May 15, 2010

Cowboys & Findians in The Dudesons

The DudesonsThe Dudesons is a Finnish television series, which originally started in January 2001 under the Finnish name Extreme Duudsonit. A combination of extreme stunts, comedy and reality, the show has become the most widespread Finnish TV-series of all time. The show follows the every day life of four best friends, who have a tendency for chaos and perilous situations.

The Dudesons in America: 2010

After a multi-million dollar deal with MTV, a new show called The Dudesons in America was green lit. With a budget of six million dollars, it would consist of the same line-up of all four Dudesons, and is set to be produced by both Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine.

The first episode was shown on MTV May 6th, 2010, to widespread critical acclaim. The show has so far been very successful.
Cowboys & Findians is the second episode of The Dudesons in America. Here's the official description:The Dudesons want to know if they can hack it like the original Americans once did, so they have found a Native Indian mentor named Saginaw who has agreed to lead them through seven painful rites of passage. Ranging from a canoe ride from hell to a game of ball busting dominoes with totem poles--even a 911 trip to the hospital won't stop the Dudesons from pursuing their goals of becoming honorary members of the tribe.A blogger named Stephen gives us his take on it:

"The Dudesons" Mark a New Low...I thought the Hipster headdresses were weird enough and our new "Indian" friends at the Stanford Powwow equally awkward. But ladies and gentlemen, there is a new winner. And I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Meet The Dudesons--four Finnish friends whose new MTV television show combines wild stunts and outrageous comedy...

...and the most unbelievable ignorant and disturbing take on Native culture seen in decades!
Rob's review

The four Dudesons appear in front of teepees wearing phony feathers and facepaint. One has a toy bow and arrows. They're joined by actor Saginaw Grant, who plays "Saginaw, King of All Indians."

Right off you know this is going to be bad. It combines the most common Plains stereotypes with a strong implication that all Indians are the same.

Stephen describes the action:Not only do they dress in outrageous Indian headdresses and outfits but they make a complete mockery of Native spirituality and culture. They rescue their "Indian" brothers in jail from the evil cowboys by being yanked off a horse. They attempt to fly like the eagles by driving an SUV off a ramp and into a moving target. And as "Saginaw" instructs them, they must only catch fish with their mouths like "real Indians" using a rotating fish slapping machine of course.Here's a slideshow of the show's lowlights:

The Dudesons | Ep. 2 | 'Cowboys & Findians'

"Some Cowboys and Findians."

"Jukka and Native Indian mentor, Saginaw, share some gossip."

A Dudeson shows his mastery of canoe paddling in mid-air.

"Jarppi: Finnish Dudeson turned Native Indian Male Model." This is just before the idiot jumps onto a barrel to prove his horse-mounting skills. The totem pole is a prop that has nothing to do with the rest of the show.

Jarppi the Dudeson tries to catch a fish in his mouth. Saginaw (Grant) claims this is a Native practice, but it's not one I've ever heard of.

Being dragged by a horse is another alleged Native rite of passage.

"Flying like an eagle" is the final alleged Native rite of passage.

Jarppi and other Dudesons receive golden feathers from Grant, who says they've earned honorary membership in his (unspecified) tribe.


I don't know if I'd call this a new low in stereotyping. I've seen a lot of terrible stereotypes in my time. But it's probably the worst stereotyping of the month, if not the year. It's probably the worst mockery of Indians on TV in several years. And the final "ceremony" may be the most repugnant misuse of feathers ever.

At least the Dudesons didn't try to kill, torture, or scalp anyone. That might've made them the stupidest stereotypers ever. Alas, I suspect these wannabes think they're "honoring" Indians by fabricating their "rites of passage."

Then there's Saginaw Grant's role. I don't know what his situation is, but no self-respecting Indian should've participated in this idiocy unless he was desperate for money. Grant seems like a tool or a fool for giving this modern-day minstrelry a veneer of respectability.

It goes without saying that this show is racist. Can you imagine the Dudesons play-acting as primitive Africans in grass skirts and bones? No, of course not. Singling out one race for stereotyping is a textbook example of racism.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.


Stephen Bridenstine said...

Thanks for the post. Randomly catching this show on TV was the highlight (lowlight?) of my weekend.
I know American Indian culture is big in Norway (like in Germany) so I'm curious if that played a role in The Dudesons choice of the Indian theme. Regardless, not a pleasant half hour to watch (especially when you consider the reach of MTV to our nation's precious young minds!)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Stephen. The saddest part is why an "Indian Instructor" decided to play the part. I'm presuming he was paid(maybe not well enough) to play the "Indian Instructor". I am sure he has embarressed those in his tribe. As for the show, its nothing new except for the characters. MTV's JackAss has been doing crazy stuff like that before "Dudesons" came into existance. And Jackass hasn't used "indian themes" in their stunts.


Anonymous said...

I have a very hard time believing that anyone in the world would actually believe that the Dudesons episode was displaying real Indian culture. The "Indian" elements are intentionally so absurd, surreal and far out there, that any possibility of the show increasing ignorance or strengthening pre-existing stereotypes is non-existent.

Instead, the episode plays as satire of misconceptions and cliches about Indians: Four Finnish men are displaying their idea about what it means to be an Indian, based on a very cartoonish, silly and ignorant world view. So instead of re-inforcing stereotypes of Indians, the show re-inforces stereotypes about ignorant foreign people coming to America.

This seems to be the focal point of the whole show. The next episode apparently tells about their attempts to build a space shuttle and travel to space. I would except a lot of retarded misconceptions about NASA and space travel in general.

