Shriver, Abdel-Magied, and writing fiction.

19 Sep




I’ve spent the last few days thinking about cultural appropriation and the writing of fiction, as a consequence of the controversial keynote speech given by author Lionel Shriver at the Brisbane Writers Festival, and the distress expressed by Yassmin Abdel-Magied that caused her to walk out of Shriver’s presentation.

Briefly, Shriver stated her hope that the concept of cultural appropriation will be a passing fad, whilst Abdel-Magied argued that the appropriation by white fiction writers of experiences they can only imagine and have not lived is a racist and silencing act of cultural theft, in a world in which the voices of oppressed people are far less likely to be published than are those of their oppressors.

As an example of cultural appropriation, British male author Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee, in which his protagonist is a female Nigerian asylum seeker, written in the first person, is cited.

It’s the job of fiction writers to imagine and convincingly convey to the reader experiences the writer has not necessarily lived, just as it’s the job of actors to portray characters with lives very different from their own. The “authenticity” of the creative work of both writer and actor lies in her or his ability to first fully imagine, and then fully realise their characters.

I can’t interpret this creative work as an act of theft. I can imagine how it might be experienced as an act of theft, but I cannot conclude from my imagining that it is an act of theft. This seems to me a crucial distinction in an argument that has as one of its requirements that a fiction writer (or actor) seek permission from a particular group to construct and perform a story around events he or she has not directly experienced, in order to avoid committing identity theft and cultural appropriation.

From a writer’s perspective, the core of this debate is the freedom to exercise the imagination, and to realise on the page the stories and characters it produces. The writer’s imagination is nourished from all manner of sources, personal experience being but one.

That both the film and publishing industry are dominated by privilege and largely white, is beyond dispute, yet this is perhaps a separate argument, and a situation for which the imaginations and performances of writers and actors cannot be held responsible.

At the same time, a writer or actor has the option of refusing to portray the experiences of a minority to which she or he does not belong, and instead urge their industry to seek out the voice of experience rather than settle for the voice of imaginative empathy, or at worst, exploitation.

I think both Shriver and Abdel-Magied have crucial points to make, but I can’t agree that the solution is the regulation of the imagination, or perhaps more accurately, the regulation of the imagination’s output. If a fiction writer is forbidden through shaming and accusations of theft from writing stories that contain experiences not their own, we’ll have nothing left but memoir.

As I haven’t read Cleave’s novel, I don’t know how successfully or otherwise he created the character of a female Nigerian asylum seeker, but I do know that the silencing of any writing voice is the privilege of publishers, not writers.

As Roland Barthes observed, any text is a tissue of all texts that preceded it: writers are also readers and nothing we produce stands in isolation. The text exists in a political culture of material relations that continue to produce ideologies, actions and beliefs.  As he also observed, the text is incomplete without the reader, and the reader brings to any text personal experiences and previous readings that necessarily influence interpretation.

Shriver’s acerbic reaction to charges of cultural appropriation are unfortunate and defensive, yet she is right to aggressively fight for a fiction writer’s freedom to imagine and narrate experiences that are not her own. If we cease to imagine the experiences of other, we become indescribably diminished. The oppression suffered by those for whom Abdel-Magied speaks can only become less penetrable, while the possibility of redress retreats even further.

Story is one of the most powerful weapons with which to crack the frozen seas of apathy and hatred. Without the imagination, we are as nothing.







129 Responses to “Shriver, Abdel-Magied, and writing fiction.”

  1. Hypo September 19, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    There was a very informative interview over a drink at the pub on the ABC The Mix yesterday.
    During which I got the impression James Vallentine did not appear to like what he was hearing.Some salient points were made, but he kept digging for a more palatable(to him) answer.Or at least that’s how I read it.

    Worth checking out.

    Imagination and creativity should not be suppressed, but respect should be shown by authors, and I think most know where ‘the line’ is.
    Could the buzz around this lecture/speech etc be someone else making a case (deliberate or otherwise) for hate speech, or some other lazy Trojan Horse under the banner of free speech?
    I’m not sure how much ego and entitlement was driving the speech,but I suspect a fair bit.I’m sure Shriver has sold a lot more books since.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 10:34 am #

      Thanks, Hypo will check that out.
      As for the subterranean motives – who knows, but they almost always exist


    • helvityni September 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      Hypo, I usually watch The Mix, but had to take some Sydney friends to see the tulips, no fun in the rain so we too ended up in the pub of our own.
      Will check the Pub Mix.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. diannaart September 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm #


    Have been giving a great deal of thought to this topic, since I finished reading “The Mandibles” which I loved and listening to and reading about Lionel Shriver, the writers’ festival, walk-outs and son on.

    It is true that for some writers, their portrayals of others different, is appalling think: Sydney Sheldon, Ian Fleming, et al ability to write believable female characters. Or females who claim to be writers such as Jackie Collins. That said there are many male authors who do brilliant women characters and many female authors equally adept at portraying male characters. So why should it be any different for race or culture?

    As others have opined, it is the fiction writer’s job to imagine…. we would not have any of the sci-fi, fantasy or even crime genres without a good ability to imagine. And look at the complex world the create and the characters who populate them.

    I think Lionel Shriver is a brilliant writer, I also think that Yassmin Abdel-Magied has a good point. There is room for exploitation and the less talented will always try to take advantage.

    We need to remain aware, vigilant and honest – to ourselves at the very least.

    Liked by 3 people

    • diannaart September 19, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Apologies for typos – if not making sense, just ask…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

      Exactly, diannart.
      For mine, it comes down to the ability of the writer to create believable characters and complex narratives they can inhabit.
      If a book is culturally appropriating, it’s likely not a good book because there’s a world of difference between appropriation and creation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • diannaart September 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

        Appropriation is cheap and easy, puts me in mind of…. no I won’t venture down that path today. 😉

        Whereas, creation – another slippery concept – because we create or build upon what we already know – the genius is in looking at something from different angles instead of the traditional or accepted sense and then writing or painting or filming it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • samjandwich September 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

      “I think Lionel Shriver is a brilliant writer, I also think that Yassmin Abdel-Magied has a good point.” – indeed! As in any other interactive context, disagreement is not sufficient grounds to die in a ditch. In fact, we don’t commonly use ditches for drainage in Australia any more, though they are pretty standard in a lot of other places. But we can still imagine what they’re like!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

        Sam, A few of the regular suspects screamed *censorship* and *mind control* about Abdel-Magied’s position and started braying about denial of free speech. Caroline Overington of the Australian, for one. The knee jerk reaction of privileged people when privilege is questioned.
        Disagreement and criticism isn’t censorship & denial of free speech: be a good start if more people got that straight.

        Liked by 3 people

      • diannaart September 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

        I have listened to some (not all) of Shriver’s talk – and she does come across as arrogant.

        I also feel uncomfortable about white males writing as Nigerian women – BUT I haven’t read the book. Maybe he is a terrific imaginative empathic writer, maybe his work adds rather than exploits or appropriates.

