Thursday, December 27, 2012

Django Unchained: A Gun Slinger With a Black Face

Django Unchained
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Dicaprio

Django, Django, Django. There is so much to say about this movie it hard to know where to start. For those of you who know me personally, you'll know that I am highly critical of Quentin Tarantino. I find a lot of his work highly overrated, and even his best films don't crest my top 20. I do not, and never have, worshiped at the alter of Tarantino, unlike a lot of young filmmakers and film-goers. I like some of his films, I love a few, most I could take or leave. But this film is right up my ally.

Tarantino has always had a flare for the absurd, and his pulpy, exploitative films really speak to a modern audience. He uses his signature techniques, and lengthy plots to draw the audience in, then hits them with action and violence so over the top, you can't help but enjoy the ride.

Unlike Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained found a nice balance between the goofy and the serious, a balance that supported the plot. Inglorious Bastards on the other hand, starts out decent, but was ruined by Brad Pitt’s refusal to tone down his already outrageous character. I maintain that Pitt was a horrible choice for the lead and he ruined the film with his ‘look at me’ acting. However, Django showed a slightly more controlled Tarantino who didn't let a single actor overtake what turned out to be a very fluid film.

In true Tarantino fashion, there were some old favorites and plenty of new faces and each of them excelled in their roles. No one added extra bravado to the already absurd characters, unlike Brad Pitt who added that gross southern accent that was incredibly distracting.

It is probably safe to say that this could be Jamie Foxx’s defining role. He is Django. He perfectly embodies the bloodthirsty gunslinger with a sense of humor and righteousness. You can’t help but love Django, for his smart-assery, stoicism, and his unapologetic trigger finger. Django is a complex character that at one moment laments killing a man in front of his son, but then happily shoots slave traders who set him free, and gunned down Candie-Land Plantation’s Southern Belle.

Now, there has been some criticism from people like Spike Lee who will say that Django Unchained didn't portray southern slavery correctly, and was, perhaps, a little heavy with the word nigger and the stereotyping of black people. While those arguments are valid, I know for a fact that Tarantino did not set out to make a film about slavery. 

Django Unchained is not a movie about slavery, and anyone who thinks so lacks understanding of cinematic liberty and style. Which is why I am forced to roll my eyes at Spike Lee's butt-hurt attitude. The idea of slavery was simply the device, the catalyst to a story that turned out to be a classic fairy tale in which the hero rides through hell fire to save the damsel in distress. Trying to dissect this film in a historical sense is moronic. Tarantino doesn't think that way, he never has, and you will drive yourself crazy if you look to him to be an intellectually responsible historian. Film is art, and art is never wrong. 

I personally found the portrayal of slavery incredibly interesting, and humanizing. In many films about slavery, often you see slaves shows as one group, with one mentality, with the same feelings, and the same hardships. They are often shown to be obedient, humble, and unwilling or unable to fight. Or they are held up as unsung heroes who might have flourished in a different time. Which has always come off as a bit unrealistic to me. The idea that everyone felt the same has never sat well with me. 

There is always this black and white depiction of slavery and sometimes, its nice to see another perspective, whether historically correct or not. Films are unburdened by a strict adherence to history, and because of that, they are free to explore an infinite number of ideas and stories. This is why we love movies.

I like that each slave in Django Unchained had his or her own personality and struggle. There were the unknown house and field slaves, that were whipped, ripped apart by dogs and beaten to death for the amusement of their masters. But then there were concubine slaves who were beautiful, wore the best clothes and sat in the company of white men. There were mixed-race children who stood to defend their master and father. And then there was Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Stephen, that was treated almost like an old senile member of the Candie family, who found solidarity with his masters, instead of his fellow slaves

Samuel L. Jackson was absolutely incredible, as he usually is. Playing the old house servant and patriarch of the house slaves, he is vicious, callous and incredibly loyal to his master. His character is almost as much of a villain as plantation owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. But you can’t help but love him as he lectures Candie about allowing Django to sleep in the big house saying, “Letting a nigger sleep in the big house? Your daddy would roll over in his grave.” Stephen is a deplorable character, but incredibly dynamic and fascinating.

Leonardo DiCaprio has come out in the past few days to say that he hated his character Calvin Candie when he first read him in the script, but I thought he played him perfectly. Candie is horrible plantation owner with a thirst for human suffering. But he straddles the line of being almost charming, and likeable at times. When he was first introduced, I was unsure how I felt about Candie. That was until Candie’s defining scene at the dinner table, a scene that made me relish the conclusion of the film.

