September 26, 2014

After the Daily Show's "Redskins" segment

"I'll fucking cut you." Behind the scenes of the 1491s' segment on "The Daily Show"

By Migizi PensoneauAfter a long wait in an adjacent green room, completely cut off visually and aurally from the pro-Redskins panel, we were finally asked in. We entered the room, looked indignant, and there was a wonderfully uncomfortable silence. Jones played the buffoon, eating some wings and drinking a beer. But then, one of the pro-mascot fellas started to defend their position, and everything derailed. This is the part you don’t really see in its full glory on the segment: As some of the anti-mascot activists started in passionately on the issue, pro-mascot panelist Kelli O’Dell, who was previously employed by the Washington Redskins and whose Internet presence is devoted to her support of the team and mascot, started to cry. My ever-dapper 1491s colleague, Bobby Wilson, offered her his own handkerchief. It was an intense situation, but never mean-spirited. O’Dell, though, started to accuse us of ambushing and lying and “how dare you.” (Later, after the shoot but before the episode aired, it would be reported by the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time, Gawker, Uproxx, Buzzfeed and CBS that she felt in danger and this experience would smear her name.)

Sobbing and accusatory, she and the others left. From there, we took a break to reset the room, and we did our panel. This one went incredibly well and I’m proud to have been a part of it. The producer, crew and Jones were wonderful to us, and we all walked out of there with hugs and smiles. It was 180 degrees from the previous panel, and we were happy about it.

The next morning, football Sunday, the three of us went to FedEx Field as part of the show. “The Daily Show” taped us wandering around the “Redskins Nation” tailgate, though that never made it on air. I, rather naively, thought maybe we’d be able use our presence at the tailgate as a way to showcase our humanity, and let the Washington Team know that there are Native Americans out there who are among them—real people not relegated to the eternal myth of history. Maybe we’d change a mind or two. Or, at least, maybe some ignorant hilarity could be caught on camera. It was worth a try, so with a camera crew following us, one little, two little and a third big Indian struck out into FedEx Field’s Redskin Nation tailgate.

That did not go as I’d hoped.

There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life. I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment. I’m a big dude—6’1”, and a lotta meat on the bones. But a blonde little wisp of a girl completely freaked me out as I waited in line for the bathroom. “Is that shirt supposed to be funny?” she asked motioning to my satirical “Caucasians” T-shirt. And then she said, “I’ll fucking cut you.” Actually, she didn’t scare me so much as the wannabe linebackers standing behind her who looked like they wanted to make good on her threat.

Redskins fans featured on ‘Daily Show’ tried to revoke consent before segment aired

By Ian Shapira[D]uring the Sept. 13 taping at a Dupont Circle hotel, “Daily Show” producers surprised the fans by bringing in a group of Native American activists for a showdown over the name. The move led to a heated confrontation, leaving one fan so distraught that she called police two days later alleging that she had been subjected to a hostile environment. The police told her no crime had occurred.

The fans had signed consent agreements to be on the show, but Petersen sent his letter to Polidoro revoking their permission Thursday afternoon, hours before the segment was aired during the show’s 11 p.m. broadcast on Comedy Central.

“As those agreements were procured under false pretenses, they are NULL AND VOID,” Petersen wrote to Polidoro. “The purpose of this letter is to inform you that my clients DO NOT CONSENT to the use of their image or any of their statements by The Daily Show, either for a show about The Washington Redskins or any other subject.”

Vate Powell, vice president and senior counsel at Viacom, which owns Comedy Central, responded to Petersen on Friday afternoon, arguing that simply because the fans were “unhappy to be confronted during the taping does not serve as the basis for any legal claim.” Powell noted that the fans signed “valid and binding re­leases” and that Polidoro’s statements to persuade the fans to participate “do not undermine this in any way.”

“If anything, [the segment] was a more sensitive representation of your clients than was required, as many more volatile statements—made alone and to the Native American panel—were omitted from the final piece,” Powell wrote.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Airs R-Word Segment, Debunks WashPo Report

For more on the subject, see Daily Show's "Redskins" Segment Airs and Deconstructing the Daily Show Encounter.

Below:  Shaking hands politely, or forcing the helpless white woman to her knees?

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