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No Doubt piss of Native Americans
November 6, 2012 12:14 PM   Subscribe

No Doubt (mostly Gwen) are certainly not new to the world of pissing people off by appropriating their culture. Now Native Americans have taken issue with No Doubt's latest video, the band has apologized and pulled the offending clip. Native American writers such as Lisa Charleyboy lay out their issues with the depiction.
posted by Cosine (104 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Deleted video. Alternates?
posted by odinsdream at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2012


Working link
posted by Cosine at 12:21 PM on November 6, 2012


"appropriating culture"? MIA anyone?
posted by marvin at 12:25 PM on November 6, 2012


Wow. Even without the cultural appropriation, that was a terrible video.
posted by rtha at 12:26 PM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow ironic racism and ironic sexism in the same post, this oughta be good.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:27 PM on November 6, 2012


Thanks for the working link. I was going to say, "That's not so bad" but then the dancing around the fire part started.
posted by Catblack at 12:28 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has been said that appropriation of Native American culture does not happen (or isn't bad) when it involves other marginalized groups. Partially due to a shared "history of shared oppression and marginality". The same article says this does not apply to white women, who are also traditionally opressed and marginalized. Are white women are just not opressed enough to pull this off or is this another example of marginalization of women?

If Mardi Gras indians are in fact honoring Native American culture, why isn't Gwen ? After all, nobody knows if any of the supposed connections between Mardi Gras indians and Native Americans are true.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:30 PM on November 6, 2012


marvin, MIA actually gets on a plane and goes driving with insane Gulf dudes. She doesn't just copy of some bad dancehall moves, she goes to Jamaica and drags every major dance crew in Kingston into her video. Kinda puts her into a different category, and takes it out of the realm of simple exploitive junk.

Unfortunately, I have to say that if I came home and found Gwen eating swastika crackers on my bed I wouldn't get that upset. I am weak.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:31 PM on November 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


"No Doubt piss of Native Americans"

Who, more specifically, was offended? Who or where did they communicate this? The link is to a British person being offended on behalf of Native Americans. Does that count? Was that the best example?
posted by dgaicun at 12:34 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


dgiacun:

> Lisa Charleyboy is a First Nations writer living in Toronto. She has written for CBC, Indian Country Today, THIS Magazine, and MSN Canada. Her blog Urban Native Girl presents pop culture with an Indigenous twist
posted by mulligan at 12:37 PM on November 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Who, more specifically, was offended? Who or where did they communicate this? The link is to a British person being offended on behalf of Native Americans. Does that count? Was that the best example?

No, the link is to a native Canadian author who happens to have written a piece for a British newspaper accessible globally. Just clicking on the author's byline reveals this. I think the criticism of the video is a bit over the top, but let's at least get our facts in order.
posted by modernnomad at 12:38 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who, more specifically, was offended? Who or where did they communicate this? The link is to a British person being offended on behalf of Native Americans. Does that count? Was that the best example?

Are you referring to Lisa Charleyboy? She is Tsilhqot'in, from British Columbia, she is likely qualified to speak to her offence as a Native North American.
posted by Cosine at 12:38 PM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think Zizek is right about politically correct denunciations of cultural appropriation. A stupid video (that obviously references 50 years of mainstream Hollywood racism) is ludicrously insignificant next to the Native American Holocaust and the ongoing ghettoization and destruction of Native American peoples. Better the video stays up and pisses more people off.
posted by facetious at 12:39 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Native Appropriations blog also writes a nice post about Nelly Furtado using native influences in her videos and "doing it right."

A big point in that blog post, is the tendency of wanting to "go native," which Gwen Stefani does(she is wearing cultural signifiers to play dress up, not just performing in front of them), is not cool. Similarly, in the above linked M.I.A, video - she's not dressing in anything other than her own style....maybe if she were dancing in a sexy burka, it'd be offensive.
posted by sawdustbear at 12:42 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


dgiacun: If you need more examples here is UCLA Indian Studies Director and Native American Angela Riley's open letter to the band.
posted by Cosine at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2012


Wait.

Nelly Furtado is Canadian?

I have to think about this.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still offended by No Doubt appropriating Talk Talk's "It's My Life." I don't think that they improved on the original a bit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:47 PM on November 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm glad I never liked No Doubt. I'm still pissed at Outkast for their dancing alien squaw fiasco at the 2004 Grammys.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:02 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they were going for a sexy fashion/cowboy movie look in their video, Azealia Banks did it better and didn't need to look like a bad movie stereotype of an Indian princess while she was at it.
posted by thecjm at 1:03 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


rtha: “Even without the cultural appropriation, that...”

... which is kind of like starting a sentence by saying: "Even without all that water, the ocean..."
posted by koeselitz at 1:06 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think Zizek is right about politically correct denunciations of cultural appropriation. A stupid video (that obviously references 50 years of mainstream Hollywood racism) is ludicrously insignificant next to the Native American Holocaust and the ongoing ghettoization and destruction of Native American peoples. Better the video stays up and pisses more people off.

My college used to have the Indian symbol as its sports mascot. Officially, it was done away with in the early 70s, but lots of alums and students nostalgic for a time before they were born wore the t-shirt around campus.

My friends and classmates who were actually raised on reservations managed to be angry about the t-shirt *as well as* current injustices. Weird, right? They didn't regard it as "insignificant." It wasn't as important as there being no jobs on the res, but it wasn't nothing, either - it represented the continuing erasure of their actual culture and lives, and the continuing of lies told about them.
posted by rtha at 1:10 PM on November 6, 2012 [31 favorites]


before anyone else asks the "who was offended" question, read the link Cosine just posted from angela riley.

when this all got posted on ontd the other day the thread was a hilarious list of examples of gwen/no doubt appropriating in absurdly tone deaf ways. this isn't their first rodeo and i think that should be part of the conversation. they have a long history of just picking styles from cultures they don't belong to and then hand waving it away with "multiculturalism!"