        …and what is this fuss about wearing sombreros, FFS? – when I lived in Tucson, I had a sombrero placed on my head at a party by a Mexican (friend) and danced the night away.

        We need all our writers (this means world wide, not just Australia) to be given every opportunity to create – we get enough pasteurised and homogenised pap from the MSM.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hypo September 19, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

          This is the disclaimer>
          ” terrific imaginative empathic writer” …………for sure.

          The obvious question a creative and thoughtful author would ask ,is, “Do I need to go there and why”.

          “Because I can”, is the empathy-deficit option.In fact it’s an entitled POV.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

            I know I wouldn’t go there, because I don’t feel competent enough, or have enough knowledge. I’d feel intrusive, and as if I might be using another’s circumstances for my own advantage. But some writers have amazing insight into others characters and situations as well as a great capacity for research


            • Hypo September 19, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

              Perhaps ‘those’ writers are classier than Shriver?

              Liked by 1 person

              • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 10:15 am #


                I have only read Shriver’s work “The Mandibles” what works of hers have you read?


                • Hypo September 20, 2016 at 10:47 am #

                  None.I am not reviewing a book I am commenting on an attitude.A seemingly entitled one,perhaps?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

                    No worries, Hypo, thought you were an argument looking for somewhere to happen.

                    I’ll return to the discussion now, backing away, slowly, slowly, feeling around for the door handle…. phew, I think I made it out.


            • sarah October 9, 2016 at 11:37 pm #

              I went there, because I felt utterly obsessed with and compelled to write the story. I did feel intrusive at times, albeit being historical fiction, because I knew the descendants are around today and could resent fictional representations of their ancestors. These characters ranged from Afro Americans, Maori, Australian, English, Irish. It took a lot of research, talking to the Elders and time spent ruminating on how to do this thing well. Naming characters, at what point to draw the line on cultural knowledge etc etc. My conclusion to my conundrum was that when done respectfully and with consultation and awareness of cultural protocols, writing the ‘other’ is opening people’s knowledge to greater experiences.

              I was at the festival and although I missed Shriver’s speech due to taxiing from the airport to the venue, I managed to make it to the writers’ den as the first walkouts from her speech came in to breathe out. Their response was unanimous: hers was a bad straw man argument. It was offensive in its jeering nature, reminiscent of Bolt’s plea (“I’m being SILENCED by 18C!!!), when such commentators have multiple media platforms.
              The furore dominated the whole festival, which was a shame because there was heaps of other interesting stuff going on. However I think that after all the shouting and feels had died down, her keynote and its responses created a more nuanced argument, whereby discussions of cultural appropriation in literature and the creative arts moved from academic angst and twitter outrage to mainstream discussion – and I reckon this is just great.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Jennifer Wilson October 10, 2016 at 6:45 am #

                If I felt as compelled and obsessed as you describe, Sarah, I hope I’d follow those urgings as well.
                I agree that consultation and awareness are the keys to successfully writing other. There’s cultural appropriation and there’s cultural exchange, the wisdom lies in knowing which is which.
                There is a kind of white privilege demonstrated by Bolt, Shriver and others, that seems to be a long and bitter complaint at being somehow usurped by those they consider less significant and worthy. I don’t know what’s to be done about it, but I think your last paragraph is a guide, as their complaints provoke wider discussion and that can be a force for change.
                Thanks for your post. I’d like to know about your book.
                Cheers, Jennifer.


                • diannaart October 10, 2016 at 11:55 am #

                  I don’t know if I’d include Shriver & Bolt together in anything much. Shriver is capable of thought and nuance.

                  Is she privileged? – absolutely! but nothing compared to Bolt – for whom ‘nuance’ is a vacuum.


  3. helvityni September 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    All I can say about Shriver is that I liked her book We Need To Talk About Kevin, it was undownputtable fiction.

    As for Abdel-Magied, I have seen often on ABC TV, she is a very, clever, brave and confident girl, and I’d like to read her memoir about growing up as a Muslim girl in Queensland. Must get it.

    Isn’t it also up to the publishers to make sure that books they approve of also come across as authentic even the author has not experienced the things he/she writes about…

    Good fiction writer understands that…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      Publishers are in business, so their bottom line is what will make them money, Helvi, which is fair enough.
      I agree with you, that both Shriver and Abdel-Magied are intelligent and interesting women: I felt sad about them being at odds in these ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      • diannaart September 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

        Me too, Jennifer.

        There are far more deserving targets for Abdel-Magied to skewer.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenny September 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    Thanks for this. I have been finding it hard to read all the negative reaction to Shriver’s speech (though I imagine her delivery may have been a thing in itself in terms of being prickly) because with out writing about others, including less privileged others, i agree we are only writing memoir.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      I wish the two women could have been in a situation where they were able to discuss these issues, because they are important and it’s sad that they become adversarial.


  5. sylvie2449 September 19, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    ‘It’s the job of fiction writers to imagine and convincingly convey to the reader experiences the writer has not necessarily lived, just as it’s the job of actors to portray characters with lives very different from their own. The “authenticity” of the creative work of both writer and actor lies in her or his ability to first fully imagine, and then fully realise their characters.’

    I am thinking my way through this quote. We would never accept a white actor working in ‘blackface’ to portray a person of colour today. So why should we accept a white male writer taking on the role of a Nigerian woman? As both a writer and actor I find this question interesting. I really did not like Shriver’s speech and I think the question of Foucault’s: ‘Who speaks, for whom and by whose authority’ is pertinent here. The power differentials between a white, privileged woman like Shriver and the women who walked out of her speech cannot be underestimated. Also, as an actor, I recognise that the WAY Shriver spoke (her arrogance and condescending manner) must be taken into account. alongside her words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      Sylvie, I don’t think the purpose of blackface was ever to authentically portray, I think it was to mock, so I don’t see it as equivalent to a white male writing as a Nigerian woman, unless the novel is mockery. I haven’t read it.
      I agree that Shriver’s delivery (though I wasn’t present) could have added to the offence caused by her speech.
      I think fiction writing (and acting) are vastly different from non fiction, and while Foucault’s question is essential in the latter, I don’t think it is in the former. Is writing fiction speaking for other? Is acting speaking for other? I don’t have that perception of either.
      Do fiction writers and actors have the right to portray experiences they haven’t lived? My answer is of course, otherwise all we’d have is individuals and groups performing and writing their own lives.
      I agree with you on the power differential, but Foucault also pointed out that power is fluid rather than fixed, a power differential gives birth to subversion which is often artistically expressed.


    • Hypo September 19, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

      You have summed it up nicely.I agree with almost all of your post.
      Perhaps Shriver is a tad testy,because she has an idea/draft or book in the works that ‘might’ be testing her proposition.
      Literary ‘black face’ may easily be as offensive as the physical form.
      Same for artists plagiarising cultural identity.

