December 26, 2008

Girl chief in Lady GaGa video

Roscoe Pond alerts us to a stereotypical video:

Pond adds:I was told through a friend who is on the Dance Scene here in Los Angeles, that the girl wearing the Warbonnet in this video, "Just Dance," is part Native American.

I was also told that Lady GaGa likes the Native American experience. The video is so much fun.
Comment:  The video shows several shots of a young woman cavorting in a chief's warbonnet. Because the woman is part Native and Lady GaGa likes Natives, Pond thinks that excuses the stunt.

Well, I don't. Traditionally, women aren't supposed to wear feather bonnets. No one is supposed to wear them unless they've earned them. It makes a mockery of the solemn duties of a chief. It implies anyone can become an Indian or a chief by donning the correct attire.

In other words, dancing like a member of the Village People doesn't honor or respect Indians. It diminishes them. It makes them look like Mardi Gras revelers, circus clowns, or mascots.

Here's the difference between my blog and Pond's in a nutshell. He goes ga-ga over things like this Lady GaGa video. I don't.

For more on the subject, see Tricking or Treating Indians and the Stereotype of the Month contest.

Below:  Another girl who violated any number of Indian cultural practices.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I find it completely ridiculous that Mr. Roscoe Pond calls his blog Native Talent 2009, when on the Native Celebs forum, he clearly states "...No posting of God Awful Native Productions."
So for some reason Mr. Pond feels the need to ignore so called "god awful" Native made content and instead showcase some girl who is making a mockery of her so called culture.
So the girl sat and danced on a couch for like one minute tops. I hardly call that talent and Im will to bet that like her, 10 or more of those dancers has a Cherokee ancestor somewhere.

Anonymous said...

The only way to eradicate is to educate. Meaning? If you fill people in on why something is offensive without telling people THEY are offensive, they will most likely get the point and change it.

I guess it's a matter of trying to get people to see ours as a living culture. One way to do that is to open one's mind to theirs. Gender-bending and borrowing from other cultures is part of club-kid culture.

The downside or upside of getting to the point of "being seen", depending on how you look at it, is that people will say that all culture has to adapt with the times. I find it interesting that so many cultures, not just our own, scoffs at "American" values and yet, succumb to the same patriarchal, discriminatory practices when it comes to putting women in positions of power.

By the way, there were many people offended with a youtube video in which a number of dancers in traditional regalia were dancing krump and club style. But there were other people who said they were just letting off steam. Without knowing the people involved, I can't make an informed opinion.

Rob said...

Re "If you fill people in on why something is offensive without telling people THEY are offensive": That's basically what I've done, Anonymous #2. Let's hope it has the desired effect.

Appropriating someone's culture is one thing and misappropriating it is something else. My PEACE PARTY comics are an example of the former, I trust, while this video is an example of the latter.

I've posted commentaries on cultural appropriation before, naturally. For instance, see Is Cultural Appropriation Okay? and Mascots = Appropriation.

If any case of borrowing, bending, or twisting someone's culture were acceptable, we'd be singing the praises of minstrel shows and Birth of a Nation as well as Indian mascots and New Age wannabes. Is it your position that all these "borrowings" are okay?

As for the YouTube video you mentioned, I can make an educated guess. The dancers probably were letting off steam and engaging in stereotypical and offensive behavior against Indians.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed all the comments but I have to correct the statement that women traditionally did not wear war bonnets which is erroneous. Women of different tribes were ALLOWED to wear war bonnets during certain times. For example, during honor songs that were sung for warriors or veterans. You are correct in stating that a woman would never wear a war bonnet and behave in such a manner as the woman in this video. Just because you claim ancestry to a tribe, say the cherokee, does not give you the right to wear a war bonnet or behave in such an undignified manner while wearing one.

Anonymous said...

"As for the YouTube video you mentioned, I can make an educated guess. The dancers probably were letting off steam and engaging in stereotypical and offensive behavior against Indians."

The thing is, they ARE Indians, young ones who were being videotaped during the downtime at a pow wow. These were kids "being" kids who happened to be in regalia while doing it. In any group, you will find adults who don't enforce "appropriate" behavior while others are very strict.

Anyway, it is not my position that these borrowings are okay as a whole. The point that I did not make very well is that ignorance and malice are not the same thing.

I don't know the girl in the video so I can't speak for her intentions. My comments are more of a stream of consciousness type of thing. Club-kids are mainly society's outcasts who have formed their own "tribe" or "family" and they create identities that resonate with them for whatever reason. The majority of those who I have pulled out of their various states of homelessness have abandoned this borrowing once they "find themselves".

Club-kids have a very interesting world that is predominantly about a positive outlook on life despite your circumstances. This may not be true of EVERY club-kid scene but it is in the areas I've worked in. These thoughts are "drops in the bucket". :)