If Mardi Gras indians are in fact honoring Native American culture, why isn't Gwen ?
it becomes tricky when the person "honoring" shares things like the race and nationality of the oppressors.
posted by nadawi at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


... which is kind of like starting a sentence by saying: "Even without all that water, the ocean..."

I was thinking that even without the costumes, the video was just stupid. If they'd all been wearing polos and jeans the video still would've been stupid.
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm still offended by No Doubt appropriating Talk Talk's "It's My Life." I don't think that they improved on the original a bit.

I'm still offended by Talk Talk appropriating The Reactions "Talk Talk Talk Talk". I don't think that they improved the original a bit.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nelly Furtado is Canadian?

Yep, and I can't help connecting the above link with the fact that public schooling in Victoria - where Furtado grew up - includes exposure to First Nations culture in a variety of ways. I was in school at the same time/place and recall things like traditional dancing at assemblies, visiting totem pole carvers, learning basic elements of Coast Salish art, as well as more traditional field trips like the BC Museum's recreated longhouse.
posted by Lorin at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


rtha: “I was thinking that even without the costumes, the video was just stupid. If they'd all been wearing polos and jeans the video still would've been stupid.”

Yeah, I agree a hundred percent with that. It's basically like the video was written and directed by an expert in stupid who had a grand vision for the thing, but to his annoyance the studio insisted that he use an offensiveness consultant who kept butting in and changing his ideas, and they fought each other all through the whole production before realizing in the editing room later that they'd managed to create a video that was remarkably successful in being both completely stupid and abjectly offensive.
posted by koeselitz at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I saw a commercial heralding the return of No Doubt. Apparently some people consider that a good thing.
posted by tommasz at 1:37 PM on November 6, 2012


koeselitz: "rtha: “I was thinking that even without the costumes, the video was just stupid. If they'd all been wearing polos and jeans the video still would've been stupid.”

Yeah, I agree a hundred percent with that.
"

I agree. The guy has a Ph.D. in Stupidity. I felt bad just watching chunks of the vid.
posted by nicolin at 1:40 PM on November 6, 2012


So what I am hearing is that it is exceptionally poorly done. So bad that is is not only offensive to Native Americans but offensive to humanity as a whole. Native Americans are now tainted by association with such horribleness. We are all poorer for having heard it.

MIA's Bad Girls isn't exactly a heartbreaking work of staggering genius but when compared to Hot, or whatever this POS is called, it kinda is.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2012


I'd agree that Talk Talk's original It's My Life beats Gwen's hands down, but that's normal. Ain't nearly as bad as Jennifer Warnes' "cover" of Leonard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:43 PM on November 6, 2012


Let's settle this once and for all with bingo.
posted by hellomina at 1:47 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've zero reason for discussing No Doubt myself, but since covers came up I'll just leave this quote here : "I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore..."
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


You can create a bingo card to support anything. "Cultural appropriation bingo," or "over sensitive PC liberal bingo." It's a tool that serves any master.
posted by tyllwin at 1:54 PM on November 6, 2012


Are you referring to Lisa Charleyboy? She is Tsilhqot'in, from British Columbia, she is likely qualified to speak to her offence as a Native North American.

She's qualified to speak for her own state of being offended. Not anyone else's. I'll allow that much. But her admonition that "The bottom line is that cultural appropriation is never OK." is utter bullshit.

Angela R. Riley's letter strikes me as sincere, and completely overwrought. However passionately she may feel about the plight of Native American women, she seems to give far more significance to the video than it really warrants.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:14 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


No Doubt piss of Native Americans

I don't know about Native Americans, but they're certainly somebody's!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tom King's memorable 2003 Massey Lecture is a really investigation on how First Nations (aka Native Americans) in North America have been used as a narrative device.

King also wrote and acted in the excellent Dead Dog Cafe Comedy hour.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:20 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


But her admonition that "The bottom line is that cultural appropriation is never OK." is utter bullshit.

What do you mean by that? Could you elaborate?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2012


I don't know about Native Americans, but they're certainly somebody's!

Damn, never even saw that one. Me fail English, that's unpossible.
posted by Cosine at 2:25 PM on November 6, 2012


King also wrote and acted in the excellent Dead Dog Cafe Comedy hour.

Erm, more "CBC funny" than actually funny. ;)
posted by Cosine at 2:26 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're not a fan of Jasper Friendly Bear?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:28 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


lol, I actually kinda like the show but would have a hard time selling it to... anyone else I know.
posted by Cosine at 2:29 PM on November 6, 2012


Can I just object because it's a bad video in general? No?

Ok I'll hold my not-exactly-a-trump native heritage card for later. Power to those who object to this though, it's a fair hill to make a stand on. The rest of the hills have all to often been strip-mined away or converted into god-knows-what for lord-knows-who.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:40 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks to me more like Freudian Slip than English Fail.*



(* I don't have a pony in this race, in part because I can't get any of the links to really work. It's just an observation.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on November 6, 2012


But her admonition that "The bottom line is that cultural appropriation is never OK." is utter bullshit.

