It's been a few months now since this has started,
Lots of views, debates. discussions and whatnot.
On one corner are the:
"Oh yay! finally a Disney movie about us, and a character that is Polynesian"
Then, there's the anti, or against crew, beautifully worded by a Pacific studies academic from Vic Uni on cultural appropriation. Need to find link for this.
There's those in the middle, going, meh.
Then, while I was basking in the Savaii sunshine, the tuiga discussion took off.
I saw it briefly and thought, ...I totally wanna care right now, but can't summon the energy or the passion. So let's park that for now. Back to mango eating and taro chips.
So in brief, now that I'm not on holiday and back to my uneventful existence, I now have time to throw on this discussion.
Q:What do I think of the movie?
A: I haven't actually seen it, but I saw the wee clips, the Hawaiian Airlines launch, met some of Pacific musicians and artists and some who were consulted in some way.
Q: What do I think so far?
A: It's a Disney movie. Made by Disney, through the lens of Disney people.
Q: Is it a representation of my culture?
A: Yes, as told through the lens of the Disney machine. Definitely a depiction of some of my culture, and that of other Polynesian cultures. I'm not going to own that depiction. It's someone else's depiction made into a palagi movie.
People are condemning Disney for assuming to represent their culture. Good on them:
If we are up in arms about how our culture is portrayed, I ask you this:
"What are you doing to affirm, present, and share our culture to our children? others? now, in the past and moving forward"
Aside from the criticism, what am I doing to promote my culture?
It's very clear that this movie will influence a huge number of people - many of whom know little about their ancestry. Many of them will be Polynesian and will therefore be at the peril of being 'cultured' by Disney.
That's the bit which is not cool for me. But at the same time, I personally an not worried.
If I want to influence and share my culture with my children, I do so in communicating with them, in hijacking their class curriculum/teachers, school plan, I do so in how I personally do my work.
It is in this sense that I am a little bit sad, because there are thousands of Pacific people who are not aware of their histories, shared histories and culture. Many of whom will be influenced by Disney's version of their ancestry.
So, what can you do from here on to positively or in some way, influence the learnings and experience of your child? So that they are not 'brainwashed' by Disney's version?
1. Know your history.
2. Know your heroes.
3. Know who you are.
4. Know your place in the world.
5. Know that your identity and your story belong to, and is determined by you.
There are many many resources that you can access which are helpful in raising and informing intelligent Pacific/Polynesian children/people.
Rather than crying foul over yet another white man bullshit, my challenge is always, start with you and create the changes and knowledge that you value, and you love.
Start with these for now:
- Go to a library or online and get yourself a copy of "Our Sea of Islands" by the Late Dr Epeli Hauofa
-Visit a museum near you;
Follow some museum facebook pages, a good one is Museum of Samoa
- Talk to an elder / grandparent / parent / teacher
- Google events in your area relevant to your culture, like cultural celebrations, festivals, shows etc.
- Buy or get books written by people from your worldview.
- Learn about the history of voyaging in the vast Oceania, and follow the revival of navigation, brought alive by the late Mau Piailug of Satawal Island, Link to Pacific voyagers.
- Learn a few words in your language
- Read a few of the essays by our Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi:
- Be the captain of your own waka.
Okay, I just committed 20 minutes of my life to this update, and that's far too much time,
"Culture is never stagnant. So when I hear people saying Hold true to your culture, I feel like wrapping you an a culture basket and putting you in a umu"