The film also stars Kerry Washington who plays Broomhilda (Hildie), Django’s wife and Christoph Waltz as the dentist Dr. Shultz. While Hildie’s character didn’t get much screen time and really only served as the call to action, Christoph Waltz was great and was responsible for holding the film together.

Not only was Dr. Shultz likeable, he was witty, smart, and had little patience for the "business of slavery." He was a strong character, well written, and well played by a very respectable and seasoned actor.

The cast is truly the strength of this film. Each had their role to play, and no one stepped outside of their positions to take over the film. Despite the star-studded cast, no one attempted to outshine their cast mates. No one threw in last minute ideas that distracted from their character. Each played their part, and played it well.

The photography was beautiful and worth mentioning. Though I am a sucker for films about the South & West. The sweeping landscapes and variety of locations made the film visually rich. And the decadent interiors contrasted with the blood stained walls and piles of dead bodies, was perfectly executed. This was also Tarantino’s first film with out his long time editor Sally Menke by his side, but Fred Raskin came in and did a good job despite being a little green.

The music is also worth mentioning because it gives the film that extra kick of modern kitsch. It's not only typical twangy country music you'd expect in a Western, but also hip-hop and classical music. The film showcases musicans as diverse as Rick Ross and Riziero Ortolani and neither feel out of place. The music stands out and forces the audience to take notice. The music is a character all its own, and it is used for specific, purposful reasons.

This is a film that is an unapologetic celebration of kitsch, violence and vengeance. This is not a film for those with delicate sensibilities or a weak sense of humor. The film is an all out blood bath and you’ll laugh through the whole thing. But from Tarantino, I would expect nothing less.

A : Solid A for this movie. Jamie Foxx nails it, and Tarantino has outdone himself, and has made me a believer! When you see it, see it in theaters, with someone who loves movies, and you’ll have a great time.


As many of you know, I love violent, action packed films and love to write about them. Movies have been a huge part of my life since I first saw Beauty and the Beast for the first time in theaters. But, I am also a firm believer that the only place we should ever see violence in our lives, is in the movies. That is where violence belongs, not in our real life communities.

However, I reject the idea that movies, video games and other art forms are the reason we have so much violence in our society. There are those of us who are committed to peace, and community service, who also enjoy a movie like Django Unchained. There are those of us who love gore and horror films, but that doesn't mean we engage in such activities in real life. We enjoy films that depict certain violent activities but cringe in disgust when real life violence graces the news.

While there are some who become desensitized from an over indulgence in exclusively violent media, we can't point the finger at the media with out pointing 3 back at ourselves. It is not the media that creates the problem, it's so much deeper than that. It is our refusal to accept and deal with certain realities.

Film, and art, are often painful reflections of our cultural problems. Many people believe that the movies effect society, which is true, but not as much as society effects the movies...

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Just Gave Me Cancer


I don't usually post internet fails. But this was something I came across while browsing Pinterest. The thing about Pinterest, is that it's a lot like being stuck in a room listening to a random group of people you don't really know spouting their personal beliefs. Some of them talk about art, and travel and fashion, and you agree with them, and that's awesome. But then there are a lot of people who are lecturing you about working out, getting married, and Jesus. I like those people a lot less.

Then there are those people who post things so moronic, it makes me want to boycott the internet forever. This is one of those times. See if you can spot whats wrong. Post it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What is the Worst Movie You've Ever Seen?

Hello Friends!

Sorry for the absence. Work has consumed my life, but once again, I am renewing my commitment to post more often.

Today, I have a question for you. A very serious question that demands a real answer.

What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

Think about it.

Not a film you've heard about, not film you fell asleep half way through, not a cheesy zombie film you half watched while you browsed the internet. Not a film you walked out of. Not a film your friend and his dog made made in the backyard. And no crappy student films either.

Think of the most uninspirired film you ever sat through in an actual theater, or similar setting. Think of a time when you walked out of a theater and thought, "I can't believe how bad that was." Cast your nets wide, people. It can be any genera, indie, studio, new or old. It can even be a film you knew was going to be bad before you walked in.