Yea totally agree with this. As a person of celtic descent should I be pissed off when someone dies their hair red (or at least cultures/ethnicities who don't have that genetic marker)? or plays the bagpipes? (ok maybe everyone should be offended at that one, but still), or tosses a caber at the local highland games? or should i be offended at the fact there ARE highland games?
or how about the native American's using casino's as a business venture? pretty sure that isn't part of their culture.
Or maybe any body not a Caribbean native cooking and eating barbeque?
Should Europeans be ashamed of playing a didgeridoo?
Or when non Americans wear mickey mouse ears? isn't that part of MY cultural heritage?
That kind of statement is just asinine and doesn't really help anyone or cure any wrongs. In fact I feel it just prolongs the otherness of the group, and gives the dominant group something to show solidarity with the out group without actually doing anything.

Isn't all this stuff the common heritage of mankind?

The verdict here seems to be No doubt sucks as a band and they did a bad video (is their good music videos?) but if Gwen Stefani was sufficiently cool it would be totally ok to dress up as a certain kind of native american (that at least seems to be the undercurrent of the majority of the comments here).
posted by bartonlong at 2:53 PM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


bartonlong, you would never understand because you are an electronics engineer from Washington State.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:06 PM on November 6, 2012


actually a civil engineer in oregon, but close enough.
posted by bartonlong at 3:07 PM on November 6, 2012


See, that's my point - it mattered to you enough to correct me, so why should it be any different for First Nations folk?

On top of that, there was been a very real, very focused, and at time very violent effort to wipe out native culture in North America - just erase it from history, and appropriation is part of that.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:17 PM on November 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


Isn't all this stuff the common heritage of mankind?

Unfortunately, even if this were true, a lot of such heritage has been lost because many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas are no longer part of ongoing humanity, since they've all been murdered. Which is basically the same as someone dying their hair red.
posted by Falconetti at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Is Gwen Stefani even blonde? Even more appropriation going on there.
posted by philip-random at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No Doubt Gwen's original shtick was appropriating Indian (Taj Mahal) culture in their look (the Henna, the Bindi) while playing ska music, then she went all Harajuku for a couple years. After Aboriginal American fetishism has worn out it's welcome, expect her to wear Inuit garb or go Aboriginal Australian and play the Digiridu. It's all in good fun.
posted by Renoroc at 3:22 PM on November 6, 2012


Bartonlong...My Canadian art history class recently covered these ideas in looking at Emily Carr's legacy. I'm Greek, so I should have a particularly large chip on my shoulder ;) Appropriation may not be a unique or new problem, but it has only been fairly recently that marginalized cultures have been able to practice determinism and have a say in the depiction of their culture. The depiction of indigenous culture is a hard sacred cow to slay; Marcia Crosby, a member of the Haida nation, has some excellent writing on why it is offensive to have one's culture depicted as dying, in need of saving or considered inauthentic in comparison to its history.
posted by Calzephyr at 3:26 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jesus. Was there a time when No Doubt wasn't excruciatingly awful, or did I just used to be a moron?
posted by cmoj at 3:37 PM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen the video but stills from it with Gwen in gear turned up on a gossip site I read and I just winced.
posted by immlass at 3:46 PM on November 6, 2012


or how about the native American's using casino's as a business venture? pretty sure that isn't part of their culture.

Insofar as there's probably no one who can claim a casino as being an original part of their culture, what exactly is your point here? That because they didn't operate casinos back when the buffalo still roamed, it can't be a legitimate part of their culture as it exists now?

Because it does exist now. It's a living, contemporary thing. It incorporates elements from the past, and adds things from the present. Native Americans and First Nations people are allowed to have a culture that isn't restricted to feather headdresses and buckskin.

or should i be offended at the fact there ARE highland games?

This is not an argument. You not feeling offended by something is not a reason why people shouldn't feel offended by things that offend them. This kind of statement always sounds to me like someone being proud of their lack of imagination or empathy, not a desire to understand. If you don't care, fine. Your not caring isn't some law the rest of everyone has to follow.
posted by rtha at 3:54 PM on November 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


Yea totally agree with this. As a person of celtic descent should I be pissed off when someone dies their hair red (or at least cultures/ethnicities who don't have that genetic marker)?

Red hair isn't a cultural marker. As you yourself said, it's a genetic one.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2012


there was been a very real, very focused, and at time very violent effort to wipe out native culture in North America - just erase it from history, and appropriation is part of that.

No it isn't. Appropriation is not a focused effort to erase native culture from history. That it could contribute (by being a louder, less informed voice) still does not make it the same thing.
posted by anonymisc at 4:00 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because it does exist now. It's a living, contemporary thing. It incorporates elements from the past, and adds things from the present. Native Americans and First Nations people are allowed to have a culture that isn't restricted to feather headdresses and buckskin.

This is the point - cultures should not be restricted to just what came from within themselves - cultures should appropriate. Concessions to this freedom to incorporate and evolve can be important and useful where oppression and other factors means there are high costs when this is done in an area, but the point was that cultural appropriation is often (normally) a positive thing - one of the most powerful engines of culture.

