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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

A group called the Highly Defective People posted these videos on YouTube in July 2006. If you don't want to look at them all, they feature young white men and women in tank tops and shorts along with stereotypical Indian wear: headdresses, headbands, feathers, face paint, chokers, tomahawks, arrows, etc. The "Bone" video shows a woman with bones clenched in her teeth and hanging from her ear. The "Squaw" video shows women in sexy poses and describes one with the line "Je ne sais squaw."

The following text accompanies the videos.

Native American Apparel is a trail of tears-, blood-, and sweatlodge-free pre-teen sex between consenting intergenerational entrepeneurs. All of our manufacturing is done in our 350-square-foot studio facility in Manhattan by a team of Indians named Bear who lost their casino jobs for masturbating in front of the reporter that was interviewing them.

Music composed with Apple Loops samples by the Highly Defective People.

Tanya Ritchie
Noel Dinneen
Category Comedy

YouTube viewers respond
Here's how people have responded to these videos. (All spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes in the originals.)

The Highly Defective People who created these videos try to explain themselves under the heading "highldefectiveppl." You can see my comments under the heading "rvsjr." The short version is that an abstract goal or "intent" doesn't change an unacceptable depiction into an acceptable one. Racism is still racism regardless of your excuse for doing it.

All Comments (40 total)

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what the fuck

is that a question?


OK. Then I'll try to answer it briefly, though the question's scope is a little broad. The idea behind Native American Apparel is to use Native American imagery as a symbol of exploitation. In doing so, we hope to poke fun at the American Apparel ad campaign's objectification of barely legal models as well as the PR front that American Apparel's founder Dov Charney is a perv.

and that makes it right, acceptable? exploiting what is not of you to make fun of what you are? or?

hell, the chicago and fla mascots should be ok then? s\weet, ill be sure to bring this video with em to sweat lodge.

hehe, i c... i was looking for wrestling when i saw this and it took me VERY off guard.

I actually agree with you somewhat, although it's a little far-out for my taste. But I definitely see where you're coming from and it's a true concept.

I am a proud Comanche woman and take serious offense to this.The Trail of Tears is not a joke, my Great Great Grandmother died on it. It would show alot of respect if you took that out of your intro. Your video has got to be a joke because you obviously have no fashion sense,morals or self respect. Just because you have on you "Night before" make up and slapped on some cheap craft store feathers does not regalia make!

That was just retarded. And you guys are goofs.

My wife is Chiricahua Apache, I am white and Tsalagi. We both find what you people are doing highly insulting and disrepectful. As Keetawah has said, The Trail of Tears is NO JOKE!! You perpetuate the evil the waseetchu has done upon the na'Deeh if this land. Inhumane, as always. Ho!

How dare you to disrespect the Trail of Tears, You should really go to the Chieftans museum in Georgia and read some of the letters from soldiers from the Trail of Tears.You have gotten alot of hits to your video its not because people like it, they click on it thinking its about Native Americans. Why do you not feel strongly enough about your own video to respond to some of the comments?

Please see my response above to answer your question about not reading things.

You are trying to make it sound like you are doing something admirable which is a load. You dont disrespect an entire race to try and expose what you are alleging is a questionable company. Your entire intro is an affront to the very senses. You have tried to explain everything in it except the Indians named Bear and why they were fired and from where. If you were as passionate about your cause as you profess you would have handled things in a very different way

I am sorry that you are offended. I assure you that Native Americans are not the butt of a joke here. Quite the opposite in fact. We are passionate about making fun of the fashion world. The American Apparel company has had some of the most sexually exploitative advertising in recent memory. Maybe you are not familiar with their images? Substituting their "sexy," pre-teen models for Native American imagery is a comically disturbing comment on exploitation.

I find it odd that you would use the term "Native American imagery." Your video is meant to spoof American Apparel imagery, but you simply subsitiute their generic sexually sugestive working class teen snapshots with what is essentially the same imagery—only with cheep American Indian costumes. So you've done nothing to subvert the original intent and have merely angered more people.

The use of whites as American Indian stand-ins has a long history—there are a few videos in YouTube that show this. From early on photographers used white assistants in fake costumes, and the hey-day of the Hollywood Western, ... well you get my drift. I get that you're trying to make it funny, but it's not funny and you've done nothing constructive with this series of videos.

