Tiki is fantastic. It’s a great encapsulation of America’s penchant for re-synthesizing other cultures. Yes, it’s laughably inauthentic but that’s rather the point. Much like Hollywood it’s a fantasy – just one that’s best enjoyed with a strong drink served in a moai head glass.
And for an in-depth exploration of the phenomena the new book Tiki Pop: America imagines its own Polynesian Paradise looks to be just about perfect. There’s a really great article “SUN, SEA AND SEX Why mid-century America couldn’t get enough of Polynesia’s exotic Tiki culture…” on over here at We Heart that’s got me itching to buy a copy. I love the article’s pull quotation:
“It’s not hard to see why Tiki Culture took off in America. The perfect antidote to the repressed society of the time, Tiki’s strongly sexual overtones – hip-swaying, bare-breasted hula maidens and the dangerous appeal of savage masculinity – were just what the doctor ordered.”
Now that’s some tiki. ;)