Thursday, 4 April 2019

Outrage culture

In a world that is basically as safe, happy, and healthy as it's ever been (some religious strongholds, and white houses aside) it's amazing to see what is getting people angry these days. 

In the past people were angry at unjustifiable wars, not having the right to vote, not having the right to be counted as a citizen, and being treated as a second class citizen, simply because of the colour of their skin. And it's right that people were angry at these things. 

But as things get better, the things to be angry about become more and more trivial. Let's be frank, people living in countries that are high on the Human Development Index, have pretty good lives. Of course there are exceptions, and I'm not here to throw a blanket over entire countries, but if you're speaking to a Norwegian, you can be very confident they are living a healthier and happier life than someone from the Central African Republic, or Afghanistan. 

Despite these wonderful lives, there seems to be an inherent need to be angry at something, or someone. There seems to be a need to not only show that you're outraged, but to go looking for something at which to be outraged. 

Some months ago I was made aware of a photo of a little white girl (7 or 8) who had dressed up in a kimono and had herself a Japanese tea party. Criticism ensued. Comments about disrespect, cultural appropriation, and the nerve of this girl to wear an outfit from SOMEONE ELSE'S COUNTRY! Oh, the humanity. 

Then, into the comments popped a Japanese lady. Was she on the side of these knuckleheads? Of course not. She was happy that someone outside Japan wanted to experience and celebrate Japanese culture. I agree. I think it was wonderful to see someone wanting to be part of the world in which the live, and not just live in the bubble of their local area. 

In May 2018, 18-year old Keziah Daum was criticized on twitter for posting pictures of herself wearing a dress that very much resembled a Chinese qipao as her prom dress. One tweeter responded with 'My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress.' I replied saying her prom dress is not your goddamn culture. The dress, as it happens, was stunning and Keziah looked beautiful in it. If only the people who responded to her with anger and hate could have been as welcoming as the Japanese lady mentioned earlier. 

Keziah responded to the criticism with the following: 
"To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. I’m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture. It’s a fucking dress. And it’s beautiful."

She's absolutely spot on. You know how much Chinese culture suffered because an 18 year old american wore a dress? None. Not even a miniscule amount. Chinese culture is doing fine.

Recently in the TV show 'After Live' there was an Australian aboriginal style painting used on the set. Ricky Gervais was criticised for stealing someone's culture because the artist who painted the work wasn't an indigenous Australian. Well you know what, indigenous Australian culture wasn't stolen because of that painting. It's exactly where it was. Additionally, painting in traditional aboriginal style is taught to tourists and doing it is encouraged in the Northern Territory.

My friend, Godless Mom, recently told me of a person who called a makeup manufacturer 'racist' because he bought and used a boomerang.

In the past couple of days I saw a person online get angry because someone associated dicks with men. Yes, really.

Finally, as an example, because the list is virtually endless, on April Fools day, Justin Bieber caused controversy because he perpetuated an April Fools Day joke that his wife was pregnant.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not fan of Justin, or his work. He's been, on more than one occasion, quite the dickhead. So I'm not defending him here simply because I'm a fan, I'm defending him because he did nothing wrong.

On April 1st, Justin posted a photo on Instagram of an ultrasound. A very typical picture of what appeared to be a fetus in a womb. The astute worked out quickly that the picture was the second image returned when doing a Google search for ultrasound. But there was more. Later, Justin posted a picture of his wife, Hailey, in what looked to be an examination room, with medical personal checking out her belly.

Finally he posted another photo of an ultrasound, but this time there was a puppy in it. He wrote 'Is that a... APRIL FOOLS'.

Cue outrage.

People got mad, because some people can't have children. Other people got mad because women have been pregnant, but lost the baby.

Bieber apologised, saying he didn't mean to cause offence. Well, duh! Of course he didn't mean to cause offence. He pretended, on April Fools day, that his wife was pregnant! OMG! Seriously, if this is the kind of thing that riles you up, if this is where your anger hibernates until it's ready to be unleashed....then damn, you are living a fucking good life!

Pretending, on April Fools' Day that your wife is pregnant, when she actually isn't, isn't insensitive, it's not offensive. It's funny.

We need to get a grip on our perspectives. We need to sit back and analyse what's really going on in our world. There are plenty of legitimate things to be angry about, if we can pull our eyes away from social media and Netflix long enough. And it's not just about the people who are living in some of the worst parts of the world. Of course we can, and should want to help improve the lives of those people as best we can, but there are things in the best places on earth to be angry about, as well.

Be angry at the companies who are earning billions, yet paying no, or little, tax. Be angry at the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. Be angry at companies like Walmart and Amazon who pay their staff next to nothing, whilst CEOs and directors make billions. Be angry at governments who refuse to acknowledge the need for action on climate change. Be angry at the people who market illicit drugs to kids in school. There are genuine, legitimate things to focus your outrage at, but a girl wearing a dress whose style may have been influenced by people in another country isn't one of them.

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