      Shriver clearly went out to ‘press buttons’. I think already we have enough of that commodity


      • Hypo September 19, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

        “Literary ‘black face’ may easily be as offensive as the physical form.
        Same for artists plagiarising cultural identity.”
        To clarify this.
        Depending on the authors motive,their target and actual and intended impact, of course.
        There is a big difference between respectful creativity, and deliberate antagonism and worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. helvityni September 19, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    I have Shriver’s book The New Republic here( have not read it yet). In the author’s note she laments the poor sales of it when it came out 1998. At the time people were not interested in terrorism; after 9/11 everyone was and the sales improved.

    At the end of this book she thanks her editors for having vision and intelligence to appreciate a boy-book written by a girl.

    I found that amusing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      Ah, that’s interesting Helvi. We’ve just been wondering in our house what’s behind Shriver’s anger about cultural appropriation charges.


  7. paul walter. September 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    I’d go Abdel Magied’s way some what and think therefore that the piece would minutely reflect my view also.

    Seems to be a resurfacing of a long running debate that featured,.in another incarnation, the Helen (Dale) Darville Demidenko WW2 identity novel “The Hand that Signed the Paper” that ended up being shredded, the story employing a voice from holocaust times written by someone who would not have experienced the worst of WW 2.

    The novel originally won the Miles Franklin Award, but when it turned out that the person writing the book was not the same person most thought had written the novel, a protagonist within the WW2 events, some well profiled judges had egg on their face for not being able to realise that the book was not autobiographical, as most had thought.

    From this point some thing akin to Rossini’s Thieving Magpie erupted, as Darville defenders claimed that the novel had actually transgressively revealed a bogus aspect of contemporary literary criticism and the notion of critics as ultimate and infallible arbiters of writings, a point Jennifer Wilson expanded upon employing Roland Barthes’ thinking on the author and the text.and issues of cultural öwnership, something that eventually finds its way to legal constructs of ownership and what ihat says about society and culture in our era; we ought to recognise this as being of keen interest to Dr Wilson herself.who may well have watched this evenings The Drum, with ithe episode devoted to indignpous affairs and treaties and constitutional reform (whose constitutional reform as one aboriginal commentator seemed to be saying

    From roughly the same era came allegations against white writers writing as aboriginal subjects of colonisation and even earlier from the USA, the sense of black music appropriated by commerciaily acceptable white musicians profitably, yet derived of the suffering of a particular group.

    The issue does have significance in an era where globalisation involves the universalisation of US litigate or perish approaches to law including the crucial issue of copywrite which has been a bone of contention as to FTA’s and access to culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter. September 19, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      Just a brief afterthought: we see that our air force has been involved in a friendly fire incident despite a truce being agreed to in Syria, involving the deaths of a hundred people.

      The Defence Minister tonight was very reluctant to explain to us what our money had bought as to this sort of military action and politics, have our nations resources including name, been misappropriated so that something done in our name with theoretical liabilities for us, by people who have commandeered the system that enables the actual perpetrators, arguably operating against the Will of the People, to avoid responsibility.. a sort of consent thing?


    • Jennifer Wilson September 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

      PW, Ah, yes, The Hand that Signed the Paper, when the author pretended to be of Ukranian descent and appeared on literary programs in national dress and blonde braids…
      I wasn’t unduly perturbed by Darville’s masquerade, I just didn’t think the book was terribly good, way too much vomiting for my liking.
      And I was a little peeved at the deceit, as later I was to be peeved by James Frey’s *autobiographical* account of overcoming addiction that turned out to be pure
      fiction. I was completely taken in & furious when I discovered I’d been fooled.
      I don’t think Barthes meant deceit when he ruminated over the death of the author and the realisation that the I who speaks is not the I who writes.
      Cultural appropriation is a thing, I don’t deny that for a minute. Identifying it is the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter. September 19, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

        Yes, it’s an underlying theme, the Commons, private work and endeavour and when use becomes subject to rent etc as is seen with intellectual copyright and FTA’s. As old as the species itself when taken baxc
        Eg, does the slain Mammoth belong to the hunter who speared it,or the group form which the hunter came from that nurtured the hunter, or somewhere between.

        Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote September 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

        “Demidenko” ‘s offence was to claim that her fiction was fact, or based on facts known to her as a “Ukrainian” when she was nothing of the sort. Historical fiction – where there are still people living who knew the facts – is a dangerous minefield.

        By comparing her case with Lionel Shriver’s we can find where the line is to be drawn. The line is rather closer to “Demidenko”, whose historical fiction was almost acceptable.

        Liked by 1 person

        • diannaart September 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm #


          Am finding parallels between Demidenko and Shriver rather difficult to understand.

          One was writing under an assumed identity about a supposed history, whereas Shriver writes speculative fiction. I do believe Lionel Shriver is her real name – unless I am to be corrected on this.

          Would appreciate more details on where you are going with this comparison.

          Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote September 21, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

            Simply that some – AM is one – walked out on Shriver to express their view that she had crossed the line. I disagree with them, and draw the line very close to Helen Dale (nee Darville). My comment depends upon Paul’s and Jennifer’s immediately above.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:33 am #

            dainnart, Shriver’s name is Margaret I think. She took Lionel when she began writing. Don’t know the story of that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • diannaart September 22, 2016 at 7:40 am #

              I don’t believe that Ms Shriver is attempting to create another persona in order to deceive – unlike Helen Dale/Darville/Demidemko…

              Which is why I asked DQ why he was drawing a parallel.


            • helvityni September 22, 2016 at 9:23 am #

              Jennifer, as she said she was happy to have written a ‘boy-book’ as a girl (The New Republic), I’m not surprised that she also changed her name to Lionel as a mere fifteen year old, she claims she was a tomboy…


              • doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 11:09 am #

                And, like it or not, male authors had more cred in the 1970s; and perhaps even today (ducks for cover).


                • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 11:30 am #

                  DQ perfectly demonstrating perfectly the point I made about ‘then and now’.


                • helvityni September 22, 2016 at 11:53 am #

                  Thank god for today’s confident and assertive girls like Yassmin A-M.

                  I even like her style of dressing, bold and colourful.


    • helvityni September 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      …and later on the pretend Ukrainian become an advisor to one of our senators, Leyonhjelm of Swedish origins.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo September 19, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      Indeed, the reverse Henry Ford policy of One Nation,(right arm of the LNP) and the KKK.Anu colour you want, but not black.

      And if readers are not watching United Shades Of America on Thurs nights SBS, tune in for a seriously acerbic, wit rich,glaring take on the real USA.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. paul walter. September 19, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    And finally, a brief read of the comments section shows that a number of other commenters also grasp some of the implication as relative to possible realities involving our actual contemporary power structure, against the white armband way our society portrays itself.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. doug quixote September 20, 2016 at 12:33 am #

    A comment got lost in the ethernet . . . as I recall:

    Controversy sells books.

