making, advertising, selling or wearing the Maui costume?

Some observations on the way to the answer:

1. It isn’t an answer to say the costume is unethical because it will offend some people. Any Halloween costume is likely to offend some people these days, and any of those offended, no matter how absurd their objections may be, can now make a lot of noise, organize boycotts, and like Chelsie, whoever she is, nab fifteen minutes of fame and maybe a guest appearance on the Today Show. If that’s the test, then let’s just end Halloween now. Adults have taken all the fun out of it anyway.

2. It’s a costume. Nobody is wearing anyone’s “skin.”

3. As we have discussed here ad nauseum in other posts, blackface was blackface, the practice of whites ridiculing blacks by grotesque portrayals in minstrel shows and other stage entertainment. Wearing make-up for legitimate theatrical and dramatic purposes is not blackface. That false equivalence is born of ignorance or deliberate political correctness bullying, and often both. There is no such thing as “Polyface,” and nothing inherently wrong with a costume depicting a mythological figure from any culture.

4. I’m of Greek ancestry. Would it be anything other than idiotic for me to object to a Wonder Woman (She’s an Amazon, you know) costume worn by an African American girl as “Greekface”? No, that’s exactly what it would be: idiotic. Why is the Maui costume different?

5. Answer: Oh, because it’s a brown costume, and that means double standards reign.

6. Would there be something unethical about a child of Hawaiian or Polynesian heritage wearing the Maui costume? If not, are we now to segregate costume options by race, color and nationality? I’m sure Senator Warren’s followers would say so…. I’m sorry: the Massachusetts leftist nag is on my brain today. It’s that other post…

7. The “cultural appropriation” complaint is un-American, divisive, hypocritical and certifiably bats, and I regret having to discuss it as well as the fact that I need to discuss it. The brilliant concept of America is that it welcomes all nationalities, religions and cultures, and nurtures a unique culture in which the best of all contributing cultures are shared equally, openly, and without restriction. It remains a vital and brilliant concept, even if the most toxic mutation of leftist thought is trying to excise it. The same people who mysteriously argue that a man can become a women merely by identifying as one insist that a white woman can’t wear dreadlocks because she likes them.

I would ask Marama Fox, in the interest of consistency and integrity, to henceforth speak only Maori and dress in traditional tribal garb, since her adopting Western dress and the English language is blatant cultural appropriation. How dare she?

8. I admit it: I have little patience for the “cultural appropriation” position, or for those whose reaction to it is anything but a Bronx cheer.

9. Questions I would love to hear Hillary Clinton fumble through in a debate: “What are your feelings about the issue of cultural appropriation?” I have always been curious to see what death by pandering looks like.

10. Some iconoclasts  have showed perception and commons sense, like The Spinoff journalist Madeline Chapman, herself of Samoan descent, who wrote,

“After years and years of seeing Samoan Spiderman and Brown Batman at little kids’ birthday parties, how incredible it would be to see white kids looking up to and wanting to be like the Polynesian hero in the movies? Disney creates the first Polynesian hero and doesn’t enable kids to dress up as him?

11. Disney caved to the criticism, of course, saying,

“The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some.We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

<Sigh!>

12. It would be nice if these organized political correctness-bullying outbreaks were opposed with courage and principle, but you will never get that from a corporation, especially one like Disney. Controversy is bad business, even if you are right, and even if grovelling to those who are wrong, in the wrong and advocating toxic values makes them stronger and bolder. Disney sells movies in New Zealand. If a movement undermines societal cohesion, creativity and expression in the United States, well, that’s just part of the market.

The costume was interesting, creative and neat. I would have worn it. There was nothing unethical about it, and everything unethical about the attacks on it and the philosophy and motives behind them.

_________________________

Sources: USA Today, Independent, Stuff

59 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume

  1. I’ve never been able to read “cultural appropriation” without thinking of “misappropriation of funds.” There seems to be an underlying monetary component to bandying about “cultural appropriation.” Do the accusers want financial compensation? Do they want a percentage of the take? Would the Maori tribes be happy with fifteen percent of the gross? What right to the New Zeland All Blacks have to play Rugby?

