Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
really dumb—but free so people use this puppet script
maybe we can ask them to take it off?
i wrote in and said it is not suitable.
SOURCE: Puppet Productions
look under free scripts & tips
The First Thanksgiving
Can be done with a human and a puppet, or two puppets, or a voice and one puppet.
NARRATOR: George, I want to tell you how the first Thanksgiving got started. Back in the early 1600s, groups of people left Europe to escape religious persecution. One of those groups, the pilgrims, sailed to the new land called America. They came over on the Mayflower ...
GEORGE: Mayflower moving vans? Hey, pilgrim, where do you want this refrigerator?
NARRATOR: George, the Mayflower was a ship, not a moving van, and the pilgrims didn't have refrigerators.
GEORGE: Oh, sorry. Get on with the story.
NARRATOR: They landed at a place they named Plymouth Rock ...
GEORGE: (HOLDS UP ROCK, SINGS) 'Get a piece of the rock...
NARRATOR; This is hard enough. Will you quit?
GEORGE: Sorry. You may continue.
NARRATOR: Thank you. They landed and began to get settled. Now, most of these folks were from the city so they didn't know how to build homes or start gardens . . .
GEORGE: They should have looked in the Yellow Pages.
NARRATOR: There were no Yellow Pages then, George.
GEORGE: Oh, too bad. (EXITS)
NARRATOR: They had to depend on other sources. There were no experts on survival in the wilderness among group, so they had to look elsewhere for help.
(GEORGE ENTERS WEARING INDIAN HEADDRESS).
They had to go to the people who were already living in the land-the Indians. George, what are you doing?
GEORGE: How! Me Redskin, you paleface.
NARRATOR: Very funny, George, do you mind?
NARRATOR: Fortunately for the pilgrims, the Indians were generally friendly and didn't mind helping these new folks.
GEORGE: That-um right, Kemo-sloppy.
NARRATOR: Anyway, at the end of the first harvest, the pilgrims decided to have a feast to celebrate their first new in America. Because the Indians had been so much help, they were invited ...
GEORGE: Smart move by pilgrims. (HOLDS ARROW TO CHEST)
NARRATOR: Would you quit? And go take the ridiculous headdress off. You're not an Indian!
GEORGE: Ugh! (EXITS)
NARRATOR: Now to finish the story ... this feast was a way to enjoy the fruits of their labor and to give thanks to God for their success (GEORGE RE-ENTERS). George, what do you think they had to eat at that first giving?
GEORGE: Uh ... Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and ice cream. (NARRATOR SHAKES HEAD) A Big Mac and a large order of fries? (NARRATOR SHAKES HEAD) Beanie-weenies? (NARRATOR SHAKES HEAD) Well, what did they have to eat?
NARRATOR: They had turkey, deer and other meat, plus all the vegetables they had grown. It was a great feast and the start of what we have been celebrating for over 300 years-Thanksgiving.
GEORGE: Wow, God sure has been good to this country.
NARRATOR: That's true. No other nation in the world has the freedom to worship and live like we do. That's why we have this holiday to thank the Lord.
GEORGE: Boy, I wish I could have been celebrating it for 300 years.
GEORGE: 'Cause then I would have had 300 days off from school.
NARRATOR: Good-Bye George, (GEORGE EXITS) 'Bye everybody. (NARRATOR EXITS)
Written by: The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee Youth Ministry 1979.
Subj: email addy
this is from the site with The First Thanksgiving Puppet Script. I haven't gotten a response yet.
Although this script superficially seems to be harmless fun, look carefully. When George plays an Indian character, he engages in several stereotypes: the headdress, calling himself "redskin" and the narrator "paleface," his "ugh" and other instances of Tonto talk, pretending to shoot an arrow. The worst rebukes he gets from the narrator are an occasional "Very funny" or "Would you quit?" These don't contradict the overall portrayal—that of a savage who can't speak well and is prone to act violently.
With his comments about the Mayflower moving van and the Yellow Pages, George makes fun of the play. He makes fun of the Indian character. What he doesn't do is make fun of any particular Pilgrim traits. Treating the Pilgrims with such (undeserved) respect makes them look better and the Indian look worse by comparison.
The script glosses over facts and thereby stereotypes by omission. The Pilgrims didn't just need help, they were dying in droves—approaching extinction. They should've thanked the Indians, not God, for saving their sorry butts. The script credits them for being "smart" to invite the Indians, but it should've emphasized how stupid they were to maroon themselves in unknown territory without the knowledge or skills to survive.
The Pilgrims may have "decided" to hold a feast to emulate the Indians' longstanding harvest feast. And soon enough they began warring on the Indians, who refused to get out of the way. Was the 1637 slaughter of several hundred Pequot Indians in their sleep part of God's plan?
But perhaps the script's worst notion is thanking God for giving America the "freedom to worship." That's ironic considering the US government has tried to shut down Native religions ever since it could. "Freedom to worship" apparently means the Christian freedom to worship.
Ms. Firehair writes puppet people...and Darren responds
The following exchanges occurred over a couple of days. I've cleaned up some of the spelling and punctuation, and deleted a few extraneous remarks, to improve readability:
I agree totally with what Mr. Rob Schmidt has said on his site.
Altho the intent was perhaps not meant to be harmful or stereotypical, little effort was made to research history, or do much other than to buy into what is public "knowledge", that word being used here tongue in cheek.
Squanto, along with numerous others, was transported to England by those who came here—earlier than the Pilgrims. When the return occurred, Squanto found his village and People gone, victims of disease. He, and so many other Native People, aided the settlers who came to the N.E. corridor to settle. The natives have, annually, a celebration we call "Ground Blessing"—you might call it a harvest festival, whatever. Generally in early Fall—around October by a calendar.
Remember the painting of the Pilgrims, dressed in black, high hats, ladies in white head bonnets? Carrying muskets, and food? Many historians feel it is a depiction of the Pilgrims who were invited BY the Indians, making their way to this gathering.
Makes sense—the first couple years amongst the Pilgrims was pretty grim.
And, as Mr. Schmidt pointed out, you might want to check out the reality of the so called "First Thanksgiving"—where they were grateful for the deaths of so many Native Peoples.
As to wearing Indian clothing. Eastern Indians didn't, and shouldn't don, the Plains War Bonnets. Theft of tradition—ditto the bone breastplate—another Plains item. The beadwork isn't Eastern, either. So much for being factual.
Our "religion" as the Euros called it—was 24-7, a total commitment to Creator, the earth, and the People. All conversation being considered prayer—Creator DOES hear all, see all. As do the Ancestors, all of whom stand with Creator after passing. So, one best heed and take care what comes out of the mouth. We who believe in the old ways before Christianity was interjected—know, we are forever, in this life and the next, living, sleeping, eating, walking, on and in what Creator has given. The House built by the Almighty Being.
At the risk of sounding prejudice—Not nearly so simple as walking into a building a few times a month, saying prayers a couple times a week.
I descend from Elder Wm. Brewster, who gave the first prayer of Thanksgiving at the Gathering he was invited to by the Indians, whose desc. intermarried native—and from Stephen Hopkins, whose daughter md. the son of Gabriel Weldon, he md. one of the transported Wampanoag women—in London—-so, I say—
Write about your own families and Ancestors, not mine (who were actually Pilgrims AND Natives). I will pay you the same respect.
Firehair Shining Spirit // aka Sheila Stover
I apologize ahead of time for the length of my response, I knew I had to type this out before I could get back to work today lest it would hang on my mind....
Well this is all very interesting. Myself being quite sensitive to the plight of the native people(interestingly for me, I just found out that Grandpa Bear Heart is performing a wedding ceremony for my brother next month), and being someone who is involved in "Christian" drama (puppets mainly), it makes for a interesting situation.
I will agree wholeheartedly that this puppet play isn't very good. It's written poorly and is hardly funny. It was written by an amateur many years ago. However, as I must pick scripts that are applicable to the time of year for our free publication, it was the only one readily available in our catalog of past short scripts that I had access to. It won by default.
I DO take issue with Mr. Schmidt's (and yours) process of choosing and using the script as an example of "stereotypes." The foreground to my site is the sale of puppets. It also includes puppet plays. Puppet plays that teach on Christian values. If a group wants to find a background detail in all 300 pages of my website and point it out as an offensive or inaccurate portrail of some sort, fine, but please do so in consideration that the point they take issue with is a background detail that does not affect the whole, and therefore is not likely to be intentional.
I believe intent/motive is always to be considered.
