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Critical Perspectives on Soka’s Lu’au
"In its 10th anniversary this year, the Lū’au performance is one of our oldest traditions here at Soka. The club which spearheads it every year is called, “Ka Pilina Ho’olokahi,” which means “the coming together in harmony for peace” in the Hawaiian language.

Growing up in Hawai’i, we understood how direly peace in the Pacific was needed. I watched as the place where I grew up ballooned with military bases and personnel. We watched the Hawaiian Islands bend beyond their capacity to host tourists. We saw the cost of living skyrocket and the number of people evicted from their homes turn into a crisis overlooked every year. I am not Kānaka (Native Hawaiian), and I cannot say I have experienced the same displacement and loss of agency over land as Native Hawaiians have in the last century. However, as the daughter of a Filipina immigrant, I can say I know what it’s like to hear that you will never be able to go back to your home because it is too polluted, too politically unsafe, and void of opportunity. For Filipinas, the displacement of our people was mechanized by the same forces which continue to displace and extract from Native Hawaiians. The parallels of the occupation of our homelands have been, at times, painful to compare because of their stark similarities.

So, when people ask me about the Lū’au or Hawai’i, I’m met with conflicting feelings. It touches me that people are so dedicated to planning and executing an event meant to celebrate a place I care for and want to protect. However, when people ask me about the Lū’au, I can’t help but think of my own experiences in Waikīkī, where I would pick up my cousins after their shifts working at “lū’aus.” After working in the tourism industry since I was 14, I’ve become critical of its mechanisms. In this article, I hope to unpack our involvement in Hawaii’s history of colonization, cultural extraction, and commercialization by tourism developers.

Activist, author, poet, and Professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai’i, Haunani-Kay Trask, wrote the essay “‘Lovely Hula Hands’: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture,” [https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/bl/article/view/24958/28913 ] which delineated the cultural commodification mechanized by tourist industries she witnessed as a Native Hawaiian woman. She provides her analysis placed amongst the backdrop of the linguistic genocide, land theft, and unjust annexation to statehood Native Hawaiian people faced. Trask posits that the tourism industry extracts and commercializes Hawai’i and Hawaiian culture into a consumable and often times sexualized fantasy. She writes, “To most Americans, then, Hawai’i is theirs: to use, to take, and, above all, to fantasize about long after the experience…. Just five hours away by plane from California, Hawai’i is a thousand light years away in fantasy. Mostly a state of mind, Hawai’i is the image of escape from the rawness and violence of daily American Life.” In her essay, Trask argues that these fantasy-based images of Hawai’i strip it of its political history, culture, language, and people.

Other Native Hawaiian scholars such as @haymakana [https://twitter.com/haymakana/status/1036950291902590976 ], a Ph.D. student with interests in indigenous education and race in Hawaii, have spoken out against the exploitation of Native Hawaiian culture through the tourism industry. Here, she explains how images and fantasy of escape come at the expense of Native Hawaiians, leading to more Kānaka (Native Hawaiian) displacement: “When you fantasize about laying on our beaches you fantasize about tearing us away from our homeland and our ‘ohana that still live there … Kānaka are being displaced by hotels, rich people’s summer homes, Airbnbs, etc.”

From the perspective of a resident, I can also attest that the overwhelming presence of tourism contributes to the rising cost of living, homelessness, environmental destruction, and sex trafficking within our communities.

Other scholars such as Gregory Pōmaika’i [https://twitter.com/gspomaikai/status/1112163934734172162 ], a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego with interests in the Hawaiian diaspora in Las Vegas, Nevada, militarism, and queer Indigenous relations of off-island resurgence, responded to @haymakana’s thread with their own.