It is ok to acknowledge cultural appropriation is generally an important and good thing, while also advocating caution and not approving or supporting appropriations that kick people who are already down.
posted by anonymisc at 4:10 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why would you dismiss out of hand people who are expressing concern that their culture is being appropriated? It's like their opinion and their history doesn't even matter.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's also interesting how your dismissal is absolute, with no room for compromise.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:20 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The victim is not the oppressor - the victim's view of the oppressor's motives is not definitive of the oppressor's motives. It is the oppressor's motives that are definitive of the oppressor's motives. The victim knows the effects firsthand, not the motives, and as I indicated, I think the victim speaks true of the effects. But I argued that you are mistakenly conflating the motives.
posted by anonymisc at 4:28 PM on November 6, 2012


My mistake about "British person", sorry. I did not mean to be snide, but a single op-ed writer = The Opinion of Native Americans™ struck me as insufficient. I suspected there was more, as the band responded to... something (how much does it cost to make and scrap a video like that?); some sort of larger backlash. But where did they see it?
posted by dgaicun at 4:33 PM on November 6, 2012


People already pointed to other complaints from native Americans besides the one linked to in the FPP. Give us some time so we can take a poll of every indigenous person in North America so as to fully satisfy you.
posted by Falconetti at 4:37 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way, No Doubt's actions may have the effect of helping to erase a culture from history, but No Doubt was not making a focused effort to erase this culture from history when they created the video. Their sin was something different.
I don't think you would disagree with this, I think I'm probably on the same page as you, but to me your language was hyperbolic and inflammatory.
posted by anonymisc at 4:45 PM on November 6, 2012


Even if they dressed up like clowns it still wouldn't be half as bad as the music itself.
posted by chillmost at 4:51 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Who was offended?" I'm white, but I was offended. You can be offended even if you yourself are not the direct target of the action.

Things which are offensive are offensive to lots of people, not just the person being insulted. Asking "who was offended" is like asking "What do you care? You weren't the one being killed by that drunk driver." These things matter on, like, a cultural level.

It's great that the first most people hear about this is that the video was pulled. It's less great that no one anywhere along the line, from initial conception through the entire production process, thought to (or was able to) put a halt to it. This shit needs to stop.
posted by ErikaB at 5:40 PM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


People already pointed to other complaints from native Americans besides the one linked to in the FPP. Give us some time so we can take a poll of every indigenous person in North America so as to fully satisfy you.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but there was one other link to a blog post making a comment after the video was already pulled. And so I remain unsure of the nature and magnitude of the backlash they were responding to.

I apologize for wanting some sort of better context built into the story.
posted by dgaicun at 5:54 PM on November 6, 2012


If Gwen were Native American herself this video would still be ugly and offensive towards the culture and towards women.

Yea totally agree with this. As a person of celtic descent should I be pissed off when someone dies their hair red (or at least cultures/ethnicities who don't have that genetic marker)?

That's ridiculous. A more appropriate example would be Fat Bastard, the Mike Myers character who makes fun of Scottish and overweight people, though it's certainly lessened by the fact that Scot are currently not in as dire straits as Native Americans and the version of Scottish culture parodied is a fairly recent invention that while tied to our history, is not tied to religious & spiritual traditions like the symbols used in the No Doubt video. It's one thing to appropriate it (and the Native Appropriations blog sometimes mentions positive non-Native depictions and borrowings), it's another to transmogrify it into a mocking commercialized parody.
posted by melissam at 6:01 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cultural appropriation is never okay? Holy shit, there goes the English language.

It's not up to me to tell anybody what they find offensive, but then, it's not up anybody to tell me what I must read, find amusing, or hold in reverence. I don't see how this sort of posturing advances cross-cultural understanding, or engenders mutual respect. It doesn't even draw clear lines of appropriate behavior. All it does is promote censorship in the most arbitrary way imaginable.

The idea is to censor stuff that's objectionable. I go along with this theory in only a limited way: when I have some control over who gets to be the judge. I also want to have some input into what things are being censored. Even then, censorship is too powerful to tolerate without critical oversight. I cite certain laws regarding child pornography as a case in point. Even in such a case, the lines to be drawn are necessarily arbitrary. As for cultural appropriation, I have to cry bullshit here. You may hold your religious icons in great reverance, but you do not have the right to expect me to do so.

Big Brother is laughing his ass off, watching us do all the heavy lifting for him.
posted by mule98J at 8:16 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking here as both a person from Northern Ontario, a teacher on the Rez, and a No Doubt fan...
I was very excited to see the new video, and within a few seconds, was shouting "OH HELL NO!".
That video was a fine example of beautiful, insidious racism that manages to skim through daily life unnoticed.
And the response was totally predictable: "It 's so pretty! They are just playing cowboys and Indians...OMG you GUYZ, she just loves the fashion! They're HONOURING it! Well, if you're offended, then obviously you are racist against ppl liking your culture"

*headdesk*

Let's get it straight: I grew up within 10 minutes of two very vibrant, strong First Nations communities, Temiskaming and Temagami First Nation (Anishnaabe). As a kid, playing Cowboys and Indians was. not. something. one. does because:
a) The kids from the rez would pound us if we said Indian or Injun - (the reaction a non-native would get is the equivalent of saying Nigger to a black person).

b) The game itself is an assimilative process.
"Cowboys and Indians is a normal part of childhood, are you saying 4 year olds are racist??"
Nope, they are ignorant.
However, that game is a really great way to send some very subtle, nasty messages that reinforce the status quo: White dominance over Native, asserted through physical coercion as needed. Canadian history both past and present has been dominated by strong governmental and personal efforts to "kill the Indian within the child" in the name of assimilating First Nations into the conquering British/French governments of Canada. "Cowboys and Indians" dumbs down that whole concept into an entertaining bite size lil snack, easy for your child to internalize: dominant authority good, rebellious savages bad.

However, we did played cops and robbers like crazy - same game, no racial underpinnings.

Regarding Halloween costume dressup: I never saw a kid dressed up at school as Pocahontas or an Indian. The lil injun costumes stayed firmly on the shelf at the local Walmart and Zellers. Continuing into highschool and college, there were no poca-hotties out and about: the Wabie girls would have taken you out back and put some much-needed respect into you. They would most certainly not have felt "honoured".

