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Opinion/Commentary

Cultural appropriation: a war no one can win

US funk, soul and pop singer, Bruno Mars was caught up in a cultural appropriation controversy earlier this year after he was accused of ‘appropriating’ African music. (Does this sound familiar? Wasn’t Elvis Presley condemned for a similar thing sixty or so years ago?). African American celebrities ended up coming to his aid.

Mars’ mother is Filipino and his father is Puerto Rican and Jewish.

To me, this proves that nobody can win the new aawar of cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is:

…the act of using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing you understand and respect this culture.

From further reading I’ve done, I think cultural appropriation is about power, especially the power that the British had for decades over African and indigenous peoples (Aboriginal Australians,  Native Americans, etc).

As I said above, this has become an unwinable culture war. It is seen as nothing more by many people as an encroachment of free speech and expression.

Representations

A frankly absurd new rule I’ve been hearing and reading about is don’t write about something about a minority that you aren’t part of. Now, this is encroachment of free speech and expression. People should be able to write about and from any perspective that they like! As long it doesn’t aim to portray negative stereotypes, (unless in the form of satire or black comedy), why shouldn’t they? Should I be able to write a novel about a Syrian refugee, even though I’m not one? Yes! But I’ll make sure that I researched the topic, made sure I didn’t undermine their experiences or stereotype them.

Writing and the arts in general often require a level of research, sometimes extensive. At times, actors work in certain fields to get real – life experience on what it’s like to do that job.

Then, there are representations of minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community. Sure, some shows have done a fairly poor job of it. One thing that has annoyed me in the past is when a character is allegedly LGBTQ+, but are in a sams – sex relationship only briefly and their same – sex relationship, or alleged attraction is never spokwn of again. Then, there are shows that porttay lesbian or bi women, but seem to appeal to straight men.

One show has done things differently is Channel Eleven’s Neighbours. In 2010, teenager Chris Pappas, (played by James Mason), came out as gay.

Since then, Neighbours has had other LGB characters: Steph Scully (Carla Bonner), who has dated men and women on the show and jas been outed as bisexual and David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) and Aaron Brenner (Matt Wilson), a gay couple.

Screenshot of David and Aaron from Neighbours

 

None of the actors (to my knowledge), are LGB, but the way Neighbours portray the LGB community I think should be commended.

Eight years since Pappas came out, many of Neighbours’ fans are eagerly waiting tor the marriage of Brennan and Tanaka, with comedian Magda Szubanski set to play their celebrant.

Negative stereotypes can be harmful. It’s important not to dehumanise others. However, people should be able to express themselves and write, act or other things without being  seen as nefarious.

What do you think of cultural appropriation and media representation of minorities in general? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Daryl Braithwaite cancels tour due to health scare

Former Sherbet front man, Daryl  Braithwaite has cancelled performances at the Australian Open and the annual Red Hot Summer Tour after a health scare left him hospitalised on the 17 January. He left an apology on his Facebook page:

Good morning,

I unfortunately and regrettably have had to cancel this week’s shows due to illness and sudden admission into Hospital (sic). I am disappointed that I won’t be able to perform at the Australian Open Tennis tonight nor the Mornington Peninsula RHST (Red Hot Summer Tour) shows this weekend.

I am hoping to make a speedy recovery and be back doing shows very soon.

Regards Daryl. (sic)

His condition has not been made public.

 

Braithwaite has touched multiple generations of fans, both as a part of Sherbet in the 1970’s and 1980’s with songs like Summer Love” and “Howzat” and in the 1990’s with a cover (yep, you read that right), of “The Horses”. It was written by Rickie Lee Jones and Walter Becker. Jones sung it in 1989, a year before Braithwaite. Over 25 years after it’s release by Braithwaite, it remains a classic song loved by many Australians.

The Sherbet hit, “Howzat” – written by Tony Mitchell and Garth Porter has become an unofficial cricket anthem since its release in 1976. However the song is about a man who’s found out his wife has had an affair.

Sherbet was a staple part of the ABC music show “Countdown”. Braithwaite even co – hosted an episode with John Paul Young when Ian “Molly Meldrum” failed to turn up to the filming.

 

I really feel for the people who bought tickets to see Braithwaite at the Australian Open or Red Hot Summer Tour. I can imagine your disappointment. Back in 2012 or 2013, I bought tickets to go and see the British metal band, “The Darkness” and the iconic “Joan Jett and the Blackhearts” at Hisense Arena, Melbourne, only to hear that the show was cancelled allegedly because one of the members of “The Darkness” had  health issues due to a car accident. Hope Joan Jett and the Blackhearts come back to Australia one day.

 

Anyway, Braithwaite fans on Facebook have been understanding and have seen him well – wishes and hope for a speedy recovery. They can add me to the list of well – wishers. I do hope it gets well soon and can continue doing what he loves – performing.

 

Here’s a bit of Daryl Braithwaite trivia for you. Did you know that he’s a twin? He has a twin brother, Glenn. They were born in Melbourne on the 11 January 1949.

 

Do you have a favourite The Sherbet or solo song from Daryl Braithwaite?