If you take the question seriously, you'll begin to realize how difficult this question is to answer. Sure the 3rd or 4th installment of most franchises are awful. Pretty much every film geared towards teen and tween girls is vapid and predictable. There are lots of movies that suck, dozens come out every year, and we inevitably sit through a few of them. But most bad movies are forgettable. So, which one is the worst?

Of course, the very nature of this question is controversial. For every movie you hate, there are 100 people who love it. And, as with all art forms, the idea of best and worst is purely subjective. But, I feel like films have a bit more flexibility. Crappy scripts, poor direction, and bad acting can sink even the most promising films. Think of Baz Luhrmann's Australia

I have been watching films my entire life, like most people my age. But beyond that, I went to 7 years of film school starting when I was a 14. I've sat through Citizen Kane well over two dozen times, and I have written hundreds of papers, easily, thousands of pages, on the subject of film. So, I have been cocky in the past, thinking I had seen it all, the good, the boring and the weird. Have you seen *W.R Mysteries of the Organism on 35mm, 13 feet high? I have, twice.

But I, like every red-blooded American, love guilty pleasure films. I will pay to see any Marvel, Pixar, or Disney film, and defend even the worst of them to the death. I also love cheesy 70's films, and wont hear a word against Barbara Streisand. So I try not to judge the taste of others.

You can check the internet, but unlike with the best films ever made, which draws a general consensus, the worst films are a source of great debate. There are, of course B-movies, which inevitably make some worst film lists, but were designed for a very specific audience. Older low budget studio films, with their outdated humor, and often cringe-worthy cultural themes also turn off modern critics. So how can we judge the absolute worst film with over 100 years worth of options?

The Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen

Recently I saw a film, that I think is quite possibly the worst film of all time. With a respectable budget of $35 million dollars, big name actors, studio distribution and marketing, this was not some unknown film that got swept under the rug. It played on nearly 3,000 screens, and made about $56 million  dollars at the US box office and almost double that internationally. It was rated a 6.6/10 on IMDB and by current Hollywood standards, was a successful production. It even received a People's Choice, and Rembrandt Award nomination.

When we think of bad films, our mind automatically wonders to flops like Dude, Where's My Car and anything Eddie Murphy or Lindsay Lohan has done recently. But bad, doesn't necessarily mean a flop. When I think of a bad film, I think of disingenuous, vapid, and cliche. Bad movies, in my mind, are defined by intellectual laziness and a purposeful lowering of the proverbial bar.

The film I am talking about, the worst film I have ever seen, is Friends With Benefits Directed by Will Gluck, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Obviously this film came out a while ago, and I am a late on the draw, however my points will remain valid.

For those of you who have not seen this movie, good You have saved yourself from disenchantment potent enough to last a lifetime. And those of you who did see it, 50% of you were dragged to it by a significant other, or family member and probably didn't pay much attention. I am not sure what to say about the other 50% who willingly paid for, sat through and seemingly enjoyed this steaming pile of putrid garbage.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I offer this honest synopsis. Mila Kinus and Justin Timberlake are successful yuppies living in New York City and Silicon Valley respectively. Both are damaged, and lonely, but reluctant to commit after getting out of bad relationships. After Timberlake's character moves to NYC to join Kunis's company, the two begin a 'no-strings-attached' sexual friendship. However, their causal relationship begins to shift as they spend more time together and get a glimpse into each others' world.

This film sounds like any other crappy romantic comedy from Maid in Manhattan to anything starring Katherine Heigl. So, what makes this particular film so bad?

The simple answer to that is, Friends with Benefits represents everything that is wrong with modern films. It relies heavily on cliches that define the phrase, "beating a dead horse." The lack of nuance, and subtlety in this film is remarkable. From the secretly vulnerable, work-a-holic young woman to the kooky mom and sick father, to the trendy music and the painfully predictable end of film reconciliation.

Beyond that, the acting is abhorrent. Mila Kunis does this strange New York accent and works really hard to come off as aloof, and cool. Justin Timerlake gives puppy-dog eyes the whole time, and rattles out lame quips, which is supposed to be endearing, and somehow help you forget that his character is really just some whiney, billionaire, playboy with the world at his fingertips. The characters come off as glorified versions of Kunis and Timberlake's celebrity personas, and it's exhausting.

I have never been a huge fan of Justin Timberlake, I was too young and too impressionable during N'Syncs height of fame to see him as anything other than the curly haired bleach blonde personally responsible for the 90's most embarrassing moments. But in this film, he exits the realm of general nausea and into something far less forgivable.