By not informing me of his own intent to pigeon-hole ME as a stereotyped promoter of some sort of "bigotry" or "racial-injustice" by picking something that is obviously far from the overall theme and motive of my larger body of work (the website) he is being VERY unfair. No email, no formal request, no mention of his intent, no desire to deal with the "problem" discreetly? I am sure you also must have noticed that my site is NOT a "Native History" site. If it was, then it would be fair to point and say "look at this wrongdoing." But to single out minutia from an unrelated body, without some notification to rectify the problem privately before a public expose' is innapropriate and rather unkind.
My point is, "I agree" this script has some silly garbage in it. But give a guy a chance to notice that 3 lines of text in a body of work that has probably 10,000 or more lines of text in it may be "unfair" to a particular group of people. To immediately put someone like me on the defensive by putting up neon signs over an oversight is probably not the best way to move your "cause" forward in terms of public relations.
Mr. Schmidt makes this statement:
"With his comments about the Mayflower moving van and the Yellow Pages, George makes fun of the play. He makes fun of the Indian character. What he doesn't do is make fun of any particular Pilgrim traits. Treating the Pilgrims with such (undeserved) respect makes them look better and the Indian look worse by comparison."
How is maintaining that ALL pilgrims deserve NO respect, any less stereotypical?
"The script glosses over facts and thereby stereotypes by omission."
This is a bold statement for ANY kind of written work. Plus, the same comment could be held against any people mentioned in the play (pilgrims included). Does Rob submit that he ommitted that some Pilgrims may have been nice and friendly (maybe just one) and kind to the Native people, if so he has stereotyped by ommission as well. (I think that kind of rational is very tedious as you can see.)
"But perhaps the script's worst notion is thanking God for giving America the "freedom to worship." That's ironic considering the US government has tried to shut down Native religions ever since it could. "Freedom to worship" apparently means the Christian freedom to worship."
Regardless of mis-deeds of the past, political climate, or association with those who have done wrong, when would it EVER be a "bad notion" to thank your creator for the ability to worship? Is it a terrible notion for me to suggest to fellow christians to thank my creator for my freedom to worship? No matter how or who you worship, I think we can all agree that it would never be innapropriate to thank your God/Creator for the ability to do so. Regardless of horrible circumstance brought on by ones people. I see Rob's point, but it seems to be very surface.
The point of the play is "we have a rich tradition with giving thanks, it started with thanking God for providing indigenious people to help us, and 300 years later we still need to remember to give thanks."
Though I am certainly open for discussion, I do not see how differenciating between plains "indians" and NE coast people is important to carry out THAT point. If one has a puppet that is trying to portray a native person for a brief moment (less than one minute) why is it innapropraite to use "tonto talk"? It is not a foreground issue, the character is obviously NOT intelligent, stereotypes (though admittadly CAN be harmful) do come from SOMEWHERE and are based somewhat on truth. A native person, heck ANY person speaking english for the first time, makes funny noises and incomplete sounds. In a short dramatic presentation stereotypes are the ONLY thing we have to rely on to portray a specific character in a brief amount of time. The important thing is that it is NOT degrading while still being humorous (in this case). I have done radio programs in Colombia south america and I KNOW I sounded exactly like a stereotyped american trying to speak spanish. I ended making wierd sounds during my emberassment on the air and then my first impulse was to laugh immediately after mistakes. (I thought to myself, "wow, I sound really dumb to them right now.") If someone was to use that radio clip as a slice of life in a puppet play, it would portray me as sounding kinda dumb, but it would be accurate. It wouldn't be unfair or mean, unless they it was taken to another level, or made the object of ridicule. (of course, even then *I* wouldn't mind, but that is just me, I'll admit.)
I can think of a few small changes that would rectify the other problems posed by Mr. Schmidt, and I will be making them. I just wonder if the person who submitted this to you folks was equally offended by our Asian line of puppets, for they have slanted eyes and japanese style garments, yet Japan is only maybe 5% of Asia, and our puppets are available with beards, and only a handful of far north asians have facial hair... I mean that is a horrible stereotype. But the point isn't to be perfectly accurate the point is to get the audience to immediately on sight say "oh, that is an asian character." I had a problem with that, and with our Latino line all wearing mexican traditional garb, while very very few Latin people wear that kind of clothes. But you know, I choose my battles. It wasn't worth fighting because it isn't the point. It is silly, and annoying to those of us who know better, but is it harmful? I dunno. Choosing a NE Coast native to wear Plains traditional outfits... I just am not convinced it matters when it is not a foreground issue. It *IS* a puppet show about thanking God for provisions.
I am interested in your thoughts. I am very young, and constantly open to changing my mind, and probably will do so on this matter more than once!
Because, the God you worship allows only worship in your way, dictated by your rules, and brooks no other way.
I live in the Baptist Bible Belt—in the buckle, so to speak. 16 mi. from S.E. Bapt. Theological Seminary.
Listen, hear, every day, in a 200 mile radius—comments abt and against "Meskins", "them Injin kids (mine) them niggers pretendin to be Injins—(Haliwa tribe 30 mi. east of me, lots of their families in the schools)
them Cathlics taking over in that new church of theirs—
them Jews—too many outsiders—"
Lordy, things don't change.
I have tons of family in the N.E. corridor, NJ to RI—and area may change, comments don't—much.
I tolerate NO prejudice/racist remarks, against anyone—I hear them, I call them down for it. My students / family ALL know, that doesn't go around me—about anyone, anyplace, ever. My remark is quoted by the kids "Miss Firehair says In case you haven't noticed, Wal Mart is selling trash cans in all colors."
It looks like *I* am the one being stereotyped now.
"Because, the God you worship allows only worship in your way, dictated by your rules, and brooks no other way."
It is interesting that you would point that out, yet in the same breath note that Grandfather BearHeart couldn't be indian since he wouldn't perform a ceremony for a white man. And my "God" is the one has the rules?
I am sure my "God" believes worship is a condition of the heart, and no more. Worship is nothing that any man-made religious ceremony could ever dictate. Christian, native, or otherwise.
It almost sounds like you are the left wing version of those who trouble you from the Seminary.
But I still would like to make friendly conversation, if you do not mind.
From curiosity, doesn't the phrase "American Indian" bug you? I mean Amerigo Vespuci was responsible for the first onslaught of disease...and "indian" is the moniker that colombus gave you, albiet mistakenly. (If I am correct). I just figured that phrase was equally without charm as any other name other than original tribal name.
It used to bother me, but now I don't really care about what epithet is hung. I guess I am beginning to think that the only thing that makes someone a victim (besides physical abuse) is simply believing one is a victim. I'm not holding fast to that though, but nonetheless I feel strongly that many folks are holding themselves down by believing someone is out to get them.
In a message dated 8/16/01 2:03:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
>> What I DO get is that instead of saying "hey darren, I would like to bring your attention to something you may have missed when putting together a 300 page website, its this thing that my people do not care for" you and others took that one small part and strung up my name, my employers name <<
Let's clarify a few things.
I was sent that script, and site, sometime back. Ran it as news, without comment.
Several sent it to Rob Schmidt for his on going contest—THEY nominated you for this award—neither Rob, whom I have never met, other than via email and common interests, we are on opposite ends of the continent—then looked at, evaluated the requests to have you considered. And, Da, Da—you made it.
If the Award had been a good one, you'd have beamed and puffed out your chest, not being asked wouldn't have crossed your mind.
But, seeing an awful lot of folks took exception to that script—(and—how come you didn't have it tagged—"written by anonymous, taken from archives"—whatever etc.?????)
Now, as your employer sanctions the site, and o.k.'d usage—he/she is to blame, too—so, don't let them hang it all on you.
Web sites, the net—all that is very much public domain—we put ourselves out there—we have to take the flack. I've got slash marks all over my back, believe me. People get bored, they decide to give me a hard time.
Left wing—that's really funnier than you can possibly know. I love it. Nitchske said to be careful who you choose as enemies, you may end up like them. Hmmmmmmmm. You had to know, on some level, considering all the hoo ha over Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving, and Day of Mourning in Mass.—that script wasn't going to win the Pulitzer!!!!
As for the recent "clarification."
Its not a matter of it being an award, or being "asked" its a matter that I believe the motive for having this sort of "expose" for you and for Rob is to show the "injustice" of it all. I ask, "why would you not go to the "source" before running it as "news" or as "stereotype" to rectify the situation on a personal level"?
It appears like you are both (Schmidt and yourself) more interested in celebrating the "injustices" by flagging them, rather than actually dealing with them.
