Cultural Appropriation Rocks the Planet (improved quality)

Cultural Appropriation Rocks the Planet (improved quality)


Go on… Oh, I should keep an open mind. So you can fill it up with bullshit? Well, in that case, while I’m watching you
I’m gonna eat this delicious plate of Western made sushi, which I’ll be eating using my
culturally appropriated chopsticks. Oh! Oh! It’s appropriation! Cultural appropriation, to be exact. And even though you think these college kids are going too far, you generally seem to agree
with them that cultural appropriation is a negative thing. Please enlighten us: why is it so bad? *sushi spew* Wrong! Totally wrong! Utterly and completely wrong! Seriously, if you’re that ignorant about culture,
you should not be commenting on social issues. Ok, now that I’ve calmed down, and cleaned
the rice out of my laptop, let’s get serious. I actually do know something about this subject,
so now I’m going to ask you to keep an open mind, while I first tell you where you’re
wrong, and then tell you a little bit about the history of cultural appropriation. Let’s go back to the 1950s, when Elvis broke. Back then, blacks were still the “other” of
American culture. America saw itself as a civilized nation,
and regarded the blacks as uncivilized people, as representatives of the savage origins that
we left behind. So when a black entertainer was dancing provocatively,
no one had any problem with it – white people laughed at it, and saw it as part of the black
man’s nature. No black entertainer was ever punished for
it. When Elvis appropriated black music and dance,
on the other hand, it was a huge scandal. Elvis was blamed for degenerating the youth,
for bringing it down to the level of the black people. He was regarded by some cultural guardians
as literally a danger to Western civilization, a danger that must be stopped. Because of that, he was censored, hounded
and smeared, and rock’n’r’oll, which was basically white performers appropriating black rhythm
‘n blues, was blamed as the cause of juvenile delinquency and crime, and suspected as
a communist plot. But rock’n’roll won, defeating back these
cultural supremacists, and freed us from the inhibitions that they imposed. And so, by the virtues of cultural appropriation,
Elvis and rock’n’roll further liberated Western society. But cultural appropriation did more than that,
because in a free society, appropriation goes both ways. The entire history of American pop music can
actually be portrayed as blacks and whites appropriating each other’s cultures and enriching
each other’s worlds. Because when the black slaves were brought
from Africa, their masters made sure to erase any cultural heritage they had, which meant
that post-slavery, African-Americans basically had to create their culture from scratch. They did it by appropriating elements of American
culture and doing them their own way, mixing them with what little African heritage they
had left, like rhythm and dance. At first, the majority of the African-American
community rejected these new musical styles, and didn’t like the fact that black kids were
appropriating white culture. But these styles did appeal to some white
youth, kids that recognized that this was basically American culture, taken to a new
level of freedom, ecstasy and fun. These white kids eventually appropriated these
musical styles and started playing them their own way, having to overcome the objections
of white cultural supremacists at first, but eventually winning and making the style popular
with the general public. This is what happened with ragtime, blues,
jazz, rock’n’roll, soul, funk, hip-hop, and techno, to name but a few styles that became
popular through this process. And every time one of these initially black
styles was appropriated and became popular, blacks became a little less of an “other”
to American society, until eventually African-Americans became part of the fabric of America, a community
with its own heritage that is both unique to it and part of American history. Thus, cultural appropriation advanced social
harmony and social justice in America. Let’s take just one example to illustrate
what I’m talking about. Do you recognize this little snippet? This is the classic 1982 record ‘Planet Rock’
by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, one of the cornerstones of hip-hop. Now, this is a very early hip-hop recording,
but hip-hop was actually around for almost a decade by then. Hip-hop was born in the early seventies, when
a few DJs from the Bronx appropriated a custom they learned from Jamaican DJs, and started
throwing street parties in which they played records on their mobile sound systems. While in Jamaica the DJs played reggae records,
in the Bronx they played mainly funk, and at some point the DJs noticed a new phenomenon:
while everyone else was dancing, some kids would stay on the sidelines and wait for “the
break”, a moment in funk records in which only the percussion is playing. When the break came, these kids would jump
into the square and perform a dazzling new type of dance, which was aptly named “breakdance”. In time, the DJs developed techniques that
enabled them to play the break parts back-to-back, and weave them together with samples from
other records to create a wholly new musical piece, which catered to the dancers’ needs
and enabled them to breakdance with no interruptions. Thus, through this interplay between pioneering
dancers and DJs, hip-hop was born. And one of the greatest of these pioneering
DJs was Afrika Bambaataa. Afrika Bambaataa, real name Kevin Donovan,
was born in 1957 in the Bronx. As a child he saw the 1964 movie Zulu, which
depicts the true story of an 1879 small British regiment stationed in South Africa, which
bravely defended a fort against an army of four thousand Zulus. The story focuses on the white heroes, but
young Kevin was impressed by something else: the solidarity he saw among the Zulus, a solidarity
he felt was missing in the African-American community. And so, via white Hollywood, Donovan connected
to his African roots, and found his identity and his mission in life. Calling himself Bambaataa after a great Zulu
king, he formed the Zulu Nation, a collective of DJs, rappers, breakdancers, graffiti artists,
and other creative people aiming to replace gang violence with creativity and positivity
