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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:


Title: The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell
First Aired: 2004-02-08
Brief: Feb. 8 -- Leo's old mentor at Magic School, Gideon, calls upon Piper, Phoebe and Paige to find out who cast the spell of darkness upon the school and conjured up the Headless Horesman, who has been beheading the teachers. Meanwhile, Phoebe is sent on a vision quest by Enola, a young shaman student, and gets a glimpse into the future, where she discovers Chris' true identity.


The Legend Of Sleepy Halliwell

During her quest, Phoebe will have a premonition about the future in which she'll see children. One will call her "Aunt Phoebe", that's Wyatt's brother, and will ask for her help... at the same time Chris (not in the premonition) will also asks Phoebe for help. When she comes back from her premonition, Phoebe will say that she "saw children... my child"... Here is a list of powers (including those used by the Charmed Ones, Wyatt, Leo, and Chris) you should expect to see/hear about in this episode: astral projection, orbing, morphing by a Shaman, premonitions, telekinesis, empathy, fireballs, shimmering, invisibility shield, someone is a mystic, blowing things, freezing, shape-shifting, telepathy, conjuring, floating (nope, not levitating, but floating).

As for the storyline, it actually does involve the title Charmed is borrowing from. It involves the sisters discovering that a "Magic School" exists and the teacher of the school are being beheaded by a Headless Horseman. However, because the teachers are magical, the heads survive the beheading and communicate. At one point, probably to cover Holly's pregnancy, Piper falls victim to the Horseman and has her head placed on a shelf in the Manor, still alive as ever. The sisters while in the school are told by an Elder that they are in the school to follow a certain path. Phoebe is instructed to follow a wolf who turns into a Shaman girl who tries to help Phoebe re-connect with her powers, mostly her premonition. She does have at least one, where she is attacked by several Black Hooded Demons.

A review by the correspondent who brought it to my attention:

On the show "Charmed," aired Sunday, February 8, 2004, a wolf leads one of the charmed girls (Phoebe) to a shaman. This shaman is supposedly an American Indian woman (the usual stereotype of a tall dark-haired beauty) complete with sitting "Indian style" surrounded by southwestern style pots, flute music, with paintings of feather-clad Indians in the background, clad in turquoise jewelry, completely stoic, boiling a tea over the fire. They never come right out and say that she's Native American but all the stereotypes are fairly recognizable. She speaks cryptically, acting like some sort of visionary. She hands the tea to Phoebe and says "drink this, take a vision quest." Phoebe drinks and has a vision of course. She comes to a great life-changing decision all thanks to the magical vision-inducing tea.

Rob's comment
The whole concept of shamans is problematical in Native cultures. See Shamans, Medicine Men, or Priests? for more on the subject.

I'm sure most indigenous shamans aren't young women. Nor is shape-shifting part of their normal repetoire of abilities.

The whole concept of a Native woman's turning into a wolf has been used at least twice recently: on Wolf Lake and Smallville. How much do you want to bet someone called this "shaman" a skinwalker at some point, too?

Give it a rest, screenwriters. Come up with another way to make a Native female interesting.

Related links
Indian women as sex objects
TV shows featuring Indians

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