Did you eat spaghetti or General Tso’s this week? How about sushi? Spicy Thai? Have you eaten at a Luau? Ever tried to surf on a surfboard? Do you like jazz music? Hip-hop? Bluegrass? Rockabilly? Do you like Japanese animation? Does your favorite pro basketball team have a Serb or a Frenchman playing — basketball, the sport created by a Canadian, now played in every country?
You see, life is cultural appropriation.
Oh, I know, the stated complaint (from the inventors of literary sin) is that it’s shitty for any writer to play into a stereotype or a trope, especially if it’s derogatory or demeaning — for all definitions of derogatory and demeaning that include, “Makes traditionally Designated Victim people look bad.” Note, it’s perfectly okay to do ham-fisted and derogatory representations of people who aren’t Designated Victims; especially if we’re talking a traditionally Judeo-Christian culture. You will seldom read or hear complaints (from the inventors of literary sin) about artists who make Israelis or American Southern Baptists look bad. In fact, Evangelicals especially are a favorite villain — for many SF/F authors.
So we know that cries of, “Cultural appropriation!” are selective at best, and deliberately, obtusely blind at worst.Indeed. I get wanting to treat different peoples with respect, and I do think it's important to portray said real-world cultures accurately. The cries of "cultural appropriation," however, are utterly bizarre -- and incredibly counterproductive. The more you yell at folks for their innocent interest in non-Western cultures, the more those folks will back away from portraying those cultures in their writing. Only white characters will be "safe."
But Does It Look Good On The Wall?
Because the narrative of our day, as prevalent as Christianity in the middle ages, is “Social critique” [...] “to bring about change” and that has become encoded into "show x number of minorities and victims. Show oppression. Show flaws in OUR society. No, not those flaws, bu the ones the elite is obsessed with right now,” that’s what anyone who studied literature has learned to consider “good.” It distinguishes them from the hoi polloi and they enjoy THAT immensely. They enjoy tracking down all the markers that mean the literature has been done properly. And they call the rest of us who don’t look for those markers “stupid.” Because if we’d bothered to take a literature course and “really think” of things, we’d like what they like.
It never occurs to them that their “art” has become so mannered that it’s virtually indigestible to ANYONE not so concerned with status, or not so pliable as to have swallowed our post grad classes whole (not even with enough garlic.).And when literature majors try to "change" a popular genre to fit their specifications, they end up violating its deep norms and consequently pissing off significant swaths of that genre's audience. Hence the resentment in my corner of the fandom. We honestly don't care about the color or gender or sexuality of the people writing our science fiction; we do care that so many authors are forgetting to have fun.
And in other news, the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List is up. I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourselves whether they've covered the field as broadly as did Tangent. I'll say this, though: Some magazines and publishers are conspicuously missing on Locus' list.
Chaser (Added Tuesday): To add to the point Sarah makes in her post above:
Here's why MOST modern art is total crap and why anyone who th...
Here's why MOST modern art is total crap and why anyone who thinks otherwise is a ... by Paul WatsonPosted by Graffiti Kings on Saturday, January 30, 2016
Fortunately, science fiction hasn't really gone this far down the road to perdition. But the destruction of modern art is an important illustration of what happens when the "bold," "innovative," and "transgressive" are honored above all else.