This isn't to say that we couldn't choose to wear some pretty jewelry made by some of the ladies on the rez - I have some gorgeous pieces of porcupine quill that I have worn to local hunt dinners put on by the local First Nations community centres, and no one has drawn offence (and believe me, the girls there have ZERO problem calling out appropriation).

I could go on here about the hypersexualized imagery in both this video and in art/literature/music about taming those savage injun women by tying them up and forcing them to comply, attaining purification from their heathen ways by submitting to the white man...Encyclopedia of Rape explains this well...

Frankly, I am really surprised by how many people across the Net fail to see this video as a legit cause for concern, and moreover, how few seem to understand the rationale for disapproval. Sure there are bigger fish to fry, like the horrendous conditions on Northern reserves where families of +10 people in Attawapiskat share a 2 room shanty, where local kids can't go to school due to asbestos issues and gas leaks, where there will never be either paved roads or reliable drinking water, and where a Watermelon costs about $52. These issues are very real, and are STILL HAPPENING TODAY in many Canadian First Nations communities where the population is still struggling with the damage of the residential school system (only ended in 1994) and the fallout of broken families and cultural disconnect that stems from it.... you could argue that No Doubt videos are the least of their worries.

And as is evident from Internet convos, some Native people would agree that this video kerfuffle appears to be inconsequential compared to the bigger issues. But that lets the dominant white patriarchy off quite easily - we all know people would have absolutely lost their minds if Gwen was suited up as a sexy slave working in the cotton, captured by the Massa at midnight. That narrative is well known in American and Canadian society - heck, one person on Youtube didn't even know Native Americans STILL EXISTED!

No one would be howling "Censorship OMG!" if they did that... Nope, just do a fun redface vid, and it's all jokes, amirite?
However, if a No Doubt video o'stereotypes is the only exposure to Native culture that the majority of folks get, how do you ever expect them to understand the deeper issues? Currently, No Doubt and other pop culture stars hold the majority of power in the West - they have more influence than any President or Pope in directing current thought.

By permitting the video to stand, it stamps this skewed perspective as legitimate and desirable in current society. Most people lack the education or interest to understand the damaging racial subtext.

The best example of Native incorporation into Mainstream Fashion and music that I've seen was Nelly Furtado's Big Hoops. Involved First Nations people, wearing Fancy shawl and Hoop Dress, and dancing in a way that is honourable to their community.
Personally, I think more of that work, (and less of the No Doubt brand of injun) is the way to go in ensuring First Nations stay relevant and respected in mainstream media.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:41 PM on November 6, 2012 [40 favorites]


I don't think censorship is the answer. Rather, just acknowledgement that cultural appropriation is harmful and is part of the process of marginalization. That's all.

Of course, I say this as a Canadian talking to Americans in this thread, and Americans, whether they like to admit it or not, are typically libertarian and self-centered when it comes to freedom of speech.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:43 PM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


NorthernAutumn, racism is okay as long as it is expressed ironically.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Haha, KokuRyu, I'd be totally cool if they had ended the vid with..
"Hey, it ain't the 1930s anymore, we don't do this shit. 1/3 of Native women will be raped during their lives - Contact your local Native Organization to see how to stop it."

That would have been ironic, and wicked cool, and I could totally get behind that.
But not this.

This rendition lacks context and doesn't force any thought - much unlike No Doubt's pro feminist music of the 90s. That was what got me hooked on them in the first place - powerful, female driven lyrics that made me feel strong as a girl.
(Now apparently, unless you are a Native chick :P)
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:46 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gwen Stefani has a habit of playing dress-ups with clothing that has an important and/or symbolic meaning to other people. She's getting a well-deserved slap on the wrist for that from people who are affected by her stupidity. No-one's banning traditional dress, or passing laws about what you can wear in music videos.

If you've spent any time defending her, you're the one who's overreacting.
posted by harriet vane at 9:21 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


whether they like to admit it or not, are typically libertarian and self-centered when it comes to freedom of speech
Way to take the high road. Typical B.C. Canadian passive-aggressiveness on display!
posted by smidgen at 10:16 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Give us some time so we can take a poll of every indigenous person in North America so as to fully satisfy you.

Seriously. And don't worry, it won't take that long; your ancestors have seen to that.
posted by elizardbits at 11:07 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Way to take the high road. Typical B.C. Canadian passive-aggressiveness on display!

Nothing passive about my aggressiveness.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:21 PM on November 6, 2012


