August 16, 2010

The Hipster Headdress Challenge

In response to Michael Cooke's claim about Kesha's headdress and warpaint:Ke$ha wore the headdress to make a gender bending suggestion.Correspondent DMarks commented:That might have been edgy and daring when Cher did it ... DECADES AGO (all stereotype issues aside). Now it is a mere cliché. If the purpose is for Kesha to catch up with Lady Gaga on the "shock costume" thing, then she's only about 40 years behind.

Good point, DMarks. But performers have been dressing up as Indians since the days of Wild West shows and vaudeville, if not before. They all could've claimed they were trying to be different, daring, and edgy.

Again, the situation parallels that of minstrel shows. I suspect audiences considered blackface performers terribly risqué in the early 20th century. "We don't allow blacks, but he looks so black...ooh, how titillating!"

Again, our culture has spurned performers who pretend to be black (or gay, or drunk, or fat, or mentally handicapped). As I've said before, Indians are about the last bastion of "acceptable" stereotyping. We've tolerated it so long that Kesha and her fellow wannabes think anything goes.

If you truly want to be daring, hipsters, dress up as Jesus or Muhammad and do something profane. Or dress up as Obama and pretend to be an ape. Dressing up as an Indian is about as daring as dressing up as a princess. It may be novel if you're a 2-year-old going trick-or-treating for the first time, but that's about it.

The Hipster Headdress Challenge

Here's a challenge for you: Which of these 10 images are a) daring transgressions of our cultural norms; b) bold statements about 21st-century tribalism; c) wholesome attempts to honor Indians; or d) ridiculous Halloween costumes worn by ignorant children? Explain why each image falls into one category and not another. (Answers without adequate explanations will be considered incorrect at my discretion.)

Good luck with your'll need it.

For more on the subject, see The "Honor" of a Plains Chief and Why Hipster Headdresses Aren't Okay.


A Full Blood said...

I want to hear both of you, meaning Rob and dmarks, tell me what exactly is the significance of the headdress? Its history and who actually wore headdresses?

Rob said...

I don't know how "exactly" I answered them, but I've addressed those questions many times. Adrienne Keene also addressed them in her posting on hipster headdresses, which I quoted in Why Hipster Headdresses Aren't Okay. Read that and get back to us if you have any more questions.