Zac Ephron made a stink this week by going public with his dreadlock do. He’s being accused of cultural appropriation.
This feels to me like an example of PC gone mad.
Cultural appropriation — the real thing — makes sense. It can be hard for a minority population to keep its identity (although racism certainly helps racial minorities by forcefully reminding them that they don’t belong.)
When the majority adopts some facet of a minority’s culture, typically out of context and therefore misrepresenting it, the minority can feel a portion of its identity slipping away.
But dreadlocks? Exactly whose culture is it that’s being appropriated? It’s not Rastafarians. It’s not African-Americans. Maybe it’s ancient Egyptians, or Indian followers of Shiva? Or perhaps Vikings, or Northern Europe’s Germanic tribes?
As we humans seem to do, a good idea has been taken too far. #metoo is badly needed and took far too long to emerge. But some men are being felled unfairly (I’m still not convinced about Al Franken, for example.) We know that even though racism is virulent, prevalent and awful in US society, the accusation of it is sometime used cynically, with ulterior motives, thus trivializing the accusation.
So it is with cultural appropriation, it seems to me. Let Zephron play the Viking. Everyone needs a hobby.
By the way, I’d like to introduce the idea of counter-cultural appropriation. Sitting beside me is a hipster. He has the whole thing going on — the flannel shirt (in 80-degree weather), the beard, the top knot, the keys dangling from his belt.
He’s black. This outrage must not stand!