      • I’m convinced: There is precious and crucial linkage between at least some of the notions that cultural appropriation is bad, and the thinking of yesterday’s looters in Charlotte – and, far too many of us, here in the blog commentariat and far beyond, to the utmost outposts of humanity (or its analogs), are missing out on gaining golden nuggets of indispensable enlightenment (not to mention peace on earth), as a result of failure to know, comprehend, and behave consistently according to, that linkage.

              • [This is 100% sarcasm free.] No, really, truly, it is *I* who am missing something, the details of which I am sure can be explained (just not by me) – something that makes clear the connection between the Charlotte rioters’ rioting, and the evils of cultural appropriation. That’s why I brought it up, Chris Marschner – I am hopeful that someone will see it clearly and explain it, where I can only see faint outlines, or even just clues. It’s like I am hearing a ship’s horn in the fog. I can only hear the horn; but I know, just know, there’s a mighty ship out there, and I need to be on board.

                Believe me: If I could explain any better or more completely, I would. Maybe this is my way of crying for help from Alizia…

                Jack is correct that I was being sarcastic while writing of “golden nuggets of indispensable enlightenment.” But, that was self-mockery, in frustration with myself at being unable to see any more than an outline of a connection.

                I don’t want anyone else to be any more frustrated about this than I am. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t blame you, because *I* don’t know *exactly* what I am talking about, either. I’m counting on SOMEone to see more clearly what I am sure I’m seeing, but also, to explain it.

                Maybe I can think through it better, if I just give myself enough time to explain that connection which still is impossible for me to explain.

                I’ll try working backward toward it – not sure even yet, if I am starting in the right place, here – by asking: “What if everyone who was pissed off about something, anything, decided to riot like the rioters in Charlotte? Is the utter rejection of, and erasure of, some consensus – any consensus – on how an individual ought to behave (“culture”) always a lesser evil than all individuals’ behaving according to that consensus (where doing so is obviously a gateway, at least, to despicable [i.e., *presumed* despicable, i.e., evil] “cultural appropriation”)?

    • You want to talk about financial reparations for cultural appropriation?

      Kay.

      One of my grandfathers was off the boat from Ukraine, if you feel like sending me a buck in the mail every time you eat a perogy, you go right ahead. But if you feel that position is stupid… because it is… then all you have to do to join the rest of us in the real world is carry that logic on a little further.

      • I’m so relieved to see these thoughtful and well-founded rebuttals to the absurd and divisive claims of “cultural appropriation.” Children wear costumes and pretend to be other people… and that is how they learn (and we continue to learn through imagination and empathy) how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes… Perhaps the raging masses claiming disgust at little kids wanting to pretend might want to note the hypocrisy of their own close-minded stance– and benefit by appropriating the ability to think and feel beyond themselves.

  2. Sigh again…

    Didn’t we just recently go through this when it was leaked that Disney wanted Sofia as a Latina princess? But she looked “too white” to be that, so they excised most of it except for the name (and her mother’s, Miranda). Thanks, La Raza! I guess my oldest son would not be Mexican enough for you either.

    Years later they came with a stereotipically “Spanish” one in Elena of Avalor. Darker skinned, speaks with an accent, sings and dances about everything with an acoustic guitar backup. Hispanic enough for you?! Myself I would have liked a more subdued one. I don’t see this last one as offensive, just hammed up the wazoo so far it’s just plain silly.

    And this is why we can’t have nice things.

  3. The flaw here is very early on – it’s an assumption that Corporate Disney isn’t Polynesian. That the Disney Corporation isn’t Asian, or Latino, or Hispanic, or Portuguese, or African, or Black, or Middle Eastern, or Persian, or Peruvian.

    Also – “Blackface”? Really? That’s a term as Jack explained above but to further the point – it’s a thing that was done when they wouldn’t use the proper actors. As a parent, I’m not hiring a kid to go collect candy for my daughter and hiring a white girl instead of a polynesian girl. My daughter is collecting her own candy and picking a costume to promote things she likes. (BTW – She’s not dressing in something that isn’t scary and horrifying.)

