Michelle Malkin: Sombreros, qipaos and Catholic cosplay, oh my!
The impossibly fickle, selective and whimsical rules of cultural appropriation are hard to keep straight.
According to the white people who run the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, eating tacos, drinking tequila and wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo “are textbook examples of cultural appropriation.” Euro-privileged people at Gonzaga University similarly warned “non-Mexican individuals” on campus not to wear costumes insensitive to the “Latinx culture.”
An African-American writer at The Root, a website for “Black news, opinions, politics, and culture,” counseled non-Mexican people to “cut it out with being a culturally appropriating (expletive) and leave the sombreros home.”
According to the politically correct powers that be on Twitter, a white girl cannot wear a Chinese qipao dress to prom because Asian-Americans might be offended — even though actual Chinese people are not. The cultural contretemps was set off by a Chinese-American man, Jeremy Lam, who fumed, “My culture is NOT your (expletive) prom dress” — while littering his own social media feed with slang appropriated from rappers.
And a Korean-American restaurant owner came under fire recently for cheekily naming her business “Yellow Fever” (used to describe the condition of non-Asian males enamored of Asian females) to “embrace the term & reinterpret it positively.”
To review the misappropriation mandates so far: teenage white girls in Utah can't wear Chinese dresses to prom. Non-Mexicans can't wear sombreros on Cinco de Mayo. Wearing other groups' attire as costumes is insensitive. Re-appropriating phrases deemed inappropriate is inappropriate, even if done by a member of the aggrieved minority victimized by inappropriate appropriation.
So it is with extreme befuddlement and bewilderment that I sifted through photos from last week's Met Gala, whose theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
Rihanna came dressed as a stiletto-heeled pope in pearls, crystals and sky-high medieval headgear. Ariana Grande, draped in Vera Wang's cherub-adorned silk organza, chirped that she represented “the back wall of the Sistine Chapel.”
Lana del Rey, sprouting angel wings on top of her head, paired with Jared Leto decked out as Jesus in a gilt crown of thorns and powder blue Gucci suit. Rosy-cheeked, mantilla-clad Kate Bosworth mimicked the Virgin Mary.
Nicki Minaj, last seen appropriating the Chinese martial arts video game cartoon character Chun Li (because that's OK), channeled the devil. And assorted supermodels and their arm candy escorts sported rosaries, halos and veils like haute couture cosplay.
Now, this is the point at which I might cry out indignantly: My religion is not your costume! But the Vatican actually collaborated with the Met Gala on the event. No, I'm not offended. I'm just queasy and exhausted from trying to keep track of what we're supposed to wear and not wear, say and not say, eat or drink and not eat or drink, and who all is allowed to dictate what to whom and when.
I say: Let me eat taco meat drenched in soy sauce with my chopsticks, drink a mango lassi while cooking latkes in my kimono, and be merry while making Spam musubi with my Catholic-Jewish-Ukrainian-Filipino-Chinese-Spanish kids.
Isn't that what celebrating diversity is all about?
Michelle Malkin is host of “Michelle Malkin Investigates” on CRTV.com.