In order for any racist misconceptions to be re-inforced, the show would have to have even slightly semi-belieavable descriptions about Indian culture. Which it has none. If anything, the episode made fun of it's stars and general racist misconceptions, which is the opposite of making fun of Indians.

Stephen Bridenstine said...

Hmm... You make an interesting and compelling argument but I don't know if I can be that generous with this episode.

Let's say this is satire and they are ridiculing the stereotypes. How many people do you think will actually “get it”? My experience has taught me that between our school curriculum and popular culture, many young people (MTV's target demographic) do not have an informed or accurate grasp of modern Native people and culture. Without this counterpoint, these “misconceptions and cliches about Indians” go unchallenged.

I really, really, really hope that when people do watch this episode they understand that these four guys are idiots and the blatant stereotypes they profess are just as idiotic.

So then...

Are the Dudesons akin to "Borat" simultaneously pointing out and satirizing the craziness and bigotry in our American society?

Maybe, but I don't really think so.

Anonymous said...

"Borat meets Jackass" was what I thought while watching the episode. It's not a full satire like Borat, and it's not as smart as Borat often was. But the Indian themes were pushed to such ridiculous and absurd extremes, that I doubt even the young MTV viewers would assume that The Dudesons were representing genuine Indian culture, or that they were even attempting to do so. Kids might be ignorant, but they are not that ignorant.

dmarks said...

I think there's a good chance that stuff like this will only re-inforce stereotypes, even if mildly. It won't shatter them.

m. said...

Yeah, what dmarks said. There are plenty of shows which have aired episodes containing blatantly anti-Indian (or just obnoxious) stereotypes, a la 'South Park'/'Family Guy', and it's safe to say that the majority of those who watch them never walk away with an anti-racist thought in their head. It just gives them new (albeit, unoriginal/stupid) ammunition for their next target or something to laugh at with their buddies the next day. Unfortunately, the majority of non-Native people in this world will not only remain sheltered from interaction with Indians, but as ignorant about our cultures as the day they were born for as long as their beloved media allows them!

Anonymous said...

MTV's always stupid. Racism is unusual, but stupidity isn't. MTV is probably the most censored network but likes to pretend to be rebellious.

But really? I don't know any Indian men who go around wearing traditional clothes, much less the stereotypes about traditional clothes.

Anonymous said...

Can someone really think that they are being serious about the stuff they do? You have to be kidding me. They even say that the only people they want to make look like idiots are themselves. And they market themselves as idiots, which they aren't. HP for an example is a qualified elementary school teacher. Jarno runs Rabbit Films which by now is a production company worth of millions of dollars.

Corine said...

MTV still needs to be made accountable for the racist trashy show- because this show will have/ has INTERNATIONAL viewing, not everyone will know that those feathers were fake, some idiots will believe they can be Native too- There will be MORE fake workshops on "Connecting withyour Inner Native" or some stupid shit like that. We have actually seen that happen with the Burning Man organizers last year. Even though the intention was comedy or to "honor Native people" (uh, where have we heard that before?) others will take the opportunity to exploit and make some fat cash off this.

ask yourself:
What are the positives of this show? Will it open new roles for Native people in the industry? Will it interest people to research Native Culture? Does this show celebrate Native Diversity? Or does it perpetuate more stereo types? How will this affect our Native children already being taunted at school? Does this show aid or hamper our causes such as and not limited to: high rates of suicide, domestic violence? Treaty right violations?

AIM SB is asking you to take 5 minutes- 5 minutes to call or shoot off an email to MTV

gmontano said...

I'm all for fun and idiots who want to crack their heads, balls, and backs... DON'T USE GENOCIDE TO MAKE YOUR JOKES... TAKE the EPISODE cowboys and findians....OFF THE AIR... and off this fb page, immediately...

I watched the episode cowboys and findians.... how you DIRESPECTED AND DISHONORED THE NATIVE AMERICANS... Took advantage of an elders kindness, Making fun of sacred ways, sacred eagle feathers, made fun of how our people were killed. you should have added a Fort with starvation, no shelter, like cattle, a little disease, and rather than bury them, set them on fire. like they did in REAL LIFE...

I was wondering when MTV or the Dudesons might make a Jew rights of passage show... dishonor Jews and make fun of gassing, torture add some tattoos, with a little genocide for laughs.
an African American rights of passage... some white hooded outfits, some slavery, lynchings and the such... you might as well disrespect everyone RIGHT...

MTV and these OUTSIDERS Dudesons, obviously have no regard for our history or the pain associated with it. Disrespect us, laugh and make fun of the genocide to all people... Great Job MTV. You're a fine example to all... no limits , no morals, no respect, no clue, wow this is whole new low for you.
the dudeson are the funniest shit ever, I AGREE, why do they need to use Native Americans, ways, beliefs... just do stunts to crack your shit... we WILL laugh ... no doubt.. using GENOCIDE is NOT FUNNY, and those who have NO culture, SEE NO problem because they have NOTHING sacred in there lives that they would fight for and protect like ... . like the finland dudes... just here for a fast buck ... and some lifelong injuries... which is okay it's not my body.

DON'T USE MY CULTURE... I can CHOOSE not to watch, but how many young impressionable youth are being lead to believe this crap... STOP... You're passing on hate and lies...

Anonymous said...

"those who have NO culture, SEE NO problem because they have NOTHING sacred in there lives that they would fight for and protect like ... . like the finland dudes..."

Lol so you're saying finland doesn't have a culture. You're just as ignorant.