Palin’s presence attracted an estimated 12 million eyeballs to a program that included a rap song comedian Amy Poehler performed while Palin nodded and raised the roof to the beat.
In the skit, two white SNL actors dressed as “Eskimos” provided back-up vocals to Poehler’s rap.
“The question is: Is this acceptable?” Dan Rearden, a University of Alaska Anchorage professor, said. He was speaking at a panel discussion, held at the Consortium Library on Nov. 6 to address stereotypes about Alaska Natives and Alaskans in movies and television.
He showed clips of movies over the last 50 years in which Alaska Native people were portrayed as primitives who lacked basic technology of the day, sensationalized as exotic “others” engaged in “secret” rituals, or otherwise misrepresented in terms of what Alaska Native cultures are like.
In one clip from the Disney movie “Snow Dogs,” actor Cuba Gooding Jr. refers to a dream he had about being born an Eskimo as a “nightmare.”
In another clip from the same movie, his character chats with a friend who encourages him to get “some Nanookie” in Alaska.
“Children are watching this in a Disney film,” Rearden said. “The message is, if you’re Eskimo, that’s a nightmare. What’s at stake with kids watching movies like this?”
My name is Sarah Palin
You all know me
Vice-presidential nominee of the GOP
Gonna need your vote in the next election
Can I get a "woot woot!" from the senior section?
McCain got experience, McCain got style
But don't let him freak you out when he tries to smile
Cause that smile be creepy
But when I'm VP
All the leaders in the world gonna finally meet me
How's it go Eskimos
Tell me, tell me what you know Eskimos
How you feel Eskimos?
Tell me, tell me what you feel Eskimos
As for the "Eskimos" themselves, the white cast members of SNL occasionally play people of other races (e.g., Fred Armisen as Barack Obama). I imagine it would've been hard to find two qualified Inuit performers in New York City on short notice.
The only stereotype here is having the "Eskimos" wear hooded parkas--as if they can't leave home without them--even in temperate NYC. On the other hand, the skit shows the faux Eskimos dancing in a rap song. Overall, I'd say the depictions were a wash.
For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.