Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is It Racist and Offensive or Simply Vintage Kitsch?

I was poking around some different blogs, and came across a heated debate where the blog owner bought, among other things, a mid-century "African Zulu" type statue. It had big red lips, a caricature of sorts, much like the image above. (I won't mention names or blogs as she was really inundated with comments, mostly negative, and has closed comments to that post, regardless).

Now while I skimmed the responses, it seems a lot of people took offense to the black statue she'd bought and planned to display in her home, calling it "racist and offensive".

The discussion continued, and the question was asked: Are all vintage black statues considered "racist"...?

What if the person collecting it was Black themselves? Would that make a difference?

Or what about the negative stereotype of the "lazy mexican" taking a siesta. This was brought up a few years ago when a restaurant depicted a man in a sombrero, taking a siesta, and people called it "racist".

Does this statue also become racist?

Is it sexist to show pin-up models of a silly blond without a clue, who only caters to men and doesn't ask any questions because women are only good as sex kittens without brains?

Or is this sexist because it shows women doing "men's work"...?

What about the Japanese stereotypes? The big grin, the broken English. Racist?

Is this also racist, or not, and why?

Would you instantly dislike someone if you knew they collect Nazi memorabilia?

What if their Grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. Would your opinion change?

Or photos of Nazi's. Would you leave someone's house who had a photo of a Nazi displayed?

What if you later found out it was Oskar Schindler? A man who saved many Jews?

I'm curious what your thoughts are about this subject. Should we get rid of all "offensive" vintage things, and never display them, or enjoy them as an item from a different time, no offense intended?