“Just for fun.”


Actor Zac Efron faced online criticism after he on Friday posted an image of himself in dreadlocks on social media.  


“Just for fun,” Efron said in the Instagram post, punctuating the caption with a "rock on" emoji. 

(Instagram)

But not everyone was in the mood to rock out with the Hollywood heartthrob. Many commenters criticized Efron for feeling entitled to dreadlocks, a fashion associated with Rastafarianism and African-American culture in the United States. 


“This is literal cultural appropriation and nothing about my culture is ‘just for fun,'” one Instagram user said. 


“You have been afforded so much privilege and world experiences that should also inform you that dreadlocks on white people is cultural appropriation,” said another. 


Others came to Efron's defense. 


“This is WHY Trump is president,” said one commenter. “Playing the race card over and over about every little thing possible. The rest of the world is bored by this- leave Zac alone he looks good with it.”


“The comments on here are ridiculous,” said someone else. “Do people scream cultural appropriation comments when they see a picture of Niki [sic] Minaj wearing a blond wig? No.. no one should care about something as insignificant as someone else’s hair.”


Need to know: Dreadlocks, which are essentially tangled strands of hair, have turned up in many cultures across thousands of years. Evidence of their use has been found in ancient India, ancient Egypt, Germanic tribes, Vikings, Pacific Islanders, early Christians, the Aborigines, and the New Guineans as well as a number of African tribes. 


White American counter-culture types have dabbled in dreadlocks for years with varying degrees of success. In 2016, video of a student at San Francisco State University being harassed for wearing the hairdo went viral.

What they're saying: Debate over cultural appropriation -- and where, if anywhere, to draw the line between it and productive cultural exchange -- intermittently seizes the internet. In May, a white Utahan high schooler caused a backlash, and then counter-backlash, by tweeting photos of herself in a Chinese-style prom dress.

 

Critics of cultural appropriation tend to hail from the left and to raise concerns about exploitation and disrespect of less powerful cultures. Defenders, often on the right, decry the whole notion as socially divisive, regressive, and ahistorical. 


Relatedly, actress Scarlett Johansson was last week widely reprimanded, and lightly defended, for taking a role as a trans man, with some arguing it was unfair to the character and real-life trans actors.