Me, an asian man: Check out my dope content.
Consumer of media: I would feel too guilty, I don’t understand the deep oppressed context of your group identity
Me: Oh…it’s cool I actually just wanted to share my art with-
Consumer: I just don’t want to appropriate anything sorry
Me: Great, now I have a smaller audience
Guy who made this bullshit: Yeah but now your audience is more ideologically pure. See, I’m actually helping you.
This post’s arguments are silly on so many levels. There are more layers to this than an ogre or an onion.
First of all, don’t put this “I” in your “we”. It is rude and presumptuous for someone of a specific race (assuming this poster is Asian) to speak as though they are the spokesperson for everyone else in that race. You might not want your anime to be viewed by anyone who can’t speak on the details of Executive Order 9066, but what on earth gave you the idea that your opinion was that of all creators who are from the same broad geographical area as you?
I’ve always found this language to be a bit odd. When people say “Remember, if you’re talking to a POC…” or “You have an obligation to POC to…” it always sounds like they are describing how to interact with a specific breed of dog. “Remember, German Shepherds need X amount of hours of exercise a day, and can get antsy if they don’t get it!” or “When you get a puppy you have an obligation to that dog. Don’t adopt a dog if you can’t take care of it!”. That works for dogs because their behavior is largely predictable and uniform within a breed, but dog owners will tell you that even dogs have different personalities, and might deviate from the norm. Humans are more intelligent beings with highly developed cognitive capacities and diversity of opinions and you usually can’t predict how someone feels about a complex issue based on their skin color.
Second, this mentality is antithetical to the best parts of art. Art makes us feel something, it’s a conversation between the artist and the viewer. Through art we can feel a connection to people from different countries and different time periods, because art speaks to our common humanity. Is it impossible for a black American to appreciate a da Vinci painting unless they know what he struggled with and have properly educated themselves on the Italian renaissance? Have no asian men been brought to tears by an Alvin Ailey piece without first learning about the struggles of black Americans? Of course not, because if a piece of art can’t be appreciated without doing research into the artist’s racial history then it isn’t a very good piece of art. While I was in college, my scenography professor said something which struck me as profound; he mentioned that he never reads the director’s note or any of the program literature before he watches a show. His argument was that the art should stand on its own, and shouldn’t need to be accompanied by a diatribe detailing the significance or context of the art itself.
Third, the notion that somebody has to buy into this guy’s social worldview in order to acceptably consume art is the epitome of unearned entitlement.
Fourth, this post is ignorant of the fact that consuming art from a culture is itself a cultural experience. If you watch enough telenovelas it would be impossible not to glean insights into the culture being depicted. Good luck reading Dostoevsky without learning about Russia, Russian history, Russian culture, and Russian people. It’s as though the person who posted this simultaneously believes that art cannot exist outside of its cultural context, but also that you won’t learn about the culture a piece of art came out of by consuming that art. (I’m being charitable with my assessment here. I am choosing to believe that the poster was making the stronger of two arguments: that it’s about cultural context, rather than the argument that it’s just about race, which the text of the post more directly implies)
It is not problematic, amoral, or anything to be guilty about if you just want to listen to a couple of reggae songs on your Spotify. However, I am not trying to make the argument that learning more about the cultural context of a piece of art will do nothing extra for your enjoyment or understanding of the piece. On the contrary, my fifth gripe is that the poster ignores some of the most important factors of culture. The poster seems primarily concerned with making people feel bad about consuming art made by people of another race which is in conflict with a desire for racial unity. Let’s try a thought experiment. (We won’t have to make too many assumptions here because luckily I happen to be Chinese and also an artist.)
Let’s say I’m a Chinese artist (deja vu) and I write a song. I show it to a white acquaintance named John who has very little knowledge of Chinese culture or struggles and might not know many Chinese people.
Without knowing the topic of the song, which of these two facts do you think would be more useful to John, or would further enrich his experience and understanding of my art?
1) Compared to white people, Asian Americans need to score 140 points higher on the SAT to gain admission to top colleges, and the gap is larger between asians and black people.
2) The effects of Confucianism and its core tenant of filial piety still play a big role in the upbringing of Chinese people both in China and abroad.
How about another pair:
1) Chinese workers were integral to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, despite being hired using morally gray recruiting strategies and were pushed to their physical limits under unsafe and unethical working conditions.
2) More than 3/4 of Chinese people are not religious, and many of those who are religious (likely Buddhist) view their faith very differently than an American Christian or even an Indian Buddhist does.
I am not saying that people shouldn’t know more about the first fact in either pairing, but it seems odd to me that the poster hijacks content made by asian creators to further their advocacy goals, however noble, while ignoring much more important context.
Lastly, you gotta love the edit “If you are in the majority of people who view my post, promote it for free and make sure more people see it.” If I were more cynical I might think that the post is less about genuinely trying to help Asian creators and more about virtue signaling to the maximum number of people possible. Of course, I would never be so petty as to imply that.