He utters his lines in a half-joking manner which is a regulation way to soften the blow of bad writing and even worse acting. He's winking at the audience the entire film and its an hour and a half of unapologetic self congratulation and self satisfaction in a role so shallow he actually utters things like, "I'm done with this whole relationship thing."

Mila Kunis on the other hand, isn't a bad actress. Black Swan proved that she has a niche as the exotic, (but not too exotic), unconventional girl. In this film, however, she works way to hard to convince the audience that she's an insatiable whore. Her character is a not-so-vailed portrayal of the male fantasy and Kunis plays into it with a 'deer-like in headlights' obliviousness. She's stumbles over her lines, and regurgitates them with out any comprehension of what is coming out of her mouth.

I am going to resist the urge to get into the piss-poor direction and lazy writing, because I would be forced to go scene by scene, since each line, and each setting is more ridiculous than the last. It's impossible to choose just one horrible moment. Though the 'impromptu' flash mob dance number is painfully 2000-and-late.

Critics have generally agreed that this film is 'funny,' but I found absolutely nothing about this film even slightly amusing. The humor is rauchy for the sake of being raunchy, and I don't know anybody who talks or behaves like the characters in this film.

But what it comes down to is that this film was not designed to say anything, to comment on anything, or to make the audience think about anything other than Mila Kunis in black boy shorts. It was designed to be consumed and disposed of, like so much of our culture. Worse than that, everyone involved in the film seems to know this, and yet, they give themselves a collective pat on the back.

Now that I have defined the worst movie I've ever seen, the question now becomes, so what?

Friends with Benefits is hardly the first offender, but with films becoming more difficult to market, with movie ticket prices skyrocketing, and with the ease to which people can simply download movies off the internet for free, I am disheartened that films like this are allowed to exist. What are people like me, and you, who actually spend money on, and love movies, to do?

How are people like me, who desire substance, no matter how dim, and commitment, not matter how small, to the craft of filmmaking, supposed to defend an industry that refuses to do anything to save itself from complete implosion? The people a movie like Friends with Benefits appeals to, are not the types of people who feel any loyalty movie industry. They are the consume and throw away type people, who will take a free download over a $15 dollar theater ticket every time.

I don't mean to suggest that every film has to be a life changing experience or even a good life experience. But is an honest attempt too much to ask for?

But the most disheartening thing about this film, was the over all positive reviews from some of the country's most respected critics. Did they watch the same film I did? Because all I saw was the most uninspired piece of cinema ever. And not a single one of these 'professionals' stood up and called bullshit on this film. So I am here to do just that.

Friends With Benefits is the worst movie I have ever seen.

What is the worst movie you've ever seen? Give it a review in the comments below.

*W.R Mysteries of the Organism is quite a good film, just incredibly weird. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Santa Fe Art Institute: A Fresh Start

It has been a few days since I've posted. But, I have a really good excuse. Since July 20th, before I came out to New Mexico, I have been going through the application process at the Santa Fe Art Institute. SFAI is one of the most respected institutions in the city of Santa Fe, and I am happy to say that after a couple intensive interviews, including a panel style interview, 9+ hours editing a new demo reel, and a month and a half of anxiously waiting, I got the job. I was told that I beat out 100 other applicants, and 14 other interviewees. So, I feel the need to brag.

I also thought I would take the opportunity to tell you a bit about SFAI, since it will be my day job for the for-seeable future, and themes from my job will start to insert themselves into my posts.

The Santa Fe Art Institute mission is "to explore the intersections of contemporary art and society through artist and writer residencies, public lecture, studio workshops, educational programming and special projects."SFAI is located in the center of Santa Fe on the Santa Fe University of Art and Design's large campus. It was founded in 1985 by Pony Ault and William Lumpkins. The beautiful building was designed by famed Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.

SFAI has a rich history of attracting some of the most influential contemporary artists to their coveted residency program, that 'focuses on the professional experience of the artist, the quality of their past work, and their potential," "SFAI supports up to 50 residents per year and offers a cohesive, arts-focused environment that creates the ideal working conditions for our artists."

However, one of the most amazing things offered at SFAI is the Emergency Relief Residencies, in which our institution will provide respite to artists affected by political, social, or natural disasters. SFAI receives support for this program from influential foundations from all over the world.