    Abdel-Magied is seeking to promote herself, but ironically enough her criticisms of Shriver will promote Shriver’s book as well.

    Jennifer makes the point that accepting A-M’s viewpoint would have the logical consequence that the only acceptable works would be memoirs.

    I’ll go with Shriver’s right to write what she pleases. And my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 20, 2016 at 6:10 am #

      I know, DQ, and my comment apologising for the loss also disappeared. Not sure what happened.


      • Hypo September 20, 2016 at 10:20 am #

        Not sure if it’s just me, but this is the only site where I regularly get the old error about could not find server (Fox browser).[Other sites working]
        It often happens at the same time I upload a post, and I often wonder if I’ll lose the content in the ether.
        Strange.Maybe the site settings have an issue??

        Or just gremilns?
        Maybe the spooks?

        Liked by 1 person

    • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 10:38 am #

      I’ll probably be struck down by some kind of strikey thing for this;

      I agree with DQ: Shriver’s right to write.

      That said, we cannot stop people from appropriation and exploitation, we can educate ourselves and others to a more discerning method of understanding, which is my point about life, the universe and everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson September 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

        Who will strike you down, diannart?
        Not me, I totally support anyone’s right to write whatever they choose and I also support anyone’s right to argue about what has been written.


        • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

          I know you won’t strike me down – just my own standards speaking to me – as a general rule I do not support bullies, but if I perceive a sincere truth I am compelled to support it.

          Finding a truth in something is not saying that someone has carte blanche to then proceed to pillory others. If I am being bludgeoned with a POV that is offensive to me and I ask for the behaviour to stop, this is a reasonable request. Maybe the behaviour does not upset others, particularly the person implementing the behaviour, however, to continue the bludgeoning, even if it is verbal, is to be a bully.

          I hope this is a bit clearer.

          Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote September 20, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

            We can differ on some issues and agree on others, Dianna.

            It is possible to get a little carried away at times, in the rough and tumble of vigorous debate.

            I wish you well.

            Liked by 1 person

            • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 7:21 pm #


              I wish it was true that you could simply agree to disagree.


        • paul walter. September 20, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

          Yes, I’ve started to warm more to diannaart, who I think is another refugee looking for a good quiet online home.

          There is an underlying good, educated mind and heart. We now know from her own story, ample reason for some of the early defensiveness.

          What possible reason would she have had to trust people again after what happened to her?

          Liked by 1 person

          • helvityni September 21, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

            I’m with Hypo here, we have been here before on Sheep and on Ellis blog, I have deliberately kept away, it’s also happening on AIMN…As Hypo says it is prevalent on older threads; Ellis blog often run up high numbers , like over 600 nasty exchanges.

            If it does not stop,I ‘ll have to look for a new blogging home.


            • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

              Hang in there Helvi.Splinters fall out after they fester.


            • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

              I’m just going through this thread removing everything that doesn’t have to do with the topic.


          • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

            What on earth is going on?


  10. Hypo September 20, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    Sure, she will write what she wants.And be judged on what that is and within her fame she must cop the flack of critics when she makes speeches which impact on others.That’s all this is.
    I can see the views of both women here.
    There is a difference between harnessing a cultural theme and enslaving those affected by the so called freedom to create.
    I’ll call it Karma,be it instant or otherwise.Shriver owns her work, and whatever the resultant affect is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 20, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      I don’t know that Shriver has been accused of cultural appropriation. I think she’s taking a stand on principle.


    • paul walter. September 21, 2016 at 12:40 am #

      Yes.. that is a cracker comment,Hypo.


  11. allthumbs September 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Apologies for butting in.

    Can anyone not imagine that the eventual outcome in regards to the topic of “cultural appropriation” willlead to a mandatory rewriting of already existing books, driven by a need for speed in the art of remedial correction, perhaps the wholesale deletion of anything written by a dead white male on any topic at any time, fiction or non-fiction or dead white female come to think of it.

    Is there an equivalent Abdel Magied overseeing German fiction or French fiction, Spanish, Latin American, Arab, Persian, Indian, Icelandic or Scandinavian fiction?

    If you are outraged by Katy Perry wearing a Kimono, in the light of what is happening around the world at this very instant, take a gun and blow your brains out, next time a student with a Chinese background serves you a Taco, throw it back in their face for committing the crime of inauthenticity.

    Best Regards to the Pauls and Doug Quioxte.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

      Welcome, allthumbs, I think your opening paragraph very nearly describes what’s happening in some US universities, as students increasingly demand protection from confronting and challenging themes.

      As for the kimono and food choices – agreed, if they are someone’s biggest concern there’s a problem.


    • doug quixote September 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

      And best regards to you, ‘thumbs.

      Orwell imagined the re-writing of just about everything in “1984”, to accord with the current political alignments.

      With everything increasingly digital rather than paper, the process of rewriting – or simply erasing – everything is much easier than in the bookburnings of the past.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo September 20, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

      “Can anyone not imagine that the eventual outcome in regards to the topic of “cultural appropriation” will lead to a mandatory rewriting of already existing books, driven by a need for speed in the art of remedial correction, perhaps the wholesale deletion of anything written by a dead white male on any topic at any time, fiction or non-fiction or dead white female come to think of it.”

      Ok I’ll bite.I cannot see that ever happening anywhere except N Korea.

      Cultural appropriation is entirely possible, as is writing via the eyes of another culture without creating outrage and offence.
      Eg Don’t deliberately inflame or charade as another culture for destructive purposes.

      I keep saying it. Motive.All about motive.Respect the demograph you choose to ‘utilise’ during the creativity process.
      Your prediction is a bit like the entitled right whining piffle about 18c stifling their freedom of speech.

      Liked by 1 person

      • allthumbs September 20, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

        “Eg Don’t deliberately inflame or charade as another culture for destructive purposes.”

        Hedging your bets there a little me thinks. AM didn’t make her case against appropriation in terms of accidental or deliberate intention, just doing it for whatever reason one may have was reason for offense. The main thrust of the case she was making lay in the Shriver’s priviliged position being able to invent or imagine the “other” disenfranchised the genuine article from making the same imagining with the added bonus of authenticity.

        And how many people have to be outraged and offended, because in the scheme of things it would seem to me that it would only take one person theoretically to make the case in the world of cultural appropriation to show outrage or offence for the matter to get a guernsey in a court of law andto shut down the creative process of an author for example accused of said cultural appropriation.

        The Beatles and Elvis for example deliberately appropriated and profited from black music, but that act of appropriation gave rise to a recognition of the originators, made them household names to the fans of Rock and Roll, reignited the careers of the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard and widened the appreciation of black music across the world (eventually). Which in turn expanded the known universe of music to the culturally deaf white youth around the world introducing the likes of Robert Johnon, Mississippi John Hurt and the Reverend Gary Davis who were raised from obscurity.

        You should show a little more deference to North Korea, you seem to think them “different” to us and I would point you in the direction of certain book burnings in the not so distant past by folks very much like us who treated others who were also very much like us in a very inappropriate way.

