Is it ever acceptable to appropriate a culture that is not your own?
Is it wrong to wear Doc Martins if you’re not a punk? Is it wrong to wear an Aztec print skirt if you’re not from South America and sacrifice people to the Gods? Is it wrong to wear tie dye if you’re not a Woodstock. And the big one, is it wrong to use a religious cultural meaning to entertain and make a profit from?
My answer to all of these is yes it is acceptable, as long as you carry it out with respect. Now the last example I gave was pretty far out compared to the others, but in modern day cinema, that is what is occurring. Adopting different cultures into Western films has been occurring for as long as globalisation has been occurring.
James Cameron has been heavily influenced by Indian culture in particular. ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Avatar’ are two that display Indian culture. The musical numbers in ‘Moulin Rouge’ use Bollywood themes, while the whole of ‘Avatar’ uses Hindu influences. But it is a two way street, ‘Heyy Baby’ which is a Bollywood film made in 2007, there is an obvious Western influence to the film.
In the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ directed by Ann Lee, as described in the article ‘Problematizing Chindia’ written by David J. Schaefer and Kavita Karan, it is described as being “an Eastern movie for Western audiences, and … a Western movie for Eastern audiences.” So there is a film that is so hybrid no one even knows what’s going on.
So who benefits from these cultural cross overs and hybridity in films? Well everyone really. The audience learns and experiences a different culture. and Really isn’t that what film is all about? Learning and being entertain day something that is different to everyday. To escape reality and be transported to another place or era.