Pretty amazing stuff, huh? Well the story doesn't end there. In fact. SFAI has an incredible Education and Outreach program that takes the institution out in to the wider community. "We are passionate about the youth in our community. We work with young people to discover and explore their world through art, dance, drama, and help them understand that their how histories and stories have value, building self-esteem and critical thinking in the process." This is my job. I will be the Education and Outreach assistant and I am super excited about it.

You can become a member of SFAI for as little as $25.00. Becoming a member is a great way to get access to all of the wonderful things happening at SFAI and throughout the community.

Happening now at SFAI is Half-Life Part II. Visiting artists will explore questions surrounding the overall theme of half-life such as, "how do systems age, decline and regenerate? How can we use the artistic and creative process to make those actions sustainable inclusive and effective? Artists try to express complex ssues such as the history of culture and society and the boundaries of cycles and how relationships with the natural environment build or destroy, and meditate on self-identity and balance."

I bogarted a lot of this information off of SFAI's website, so if you want to know more feel free to visit the site. There you can learn more about the artists, the exhibitions and the special projects. And feel free to contact me for information about education and outreach program and I will get you into contact with all the right people. .

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Racism is Vintage and Vintage is in (And other Hipsterisms) UPDATED 2/15


Today I am writing a true confession. A confession about something that festers and boils in the pit of my soul. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am constantly screaming about my hatred of Hipsters, and Hipster culture. If you are a hipster, whether confessed or closeted, this post concerns you, and rather than turn away, I encourage you to read on. If you are not a hipster, awesome, but please keep reading because maybe you can lay down some truth on your hipster friends, because we all know you have at least one.


Hipsters represent everything that is irritating about American youth culture, and what is wrong with our culture as a whole. We live in a world where white people are beginning to feel their power and influence wane. We are beginning to see American defined as something other than blonde hair, blue eyes, American pie, and the white picket fence. And that scares the shit out of white people.

"It's cool, man. It's just a joke! I love black people. I fucked a black girl once."

America is becoming a lot browner, a lot more multicultural in general, and white people are having a crisis of culture because their identity is not necessarily the status quo anymore. This crisis of culture has sent the white youth grasping for something. Why? Because the idea of guaranteed prosperity, privilege and success, that was promised to them, isn't working out. Suddenly non-white people are getting access to powers and privileges that in the past had been reserved only for upper middle class whites. Now, they aren't just competing with other white people, they are competing with everyone and the odds are stacked against them. Now, being white isn't ENOUGH of a guarantee to earn them what they believe they deserve or to get them to where they want to go.

**And just to keep some heads from exploding, I am not speaking about all white people, I am talking about HIPSTERS specifically, and I will get to non-white hipsters later.

"I look SO cultured right now. This headdress makes me look interesting and original."

What is the definition of a 'Hipster?' 

"A contemporary subculture of young, recently settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers that appeared in the late 1990s. The subculture is associated with independent music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibilityApple productsliberal or independent political views, alternative spirituality or atheism/agnosticism and alternative lifestyles."

"I live in a upper class neighborhood, but I dress like I'm homeless because it expresses who I am."

What is a Hipster Really?

A hipster is a middle to upper middle class, generally of white (European/Scandinavian/Caucasian) descent. Hipsters are generally suburban or urban teenagers, twenty or thirty-somethings who lack a personal cultural identity. When asked what their heritage is they respond with, "I'm like German or Polish or something like that..." They are also associated with PBR, vinyl records, fixed gear bikes, and a hodge-podge of 'thrift store' style clothing which often upon closer inspection is actually just as expensive designer brands. 

Orange: Unwarranted self importance

One of the biggest aspects of Hipster culture is their liking of 'indie' music, magazines, movies, and websites. They use the word 'mainstream' to define anything that is too popular among their peers, and therefor not 'cool.' While highly educated and financially able to live a life of comfort, most hipsters forgo the classic symbols of their middle class upbringing and instead appropriate the symbols of lower class people. Hipsters are also defined by their liking of non-white cultural motifs such as aspects of Native American and African tribal culture as well as nostalgic motifs such as 60's or 70's style clothing.

"Lol, the Holocaust, HILARIOUS! It's fine though, I went to a Bar Mitzvah when I was like 12."

