January 02, 2011

Sitting Bull joke in Mad Men

In the third episode of Mad Men's second season, The Benefactor (airdate: 8/10/08), a comedian jokes about a fat woman. One of his lines is:Hey, get Sitting Bull on the phone. We found the last buffalo.I doubt an Indian joke would be among the first 100 retorts that came to mind in the early 1960s. Again, the writers seem to be going out of their way to mention Indians. Good for them, although it doesn't quite ring true in this context.

Later, someone concerned about being fired says "I'm one gone paleface"--an oblique reference to Indians. So Mad Men has made several references to Indians in the space of its first 16 episodes. That isn't a coincidence; it's a conscious or unconscious choice by someone.

For more on the subject, see Mohawk Airlines in Mad Men and Indians in Mad Men.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but nobody in Mad Men is politically correct. Several of the characters treat women as sex objects, and one's openly antisemitic, a prejudice that everyone agrees is not permissible. Of course, if we had a 60s-era media empire without prejudice, we'd be talking about politically correct history.

Anonymous said...

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

Burt said...

You miss the point "anonymous", this series is written TODAY by writers attempting to recapture that period in time when lines were drawn with civil rights, the anti-war movement with racism in full swing with Hollywood and the media. Wounded Knee, the second, was not yet and Iron Eyes Cody was in the process of steering his canoe with that famous teardrop.

It is safe to say that racism, when it comes to Americas first peoples, is part of American language, expression and culture thought and everyone that has their 15 minutes of fame is guilty of it.

What is worthwhile to see and hear is that this form of racism has been challenged on a national consciousness from African American; Jewish; Asian; Latino' females; and even gays, but American Indian people seem to be an accepted target and the norm for racial remarks in the American public; media and entertainment outlets.

Why?

Burt said...

I do not buy into the term "politically correct". That phrase is a cop-out used in answering a question or finding resolve in the thought process.

Remember, Jesus dying for everyone's sins was political correctness!

Rob said...

I didn't chastise Mad Men for politically incorrect comments, Anonymous. Neither here nor in Mohawk Airlines in Mad Men.

Rather, I simply noted the existence of their politically incorrect attitudes. Indeed, in the Mohawk posting, I said Don Draper's comments were too correct--i.e., too sensitive for the times.

In this posting, my main point was that the joke seemed out of place, not politically incorrect. I think Jimmy the comedian was supposed to be a Catskills-style Jewish entertainer. I don't think a Sitting Bull joke is the first or second thing that would come to his mind.

Anonymous said...

Remember the Seinfeld episode, where he had purchased a wooden Indian for Elaine, and a native woman was visiting her?

Burt said...

That particular episode gets two thumbs up from my perspective!

Seinfeld exposes just how much everyday "remarks" and puns people take at native culture on a daily basis with or without being malicious or intentional. I am glad you brought that up!

Seinfeld is trying to date a pretty native girl while constantly making racial jabs like "Indian giver" or "bury the hatchet" as Kramer shuffles around a front store wooden Indian.

This episode does more to bring light to racism towards natives in 30 minutes than any contemporary show I have seen yet!

Diane Wounded Horse Wade said...

I posted the Seinfeld comment,but put it anonymous because I hardly ever speak out about things like this. But if I don't then it makes it okay for people to use My grandfather's (Yes, I am a direct descendant) name as a joke.

Anonymous said...

There's also a scene where Harry, Pete, and Ken are meeting for lunch and Harry gets a phone call.

He says something like "It's probably those Ghanas at CBS trying to screw me again".

Pete says "who?"

As Harry walks off he says "Order for me - Caeser salad no dressing"

: )

Great show.