and spread solidarity through the black community. But he went even beyond that: a great liberal,
Bambaataa believed in solidarity between all people, and wanted to spread his message to
the entire world. As a DJ, he enjoyed opening the minds of his
listeners and exposing them to new sounds, making them dance to records they’ve never
heard before. He particularly enjoyed poking holes at their
cultural supremacy, like informing the cool black kids that they just danced to a riff
taken from some nerdy white band, like for instance the Monkees. His group of MCs, the Soulsonic Force, also
displayed this cultural openness – as we can see, those are not exactly traditional
African outfits that they are wearing. Hang on… Where’s this melody from? This isn’t funk! This is… Right That little snippet was a sample from Kraftwerk’s
‘Trans Europe Express’, and this is where our cultural journey takes us to Europe, specifically
to Germany, a country that witnessed some of the greatest cultural supremacists in history. The Nazis, naturally, hated cultural appropriation. They even believed that the infiltration of
American popular culture into Germany is a terrorist plot against the Aryan nation. Eventually, of course, they took this line
of thought to its logical conclusion, and tried to purify Germany not just from non-Aryan
cultures but also from non-Aryan people. One of the many negative results of their
actions was that they completely destroyed the German spirit, and the German culture
scene became a wasteland for decades, even after the Nazis were gone. At the end of the sixties, finally, a revival
began. German youngsters appropriated Hippie psychedelic
rock, and started to make music that went against German musical traditions. Kraftwerk, seen here in a clip from 1971,
came out of this scene, and at first they also had a Hippie look and sound, but then
they wanted to bring back some German traditions into it. In 1975 they shocked the rock world when they
cut their hair short, assumed a persona that made them look like mannequins or robots,
gave up their electric guitars, and played completely synthesized music influenced by
German electronic composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen. They gave German culture a new direction,
a direction that even today still yields fruit. In 1977 they released their masterpiece album
Trans Europe Express, in which they envision a Europe with no inner borders, where the
different European cultures feed and enrich each other. The title track is a long train ride through
this borderless Europe, and through completely novel sounds created by synthesizers. It ended up transcending the borders not just
of Europe, but way beyond that. It is one of the most influential pieces in
music history, and many regard it as the starting point of electronica. When Afrika Bambaataa introduced this record
to the New York hip-hop kids, they could not believe their ears. This was music that went against anything
African-American music ever stood for, music that sounded like non-musical racket to most
people. And yet, it made more sense than anything
they’ve heard before. The repetitive electronic beats created by
these white boys from Germany were somehow the funkiest thing they ever heard. It was futuristic, urban and cool, exactly
the way they perceived themselves. It was also a perfect soundtrack for breakdancing. ‘Trans Europe Express’ became a hip-hop anthem,
and it was only natural that five years later, when he recorded ‘Planet Rock’, Bambaataa
sampled it into the music. This cultural appropriation of German electronic
sounds into hip-hop was the starting point of the style called electro, which in turn
got appropriated by white European DJs, to create one of the leading musical styles of
this millennium. But there was another thing that made Kraftwerk
easy to digest for African-American kids. Let’s go back to 1975, to their first international
hit. In the track ‘Autobahn’, Kraftwerk are using
electronic sounds to simulate a ride down one of Germany’s long highways. “Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der autobahn”
– we ride ride ride on the highway. But of course, this fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n is
actually appropriating… These are the Beach Boys in their 1964 hit
‘Fun, Fun, Fun’. This record was part of an early sixties rock’n’roll
fad that was known as hot rod music, which celebrated the fun of riding cars. While other German bands were part of what
was known as progressive rock, and had a snobbish attitude towards simple three minutes pop
records, Kraftwerk tapped into that rock’n’roll tradition, fused it with the electronic German
sounds and thus made their music accessible for hip-hop and other pop styles to appropriate. As a result, they became one of the most influential
bands in history. As were the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys are credited with popularizing
hot rod music, but they were also the most famous surf rock act, and to be honest, hot
rod music is just surf music with lyrics about cars. So let’s talk about surf. Surfing was appropriated from Hawaii, were
it was a religious ritual of the Polynesian natives, a way of communing with the forces
of nature. After Hawaii was annexed by the US, some young
pioneering Americans brought surfing to California, where it became a counter-culture to the American
way of life. In opposition to the Puritan values of working
hard for tomorrow, the surfers emphasized having fun in the here and now, being at one
with nature and the universe. When rock’n’roll came along in the 1950s,
some surfers realized that they could employ the power of electric guitar to emulate the
experience of riding a big wave. In the early sixties, surf rock was born. This is Dick Dale, the king of surf guitar. Dale transformed the sound of rock music,
creating a roaring, cascading sound, packed with power and menace. Along with the Beach Boys, he introduced surfing
to the world, helping it become a global sport. Dale, who was of Lebanese descent, also incorporated
Middle Eastern melodies into his sound to give it a more exotic feel, like he does with
this tune, originally an Egyptian song called ‘Misirlou’. It was this combination of drama and exotica
in Dale’s music that caught the attention of an up-and-coming Italian composer called
