June 16, 2013

Sleepless Entertainment's racist "Tribal Cosplay"

A Facebook friend posted an item about Sleepless Entertainment in Miami, Florida.

Apparently some Miami nightclubs hold dress-up (cosplay) nights on Thursday. I gather Sleepless Entertainment arranges the events and provides a few professional dancers to entertain the crowds, who may or may not dress up in the evening's theme.

Past themes include:

Down the Rabbit Hole (Alice in Wonderland)
Halfway to Halloween (skeletons, ghouls, etc.)
Star Wars Cantina
Lost City of Atlantis (mermaids)
Twisted Circus

So...Halloween-style parties every week. It seems harmless enough, except for this:

Pow Wow Tribal Cosplay Thursdays @ Spazio Nightclub

April 4 at 11:00pm in EDT
Spazio Nightclub in Miami, Florida
Feathers, Grass Skirts, Fire, Belly Dancing...ALL THE ABOVE will be waiting for you at our next event! Be sure to Dress up for FREE ENTRY ALL NIGHT or RSVP for free entry till 12:30!What was the event like? This pictures of Poca-hotties and hunks is typical:

No doubt they'd say they're members of some generic "global tribe" But they're using the Native American word "pow wow" and Native-specific headdresses, facepaint, and other accouterments. It's hard to read this as anything but stereotypical and racist mockery of Indians.

The fire-twirling and tiki-style mask aren't part of any American Indian culture, although they might qualify as Native Hawaiian. Yet these performers also have the facepaint and handprints specific to American Indian cultures. So Sleepless Entertainment is telling us all indigenous people are the same. The company's view is that they're barbaric people who wear strange costumes, do strange dances, and worship strange gods.

Look at the cosplay line-up: fictional characters, supernatural beings, aliens, mermaids, circus freaks...and Indians. One race is relegated to fantasy-land along with elves, fairies, ghosts, goblins, unicorns, and the rest. (Note the woman with elfin ears.) As far as Sleepless is concerned, Indians don't exist except in some make-believe realm.

Can you imagine if Sleepless held a Safari night with people dressed up as Africans in grass skirts and bones through their noses, shaking their spears and rattles and dancing with animals? That's exactly what this Tribal Cosplay night is. Yet no one seems to recognize the inherent racism.

I wonder what America's 566 federally recognized tribes would think of being portrayed as drunk, dancing, preening peacocks. I.e., as primitive savages who have no intellect, culture, or religion. Who exist only to satisfy their basic urges, like animals.

And spare us the arguments about how they didn't intend any offense, it's just harmless fun, don't take it so seriously, worry about more important things, etc., etc. Unless you have something new to say, don't bother defending this racist behavior.

For more on the subject, see Nicole Ritchie Dressed as "Indians" and Half-Naked Drummer Dressed as "Indian."


Sleepless Photos said...

As the photographer of these images i do NOT grant you the permission of using my photos for your blog. They are copy written and you don't have any rights to use them. Remove them asap.

Unknown said...

wow.... you have GOT to be one of the biggest MORONS for writing this garbage... you MUST not have much of a life ...seriously

Anonymous said...

ALSO you look quite ignorant calling native americans "indian"

Anonymous said...

1. Freedom of speech protects whatever it is they want to do.

2. Had they dressed as greeks "gods and godesses" I assure you, nobody would have cared.

3. You keep using the word "Indian" which is almost derrogatory.

Please, kill yourself.

Anonymous said...

Mainstream Indians on reservations support mascots and names like Redskins. A UPenn-Annenberg survey (http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/Downloads/Political_Communication/naes/2004_03_redskins_09-24_pr.pdf) shows that 91% of Indians support mascots. Our reasons for supporting mascots are briefly included below:

* When white Indians offend sports fans or insult a little child who loves Indians and puts on feathers, they alienate the rest of America against brown Indians. Note that the white Indians blend in beautifully into the white society. No one even realizes they are Indian. But when an angered sports fan who is upset about losing his mascot screams “Fuck you sandnigger” or throws a beer can at us from a passing car screaming “MOTHERFUCKER, GO BACK TO YOUR FUCKING RESERVATION!!” they scream such obscenities at my father, my cousin, my brother and my family members who look Indian.

Anonymous said...

* The obsession with protesting mascots and names like Redskins is an obsession of white Indians. They protest mascots, children dressing up on Halloween and other silly things because it makes them feel Indian. It lets them scream racism. They know no other way of feeling Indian. They are totally disconnected from the real issues that affect mainstream Indians on reservations. They are fully Americanized. They have lost their language, culture, religion and even their skin color.

* Unfortunately the white Indians have the loudest voices. If we go against them, they hurt us in our careers and lives because they control our media, academia, government jobs, medical clinics, finances, who gets denied federal recognition, even our tribes – everything. They have the money and the power. We have the Indian-ness.

