What On Earth Was Ke$ha Wearing On SNL?
By Verena von Pfetten
Comment: The headband, rings around the eyes, dots under the eyes, strips on the cheeks, and feathers on the shoulders strongly suggest an Amazon Indian. The rest of the tribal markings are just an abstraction.
Note that Kesha is wearing a black mask over her face. So she's literally as well as figuratively appearing in blackface.
Fortunately, there's nothing "tribal" about Kesha's song or performance. Apparently she just likes to dress up in colorful costumes.
In fact, her singing sounds mediocre unless it's electronically enhanced. One could argue that her performances are all about the spectacle of her costumed routines. Because they don't seem to be about her musical talent.
Indeed, I thought this costume was the most interesting thing about her two performances. If she had fashioned it without imitating an Indian, I might've approved. As it is, I consider it an interesting failure.
The problem with Kesha's costume is the usual one, of course. It positions Natives as primitive people of the past--wearing facepaint and feathers while everyone else is wearing suits, jeans, or dresses. Kesha probably doesn't know it, but many Amazon Indians wear Western clothes and hold Western jobs these days. Some even surf the Net and watch videos like the one below.
For more on Kesha, see What's So Wrong About Kesha? and Outrage Over Kesha's Performance. For more on SNL, see Indian Curse in Saturday Night Live and Cobell Skit in Saturday Night Live.