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Cultural Appropriation

Written by
24 November 2016

This article first appeared in the November 2016 Edition of the IPA Review and is written by Communications Coordinator at the IPA, James Bolt.

Author Lionel Shriver raised a lot of controversy at this year’s Brisbane Writers’ Festival for her defence of cultural appropriation in literature. She argued that authors should be able to borrow the experiences of people from other cultures to inform their work—otherwise she would only be able to write about the experiences of ‘smart-alecky 59-year-old 5-foot-2-inch white women from North Carolina.’

The controversy raised by Shriver’s argument suggests there is a market for non-culturally appropriated works—where the writers or performers can only have themselves as protagonists. Here we revise classic tales to conform to modern standards.

CATCHER IN THE RYE

J.D. Salinger struggles with his teenage feelings of angst and alienation from society. Society, noting that J.D. Salinger is 32 years old, continues to treat him with suspicion.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Harper Lee takes up the case of a black man wrongfully accused of a crime. Due to her being an author and not a lawyer, she loses the case.

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS

Quentin Tarantino tries to infiltrate the Nazis in their occupation of Paris. Due to his incessant need to tell everyone around him what a genius he is, he immediately gives away his plans in incredible detail and is executed.

LORD OF THE FLIES

William Golding finds himself stranded on an island with a score of young boys after a plane crash. Being an adult and therefore able to maintain stability, they all wait patiently by a fire until they are rescued.

GLADIATOR

Ridley Scott strives to get revenge for the murders of his wife and son by assassinating the Empower. Completely unable to speak Latin, he fails to drum up significant support from his fellow gladiators.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH

John Steinbeck joins with sharecroppers at the height of the Great Depression and helps them get by in an unforgiving economy. Noting the wealth Steinbeck has gained from the sales of Of Mice and Men, the sharecroppers rob him at first opportunity.

THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC

Maria Falconetti stands accused of the crimes of Joan of Arc. The English, realising they have clearly arrested the wrong woman, release the 1920s actress.

BLADE RUNNER

Harrison Ford grapples with the thought that he might be a replicant, just like the people he is chasing. Then, remembering he is Harrison Ford, his conscience is eased.

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James Bolt

James Bolt is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs

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