Cole DeLaune: Even more outrage over cultural appropriation

Actress Michelle Williams on the cover of AnOther Magazine.

Cole DeLaune explains fashion to everyone:
Last week, the Internet news cycle erupted in a predictable maelstrom of gasps and pearl-clutching over the spring/summer issue of AnOther Magazine, an esoteric style rag based in London that caters to a relatively rarefied demographic of the sartorially literate and eclectically minded. Like a number of similar periodicals, the publication achieves its ad dollars not by accruing a large readership, but by courting the tastes of the creatively attuned — most likely, design students and other aspiring insiders. The fury reserved for its cover girl, a three-time Oscar nominee and the star of the recently released Oz the Great and Powerful, was the latest episode in a vogue of hand-wringing about pop caricatures of Natives and the perils of a specifically visual brand of cultural appropriation.

While some of the incidents in said wave have quite rightly garnered backlash and sparked timely and necessary dialogue about the historically invisible Indian America, the disgruntlement with Michelle Williams is perhaps most reminiscent of the uproar that occurred when Karlie Kloss trotted down a Victoria's Secret runway last autumn clad in nominally indigenous regalia, replete with headdress and other cartoonish accoutrements. The ire precipitated by both controversies illuminates an ironic ignorance — since that, of course, is the primary element in each occurrence identified as offensive —about the nature of creative expression and hierarchical power structures in the fashion industry, as well as interesting implications about the trendiness of political correctness and waxing butthurt over consumerist minutiae and other contemporary inanities.

Get the Story:
Cole DeLaune: Why You're Wrong About Michelle Williams: A Primer on Redface, Fashion Politics and Reading Comprehension (Indian Country Today 3/20)

Related Stories:
Magazine claims actress wasn't dressed up to look 'Native' (03/15)
Aura Bogado: Native Americans are real people, not munchkins (3/13)
Ruth Hopkins: Actress shows up in 'Redface' on magazine cover (3/12)

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