No Middle Ground With Either/Or Strategy

Posted on February 23, 2011

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During our debate we focused on the issue of the LEGO toy company using elements of the  Maori culture in their new Bionicle toy series and whether it was right or wrong for the company to do so. I was on the team which sided with LEGO and that they  did not miss use the Maori culture. The other team sided with the Maori people and felt that the use of elements from their culture in LEGO’s new toy line was misleading and it improperly portrayed their heritage and culture. I was lucky enough to be on the side I agreed with in that LEGO did nothing wrong, however there are always No Middle Ground With Either/Or Strategy two sides to every issue.

The Maori people think that they should be consulted before any part of their culture is replicated or used in a way other then that of representing the Maori people  and they felt that LEGO was did just the opposite of that. They are not against the use of their culture in other ways but want to make sure that the appropriate recognition is given where due. This is why in 1993 they signed the Mataatua Declaration which was designed to protect the intellectual and cultural property rights of indigenous people and prevent events like this from happening.

When LEGO was designing their new toy line they were inspired by the Maori people and other Polynesian cultures and decided to let aspects of those cultures influence their new toy line. The Maori people felt as though their culture was being misrepresented and falsely portrayed through this new line and complained to LEGO about it. LEGO agreed to change any word or character associated with the Maori culture for the next release, proving that LEGO had no intentions of misusing their culture but instead found it inspiring.

If we only focus on who is right or wrong in this situation we miss out on other aspects of the situation and what they mean. The use of Maori words by LEGO should not be seen as wrong but instead innovative that a toy company was inspired by a culture and wanted to use aspects of it in creating a new toy line. This is an example of cultural theft but instead an example of someone taking an idea and being inspired and creating their own idea off of that. Artists of all types find inspiration from everything and use it when creating their next piece of work, with their own idea in mind.

Posted in: AMST 475