When I explain cultural misappropriation to children, I use the example of The Nightmare Before Christmas.  

It’s effective because especially for children, who don’t have enough historical context to understand much of the concept, you can still fully grasp the idea.  

There was nothing wrong with Jack seeing the beauty and differences in Christmas town, it’s when he tried to take what is unique about Christmas town away from those it originally belonged to without understanding the full context of Christmas things is when everything went wrong.

When Jack tries to get the folk of Halloween town to make Christmas gifts for children, etc., children understand that the Halloween town folk do not have the full context for the objects they are making, and they are able to see that the direct repercussions and consequences are very harmful.

what i like about this is the implication that if jack had taken the time to understand christmas town, bringing christmas to halloween town would not have been harmful. that’s how it works, folks. cultural sharing is GOOD, it’s only misappropriation when it’s done in ignorance and disrespect.

There’s an interesting level here in that Jack tried to understand Christmas town. He could see the magic while he was there, and he did try to explain it that way to citizens of Halloween town.  But they weren’t interested in the kind of life he was describing, so he started “rebranding” Christmas so that it was not like Christmas but was like Halloween. The people of Halloween town, never having actually encountered Christmas, have no way of knowing that what they’re being told about Christmas and “Sandy Claws” is inaccurate. Jack also tried to study Christmas and its culture, though he couldn’t quite get it; eventually, he literally decides to take it for himself, even as he knows it’s not really for him.  He started out feeling sad the others in Halloween town didn’t ‘get it,’ but he then decided it’s not important to fully ‘get it’ but instead to have it.

So it’s not just accidentally removing things form their context; he has intentionally disregard the meaning of the rituals he purports to be recreating, making them more fun for the recreaters but not like what the rituals are supposed to be and without the related significance.

This is the best way to conceptualize the wrong way to share culture I have ever seen and I think I finally get where people are coming from when they talk about “cultural appropriation.”

This is an EXCELLENT explanation through example!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.