November 26, 2012

Chief Firewater surfboard cleaner

Someone on Facebook posted this image and link:

Chief FirewaterChief FirewaterTM surfboard cleaner and wax remover is The Original and best known surfboard cleaner since 1987.

Chief Firewater surfboard cleaner is a wax, tar and adhesive remover optimized for cleaning surfboards and is the best and safest way to keep your surfboard clean. Find out what surfers say about Chief Firewater!

Wow. This company name and logo aren't too racist!

At least the founder didn't go for a Plains headdress. But note the big nose and stern expression. This is still a negative view of Indians.

It goes without saying that any association of Indians with drinking is stereotypical if not racist. Would you depict a black ghetto dweller named MC Hooch-alot? A white CEO named Sir Boozington? How is this any different?

I don't see an explanation of the name's origin on the website. But it's not a quirky choice unrelated to the founder's beliefs. He proves this with a second image showing what looks like a Native descending to the surf from a plateau of tipis.

Since the company is based in Southern California, we have to assume this isn't Native Hawaiian--you know, the people who actually invented surfing. The cacti also suggest a location in Southern or Baja California. And there's no scenario where tipis should be near an ocean.

In other words, the image confirms that the founder has a romanticized or stereotypical view of Indians. It probably involves a wild and free lifestyle of drinking, partying, and surfing. Except for the surfing part, that's roughly why every white hipster appropriates Indian culture--to suggest he and his products are more unconventional than the alternatives.

Anyway, no one is trying to shut this company down...yet. But it's a typical example of how people think about Indians. I.e., they lived in the past, carousing and enjoying life, free from the constraints of civilization. Then they vanished.

For more on the subject, see McFadden's "Drink Like a Indian" Party and Paul Frank's Racist "Powwow."

1 comment:

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