June 28, 2010

Uluru striptease angers Aborigines

No frock on the rock was tribute, says stripper

By Dylan WelshA French-born stripper has been filmed dancing near-naked on top of Aboriginal Australia's most sacred site, Uluru, in what she says is a homage to local indigenous people.

Alizee Sery, a 25-year-old exotic dancer, has been labelled "stupid" and local indigenous elders have described the act as the equivalent of defecating on the steps of the Vatican.

"I do not mean in any way, in what I did in my show … to offend the Aboriginal culture, I respect the Aboriginal and their culture," Ms Sery said after her strip show on the rock.

"What I did was a tribute to their culture, in a way."

Ms Sery, who arranged to be filmed, can be seen climbing up the rock with a companion with a camera. She then strips off until she is wearing only an Akubra hat, bikini bottoms and white high heels. "I think the way I was, was the perfect way to be up there, in total harmony with the land and with myself," she said.

Comment:  Macon D. of the Stuff White People Do blog characterized Sery's "self-aggrandizing publicity stunt" as "a tribute to the days when, you know, those groovy, close-to-the-earth peoples were even closer to the earth than we are by virtue of their lack of clothing." He continues:Sery seems to be furthering her dancing career in a common white way, by casting something authentically Aboriginal as a natural, romantic, wild, and exotic backdrop. This amounts to a racially white performance, because it's meant to evoke and profit from some of the many collective white fantasies about non-white people.

In this sense, Sery's actions, and her defense of them, echo similar ones committed in the U.S. by many white people, who also tend to romanticize and exotify indigenous people. To me, the most obvious parallel way they do so is by clinging to racist sport logos and mascots. White American sports fans cling to mascots that represent several racial groups in racist ways, but the overwhelming majority (past and present) represent Native Americans.

When white people defend such insults in the way that Sery did--by claiming that they're honoring instead of disrespecting the human objects of their racist caricatures--they're failing to listen to the other side. By doing so, they're ultimately failing to understand what a lot of people on the other side think, and feel. They're failing to empathize.
You said it, Macon. All these people--Sery the stripper, mascot lovers, Indian wannabes, Dudesons, et al.--want to return to a "primitive" state where they can act "wild" and "free" without censure. They want to revel in their inner savage, unrestrained by rules and regulations.

Okay, then pretend you're a bear, wolf, or pig. Get down on all fours, roll in the mud, and grub for roots and berries. But whatever you do, don't equate this primitive state with Indians. Singling out one race as beastlike savages is--duh--racist.

For more on the subject, see The "Honor" of a Plains Chief and Stuff White People Do:  Indians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just...wow.