February 19, 2011

Wipeout jokes about savages and smallpox

TV SHOW WIPEOUT: Kidding around about Savages and Smallpox. Let them know how you feel!

by F.A.I.R. MEDIA (For Accurate Indigenous Representation)Another so called "reality show," another affront to Indigenous Peoples.

This time, the culprit is "WIPEOUT."

In an episode which aired on ABC Television, on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 the two hosts engaged in a little banter over "tribes of savages," and "blankets ridden with smallpox."

We wonder how far they would get with jokes about long train rides to gas chambers disguised as showers, or how about some quips about a walk in the woods to a good ole' lynching. It is apparent, that Indigenous Peoples truly are the last acceptable targets for such overt racism.

Please consider contacting the producers of the show, and requesting that they issue an apology. Ask that they hold all accountable, from the writers to the hosts who uttered these tasteless words.

"Wipeout executive producers are Matt Kunitz (Fear Factor) and Scott Larsen. Shye Sutherland, Kevin Wehrenberg, Trice Barto and J. Rupert Thompson are co-executive producers. The series is produced by Endemol USA. David Goldberg is the chairman of Endemol North America."

Contact Endemol USA:


Endemol USA Inc.
9255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1100
CA 90069 Los Angeles
United States of America
T: + 1 310 860 9914
F: + 1 310 860 1417
Comment:  In the video, the hosts are introducing the next obstacle course. The guy on the right claims he's a world traveler who searches for "new and exotic locales." "It was on one such expedition," he says, "that I discovered a tribe of savages building a crude structure." The guy on the left asks if the "savages" were crew members. The guy on the right responds, "Maybe. But they sold it to me for a handful of colored marbles and a blanket ridden with smallpox."

The first part of this bit is riddled with stereotypical language:

  • exotic
  • expedition
  • discovered
  • tribe
  • savages
  • crude

  • Basically, every noun, verb, and adjective is a loaded term. They all imply that Indians are strange, remote, and primitive--i.e., out of touch with the modern world.

    The second part, which implies the savages made a stupid trade because they're so ignorant, reinforces the message. It also puts a lighthearted spin on the idea of genocide. As the person who posted the video put it:Gee this is so funny. Next week the obstacle course will run through a shower filled with poison gas.It's thoughtless and insensitive, to put it mildly. You might make that kind of "joke" with someone you knew well--someone who shared your dark sense of humor. But you shouldn't make it on national TV in front of millions of strangers. Especially when some are likely to be the Indians you're characterizing as "savages."

    For similar cases of insensitivity, see Stereotypes in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and "Party Like It's 1492."


    dmarks said...

    "F.A.I.R. MEDIA"

    That's an unfortunate name.

    It also happens to be the name of a media group that promotes left-wing bias in media.

    Beyond that, it's also the name of a virulent anti-immigration group.

    This particular group will easily be confused with the left-wing media pressure group, and it is "FAIR Media's" fault for choosing a name that is already used.

    Shonie said...

    This does not surprise me at all. ABC/Disney sponsored most, if not all the American Indian Art Institutes (Santa Fe, NM) Summer Film Workshops they had a few years ago. The purpose of these workshops was to tell our stories and expose them to a wider audience. I attended one of these 6 week long workshops and let me tell you, ABC/Disney could care less about us Natives telling our stories. They simply wanted to take our stories and twist them up to appeal to the general public. If you're expecting an apology...good luck.

    While I was at the Summer Film Workshop I was told by a so-called mentor from Disney that the general public has their own perception of what Native Americans are, and will refuse to accept anything else. We at Disney know this and will capitalize on this whenever possible. It’s all about making money… it’s not about telling the truth.
    Mainstream media does not give a f_ck about Natives. It’s that plain and simple.