Earlier this week, I read a post about Thrawn, and accusations of cultural appropriation. Long story short, I disagree. However, I would also like to explain myself since this is a really touchy topic.
I would like to begin that saying Thrawn’s character is super important to me as someone who belongs to a marginalized group, considering that he rises through the ranks of a very speciest Empire that seeks to
One of the biggest arguments I’ve seen is Thrawn destroys cultures and takes from cultures, this based solely on his interaction with Hera and the Mandalorians in the recent season of Rebels.
This is not true. Off the bat, we know that a huge part of his character is actually the preservation and great respect of cultures. While his entire art collection is first and foremost used to study his enemies, it used to hold reverence to a culture the Empire may have destroyed, as is the case with Hera’s Kalikori, and other things we see in his office (The Temple Guard Mask, Gree’s Helment).
Let’s talk about Hera’s Kalikori for a moment.
The claim made is that his taking it is cultural appropriation. But that’s not true. Cultural appropriation would mean taking it, removing it’s cultural value, or using it in his own culture (much like non-natives wearing headdresses). But Thrawn doesn’t do that. He preserves it.
Consider that at the time, Slavin is destroying Ryloth by allowing the Empire to fester on the planet. He thinks the Twileks are below him. At the same time, the Empire already has a history of destroying non-human cultures.
That’s most likely why most of Thrawn’s art is holographed. Not only that, but there are the implications that the cultures he takes art from are wiped out, not just by the Empire, but due to time.
Relating this to Slavin Thrawn, and Hera, we see Thrawn take the Kalikori before Slavin throws it away as he said he would. Thrawn is preserving the Kalikori, because if he didn’t step in, Slavin would have destroyed it.
And why didn’t he give it to Hera then? Because he may have thought that Hera would die—this was the first time they had officially met.
Then there’s the fact where they are enemies, Thrawn literally had two choices. Give the Kalikori to Salvin, or take it for himself. Giving it to Hera was out of the question, but he could still save it, potentially for her to get in the future.
Secondly, I’d like to talk about Sabine’s weapon, and why Thrawn using it isn’t cultural appropriation, and why he’s not destroying their culture. I’m not even going to get into detail about how disgusted he looked when talking to Saxxon, but I will point out that it was Saxxon who was okay with destroying the Mandalorians, not Thrawn.
And I want to point out that it was Saxon primarily using Sabines weapon on the culture, and Thrawn was clearly disgusted about the entire situation. Unfortunately he is the mouthpiece for the Emperor, so the entire thing was under his jurisdiction, but Thrawn did not like it. He is not a fan of weapons of mass destruction, and canonically is anti-death star.
I don’t see anyone blaming Saxxon, the non-marginalized one for wanting to destroy his own culture.
(And on a personal note, I do think the implications though, that Thrawn is appropriating cultures while barring his own struggles as an alien in the Imperial Navy, while he is canonically being quite respectful to other cultures is slightly harmful, especially when we lump him with the rest of the Empire.
We have to remember that he is an alien who clearly respects and appreciates other alien’s cultures, but being in the position he is, while being the species he is, makes it impossible for him to go “all out” for them. That’s why we see small instances of it, him saving Hera’s Kalikori and being respectful of her, his entire face journey with Saxxon, and the instances in the novel where he saves aliens in the novel.
I just think it’s important to remember that, and slapping him with a term such as cultural appropriation negates everything his character is, and what it represents).
Just understand @inkstranger that it is easier to humanize me than to respect my Chiss-ness. Chiss culture has not been fleshed out in the official canon through books. Most fans know of the Chiss through HTTE Thrawn trilogy, SWTOR that has Chiss character make up and only a few have full RP guilds.
Lucasfilm isn’t going to educate fans on the Chiss until the last minute.
I tell people to read University of Sanbra report in Gamer from the 2000s. That is the most comprehensive Legends primer on Chiss.
Remember, I am not human. The Lucasfilm writers, artists and entity are. I think Filoni approaches my character development from an alien POV. When Leonard Nimoy died, I think Lucasfilm took tidbits of Trek Vulcan culture to create my current canon. In fact my group asked LFL to do it.
(as a POC mundane, I do take huge offense claiming Thrawn steals from cultures and appropriates them. Fans should block ban me if they feel that way because I don’t deal with that ignorance kindly at all. I’m just here to support Thrawn, play him the best way I know how strongly, accurately, and authentically. My group has spent shit tons of money when no one believed in us but LFL. They encouraged us. So when fuckass fans who have only seen ONE Star Wars Rebels show compared to the Celebrations we’ve promoted Thrawn and $10,000+, I really think bitches claiming bigotry need to STFU and STFD because they have no idea WTF they’re talking about)