Hipsterism, despite being defined by "progressive" political and religious ideas, is actually a culture of exclusion. If you like the wrong bands, or the wrong movies, or the wrong bits and pieces of popular culture, you are not welcome in their circles. Don't believe me? Tell a group of hipsters that you didn't think Twilight was that bad, or that you love tabloid magazines, or that you bought a SUV instead of a fixed gear bike, and see if you get invited to the next party. Try telling a hipster that you find his use of the N-word offensive or that he doesn't in fact know anything about 'ghetto' culture. Then watch him and all of his friends pounce on you saying something to the effect of, "I am just subverting what, is like, our preconceived notions about racial slurs. I mean why can't I say the word 'nigger' if I hear black people saying it all the time? REVERSE RACISM!" 

"I'm not racist, I'm just being really subversive. If you're mad it's because you don't get it!"

But the only real thing you need to know about hipsters, is that they are, as a culture, defined by their lack of cultural understanding, their inability to see how offensive appropriation is and their willful ignorance about cultural ownership really is. They are defined by their inability to engage in a real discussion when someone of a minority race takes issue with their behavior. They believe that being a modern progressive is enough to absolve them from having to take responsibility for their actions. They don't want to be told they are wrong. They don't want to be told that they can't have something that belongs to another race or culture. They feel entitled to pick and chose the elements they like from Native culture, like headdresses, or Mexican culture with Dia De Los Muertos images or drums from various African cultures, as a way to express their own 'individuality,' and then throw away anything they don't want or anything that doesn't support their narrow world view. 

They want to take the African drum and say it is apart of their culture, but they don't want to confront the poverty many African nations face or the struggle African immigrants face when coming to the US. Or the genocide happening in the Congo. That is all too messy. They just want the drum. But, they don't want to buy an authentic drum from an African craftsman. They want to buy the drum from Urban Outfitters because that doesn't require them to actually confront the culture they are appropriating or force them to feel any guilt about what they are doing. 

What does a Hipster Look Like?

There is a huge variety of hipsters, so here are some examples. Below is a very helpful guide for those who are not familiar with the general breakdown of Hipsterism.  It is a little dated, but it still works.

I think the 2006 and the 2008 versions are still around....

* Now, I think I should say this now, before fashionistas around the world start calling for my head. Let's be clear, just like Dave Chappelle said about ho's at the club, you can't assume someone is a certain way just because of the way they dress. So no, not everyone who likes to dress like a hipster, is a hipster. Hipsterism is a way of thinking and behaving, not necessarily a style, but they generally go hand-in-hand.

So, What's Wrong with Being a Hipster Anyway?

"Instagram that ish..."

Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hipster. We live in America (well I do), and if you want to be a hipster, you have 100% freedom to do just that. You are free to dress, and act any way you want. But, understand that having the freedom to do or say something, does not give you immunity from criticism. And when you walk around saying and doing things that offend others, especially minorities, you are going to hear about it, and it might not be pretty. 

What is So Offensive About Hipster Culture?

Besides the undeserved and unwarranted sense of self-superiority? Well, hipster culture is very much defined by its cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation?

"The burrito truck in that Mexican neighborhood is really good, it would be a lot better if they'd just speak English."

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture.[1][2] It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and artreligionlanguage, or social behavior. These elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, can take on meanings that are significantly divergent from, or merely less nuanced than, those they originally held.

"It's funny because I'm not ACTUALLY an Islamic Fundamentalist, I'm really a rich white girl."

Now, America is essentially a nation of appropriation, that is part of our 'melting pot' culture. But hipsters take America's general lack of sense about cultural ownership, and turn it into a fashion statement, and a commodity to be bought and sold. They turn it into 'cool' and 'uncool' based on what is trendy. And to the white girl from Chicago, those adorable Navajo print bags she bought from Urban Outfitters are just 'things,' not a part of someone's cultural identity.

"Pocahontas is my favorite Disney movie! Actually it's the Little Mermaid, but I SAW Pocahontas..."

And when you toss that head-dress you bought from a gift shop on the ground after a long day wearing it at Pitchfork Music Fest, you are just demonstrating how white culture finds other cultures disposable. When they are done appropriating, they just toss everything aside, get out of their 'costume' and back into the clothing that allows them to walk back into their grandmothers house. 

