November 01, 2012

Ricki Lake as Indian princess

Talk-show host Ricki Lake is the latest to wear an offensive Indian costume:

As usual, Facebook activists nailed her on the problems with this getup:Ricki mocking or using sacred Native American symbols and culture, is just not a good image for you.

What the hell, girl?! Ricki...did the thought of cultural appropriation cross your mind AT ALL? I adore you for all the work you've done for birth rights, so I can't tell you how much this saddens my heart!

This smacks of cultural appropriation and white privilege. And it's shameful that so many might see this as unproblematic.

Gross. Will you be donning blackface for next Halloween??!?

Oh FFS. Seriously? That Chinese import get up is very offensive. It is not accurate. We do not appreciate you donning it, out of "respect" for "those people." We are tired of being portrayed this way. You are a public figure. What you do sets a standard for the public. Please think next time Ricki. We hate to see people dress up as fake natives. There are various reason why, but the reason you need to know mostly is, we hate it. We are not the stereotype that everyone puts out.

I really thought Ricki lake knew better. Disappointing.

She should just bite the bullet and apologize. Take the opportunity to educate people on why this is hurtful.

I have a suggestion for next year: she should dress up as Sarah Silverman from her blackface episode. That would be okay too, right? It only takes one person to dig up and romanticize an insulting past and affront us collectively by re-appropriating our culture(s) back into a Hollywood stereotype. This is how oppression works. And it doesn't help American Indians as we continue to fight against the probability of violence and rape. I feel so desperately disappointed that you would use your celebrity status to feign ignorance at the expense of so many. Just because it was okay in the 1970's does not mean it's okay like I said, how about blackface next year? Would that be okay? And if the answer is 'no', then I ask 'why not?'

I'm so happy so many found this outfit as in bad taste as I did. Too bad there is still no apology from Ricki....

Good grief. Ignorance abounds. How can people be so incredibly ignorant and culturally limited? What an idiot.

Ungh. This isn't cool, Ricki. Please don't do this again.
Comment:  I guess some people thought Lake was imitating Cher because of the long black hair. I don't think Cher ever wore that particular outfit. I'd say Lake was imitating a generic "Indian princess," not Cher.

But what if Lake was imitating Cher? If Cher wore a racist costume and Ricki copied it, how does that make it okay? News flash: Two wrongs don't make a right.

Note also that she's associating with a trio of fantasy figures. This implies exactly what Indians complain about. Namely, that costumes relegate them to the distant past, or to a fantasy realm of pirates, cavemen, princesses, fairies, and ghosts. Costumes imply Indians don't exist in the same modern world as the rest of us.

For more on the subject, see Halloween = "Socially Acceptable Racism" and Company Pulls "Sassy Squaw" Costume.


Anonymous said...

Check THIS out for most inapropriate! Just disgusting.
How do you suppose anyone in Pocohontas' day made such high heels?

Anonymous said...

Ironically I tuned in the middle of the episode and thought she was supposed to be Cher....

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Cher a melungeon (tri-racial afro, native and Armenian American)?

dmarks said...

Is this the new "in thing" like the Britney and Lindseys a few yeas ago posing getting out of limos without panties? it is bizarre.

Rob said...

It's been an "in thing" for a couple years now, at least. You must've seen all the celebrity wannabes I've reported on.

Rob said...

Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, on May 20, 1946. Her father, John Sarkisian, was an Armenian American truck driver and drug addict with a gambling habit, and her mother, Georgia Holt (born Jackie Jean Crouch), was an aspiring actress and model with Irish, English, German and Cherokee descent.