I feel the best way to ever describe now what cultural appropriation is would be to ask someone to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and watch how Santa Claus reacts to Jack Skellington’s version of Christmas and how Jack overall reacts and exploits the Christmas season.
Jack, having explored all aspects of his own Halloween culture, discovers a door that leads to Christmas Town. While the audience has a sense of what Christmas is about and comprehends what the symbols might mean, Jack doesn’t. He is a complete stranger in this world and attempts through nothing but visual clues and behavioral observation tries to come to an understanding of what Christmas is.
This is all good and dandy, but Jack’s actions do nothing but exploit Christmas. Jack seeks to go about and unleash his selfish desires to explore Christmas and take charge of it. His studies of Christmas do not explain why Christmas happens or what it really represents to people who are affected by Christmas because he never really takes the time to discuss Christmas with anyone affected by the holiday until Oogie Boogie nearly eats Santa Claus. Jack’s desires only exist to further what he wants to accomplish with Christmas. As a result, Christmas is not accurately represented. Dolls that are mashed with Halloween haunts and ghouls do not fuse well with the upbeat and cheery nature of Christmas. These monstrosities rather illustrate that Jack’s interpretation of Christmas is not accurate They can even destroy Christmas as seen when reporters are warning Christmas may never happen again. Ultimately, Jack acquired faulty information when he studied Christmas and unleashed a product totally not representative of what Christmas actually intended to convey.
Now Santa Claus is not downright dismissive and saying Jack can’t learn and appreciate the Christmas culture as Santa comes back with snow at the end to spread over Halloween Town. However, Santa warns Jack to leave Christmas with those who get it as he himself leaves Halloween to Jack. It is totally acceptable to appreciate cultures different from your own as long as you recognize you have no real control or influence in determining what that culture represents.
The Nightmare Before Christmas may not have intended to, but it did provide an insight into what cultural appropriation may actually be. Appropriation and appreciation are two totally different concepts and while not everyone can fully immerse themselves in some cultures, we are able to accept the snowflakes and their differences without exploiting them for our own gain.
I would like to state that I am myself an ally to many different groups or at least attempt to be one. I am not perfect in understanding cultural appropriation because I am myself an outsider looking in on others. However, from what I’ve witnessed, I feel this idea can at least shed some light on the matter and possibly could be fleshed out more by those who are affected by cultural appropriation more than myself if they so seek to discuss my views presented in this post. At any rate, I am very willing to discuss this matter if anyone would like to do so.
I found this really interesting and a great way to make a difficult and important subject matter a bit easier to understand. Very interesting choice in explaining but it definitely made sense. Good stuff.
I watched this movie just last night and I was literally thinking this EXACT same thing. Wow. Thanks Tumblr.