February 17, 2015

Blackhawks logo in SNL's 40th anniversary

Indians appeared once in Saturday Night Live's 40th-anniversary show. Unfortunately, the appearance wasn't good:

SNL 40th Anniversary: Mike Myers and Native Imagery

By Adrienne KeeneI was excited to see a Wayne’s World sketch, because I am a nerd and use #partytimeexcellent as a personal catchphrase…and then noticed something about Wayne/Mike Myers:

Obviously, he’s wearing a Chicago Blackhawks Jersey. But notice the blanket he’s sitting on as well…totally “Native inspired.”

It got me thinking (duh). This screenshot pretty much encapsulates what most folks watching SNL think about Native peoples: mascots and artifacts. Both disembodied symbols that have minimal relation to contemporary Native communities or people. Both representing outsiders profiting from and exploiting our images and our cultures for their own economic gain. Both harkening to a very specific period of time in our cultures–back to the 19th century, when the “real Indians” were around.
These things matter. More than 23 million viewers saw this sketch. 23 MILLION. When we don’t have any counter-representations to show us as we actually are, the weight of these small moments adds up. I know most viewers wouldn’t have even thought twice about the problematic nature of this–but that’s why you have me, right? To scream from the rooftops that WE ARE MORE THAN ARTIFACTS AND MASCOTS? These things aren’t “honoring.” They’re demeaning and exploitative. Final answer.Comment:  Keene adds that the team owner's wife designed the Blackhawks logo while her husband named the team after his Blackhawk Division in World War I. Some people have used that origin as an excuse to keep the name: "The team isn't stereotypical because it's not named after an Indian."

Not directly, anyway. But that only undercuts the claim that the team, name, and logo "honor" Indians. As Keene notes, they're honoring a fictitious version of an Indian--what the owners think Sauk Chief Black Hawk looked like in their dreams. There's no legitimate Native basis for the name or logo.

Keene also tweeted this image:

Writing a quick post about SNL...remember "Native American Comic Billy Smith"? smh: http://www.hulu.com/watch/114928For more on the Blackhawks, see Blackhawks Fans Defend Stereotypical Logo and Severed Head Suggests Dead Indian. For more on Saturday Night Live and Billy Smith, see Native Doll in Saturday Night Live and Cobell Skit in Saturday Night Live.

No comments: