July 09, 2011

Callaloo = sexual objectification

Before Callaloo changed its 2011 theme from "Native Americas" to "Caribbean Natives," I posted a note about it on Facebook:

This is why starlets such as Tinsel Korey, Julia Jones, and Janina Gavankar get Native roles while Irene Bedard gets abused. Namely, the sexual objectification of Native women.

This led to the following discussion with a woman on the NativeCelebs page:Brazilian and Caribean Culture is a whole different ball game than Hollywood. I don't think one has anything to do with the other. I used to dance Samba and make costumes. In Brazilian and Caribean culture women are proud of their bodies and show them off. And they are not all skinny models in those skimpy costumes. I support Irene Bedard and love her work. Her husband is a jerk. And yes Hollywood objectifies women. Why they are using the Native American theme here is beyond me. I would never have used it like that. The so-called mid-coastal costume is a mess. Most of the others are quite nice.This carnival is being held in Toronto, not Brazil. The theme is "Native Americas," not "Brazilian and Caribbean culture." And no Native women have ever dressed like this except in stereotypical displays: Hollywood movies, advertisements, fashion spreads, etc.

Korey and Jones not Native?

Someone else questioned my questioning of Korey and Jones. I continued:

My point isn't only about the actresses' origins. It's about having to be Hollywood beautiful to get a role.

Native actors often don't fit Hollywood's definition of what leading men and women should look like. So "minimal bloods" like Johnny Depp, Taylor Lautner, and Brandon Routh get the roles while genuine Native actors go hungry.

Hollywood derives its perceptions of Natives from stereotypes such as this carnival's. So when a studio does cast a "Native" woman, it's usually someone who fits the mold. Someone like Tinsel Korey, Julia Jones, or Janina Gavankar. Or Megan Fox, Lynn Collins, Mizuo Peck, or Nicola Peltz, to name other examples. As long as she looks hot and exotic, it doesn't matter whether she's Native or not.

Don't blame "carnival culture"?

My original correspondent added:There is huge Caribbean community in Toronto as there is in San Francisco. All I'm saying is Carnival Culture has nothing to do with Native America or Hollywood. Hollywood had their stereo types long before Carnival came to town. So don't blame Caribbean Culture for Hollywood's B.S. What I don't like about the Callaloo for 2011 is that the Native American theme is highly inappropriate due to the vast culture differences in how women see themselves. I got your point the first time around. My father was Santee Sioux and my first husband was from Belize so I have the ability to see both sides of this arguement thru my familiarity with both cultures. Now the point upon which we can agree is that when it comes to Natives Hollywood has had it very wrong for a very long time.Again, the carnival's theme is "Native Americas." This region stretches from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In no way is it synonymous with Brazil or the Caribbean. And Callaloo is explicitly calling the young women "Indians," not non-Indian Brazilians or Caribbeans.

Yes, "Hollywood had their stereotypes long before Carnival came to town." But each new instance of stereotyping confirms the false impressions in people's minds. That's why many of us oppose Native stereotypes: because they perpetuate the previous 500 years of harm.

In conclusion, this woman seemed to be agreeing and disagreeing with me simultaneously. Where we agreed, she was right. Where we disagreed, not so much. <g>

For more on the subject, see Callaloo Stereotypes "Native Americas" and Wild Indians in Guilt Free Zone.

Below:  Callaloo's "Amazon Warriors" (formerly known as "Asakiwaki Hunters"). I don't think going from a particular tribe to a general tribal term makes a difference, Callaloo. The problem is that no Indian looks like this.


Anonymous said...

Also, there's the mistaken belief, common among Hollywood and pretty much an article of faith among afrocentrics, that modern Jamaicans, Haitians, &c. aren't actually descended from slaves.

Racelifting only supports that.

Shadow Wolf said...

Amid all this Native wannabe trend. It seems to me that non-Naitves are just starving to be Native, so they make up these little play books on it. With such faux events like these, it does makes us proud of who are, when they so badly want to be Native and it should contradictory speaking. I supposed that being something that you are truely not, is a favorite theme of theirs.

dmarks said...

Great points. But the fools not only end up being who they are not, but they end up being who nobody is..... the fakey costumes are nothing like real.