June 15, 2010

Deadliest Warrior vs. The Dudesons

Actor Mo Brings Plenty is playing the Comanche in Comanche vs. Mongol, the latest episode of Deadliest Warrior to feature Natives. Michelle Shining Elk represents Brings Plenty. She also represents actor Saginaw Grant, who appeared in the much-maligned Cowboys & Findians episode of The Dudesons in America.

Because of the first two facts and despite the third, I posted the following link to Shining Elk's Facebook page:

Stuntmen wait for the camera operator on "Deadliest Warrior"--Deadliest Warrior--Hollywood Backlot

This led to the following debate with someone named Lisa:ok....this IS funny. Two made-up stereotypes battling it out for a silly TV show. Are the signs being painted yet for the protest by the Mongols? Didn't think so. And strangely enough, this time it is not even meant to be comedy.....FAIL....lol.I think the warriors are supposed to be historically accurate, so they have that going for them.

If centuries of stereotypes had harmed Mongol Americans, I imagine they'd be out protesting.So why aren't you raising a stink and protesting on behalf of Native Americans over this silliness? The "warrior" is certainly a stereotype when put into this cockamamie fabricated setting. Mongol v/s Indian? Really? "Supposed to be historically accurate" trumps satire? I would underline the words, "supposed to be," but FB won't let me.

My apologies, but having sat back and watched the anti-Dudeson's nonsense that went back and forth here, that apologist "argument" sounds a bit on the lame side.

And to be clear, I am in no way bashing the actors that participated in this dopey show.
Been there, done that

Since Michelle represents Mo Brings Plenty, you can ask her how real or phony his outfit was.

I've posted items on two previous episodes of Deadliest Warrior featuring Natives:

Review of Apache vs. Gladiator
Aztec vs. Zande

As for this episode: 1) I think it's only in the filming stage. 2) I'm not going to belabor the points in my first review. Indians as savage warriors...check. No mention of cultural accomplishments...check.

I'll probably mention this episode when it comes out. So if you're looking for inconsistencies in my behavior, you'll have to try harder.

If I were trying to speak for Natives, make a name for myself, etc., I might slam this episode like the first episode. Since that's not what I'm doing, I probably won't. My review of the first episode covered the points I wanted to make. Case closed until I have something new to say.

Incidentally, Michelle and I have agreed about Tinsel Korey and Tiger Woods's "Indian" mistress, among other things. Would those be examples of "silly" protests that make Indians look "angry," or what?It ain't the outfit. Mo could be wearing 100% historically accurate, picture perfect regalia. As I said, it is not in any way about Mo or the other actor, or the costumes. Don't make me repeat that in CAPS. Lame or not, these men are actors playing roles. This is what they do. Act. Its their job. I am more than happy there is work for them, even if it's this silly thing.

I do contend however, that the seriously embarrassing situation, pitting "Mongol" against "Indian" does seem to re-enforce stereotypes. Does it not? The vicious, foreign Mongol against the Noble Indian Brave....I mean come on. How does one defend that totally invented, odd-ass scenario with a straight face?

"Deadliest Warrior" is not a comedy show (but maybe it should be), satirizing a stereotype so absurd as to make it clearly a smack down against stereotyping, as in the recent "The Dudesons" episode.

The exact target of "The Dudesons": Finns mocking themselves, used the clearly more intelligent Indian character they wrote into the episode to make the Finnish protagonists look even stupider than they usually do.

In that case, the way over-the top role of the Indian was used as a manifestly superior device to quite unmistakeably make the Finns (comically) look like the complete self-immolating morons they are. Somehow, against all obvious odds, many failed to reach that somewhat blatant conclusion.

Because "Deadliest Warrior" "purports" to be a "serious" look at "warriors" does not excuse that it is clearly an true offense in stereotyping. In fact, the whole concept of the entire show "Deadliest Warrior" seems to be made up only of diverse racial stereotypes.

Makes you almost miss the late 40's to early 50's, when all of the bad guys somehow had thick German accents. Or the 60's and 70's when those Germans turned into "evil" Russians. Now those were real stereotypes!
Grant just doing his job?