* Brown Indians on reservations have more important issues to worry about. Like diabetes, how we get our next meal, crime on reservations, lack of electricity, lack of toilets, lack of running water, no heat when there’s snow outside, getting a relative to a dialysis clinic when there is no transport, finding a job when there’s near 100% unemployment, near 100% consideration of suicide among our youth, alcoholism, drug abuse, elder abuse, spouse abuse, land loss, culture loss, language loss, etc. Mascots are a NON-ISSUE to us.

Anonymous said...

* The Indian media should be screaming about the real issues. Instead their main focus is on mascots. The focus on mascots and meaningless debates about redskins detract attention from the REAL issues facing brown Indians.

* Indians should do an A-B-C analysis and focus on the A-items. Mascots and names like redskin, or debates about whether the right word is Native American and not Indian, are not even C items. They are Z items. Unfortunately the white Indians obsess over these Z-items because that is the ONLY way they know how to feel Indian. If we twist America’s arm and get America to concede on the trivial items, the country will lose patience with us when we negotiate important A-items.

* We are offending our fan base. That little child who insists on dressing up in a costume and putting on some feathers loves Indians, but when white Indians insult his mom and dad by calling them racists, he grows up to resent those of us who look Indian. Indians were unflappable. Now even a silly word like “costume” that I used above instead of “regalia” raises hackles? Don’t forget, it’s the white Indians who come down and tell the rest of us to be offended.

* When these white Indians object to mascots, their vocalizations unite Indian opposition – the opposition finds forums and avenues to kindle hatred against Indians and rehash and reiterate hateful sentiments about Indians. They find a common ground under which those who resent and oppose Indians can unify together and gather in strength.

* White Indians who oppose mascots point to the Halloween “blackface” and ask, “Don’t you find that offensive???” And the answer is yes, some Halloween costumes are expressly intended to mock and degrade. Sometimes it is Mother Mary dressed up voluptuously in revealing breasts, sometimes stupid people dress up as a rabbi with a hooked nose eating a bagel and counting money. Sometimes people put on a black face that portrays African Americans with exaggerated noses and large pink lips. Yes, these are no doubt offensive. But mascots usually portray teams that their fans are proud of. The Washington Redskins are proud of their mascots and will surely never run down their mascot this way.

The American sports lovers are our brothers and sisters. We love them and respect them and also understand they mean us no disrespect for the most part. Mascots represent their teams and sports fans love their teams. The clueless, identity-less white Indians drive a wedge between the mainstream Indians and sports loving fans causing mainstream America to hate us.

In the same vein, it is only the white Indians who obsess about identity politics and play Identity Police. This is because such Indians are mistaken for Caucasian throughout the world. One way they can reiterate their sense of identity is by pointing out that "he is not Indian" or "she is not Indian" or "they are wannabes." Indians have been through a holocaust and accusing someone of not being Indian is a very serious charge and something to be frowned upon, as is discriminating against Indians from tribes that have no federal recognition (the PC term is unrepresented tribes). What is noteworthy is that it is always the white Indians who play identity cops. Look at anyone who is accusing someone of not being Indian. With the possible exception of Gyasi Ross (an identity cop who is a Black guy), almost all the other identity police are WHITE themselves. Such whites with Indian status get their sense of identity by accusing others of not being Indian.

Anonymous said...

This e-mail is being sent to you by the Reservation Rats. The Reservation Rats are a nearly-defunct underground NDN group comprised of 13 "full bloods" or "4/4" Indians (to use a meaningless and idiotic European concept that we stupid Indians have thoughtlessly adopted). Our group not only strives to instigate inter-gang wars on reservations so that these gangs mutually destroy themselves but also tries to take back control from white Indians who have hijacked NDN media, politics, companies and other aspects of NDN life. We also helped youth (esp. with suicides) and Elders on reservations but our group is almost non-functional now for various reasons. In other words, we tried to fight the effects of colonization and brainwashing from WITHIN our NDN community (e.g. the concept of "federal recognition" or CDIB) but it looks like we lost and are close to shutting down our group. However, we encourage similar groups to spring up elsewhere to fight our battles.

ANGRY Tahitian said...

It is funny how you
A. Are not Native American
B. Don't realize the disrespectful way you have presented tribal cultures aside from Native Americans.
"The fire-twirling and tiki-style mask aren't part of any American Indian culture, although they might qualify as Native Hawaiian. In any case, they're exotic customs not practiced by civilized people. Barbaric people wear strange costumes, do strange dances, and worship strange gods."
C. Do your research before you mention cultures you are not familiar with.
D. ONE WHO PERFORMS FIRE KNIFE is a Polynesian, including Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans and Māori, are genetically linked to indigenous peoples of parts of Southeast Asia including those of Taiwan.
E. It is so easy for you to judge the mockery of Native Americas... But you are blindingly disrespecting and limiting my culture to that of the Americas... any True educated person would know very few Polynesians are Native to Hawaii.