"I've got slash marks all over my back, believe me. People get bored, they decide to give me a hard time."
So why would you in turn, do that to ME, who you should by now know is a sympathizer to your cause (but so far not your tactics) and obviously not the author of the product in concern. (It DOES have a byline on it and a date.)
I have to leave now, but I am still curious as to how YOU would rather one portray an Indian in a humorous way with a puppet in less than 30 seconds?
Indians WERE there, puppet shows ARE caracatures of real life, and the script needs to be funny. Dress/speech of the puppet must tell any audience in any locale that this character is "Indian."
Can you solve that for me?
I am not interested in "dehumanizing" anyone. In fact, I don't see how anyone can become "dehumanized." I certainly know that no one can turn me into anything other than human. I can be human, or dead human, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to become anything other than human. I can think that someone can TRY to think that I am other than human, but I can't see how that makes me any different than human. To that end, I don't see why I would even care if someone thought of me as other than human, because, I know what I am, therefore it doesn't really matter if someone thinks I am not human. Because, I am.
>> So why would you in turn, do that to ME, who you should by now know is a sympathizer to your cause <<
Sorry, Darrin—sympathizer you aren't. By any stretch of the imagination. If you were, the script would've lain in a bin somewhere. And we wouldn't have this conversation, as you haven't a clue how Indian country feels—
Rob is a sympathizer, knows our history better than many of us—is there, daily, doing battle—with words, not swordsRead his comics—you may see the difference.
I assure you, I've been calm and nice about this. I'm old enuf, no doubt, to be your Mom, so, as you are young—take that into consideration.
And, what has been done to me, my children you can't begin to imagine. And I hope you don't have to. And we are fine. But, we work daily to ensure things are hopefully better for the next generation. You don't respond to the overall, and you haven't changed your mind. You aren't an Indian, you never will be., that makes for different mind set, and I see and hear a lot of "White is Right" here. You wanted to do this. So, you did. You like it the way it is, so it's o.k. You don't want anyone to take umbrage—so we are wrong. You want to play victim and put us in the wrong—so, you do.
Same old, same old.
Whoever wrote it, historically, the script is wrong.
Whoever did the drawing put an eastern Indian in western gear. Historically inaccurate—it's hardly 30 seconds—pull up the site, it sits there—until you click it off.
The dialogue was in the manner to depict we couldn't speak well, and makes us look ignorant, which we never were.
The entire premise of Thanksgiving is under fire, in DC and thru out Indian country—historically inaccurate in the script.
We weren't citizens of the US until June 1924, having no rights under the Constitution—and the law wasn't fully ratified until 1948 and 1952 when the Supreme Court forced their "hand" so to speak.
We do not have the religious freedom granted others—it took the IFRA (Indian Freedom of Religion Act) of 1976 to get us halfway to the "Altar of our choice."
In 1995, they wanted to arrest my 12 year old son because he had eagle feathers—that got stopped in a hurry. We give the schools they play (they lettered in 3 sports 4 years in school) a copy of the IFRA due to their hair being long—since infancy. They cannot be forced to cut it—a matter of educating People—long since solved. And now, there are coaches, People, who take a stand, educate others, on my son's behalf. That, Darrin, is sympathy. The schools I speak at, teach in, do not have Indian mascots, nor do they war dance, or wear Indian gear as a parody. Education, sympathy.
None so deaf as those who will not hear, none so blind as those who do not want to hear.
Rob weighs in—look out
Some comments on your response to Ms. Firehair:
>> However, as I must pick scripts that are applicable to the time of year for our free publication, it was the only one readily available in our catalog of past short scripts that I had access to. It won by default. <<
"Must" you do that? Is it really mandatory that you have a Thanksgiving script, or this Thanksgiving script? Instead, what if you challenge a practice that leads to stereotyping a minority?
It would be easy to have the original author update this script, or update it yourself. It would be funnier and serve your purpose better and not be stereotypical. Give me a good reason and I might do it myself.
>> If a group wants to find a background detail in all 300 pages of my website and point it out as an offensive or inaccurate portrail of some sort, fine, but please do so in consideration that the point they take issue with is a background detail that does not affect the whole, and therefore is not likely to be intentional. <<
Stereotypes often aren't intentional. Many occur because of thoughtlessness or laziness. But I just document their existence. The intent is secondary and I only sometimes address it.
>> I believe intent/motive is always to be considered. <<
If I state the apparent motive is ignorance rather than intentional harm, will that make you feel better? Consider it done.
>> By not informing me of his own intent to pigeon-hole ME as a stereotyped promoter of some sort of "bigotry" or "racial-injustice" by picking something that is obviously far from the overall theme and motive of my larger body of work (the website) he is being VERY unfair. <<
I don't think I pigeon-holed you or made any sweeping generalizations about your intent. If you inferred something, that's not my problem, is it? I'd say my work is completely fair.
>> No email, no formal request, no mention of his intent, no desire to deal with the "problem" discreetly? <<
My intent is to document the stereotypes more than to "deal with" them. Stereotyping is an ongoing problem and I have neither the time nor energy to tackle them one by one until they're gone. People inform me of the stereotypes; I inform others so they can act if they choose. I leave it to them to determine which stereotypes are serious enough to warrant their involvement.
>> I am sure you also must have noticed that my site is NOT a "Native History" site. <<
Few of the sites I deal with are. That's probably why they're stereotypical.
>> If it was, then it would be fair to point and say "look at this wrongdoing." <<
It doesn't require a degree in history to know Eastern Indians didn't wear feather bonnets or say "ugh." All it requires is an understanding of basic stereotypes.
>> But to single out minutia from an unrelated body, without some notification to rectify the problem privately before a public expose' is innapropriate and rather unkind. <<
Unkind, maybe. Inappropriate, no. If I had attacked your whole stable of puppets and scripts, without reviewing them in depth, that might've been inappropriate. I didn't do that.
But are the stereotypes really minutiae? The script is riddled with them, so the script is flawed overall. We're talking about a defective product, not defects within a product.
Stereotypes are often symptomatic of a larger problem, which is why I address stereotypes. But again, I didn't tackle any larger problems in your product line. I stuck to the Thanksgiving script and its stereotypes.
You say what a small part of your business this script is, but I have no knowledge of that. For all I know, you distribute thousands of these scripts to churches across the country. Perhaps you're the world's leading purveyor of Christian puppets and puppet scripts.
Later on, you admit your scripts are full of stereotypes. So how is this problem "minutia," exactly? From your own words, this problem is representative of a pervasive problem in your scripts. Potential buyers will be glad to learn about all the problems, not just the small subset of problems I addressed.
Nevertheless, if you want to correct the problem, I'll amend my page to acknowledge your efforts. Then you'll get credit for doing something good instead of bad. Until then, my critique speaks for itself.
>> To immediately put someone like me on the defensive by putting up neon signs over an oversight is probably not the best way to move your "cause" forward in terms of public relations. <<
My cause, such as it is, is to inform and educate people that racism and stereotyping are ongoing problems in America. Contacting you privately so you could correct the problem would do nothing to educate the public. In fact, it might have the opposite result. If you corrected the problem and I didn't publicize it, people would never know this kind of thing still happens.
Again, that's my point: that stereotyping is still a problem. Exposing the problem helps educate people about it. Whether I correct a particular stereotype or not is almost beside the point. If and when people become enlightened about stereotypes, they'll correct the problems themselves.
>> How is maintaining that ALL pilgrims deserve NO respect, any less stereotypical? <<
I didn't say all or any Pilgrims should get no respect. I implied they should get the same respect as the Indians.
Of course, if the historical facts suggest the Pilgrims should get less respect than the Indians, well, facts are facts. Don't massacre your hosts and you'll get the respect you deserve. The Indians respected their unsought guests, at least initially, and so should your script.
But I'm curious: What do you think we should respect the Pilgrims for? For invading an inhabited land without permission? For bringing their religious intolerance to America? For noting the Indians' kindness before wiping them out? What, exactly?
>> "The script glosses over facts and thereby stereotypes by omission."
This is a bold statement for ANY kind of written work. <<
If you say so. I guess I like to live dangerously. <grin>
>> Plus, the same comment could be held against any people mentioned in the play (pilgrims included). Does Rob submit that he ommitted that some Pilgims may have been nice and friendly (maybe just one) and kind to the Native people, if so he has stereotyped by ommission as well. <<
I didn't say anything "negative" about the Pilgrims other than mentioning a few unmentioned facts. And observing they were stupid to "settle" a land they weren't equipped to settle, which is a basic survival guideline. I didn't say anything postive or negative about their friendliness, kindness, or other personality traits.