Ennio Morricone, who realized he could appropriate it into traditional European classical music
and give it an updated sound. And it was this combination that he concocted,
of symphonic music along with electric guitars and exotic folk melodies, that made Morricone
the perfect man to compose the soundtracks for the Westerns directed by his Italian compatriot,
Sergio Leone. We’re listening to a tune called ‘For a Few
Dollars More’, which Morricone composed for a movie by the same name, the second installation
in the “dollars trilogy” directed by Leone, and starring Clint Eastwood. In the 1950s, Westerns became a very respectable
movie genre, through which Hollywood commented on American society. They focused mainly on the years right after
the civil war, when gunmen suddenly had no war to fight so they became outlaws or guns
for hire, and showed how modern American values developed out of this Wild West. Leone’s trilogy, made in the mid-1960s, uses
the western format to satirize those values, and describes American society as driven by
nothing more than greed. They can be seen as a commentary made by a
European artist, who uses an American art-form to show trough it how American capitalism
destroyed European traditional values. But for rebels everywhere, they had another
meaning: the characters played by Eastwood became models of how an outsider can manipulate
the capitalist system in his favor, and fueled their dreams of somehow doing the same. It’s no wonder, then, that Morricone’s music
found its way into ‘Planet rock’. But Sergio Leone required one other inspiration
to begin his dollars trilogy, to appropriate something that came from outside Western culture
and helped him gain a better perspective of its darker sides. The first movie of the trilogy, ‘A Fistful
of Dollars’, was a remake of the 1960 film ‘Yojimbo’, by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was another non-American director
who made movies inspired by westerns, since he recognized in them something that corresponded
with Japanese history, particularly with what is known as the Edo period. The Edo period started at the beginning of
the 17th century, when centuries of war ended in one shogun taking power and imposing a
strict social order, which included closing Japan to the outside world and turning it
into an isolated island. As a result, there was very little cultural
appropriation, and Japanese culture stagnated and became stringent, xenophobic and plagued
with a superiority complex. Japan reopened itself to the world at the
end of the 19th century, but this cultural supremacist mentality was still in power,
and led it straight to the catastrophe that befell it in WW2. Shortly after the war, Kurosawa began making
movies, and he realized that the tropes of American westerns are perfect to portray the
Edo period. Just like the westerns focused on gunmen after
the civil war, Kurosawa depicted Samurais who were suddenly out of a job when there
was no inner or outside enemies to fight. Needless to say, Japanese conservatives did
not like his appropriation of Western forms into Japanese traditions. But Kurosawa prevailed, and his movies inspired
a new generation of American filmmakers that transformed the face of Hollywood in the 1970s. His movies had something familiar, and yet
they were different, offering a different look on the old Hollywood forms, and inspiring
a diverse selection of movies from ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ to ‘Star Wars’. This was the beginning of a long and prolific
cultural exchange between Japanese and American pop cultures, an exchange that continues to
this very day, and enriched both cultures beyond measure. We’ve been around the globe and found ourselves
back in Japan, so I can finally go back to my sushi. But before I go, let’s recap what we’ve learned
about cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is the thing that saved
us from the world of the past, a world where every culture saw itself as superior to others. Conservative culture guardians always try
to prevent cultural appropriation from happening, to make sure that the purity of their culture
is not defiled. But in every society there are youngsters
who feel alienated to their parents’ culture, and find in another culture something that
they can relate to, something they can make their own. They realize the thing that the cultural supremacists
are working hard to deny: that underneath our cultural differences we are all humans,
and in every culture there are people who are similar to them. And so, they appropriate that thing they found,
fuse it with elements of their own culture, and create something new and exciting. This process builds bridges between cultures,
undermines intolerance and prejudices, and makes our world more harmonic and peaceful. It revitalizes every society it touches, making
it more diverse, abundant and free. Whenever a new culture is born, it happens
through the process of cultural appropriation. In short, without cultural appropriation,
there would be no culture. Cultural appropriation is essential to a liberal
society, the thing through which humanity frees itself from supremacy and bigotry. Unfortunately, the supremacists were not totally
defeated, and now they are trying to make a comeback. The mentality that was driven out of 1940s
Berlin now resides in Oberlin, and on many other campuses. It is slowly seeping through our society,
threatening our freedom. It is driven by cultural supremacists, but
they could not be doing it without the help of useful idiots from the left. The supremacists have exploited the ignorance
of these idiots, and made them believe that cultural appropriation was done not by the
rebels of every society, but by the leaders. In other words, that it is a form of colonialism,
when in fact, nothing terrifies colonialists more than cultural appropriation. And so, part of the left appropriated extreme
right-wing views. Let’s be clear: there is no need to “keep
an open mind” towards people with neo-fascist notions. What we have here is clear choice, a choice
between the cultural supremacists and the cultural appropriators. Choosing the former is the sure way to cultural
death; choosing the latter leads to a free, vital, culturally rich and socially harmonic
society.