ANGRY Tahitian said...

Rob you by no means have any excuse for your ignorance! It disgusts me! You think you are hurting this group by posting your words... But in reality you are disgracing native people everywhere.

Commentator said...

Anonymous at 10:13 PM:

'1. Freedom of speech protects whatever it is they want to do.'

Freedom of speech also protects the right to criticise their behaviour.

'2. Had they dressed as greeks "gods and godesses" I assure you, nobody would have cared.'

That's because nobody stereotypes the Greeks as mythological figures.

'3. You keep using the word "Indian" which is almost derrogatory. '

No it isn't.

'Please, kill yourself.'

My, what a charming fellow you are.

Rob said...

I just shared Sleepless Entertaiment's public photo album with thousands of people on Facebook (e.g., Native Appropriations, AIM) and Twitter. Hope you enjoy the widespread exposure.

I took down the additional photos because one is enough to make the point. People can view the album if they want to see more.

The fair-use exception to the copyright law protects the nonprofit use of images for commentary and criticism. If you don't like that, racists, have your lawyer contact mine.

More answers coming up!

Anonymous said...

First off the only one that is getting publicly criticized in this post is yourself. Clearly you don't know ANYTHING about what you are talking about and just saw a bunch of pictures and wanted to make a good excuse to exploit your anger. The ONLY ones that are coming off racist here is you and the people who are following you and your groups that you belong to.

allow me to explain.

Cosplay is dressing up AS ANYTHING. You can be whatever you want to be. The owner of Sleepless Entertainment who created this theme is actually 100% Native American so before you start putting words in their mouths saying they only believe Indians are part of a make believe realm you should think about that! It just so happens to be a coincidence that the recent events have been more fantasy related. Posting this has made her and her family ASHAMED to share the same race as you because of how non-peaceful and racist YOU GUYS are. Us white folk can easily say you all are taking our culture and making a mockery of it buy wearing our clothes, eating our dishes, buying our cars, and then talking shit about the "white man" and their religious practices etc. Sleepless Entertainment are accepting of ALL PEOPLE and to say they are making a mockery of your culture.. well you might as well start protesting at EVERY elementary school.. because come thanksgiving guess what? THEY ARE ALL HAVING FAKE STORE BOUGHT INDIAN COSTUME PARTIES! OHHH MYYY GODDD AHHH!!!! And what about Football teams? If anything they should be mockering your "barbaric" ways. Clearly some innocent dancers do NOT represent anything "barbaric" that you speak of therefore making you sound really dumb.

"The fire-twirling and tiki-style mask aren't part of any American Indian culture, although they might qualify as Native Hawaiian. In any case, Sleepless Entertainment is presenting them as exotic customs not practiced by civilized people. The company's view is that barbaric people wear strange costumes, do strange dances, and worship strange gods."

Okay multiple things here. FIRST OF ALL this event even says that it was not limited to ANY one native tribe. It was a collaboration of all things tribal themed... and sorry to be the barer of bad news here.. but heres a wake up call... YOUR NOT THE ONLY "TRIBAL" CULTURE THAT EXISTS! These are a bunch of professionals who take pride in hand making each of their costumes making each one completely unique just like your ancestors once did. As professionals, none of them were drinking.. so you can disregard your comments about that but of course you weren't at the event so I wouldn't expect you to know that along with 90% of the other bullshit you made up just to make a post. So that being said NO RIGHT to talk about "strange dances, and worshiping strange gods" like you speak of because NO ONE was worshipping ANY gods at the event.

"Can you imagine if Sleepless held a Safari night with people dressed up as Africans in grass skirts and bones through their noses, shaking their spears and rattles and dancing with animals? That's exactly what this Tribal Cosplay night is. Yet no one seems to recognize the inherent racism."

You know what.. If they were to do that kind of event.. i'm sure those people would have better things to do with their lives than posting it on the internet. No one recognizes the inherent racism because there is NONE except for your people who have made it their life mission to give these innocent people a hard time because you guys have just made up a bunch of shit so that you can be mad at someone together!

In a nutshell: You are a disgrace to your own kind who were once sought upon as "peace making" people, and you are just making yourself sound equally as dumb talking about something you have NO IDEA what you are even talking about.

Anonymous said...

Oh you silly "white" Indians.


Anonymous said...

Some people have no life....

I bet your little titty tantrum helps pack the next sleepless party.

Why don't you focus next on all of the Halloween costume manufactures that are making sexy Indian outfits? I think it may work out better for you than going after a few people in Miami trying to have fun and throw a few parties for fun. I don't see anyone in this little entertainment company getting rich any time soon. I am sure the " America's 566 federally recognized tribes " Really don't give a eff. I am sure they are all living it up on Casino money and Federal Paychecks. ( which they deserve btw. )


Anonymous said...

