July 17, 2010

"Wild West" Shrinky Dinks

Adrienne Keene brings the following to our attention in her Bonus Round:  All the Awesome Tips in My Inbox:

Shrinky Dinks Party Pack--Wild WestThrow your very own Shrinky Dinks party with this superlative set, which includes almost everything you need to make an entire celebration's worth of fantastic key chains, bag tags, charms, buttons, book marks, bracelets, and many other colorful, detailed keepsakes.

With adorable invitations, plenty of useful images for tracing, ball chains for tags and key chains, and lots of 8'' x 10'' sheets of Shrinky Dinks' trademark shrinking plastic, this pack will inspire young partygoers to create a whole array of charming little keepsakes decorated just the way they want. You provide colored pencils or permanent markers, safety scissors, a standard hole-punch, and either a toaster or regular oven to bake and shrink the masterpieces.

With the rootin' tootin' Wild West pack, you're sure to put on an event of imagination and creativity that's as fun-filled and memorable as the adorable keepsakes that are created.
Comment:  Let's see...a Plains chief smoking a peace pipe. An Indian woman with a papoose on her back. A teepee. An Indian playing a drum. Two Indians in a canoe. An arrow on the ground.

Every Indian wears a headdress or a headband with or without a feather. The two males in the foreground are shirtless. The whole scene is set in a Western desert with cacti and cow skulls.

So far this is pure Native stereotyping. Its wrongness should be obvious to even a casual observer. Saguaro-style cactus is mostly found in Arizona. Chiefs who smoke peace pipes are mostly found on the Plains. And canoes and papooses are mostly found among Eastern Woodland Indians. There's almost no overlap between the three, and no place where you'd find all three together.

Another dancing "Indian"

Then there's the short-haired "Indian" dancing with a modern white woman to guitar-playing. You know, because Indians are all about dancing. Even in modern times, that's what they do best.

Like the chief and a cowgirl, this "Indian" has dark skin. He looks to me like he's supposed to be black. Is this Shrinky Dinks' way of being racially inclusive? Because showing that anyone can be an Indian by wearing a headband and feather is a big problem. It's exactly what we've complained about in all the hipster headdress postings recently.

I'm not sure what that figure is supposed to represent, so I reserve judgment there. The rest of this Wild West Party Pack is stereotypical.

For more on the subject, see the Stereotype of the Month contest.


Anonymous said...

>Then there's the short-haired "Indian" dancing with a modern white woman to guitar-playing. You know, because Indians are all about dancing. Even in modern times, that's what they do best.

Rob are you implying American Indians can't dance? ecause I can assure you, we can and do.

dmarks said...

I'll have to agree with the anonymous Indian commenting above on this one. After all, there are many many prominent yearly Native-run events that feature American Indians dancing.

(Although, it is not to a white woman on guitar)

Rob said...

The dance isn't a typical powwow dance, DMarks. It looks like the twist or frug or something.

I'm saying it's stereotypical to show dancing as a primary Native activity, Anonymous. It's one of only four Native scenes in the image.

Really...if you were going to illustrate the range of Native activities, would you choose dancing on a stage as one of them? Along with smoking a peace pipe, paddling a canoe, and beating a tom-tom?

What else would you choose? An Indian playing the flute? Whooping with his hand over his mouth? Running with his pet wolf? Shooting arrows at a wagon train?

The point is that all these activities are stereotypical. If Shrinky Dinks showed an Indian fishing with a net, building an adobe home, observing the summer solstice, or negotiating a peace treaty, I wouldn't complain about the activities. These activities wouldn't be stereotypical.

Anonymous said...

Rob it's a childrens toy, kids do not want to play with pieces of plastic that go in the oven that depict people negotiating peace treaties that will be broken later or observing the solstice.

Rob said...

Shrinky Dinks is a toy that sends a stereotypical message about Indians to its users, Anonymous. Kids will get false impressions from it just as they will from any other source of stereotypes.

You must be a new reader if you think I give a free pass to children's toys, games, books, etc. Apparently you don't realize that children are more susceptible to stereotypes than adults.

You think kids want to play with Indians smoking a peace pipe, paddling a canoe, and beating a tom-tom? What do you base that on? Nothing, obviously.

When you find a study on what children seek in Native-themed toys, please let us know. Until then, don't bother making up answers. You haven't a clue what they'll play with if given a choice.