41 thoughts on “Cultural Appropriation Rocks the Planet (improved quality)

  1. What "meaning of the dish"? Frankfurters, a German food, doesn't have a meaning; it only has ingredients. a nutritional value, and a flavor.

  2. Excellent video. I love history. Culture can't be appropriated because we all share it. No idea belongs to one group because that idea was the product of the ideas of many groups.

  3. Professor Willie Ruff of Yale believes that gospel music has it's roots in Gaelic psalms from the Hebrides is Scotland. " We as black Americans have lived under a misconception. Our cultural roots are more Afro~Gaelic than Afro~American." Ruff grew up in Alabama where at his local Baptist church he would listen to the elders "precenting the line", which predates gospel but heavily influences it. This distinctive style of psalm singing  Prof Ruff claimed originated in Scotland, with migrant Scots taking it with them to their churches, mainly in the deep south. Fascinating stuff, what he said ruffled a few feathers, but Ruff is no fool, and with friends like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie backing him up, who could argue? Great video by the way, keep it up.

  4. I remember when the left used 'appropriation' to liberate ideas from their bourgoise prisons etc. But that was in the old lefts expansionist period. Now the left attacks appropriation because it's really in defensive mode and hanging on to its outdated stereotypes. Essentially it has to hold on to its possessions preventing any new liberatory ideas from improving them.

  5. Thanks for this video, it is very on point.
    One of my fellow exchange students suggested using words from our host country's language, since he knew a few occassional words that he felt were more beautiful, poignant and expressive than English. He wanted to show his appreciation and wanted to immerse himself into the culture. Still, he asked "But wouldn't that be cultural appropriation?"

    Nobody even questioned "So what if it was?". It didn't matter if there were any tangible damages the country's people would face if he used a few dozen words of their language in his reports.

    It's like people nowadays are programmed to hear the term with a negative connotation and only think abstract about it, not wheter or not they are actually doing harm.