To the white guy who walks around in a shirt that says 'Thug Life' it is just a shirt that makes him seem like he knows about street culture, while never understanding what that life really means. The white boy, whose parents worry every time he travels from the suburbs to the city has no idea what life on the streets is really about. He has never even met a person from a lower status than his own that wasn't serving him dinner. When he sees a black man on the street, he crosses to the other side, or clutches his iPhone a little bit tighter. He does all of that while wearing a "thug life' t-shirt and the irony isn't lost on him. It is that willful ignorance that offends people.

"Hey guys, I have to quit thuggin by noon, I have a brunch with my trust fund manager."

A lot of times, Hipsters will vigorously defend their appropriation with comments like "I'm 1/18th Cherokee," or, "I have black friends!" What they are really saying is, "it doesn't matter what I'm doing because this head-dress, or this shirt, is apart of my culture too" In actuality, that couldn't be further from the truth. They believe having even the slightest connection to the culture they are appropriating, gives them the right to bastardize it for a fad or for profit.

"I don't know how much Irish blood I actually have, but I have red hair and I like Guinness, so...."

What About Non-White Hipsters?

Non-white hipsters are guilty of the same things. But a black hipster is going to be able to get away with a 'Thug Life' shirt in a way a white hipster never will. A native hipster can wear a head-dress, and chances are, they are going to have the cultural understanding to back up their fashion choice. A Chinese kid can get away with getting a Chinese symbol tattoo, whereas the same tattoo looks ridiculous on a white kid. See where I'm going with this?

Many people of minority races have their own culture that is deeply rooted in their everyday life. They are often too busy carrying out the rituals and expressions of their own culture to have any desire to start adopting the rituals and expressions of other cultures. That is, of course, not true across the board, but I think it's a fair generalization. However, that does not excuse hipsters from minority communities from being equally as insensitive as hipsters everywhere. But to be fair, I searched google high and low and was unable to find any image of a minority hipster being nearly as offensive as the pictures you see in this post.

"Hehe, hey man. Do these glasses make me look Japanese? Let me show you my Kung Fu!"

Minorities generally have a defined sense of what their culture is, because historically, white people have isolated non-white people into their respective racial/cultural boxes. The minorities have their side of town and white people have theirs. And every now and again, a white person wants to come take a tour on the other side of town. Maybe they will go to little Mexico, or maybe they want to go to Chinatown, or maybe the Ghetto, or maybe to the Reservation. They will stay for a while take whatever looks good then leave. When they bring their treasures back to show the other white folks, they will claim that they have discovered something for the first time. However, they will eventually get tired of their trinket and it will end up in the landfill with the rest of the plastic headdresses, and Harlem Shake videos, and Hollywood Korean film remakes, and African drums, and Buddha necklaces, La Calavera Catrina tattoos and Lil Wayne Halloween costumes.

Ok. That is perhaps a bit of hyperbole and not true for the vast majority of people. But I hope you can see the point I am trying to make. Nobody, no matter their race, likes to feel like their culture is being misunderstood, bastardized, or stolen, or appropriated, or exploited. When people feel that way, it is not up the the person objecting to get over it, it is up to the appropriator to readjust their thinking and behavior.

This isn't to say that people of different races can't enjoy the pieces of each others cultures. In fact, we should be actively celebrating each other's heritage. But it is impossible to understand another culture if you don't actually engage with those people on an honest and authentic level. Just having the 'thing' you want from Urban Outfitters, or H&M or the boutique thrift store, or the New Age market without understanding what it is or where it comes from is not showing appreciation. You're just buying something mass produced for a low enough price that you don't need to care about it. And that thing, might have importance to someone who does know what it is or where it comes from.

"Cinco De Mayo? It's just like the Mexican St. Patricks Day."

So What's Your Point?

This is not a post to demonize white people in general, and I hope people don't see it that way. But I do feel like this subject needs more discussion. And it all leaves me with more questions than answers. I just want to know if it is willful ignorance of people, who just like nice things, and don't care where it comes from, what its meaning is or who it offends? Or is it this cultural crisis I mentioned earlier? Is the youth/20 something culture failing to become that post-racial generation we all believed we would be, or am I just getting old? And, if we make enough noise about their appropriation, do you think the hipsters will hear us over their vinyl records and their African drums and think about what they are doing? 

Or is apathy cool? 

Is racism 'ironically' cool too?

Racism is vintage, and vintage is in.

"It took me forever to dye my skin. But I wanted to be really authentic with my costume this year." 

(Pictures are not mine. Google)