December 12, 2008

Military craft, cars, and liquor

Melvin Martin's theory about Indian mascots also explains the phenomenon of naming military craft, cars, and other products after Indians. The goal is to associate the Indians' alleged savagery, wildness, and machismo with the objects.

Consider these examples:

Pontiac cars
Jeep Cherokee
Indian motorcycles

Crazy Horse malt liquor
Stone Tepee Pale Ale
Sitting Bull energy drink

The theory explains why you'll see a Pontiac car or a Crazy Horse malt liquor but not a Pocahontas car or a Sacagawea malt liquor. The manufacturers claim they're honoring the "dignity" or "nobility" of Indians, but they're not. If they were, they'd name their products after Indian women as often as they name them after men.

But Indian women don't have the same reputation for being fierce, tough, or brutal. So products with macho attributes are named after Indian men. And products without macho attributes (e.g., tampons, cosmetics, toilet paper) aren't named after Indians.


dmarks said...

Pontiac is one of the two GM divisions most likely to be axed in the current troubles, along with Saturn.

Unlike with the Jeep Cherokee, there is another reason that the Pontiac was called Pontiac besides just being named after an Indian: the division was located in a city called Pontiac. Pontiac is in Oakland County, and Oakland was the previous name of the division before it was renamed Pontiac.

Anonymous said...

"It Was, at One Time, My Hood's Favorite Beer!"

Does anyone recall the "Crazy Horse" malt liquor fiasco?

Anonymous said...

Re: Crazy Horse malt liquor

I mean by way of any personal anecdotes?

Rob said...

Good thing Chevrolet didn't move its Oakland division to French Lick, Indiana; Walla Walla, Washington; Truth or Consequences, New Mexico; Gay Head, Massachusetts; or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. The company would've gone bankrupt even faster than it did. ;-)

I was just getting my Stereotype of the Month contest started when the Crazy Horse story broke. Somehow I heard about the CRaZY HORSE line of clothing and the Crazy Horse brothel but not the Crazy Horse malt liquor. Not until it was too late, anyway.