Saturday, June 18, 2005

Stop. Think.

Take a moment and look at the ad to your left. Grandparent. Child. Ice cream cone. Colored chicken feather "Indian" head dress. Major pharmaceutical product.

WTF?

Now if you aren't Indian, you're probably thinking, "So what"? So I want you to do a little exercise. Imagine this ad with the kid dressed up as, say, the stereotype of a Black man, or a Chinese man, or an Indian from India. Go ahead. Make the little outfit in your head, complete with hat or turban or whatever fits. Now imagine Tylenol printing that for an ad campaign. Uh huh.

So what makes Indians different? Why are our traditions and practices allowed to be dress-up for little children in ad campaigns? Why aren't we accorded the same respect as any other ethnic group?

Is it because Indians are the past? We are all dead, so making fun of us or belittling our cultural practices doesn't matter? Is that why words like "redskin" persist as acceptable term, why "braves" and "chiefs" are still found as caricatured mascots on high school football fields? And why Tylenol doesnt know any better?

Tylenol got one thing right. The ad says to stop and think before taking Tylenol. I couldnt agree more.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

"Is it because Indians are the past? We are all dead, so making fun of us or belittling our cultural practices doesn't matter? Is that why words like "redskin" persist as acceptable term, why "braves" and "chiefs" are still found as caricatured mascots on high school football fields?"

What makes Indians different from other minorities is that they are the one of the most misunderstood minorities in this country.

The average American has no clue to what Indian culture is. And yes your average American thinks all the Indians died out or assimulated. Little do they know that they are still around.

Also like most minorities they have no control of how they are portrayed in the mainstream. Not many minorities have control of how they are perceived in the mainstream.

On a side note: You ever thought of doing an article on how some Indians assimulate into America and in doing so lose track of their culture?

11:53 AM  
Blogger labor&curse said...

Richard Rodriguez, in his book "Days of Obligation: An Argument with my Mexican Father" wrote this:

"As the landscape goes, so goes the Indian? In the public service tv commercial, the Indian sheds a tear at the sight of an America polluted beyond his recognition. Indian memory has become the measure against which America guages corrupting history when it suits us. Gitchigoomeism-- the habit of placing the Indian outside history-- is a white sentimentality that relegates the Indian to death."

2:32 PM  
Anonymous creepingkid said...

Indians in the popular concept are fictional characters in the national legend - much like cowboys or pilgrims (whose headgear children also appropriate from time to time). Real Indians have lost control of their own storytelling, have become characters in another group's mythology. But consider how many Indians actually, historically wore such feathers? And how many Indians today identify personally with the costume that is not "theirs" specifically? The challenge of modern Indian culture is to not claim too strongly the kitschy Anglo "Indian" image as the genuine heritage.

12:39 PM  

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