November 28, 2009

Native float joke on Tonight Show

Conan O'Brien does it again. On Wednesday's Tonight Show (airdate: 11/25/09), he mentioned the Oneida parade float:New York is getting ready for Thanksgiving. Yep. One of the f-- [cheers for New York City]

You're not there now...ah. So settle down.

Yeah, one of the floats at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City this year is going to feature a group of Native Americans. Which is cool. [applause] Yeah. Yeah, that's a good idea. Yeah.

Yeah, the Native Americans are happy 'cuz thanks to the bad economy, Manhattan is back to being worth only $24, all came full circle.

Twitter Tracker

Unfortunately, O'Brien undercut this "cool" joke with his subsequent Twitter Tracker bit. This is an occasional comedy sketch in which his announcer reads supposedly "hot" celebrity Twitter tweets.

For Thanksgiving, the show relabeled tweets as "twanks" (tweets saying "thanks"). It accompanied these "twanks" with the Twitter bluebird wearing a Plains chief headdress and warpaint. First the bluebird "chief" shot a flaming arrow into the "Twanks" logo. Then it destroyed the logo with a tomahawk toss.

Dead Mayans?

Then the show's first guest, comedian Norm McDonald, came on. He joked about the movie 2012, which he'd seen a commercial for during the break. After wondering if people were supposed to fear the year 2012 in advance, he launched the following exchange:MCDONALD:  It's not that frightening to me and I'll tell you why.

O'BRIEN:  Oh, really...why's that?

MCDONALD:  Well, uh, the Mayans, apparently, very bad predictors.

O'BRIEN:  Oh! [laughter]

MCDONALD:  So they said the world will end in the year 2012. However, since then, they have all died. [laughter and applause]

O'BRIEN:  Good point.
Actually, not a good point. I'm not sure the Maya ever predicted that they'd be around in 2012. Smart prognosticators understand that every civilization declines and falls, including their own.

Of course, Newspaper Rock readers know that the Maya didn't predict the end of the world in 2012. And that millions of Maya are still alive and practicing their religion. The Maya civilization arguably died, but not the people.

There's your yin and yang of media representations for you. First Conan tells a joke noting that Indians are alive and participating in current events. Yay! Then he does a bit portraying Indians as stereotypical people of the past, known only for their deadly weapons. Boo! Then his guest says an entire ethnic group is dead when it isn't. Double-boo!

Anyway, I continue to give The Tonight Show credit for mentioning Native news and people, even it if doesn't do it well. Maybe Conan will have an Indian--Sherman Alexie? Buffy Sainte-Marie? Charlie Hill?--as a guest someday. And no, I don't count Jessica Biel or Taylor Lautner.

For more on the Thanksgiving float, see Oneidas Don't Care About Peace?! For more on The Tonight Show, see Taylor Lautner on Tonight Show and 2012 Joke on Tonight Show.


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