>> Regardless of mis-deeds of the past, political climate, or association with those who have done wrong, when would it EVER be a "bad notion" to thank your creator for the ability to worship? <<
The script suggests thanking the creator for America's giving people the ability to worship. Since America hasn't given that ability to everyone, I noted the irony. That's exactly when it's a bad notion to thank the creator—when the creator hypocritically helps some people but not others.
>> Is it a terrible notion for me to suggest to fellow christians to thank my creator for my freedom to worship? No matter how or who you worship, I think we can all agree that it would never be innapropriate to thank your God/Creator for the ability to do so. <<
That isn't what the script is thanking. It's thanking God for America, not for the universal ability to worship. As many people will tell you, America isn't and hasn't been an unalloyed blessing.
>> Regardless of horrible circumstance brought on by ones people. I see Rob's point, but it seems to be very surface. <<
I don't pretend this critique is "deep." Stereotypes are often painfully obvious. But my critique is deeper than the notion of praising America for a freedom that doesn't exist for some Americans.
>> The point of the play is "we have a rich tradition with giving thanks, it started with thanking God for providing indigenious people to help us, and 300 years later we still need to remember to give thanks." <<
I know that's the point, on the surface. The deeper point it suggests is that God has blessed the Euro-American settlers and their way of life, not the Natives and their way of life. This meta-point is embodied in the stereotypes presented and the facts omitted.
>> Though I am certainly open for discussion, I do not see how differenciating between plains "indians" and NE coast people is important to carry out THAT point. <<
It isn't important for that point, but the point you suggest is superficial at best. Not only is it superficial, it's more or less incorrect. Again, God hasn't given all Americans the freedom to worship equally.
>> If one has a puppet that is trying to portray a native person for a brief moment (less than one minute) why is it innapropraite to use "tonto talk"? <<
Because Indians didn't use Tonto talk. But if the answer isn't obvious, I doubt any amount of explaining can make it obvious.
Nor do I believe this skit takes less than a minute to perform. Not that it matters, but I'm guessing it takes 3-5 minutes, at least.
>> It is not a foreground issue, the character is obviously NOT intelligent <<
There you go. If you admit the stereotypes exist, I'm not sure what your problem is with my critique. Don't blame the messenger for the message.
Or are you saying the Indians were less intelligent than the Pilgrims in reality? I hope not. Again, the bumbling Pilgrims were the ones who almost extinguished themselves. The relative intelligence of the two groups should be clear.
>> stereotypes (though admittadly CAN be harmful) do come from SOMEWHERE and are based somewhat on truth. <<
Yes. They come from Americans' ignorance of Native cultures, starting with the Pilgrims' ignorance. So?
>> A native person, heck ANY person speaking english for the first time, makes funny noises and incomplete sounds. <<
As Ms. Firehair informed you, Squanto knew English already. And the Pilgrims would've sounded funny trying to speak the Natives' language for the first time, too. If you don't want the play to be stereotypical, show both parties saying "Ugh" or the equivalent.
>> In a short dramatic presentation stereotypes are the ONLY thing we have to rely on to portray a specific character in a brief amount of time. <<
Rubbish. People have done Thanksgiving plays and skits before without stereotyping either side.
>> The important thing is that it is NOT degrading while still being humorous (in this case). <<
Degradation, like humor, is in the eye of the beholder.
>> If someone was to use that radio clip as a slice of life in a puppet play, it would portray me as sounding kinda dumb, but it would be accurate. <<
It's accurate because you were trying to speak Spanish. I'll bet you didn't say anything as simpleminded as "ugh." I learned Spanish in school, and I certainly never sounded like an imbecile or an ape.
In the Pilgrims' case, both sides were trying to learn the other's language to communicate. The script doesn't reflect that both sides were equally ignorant—if you ignore that Squanto and others had already met the English. Picking on only one side's shortcomings is stereotypical.
>> It wouldn't be unfair or mean, unless they it was taken to another level, or made the object of ridicule. <<
The script has made Indians an object of ridicule, as have countless prior skits and jokes using the un-comical "ugh."
>> I just wonder if the person who submitted this to you folks was equally offended by our Asian line of puppets, for they have slanted eyes and japanese style garmets <<
I wouldn't be surprised. I don't have time to cover Asian stereotypes...but I'll be glad to inform anyone who does. It sounds as if those puppets are stereotypical also.
>> But the point isn't to be perfectly accurate the point is to get the audience to immediately on sight say "oh, that is an asian character." <<
In other words, the point is to use and perpetuate stereotypes.
You don't think people would be able to distinguish Wampanoag Indian puppets in authentic Native clothing from Pilgrim puppets in their black attire? I think the distinction would be obvious immediately. But if some child really couldn't tell a Pilgrim from an Indian, perhaps they both could introduce themselves.
>> I had a problem with that, and with our Latino line all wearing mexican traditional garb, while very very few Latin people wear that kind of clothes. <<
Do your black puppets sing and dance, shuck and jive, between eating slices of watermelon? Why not? Your rationale is that you have to make your puppets instantly recognizable. Wouldn't these well-known stereotypes help make your black puppets recognizable?
If you see a problem with these hypothetical puppets, you've just seen the light. The Native stereotypes you employ are just as blatant as the black stereotypes I described. The only difference is that black stereotypes have received more publicity...and more disapproval. The Native stereotypes are just as wrong.
Mexican puppets in sombreros? Wait, don't tell me. The Italian puppets sing operas in gondolas. The Arab puppets ride camels and belly-dance. The South Seas puppets sacrifice virgins in volcanoes.
Am I close?
Sounds like your whole puppet line is riddled with unflattering stereotypes. Maybe you need a new line of puppets.
>> But you know, I choose my battles. <<
So do I. Too bad you're on the receiving end this time.
>> It wasn't worht fighting because it isn't the point. <<
Who's fighting? I would've been happy if you never engaged Ms. Firehair or me in a debate. My goal is to document stereotypes, not to praise God or America, and I don't need to argue about it. I'm confident my analyses are valid.
>> It is silly, and annoying to those of us who know better, but is it harmful? <<
Yes. See The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence for a small sample of the extensive evidence on stereotyping's harm. And which of us does know better, hm? You seem to think the "ugh" stereotype is valid, for starters.
>> I am interested in your thoughts. <<
Here they are!
>> I am very young <<
No! I'm shocked!
Have you heard of respecting your elders? It's a common practice in Native cultures.
>> and constantly open to changing my mind, and probably will do so on this matter more than once!
Feel free to use a lifeline if you need it. We just hope your final answer is the correct one. <g>
More thoughts for puppet people
My site has 660+ pages, not a mere 300, and maintaining it isn't even my primary job. I have less time to debate individual stereotypes than you have to eliminate them. In an ideal world, I might contact all the "nominees" after I posted their entries to get their responses. Sadly, this isn't an ideal world. But I do post all the responses I get so people can see both sides of the issue (the wrong side and the right side).
"Celebrating injustices" rather than dealing with them? Try "educating people" about injustices so they'll eliminate the injustices themselves, rather than urging them to correct the injustices one by one. It's the classic case of teaching villagers to fish for themselves rather than handing them a mackerel.
One small correction: I got Firehair's mail along with her other 300 correspondents. The mail included a copy of "jo's" original protest to you. That was the only notification I received, not complaints from "several" people. There wasn't a groundswell of protest—until now.
As for the slash marks on your back, I didn't criticize you personally. I criticized the script your company offers explicitly, and its writer implicitly. If you aren't the writer, I'm not sure why you feel personally attacked.
If I quote an Indian—say, Russell Means—on my site and someone tells me they disagree with him, I don't take it personally. When I worked at Northrop Corp. and people criticized our B-2 bomber, I didn't take it personally. In fact, I criticized it myself.
The situations are analogous.
Oppressors have often used your rationale of people's "choosing" to be victims. "Africans and Indians wallowed in their own ignorance and barbarism, so it was up to us to enlighten them. We dragged them into God-given America, banished their primitive superstitions, and force-fed them Christianity for their own good." Etc.
I'm pretty sure Hitler claimed the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves. He started by stereotyping them as backstabbers and pagans who deserved what they got—not much different from our treatment of Indians. And he ended by killing them en masse—also not much different from our treatment of Indians.
At what point, if any, would you say the Jews went from choosing to be victims to actually being victims? If you come up with an answer, feel free to apply it to America's historic treatment of minorities. And to today's treatment of minorities, for that matter.
