Globalisation: Cultural Appreciation VS. Cultural Appropriation…

The ‘Small World’ ride at Disneyland.

It’s a small world after all…”

Global corporations such as; Disney, McDonalds, Apple, Cadbury and Levi’s are worldwide recognised brands and are distributed in almost every country on the planet, expanding their market way past their own national borders in order to culminate a massive profit.

It can be argued that globalisation started through the colonisation by European nations of new worlds such as America and Australia; and the opening of international trade routes through places such as China and Africa, which eliminated the restriction of resources to a nation by its borders.The concept of globalisation refers to the international community which has evolved as a result of advancements to communication technologies throughout history. The world has become a much more interconnected place since the time pre-dating the invention of the telephone in 1849.

Appadurai breaks globalisation down into five different ‘scapes‘, which include the: ethnoscape, technoscape, mediascape, ideoscape and finanscape.

Popular culture is a very important example of how globalisation has affected media and clearly shows how interdependent each of the five scapes is on each other in regards to the the causality of issues in the global community. This is demonstrated by the influence of important individuals within the industries surrounding music, fashion, film and art. As a result of the world becoming a more multicultural and integrated society through the growth of ethnoscapes, different cultures have risen up to a ‘trendy’ status. Indian, Japanese, African and Native American cultures have all been subject to appropriation by influential pop culture icons in recent years in order to accumulate ‘aesthetic‘.


Iggy Azalea
‘s music video to her single ‘Bounce’, has been criticised widely for the cultural appropriation which is evident in the overall theme of the production. Azalea, herself, is very problematic when it comes to appropriation of different cultures but the video in question is one of her biggest blunders. The video begins in Mumbai with Azalea straddling an Indian Elephant and then transitions into scenes of her clad in traditional Indian dress including a Sari and Bindi, with Indian women dancing in the background acting as nothing but props. Meanwhile the track itself has no relation to the culture which is being exploited and includes Azalea adopting a false southern African American accent which in itself is a problem.

The fact that Azalea has demonstrated no understanding of the history and traditions behind the culture which she is representing in her video is what makes it so disrespectful. When asked about her choice of aesthetic she explained the concept of Indian culture as ‘fantasy’ which is nothing but impudent.

Azalea is not alone in the appropriation of Indian culture. Selena Gomez did it with her video to ‘Come and Get it‘, and more recently, Major Lazer came close with ‘Lean On’. Other celebrities such as Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani and Kylie Jenner are all culprits of appropriation of Japanese, Egyptian and African cultures all in the name of aesthetic, and have received a significant amount of backlash for their actions.

This current trend of appropriating different cultures while showing a lack of understanding towards the meaning of the practices by such prominent figures is a product of globalisation in the media. The fact that the objects and traditions of certain cultures are seen as exotic, edgy and fashionable but the people of these societies are not recognised is where this concept becomes an issue. The way to combat this issue is to switch appropriation with appreciation and show an understanding of the culture rather than adopting certain aspects to create an aesthetic.

References:

http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-16_u-185_t-493_c-1812/nsw/geography/global-change/globalisation/the-process-of-globalisation

http://mediadiversified.org/2013/08/26/iggy-azalea-the-vmas2013-and-a-culture-of-appropriation/

https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/cultural-appreciation-or-cultural-appropriation/

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