  4. Oh good grief!

    When I read the article’s title and saw the picture, I was expecting to read about some sort of controversy on whether or not it was okay for kids to run around in a costume that simulates . . . SIMULATES . . . being mostly naked. That’s something that one could make a reasonable argument both for and against.

    But no . . . it’s about this?!? Bronx Cheer is right.

    This whole thing sounds to me like the lament of someone who really likes some unknown indie band, and desperately does NOT want them to become popular and famous for purely selfish reasons. No no, we just CAN’T have a major motion picture creating a popular interest in Maori culture, that would be bad. We’d rather just keep it to ourselves so that we can continue to be snooty and parochial about the whole thing.

    –Dwayne

  5. “The costume was interesting, creative and neat. I would have worn it.”

    Okay – now I need the brain bleach after visualizing this.

  6. Cultural appropriation is a real thing. Dressing up as a generic “Polynesian” for Halloween would be offensive because it’s using someone’s culture as a costume.

    But this is ridiculous. It’s a children’s costume for a children’s character. It is awesome that we are getting more diverse children’s characters. It is especially awesome for minority children. But it is ALSO awesome for white children to be able to identify with minority characters. To say that white children cannot dress as minority characters because it is offensive to minorities is absurd.

    • Interesting. So it’s not okay for a person to culturally appropriate but if a corporation does it, a person is then free to do it. Got it. Disney doing it is first degree cultural appropriation but someone putting on the Disney produced costume is just what, second degree cultural appropriation.

      I’m not smart enough to be a progressive. I can’t make these fine distinctions.

      • So wearing a sombrero and a sarape and drinking Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo is bad but wearing a Speedy Gonzales costume is okay. I get it. Good to know.

      • Interesting. So it’s not okay for a person to culturally appropriate but if a corporation does it, a person is then free to do it. Got it. Disney doing it is first degree cultural appropriation but someone putting on the Disney produced costume is just what, second degree cultural appropriation.

        I’m not smart enough to be a progressive. I can’t make these fine distinctions.

        Well, you can’t read, so I suppose you’re correct. Nothing in what you just wrote summarizes anything that I said at all; I never said Disney was engaging in cultural appropriation here, because I don’t believe that. What I wrote made it very clear that I don’t believe that.

        This is the second time in as many days you have read a statement and then leapt to an interpretation that was its polar opposite. (Are you ready to admit that Obama never said “There’s nothing we can do about terrorism,” and in fact laid out in detail exactly what we are doing?)

        • Chris. I can read. However, I do not take everything someone says at face value nor do I necessarily agree with what they say. Obama told the citizenry to get used to terrorism because it’s going to go on for years. That to me is an unacceptable position for a president to take. How is that me lying. In the instance above, you said cultural appropriation was bad in general but not bad in one instance. I failed to see the distinction you made. It didn’t make any sense to me. Did I misread your comment? I don’t think so. Did I lie? I don’t think so. I’d appreciate your not calling me a liar or an illiterate.

          • Obama told the citizenry to get used to terrorism because it’s going to go on for years.

            No, he didn’t.

            you said cultural appropriation was bad in general but not bad in one instance.

            No, I didn’t. I said this instance was NOT cultural appropriation.

    • [Reply to Chris Sept 22 at 2:59 pm]
      “To say that white children cannot dress as minority characters because it is offensive to minorities is absurd.”

      Thanks Chris – I mean that sincerely. Your point there has helped me to understand (still, incompletely) the notions that (1) “cultural appropriation” is bad, while (2) “anarchy appropriation” (just my term for it) is, despite its inherent destructiveness, a positive step, if not a giant leap, toward justice. (I segregate “social” from its frequent modern butt-buddy, “justice,” because I think the terms are redundant; “justice” is inherently “social.”) The whole “appropriation” concept, though, still has me scratching my head with a where-have-I-heard-THIS-before cautiousness – perhaps in the old saying from Vietnam: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

        • Chris: I’m genuinely curious: you say cultural appropriation can be a real offense? When? Oberlin students objecting to Chinese food in the cafeteria? White pop stars wearing dreadlocks? and if the SWJ’s can’t articulate the principle sufficiently to avoid idiocy like the attacks on the Maui costume, how valid can it be?

          • I have an example: someone dressing as a generic “member of a race/ethnicity” for Halloween would be offensive, because one is using culture as costume. But dressing as a specific character who happens to be of another ethnicity is not cultural appropriation.

            “Oberlin students objecting to Chinese food in the cafeteria? White pop stars wearing dreadlocks?”

            No and no.

            “and if the SWJ’s can’t articulate the principle sufficiently to avoid idiocy like the attacks on the Maui costume, how valid can it be?”

            Lots of conservatives can’t articulate the principle of political correctness without avoiding idiots like Trump. Political correctness is still a valid concept.

          • I have an example: someone dressing as a generic “member of a race/ethnicity” for Halloween would be offensive, because one is using culture as costume. But dressing as a specific character who happens to be of another ethnicity is not cultural appropriation.

            “Oberlin students objecting to Chinese food in the cafeteria? White pop stars wearing dreadlocks?”

            No and no.

            “and if the SWJ’s can’t articulate the principle sufficiently to avoid idiocy like the attacks on the Maui costume, how valid can it be?”

            Lots of conservatives can’t articulate the principle of political correctness sufficiently to avoid idiots like Trump. Political correctness is still a valid concept.

            • I don’t see your example as culture. A race as a costume? Who does that? But a Sumo Wrestler costume isn’t that…and isn’t objectionable “cultural appropriation.”

              No fair resorting to idiots, as in conservatives who think objecting to rudeness, vulgarity and gratuitous incivility has anything to do with “political incorrectness.”

              • I wouldn’t object to a Sumo wrestler costume. A white guy stretching out his eyes and going as “Japanese businessman,” though, would be offensive.

                Some white actress a few years ago dressed up as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black, complete with blackface. Had it not been for that element, I would have thought the costume was fine.

                No fair resorting to idiots, as in conservatives who think objecting to rudeness, vulgarity and gratuitous incivility has anything to do with “political incorrectness.”

                I think there are at least as many conservative idiots who think that way as there are SJW idiots who think this costume has anything to do with cultural appropriation.

          • Hell, just on the “culture as costume” point; how about an East Asian guy like me dressing like a medieval European knight? Shouldn’t be any less offensive than a white guy dressed in Ming-era armor.

              • I think so, but who knows what it is. A white guy dressed in Ming-era wouldn’t be offensive either.

                I think the notion of cultural appropriation just requires some common sense good judgment. Don’t put on a sombrero and poncho for Halloween and say you’re going as a Mexican. But go ahead and dress like Zorro and only idiots will complain. This seems pretty easy; it’s the overly zealous SJWs on one side and the “Racism doesn’t even exist anymore” crowd on the other that can’t seem to get it.

                • So if you wear the same costume and say you’re Pancho Villa or Zapata or The Frito Bandito or Calvera from “The Magnificent 7” or put on a mouse nose and be “Speedy Gonzalez,” it’s OK? It’s the name that matters? I’m not trying to be difficult, I swear.

                  • Yes, it matters. “I’m a (stereotypical) Mexican for Halloween” is not the same as “I’m Pancho Villa” for Halloween. I’m having trouble explaining why, perhaps because it seems pretty intuitive to me.

                    • Maybe you should start by defining so-called “cultural appropriation” and differentiate it from outright stereotyping (which is all you’ve been using as an example so far).

                    • But Chris, intuitive things you can’t explain or justify are called “bullshit.” It’s like intuitively deciding someone is guilty of a crime without evidence. The ethical response to such beliefs is to re-examine them objectively.

                      A black kid in a sombrero, fake ‘stach, serape and crossed bullet belts isn’t committing any ethical offense no matter what he calls himself, or if he calls himself anything at all.

                      “Hey, look at the kid dressed like a Mexican bandit right out of old movies! I’m outraged!”

                      “Now, now, let’s not leap to conclusions. We have to ask him who he is portraying before we can be outraged.”

                      “Hey kid! Who are you supposed to be?”

                      “Donald Duck in The Three Amigos!”

                      NOW WHAT?

  7. Can’t wait to break out the Halloween costumes this year. What shall I be? Pocahontas? Nope. Disney is racist. Jasmine? Nope. Disney is racist. Tiana? Nope, Disney is racist. But let any non white person be Anna or Elsa or sleeping beauty or Cinderella or Ariel? Ok- not cultural appropriation- totally fine. See how your argument fails?

    • Whose argument? Mine? You didn’t read it if you think that’s what it says. I specifically said white children dressing as minority characters is not cultural appropriation.

    • My very blonde daughter has dressed up as Tiana multiple times, including for Halloween. But I don’t put her in blackface because that would be wrong. The Elsa costume comes with a blonde wig — I’ve seen white girls and black girls wear it. I don’t have a problem either way.

  8. Stereotypes might be bad but they do provide some interest about the culture, ethnicity and customs from people we don’t know. A long time ago, Walt Disney and a crew of filmmakers traveled through Latin America from Argentina to Mexico and portrayed their learnings in the movies Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, and if you ask an argentinian nowadays they might laugh and explain to you that the “gauchos” are a tradition exclusive to certain rural regions, and if you cross the south border of the USA you won’t see any mexican wearing a “sombrero” or a “sarape” unless it’s a folkloric show. Hell I’m mexican and never in my life I have seen someone wear one of those hats outside a show. The thing is, even today with all the contents available from the media and the internet most people (including myself) are blissfully ignorant about other cultures and the people they belong to, and that ignorance is the root that leads to fear and hatred. In the USA many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo and enjoy Tacos and Quesadillas wearing sombreros and shouting ay ay ay, but I have never complained about someone appropriating my culture or my traditions, on the contrary I find it very amusing that people embrace them positively. I don’t think that the costume should be considered offensive, specially since it depicts a mythical figure, and unless the complaint comes from Pele the god of volcanoes himself there isn’t much validation to the claim of stereotyping. This November when the movie Moana arrives on theaters kids everywhere and their parents will see a fictional rendering of the people of Hawaii, their traditions and hopefully they will try to learn more googling about them. I understand Disney pulling out the costumes to avoid aggravating any more susceptibilities, but they should already know that someone, somewhere will always find something offensive

  9. Ok, well then I don’t want to see anyone who looks polynesian or hawaiian at any renaissance fair; in fact, no one who is not European who should be allowed to dress up, yell Huzzah!, or in any way come inside the confines of the next medieval times jousting and turkey eating cultural pow wow (excuse the pun). This is OUT cultural appropriation biatches.

    Ok, I’m being cynically comic here, if you politically correct libtards haven’t noticed yet. Is this what you really want? There are bigger problems to worry about for us as a nation than halloween costumes and the bogus topics like cultural appropriation. Ever hear of universal healthcare, public education, and socioeconomic inequality and the disappearing mid class? no? not surprised.

    • For future reference, Ed:

      Disfavored words here: libtards, repugs, “biatches.”

      Disfavored argument, because it’s really, really stupid: “There are bigger problems to worry about,” a variation on the dumbest of all rationalizations, #22 on the Ethics Alarms list, “It’s not the worst thing.” There are nearly 8000 post here. Big lessons can be learned from small events, and minor issues can clarify large ethical issues.

      First post, so you get a pass. Don’t make me regret it.

  10. Hallowe’en was always my favorite holiday. I could dress up and be anything I wanted to – anything my imagination created. So, dressing as Dracula offends the Transylvanian people. Dressing as Chewbacca offends the Wookiees. Dressing in camos offends the military. Dressing like an Olympic gymnast offends Olympic gymnasts. No China dolls, no Native American warriors, no Peruvian mountain people, no celebrities who are any other ethnicity or color than I am, no, well, anything, because someone will be offended. As long as it’s done with respect for what your portraying, I don’t see the issue. Why can’t I display something I think is cool or pretend to be, on Hallowe’en, something I’ll never be in real life. Go ahead, tell the land of make believe that there’s no place for it. And I guess all fairy tales will have to go because witches aren’t always hags, and princesses aren’t always beautiful with nice figures and big doe eyes, and the really isn’t magic after all. Not in your world. An let’s globalize this – there is no hope for us to ever get along as long as you keep making your club exclusive of others.

  11. Disney IS guilty of widespread cultural appropriation. The race angle here I don’t agree with, but most of Disney’s stories are based on old fairytales, legends, and folklore. They take these stories that belong to everybody and brand them as their own intellectual property. For instance, if I wanted to write a book about “Maui,” a character from polynesian folklore, now Disney can sue me because the now own the rights to this character. This is the real problem here.

    That being said, I’m bringing my family to Disney in 2 weeks.

  12. OK, you’re right, I personally cannot define cultural appropriation.

    That said, I’d like you to watch this video of the song “I Am Africa” from The Book of Mormon.

    Can you tell me why this song is funny? What is being mocked here? Why is it that so many in the audience intuitively laugh at the white guys on stage proclaiming “I am Africa,” as if they know on a base level that such proclamations are ridiculous?

    • No I can’t tell you why the song is funny, nor what is being mocked. I have no context as I’ve never seen the entire musical, and as a standalone, it really isn’t that funny.

      I did hear a few in the audience laugh, though I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as “so many”. But who knows, I’m sure some laughed because they found some humor (which I’m sure you are soon to explain) and I’m sure some laughed because others were laughing and didn’t want to be left out and some laughed because they thought they were supposed too.

      But really, ball’s in your court on the applicability of this context-less clip to the general discussion.

      • Oh, I’d also humbly submit that you cannot define “cultural appropriation” because it’s really just an SJW buzz word that sounds like some sort of evil deed that one can accuse others of doing and never actually have to demonstrate.

        • You need context to understand why a bunch of white guys on stage singing “We Are Africa” is funny? You can’t understand what is being mocked? Really?

          That’s weird.

          (Granted, it was a poor clip–I thought it was from the actual show when I posted it, but it’s not.)

          Oh, I’d also humbly submit that you cannot define “cultural appropriation” because it’s really just an SJW buzz word that sounds like some sort of evil deed that one can accuse others of doing and never actually have to demonstrate.

          Some might say the same thing about the term “SJW.” But I doubt you or they could be convinced by any argument.

          • Like I said, standalone, it really isn’t that funny (and I’d submit the awkward laughter responses in the clip tend to support my analysis). Feel free to provide context.

            And by the by, I note you avoided the actual topic of the addendum paragraph by diverting to “SJW”. Nice try, but it won’t work, I’ll accept your quiet admission that “Cultural Appropriation” probably cannot be defined (and for the reason I cited).

            • Oh I get it, humans can’t be a continent. But they could be incontinent!

              HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

              Oh you!

              • Oh, how embarrassing. I have to explain the joke.

                The context is that they’re Mormon missionaries in Africa (which you must have been able to figure out without my telling you). When they say “I am Africa,” they’re saying they embody the “spirit” of Africa. They support this with a series of stereotypes about the continent.

                Obviously, most rational people would find unusual a group of white missionaries proclaiming to embody the spirit of Africa, since they have no ancestral or cultural ties to the nation, and have only spent a bit of time there–yet they claim to represent the essence of the continent, perhaps better even then those who have spent their entire lives there, and know it much better than they do. The song is mocking the arrogance of people–often white people–who travel to an impoverished nation and come back as know-it-alls, acting as if they have the same experiences as those who actually live there.*

                Which is a pretty good summary of cultural appropriation.

                *Often this is done by liberals–see the dig at Bono in the song.

                • No need to be embarrassed by your inability to explain “cultural appropriation” at all! It is an impossible task.

                  I suppose I might have grasped the purpose of the song but its audio quality was lacking to the point all I could hear was the occasional “We are Africa”.

                  And I’d say your attempt at claiming the song embodies “cultural appropriation” is grasping at straws as it doesn’t even remotely match the desperate explanations I’ve heard made about the elusive phenomenon.

                  • You and Humble really are two of a kind. Every time you ask progressives to define a term related to social justice, you act as if there is no possible way for you to understand the term, as if there is not a large body of work that has been done it. Then when someone does make their best effort to define it for you–to be your human Google, basically–you insist that definition isn’t real because it’s not the one you’ve heard from all those other SJW bullies that are just so stupid and awful.

                    Fuck this stupid game. I’m done playing it.

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