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December 10, 2012
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Cultural appropriation? (Iranians might help here)

:icontherearenoturkeys:
ThereAreNoTurkeys Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Hi guys. I'm not sure if this counts as HWL, but 1. I couldn't figure out which forum to put this in and possibly receive an answer, and 2. if I'm wrong about doing this, I'll end up alienating a good friend of the family. (On that note, there seriously needs to be a "question and answer" forum, like HWL but less emotional, if you get what I mean.)

Here's the situation: I'm a playwright. Going to graduate this week with a BA in playwriting, and I really want to write a new play. My Middle Eastern History (Pre-Muhammad) class inspired me a GREAT deal. I love hearing about the Persian empire, especially after hearing so much about Sparta with that Frank Miller piece of crap a few years back (there were actually about 1200 Spartans fighting at Thermopylae...).

As a result, I want to do a play about the rise to power in 522 BCE of the Persian king Darius the Great, and the lies and debate surrounding this tale. Epic staging? Well, not quite... it'll be a screwball comedy, centered on Darius's real personality in contrast his enhanced image of himself as laid out in the mildly-famous Behistun Inscription ( [link] ).

I chose the ancient Achaemenid (Persian) empire as the subject for this comedy because I want to satirize American culture and wartime frustrations through a removed lens of a very, very foreign culture in time and place, as Gilbert and Sullivan did with The Mikado (it wasn't a satire of Japan as it was a satire of Britain, using the context of Japan so that it wouldn't be direct and British people could still enjoy it, if that makes sense!)

All characters will have equal parts silly and sympathetic - including a few outsiders. Darius will have a fictional Spartan friend, for example.

So my question is: is this an inappropriate thing where I'm claiming a different culture as my own? Or, since the Persian empire is long gone and holds no serious political power, is it fair game, or can I at least go about this plan in a way that doesn't disrespect those of Iranian descent?

TL;DR: I don't want to offend Ahura Mazda ;A; help, guys
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Devious Comments

:iconcrazylittleloon:
Crazylittleloon Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Student Writer
CONGRATS ON GRADUATING!
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:icontherearenoturkeys:
ThereAreNoTurkeys Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012
Hey, thanks! One more day! *les mis chorus*
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:iconcrazylittleloon:
Crazylittleloon Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Student Writer
WOOOO!
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:iconysliao:
YSLiao Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
I would put a big disclaimer up front, and go ahead and do it...
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:icontherearenoturkeys:
ThereAreNoTurkeys Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Fair enough, though since it's a play, an audience would not hypothetically see the disclaimer. In my experience, most directors would think a disclaimer at the beginning of the play would be kind of forced and corny.
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:iconsiegeonthorstadt:
siegeonthorstadt Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
western history is crap. period. only german and swiss archeologists and antropologists are alright, but the rest is full of ethnicentric oriantalist nationalist semi-militant civilian colonist crap. this is why you feel a bit guilty about "claiming a different culture as your own". cultures dont belong to todays nations. greeks dont have anything to do with todays romano-byzentinian heritage for example. and ancient aegean cultures had nothing to do with ancient greece, although the western scholars count these together.

western history is sided. very very sided. a western historian will reject outright that sumerians would have asian origins, not because he saw lacking evidence about this, but because he would refuse to count "horseriding savages" to make up the fundamental column of civilization, which the western people see as their own constant.

i was pretty much amazed how advanced my countrys history and archology were when i started reading history in english written by english-speaking authors. and how much almost none of them had source-presenting habits. this is easily put to test by reading an article in wikiepdia in english and than reading it in turkish. the difference between the sources, the analogy and everything is so defining that you start to feel like you fell into the ocean all of a sudden.

every history is sided you might say. russian historians would claim that humanity started from sytchia (which they see as russian ancestors) while a british one would make up an ancient celt-arian culture to defend his superiority. but one of the first lessons i learned in the archeology major was about how history should be perceived by neutrality and free of todays political tendencies or power-based system cringe.

countries like iran are proud of their history and emperors. talking crap about it is like cursing their family. you will always offend someone if you make a historical satyr. if not anyone, than you will offend the aryan supremacist power worshipper. so the only constant you should take here should be the accuracy of history. do not use wikipedia for this, its pure political and orientalist in these subjects. for accurate history of iran you need an iranian, russian and arab. not for asking them the history of persia but to search the sources in their own language about this subject.

tl:dr - just make a brief explanation in the intro with someone saying "the events and characters in this satyr are meant to make fun trough similitude and are not representing their originals in a claimed historical accuracy"
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:icontherearenoturkeys:
ThereAreNoTurkeys Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Yeah, pretty much, history is written by the victors. :D Then again, the battle of Kadesh, between Ramesses II and the Hittites, had to be falsely reported by the Egyptians as a brutal slaughter of all the Hittites. Every lost Egyptian battle had to be said to be a win to the Egyptian people - otherwise, the religious concept of Ma'at, or Egypt's balance of order in the universe (which requires Egypt to always win), would be disrupted, and the world would end!
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:iconsiegeonthorstadt:
siegeonthorstadt Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
yes! haha. i give this example many times as well, and than people still try to argue me that somehow that history is accurate because, for example, it has been verified by the egyptian scientists. lol
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:iconsachi-pon:
Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
congrats on your graduation =D !!!

i don't think this is disrespectful at all. i hate our politically correct culture where people will find ANYTHING to be "offended" about.
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:icontherearenoturkeys:
ThereAreNoTurkeys Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Thank you! It's exciting to finally get out of here.

And yeah, that would be my first thought, since most of my teachers just say "write what you WANT to write, and who cares what people think?" Then again, the audience starts writing letters if a white guy does a play with an all-black cast, for instance. I don't want to nip my reputation in the bud before I even establish it!
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