        The Human Condition used to be just that, something common, something shared, something universal, despite race. colour and creed an ability to sympathize and empathize.

        Do you think Katy Perry was really trying to go full Japanese and appropriate an ancient culture by wearing that Kimono? Katy Perry?

        Thanks Jennifer for the access. But as I slip into my Poncho, reach for the Saki and scan another Chapter of Uncle Tom’s Cabin I listen quietly to Herbie Hancock playing the Gershwin songbook, my corn rolls spread magnificently across the crisp white pillow and think of better days.


        Liked by 3 people

        • Hypo September 20, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

          No worries.I’ll see you when the powers that be force authorsat gunpoint to rewrite the classics,LOL.


        • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

          I appreciate your common sense on this fraught matter, allthumbs, and no I don’t think Katy Perry was going full Japanese!
          There’s a confusion between influence and appropriation, and as Nick points out, someone like Shriver has a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with either.


      • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

        Actually, Hypo, I agree with you about motive, and intent.
        I also think book burning is a possibility, given the sensitivity of undergraduates to disturbing content, and the activities of groups such as Collective Shout who seem intent on ridding the world of anything that upsets them.


    • paul walter. September 20, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

      Fantastic to see the constructive allthumbs turn up.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. paul walter. September 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    “äct of theft”.

    No doubting the point that there is “theft” when it derives of envy. This is is the envy of the comfortable person who has not had to struggle to make themselves recognised by both self and others, as does a person disadvantaged in some way.

    Some times, in one’s own little circumscribed world, a real world event penetrates, say disabled people competing at the para olympics, that reminds that in comparison they have in no way, authenticated themselves relative to the person that is flat-chat in accomplishing something unique.

    What if I say I envy Jennifer her doctorate? It would be sad, wouldn’t it, to resent a person who had overcome her share of disadvantage, in addition to the mere achievement of a doctorate, an incredibly difficult thing in itself.

    So I’m sitting here, writing this in a fitful effort to emulate Dr Wilson, to somehow validate myself in the imitation of the outward form, her ability to write and philosophise. I imitate her without the hope of contributing something original she is capable of because of her mix of brains and character.

    I want the acclaim that comes of convincingly “talking the talk” with it’s inherent privileges, without having “walked the walk”?

    In this form, appropriation and plagiarism are arguably theft, as occurs when a journalist writes an article swiped from somewhere else and passes the work of as their own, reaps financial and reputational rewards that arguably should have been attributed to an original thinker contributing something to society.

    But isn’t that hollow? Where is the satisfaction that derives of accomplishment?

    Let’s think of Charlotte Bronte and her original work, Jane Eyre. Many people since have employed the genre form she established, eg Mills and Boon writers, to earn a living, without being particularly interested in what the structure itself of the novel said about immanent or underlying social and personal realities or transmission of ideas experience and change.-half their luck. But how these structures reinforce stereotypes to the point where people like Adolph Hitler, say, could employ memes about Jewish people, to achieve power and do much harm, means that
    from this point a new issue is arises and that is to do with the power of language to actually change lives rather than just provide amusement.

    Recalling first year English101, I recall that people genuinely interested in how society operates questioned the substance of Bronte-esqe fiction so that the next evolutionary stage, the next original work , involved a Caribbean mixed race writer, Jean Rhys, who from her experience felt the same about Jane Eyre as Jane Eyre felt about the cupcakes who competed with her for Rochester’s attentions.

    But why would you resent Jane Eyre? From Rhys’s viewpoint, the answer comes through the appropriation of Rochesters mad wifé, locked up in the belfrys of Rochester’s mansion, the untold story of a mixed race woman gone crazy. Rhys looked at Bertha and observed the implication that Bertha was foul because of f her race, which of course condemned Rhys herself to an absence of social future, as a natural inferior.

    But Rhys wondered at the unconsidered assumption of racial inferiority and instead concocted a great novel called Wide Sargasso Sea where, using her experience of racism and sexism, constructed a narrative that revealed the real reasons why Bertha (or Antoinette, her real name) ended up a psychotic drunk, which actually punctured a hole in Bronte’s earlier envisagement of good social outcomes by revealing the rigged colonialist and genderist game that made Antoinette an unconsidered part of the furniture.

    This was a legitImate appropriation of Jane Eyre rather than a plagiarising of it according to theorists for what Wide Sargasso Sea revealed about social attitudes formation stereotyping and the impact on perceived reality that sees somethings including people, as conveniently natural rather than the expression something not quite right with society that brought grief to unconsidered others that could do with examination and even change..

    Tsk, all that to deal with something Wilson dealt with in one para, expanding on Barthes ideas.

    But didn’t Jennifer Wilson put the post up for the readers consideration?

    I cant BE Wilson,any more than Salieri can be Mozart, but all the nonsense above is actually in a “meta”sort of way, an attempt to assist the genuinely gifted person attempting to understand her world and to return the respect she showed us in writing the thread starter for our benefit, too.

    Jennifer Wilson can explain nothing to me unless I Iisten.and think at what she is saying. I cant necessarily help her in her quest, in fact likely not by anything I consciously think of, yet the fact that I respond might give her impetus to continue, come up with something that explains something for me, later but if not at least it is an attempt to repay what I regard to be her compliment to her prospective reader(s)in sharing her ideas and inviting our responses in the first place.

    I suppose it is basic dialectic or discourse, the stuff of what life is comprised.

    Liked by 1 person

    • diannaart September 20, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      I cant BE Wilson,any more than Salieri can be Mozart

      Wow, just wow.


      Salieri was a very good composer he just wasn’t Mozart, but you did know that, didn’t you Paul?


      • paul walter. September 20, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

        That is a very kind thing to say, diannaart…probably means I’m no Salieri either. Never mind.

        If we ever meet in the flesh, I will shout you a capucino and strudel from the local cafe.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

      That example of Jane Eyre and Wild Sargasso Sea is perfect, PW, I recall my delight when I discovered the latter, and there have been others about the mad woman in the attic. I don’t read them as appropriations, rather as explorations, extrapolations, in much the same way as the thousands of theses on Shakespeare’s works open up the original text by using feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory,etc. Can any of that be judged appropriation? I think not.
      As Hypo says, it’s about motive, about intent.


      • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

        The Bolt Burney show was a classic example.Many in the indigenous community may rightfully say (some already have condemned this farce) that the show was a setup.
        Or if you like>
        ABC appropriates indig activist to appropriate the broader culture itself.

        This might also be a case of ‘doing what the RWNJs hounding the ABC demand’, but the end result is the same.
        ‘Real’ people should not feel reluctant when dealing with the ABC.
        On one hand the RWNJs want to be able to skew the narrative on recognition, (manipulate ABC) and on the other deny the truth of Don Dale torture, and cal it a conspiracy.
        Oh so typical of the RWNJs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote September 21, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

        Go back a little further. Did Shakespeare have the right to say as Shylock the Jew “If you prick us do we not bleed?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:35 am #

          Or to even create the character of Othello? Or Kate??
          It doesn’t take long to see how ridiculous this attempted control of fiction becomes.


