CONSIDERED a grievous crime by woke activists, ‘cultural appropriation’ involves copying, borrowing and in some cases exploiting things from a culture that is not your own. White, heterosexual, privileged men and women are targeted on the basis that they are the products of a capitalist society riven with structural sexism, racism and heteronormativity.
Peter Sellers playing an accident-prone Indian in the film The Party, Laurence Olivier as Shakespeare’s Othello and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada blackfacing are all guilty.
Other examples of cultural appropriation include the cisfemale Scarlett Johansson planning to play the part of a transgender character and a white comedian at a Melbourne Comedy Festival whose act involved dressing as a geisha girl.
Such is the restrictive and doctrinaire nature of cancel culture that white authors can never empathise with and write about non-whites and European fashion houses can never draw on tribal cultures for inspiration.
Woke activists even argue that Western philosophy and science are derivative and guilty of stealing ideas from long-departed Islamic and African thinkers and scholars. Academics at the University of Sheffield argue that Western science is guilty of ‘whiteness and Eurocentrism’ as if it was a major contributor to ‘European imperialism’.
Nothing reveals the cultural-Left’s hypocrisy and double standards more than its condemnation of anyone considered guilty of cultural appropriation while, at the same time, ignoring or accepting any on the Left who commit the same offence.
One recent example is a Canadian film that transforms Handel’s oratorio Messiah to make it politically correct and ideologically sound. Drawing on the Bible’s portrayal of the life of Jesus including his crucifixion and ascension into heaven, Handel’s Messiah is considered sacrosanct by Christians. Its story of death and resurrection remains central to the Christian faith, signalling God’s eternal love and the possibility of forgiveness and redemption.
However woke activists have transformed Messiah into a litany of politically correct vignettes. As described by Dan Bilefsky in Melbourne’s The Age in December, the singers include a ‘gay Chinese-Canadian tenor’ in stiletto heels, a ‘Tunisian-Canadian mezzo-soprano [who] reimagines Jesus as a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf’ and an ‘indigenous singer’ singing in her native language describing the ‘snow-covered landscape’.
Those responsible for politicising Messiah justify their actions by arguing that the revamped version centres on ‘the rights of black people and other minorities’ as well as providing the opportunity for the indigenous performers to ‘decolonise’ themselves.
An even more egregious and reprehensible example of cultural appropriation involving Christianity is Apple TV’s popular dystopian series See set in a future where almost all are blind. In one sexually explicit scene a demented, dictatorial queen pleasures herself while reciting a twisted version of the Lord’s Prayer including lines such as ‘Give us this day your power’, ‘Condemn those who trespass against us’ and ‘For thine is the darkness, The power and the glory, For ever and ever, Amen’.
The two examples above are not isolated. Some years back the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne displayed Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, depicting a crucifixion submerged in a jar of urine. The then Melbourne Archbishop, George Pell, said exhibiting the so-called work of art was deeply offensive and an example of blasphemy.
The annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras provides yet another example of the cultural-Left endorsing cultural appropriation as long as it targets those considered ripe for mockery. Each year one of the ‘highlights’ of the LGBTIQ+ festival involves the ‘Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence’ in a sacrilegious role-play where gay/lesbian activists dressed as nuns distribute blessings and indulgences to the Mardi Gras participants and audience.
That Christianity is targeted by the cultural-Left and those who vilify and mock religion should not surprise. The origin of cancel culture and political correctness can be traced to Germany’s Frankfurt School established in the 1920s by a number of neo-Marxist academics. As noted by the Italian academic Augusto Del Noce, a central tenet of neo-Marxism is historical materialism that imposes a radical, secular view of history. It is an ideology which by its very nature persecutes religion and denies a spiritual and transcendent view of life and the life hereafter.