Fortunately, I don't need to argue the point. My list of Native stereotypes keeps growing—day by day, week by week. I usually don't have to "spin" them and say how horrible they are. Readers can judge for themselves whether Native people are "choosing" to be victims—or whether others, like your script writer, are victimizing them.
You say you know who you are. I suppose sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can't hurt you? So if I call you stupid a few hundred times, you won't mind? Hey, stupid Darren. You sure are stupid. You're stupid to work for a stupid puppet company. You're as stupid as the Indians your stupid script portrays. You know, the Indians who stupidly say "ugh"? How stupid is that?
I offer the above paragraph for illustrative purposes only. I really don't think you're stupid. Let me know if your self-awareness protected you from any hurt feelings, no matter how slight.
If you did feel a slight twinge, multiply that by 500 years of vile, racist degradation. Then maybe you'll know how a Native feels. And if you didn't feel a slight twinge, congratulations, stupid.
There I go, kidding again. But I was just caricaturing you, not insulting you or labeling you a subhuman moron. Do you see the difference?
Rather than go into a lengthy discussion of what you do or don't know about Indians, I used the shorthand stereotype of calling you "stupid." Because I had only a minute to make my point. See?
I'm glad we had this little talk about caricatures. <g>
No one's arguing that Indians weren't at Plymouth. We're arguing that your script caricatures the Indians but not the Pilgrims, and caricatures them unfairly. I'm amazed you don't see the obvious difference in treatment.
Where are the Pilgrim caricatures to match the Indian caricatures? To give your audience a quick caricature of what Pilgrims were like, why not have the Pilgrim puppets burn a witch or two? Then the audience will know the Pilgrims (the Puritans among them, at least) weren't just happy campers in black but intolerant religious fanatics. You do want people to recognize the Pilgrims, don't you?
Laughing at Indian stereotypes isn't particularly original or funny. But this witch-burning could be a real laff riot. The woman being immolated could yell, "Hey, I'm not a pot roast! You're cooking the wrong dish for your feast! Let me go or I'll turn you into a frog—oops, I didn't mean that!"
Isn't that a knee-slapper? It punches up your script and helps you caricature the Pilgrims. Feel free to use it...no charge.
What's your response? Don't tell me: "The Pilgrims at Plymouth didn't burn anybody!" And my response: "The Indians at Plymouth didn't wear feather bonnets or say 'ugh'!" They're both stereotypes based on an atom of truth, but neither one is valid.
How to do caricatures properly? I'll say it again: If you want to caricature the situation, rather than one group of participants only, caricature the Indians' superior knowledge. Have them laugh it up at the Pilgrims' expense. That's still a caricature—the Indians probably didn't make fun of their guests, who probably knew vaguely how to survive—but it's more historically accurate.
You talk about your Asian puppets. Okay, let's talk about them. A Japanese geisha, to use one stereotypical example, has a recognizable hairstyle and clothing. She performs recognizable actions such as kneeling and serving tea. She also has powdered white skin, not yellow skin, and eyes hidden by a fan or lashes, not slanted eyes.
You think people wouldn't recognize this puppet immediately from its accurate hairstyle and clothing, its accurate actions within the play's context? I say they would. I say you wouldn't have to give this puppet exaggerated eyes and skin color. And you certainly wouldn't have to make it babble pidgin Japanese ("Ah so...I velly solly"), like some Charlie Chan clone. The hair, clothing, and actions would be enough to convey the puppet's nationality.
You say the Thanksgiving play exists to teach Christian values. Which Christian values do you mean? That America is a great country? That isn't a Christian value, it's an American value. Many non-Christians in America also think America is a great country. And many Christians in Europe and elsewhere think America is a tin-plated god with delusions of grandeur.
The freedom to worship? Christians have a long history of opposing non-Christians' freedom to worship other gods. Even now, some American Christians would like to mandate school prayer, the teaching of creationism, the public posting of the Ten Commandments, labeling homosexuality a sin, banning stem-cell research as immoral, etc., etc. Freedom to worship is an American value, not a Christian one.
Or perhaps you mean the actual Christian values Jesus expressed in the Bible, such as loving one's enemies. To me, that value would suggest treating the Indians as you'd want to be treated yourself (the Golden Rule), with dignity and respect. I don't recall Jesus saying anything about caricaturing people for expediency's sake. Do you?
So tell us: Exactly which Christian values does this play teach? That all people are equal under God? Or that some people are more equal than others?
Hmm. As I told Ms. Firehair, I'd say you're a lot more apathetic than sympathetic. Claiming you have to stereotype people—some people, that is, not others—isn't what I'd call sympathetic.
You're beginning to see why I don't feel obligated to inform everyone of their "nominations." Firehair and I have spent several hours writing to you and I don't think your position has changed. Positions rarely do.
Meanwhile, you haven't come close to refuting our arguments. You haven't even addressed many of them. And we have more where those came from.
Your position amounts to "I don't think stereotypes are bad." My position amounts to "I don't care whether you think they're bad or not, I'm documenting them." Again, if we both agree the stereotypes exist, what's the problem? I haven't said you're a racist or a bigot, though you may have inferred it. I've merely documented the stereotypes.
If you really think our criticism has missed the point, I don't see what you're worried about. Your employers and customers can examine both sides of the argument. If you're right and we're wrong, they'll agree with you. Your boss probably will give you a raise for defending the company image.
Bottom line: If the stereotypes are a problem, do something about them. If they aren't a problem, who cares? I've noted them, so let that be the end.
Confirming that Firehair and I aren't just a pair of nuts, popular historian James W. Loewen reviewed the Thanksgiving script. Here's what he thought:
The silly 1979 Thanksgiving script does no credit to Tallahassee or any of its creators, including you, webmaster. Read ch. 3 of Lies My Teacher Told Me and think about the title of my email, please.
James W. Loewen, best email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
its since been removed!
Always good to know I wasn't imagining the problem. I didn't think I was.
For those who haven't read Loewen's fine book, Chapter 3 discusses the American myth-making that began with the first thanksgiving. Stories that feature brave white Pilgrims settling the "wilderness" with the help of "good" Indians is exactly what Loewen is talking about. And so am I.
I meant to reply in length last eve, but I ran out of time, I have removed the script, as your response was much more clear than any others I have received. It all makes sense. I do fear that a few of the quotes Ms. Firehair Carbon Copied to you were truncated, I do not know if you got them all or not. That is neither here nor there, as I have removed the script and really would like to discuss with you more (about fixing it). I will, just not this moment as its such a big response!
I am VERY appreciative you took the time to respond to each thing individually, I catch flack from the extreme right (over totally different things) and the extreme left, and most everyone usually glazes over my genuine questions and just keep saying the same things over and over or just over simplify things, YOU didn't do that.
My knee-jerk reaction was due to the fact that I saw my name as a contact person, and it felt personal. I defended the "case" because I am genuinely curious as to how you all see it (sterotyping neg vs. positive) not because I am passionate about the script....I best stop now till I have more time this afternoon. But thank you, you have been fair, and that is a first. I know your time is probably more valuable than mine.
The debate continues....
>> I truly don't understand how you are meaning to define the word "stereotype" <<
The dictionary defines it well enough.
>> and where it goes from being "OK" to "BAD". <<
As I said, I'm listing all stereotypes, whether positive or negative. You could say the "warrior" or "ecological Indian" or "noble savage" are positive stereotypes, but I'd note them too if they came up.
I've discussed so-called positive stereotypes at least seven times on my site. Here's one exchange from Whither Comics After the X-Movie?:
>> If you have Native American (or Hispanic or African or Asian) ancestry, your life has to be *about* your ancestry — you can't decide you'd like to concentrate on medicine, law, drama, inventing new yogurt flavors, whatever. <<
That's what we're missing: dramas about ethnic yogurt makers! Why didn't I realize that before?!
>> *This* kind of stereotyping — even when the stereotypes are "positive" — is something I'd like to see recede. <<
Yes. I've written before that positive stereotypes are better than negative stereotypes, but they're still not ideal. Reality is ideal.
>> I mean, not all stereotypes are bad. <<
Maybe not, but they're still stereotypes. Why not make your plays real instead?
Moreover, how are "positive stereotypes" at issue here? Your play has blatantly negative stereotypes: the chief with headdress, saying "ugh," being a guest at the Pilgrim's show, etc. There's nothing positive worth discussing in your play's depiction of Indians.
