Creation vs. Imitation. & Cultural Appropriation.

Ever since I was little I’ve had a problem with one thing! As minuscule as it may seem to some, imitation is what really grinds my gears.  It usually takes a lot for me to get upset, but when credit isn’t given where it’s due, I lose it. Time and time again I have heard stories where people’s ideas that they have pitched have been stolen. Yes, there are ways to avoid this, and protect your work. Getting a patent is one example, but most ways cost money. How is a starving artist supposed to be able to afford that? As I think about my future and what I want to become, I get anxious. I want to make sure my ideas are safe. After growing up in a world where people take each other’s ideas every day, I’m scared. Not only do companies steal ideas from other companies, cultures take form other cultures as well.

In this week’s reading, ‘Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries’. Hesmondalgh and Baker’s talk about the ‘creator’, our experience and how we see things. Raymond Williams then goes on to say, “The creative workers are different from other workers. The creative worker makes the communication of experience her central work in life – ‘the artist’s work is the actual work of transmission’ “(61). Later on the same page he says, “Creative workers then are far more ordinary than traditional views of ‘art’ would have us believe. There is nevertheless something extraordinary about them.  Their work is the communication of experience through symbolic production.” Even though I agree with all of this it still evoked some questions. The main one being, Is something creative if it isn’t genuinely the individual’s idea? After reading this quote: “human experience is both objective and subjective, always involving interpretation and meaning (subjective factors) but always involving non-human reality (objective ones)” (60). I’d say yes, because one can have their own idea then produce a “creative” interpretation of what they saw. My opinion quickly changed when I watch this video TRESemmé released (Watch here). Though at first it may look like a simple promotional video on how to produce this “cool look”, it is so much more. Referring to what I talked about at the beginning of this post, Is this creative? In my opinion it isn’t. TRESemmé is using a look that has been a part of my culture forever, to promote their product. Though there is nothing wrong with this per say, the fact that they didn’t reference where the style came from, and called the style out of its name is offensive.

tumblr_nmtyhm0XXn1r8jjn6o5_400Actress, Amandla Stenberg talked a lot about cultural appropriation in her video “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”. She explains that, “Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations but is deemed cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.” She also explains that, “It occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture they are partaking in.” I believe that TRESemmé did not take my culture into consideration when making this video. I’m not saying other races shouldn’t wear cornrows, braid, locs or twists, but they should educate themselves of their origins, giving credit where it’s due.  Amandla also explains that, “Cornrows are a really functional way of keeping black textured hair un-knotted and neat with a style”. I honestly don’t want to get into a racial debate (I can save that for another blog), but how is this creative?   TRESemmé is using their interpretation of another culture’s staple hair style to promote their products. There are so many other examples like this. Braids-Hairstyle-For-kidsYoga is an activity that could be considered an icon of America. While taking a yoga class, you wouldn’t think twice of its origins, but after reading, “What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm” for my music class I found out that yoga is far from American. It’s just something that we as Americans have adopted and claimed as our own. “Did you know yoga was once banned in India as part of the “racist and orientalist narratives” that characterized Indians as perverse heathens who had to conform to Western ways? The bands of yogis who resisted the ban rose up to challenge the oppressive British rule,”
YOGAAAMaisha Z. Johnson the author asks. She also then goes into quoting, a Wellness coach and Yoga Teacher, “As Susanna Barkataki writes, dividing yoga from its true roots and purpose, and from the people who had to fought to keep it alive, means ‘eventually eradicating the true practice, as was accomplished in many places under Britain’s occupation of India.’” Once again, how is this considered creative? We are taking something that isn’t ours and advertising it as our own.

As I digress, Ideas are stolen every day. They are interpreted to produce a new and improved way of thinking “To create is simply to bring something into being. ‘Produce’ has a similar meaning but ‘create’ has strong implications of newness, invention, innovation, making something afresh.” (3) I however think to create is so much more. There needs to be honesty, education and cultural awareness. With the implementation of those there traits, there will be a lack of ignorance, and room for more genuine creations to grow. After writing this my question still wasn’t really answered, but I’m leaving this here as food for thought.


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