A question about Cultural Appropriation

I saw this on twitter

My Initial Reaction:
Oh. A boomerang. With a logo of some fashion brand. For $2000. What will they think of next.

But the reactions described were

a: it’s cultural appropriation
b: it’s a weapon. which means it’s bad.

I am in my 40s, so when I think of boomerangs, I think of

a carved piece of wood.
designed by Australian aborigines
that returns to the users hand when thrown
and was originally intended for hunting,

And the Chanel variant is merely overpriced. Overpriced. It’s not exploitative. It’s not violent. It’s merely a wooden boomerang with a Chanel logo on it. And I suppose that people with more money than sense can do what they’ve always done with boomerangs-- throw them around for a bit.

Were I thirty years younger, raised on nerf boomerangs, and receptive to the political agendas of the moment, I might be outraged. But those days are long behind me.


It’s a hard call. I can see both sides of it, but I think I’d want to know what Australian Aborigines think before I start bandying about terms like cultural appropriation. It doesn’t appear​immediately derogatory, and it’s not my place to be offended on their behalf.


That’s not always true… There are boomerangs that are designed for straight-line distance rather than returning to the hand. Which, frankly, sounds more useful for hunting.


As an Aussie, I feel qualified to at least say this is bullshit.


That’s a stick.


While a $2000 boomerang is some stupid bullshit, I don’t think it’s because it’s somehow appropriating a culture. It’s because it’s a freakin’ boomerang with a Chanel logo on it.

I don’t see this as cultural appropriation any more than Lady Elaine Fairchilde on Mr. Rogers using a magic boomerang.


Aaaand you made me chuckle, thanks. :slight_smile: :+1:

And you’re absolutely right - But an aerodynamic stick, with enough wing to reduce wind resistance to travel further, and enough heft to bring down a target when it hits. A serious business stick.


It’s only “cultural appropriation” if the culture in question doesn’t want anyone outside their culture using a boomerang, and/or finds the sale of boomerangs offensive in some way.

Otherwise, to claim “cultural appropriation” on behalf of a culture you don’t belong to is presumptuous and possibly racist. Do indigenous Australians even consider a boomerang to be one of their cultural symbols, or think of it as a symbol of their race in some way?

That said, it’s still a stupid product, at a stupid price, sold by a stupid brand that was founded by a Nazi collaborator, and there is no reason for anyone to buy this.


I’m pretty sure I stole it from Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson


Just a reminder the oldest known boomerang was found in poland.


Cultural appropriation is such a loaded term, and I think often ignores the fact that cultures have been sharing ideas for tens of thousands of years. In fact, it could be argued that there is no “culture” just like there is no “race” and that boundaries around culture, place, or ethnicity are arbitrary.

Don’t get me wrong - I still think there are ways of being insensitive or insulting to people on a cultural or ethnic level, but aborigines (who have a dubious claim on the returning boomerang in the first place) criticizing westerners for making boomerangs is like westerners criticizing aborigines for using forks.


But the point is that real damage has been visited upon some people by other people, historically and even currently. To just shrug our shoulders at that is to just ignore the nature of western imperialism altogether. [quote=“waetherman, post:11, topic:366”]
aborigines (who have a dubious claim on the returning boomerang in the first place) criticizing westerners for making boomerangs is like westerners criticizing aborigines for using forks.

You’re also downplaying the very real power difference between an aborigine, who were historically forced into standards of western culture, often violently, versus a westerner who is taking something for their own edification and often economic gain.

I’m not going to step in and talk about whether or not the gucci thing is indeed such appropriation or whether or not a boomerang is aboriginal. I do think that just rejecting cultural appropriation out of hand is missing history.

ETA: Similar to this is the ukulele, I think. It’s an instrument that originated in Portugal as a machete, arrived with portugese sugar workers in the 19th century, became the ukulele precisely because the native Hawaiians embraced and transformed the instrument, became overwhelmingly associated with Hawaiian culture, and became subject to several mainland waves of popularity over the 20th century (in the 20s, in the 60s, and more recently in the aughts). I find it to be a rather fine line there between appropriation and genuine embrace of the instrument. I think there are probably elements of both through out the various crazes. There is plenty to say about how white Americans were projecting their desires onto the bodies and culture of native Hawaiians while ignoring them as actual people struggling against imperialism, and that plenty of people probably profited off the ukulele. But there is also a genuine love and respect for the instrument and the people who originally made it popular. And note that I love the ukulele, play it myself (poorly), and try to be aware of the politics of Native peoples and the damage that taking someone’s culture and projecting your own needs and desires onto them can do.


This kind of machete:

Not the other kind of machete.


But what if those needs are political?. Populism is a growing industry, and speaking for those who have chosen not to speak can be very profitable.

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I don’t disagree with that - this isn’t a conservatives bad, liberals good point I’m attempting to make here. Profiting off the suffering of others, from the left or the right, is a very real thing that happens. White liberals can be just as condescending to people of color and Aboriginal and native peoples as conservatives, no doubt. Hell, sometimes even more so! I think it matters to listen to what people say about their own situations or cultures and its relationship to other cultures. I suspect there is probably some good stuff online about the boomerang and it’s relationship to both Aboriginal culture and modern Australian culture. If people care enough to see what Aboriginal are arguing, I’m sure they’ll look it up and educate themselves. I’m not trying to do that here, rather just pointing out the cultural appropriation is indeed a thing that we shouldn’t reject out of hand. As part of a dominant culture, we’re all part of this happening.

I do think that being aware of the connections between force, power, and imperialism, and how culture can contribute to that is important thing to take into consideration. The world we live in now isn’t fairly distributed, which I don’t believe is too controversial a statement to make.

But no shady liberal group paid me to say what I just said, I promise! :wink: And as always, if you think I’m full of shit, then please say so!


I’ve realised that part of the reason this annoys me is that this company have slapped their logo on a seemingly random item, and expect to sell it for ££££. (And will likely get it too.)

There’s an argument about whether or not that’s cultural appropriation, but whether it is or it isn’t, that’s still offensive. (Performative consumption)

(Also: In before ‘but capitalism’)


A 1-percenter clubbed in the head with his own Chanel $2,000 boomerang? Priceless.


Yes, this is how the indigenous people of Australia begin their conquest of Europe and its culture.


Observed and noted. You’re still the one that brought a smile to my face with it, so I still thank you. :slight_smile:


Tweets I’ve seen from Indigenous Australians about this have been a combo of a sort of eye-rolling exasperation and bemusement. Some are offended, others are like ‘fuck’s sake, what’s next?’.

I’m Australian, but not Indigenous.