>> I understand that not all indians wear a headdress or ride horses, but how is that damaging? <<
Why is a falsehood ever damaging? Suppose I went around saying the capital of the US was Honolulu. Suppose I put that into my Christian plays and distributed them. Do I have to prove this blatant falsehood is harmful? Falsehood is harmful by definition. It can't help anyone and it can hurt them, by filling people's minds with incorrect information.
How would it be harmful if I told people your puppet company was racist and bigoted? Would you insist on proof of the harm before you complained? What's the difference in the two cases, if any?
>> Is it an oversimplification (I am REALLY asking, not challenging anyone here, I promise) to say that an Image of a "european" with a German accent is a bad steroetype <<
One European could have any accent and it wouldn't be false. A European with a German accent would be valid because some Europeans have German accents. If you're talking about a European in Ireland, then it might be questionable—although some Germans are in Ireland. But no Indians wore headdresses at Plymouth, so the image is false. It's not only a stereotype, it's a lie.
>> If someone said, ok ten seconds: BE EUROPEAN, and I went "Ja, My name is Inga!" where does that become dehumanizing? <<
It becomes a problem when it's inaccurate—as in the case of your puppet script. It also becomes a problem if it's accurate in some cases, but is repeated far more often than it happens in reality.
That's the case when a Western movie shows a chief in a headdress. The scene might've been accurate a few times, but it wasn't accurate every single time. The image is a simpleminded substitute for the complex reality—i.e., a stereotype.
But since your play has several false images, I suggest you deal with them. The false images are the first and "chief" problem. That your script uses stereotypical images for its false images is a second problem.
You could dress your Wampanoag Indians in Inuit mukluks or Aztec feather cloaks if you wanted to. Then the images would be false, but they wouldn't be stereotypically false. I suggest your company deal with the false images first and worry about any "positive stereotypes" later.
>> But the script never sited the KIND of indian specifically. <<
Come on! The incidents at Plymouth are unique whether you identify the Indians or not. Using Plains Indians is as false as making the Pilgrims Jews.
>> I see where that is an innacuracy, but I don't understand why it is damaging. <<
Would it be damaging to identify your Pilgrims as Jews? Why or why not? They're both white Europeans, so what's the big deal? Jews were as geographically close to Plymouth as Plains Indians were—about 2,000 miles away. So what's the harm of showing white European Jews dressed as Pilgrims?
>> I am writing from the point of view of "Thanking God" should be the focus, and the rest is details that can be cut or kept without affecting the point. <<
Your point isn't my point. Since I've taken up the debate, I'm defining what my central point or focus is. If you're happy with your point, don't worry about my point.
>> I am sure their media reflects me as such, but I guess I just don't care, I am not saying its easy for EVERYONE to do that, maybe I am not sensitive enough. <<
Maybe not. Maybe you've endured only 20 years of criticism, at most, not 500 years' worth. Maybe you need to walk in someone else's shoes.
>> I really did laugh, and not at you for using that device, but it felt cute to me. <<
Good. Put your Christian Mom and Dad online and let me try it with them. If they laugh too, put your Christian grandparents online and let me try it with them. You expect every generation of Indians to ignore your stereotypes, so let's see if every generation of Collins family can take similar insults.
Put your boss on so I can call him or her stupid. Let's see if your boss laughs it up too. I'm serious...let's conduct an experiment on the tolerance of Christian puppet peddlers. I have the insults if you have the laughs.
As we'll see, your comment about thinking my point "cute" is extremely ironic. At the end of this message, you say something is making you "nauseous." Whatever it is, it isn't much different from a script that makes people look stupid by putting "ugh" in their mouths. Both are a form of criticism; both make people nauseous.
>> So at one point I feel like the oppressed need to simply choose to stop letting it get to them. <<
I'm not an Indian, so I'm not "oppressed" by the insult. But I'm amazed that you've come up with a rationalization for insulting people. I guess you call black people "niggers" and expect them to get over it too?
>> I just met and talked to a Director of a hollywood movie that premieres on Friday and he is a huge supporter of the Gay community <<
Who's that...Kevin Smith? I think many in the gay community are criticizing his anti-gay stylings, just as they do with Eminem's homophobia. And rightly so. "Helping" people doesn't give you a free pass to insult them whenever you feel like it.
>> yet was lambasted by the far left for his usage of what could be considered "anti-gay" slang. Yet many Gay's love the flick <<
And many probably don't.
>> yours and Ms. Firehair's approach aren't the ONLY approaches. <<
Since we've told you what's factually correct in this case, and you're defending what's factually incorrect, I'd say our approaches are clear. We think truth is good and you don't. If you want to continue defending your script's lies, okay, but don't pretend we're simply using "different" approaches. Most people in most moral systems would say truth is a better approach than falsehood.
>> I don't know why she would tell me I sound "white is right" for saying that, I can site examples from EVERY minority who feels this way. <<
I suspect Ms. Firehair and I can cite more people who think stereotypes are wrong than you can who think they're right.
>> I mean, I do spend a lot of time around comics, and the very nature of the minority comic is to take the stereotype and run run run with it. <<
I assume you mean "comics" as in "comedians." And my response is...so? This isn't a popularity contest. A lot of people like stupid, homophobic, misogynist products: music, video games, and movies. That doesn't make any of them "right" or "moral." It simply makes them popular.
>> When YOU mention and lambast my God/Faith in your "documentation" it does bug me. <<
Tough tootsies. All Christians are homophobic, misogynist neo-Nazis. Oops...kidding!
If that criticism bothers you, let's replace "stupid" in our experiment with "bigoted." Why are you Christians so bigoted, Darren? Why do you want to wipe out Indian religions, go to war against Islam, put the Ten Commandments in our courtrooms and the Bible in our schools? Why do you and Jerry Falwell think God is punishing the US for its "sins"? Is your boss bigoted also? How about your parents? Your grandparents?
>> Ms. Firehair said she "loved" "Smoke Signals" the movie. Well holy toledo! It is RIPE with stereotype both positive and negative. <<
Smoke Signals was a work of fiction chronicling a few people's lives. As I've already said, stereotypes have a kernel of truth to them. Even if Smoke Signals used stereotypes, they might've been true for those characters.
Your script isn't a work of fiction, it's a work of history. The point may not be historical, but the setting is. That's a fact whether you like it or not.
For that historical setting, your images are false as well as stereotypical. I'm dumbfounded that you still don't get this point. Do you seriously think that because some Indians wore headdresses, it's okay to put the Wampanoag Indians in headdresses?
Then I ask again: Why not make the Pilgrims witch-burners? Or Jews? Or put them in touristy Hawaiian shirts? What would be wrong with these hilariously stereotypical images? The Pilgrims could utter the same or similar lines, so your script could make the same ultimate "point" about God. Therefore, what's the problem with these script changes?
>> I do. So where do we draw the line? <<
With the truth. Your images are not only stereotypical, they're false.
>> I mean there ARE stupid white people and stupid indians. <<
You've got no justification for making the Indians but not the white Pilgrims stupid in your script. If you've made up a justification but haven't shared it with us, feel free to do so.
>> Do we get to use them, if so, when? And how? <<
When you show a range of Indian characters, feel free to include an accurate percentage of "stupid" ones. Since you have only one Indian, and the Indians at Plymouth weren't known for stupidity, your scripted choice is false. In reality, again, the smart Indians saved the stupid Pilgrims' lives.
>> Ok. Well, a black puppet (using your earlier comments about not "shucking and jiving") can simply be black, and we get it. <<
If you're using green and purple puppets to represent generic minorities, I don't see how the audience gets anything. Anyone who's seen your plays must have the opposite impression—that puppet color bears no relationship to ethnicity. Therefore, your puppets need to perform stereotypical actions to be recognized. That means shucking and jiving in the case of African Americans.
The audience would "get it" with an Indian puppet wearing vaguely correct buckskins. That apparel would stand out completely from the Pilgrims' black and white garb. Why isn't that, rather than the stereotypical and false headdress, your approach?
>> But in this script it was a generic puppet (the user could be using any color, and quite possible some of the green, orange, blue, or yellow puppets from our non-ethnic line) <<
Use green or purple puppets for the Pilgrims if it doesn't matter. Put them in Jewish yarmulkes or Hawaiian tourist outfits.
>> I guess I just don't care what kind of indian, because it wasn't the overall point. <<
Bingo. You're apathetic, as we surmised.
Your overall point is that the Pilgrims and God have a special relationship that excludes Indians. Not only do Indians worship the same Creator, but some Indians are Christians also. Your overall point, such as it is, is that "we" are white European Christians.
No, "we" are not. My heritage is white European Christian, but most Indians have a different heritage. Yet they're still Americans. Some are even Christians.