  13. paul walter. September 21, 2016 at 1:32 am #

    btw, anyone read this?

    Where does what’s described here fit in (if anywhere)as to above?

    Is it the price of freedom Jennifer is perhaps talking about in the final few sentences of her piece?

    Goes to show that even fascist texts can yield meaning, if not in the way that folk at Nine and the individual involved in the antic reported on would be welcoming of. Caveat emptor, maybe, but it is at an awful cost when (likely) bullshit is constantly substituted for what I in my circumscribed way would describe as substantial artistic input.

    I suppose the folk on the Gruen Transfer would comment on the technical brilliance of the project, style over substance, but I still read the article about it as a comment on human nature in complacent, candid mode that eventually perforates certain stereotypes media employ to portray itself and our society in a wider sense. Isn’t it on the same level as the behaviours of the con artist featured in the Nine story.

    Cancer is not a joke. It is a bit nauseating to see people misappropriate the status of cancer victims for arguably myopic, base reasons.

    “By their deed are they known”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      PW, I know that cancer is a terrifying illness, and in the shock and despair of it, one might turn to almost anything for relief.
      I’ve experienced acquaintances urging various remedies and psychological interpretations that enraged and alienated me: I have scant sympathy for Gibson & the idea she’s still profiting from her miserable deceits sticks in my craw.
      But perhaps it’s similar to Christian Porter seeking to create a welfare system that harbours no cheats, and in so doing, bitterly penalises those who most need assistance. In other words, it’s impossible to make any situation completely safe and decent without using some kind of contradictory totalitarian discipline.


  14. Nick September 21, 2016 at 2:03 am #

    Hi Jennifer and everyone, hope you’re all well. Just thought I’d mention that Shriver’s been beating the anti-immigration, white-culture-is-under-dire-threat drum for quite a long time now. This is the kind of tripe she espouses:

    “I’ve read up, and here’s the drill. Hang about any Wal-Mart car park. If you are not bunging bags of cut-rate chilli-and-lime Doritos the size of pillows into the boot of your SUV, you will stand out.”

    As hypo says – classy.

    She might contemplate that Mexico produces 70% of the US’s imported fresh vegetables, and 40% of its imported fresh fruit. Yet poverty in Mexico is rife, 36% percent of its young children suffer from malnutrition, and the average Mexican earns less than US$7,000 a year.

    But she doesn’t. She dons a sombrero and asserts the “right” of white people to be bigots.

    How dare Mexicans think they have the “right” to come to my country! How dare anyone tell a bunch of well-heeled immature private college jocks that it’s distasteful to dress down like them for a laugh!

    A year earlier, students at the very same campus had their piss up dressed as Native Americans. Imagine if Melbourne Uni students decided to dress as Aborigines for a ‘theme’ and get on the grog. I defy even Andrew Bolt not to find that offensive.

    But it’s only Mexicans. They’re acceptable fodder for cheap laughs aren’t they. And my parents bought me a sombrero as a souvenir 50 years ago. And Taco Bell exists. So that makes it all ok. And anyone actively trying to stamp out racism on campus – by removing a couple of students from their positions of power in “student government” (nobody was suspended or expelled) – is actually helping out Donald Trump!?

    I don’t agree with everything Abdel-Magied wrote, but I do think she was on the right track the lit appropriation thing was a stalking horse for Shriver’s real libertarian bugbears. I’m not sure why she shot herself in the foot and took the bait. Perhaps if she waited a few more days before penning, she might have replied with something more focused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • doug quixote September 21, 2016 at 8:43 am #

      Just because we do not agree with someone’s general worldview or with the thrust of their arguments doesn’t mean they can’t be right on some issues.

      If we agree that freedom of speech is the wellspring from which all other rights come, its protection is paramount.

      “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” as Evelyn Hall put it, rephrasing something Voltaire may have said.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 8:51 am #

        ..and with that freedom comes great responsibility.

        The ‘calling out’ of hate speech sits at the top.
        Or else get used to a LNP world view and a customised interpretation of what you can say and why, and a sleep with one eye open future.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:30 am #

          There’s been an argument for ignoring Hanson – absolutely wrong, IMO, such people should not be ignored, not personally addressed, perhaps, but their bile has to be challenged otherwise it will dominate in five minutes.


      • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:29 am #

        Yes, DQ, and it can be extremely irritating when one finds oneself forced to agree with someone one otherwise despises. One. What’s wrong with me, using one.


    • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

      Hi, Nick, thanks for that background, it certainly gives Shriver’s stance a context.
      Obviously Shriver had her own agenda: I understand her talk wasn’t what she’d agreed with organisers: that in itself suggests a stalking horse.


  15. Nick September 21, 2016 at 2:31 am #

    Here is Shriver in 2011:

    I guess I understand a public intellectual to be somebody who moves public discourse forward. Someone who either says something new or says something that everybody knows to be true but is afraid to express.

    One of the people I would consider a public intellectual, for example, is David Coleman. He’s a demographer. And he’s written some very brave analysis of immigration to Britain. Some of his ideas are growing more acceptable to give voice to: asking the hard questions about what is a country, what is a culture? And he was writing about this kind of material when multiculturalism was all the rage.

    Really? David Coleman was the only person she could be bothered to nominate as a “public intellectual”?

    He has published over 90 papers and eight books and was the joint editor of the European Journal of Population from 1992 to 2000. In 1997 he was elected to the Council of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

    He is also an advisor to Migration Watch UK which he helped to found, and is a member of the Galton Institute, formerly known as the Eugenics Society.

    In 2013, Coleman’s analysis said that White British people would be a minority in the UK by 2070 if current immigration trends continued.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. paul walter. September 21, 2016 at 6:33 am #

    Feisty stuff, Nick.

    Multi culturalism actually fails, sabotaged, because of the imperialist wars waged against the third world that create resentment, ruin economies forcing people to evacuate, and denies the $trillions that could work to lubricate third world development, both ameliorating the need for people movements on the current large scale and making life less conflictive in western societies for those at the coal face, both for locals and migrants.

    The people who run things are actually very happy for racial conflict.

    it distracts attention by different components of the masses set against each other to aid in the obscuring of what the Right’s agenda would be seen to be, in a less heated environment. Divide and conquer. playing off those scrapping over the spoils of defeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 8:25 am #

      “The people who run things are actually very happy for racial conflict.”
      In the case of Australia the person saying knows they have a comfort zone.So again we return to the same underlying questions.
      How weak and pathetic are those who play that way?
      What ‘power’ do they claim they have ‘lost’.
      Where is their free speech stifled?
      (Before or after they overtly and without fear or favour claim their free speech is stifled?)

      and in the case of Shriver her MO is now obvious, it is just her current motive in question.Looking more like Abdel-Magied walked out because of Shrivers cumulative history, not this one lecture.In short ,perhaps giving her a ‘second chance’ to articulate or justify her her views.

