June 05, 2010

Grant wouldn't show Dudesons to grandchildren

MTV's The Dudesons Offends Many American Indians

By RP“At the end of the show, Saginaw makes them honorary Native Americans, and he gives them feathers. In the show they're made to look like eagle feathers, but they were allegedly chicken feathers. How many people around the world are going to understand that those are fake feathers? And why are they bringing in feathers, considered to be sacred medicine, into a show that's mocking our entire culture?”

She disagrees with the argument that the show is a comedy and not meant to be taken seriously. “Anybody that sees this show that is not familiar with Native culture is not going to know what is true, what is not, especially little kids that will go out of their way to harass other little kids.”

Saginaw Grant, a revered elder of the Sac-n-Fox, Iowa, and Otoe-Missouria Nations, discussed these issues on Red Town Radio on May 22 (which can be heard in its entirety here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redtownradio).

Grant said that the show was trying to make people laugh and to “show how silly people can be.” He pointed out that Indians make fun of themselves vis-à-vis clowns, chicken dancing, and in other ways.

He also said he had no creative control over the show's content; however, he felt that the humor would have been worse had he not been there. (Also, the crazy stunts might have been even more dangerous.) He himself was treated with great respect by the makers of the show.

Grant wondered aloud why children were watching MTV and a show meant for adults that comes on at 10pm. He added that while he had no regrets about doing the show, he would not want his own grandchildren to see it.

Fairbanks, who phoned into the show, countered that Cowboys and Findians has been repeated in various time slots and that her own children wanted to see it because they saw Saginaw and got excited. (The family turned the show off well before it was over.) She and Grant agreed about the need for parents to monitor their children. "Parents are indeed responsible for monitoring what their own children are watching on television,” she stated, “but we cannot police other viewers all over the world and how they are perceiving what they are watching.”

Grant and Fairbanks seemed to be in agreement on another point as well: had The Dudesons depicted Blacks or any other racial group in that manner, the station would not have gotten away with it.

Fairbanks expressed regret that this whole issue is being perceived as a personal attack against Grant. “He and his personality are a distraction from the real issue, which is MTV and the entertainment industry looking for another excuse to use us as mascots for their own purposes, for their own jokes.”
Comment:  Damn straight MTV wouldn't get away with putting on whole show featuring minstrel performers in blackface. But that's essentially what Cowboys & Findians was.

Saginaw Grant says the episode was supposed to be funny. He compares the Dudesons to Indians who make fun of themselves. Great...so we've established that the Dudesons weren't trying some clever ploy to subvert Native stereotypes. They were making fun of Indians--just as we thought.

Grant says the mockery would've been worse if he hadn't been there. He also said he had no control over the content, which is a contradiction. Which is it, Saginaw? Did you influence or change the show's content or didn't you?

It's pretty obvious that Grant was okay with the tomfoolery and didn't try much if anything to stop it. How about if he launched a sit-down strike in the middle of filming? Unless the Dudesons had a spare Indian handy, that would've gummed up the works. It might've convinced the Dudesons that what they were doing was seriously offensive.

The "Uncle Tomahawk" defense

What Grant doesn't address is that his presence gave the show legitimacy. Without him there, it might be possible to dismiss the Dudesons as racist idiots who know nothing about Indians. With him there, many viewers undoubtedly didn't know what was real and what wasn't.

Finally, we have Grant saying he has no regrets, but he wouldn't want his grandchildren to see the show. I.e., to see him help perpetuate a century-plus of racist stereotypes. That's another contradiction, but I think we can guess what Grant means. He's embarrassed by his participation but too "professional" to criticize his employers, or something like that.

I think we need a name for the "it's a satire/parody/joke" defense of the Dudesons. I.e., for excuses and apologies for Stepin Fetchit-style performances in 2010. How about the "Uncle Tomahawk" defense?

For more on the Uncle Tomahawk defense, see Children and Dudesons Believe Stereotypes, The Dudesons, Polish Jokes, and Minstrel Shows, and Dudesons Too "Stoopid" to Matter?

Below:  This racism is "okay" because it appeared in a movie and was meant to be funny. No one would think blacks were second-class citizens because of it, right?


Boycott MTV said...

As I have stated before, why not have P Diddy and other African American celebs do a mock slave trade and throw in a "blackfaceed" white celeb and whoever guesses which slave is not really black is the winner?

Or have Jews compete to making their own crucifix?

Or have Asians compete in who can wash clothes the fastest by hand?

This man Grant has to be the most stupid example of an elder I have ever seen.

How does he not see himself as the brunt of the joke or as someone extending native stereotypes for years to come?

This show is only funny to the same juvenile and fraternal greeks systems around the US that can only invent ceremony to fill an empty, illegitimate and bastard culture, which makes up 90% of American culture and intellect anyway!

And I thought MTV stood for Music television, what the hell happened to the music? Why has MTV turned into adult entertainment for the Greek fraternity system?

I am a real Indian said...

MTV Lover I have some things I want to point out to you,

What the hell does that thing about a mock slave trade mean I dont get it please explain yourself.
Pagan Roman soldiers made their own crucifixes back when that was done not the Jews.
The comment about Asians and clothes washing come on really chances are you would get people wanting to compete in that to defend their honor or that of their ancestors who really did wash clothes.
And then calling an elder stupid is almost as offensive to me as a white guy who listens to ABBA and Madonna telling Indians he knows how they feel.

Rob said...

I think Boycott MTV is referring to stunts where people dress up as slaves and pretend to participate in slave auctions. Authorities banned such stunts after critics slammed them as racist and offensive.

I'm sure one could get a lot of dude(son)s to participate in almost any reality show. Alas, the number of participants, viewers, or Indians is irrelevant to the show's stereotypical nature.

You must have me confused with someone else, I Am a Real Indian. I didn't say anything about how Indians feel in this posting.

If you're referring to me in general, see Anonymous Cowards Dislike Stereotype Postings. I imagine these comments apply to you, too.