Lights… Camera… Offend someone’s culture.
Media, television, film, and advertising are universal aspects of U.S. society that can be often regarded to as the pinnacle of creative and logical thought. Nearly 96.7% of American households own or have access to a television, and over 87% of the United States use the internet daily.
This accessibility to the vast range of national entertainment facets houses the potential to introspectively fabricate the societal perspectives on such topics as politics, religion, race, gender, and sexuality. And when concerning these common controversies, the majority of the demiurgic media ingrain their opinionated agendas in order to highlight the difference in societal opinions. This not only allows for the freedom of self-expression to reign supreme, but insight true and positive change within our communities. It replaces a notion of dehumanizing separation with the possibility of embracing the concord of our differences, thus proving the constructive nature of the entertainment industry.
Although that these creative branches may use their platforms in order to draw awareness to controversial issues, Hollywood has become no stranger to appropriating the cultures of several minority groups. A few common examples of indecency include portraying Hindus as cult-driven human sacrificers in “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom,” Mickey Rooney, a white man, playing an angry Asian landlord in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” depicting slaves as gratuitous towards their plantation owners in “Gone With The Wind,” and characterizing Arabians as individuals who would “cut off your ears, if they don’t like your face” in Disney’s “Aladdin.”
Not only do these films rely on a heavy amount of racial allegory to drive their plots, but also hold no remorse given the continuity of promoting the cultural degradation in current works. A movie that came out last fall that captures the essence of our immoral cycle of stereotyping is the crass and inappropriate animated satire, “Sausage Party.” Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, this movie depicts a sausages journey to escape and kill all humans at a grocery store because they eat the foods at the supermarket.
Doused in sexual innuendo, this film holds nothing back. But what is more disturbing than the promiscuity of the foods, is that they are negatively represented if tied to a certain culture. Knowing that this is a movie meant for a comedic response is understandable, but when does a common viewpoint become an inappropriate slander of one’s lifestyle? And given our past of culturally insensitive art, why do we continue this tasteless trend of appropriation if it only leads to further discrimination and disassociation?
According to Yorba Linda High School senior Kristen Camarena, “It has become a deranged game to offend the values of people and bolster a sense of ignorance. While the damage is irreversible, we should strive to educate ourselves on the differences in culture rather than continue this repugnancy in order to unify as a nation connected by our differences.”
By exercising these negative tropes, we continue to suppress the possibility of equity, stealing the values that have been the sacred cow to a group’s identity while the rest of their convictions are commandeered. We need to realize that exploiting the cultures of these individuals is morally incorrect even if it is meant for entertainment purposes. The end to this detrimental rotation of appropriation is most definitely feasible, but only if there is a conscious societal effort to respect the differences in others.