Saturday, December 26, 2009
Casually Passing Around Native Culture
I caught this add for The Polynesian Cultural Center earlier today. It was displayed at the Koolina Resort over on the West Side of Oahu.
One can't help but notice how Hawaii and its natives (i.e., Polynesians) are utilized by corporate entities in the global economy. What is the not so subtle subtext within this add regarding race, "primitive" culture, and the casual diffusion (or consumption) of that culture?
Are the "natives" learning or adopting mainstream, corporate, American, white culture? No, one might assume that is not what can or should happen in this context. Rather, while on vacation, it's the leisurely western tourists who can appropriate the "native culture" temporarily and play out their subdued primal instincts. In fact, this is their right, given that they have the means to pay for this luxury, and the native population is dependent on their capital.
Upon return from vacation, wealthy tourists can go back to their more advanced, sophisticated and refined lives, while the natives stay back in vacation-land to serve new tourists and seduce them with their primal performances (sarcasm). Clearly, Polynesian culture is denigrated into a tourist-based commodity for wealthy tourists to consume at their will and on their terms.
For more on this, see here and here.