Heya whuttup, conscious Pilgrims and of course the General CusterFucks appropiating all that priveledged ignorance you hang your IQ on. First Nations Okanagan here, I came in out of chillun stoically on the sidelines forever (many moons!), to make my very first comment ever, on tha internets. First of all, it sucks being part of less than 2 percent of the Pop. Where language, tribal traditions and oral history is always in danger of being forgotten and lost. Not many of us left compared to our heydays before the Whites celebrated our holocast and called it Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. So, I want to voice some anger and disgust that My relations feel when a shitload of Non-Indins set about to discuss our fuckin "plight" or how dare we feel offended at all those nice people when they want to Honour us, you know sharing in "our" national heritage (ralph). After you kindly gave us disease, alcohol,unemployment, and a little country ghetto you call a reservation. Yes, and you honouring us by naming American Sports Teams and some states after us. And we even got to be in Dances with Wolves as extras for that nice White couple who we let appropiate the plains and the buffalo to near extinction.
My mom was one of the 17 Indin kids from our Rez to be integrated to the local public school in an experimental trial. She didnt even speak english and had to learn at her new dominately white school ( 8 yrs old first grade)But she was luckier than her older siblings who had to go to a catholic boarding school where being Indin was basically prohibited. Speak that heathen language and your in for some abuse, gotta beat the red outta that skin!Anyway, I guess one could blame our education system for milling out a shitton of ignorance that prevails the air when it comes to race and culture. I grew up surrounded by it and was made fun of being Indin throughout my school days in my dominately white school. You know, the usual How?! Called Chief, Sqaw, and running around me doing war trills and pulling my long braids. Couldnt hang out with any Skins cos i couldnt live on tne Rez if I were to have any shot at a future. So yeah, when I see idiots miming badly our AMAZINGLy, Rich, Creative, and beautiful people, it is offensive to a point. It really was not too long ago when appropiation was in full force, by Euros and Spainards of all things Native. Lets not forget what happened to African Americans, AFTER, they were done with us. Oh, Im not offended by the Mardi Gras Indians (?) Not at all our style, our feathers are not poofy and purple. I like how they remind me of the Rockettes, colorfull and sexy! Oh, and Props and Thanks to the thoughtful people who defended us and respect our culture and others, I dont have to rage alone all the time. I would love to see Gwenny dressed up as a white ,sex, warrior, woman, man Chief wearing a war bonnet like the video and have her Limo drop her off at the Rez so she could honour us some more....
posted by SteelDancin at 11:45 PM on November 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


And Nelly, your cool! Great way to acknowledge, respect, and honour the peeps that interest you!
posted by SteelDancin at 11:54 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't say I'm surprised to see that No Doubt and Gwen Stefani have no cultural sensitivity. This is a women who used four asian women as accessories for years.
posted by madelf at 12:16 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So let's assume that dressing up as a leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day is ok, but dressing up as a Native American in a music video is not. I'll go along with that as a defensible double standard, given that the historical circumstances and so on are totally different. That still means some forms of cultural appropriation are ok and some aren't, so saying that "cultural appropriation is never ok" is not true.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:47 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, No Doubt made a mistake in the complicated area of cultural appropriation, they apologised for said mistake and pulled the offending materials. Good on them. We all make mistakes, and it's a greater measure of our anti-racism that we acknowledge and learn from those mistakes.

You're still pissed at them though.

On a side note, I'd be interested to hear what the Native American Mefites have to say on the issue. Of course, we're unlikely to hear as America is still slowly and methodically killing it's Native Americans. A point which is rarely discussed on the site, as you'd rather narrow your focus and lay blame at the feet of your popular entertainers.
posted by zoo at 1:02 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I'd love to see a valid explanation of why her fascination with Harajuku was such a bad thing. She went to Japan, she saw people dressed a certain way, she loved it, she incorporated it into her band. Nobody was hurt, and given how young and unformed the whole Harajuku thing is, there's little by way of cultural sensitivities to worry about.

In fact, given that the whole Harajuku style appears to rely heavily on cultural appropriation anyway (1950's Rock and Roll crossed with English Victoriana), it seems pretty strange to use that as an example. Are you seriously telling people that they can't dress up as Japanese teenagers who dress up as Elvis Presley.
posted by zoo at 1:21 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yea totally agree with this. As a person of celtic descent

Look everybody! An oppressed Celt! He's so...marginalised. I know that when I see Native Americans appropriating your culture by...erm...what? Really? OK, by listening to Enya, I'm reminded of just how oppressed you are.

And I hear you, bro. The ancient Romans did some heinous shit to your people, and that's exactly the same as what's happening to the first nations of the world right now. You can directly relate to their experience through - I dunno, midichlorians.

Fight the power, man. They can take your pride, but they can never take

YOUR FREEDOM

(cue Enya)
(no, wait, sorry, God, I'm so sorry)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:40 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the bit of disgust over the Harajuku thing has anything to do with Gwen Stefani using the people of that area as a fashion influence. For me at least, it was that she then hired a troop of Japanese girls, gave them stupid nicknames like they were pets, and paid them to follow her around everywhere as her silent accessories. That goes from admiring and emulating their fashion choices to dehumanizing them - yes, even if the girls were getting paid. I can't speak for anyone else, but it grossed me out at the time.
posted by madelf at 3:53 AM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


zoo, see SteelDancin's comment above for a Native Mefite perspective.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 6:24 AM on November 7, 2012


A point which is rarely discussed on the site, as you'd rather narrow your focus and lay blame at the feet of your popular entertainers.

63 FPPs that use the tag "nativeamerican". See the related tags along the side for more.

On a side note, I'd be interested to hear what the Native American Mefites have to say on the issue.

Native Hawaiian here, which is similar but different. Have Hawaiians struggled with and against cultural appropriation? You bet!

To me, there's a difference between appropriation and adoption. Growing up in Hawaii, I knew lots of people (peers, family friends, etc.) who were not Hawaiian but who danced hula, played the ukulele or slack key guitar, threw first-birthday luaus for their kids, etc. These were not pieces of a culture that they just picked up when they felt like it and put down when it stopped being convenient or useful to them. They were not entering into a relationship with a culture they hadn't been born in in a transactional or exploitative way; they were entering into it as a way to learn, grow, contribute, and exist.
posted by rtha at 6:57 AM on November 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Games are important. They teach procedure, cooperation, initiative, sometimes fellowship and ethical behavior. Sometimes they teach manners. Their rules imply things about the social structure in which the children live. So you play cops and robbers instead of cowboys and indians, but the lessons depend on what the cops and robbers do when they meet; having taught your child to gun down robbers on sight is one version of this game. I can believe that it's a step or two up from cowboys and indians by considering how it would rasp on my sensibilities if the game were called rednecks and niggers. However that turns out, I own my own vocabulary, and I try to aware of how I employ it.

