The Negative Connotation Surrounding Cultural Appropriation

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925 words

Downloads: 42

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The utilization of another person’s work or culture for personal benefit is known as appropriation. Appropriation is an important yet difficult subject to navigate at times. Society runs into these complications with art pieces, cultural factors, and with equal representation of race. A negative connotation can be placed on the subject of appropriation, a sense of exclusion of fashion and artistic liberty for certain races. The negative view of appropriation is due to the lack of representation and insensitivity that certain people have towards the oppression of racial groups. Although, it is important for the young generations to remain educated about the ethics of appropriation.

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A smart way to navigate and examine the political context is, as stated in Fusco Politics of Appropriation, to ask the question, “who is crossing and who gets the benefit from it?” This way, if the artist gains money or acclamation from someone else’s work, that would be categorized as appropriation. “Cultural appropriation is as much a political act as it is a formal operation or linguistic game” (Fusco Politics of Appropriation). A way that artists can borrow and engage arts from certain artists and cultural groups in a respectful and fair way would be by means of cultural appreciation. If that same artist provides input, credit, and praise for the artist or people group they’re taking from, that would be known as cultural appreciation. As Fusco should have done in her movie “Paris is Burning”. Appropriation is only a useful practice when inspiration is drawn from another artist’s work in order to create new art.

Misrepresentation of race and gender remains evident in the entertainment industry. What about truly representing trans people? The misrepresentation of all gender continues mainly television and movies. Producers may be afraid of taking risks in casting trans actors in cis gender roles for fear of backlash from media or viewers. The issues with race include incorrect cultural casting and simply the lack of visibility for cultural groups. For example, in movies such as “Ghost in the Shell” and “The Great Wall”, caucasian actors are portraying originally Asian characters. A major issue is that, directors believe that famous actors like Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson will bring in more money for the movie, yet they completely disregard the apparent cultural appropriation of their casting. A possibly solution to this epidemic would be to stay “color-conscious”, meaning to be aware of the historic discrimination in the entertainment industry and of what it means to put a body of color onstage (Authenticity in Casting, LA Times). Our cultural dynamic is so complex today that everyone should see a version of themselves in the TV shows and movies that they are watching.

A common conception would be that art and culture are completely accessible and useable to anyone. The appropriation of art and culture are not that different after all, because art is a reflection of culture, which explains the sensitivity required sometimes for creating art. A prevalent idea in the art community is that cultural appropriation deals mainly with fashion and hair, while art appropriation deals more with simply stealing ideas. Picasso, one of the most famous artists of the last century, used black aesthetics and jazz culture in his work due to the advent of African “art” in Europe (My Black Death). He showed his mainly in European countries for people who had no connection to the black community. As stated by Arthur Jafa, the role of cultural appreciation in his art would be from his inspiration to incorporate improvisation into painting, something he learned from jazz music. Yet, one of his problems was that he was more fixed on the aesthetics of “the black body in a white space” (My Black Death). His intentions and fascination with this racial group were correct because “black aesthetics radically redirected Western culture”, but his execution presented negatively (My Black Death). Which is very understandable considering most millennials have good intentions and simply admire other cultures, but how they carry out their actions can be problematic. That is why it is very critical to point out improper use of things, then people can act better in the future.

The guidelines that contemporary artists should use when considering creating work that is inspired by others would be to give credit where it is due, to remain respectful, and to not claim their work or adaptation of a culture as a “new creation”.

Being of African American descent and an actor, I have personal rules on which projects to join depending on the integrity of them and the equal representation. I hold these ideals because I believe that there is no excuse for a lack of diversity, equal status, or representation for all people. Simply because the entertainment business and art community should strive to reflect the world we live in when casting and creating, based on the fact that viewers and artists want to feel represented.

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When creating any form of art, it is always important to study the economic and political factors of the work. This is crucial because more knowledge will help convey your message clearly and correctly. Also, in order to gain more insight into the economic factors, speak to people in your community about the subject. In the future, could we have more subjects, directors, actors, and writers of color? If we educate upcoming generations and hold each other accountable on issues such as appropriation, I believe our social climate change for the better and can become fully inclusive of all types of people.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

The Negative Connotation Surrounding Cultural Appropriation. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“The Negative Connotation Surrounding Cultural Appropriation.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
The Negative Connotation Surrounding Cultural Appropriation. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Oct. 2023].
The Negative Connotation Surrounding Cultural Appropriation [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2023 Oct 1]. Available from:
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