Though I do understand the point you are trying to make, there are many other ways to do so. As a proud native women, I am offended when I see this, I find it very disrespectful and disgusting. I don't even know what to say when I see something like this.

somebody should have killed your ancestors insted of mine , for shame

Somebody did kill his ancestors intead of yours. The people who killed his ancestors are called "The Nazis". Maybe you've heard of them? Now you should look at highlydefectivepeople's video "The Jew Hunter" and see that this is what we call "satire". Maybe you're heard of it?

Well said. I cannot understand these overly sanctimonious attitudes, to a video that nobody was forced to watch.

this is the most racist video that I've seen on youtube. Yet what is most disturbing is the author thinks this video is clever. He writes, "Substituting their "sexy," pre-teen models for Native American imagery is a comically disturbing comment on exploitation" (above comment). I can understand if you have a problem with American Apparel sexually graphic advertisements. However, you use stereotypes of Native Americans, turning a peoples history and culture into a symbol.

So it all comes out to be, Everyone is trying to Be American Indian? Quote, Unquote. This is such a prime example of the Constitution to date that it hurts. Amen, Hallelujah, Praise the White Lords of Economy. Yee Haw. Why can't we get the Power of love, rather than the Love of Power. Oh well, be it as it? is.

hey, they cant help it, they have great grand mothers that are cherokee princesses.... and we all know that there REALLY were tsulagi princesses NOT. yes, they need to get a life

What the fuck is this ignorant shit all about? I swear, you dress up in blackface and you catch hell. It's ok for people to do this to Indians. Why can't they get a culture instead of ripping on ours? Also, the sweat lodge thing is so wrong too. Just because nothing is sacred to them doesn't mean they have to exploit native religions.

yep yep yep!

how dare you insult me and my native american people.


exploitive, sick shit. what the hell is the matter with these people. and they think they are Cool and hot and you know what, they are sorry and sad and just searching... what a waste... go smoke some more peji...

do you want a war ?? if this is a pr stunt you better back off!! if you dont like to live keep on doing your bullshit!!! hack hack hack bitch!!!!

I understand what you are trying to do but this is absolutely ridiculous and is not funny at all.

no good

Please just tell me what these yonegas are trying to do?

Right back at ya white boy! lol. Wow your parents must be very proud of you all. Funny is funny and that was not funny. Just an insult to me and everyother native out there. Peace, IronFistEagleClaw

damn thats all i have to say i thought ppl were more educated about our ppl these days im glad i dnt know none of these girls in person cus what a ass woopin they wud get

they make me wanna puke

These are not racist videos. The use of the ridiculous (and it is ridiculous) Native American imagery is a parallel for the exploitive nature of the American Apparel ads. If you would take a calm and rational look at these videos you might see that highlydefectiveppl is actually on your side.

Yes, they are racist videos. Slapping a label or an excuse on piece of racist stereotyping does nothing to change the underlying stereotyping. The stereotyping exists whether you (try to) explain it away or not.

Similarly, I could post a blackface minstrel show and say it was a commentary on white Americans' perception of blacks. But saying it doesn't make it real. The so-called commentary would exist only in my imagination, while the stereotyping would be self-evident.

Here's a thought experiment to prove the point. Imagine the same videos with no words or music. Would they be racist then? If so, then they're racist now.

Again, calling a racist act a satire or a parody doesn't alleviate the racism. Nor does insulting someone and then saying it was just a joke alleviate the insult. The intent of these videos is abstract and unprovable, while the offensive images are clear and real.

Even if we assume the videos are satirical, so what? It doesn't change the fact that they're also racist. The choice isn't satirical or racist; the videos are both. They use racist images to make a satirical point.

These videos satirize corporate culture- Fight real racism! Protect free speech! THINK

This is real fuckin racism. Dare you to do it in Blackface

our people have other things to fight and worry about other than stuff like this it may not be funny but it causes no harm to us

You make me want to puke.

The abundance of offensive images in these videos is telling. For instance, the models already look like (stereotypical) Indians without the face paint, so the paint is gratuitous. Even more so are the bones and what appears to be an arrow through the head of one woman.

These videos aren't just depicting Indians, they're depicting savage Indians. The faux Indians are like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. With the weapons and bones they could be killers or cannibals.

This savagery has nothing to do with the alleged goals of the videos. It doesn't contribute one whit to satirizing a clothing line or America's corporate culture. Rather, it's the filmmakers' idea of how to portray Indians. It reflects nothing except their stereotypical thinking.

Related links
Squaw:  the s-word
Indian wannabes and imitators
Tipis, feather bonnets, and other Native American stereotypes

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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