I'm not defending Deadliest Warrior. I told you I criticized the first show, which seemed representative of the whole. If the Comanche vs. Mongol episode presents something new to criticize, I'll criticize it.

Again, why don't you ask Michelle how someone defends Deadliest Warrior? She's promoting Mo Brings Plenty, not me. I imagine she'll promote Comanche vs. Mongol when it comes out, too. Ask her what she thinks about the savage stereotype she's helping to perpetuate.

If you're trying to compare Deadliest Warrior to The Dudesons, historical accuracy is always better than historical inaccuracy. With Deadliest Warrior you have to know something about Indian history. You have to figure out that Apaches, Aztecs, and Comanches weren't as bad as the stereotypes.

In contrast, The Dudesons hits you in the face with stereotypes. You know, like an Indian catching a fish in his mouth. Not only do they portray Indians as savages, but as stupid savages. I'd rather be considered a smart savage than a stupid savage any day.

Thanks for your opinion on the Dudesons episode. Alas, that's all it is, of course: an opinion. You have no way of knowing what the Finnish fools were thinking or what they intended.

You think Saginaw Grant came off as superior? By agreeing that he was "King of All Indians" and telling us that Indians really do catch fish in their mouths? You must have a different definition of "superior" than I do.

If Grant's job is to help stereotype his people, he should find another job. I don't excuse employees for bad behavior unless they're desperate for money and have no other choice. "I was just doing my job" went out with the Nuremberg Trials, in case you haven't heard.

Tinsel Korey is just doing her job too. A job that involves taking roles from Native actresses, unfortunately. Michelle and I both protested that, but you have nothing to say about it. Why not?

Again, are our protests "silly" or not? Do they make Indians look "angry" or not? These aren't rhetorical questions, so try answering them this time.

Uncle Tomahawk not harmful?

Critics like me have ripped the claim that the Dudesons meant their episode to be a spoof of Indians. Besides, the Dudesons' intent doesn't matter since stereotypes in minstrel shows are just as harmful as stereotypes in dramas--if not more so. For more on the subject, see:

Grant wouldn't show Dudesons to grandchildren
Idiot's guide for Dudesons defenders
Children and Dudesons believe stereotypes
The Dudesons, Polish jokes, and minstrel shows
Dudesons fans don't get it
Dudesons too "stoopid" to matter?
Okay to stereotype in "satires"?

When you can address these arguments, go ahead and do so. For instance, I'd love hear your defense of minstrel shows, Polish jokes, and other forms of racial and ethnic prejudice. If you label it a joke, it can't harm anyone, right? Well, I'm just joking when I label that a stupid and ignorant opinion, okay?

I asked a bunch of non-rhetorical questions in Ethical Code for Native Elders Needed. Feel free to answer them. Tell us exactly how much a Native can mock and insult his own people before you apologists and ass-kissers will criticize him.

For more on the subject, see Saginaw Grant's Dudesons Statement and Valenti:  Movies Are Merely Movies.

Below:  "I'ze just jokin' with ya, massa! Dis here stereotypin' don't hurt nobody!"


Anonymous said...

Since you so graciously included me in this particular diatribe.....

I watched the show again only to see what you were on about. Please don't make me watch it again. I hate it.

What I saw was a smart Indian making fun of Finnish idiots. A smart Indian making up stupid nonsense to make Finns look the fool. Saginaw Grant performed that part well. The Finns looked stupid. He didn't. Catching a fish with your teeth? Really? A true exercise in inanity that no one with a shred of knowledge of any actual Native American traditions would think to be rational, stereotypical, or anything more than an absurdity.

The point was, the actions featured in the Dudesons were not a mockery of tradition, because not one of the acts featured in the show were any kind of tradition of any culture anywhere, much less a tradition of Native American culture. This was comedy, it was satire. Please don't make me hand you a dictionary so that you can be clear on those two concepts. What the " Cowboys and Finndians" episode was intended to do was make fun of a stereotype, not perpetrate one. Get it yet?

