We are excited to announce our very first “Editors’ Forum.” As part of this initiative, we are calling for blog submissions on the fascinating topic of “Popular Culture Representations of Anthropologists.”
Cara Delevingne’s ‘Peg the Patriarchy’ moment from the 2021 Met Gala undoubtedly missed the mark. Delevingne and Dior both failed to credit the original creator of the slogan, a black, queer sex educator Luna Matatas. Beyond this transgression, Delevingne’s message and its delivery were blatant examples of the contradictory messages often encoded in mainstream depictions of non-normative sexualities. Delevingne clearly thought her stunt was groundbreaking, or at the very least, intelligent and thought-provoking. This begs the question of why, exactly, mainstream representations of non-normative sexualities so often miss the mark, and often do more harm than good.
To this day, I love fried Spam and eggs. The crunchy and salty slice of processed mystery meat dipped in just cooked egg yolk is one of my favourite breakfasts. After all, it was the breakfast that I grew up eating on Sunday mornings when we’d all sit around the table and mum would hand out these small rectangles of fried salty goodness. I didn’t think it was that strange till I had a conversation with some of my friends who furrowed their little brows in disapproval, “ew, Spam is gross, it’s like dog food”. I quickly learned that my beloved Spam breakfasts were not as commonplace as they seemed, but rather they were an oddity. In a world of bacon and egg rolls with hash browns, my beloved family breakfasts of Spam and rice were distinctly different.
The notion of the Unreliable Narrator is, for me, not a critique of the perceived moral failings of the anthropological project, but a methodological narrative construct integral to the work of writing culture. The question of unreliability is not a question of believability but of what parts of a complex and convoluted truth we the readers are willing to sign on to and invest in. It reflects an understanding and acceptance that no single truth is wholly accurate but also that no individual account is without some measure of reality.