    The guy clearly wanted to show appreciation for the culture and find access to it, but shyd away. I hope I can now explain to him

  6. My jaw is agape watching this dancing….holy crap…but also, to add to your part about break dance…a lot of it is derived from Capoeira.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira

  7. "Inauthentic food"? Might as well be complaining that their champagne isn't bubbly enough or that their pizza isn't made the same way Neapolitans make it. It's the most petty of spoiled rich kid problems being blown way out of proportion. Plus, a college is a place to learn first and foremost, not to eat. If you want food that "authentic", there are plenty of places to get it.

  8. It's called cultural diffusion, and we'd still be listening to the same music forever without it. The left's crusade against so-called appropriation is lethal to world culture.

  9. Don't worry about the quality – we would listen to you if you spoke from inside of a bucket. Thank you for this video!

  10. Oh my god, we're all appropriating each others cultures!! Noooo!! How dare we step outside our assigned boxes and be appreciative of someone elses? How dare we be creative and adaptive? As a blues guitarist, I'd better stop worshipping and trying to emulate Robert Johnson, R L Burnside, Skip James et al. I'd better go to the British Folk music of where I live, even I'm not that into it. But wait? How do I know that wasn't appropriated from what went before. I'll have to travel back in time, to hear the first note ever played by a human (rock hitting skull) in my local area, and only play that.! I'm sure SJW's have some kind of OCD – they're obsessed with everything to fitting into the categories they create. They don't seem to like variety, loose ends, or the untidyness of reality and the multitude of ideas within it.

  11. I think a lot of people objections to cultural appropriation boils down to them doing a shit or tacky job of representing that culture. By all means make fusion food by combining sushi and smoke house BBQ but god dammit make sure you cook the rice properly.

  12. I agree with everything in this video aside from the implication that fact that the food company served them under cooked rice is acceptable.

    I think there is something to be said against cultural appropriation for purely monetary motivations. It can "cheapen" the cultural artifact. But your average white boy wearing dreadlocks? Fuck off.

  13. You have an uncanny knack for crystalizing ideas that are partially formed in my mind. I haven't watched all your vids yet, but so far I have yet to disagree with you. As someone who values music as the greatest tool for social unity, I love the absolute shit out of this video. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you.

  14. great introduction to your channel. glad i took sargon's recommendation. now i will stop being a lazy mofo and check out the rest of your videos now

  15. Love this video. very well made with lots of information. But I was wondering if you could maybe post sources used?

  16. I would agree that Cenk got the example totally wrong. There do seem to be some examples that would illustrate his thoughts. Native Canadians actually were arrested for participating in their traditional dances. In Toronto a black server was fired for putting her hair in a bun. Do these examples change the discussion at all? When a culture has been historically, actively suppressed, and then afterwards profits taken by others, it does look like a kind of theft. If there is a difference, how would you deal with people who apply the cultural appropriation label to both cases?

  17. There is some errors in the Japanese History. It doesn't really affect your points, but the Ronin films are typically set prior to the Edo (Sengoku, about a century and a half of constant, brutal warfare) or post-Edo (Meiji) when the Samurai were disbanded (thus having unemployed & directionless trained warriors with nothing better to do). To typify the Edo period as "stagnant" is a gross oversimplification. Cultural interchange was restricted and thus trickled down from the elites and merchants. Things were still refined, expanded and supplemented. Anyway, I generally like your videos and agree with your points, but I had to comment on this point.

  18. The readiness with which the white kids started imitating black dance and music reflects to me an entitlement borne out of being the dominant class/group/race. Do you think there can be such an element of power in this?

  19. Clearly he doesn't know that Elvis Presley was filmed from the belly button up during his early years due to his hip thrusting being to sexual and not TV suitable.

  20. Black culture has become a dark, dirty, criminal culture.  Where black juries set black murders free.  How do you explain blacks harassing whites that move into black neighborhoods.  Whites are down with blacks, but black resent whites to the point of unprovoked violence.  What's up with that?

  21. I wish I could 'double-subscribe' to you… the arguments against cultural appropriation had always left me so confused and unsettled, but I never had the knowledge to fully cut back this inexplicable counter-value creep…

    It's such an incredible breath of fresh air to hear that it is indeed possible to embrace other cultures in this most intuitive means! Thank you so much!!

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