Rob. your a fucking moron.

Anonymous said...

Don't complain, Rob, when you blatantly don't know what you're talking about.

They just haven't gotten to the "Eager Ethiopian Extravaganza Cosplay Buffet Party" and the "Cutest Cannibals on Pigmy Street"... oh, or the "Blundering Balding Blogger Bash"- I hear there will be a real, live pinata at that one full of incessant bullshit.

Anonymous said...

You really are a moron.....

Anonymous said...

Are we in the stone age, Rob, whom claims to be non racist? You are racist against us cosplayers and just as you won't stand for whatever it is you THINK you may be standing for, we wont. Please give me the contact information of your lawyer, I'll have a field day.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous spam filled with cursing, racist rants, and other ignorance is sure helping your case.

Go ahead, post some more. You couldn't be doing more damage if you tried. You are perfect examples of sheltered spoiled white racists who can't stand to have their white privilege critiqued.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is as Anonymous does!

Rob said...

"Rob. your a fucking moron."

Pretty damn funny to be called a moron by someone who can't capitalize a sentence or spell "you're." Maybe you should learn to write grade-school English before you graduate to forming an intelligent opinion.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Rob. Keep up the pr. THis deserves to be exposed.

Anonymous said...

To Sleepless Photos:

As a Native woman, I do NOT grant you the permission of using my culture for your entertainment. It is sacred and you don't have any rights (white privilege) to use them. Educate yourself ASAP.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how all the Sleepless Entertainment people come here and make themselves look bad. Not a single one of them has a defense. Half of them can't even use effective rhetoric. I read where someone said one of the people responsible for this "cosplay" crap is 100% Native. 100% APPLE I say.

Anonymous said...

What next? Will they dress up like Holocaust survivors? Like slaves? After all, they did say they could dress up as anything they wanted to. Guess their little white privilege makes them think this.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be attacking Rob quite violently, but I haven't seen where anyone could respond to his blog post intelligently. Those who aren't attacking him seem to get it on a level that the others can't possibly be on. Get there! You have to bring your thinking into a place that goes beyond your white privilege and greed. What was the reason for choosing such a racist costume anyway? Can you answer that? I'm so glad you wrote this article, Rob, and very thankful that these morons will soon be exposed to the world for the wrong they've committed.

Anonymous said...

Native women are 3.1 times more likely to be raped than any other ethnic group. Majority of them are committed by non-Native men. Images like this only contribute to that. I think one poster has already mentioned this. You may think it is harmless, but the truth is that it is NOT. It's harmless for the people who are dressed this way because they don't have to deal with the consequences of someone who is ignorant to the stereotype raping them or making rude comments to them. Native women do. Native women do not dress like the women in that photo were dressed, but if someone does not know this, they will look at this image and think it is. It's a perpetuation of a stereotype that Native women have been trying to eliminate in people's minds. Anyone reading this has to be smart enough to connect the high incidents of rape with this image. Many rapists already have.

dmarks said...

Good response except for your reference to the concept of "white privilege" which dwells in the minds of racists on the Left. There is no evidence that blacks and Asians aren't as likely as whites to do this crap. Attack this racism without creating racism of your own please.

dmarks said...

Wow. The supremacist dividing so called black Indians and white Indians is the worst and stupidest bigot to comment here since the idiot who said it was bad to treat Jews as if they were people.

dmarks said...

And that anon proves his own racism with the "white prilivege" smear.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Quite the number of people dropped on this post. Must have disrupted their racist party....

dmarks said...

At the end, Anon, you come across like one of those who say that women wearing scanty clothes are the cause of rape.

dmarks said...

Anon: No one needs your permission or approval. There is such a thing as freedom of expression, though I find the cosplay deplorable. They have every right: Culture is not copyrighted. But on the good side, you don't need anyones permission to be stupid and racist with the "white privilege" reference.

Rob said...

Every performer in the photos looked white to me, DMarks. Compared to that, your claim that blacks and Asians might do the same thing is worthless speculation.

You still don't get the concept of white privilege, obviously. Even if the performers were nonwhite, they'd be operating in a white majority culture. White people have made the rules in America for approximately 500 years. They determine how far minorities can go before they get slapped down.

The near-constant racism against President Obama is a great example of this. So is the rampant bigotry against welfare recipients, "illegal" immigrants, minority voters, gays, Muslims, et al. Minorities aren't the ones who let the police beat Rodney King and George Zimmerman shoot Trayvon Martin. Whites are.

Rob said...

Here you go. For my answers to your witless complaints, see Responses to Sleepless Entertainment's Tribal Cosplay.