February 15, 2011

Miley Cyrus loves dreamcatchers

Adrienne Keene writes about Miley Cyrus in her Native Appropriations blog:

Miley Cyrus Enjoys Dream Catchers, Apparently

Miss Miley Cyrus was recently inked with her fifth tattoo, a dream catcher along her ribcage. It's supposedly to protect her four siblings, or something like that. Honestly, dream catchers are probably one of the most appropriated and exploited Native images--you see them everywhere. So I'm not supremely bothered by the tattoo, but it is annoying. However, everyone's favorite Disney starlet recently turned 18, and her 18th birthday was a "bohemian theme." Apparently, "bohemian"=dream catchers and feathers.The problem is, in many Ojibwe communities, dream catchers are still a sacred, and their creation involves specific ceremonies and prayers. The plastic commercial keychains sold in rest stops are making a mockery of a sacred object. When people buy the dream catchers because they're "pretty" or to ward off bad dreams, and aren't aware of the power and history behind the objects, it dilutes them to a commercial object disconnected from their origins and community.Commenters disagree

The blog's commenters disagree about whether Cyrus's actions are okay:I think its a cool idea and I'm glad Ms Cyrus celebrated her life with the dream catcher theme. I've seen it at weddings and casinos so what's the difference? Seems like she has an understanding of it and promoted the idea. The cake is awesome too.And:People who aren't native aren't going to understand the implications and hurt that goes along with this. The cake is stupid, her outfit is stupid and her tattoo is stupid. She doesn't know what any of it means, because if she did she'd never have done it. It's not okay, it's never okay. It's like me tattooing a naked picture of your grandmother who died of cancer on my breast and then taking her dead skin and putting it on a cake. Yes. It's that extreme. It doesn't matter if non-natives think its okay, it's not their culture and not their place to okay it. Deal with it.And:Not to defend Miss Cyrus, but a lot of people are proud to be part Native, and don't know how to appropriately express that. I totally understand that it can be offensive at times, but I think that people don't mean to be disrespectful and are actually trying to honor that heritage in a misguided way.Meanwhile, here's a guide to truly awful dreamcatchers:

The "Awful" Field Guide to Dreamcatchers

Comment:  Miley Cyrus has a whole wannabe thing going on. As you may recall, she also loves Pocahontas.

As usual, I tend to agree with Adrienne. It's too late to stop the exploitation of dreamcatchers. But if you have to have a dreamcatcher, get a genuine one from a Native and understand what it means. Don't just use it as a cake decoration or a tattoo because you think it's pretty.

For more on dreamcatchers, see Dreamcatchers Loser Cultural Significance and Dreamcatcher = Healing at Stanford.


Lise King said...

Lots of Natives have appropriated the dreamcatcher to make and sell to tourists, etc. Is that different, better?

Anonymous said...

You should warn that that Awful blog is, um, NSFW.

The CBear said...

Thanks for the props :)