The Nightmare Before Christmas And Cultural Appropriation

The Nightmare Before Christmas And Cultural Appropriation

It’s not only a lovely film but also a great allegory.
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Around Halloween, I always get the opening music from The Nightmare Before Christmas stuck in my head (“This is Halloween, this is Halloween…”). And the closer we get to Christmas, the more the rest of the songs will be in my head (“Making Christmas, making Christmas…”). But Nightmare isn’t really a Halloween movie, nor is it a Christmas movie. It isn’t about scaring your pants off or getting into the spirit of giving. Just like the recent Disney film Zootopia, Nightmare is an allegory. It’s about a social justice topic that a lot of people have a hard time explaining or understanding: cultural appropriation.

Culture is a fluid concept. It’s nigh-impossible for diverse people to interact without becoming exposed to and adopting aspects of other lifestyles. That is not cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when one group exploits the culture of another group, taking their practices or intellectual property without first asking permission or even having any understanding of the purpose or significance of the culture. The appropriating group then benefits from the use of the appropriated group’s culture, repackaging it and misrepresenting it so it’s “theirs” now, while the appropriated group goes unrecognized.

In the United States, the white Christian majority appropriates minority cultures. For example, white people perform black people’s music styles without giving credit to their origins or recognizing the purpose of the styles, and white people dress in Halloween costumes that mimic many other cultures’ outfits, ignoring the significance of the outfits to the cultures they’re from.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington appropriates Christmas.

Jack is the king of “Halloweentown”, which sets up and performs Halloween every year. One year, he gets bored with his job and decides he wants to try something new. He stumbles across “Christmastown”, sees it as something cool and special, and decides he wants to be a part of it. But instead of talking to the people of Christmastown about it to learn more, he takes pieces of Christmas back to Halloweentown and tries to understand it there.

But it’s impossible to truly understand another culture from the perspective of one’s own culture, and Jack can’t figure out what Christmas “means” by looking at it through a Halloween lens. Jack eventually decides that it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t understand Christmas—he should just take Christmas for himself, and “improve” it by making it more like Halloween!

So Halloweentown sets about creating a twisted version of Christmas with gloomy decorations and monstrous toys (singing as they do so about how “it’s ours this time!”). They even kidnap Santa Claus so Jack can do his job for him, ignoring Santa’s protests. In our world, minorities protest white Americans’ exploitation of their culture all the time, and are similarly ignored.

Naturally, Jack’s Christmas is a disaster; the people of the world are terrified by his presents. Realizing his mistake, Jack and his friends hurry to return Santa to his role so he can fix Christmas. And because it’s a Disney movie, everything works out for the best: Christmas is restored to its proper form, and Jack learns that he can’t just go around stealing other people’s holidays.

Jack liked Christmas and thought it was cool, but that didn’t give him the ability to replicate it. It also didn’t give him the ability, or the right, to take it and “improve” it—Halloween and Christmas are different holidays with different purposes and meanings! Because of Jack’s meddling and theft, Christmas, and everyone who understood and would have otherwise benefited from Christmas, suffered. And the same goes for people of different cultures in the real world.

At the end of the film, Santa brings snow to Halloweentown, a gesture of willingness to share his culture with the curious Halloween people, who finally get a sense of what makes Christmas different from Halloween. Like I said before, it’s okay to share cultures, if all people involved are okay with the exchange, and if the group that really owns the cultural practices still gets to call their culture their own. Respect and understanding are key when interacting with other cultures. Unfortunately, in the real world, the practices and properties of the “Christmastowns” often continue to be exploited by the unrepentant “Jack Skellingtons”.

Cover Image Credit: The Daily Beast

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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After 'Extremely Wicked' And 'The Stranger Beside Me,' We Now Understand The Criminal Mind Of Ted Bundy

1 hour and 50 minutes, plus 550 pages later.

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Netflix recently released a movie in May called "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile" (2019), based on the life of Ted Bundy from his girlfriend's viewpoint.

In 1980, an author and former Seattle police officer, Ann Rule, published a book about her experience and personal, close friendship with Ted Bundy, called "The Stranger Beside Me."

These two sources together create an explosion of important information we either skim over or ignore about Ted Bundy. Watching this movie and reading this book can really open your eyes to who Ted Bundy really was. Yeah, there are the confession tapes on Netflix, too, but these other things can really tie it all into one big masterpiece of destruction.

I swear, it will blow your mind in different ways you never thought possible.

In the movie, "Extremely Wicked", Zac Efron stars as the infamous Ted Bundy, America's most notorious serial killer. He portrayed the murderer who kidnapped, killed, and raped 30 women or more. Personally, he made a great Ted Bundy, mannerisms and all. Lily Collins stars as Ted's girlfriend who was easily manipulated by Ted and believed that he was innocent for years.

The movie is told in the order that Liz, Ted's girlfriend, remembers.

In the book, "The Stranger Beside Me", Ann Rule writes about Ted Bundy, who used to be her old friend. They met while working at a crisis center in the state of Washington and were close ever since. Like Liz, Ann believed he was innocent and that he was incapable of these horrific crimes.

Ted Bundy had made both Liz and Ann fools. He easily manipulated and lied to both women about many things for years, his murders being "one" of them.

Okay, so we all know that Ted Bundy was absolutely guilty as hell and totally murdered those women. 30 women or more. He literally confessed to that, but researchers and authorities believe that number to be way higher.

But... you must know that the movie and the book tell two different stories that lead to the same ending. That's why it's so intriguing.

At one point, I couldn't stop watching the movie. Then, I bought Ann Rule's book and was completely attached to it. I couldn't put it down.

For me, Ted Bundy is interesting to me. Unlike most young girls today, I don't have a thing for him nor do I think he's cute or hot. I know that he used his charm and looks to lure women into his murderous trap. That's why it's so hard to understand why this movie and book created a new generation of women "falling in love" with Ted Bundy.

GROSS: He sodomized women with objects. He bludgeoned women with objects or his own hands. He was a necrophile. Look those up if you have not a clue of what they mean. That could change your mind about your own feelings for Ted Bundy.

After "Extremely Wicked" and "The Stranger Beside Me", I now understand the criminal mind of Ted Bundy. He was insane, but he was also smart, put together, educated, charming, and lots more. That's why I'm so interested in why his brain was the way it was.

The criminal mind is an interesting topic for me anyway, but for Ted Bundy, it was amazing to learn about.

I highly recommend both the movie and the book I quickly read in two weeks! If you want answers, they are there.

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