      Racist and bigots can also write a cracking book.
      : )

      AS for David Coleman,any ‘intellectual demographer’ not stating ‘we have passed the tipping point of human population’ is a dumb fuck,.

      Of course the racist powers are happy to see,foster and facilitate race hate.We are one of the planets incubators for this Neanderthal stuff.
      The purpose of Shrivers visit is beginning to lose its secretive veils.I wonder which friends in high places shared bread with her this visit?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:28 am #

        The fact that Shriver did not give the address she’d agreed upon with the organisers, leaving them shocked & angry, is indicative of a plot perhaps, Hypo.


    • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      I also think the divide & conquer strategy is at work in the Shriver Abdel-Magied matter, PW. Set the writers on one another. Distract from who is actually in charge.


      • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 7:12 am #

        A bit like the Drum..infest it with righties and watch the decimation of the straw -people.


        • helvityni September 22, 2016 at 8:44 am #

          Verity was fine last night, but that lawyer lady in blue made me reach for the mute button…


          • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

            Snotty, the one in the blue..Verity did fine.


  17. paul walter. September 21, 2016 at 6:44 am #

    btw, another example of the likely future harm abuse of freedom of speech and perversion of representation could bring:

    Won’t go further for fear of Godwinning, but shed a tear for public broadcasting and broadsheet media, now things of the past and captured entities turned against democracy, employing the credibilty built by real journalist in the service of the destruction of informative journalism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      Seriously, WTF was Burney thinking?

      I hope she shows more intelligence in her decision making in govt.Her ppl need a coherent voice.
      Mind you it is further proof that the ABC is captive of the RWNJ’s completely now.I wonder what candy was flung before the good member,to convince her to risk all credibility as it is edited away for a narrative bereft of accountability, before her very eyes?

      First Australians already have an impotent cardboard cut-out in the LNP, in Ken Wyatt.As far as indigenous issues,the vomit spouted on his side of politics and the policies?, excuses and overt tokenism all around him,demonstrates Wyatts compromised space.Then outside Canberra we have Noel Pearson who seems to be the LNP bestie, drafted by Abbott.
      I’m in no way sure of Warren Mundines motives, given he leapt from Labor to LNP advisor ??

      ” It’s typical ABC fare: a beige primer of “he said, she said” that makes no firm ground in any direction.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson September 22, 2016 at 6:32 am #

        Don’t know, Hypo. Why anyone could believe anything to do with Bolt would be in anyway decent is a mystery to me.


    • diannaart September 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

      Bolt was on Auntie last night, PW?

      Was watching SBS way more entertaining (and safer for my TV).


    • Jennifer Wilson September 21, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      I didn’t watch that program, PW, I decided nothing with Bolt in it could be in any way interesting, innovative or instructional.


      • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

        ABC is a retirement village for catholics and cowards.
        Bolsts fleas would now infest the place.
        SBS runs rings around it.BUT !
        They’ll be next to be gutted.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hypo September 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

          Bolts fleas


  18. allthumbs September 22, 2016 at 6:49 am #

    Jennifer, some late night musings on the LS vs AM Cultural Appropriation debate. I have read neither the books nor writings of LS or AM and was only interested in LS’ address and AM’s reply I saw printed in The Guardian. I have very little sympathy for either of them because of LS’ seemingly snide unfunny rhetoric or the self-righteous golly gee youth of AM that frankly gets on my tits (nipple free in these culturally appropriate times).

    Regardless of the nature of the cultural appropriation, be it done with malice or ignorance, with the best of intentions and due deference or straight out ridicule, as a bystander aware or unaware of where and when the appropriation has taken place, one can’t extricate oneself from having to take a position. And so a decision has to be made on one side of the argument or the other.

    No matter the background or the personal drives attributed to LS or AM, it is easier for me to come down on the side of the argument proffered by LS for ease of use in my own life.

    The difficulty I found in free associating some of these dilemmas by my own personal take was that by ameliorating my position, or by trying to nuance my stance led me to all sorts of contradictions.

    Can I like Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist with his characterization of Fagan? Am I allowed to admire David Lean’s film of the novel, can I admire the work of Alec Guinness ‘ film career once he made the decision to play Fagan as a hooked nose Jew reminiscent of the caricatures the Nazi’s used in anti-Jewish propaganda? Should we celebrate or pan his blackface role in the Passage to India? Is David Lean a serial offender?

    Do I dismiss Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane knowing he used Charlton Heston to play a Mexican in A Touch Of Evil with a swarthy coating of equivalent Latino blackface?

    Do I admire Marlon Brando’s Academy Award protest against Hollywood’s portrayal of the American Indian knowing full well Brando went full Japanese in The Teahouse of the August Moon? Does AM walk out on a screening of Apocalypse Now?

    Should the films of John Ford be banned? Was Little Big Man, a film which did a lot to balance the scales of Hollywood’s ignorance of American Indian history and had Dustin Hoffman dress up as Indian be applauded or canned? Was the backlash against the portrayal of American Indians by Hollywood a reason for the success of Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee?

    Was Billy Jack a valid response, was it made with high intentions or an exploitation film? Run Simon Run? Hombre? Blazing Saddles?

    Can I admire Laurence Olivier knowing he did Othello in blackface while knowing Paul Robeson played Othello, while knowing Gert Voss played Othello in blackface at the Burg Theatre in Vienna in the 1990’s in a production by Claus Peymann? Can I?

    Do I dismiss the work of Toulouse Lautrec when costume dressed as cross legged-cross eyed Japanese ? Will AM refuse to enter the Musee D’Orsay?

    How do I listen to Porgy and Bess from now on?

    I know this stuff, I’ve seen in it, I’ve paid to see it, I’ve enjoyed it, liked it, loved it, as a child, as a teenager, as an adult as an ageing white man. Do you see the dilemma?

    Who shall scape whipping?

    If you can erase the nipple, words and ideas are a walk in the park.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 7:46 am #

      Put a motive and consequent response to that motive, across all the examples you cite.
      Now consider the historical time of things.Add 24/7 instant news cycles and cultures finally rising above oppression.(In most instances)

      That was then ,this is now.Despite what you ‘imagine’, we won’t be rewriting classics or burning anyone at the stake.

      When LM’s motives are finally exposed, we will know the nuances of this, but from what Nick has posted she has form.
      Motive matters.


      • allthumbs September 22, 2016 at 8:47 am #

        That was then this is now? The first peoples of the world say thank you.😀


        • doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 8:53 am #

          Which people are not first people? Are all others not so characterised aliens from outer space?


          • allthumbs September 22, 2016 at 9:06 am #

            It is just a matter of time before Captain Kirk becomes General Custer and the Klingons achieve legal status of personhood.


            • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

              Very, very, very succinctly put, allthumbs.

              I am not quite sure of DQ’s thinking on this, that he misses what is so obvious to others..


              • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

                I mean we are all human, untl it comes to the dispensation of rights, access to resources, oportunities and the identity that allows that.

                I wonder if it would be possible to even begin to calculate the rent we most owe indigines for the occupation of their territories over the last two hundred years.


              • doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

                The Klingons are clearly being oppressed.


                • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

                  Are they are part of The Federation?


                  • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 11:56 pm #

                    Am almost tempted to figure out the wordpus “like”‘ app for that one.


                    • Hypo September 23, 2016 at 9:13 am #

                      Pretty sure the LNP are Ferengi.


        • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 9:00 am #

          Maybe I should have simplified it for you,Thumby?

          Things changed while you were at the opera.


          • allthumbs September 22, 2016 at 9:26 am #

            You are flailing in a web of your own making.


            • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 10:07 am #



      • doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 8:57 am #

        “That was then this is now” sounds attractive. But think of the consequences! Every work of fiction written after some arbitrary cut-off date, every work of art, has to comply with culturally appropriate and sensitive norms!

        The absurdity of that position has only to be stated to be seen for what it is.


        • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 9:04 am #

          So you say attitudes and expectations are static?
          Perhaps the cry of the RWNJs, not me.

          “Every work of fiction written after some arbitrary cut-off date, every work of art, has to comply with culturally appropriate and sensitive norms! ”
          What utter dribble.And a plagiarism if I am not mistaken.


          • doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 11:04 am #

            Hmm. I think we may be at cross purposes here, arguing about nothing. (?plagiarism? is there a copyright on commonsense??)


            • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

              Plagiarism? Like Fahrenheit 451,198, Thumbys post about forced rewriting classics etc.

              You’re right though.Time to stumble fwd past this point.

              You’re link>(glad you found it and linked it)

              In Shriver, WTF is going on?
              Is this just a privileged racist ‘coming out’?
              Has she just become a shareholder?
              Maybe the collateral damage is surfacing?
              “Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957, in Gastonia, North Carolina, to a deeply religious family (her father is a Presbyterian minister).”

              This from the article inked.
              “But the most upsetting aspects of the speech won’t be found in the transcript. It was the sight of a white woman who has had great literary success playing the victim. It was the arrogance with which she declared that being Asian is not an identity; sure, we don’t want to be stereotyped according to race either, but who is Lionel Shriver to tell us that? It was the casualness with which she declared that “any story you can make yours is yours to tell,” and that, “in the end, it’s about what you can get away with.” And it was the smugness with which she put that sombrero on, looking defiant, as though she had just won some childish bet. Her whole attitude conveyed her annoyance, but for those of us whose identities—racial, sexual, and cultural—have branded us as others throughout our lives, her smirks went straight through like a bullet.”
              “At one point, a young Chinese-Australian volunteer who had been sitting in front of me turned around and asked, “What do you think about what she’s saying? I am Australian, born here, but this scares me.” She added, “It’s because she is an intelligent person that it’s even more alienating to me.” I looked around, and saw that we were the only two Asians there.”

              Shriver is obviously way to ‘the right’ her language is stereotypical of the Boltoid species,
              “Ms. Shriver described the festival’s response as “not very professional,” and, at a later appearance at the festival, said she was disturbed by how many of those on the political left had become what she described as censorious and totalitarian in their treatment of artists with whom they disagreed.”

              Which is OK,but it puts a lie to her speech ,which she sprung on the festival.I think it was an act of deception, with a yet to be fully teased out motive, but it is beginning to grow like a race based snowball.
              She was supposed to speak on ‘community and belonging’.The two things now appear beyond her ability.

              Shriver seems intent on claiming victim hood is self inflicted, while she joins the A-team reconstructing the status of victim hood for her own ends.Which it seems includes painting herself and ilk as victims.
              I believe the speech has undermined much of Shrivers previous political stands.
              Population Matters for one.
              But she only has herself to blame.
              Privilege rides again.Takes no prisoners,is accountable to no-one and wants that ‘right’ written into law, and protections of harmony scratched from law.And privilege gets to write it’s own version of history.As Kim found out.The hard way.
              Be careful who you cheer for.And why.


              • Hypo September 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

                The 4 fell off!
                Should be>
                Like Fahrenheit 451,1984,


              • paul walter. September 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

                Very careful deconstructive stuff Hypo and moves it we are into the cusp of free speech versus hate speech


              • allthumbs September 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

                Hype, let’s get something straight, so we are all clear. I am not defending Shriver. I know little about her or her intentions, I’m just interested in the concept and the ensuing dispute in regards to cultural appropriation in fiction and the argument for its being proscribed in the future.

                How that is done or how AM imagines it should be done, policed or punished remains unclear, but there was obviously a call for some kind of action, the first being by walking out during the speech.

                To see how complicated things can get, take a look at the literary history of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

                I’ve never read the book, but am aware of the effects of its changing nature, acceptance and refutation over time.

                James Baldwin called it a terrible book, others championed it as a brilliant book. I can find no reference to anybody saying that HB-S should never had written it, or attempted to write it. She took as her source her own experiences and those of runaway slaves, one being a real Tom, and she used his writings as a key reference for her book, admitted as much and later saw to his book being published.

                Baldwin’s essay on it is a great read from 1949.

                And here another take, disturbing, enlightening and for all things relevant.



                • Hypo September 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

                  All good, thumbs.
                  I’m more interested in the (real?) reason behind the action, (Shrivers) and as we have discussed here recently,(18c) what it is that ppl feel they cannot say any more.

                  And why she feels she can claim the moral high ground on ‘all the fuss being made about writers rights to ‘profit from culture’, while in a packed room she deliberately went all inflammatory, basically doubled the offence by lecturing ‘other races’ about what they were entitle(permitted) to feel.It seems genuine targeted offence should be OK, ‘all in the name of liberty’?

                  It’s simple really,she does not get to define other peoples emotions,or even the level of impact via her musings,no matter how real her portrayals are.Or how semi constructed her argument is .Her fictional output has no right to suffocate factual lived experience, or the backlash thereof.

                  I’ll worry about the book burnings etc when they happen.
                  Or when the verboten line is drawn.Right now the only likely changes are from a religiously subservient 2 part govt.We will be banned from bagging /questioning god and christianity and it’s minions long before race or gender or any other subject gets a guernsey.
                  Eg Funny how the ‘Kevin Andrews’ of this world garner so much power.Quick to send troops to war and create untold death,suffering and misery abroad and the victims coming from the sea to seek help.Yet invisible and antagonistic (proactive in inflicting religious edicts via law) when it comes to displaying any christian value of mercy.(Their attitude to euthanasia / refugees)
                  These are the real rule makers, the editors and agenda setters,not the so called ‘politically correct fun police’ I hear so much about.


  19. doug quixote September 22, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Further repercussions from Shriver’s speech:


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