>> It was crafted only to be about the value of remembering to thank your creator. <<
Then have the Indians thank the Creator too, since they participated in the alleged thanksgiving. And don't phrase it as the "freedom to worship," since that's not what the Pilgrims were thanking God for. They were thanking God for being alive, with the Indians' help. Being free to worship was probably well down on their list of things to praise.
The way it's crafted now, you have white Pilgrims thanking the white God for their freedom. There's no mention whatsoever that the Indians might worship or thank the same God. And there's barely a hint that the Christian God worked through the non-Christian Indians to ensure the Pilgrims' survival.
>> a lot of comedians who have powerful and respected places on stage because they address and use caricatures all the time. Especially ones of themselves. <<
Indian people make huge fun of themselves too—as you'd know if you knew anything about Indian culture. But I don't see many white comics going on and on about blacks, Latinos, or Asians. They make fun of themselves and their own people, not other minority people.
Your script makes fun of other people, not your own Euro-Christian ancestors. Once again, your example (comedians, positive stereotypes) is unrelated to the actual case. Deal with the case of making fun of a culture that's been insulted throughout history, not your own culture.
>> the dictionary definition seems to imply stereotyping to be a neutral concept, neither bad nor good. Yet it CAN be used to show bad and good. <<
Which dictionary are you using? Mine defines a stereotype as "a conventional, formulaic, and usually oversimplified conception, opinion, or belief." Or "a person, group, event, or issue considered to typify or conform to an unvarying pattern or manner, lacking any individuality."
You can find or invent positive examples that fit that definition, but the implications are largely negative. Impressions like conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified aren't what I'd call positive or even neutral.
>> That is the only thing that bugs me is how Ms. Firehair (and you), who seems to hate the idea of negative stereotype, would think that about me. <<
I'll repeat that "Firehair and I have spent several hours writing to you and I don't think your position has changed. Positions rarely do." When you do something to change this statement, then I'll amend it.
You say you've taken down the script...but only because it's controversial. Not because you think our arguments have merit. I guess the outcome is satisfactory either way, but it would be better if you understood what the problems are.
>> And you asses that my boss would "give me a raise for defending the company." None of which were true. <<
I supposed your boss probably would give you a raise in the future. Have you asked him or her about this controversy? Where's the proof that you won't get a raise for defending the company? How can you say my statement "wasn't" true when I only guessed what will be true?
Since I qualified it with "probably," it doesn't matter whether it comes true or not. This isn't a situation we can test mathematically. Probability—like degradation and humor—is often in the eye of the beholder.
>> you two are the ones making character assesments.) <<
I'd hardly call a guess about your boss's raise-giving policy a "character assessment."
>> I guess that is because I was questioning their application, not their validity in and of themselves. <<
I've explained the applicability of my criticisms. You haven't come close to refuting these arguments. You haven't addressed many of them.
>> Yes, but your documentation DOES include commentary, and in some —sarcasm and name-calling. <<
Any sarcasm or name-calling merely amplifies the documentation. It doesn't change or substitute for the documentation. And until now I hadn't called you the specific names you bandied about: "racist" or "bigot."
>> Depending on how you respond to this, you may or may not be happy with the results. <<
Since I find 2-3 stereotypes to document every week, I get little pleasure in seeing them corrected one by one. You say you see our points, but you're still arguing for your script. In fact, I don't think we've seen an example of your repudiating one of your positions yet.
>> So when you told me he couldn't possibly be Indian because he would never perform a wedding ceremony for a white man, well, that (Rob's Quote) is how I feel too. <<
My response to that is an analogy:
Rabbis and priests are willing to perform nontraditional ceremonies for outsiders or nonbelievers. A priest, for instance, would marry two people who weren't members of his church, or even Christians, if they asked him to. Why? Because a wedding ceremony isn't "sacred" the same way a baptism or communion is. Some may consider the marriage sacred, but the details of how the ceremony goes are flexible and not especially "holy."
>> I, unfortunately, though am totally carefree <<
>> I seem to get very ill when faced with this particular brand of conflict <<
Darren I, meet Darren II. You two should get to know each other better.
>> After my first email from Ms. Firehair I was awake til 3am. Being in the middle of one person's accusation of another persons belief or issue with another's method of teaching somehow gets me in the guts. <<
That's funny—not to say ironic—since you earlier laughed off my "stupid" comments, the applicability of our criticism, etc., etc. You said you don't see the harm, and people should be able to laugh at themselves—but you're tossing and turning at night?
Sounds like our comments are hitting home on some level you're not aware of. Maybe you should get to know yourself better—become more "sensitive," as you put it. I was up part of the night writing my responses, but I didn't think about them once I was done. I had no trouble sleeping over this issue.
Remember how you complained because I didn't inform you of my posting in advance? Now you're seeing why. Informing someone usually leads only to grief. Firehair and I have spent several days corresponding with you, yet your position has barely budged. You didn't take the script down until a more authoritative party—author James W. Loewen—criticized it.
Meanwhile, you're taking our comments personally and becoming nauseous over them. As you can see, arguing rarely helps anyone. You should be thankful I tried to spare you the angst.
>> That and being accused of being apathetic to PEOPLE, man, its tough for me to ignore, impossible really. <<
>> I guess I just don't care what kind of indian, because it wasn't the overall point. <<
Darren I, Darren II...you two might want to discuss what apathy is and how it manifests itself. You seem to have conflicting views on the subject.
>> Any of my associates would have ignored all this. <<
With people calling your work stereotypical and implying it's racist? I suspect most people in your position wouldn't ignore it. Have you informed anyone else at your company about this issue yet?
Go ahead and do it if you think they'll ignore it. If you're right, you just may get that raise I mentioned—for making an effort above and beyond the call of duty. If you're wrong, you may learn some people are more sensitive to stereotypes than you are.
The debate continues....
>> Why not make your plays real instead? <<
>> I guess my answer would be that reality INCLUDES stereotypes. <<
It also includes truth. Your play chose to present the stereotypes rather than the truth. If it had presented true stereotypes, that might be one thing. But as I said, your stereotypes weren't simply stereotypes. They were falsehoods too.
>> In entertainment it works. Like in cheesy action movies where everyone is typecast. <<
It "works" in the sense that it contributes to a movie's cheesiness. Why do you think these movies don't get any critical acclaim and fail as much as other kinds of movies? Perhaps because they're lame, which is partly because of the stereotypes.
>> Why is a falsehood ever damaging? <<
>> I think the main difference would be intent. <<
If I called Honolulu the US capitol, I wouldn't have to have an harmful intent. It would be harmful, to a small degree, because it wasn't true. As I said, "Falsehood is harmful by definition. It can't help anyone and it can hurt them, by filling people's minds with incorrect information."
>> Putting the wrong outfit on a character who is suppose to represent an Indian where the 99% of the worlds audience (including the writer) doesn't know the difference, and simply isn't focusing on that point...is different than specifically INTENDING to defame someone. I'd call it ignorance vs. pure maliciousness. <<
Most stereotyping is ignorant rather than malicious. That doesn't change the fact of the stereotyping. And it doesn't prevent me from noting the stereotypes' existence.
Moreover, the play's intent is less benign than you think it is. It was designed to promote the common myth that our Pilgrim forefathers nobly founded our white, Christian nation. Ask the author whether he intended this message or not. If he's honest, he'll say he did.
>> Falsehood can be damaging. But not always. <<
Often enough that I can assert it as a generalization.
>> BUT I DO see the point that avoiding innacurate stuff is important for education, and I simply will not ever be able to write anything about indians again without being careful, this I know. <<
>> Misinformation should be dealt with, yes, but calling the capitol honolulu is just ignorant, its not causing personal anguish to the people of Washington DC. <<
One, you're not a resident of Honolulu. Two, you haven't heard the same stereotype a hundred times. Three, we're talking about stereotypes that apply to people, not mistakes about abstractions such as the US capitol. They're more personal by definition.
For this point, a better example would be a personal stereotype—like the stereotype that Southerners are rednecks. Most Southerners probably don't get upset the first or second time they hear it. If they hear it a hundred times, they may start getting upset. It becomes personal even if it wasn't originally.
Stereotypes don't dehumanize?
>> They would be going "Oh geez, that is lame" But they WON'T be shouting "dehumanizer" at the script writer. <<
It's difficult for a lie about the US capitol to dehumanize someone. Especially when it's a single lie with no context. That's why I gave you an additional example: that puppet companies are racist. Again, is that harmful? Do I have to prove the harm? Or is the harm inherently obvious?
