Hurtful or Harmless?
9th March 2015
Is it an event manager’s moral duty to make sure people are not offended by the actions and behaviours of attendees at festivals? Wearing adaptions of Native American headdresses and Hindu Bindis has been identified as offensive to some groups of people. Festival attendees may be unaware of their broader cultural significance therefore, they may be wearing these items without any intent to offend. Considering both of these possibilities, should event managers introduce new restrictions on traders stall’s which are selling misappropriated items? Is this a hurtful or harmless issue that needs to be addressed by event managers and attendees?
So why should you spend the next five minutes reading this blog?
Cultural appropriation is occurring regularly within the media…
How would you feel if you saw this headline about your event?
Negative media attention can be pivotal; it may have the potential to influence consumer behaviour in numerous ways. Media can be easily accessed through global platforms, where individuals can voice their opinions and beliefs freely on social networking sites. Should event managers be aware of the latest festival fashion trends, in order to avoid negative media through causing offence to the cultures in question?
However, media can be extremely beneficial to an event manager by using social media networks. Could this be a way of influencing and increasing awareness of festival attendees on misappropriated culture?
Cultural appropriation has grown to be an issue with recent fashion trends at festivals. Many UK festival attendees may not be aware of the cultural significance of Native American headdresses, and by wearing this accessory they may consider it harmless therefore, should it be an event manager’s responsibility to increase the awareness?
The photo on the left shows an example of a Native American male wearing his traditional headdress. These war bonnets can symbolize many achievements within the different tribes. The photo on the right shows one festival goer who has adapted the traditional head piece into what could be believed is a beautiful colourful accessory at last year’s Glastonbury Festival.
Is it hurtful or just a harmless trend?
How does the above display of cultural appropriation make YOU feel?
Historically, Native American headdresses were worn as symbols of honour and respect, and were earned through significant moments in their lives. War bonnets, especially, are reserved for respected figures of power. When other cultures adopt these aspects it can be regarded as “offensive”, although it can also be seen as “sharing”. Glastonbury Festival have restricted sales, and Bass Coast Festival have banned the headdresses from being on the festival site, this decision could avoid controversy against conflicting opinions.
Another trend arising at music festivals is the Hindu decorative spot known as the ‘Bindi’, historically meaning an auspicious sign of marriage and guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage. However, people who aren’t part of the culture use Bindis as a decoration or accessory at festivals, these are being bought in all different colours, shapes and sizes. Isha Aran is a female journalist from an Indian-Hindu background, she recently stated, “… the Bindi is merely a physical symbol and that its appearance at Coachella (American Festival) doesn’t make it any less degrading”.
Native American headdresses and Hindu Bindis can be seen as beautiful works of art that have been incorporated into summer fashion trends. Will these trends eventually fade out causing no harm, or is there a deeper hurtful meaning?
The photo to the left displays a woman wearing a traditional Bindi whereas, the ladies to the right are an example of individuals who have incorporated this possible hurtful or harmless fashion ‘trend’ at a festival.
How does this display of cultural appropriation make YOU feel?
As cultural appropriation has become a wider subject of discussion, should new measures be taken into account, regarding organiser’s and traders? Posing the question: Is it vital to make a profit at music festivals? By restricting the sale of a popular item it may repel vendors from trading at a festival due to the content of their stand. If these items are genuinely being sold in an innocent manner, is it morally right to restrict sales and for the traders to lose potential business? As previously mentioned the founder of Glastonbury festival, Michael Eavis, has demonstrated this by restricting the sale of Native American headdresses at this year’s upcoming festival. Should all festivals follow in his footsteps or is it one fashion trend gone too far?
Positive Media in the Guardian
Is being a moral guardian a responsibility for an event manager? Academics indicate that “A well-developed sense of ethics and professional reasonability should be based on a solid foundation that includes philosophy and comparative culture studies”. Could this result in event managers being responsible for regulating ‘Hurtful or Harmless’ fashion trends?
Should you become a moral guardian at your event?