Columbus was a butcher. I'm happy to see his holiday being used as a vehicle to air out his actual role in the discovery of North and South America by the Old World. White impact on the indians is one of the great horror stories of the past 500 years, and it seems to be a continuing issue. Hundreds of cultures have been squashed, eliminated. Whole language groups have disappeared. Tribes in some areas seem to be holding their own. If I were an indian I might hate all whites. When I look back at "whites" in history, it's with a sense of hollow awe. But I don't feel personal shame. I'm not Custer. I never killed an indian, or stole his land. Yet I live on stolen land. There's no balance there. Sorry guys. I don't have a workable rationalization to deal with that.

I'm not competant to characterize the indian (of any tribal flavor) viewpoint, except by the broadest of speculation. If you hate me because I'm white, then that's on you, not me. A local man of my acquaintance is a Modoc. He claims heritage from Captain Jack. He calls himself indian, not First American. If you come to my house I'll probably just call you by your name. You can call me Mark, or mule, or snowshoe. Those are my names.

Art often stirs shit up. In that case, bad art is good art. Go figure. I know some of you can remember when Elvis' music was banned from southern radio stations, and why. Think about it. If cops and robbers is a relevant idea, then maybe it's what it means, not what it is, that's the operative concept. Art transcends a lot of stuff. Bad art is sometimes just bad art. In this case a bunch of airheads stimulated interesting discourse. It ain't about that stupid video, is it?
posted by mule98J at 10:29 AM on November 7, 2012


As a person of celtic descent should I be pissed off when someone dies their hair red (or at least cultures/ethnicities who don't have that genetic marker)? or plays the bagpipes? (ok maybe everyone should be offended at that one, but still), or tosses a caber at the local highland games? or should i be offended at the fact there ARE highland games?

The problem with this, I think, is that is in itself such an obvious straw man that it encourages responses which respond to its silliness by deprecating as silly all grievances or suffering by Celtic people. There is a history of the oppression of various Celtic peoples (although "of celtic descent" doesn't help much there - are we talking about Welsh? Irish? Scottish? Breton? Cornish?), and in some cases languages and cultures have been to a greater or lesser extent destroyed, either organically or systematically (the war on the Welsh language, for example, which continued well into the 20th Century). Many areas of Scotland, Wales and Ireland are desperately poor, and they are often desperately poor in part because of centuries of neglect or misgovernance from Westminster.

However, you'd need to be a special kind of thoughtless to believe that how your ancestors lived before the process of transport and acculturation that led to you being born a white American took place is equivalent to how Native Americans are living now. The same kind, I guess, which means not being wholly clear on where your oppressed ancestors actually lived. Because where your ancestors lived, apart from anything else, is often kind of a big deal for Native Americans. Comparing that experience with an imagined outrage when somebody adopts the same sort of cereal-box imagery that you yourself apply to a dimly-understood ancestry somewhere a long way away doesn't really work.

(Conversely, if I were actually Scottish, I might well find people in Arkansas having Highland games kind of weird, but I think I'd be more irritated by people using their ancestors' possible Scottishness to denigrate the complaints of another group of people who generally got screwed over by the English. But that's just a guess.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Conversely, if I were actually Scottish, I might well find people in Arkansas having Highland games kind of weird, but I think I'd be more irritated by people using their ancestors' possible Scottishness to denigrate the complaints of another group of people who generally got screwed over by the English. But that's just a guess.)

Why would you find it weird? A lot of the victims of the Highland Clearances, which was the forced displacement of many Highlanders, ended up in the South. My family ended up in Arkansas. Having also been to pow-wows, it's really kind of sad to see similarities, such as the overwhelming amount of food like fried bread that is an unhealthy legacy of displacement and poverty.

There is a movement towards rediscovering ancient traditions that were lost because of this legacy, but it's tough because a lot of the Scottish culture both in the US and in Scotland is mired in trivializations and stereotypes that have little resemblance to the old ways and have little meaning beyond being mostly Victorian inventions that aimed to commercialize highland culture. Almost nothing of the original Celtic religions remains, the languages are almost gone, the food traditions forgotten. What's left is just a shell of the original traditions.

That's probably exactly what Native Americans who are offended by misappropriation of their culture are fighting against...and it's a tough fight. And all cultures, no matter the degree of their oppression, deserve to be able to assert their disapproval of misuse and commercialization of their important cultural, religious, and spiritual elements that they have worked so hard to preserve.
posted by melissam at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why would you find it weird?

Yeah, I realises Arkansas was a terrible example almost as soon as I hit post, and manfully resisted the use of the edit window, but you are of course correct.

That's probably exactly what Native Americans who are offended by misappropriation of their culture are fighting against...and it's a tough fight. And all cultures, no matter the degree of their oppression, deserve to be able to assert their disapproval of misuse and commercialization of their important cultural, religious, and spiritual elements that they have worked so hard to preserve.

Sure - which is pretty much exactly the opposite of the argument "because I have a vague historical connection to a nation, and I am not offended by the existence of Highland Games as an entertainment participated in and enjoyed by non-Scottish people, Native Americans should not object to their own culture being represented as an entertainment for white people". Which is pretty much where we came in. There are questions of degree, of course, but there are certainly corresponding reasons to say "no, that is not a strong argument" - especially when the Highland Games in their current form are something of a post-Clearances confection in any case.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2012


Cultural appropriation doesn't mean "taking inspiration from," or even "stealing" in the Pablo Picasso sense of the term. It refers to the kind of thing that happens when you take a symbol that has meaning to an oppressed group and, by divorcing it from its original context, rob it of its meaning. Previously the oppressed group could use that symbol for whatever they could make of it in that context, but now they will have more trouble with that, because one of the privilege class "got there first"--that is, the degenerate version of the symbol got noticed by the privileged group before the authentic one had much of a chance.