If you actually watched the show, you saw that Finns Jukka, Jarppi, Jarno and Hannu-Pekka made the Indian character so completely over the top ridiculous, that no-one in the possession of more than two brain cells would ever believe that this invented "Indian" character was anything other than a mockery of a stupidly ridiculous misconception.

If you thought "The Dudeson's" episode was negative stereotyping, then we should all go out as a group to string up Archie Bunker/Carroll O'Conner and stage protests every time there is a rerun of "All In The Family". After all, Archie used name-calling and bigotry to perpetrate stereotypes didn't he? (Not). Based on that alone, we should all be painting signs and marching on TVLand. I don't think so.

End...part I

Anonymous said...

Part II:

Let me spell it out for you in the simplest of terms: What the Dudesons seemed to be attempting to do was show how absurd the idea is that anyone could believe that the actions scripted for this invented, comic, TV character was how any real Indian anywhere actually conducts themselves at any time. Ever.

Let me repeat myself. In this one-off 30 minute comedic episode, Saginaw Grant's character spent his entire screen time mocking the Finns, not the other way around. Oh and Rob….the Finns were were not mocking Indians, they were 100% mocking themselves. That was the real point.

....Or did you actually think that there is or ever was a "King of the Indians" that catches fish in his teeth somewhere in Native culture to mock. Really?

Maybe you personally know an actual Native American that does or ever has done any of this Finnish TV nonsense? Do tell? Goodness knows there are enough buckskin wearing pretend-Indian wannabes with self-given made-for-TV type "Indian" names lurking out on the Native fringes. I wouldn't put it past some of them.

Do you actually believe that in all of his long years of living a life true to his culture, an Elder like Saginaw Grant would condone anything that actually mocked the real traditions that he has honored for over 70+ years? Seriously?

The Dudesons is satire. Saginaw Grant is an actor. They make us laugh. We ought to be able to laugh at ourselves as well as at others. Someone once said: " You grow up the day you have the first real laugh - at yourself." Try it sometime Rob. Go ahead. Laugh at yourself. That shouldn't be too hard. Right about now, just about everyone who has read this is laughing at you. Truth be told, they are probably laughing at the both of us Rob. Two white people with a lot of outsider knowledge blabbing back and forth about a culture that is not our own.

……That said, only one of us is insisting on attempting to make a living off of the backs of that culture......and it ain't me.

Oh and Rob, if I had grandchildren, I wouldn't let them watch an adult themed comedy show either. Neither would you.

Now go out and sic yourself on a real stereotype. There are still enough sports mascots in existence for years to legitimately be angry about.


Anonymous said...

Or better yet, lets everyone get together to protest extreme poverty, alcoholism, meth use, gangs and US government neglect on reservations.

That is something substantial to be furious about. In the face of those ongoing types of ruinously debilitating enculturation, all of us (including me) continuing to go off about one half-hour comedy show is just plain foolish.


Anonymous said...

thank goodness someone replied to this post because all Rob does is HATE HATE HATE...does he even have anything good to say about our Native actors? Probably not since his fans are the haters anyway! Rob I would not mind reading your blogs daily "if" at times you would write something nice about Mo Brings Plenty, Saginaw Grant...and oh I guess you would NEVER criticize Dennis Banks huh because you just know better NOT to! You are not for our people so stop, please!!!!

Anonymous Tribe said...


I have spoken to Wes Studi, Irene Bedard and Russell Means on this very subject you are whining about.

Sounds like native actors are token natives for you as well. How does this make you different from a carney that works at a freak show.

You do not have to agree with everything Rob posts about native issues, but he does bring important questions to light about shows and iconography that perpetuates the powerful medias inconstant barrage to keep Indian people and culture as dead subjects rather than living beings.

Why argue what you are not trying to challenge yourself.

Even your use of anonymous hints of cowardice! So like your anonymous title, your views and opinions stand as such, anonymous.

And if you are native, where in the western hemisphere is there a tribe called "Anonymous"?