May 27, 2010

MTV vs. AIM on The Dudesons

The Santa Barbara chapter of AIM sent MTV a letter about Cowboys & Findians episode of The Dudesons in America. That led to this exchange of e-mails:

A message from MTV and a response back--TAKE THE DUDESON EPISODE DOWN!From: Sarcione, AJ <>
Subject: RE: MTV & the Dudeson
To: "Aim Sb" <>
Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 1:51 AM


We appreciate your recent feedback regarding "The Dudesons In America." It is never MTV's intention to offend anyone. The series is about creating lighthearted humor, that at times, could integrate various themes as part of the overall stunt or prank. We take viewer feedback very seriously and thank you for reaching out.

AJ Sarcione
Senior Publicist, MTV
AIM's reply:From: Aim Sb <>
Subject: RE: MTV & the Dudeson
To: "AJSarcione" <>
Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 2:38 AM

Mr. Sarcione,

Thank you for the email.

We understand that you had no "intent" to offend anyone, but this episode goes beyond offensive and your choice in script has opened deep wounds of racism.

There are over 560 federally recognized sovereign Nations in the United States--hundreds of non-federally recognized Nations, and this episode lumps us all together in a horrific manner.

We have serious issues that affect our communities. We have to constantly address the manner in which our children are taunted in schools, and the inaccurate curriculum that is taught in the school system.

Since this show has aired we have received numerous complaints by Native parents that have already had to deal with their children being harassed by other children about what they had seen on the show. This episode of the Dudeson, not only encourages people to have misconceptions about First Nation people, but also perpetuates very offensive stereotypes about which we are, our spirituality, our ceremonies, our culture and customs.

Had this show been directed towards any other ethnic group, it would not have aired, and there would have been a huge backlash. Yet it appears we are an "open market"–-for these kind attacks, apparently because we are a smaller population and there is a history this kind of misrepresentation with the media and entertainment industry.

We researched your website and discovered that this episode violates your own campaigns such as: Fight for Your Rights, with the slogan "Speak Out/Stand Up Against Violence," to "bring forth awareness on America’s crime, drugs and violence issues," and "promoting social, political, and environmental activism in young people." You may have broken the color barrier for Afro-Americans, but this program has sent Native Americans back at least 50 years!

We will no longer accept or tolerate the perpetuation of stereotypes, or the desecration Of our regalia (the offensive fake headdresses), and sacred medicines (such as the eagle feathers on that episode).

There is so much more to say on this--we invite you to meet with us to discuss this in person. Please let us know when you and your office are available to meet and discuss this further.

If you do not take the show out of rotation and issue an apology to the Native American people by June 1, 2010, a complete boycott of your network and all your sponsors will begin.

Michael Fairbanks, Director
American Indian Movement Santa Barbara, CA
Comment:  Wow. Even for a non-apology, MTV's response is a little weak. Usually an offender will say something like, "We're sorry if our show offended anyone." But MTV didn't even acknowledge the offense.

Indeed, its language implicitly denies the offense. "MTV never intends to offend the 'offense' must be in your overactive imagination. Our show is known for its sense of humor, so if our irreverence bothers you, it's your fault. Quit complaining and go watch something else."

I'd like to hear about the Native children being harassed because of The Dudesons. It could've happened...or it could be hyperbole. You just can't tell.

Despite a few awkward phrases and mistakes, I like AIM's response. The key is challenging the so-called intent--telling MTV that its motives don't matter. As I've said many times, it's the results that matter, not the intent.

It's also true that MTV would never produce a whole show stereotyping blacks or Latinos in this fashion. That's a crushing argument, which is why stereotypers never address it. Protesters should keep hammering this point home until MTV and Dudesons supporters do address it.

For more on the subject, see The Dudesons, Polish Jokes, and Minstrel Shows and Dudesons Fans Don't Get It.

Below:  A Dudeson soars like an eagle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's more individual stereotypes that cause harassment. But not just one thing like the Dudesons, which is lighthearted and, yes, stupid humor. (Is there anything smart on MTV? Is there anything smart about stereotyping?)

But yeah, I can't imagine them doing it with anything else.