None of this is very obvious from just the word "appropriate" used as a verb. It's just the nearest word to this meaning that someone had available at the time, I suppose.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:34 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


>Cultural appropriation doesn't mean "taking inspiration from," or even "stealing"

I agree to a point. I think cultural appropriation can also be called if the symbols being stolen enforce stereotyping. If they're bowdlerised to such a degree that they reframe a cultural context clumsily and stereotypically.

For example: It's all well and good having a leprachaun selling you breakfast cereals, but I have a problem with anything that reduces Irish heritage to drinking. It's culturally damaging, and it causes problems.

I think melissam makes this point beautifully. (Though on a side note, an unhealthy fascination with fried foods probably means you're up to speed with modern Scottish cultural norms)

madelf: At the time, the anger over the Harajuku thing seemed to me to be all about appropriation.
posted by zoo at 12:00 AM on November 8, 2012


Anyway - I'm arguing myself into a corner:

My point -

No Doubt apologised. The apology looked heartfelt, it lacked the mealy-mouthedness that these apologies sometimes have. It was a classy apology.

So why the continued anger at a band that are trying to do the right thing?
posted by zoo at 12:42 AM on November 8, 2012


I don't know zoo. Reading through that thread there seem to be quite a few mentions of the ickiness of her submissive Japanese girl posse, and the stereotyping in the songs on the album. klangklangston in particular mentioned the minstrel aspects of the whole thing. Most of the other comments are defending it, or basically saying meh. Not a whole lot of mentions of cultural appropriation in the same sense that this thread is talking about it.

But either way, if they've apologized for the current video, hopefully they've taken a bit of learning away from the whole experience and are a bit more sensitive next time. In the end, that's the best anyone can do in this sort of situation.
posted by madelf at 5:56 AM on November 8, 2012


But either way, if they've apologized for the current video, hopefully they've taken a bit of learning away from the whole experience and are a bit more sensitive next time. In the end, that's the best anyone can do in this sort of situation.

Considering this is the 3rd or 4th time they've been through this sort of controversy, there should be Some Doubt.
posted by Falconetti at 6:18 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why the continued anger at a band that are trying to do the right thing?

Probably because they keep tangling with this issue over and over and not learning from the previous renditions of the argument. They get the individual application once it's explained to them, but someone making decisions for the band can't extrapolate to the general principle so they stop making the same mistake with slight variations.
posted by immlass at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


All Gwen Stefani had to do was Google is dressing up like a native american a good idea?

Internet says: NO. IT IS NOT.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:37 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering this is the 3rd or 4th time they've been through this sort of controversy, there should be Some Doubt.

Indeed. It's like she's cycling through cultures to find one that's so oppressed and marginalized that no one has enough power to speak up and speak out about how it's not OK. I don't feel like the apology was sincere at all. No matter how masterful it was, it's from a PR agency. Probably the same one that thought up this brilliant plan to get some news coverage. I don't think the outrage is accidental or a surprise. It was purposeful. She hurt people for fame and gain.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the outrage is accidental or a surprise. It was purposeful.

I wondered that as well when I made the post, and was also wondering how long it would take before it came up here, if stoneweaver is really the first person to suggest this then I think that's really interesting. Gwen is someone I have not been able to get a handle on, not that I have spent much time on it. So I don't really know who she actually is. I would like to think this was just ignorance but the cynic in me isn't so sure.
posted by Cosine at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2012


Third or Fourth time?

There's two incidents mentioned in the post that I'm aware of.
What are the other two?

stoneweaver: I can see no evidence that she's cycling through cultures at all. Assuming that she's somehow doing this deliberately makes no sense from any perspective and sounds pretty much like a conspiracy theory.

She's bubblegum pop with an obsession for fashion. I think that explains the whole affair adequately.
posted by zoo at 4:00 PM on November 8, 2012


Even if she is "cycling through cultures", can you name me a big singer who hasn't depicted other cultures in their work? Madonna dressed as an Asian for "Nothing really matters". Janet Jackson dressed up in an India-inspired style for some video.

I haven't seen the video in question and I think No Doubt does kind of second rate work in some respects. I do like some of it. My point is that I just think they get in trouble because they do this stuff kind of badly, not because they do it at all. Maybe they need to be rebuked for that and held to a higher standard, but I think it also kind of falls under that rubric of "never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity".

So they got told after the fact that it sucks rather than getting better advice ahead of time. And then pulled it and apologized. I wish they, oh, would read more or something. Cute and can sing stops being enough after a while (that seems to work in youth and stops playing at some point). But I really suspect this is a form of laziness more than anything else. Let's hope the incident hurts enough to inspire them to "think twice" in the future.
posted by Michele in California at 4:17 PM on November 8, 2012


Third or Fourth time?

Wearing saris and bindis, the Harajuku girls and now this, so three I guess. I couldn't remember if there was a fourth one. Give it time though.
posted by Falconetti at 8:28 AM on November 13, 2012


She also cited the "chola" stereotype as a style influence. So that's four.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2012


Oh, and if we include her clothing line, how about some Rastafarian appropriation? So there's five.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:05 AM on November 13, 2012


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