May 22, 2010

Dudesons too "stoopid" to matter?

It was obvious what the apologists would say about the Cowboys & Findians episode of The Dudesons in America. "It's not serious. It's a joke. It's silly. It's stupid. It doesn't matter." Responses like these were as predictable as the sunrise.

Someone with the handle HomeGrown tried this defense on the message board:I think sometimes people are TOO sensitive. Dudesons is stoopid, beyond stoopid even. Why people are in such an uproar over this episode is beyond me. Gaw people I understand stereotypes hurt our youth and all, but since when does anyone take the Dudesons seriously. Seriously????Since HomeGrown hadn't seen my Okay to Stereotype in "Satires"? posting, I thought I'd rip this rationale to shreds. Here's my reply:

Is there a "smart" example of a movie or TV show that stereotypes Indians? What exactly would this "smart" stereotyping consist of?

Fact is, all productions and products that stereotype Indians are stupid. It doesn't matter whether they intend to be smart or stupid. If the results contradict the facts, the results are stupid by definition.

Where do you think people learn stereotypes from: carefully crafted documentaries and public television? Masterpiece Theater and Shakespeare, perhaps? No, they learn them from countless stupid movies, TV shows, cartoons, comic books, games, packages, and so forth and so on. The smartness or stupidity of the source has little to do with the stereotypes themselves.

You could apply HomeGrown's thinking to almost any stereotype in the last 500 years. No one could possibly take Magua, Injun Joe, Tonto, Disney's Pocahontas, Chief Illiniwek, Chief Wahoo, or the Dudesons seriously, right? They're blatant caricatures that a child could see through. So why bother with them?

Great. So according to this "thinking," no stereotype has ever misled someone who knows nothing about Indians. No stereotype has ever been convincing enough to merit criticism. Because if it were convincing, it wouldn't be a stereotype, right? So I guess protesters are bitchin' and moanin' for no reason--playing the victim card because it makes them feel good and worthwhile.

I hope someone will list the criteria we should use for judging stereotypes in the future. How do we tell the difference between 1) smart shows that use smart stereotypes, 2) smart shows that use stupid stereotypes, and 3) stupid shows that use stupid stereotypes? Give us examples of each so we know which stereotypes are worth our time.

In short, why are some cartoonish characters--e.g., Peter Pan's Indians or the "Fighting Sioux"--unacceptable while others aren't? I look forward to the answers.

For more on the subject, see Saginaw Grant in The Dudesons and Natives Protest The Dudesons. For more on the subject in general, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence.

1 comment:

Stupid American said...

That stupidity is an acceptable means of entertainment and behavior only confirms stupidity as an American trait.

We had a stupid President that could not speak in complete sentences and played international diplomacy at a grade school level of "cowboys and Indians" mentality voted in by the stupid masses of Americans.

We have a stupid religion that points fingers at other religions as being savage and violent while proud enough to proclaim it nationalism based on the extermination of an aboriginal race. Praying with a book that speaks of a talking snake and burning bush, but dismisses any other cultures beliefs of the same calling them myths and folklores.

Americans have a stupid system of economics called capitalism where the top 1% wealthy run the nations politics and make all the decisions at the expense of the rest of the 99% population labeled taxpayers, but in reality are the new slaves replacing the old slave order. Hidden behind a stupid idea called democracy where the 99% slaves actually believe voting and elections give them some form of voice with their "taxes", all the while the rich 1% override the majority's elections and decisions in full view or behind closed doors.

American history and its people are ripe with stupidity and the mundane comforts of freedom and excesses, why shouldn't there not be depictions of stereotypes as entertainment value?

I would like to see them do a show on slave buying with maybe P Diddy as the ringmaster selling potential rap artist tied to poles in chains; maybe have a witch doctor in feathers come out shaking a gourd, blessing the winner.

Or how about a crucifixion talent contest where Jews or Gentiles compete to see who can make the best wooden cross and vote on who gets tied to it in the end; there are so many ideas for reality shows that may seem offensive to some, but in my stupid mind, its all just for fun and entertainment.