In this instance, Pōmaika’i affirms the sentiment originally proposed by @haymakana. They argue that the extraction of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) otherness is exploitive, but goes mostly unchecked by the usual assumption of innocence under Euro-American audiences. They expound upon the common phenomena of Asian Americans who, due to their proximity based on settlement, diaspora, or existing within the category of Asian American Pacific Islanders, reap social or material capital off of Hawaiian culture due to their proximity to Hawai’i. Because of this and the universal ideas of “Hawai’i,” which are formed and normalized by the tourism industry, most audiences are less likely to question the cultural appropriateness of demonstrations of “Hawaiian culture,” especially those led by people who consider themselves proximate to Hawai’i.

Pōmaika’i later goes on to stress the importance of solidarity, rather than extraction, when it comes to showing up for indigenous folk. As settlers within a system of settler-colonialism, which automatically defers to our protection rather than indigenous folk, how are we showing up for them? Are we still following outdated models of racism and settler-colonialism where we are only assessing our liability based on our conscious prejudices and attitudes? Or are we critically evaluating our involvement within systems which subjugate others based on race and class?

I’ve spoken to Ka’pilina members who, from the bottom of their heart, believe they are part of the preservation of Hawaiian culture. However, I think Pōmaika’i, @haymakana, and Trask would all agree that the very concept of a Lū’au pulls from tourism-based ideas of Hawaii—ideas inevitably predicated on Native Hawaiian displacement. I’ve spoken to Lū’au officials who have told me that they don’t know about the Kanaka Maoli. These interactions led me to question what qualifications officials who have either varying or no connections to Hawai’i have for culture preservation. In what way are we actively able to combat Native Hawaiian stereotypes if there is no one involved who can call them out and unpack them? To what point is our relationship to Hawai’i extractive, especially if we’re, intentionally or not, upholding fantasy ideals of what Hawai’i is? These are questions of self-reflection which I hope my article can help facilitate within our community. Images of a commodified culture, made accessible to us and which remain pervasive after years of colonization, will persist in spaces vacuous of critical thought. So from here, I hope we may critically assess, how to move forward without perpetuating the commodification of Native Hawaiian culture.

Post notes: Soka’s Lū’au will be donating a small amount of the proceeds, all accumulated through the raffle, to a Hawaiian cultural preservation non-profit. I am happy about these donations, but I hope this will not excuse us from engaging in critical reflection of our actions."
sokauniversityofamerica  via:sophia  2019  hawaii  cultue  criticism  luau  haunani-kaytrask  tourism  exploitation  solidarity  extraction  indigeneity  indigenous  gregorypōmaika’i  kanakamaoli  commodification  stereotypes  kapalina 
9 days ago by robertogreco
I Think About When Barbara Kruger Dragged Supreme a Lot
I think about when feminist artist Barbara Kruger dragged Supreme in a Word doc titled “fools.doc” a lot.
art  fashion  commodification 
9 weeks ago by darren_n
I Think About When Barbara Kruger Dragged Supreme a Lot
I think about when feminist artist Barbara Kruger dragged Supreme in a Word doc titled “fools.doc” a lot.

“what a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers,”
fashion  supreme.label  rubbish  art  design  commodification  barbara.kruger  talentless 
9 weeks ago by po
Wark - The Sublime Language of My Century
On the ontology of capitalism after commodification. A thought experiment.

> Quite simply, we have run out of world to commodify. And now commodification can only cannibalize its own means of existence, both natural and social. Its like that silent film where the train runs out of firewood, so the carriages themselves have to be hacked to pieces and fed to the fire to keep it moving, until nothing but the bare bogies are left.

> Could there be a way to write after Marx that isn’t based on conservative habits of mastery and interpretation, but which are based instead on experimentation and détournement?

