The Headdress Thing - Festival Culture, Native Culture, and the Death of Culture
2013 06 13
By Brian Duffy | Reality Sandwich
On many occasions I allow myself the perverse indulgence of participating in public conversations on Facebook. The signal to noise ratio is vast, but it can be managed. Careful attention and a generous sifting of one’s feed can reveal honest, coherent debates like golden nuggets hidden among the shouting and posturing sands.
One topic that enjoys frequent and fervent percolations is the debate surrounding accusations of insensitivity and cultural appropriation among today’s Transformational Festival attendance, particularly in the case of non-natives wearing replicas of feathered headdresses known to be styled after specific arrangements used in the sacred war bonnets of the various Plains Nations that once roamed what is now the central region of the United States.
My particular interest is a January 2012 blog post by âpihtawikosisân, which she abbreviated into a tumblr post that has only just recently floated down my particular tributary of Facebook friends. Almost immediately, two separate links to the tumblr post have prompted approximately a hundred comments each, ranging from shrill to defensive to sarcastic to emotional to everywhere in between. More than other issues, this particular nut has proven difficult for us to collectively crack, and the stalemate holds.
Amusingly, an overwhelming portion of the Facebook debates surrounding the article is covered in the article’s third paragraph when âpihtawikosisân links to and urges her readers to check themselves against this BINGO card of well-tread talking points before continuing to read. I pause and worry that this amusement is symptomatic of my misplaced faith in the commenters having actually read the article.
Nevertheless, the steadfast arguments that I found myself drawn towards could likely be summarized as "I consider the wearing of any Native garments to be a sign of respect and admiration for the culture" and/or "Natives cannot claim exclusive rights to self-adornment using rows of eagle feathers attached to a beaded headband. This is a purely aesthetic choice that can be guiltlessly claimed by anyone existing outside of these cultures."
I have little interest at the moment in approaching the categories of conversation labelled "privilege" and "racism". It seems as if these words, when used in this or any debate really, seem to reliably produce a catastrophic spike in blood pressure amongst all participants. I feel much more comfortable approaching this particular jungle from the roots up.
The culture of the United States has historically been one of a melting pot, and indeed all cultures absorbed by America are literally melting. Cultural preservation, cultural sensitivity and cultural appropriation are all brand new concepts. We have been unconsciously pushing long-standing cultures into extinction for two hundred years, and only now have we realized what we are doing. Only now is it being proposed that something intangible yet vital is being irrevocably lost.
The trajectory of art and culture has brought us to a point at which "all that is solid melts into air". There is a pervasive mentality in both contemporary art and popular culture that all symbols of all cultures have become "fair game" in a sense. A crucifix in a jar of urine ends up in a high-profile gallery. Sacred art is fodder for pop art. Interpretation and association have been diluted away until the pure, uncharged image remains. The subversion and dispiriting of the meaning-loaded symbol has become a visual language unto itself.
However we try, we cannot deny the role of history in defining and shaping our contemporary relationships to meaning-loaded symbols. If you believe it’s possible to prevent the sight of a white person wearing a sacred Native headdress as a fashion accessory from being seen as a callous visual reminder of centuries of genocide and exploitation, then it ought to be just as easy to believe it possible for Americans to "roll back" the swastika to being seen only as a symbol of good luck. The flow of history takes up aesthetic arrangements, elevates them to symbols, and then grinds those symbols through successive, highly disconnected generations of interpretation, like a drunken game of telephone. No culture is spared from the handling by so many hands and the trampling by so many feet.
Our relationship to this process, and to art and culture in general, is at a crucial turning point. Many of us have reached the apex of our alienated sense of irony. We have become disenthralled with our own disenthralling of meaning, finally committing the ultimate post-modern ironic gesture. Many of us have begun to circle back to a new kind of sincerity. We are re-examining our motives when it comes to the treatment of the meaning-loaded symbol. Do we really want it all to melt into air? Is nothing sacred, really?
Read the full article at: realitysandwich.com
.Victoria’s Secret’s Recent Interpretation of Native Headdress
Victoria’s Secret apologizes for Native American headdress in show
Blatant Illuminati Symbolism in the Advertising and Products of Nike
Clothing store stirs anger - "Hitler? Who was that?"
Latest News from our Front Page
US Silent on Psychologists Role in CIA’s Tortures: Doctors
Physicians for Human Rights had not received any response from the US Federal Commission to their call to investigate the role of health professionals in CIA’s torture program, Deputy Director of the organization told Sputnik.
December 19 (Sputnik) — US government has not responded to calls to prosecute doctors, who participated in CIA torture program, the Deputy Director of Communications for ...
Ziolebrities: Simon Cowell donates Ł100,000 to Israeli soldiers to please pregnant jewish girlfriend Lauren Silverman
Cowell, 54, is also planning a secret trip to Israel soon as he embraces the Jewish faith of Silverman, 36
Gala: Billionaire Haim Saban with Cowell
Simon Cowell has publicly donated nearly Ł100,000 in support of the Israeli army.
The X Factor boss pledged the cash to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at a US fund-raiser in Beverly Hills.
The lavish gala ...
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack.
Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job.
Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled.
Via The Hollywood Reporter:
After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move.
The Bankster International
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
|More News » |