Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interesting action over at the Straight site

Two threads I've been following and commenting on on the Straight website - Mike Usinger's provocative article on the No Doubt video, and Alexander Varty's review of the Neil Young show.

Usinger's article looks at the overreaction to the recent No Doubt video - a video that I have "no doubt" is offensive to First Nations peoples, but that I can apparently no longer see to judge for myself. I don't exactly agree with his point of view - it sounds like it's a video that should not have been made and that deserves some outcry - but on the other hand, I find it really curious that if you Google "songs offensive to First Nations" or any variants, you end up with a billion hits talking about the No Doubt video, and almost nothing dealing with any of the hundreds of OTHER examples of western popular music that cross the exact same lines, or worse. It's not like this sort of thing hasn't been going on for a very long time, in music, film, fashion, and elsewhere. No Doubt seem to have picked a REALLY bad time for "Looking Hot;" given their instant apology and the video's withdrawal, EVERYONE seems to be talking about it... 
I guess part of the reason I don't object so much to Mike's article is that I've gotten used to thinking of him as a provocateur who occasionally likes to stir the pot by writing articles that might seem tasteless or offensive or deliberately controversial - like his Amy Winehouse obituary. Or his defence of Nickelback. Or his article on the Scarlett Johansson nude pics... I sort of sit back and try to appreciate his, um, aesthetic with these things, which, at the very least, is kind of ballsy. I'm not sure how much of ANY of what he writes he really believes, mind you - if he's just not exploring controversial positions for the hell of it (and for the attention it generates). I don't think some of the commenters on the No Doubt thread GET this, since they're getting pretty hostile and taking things rather seriously - a couple seem to be making unsubtle threats, even... 
And alas, one of them appears to have mistaken ME for HIM... 
Meantime, I pretty much jibe with everything Alex Varty says about the Neil Young show; what's interesting is that there's someone ELSE out there - a commenter named Gerald - who bought tickets hoping to see the Americana tour, who now feels kind of ripped off. I'm tryin' to help him work through that... 
Really there's other stuff I should be focusing on, but...
Note: I just found the No Doubt video online. I have now seen it, and indeed, it seems a pretty minor example of something that has been going on throughout the 20th century - the trivialization of First Nations' experience for the sake of fashion and amusement. It's politically problematic, but it also doesn't really deserve a lot of serious comment - it's obviously just a bunch of silly, misguided crap, which, unfortunately for the band, has become a focal point for the sort of extreme overreaction that the internet sometimes can facilitate. Compare the above video with any and all of these - the actual context of the video; the No Doubt video is just a drop in a very large bucket:

"The Waters of Minnetonka" by Desi Arnaz, Carol Richards, and Lucille Ball:

"Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne:

Johnny Horton's "Cherokee Boogie":

Johnny Preston: "Running Bear":

Sheb Wooley's "Indian Maid":

Hank Williams "Kaw-Liga":

Loretta Lynn's "Your Squaw is on the Warpath":

Bill Haley's "Ten Little Indians":

...There's lots more. Yep, No Doubt made a tasteless video. They should have known better. Does it really deserve this much attention, though, this much outrage? People are writing things like "we'll be watching you" at Mike... if anything, such reactions make me more sympathetic to his point of view (or the one he has adopted for the sake of this article...).

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