>> I would vouch for the writer and say he was shooting for "indian" not shooting for "Wampanoag." <<
I'm sure he was. But rather than "vouch" for him, I'd criticize him. He used common stereotypes to convey the idea of an Indian.
>> I also assume the play was about "thanking" God, and not about relaying the details of the life of the Native. <<
It's about promoting a Christian agenda, not merely "thanking God."
>> Because it is about Christians for Christians. <<
Your bias is showing. Many Native people, including Wampanoag Indians, are Christians too. What if a church on an Indian reservation unknowingly bought and used this script? Would you expect them to agree with your position: that it's okay because it's "about Christians for Christians"?
What you mean is the script is about white Christians for white Christians. Which is my point, not yours. The script promotes the idea that white Christians founded the country and have a special relationship with God, while Indians were and are somewhere else, uninvolved.
>> But then you call me apathetic, and THAT kept me up at night. But you are right, perhaps I shouldnt worry. I dunno. I always seem optimistic that I can agree on some level with everyone. <<
Well, you've started to agree with me. That should help you sleep better at night.
>> I can take ribbing or jesting, and your set-up made it obvious you were making a point. But having someone think of you as a "jerk" is a lot different than people assuming your ancesters were ignorant, or wore the wrong outfits. <<
People continue to think Indians are nonexistent or savages or drunks to this day. The stereotypes contributed and still contribute to this impression. That the stereotype is about an ancestor is a detail. The effect is on today's people.
>> I'm amazed that you've come up with a rationalization for insulting people. <<
>> Its not a rationalization, its a sugestion. I DON'T do it. But I know plenty of black people who have gotten over it. <<
Have they learned to endure it, or have they gotten to the point where it literally doesn't bother them? Those are two very different things.
I haven't asked any black people about the issue, but I've read about it. The word still upsets many of them.
>> Well, the fact that some people ARE NOT bothered by it who are indian, or in the above case, gay people, suggests that there ARE different approaches. <<
I haven't heard any Indians say a stereotype like "Ugh" was okay. Perhaps they have other priorities and don't think about it much. That doesn't mean they condone it.
I don't need all or most Natives to agree with me before I make a point. My point is valid regardless. I could point out a stereotype about blacks or Asians and many Native people might not care. That would tell us little or nothing about the claim's validity.
Don't take stereotypes personally?
>> If that criticism bothers you, let's replace "stupid" in our experiment with "bigoted." Why are you Christians so bigoted, Darren? <<
>> My response is. "That isn't me." THOSE phrases don't bother me, they don't apply. <<
They didn't bother you the first time I said them. How about the tenth time? The hundredth time? How about when you were a little Christian boy in school? If the teacher had told you you were a bigot then, would you have been so nonchalant?
>> You are right... the native person is simply living with it on another level than I am. <<
There you go.
>> Do you seriously think that because some Indians wore headdresses, it's okay to put the Wampanoag Indians in headdresses? <<
>> I am still wavering on the line between whether or not it has a significant effect on hurting an individial human being. <<
It has a cumulative effect on society—its understanding of Indian cultures and history. Whether it hurts individuals is largely irrelevant.
I don't know if there's a good way to address issues like racism or stereotyping globally. Just saying they're wrong from the bully pulpit probably isn't enough. One way to address them is what I'm doing: pointing out the problems one by one and educating whoever out there is listening.
>> Should we strive for accuracy? Yes. So being vague enough to be all encompassing is A-ok, but being wrong HURTS the natives? <<
Accuracy is best. An all-encompassing vagueness is better than inaccuracy. Again, no one has said this particular instance of stereotyping is going to kill anyone. It contributes to the misinformation just like a typo saying Honolulu is the US capitol would. That wouldn't kill anyone either, but it would add to society's collective ignorance.
>> Interestingly enough, I would assume no one would "get" the witch burning thing because white folk just don;t get stereotyped like that enough. Proves your point. <<
Yes. But I bet most people would get the point.
>> My point here was that with white, brown and dark brown puppets available, a dark brown puppet is good enough to use to represent an african. Brown gets vague, and not enough to represent indian....but a feather makes it clear. <<
As I said, I think the brown skin and black hair would be enough. If you added the generic buckskins, that would be more than enough. The headdress and "ugh" go beyond "more than enough" to "too much."
>> The audience would "get it" with an Indian puppet wearing vaguely correct buckskins. <<
>> Hadn't thought of it, actually. It IS a better approach. <<
You hadn't thought of it because your mind is filled with Indian stereotypes. Which is again my point.
"Ugh" = amplified stereotype?
>> Indian people make huge fun of themselves too—as you'd know if you knew anything about Indian culture. <<
>> I do know that, and from being around the culture. And yes, yes they do make fun of other minorities. Most comics (comedians) compare and contrasts their race to others, this includes using stereotypes of the other races to amplify the charactaristics of their own race. <<
If your script merely used or "amplified" stereotypes that have some validity, we'd be having a less pointed discussion. Many Indians didn't wear feathers at all, and they certainly didn't say "ugh." The script "amplifies" false stereotypes...which is another way of saying it lies.
Clearly, your problem is that you see all Indians as part of one big group. So if one Indian wears a headdress, they all can, and you're merely "amplifying" the stereotype. In reality, Indians—like every other race—belong to separate and distinct cultures. A Wampanoag Indian is no more a "variation" of a Plains Indian than an Englishman is a variation of a Swede, an Italian, or a Greek.
Would you show an Englishman wearing a Greek toga? How about a Spaniard wearing Dutch wooden shoes? An Italian doing an Irish jig? Have I made the difference between an "amplified" stereotype and a false stereotype clear yet?
>> Maybe you should get to know yourself better—become more "sensitive," as you put it. <<
>> Though part of this irony is apples and oranges, yes I am quite interested in knowing myself better. <<
Naturally, I don't think it's apples and oranges. I'd be surprised if your attitude toward Indian stereotypes didn't carry over to other areas of your life. Simply put, you haven't thought outside the box enough. We've helped you do it in this case. Maybe you'll apply the lesson to the rest of your life and see things you haven't seen before.
That's kind of my ultimate point: the need to see things from a multicultural perspective. Another way of putting it is to question things you believe are true. That applies to everything, not just puppet scripts and comedy routines.
>> You can stereotype christians all you want and I am not gonna be upset. Call DARREN a bigot. <<
Okay, Darren's a bigot. His puppet company is racist. His parents killed Jews. His grandparents burned witches. Etc.
>> Pass by me and assume I must be a "typical christian" and that wouldn't bug me much either. Its when I let you into my life a bit (my mistake) and then the character assasination begins that I get uneasy. I think its different. <<
I don't. Your play assassinates the character of Indians by making them look dumb or silly. You think that's some sort of impersonal insult they should ignore. But they take it more personally than you would—perhaps for the reasons I've stated.
So I've addressed you personally so you feel the same way they do. And if it doesn't bother you, bring on your parents. And your grandparents. I've got a lot of "harmless" jokes about doddering old fools. Let's see if they laugh as much as you have.
Bring on your boss. Let's see if he finds it funny if I tell the entire Internet that your puppet company is racist. What do you think his response will be: laugh or no laugh?
>> As far as your workplace challenge to me... I am not gonna get into work politics/relationships/attitudes. Yuck. <<
Then let's not talk about what your company would or would not do in this situation, since we don't know. In particular, let's not say it would ignore this controversy, as you originally claimed. I suspect the company would take it more seriously because the people in charge are older and wiser.
Darren finally gets it?
>> Would it be safe to say your argument is not that "one gag in a puppet script ignorantly showcasing the wrong attire on a native is as bad as stepping out on the curb and yelling "hey niggers, want some watermelon?"" But your argument is that the script in question simply is another small stone in the larger wall that divides people from seeing people as the truly are? <<
Yes, that would be safe to say.
>> The difference is, everyone is aware of the latter. The former is simply the task you have taken on. Exposing the stereotypes of natives. <<
>> And yes, Darren one and two exist. Im not so bold as to say I am consistant. I'm hardly a purist, and the more I know the more I really am learning I simply don't know. You caught me. Though some of the fine details of my inconsitant feelings were missed in your assessment...you caught me. <<
>> At any rate, I see your point. You have shown me something I simply hadn't looked at the same way. The degree to which I take action will be up to me, but awareness HAS been raised. <<
I'm glad to hear it!
Ten little Pilgrims and Indians
Carhoota Cornplanter: "This post was right on target and states what I believe are the First Nations' views on such as well."
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