> The thought experiment that might result is quite simple. What if it was like this: There really is something qualitatively distinct about the forces of production that produce and instrumentalize and control information. This is because information really does turn out to have strange ontological properties. Making information a force of production produces something of a conundrum within the commodity form. Information wants to be free but is everywhere in chains. It isn’t scarce, and the whole premise of the commodity is its scarcity.
commodification  hacking  IP  capitalism  detournment 
august 2018 by mcmorgan
How to write the perfect CV – first, refuse to play this stupid game | Money | The Guardian
Still, I lived at time when many of us wanted to be considered unemployable, so we could get the dole and do our own thing. We would be sent to interviews even when we had written “satanism and sulphate” for our interests. My mate, who really did not want a job, was doing worryingly well in an interview, so when they got to the “What makes you want to be part of this team?” question, he had to think fast. “Because the voices told me to.” Phew! He was able to carry on being unemployed until he became a pop star.
work  labour  jobs  CV  recruitment  commodification  truth  honesty  deception  dctagged  dc:creator=MooreSuzanne 
june 2018 by petej
After Authenticity
"Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.

Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.

In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.

K-HOLE and Box1824 captured the new landscape in their breakthrough 2014 report “Youth Mode.” They described an era of “mass indie” where the search for meaning is premised on differentiation and uniqueness, and proposed a solution in “Normcore.” Humorously, nearly everyone mistook Normcore for being about bland fashion choices rather than the greater cultural shift toward accepting shared meanings. It turns out that the aesthetics of authenticity-less culture are less about acting basic and more about playing up the genericness of the commodity as an aesthetic category. LOT2046’s delightfully industrial-supply-chain-default aesthetics are the most beautiful and powerful rendering of this. But almost everyone is capitalizing on the same basic trend, from Vetements and Virgil Abloh (enormous logos placed for visibility in Instagram photos are now the norm in fashion) to the horribly corporate Brandless. Even the names of boring basics companies like “Common Threads” and “Universal Standard” reflect the the popularity of genericness, writes Alanna Okunn at Racked. Put it this way: Supreme bricks can only sell in an era where it’s totally fine to like commodities.

Crucially, this doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to seek individuation. As I’ve argued elsewhere exclusivity is fundamental to any meaning-amplifying strategy. Nor is this to delegitimize some of the recognizable advancements popularized alongside the first wave of mass authenticity aesthetics. Farmer’s markets, the permaculture movement, and the trend of supporting local businesses are valuable cultural innovations and are here to stay.

Nevertheless, now that authenticity is obsolete it’s become difficult to remember why we were suspicious of brands and commodities to begin with. Maintaining criticality is a fundamental challenge in this new era of trust. Unfortunately, much of what we know about being critical is based on authenticity ethics. Carles blamed the Contemporary Conformist phenomenon on a culture industry hard-set on mining “youth culture dollars.” This very common yet extraordinarily reductive argument, which makes out commodity capitalism to be an all-powerful, intrinsically evil force, is typical of authenticity believers. It assumes a one-way influence of a brand’s actions on consumers, as do the field of semiotics and the hopeless, authenticity-craving philosophies of Baudrillard and Debord.

Yet now, as Dena Yago says, “you can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony.” If we no longer see brands and commodity capitalism as something to be resisted, we need more nuanced forms of critique that address how brands participate in society as creators and collaborators with real agency. Interest in working with brands, creating brands, and being brands is at an all-time high. Brands and commodities therefore need to be considered and critiqued on the basis of the specific cultural and economic contributions they make to society. People co-create their identities with brands just as they do with religions, communities, and other other systems of meaning. This constructivist view is incompatible with popular forms of postmodern critique but it also opens up new critical opportunities. We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Trust in business can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work."
tobyshorin  2018  authenticity  culture  anthropology  hispters  sellouts  sellingout  commercialism  kanyewest  yeezy  yeezysupply  consumerism  commercialization  commodification  personalbranding  branding  capitalism  shepardfairey  obeygiant  tourism  sarahperry  identity  critique  ethics  mainstream  rjaymagill  popculture  aesthetics  commentary  conformism  scale  scalability  venkateshrao  premiummediocre  brooklyn  airbnb  wework  local  handmade  artisinal  economics  toms  redwings  davidmuggleton  josephpine  jamesgilmore  exclusivity  denayago  systems  sytemsofmeaning  meaning  commodities  k-hole 
april 2018 by robertogreco

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