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Zagar the Horrible
(9/18/06)


Another response to Zagar the Horrible. A correspondent describes a conversation she had about Zagar with friend Richie:

>> Richie's point is that Zagar appears to be a Native person from the depths of South America where people really look like that and still hunt that way and still avoid civilization. <<

I spent about a third of my article addressing claims such as that. Here's my answer:

Why exactly is this ad campaign so problematic? After all, some would argue, aren't some Amazonians still "primitive"? Well, yes and no mostly no. Anyway, just who gets to define "primitive"?

First, the choice of settings is unfair because it undermines the Indian. If Steve were dropped into a jungle, he'd seem just as foolish as Zagar does in the city. But the campaign doesn't try this switch because it would subvert the message: that urban life is best and Bud Light is its centerpiece.

Second, Zagar supposedly left his village to see the world. To get from there to here, he would've had to learn the basics of human customs and communications. He would've mastered such rudimentary rules as not firing weapons or destroying property indiscriminately.

Today few if any tribes exist beyond the pale of civilization. Almost everyone on the planet knows about cars, television and Coca-Cola. Yet Zagar might as well have come from Neverland. He's apparently ignorant of everything that's happened since Columbus.

Third, the ad shows no awareness that Indians have their own complex cultural heritages. For instance, does Anheuser-Busch think Indians don't understand pets? They domesticated such animals as the llama, dog and turkey. Does Anheuser-Busch think they don't play sports? They invented lacrosse and the precursor to basketball, using raised hoops and rubber balls. Does Anheuser-Busch think Indians can't act nonviolently? Many are pacifists and all have moral relationships, like every other race of humans.

If Richie has a response that addresses my arguments, I'd love to hear it. I don't think there's any (valid) response.

*****

>> You could go down to the Amazon and actually find a guy like that and perhaps if he moved in with you, there might actually be some amusing interchanges. <<

Yeah, yeah. I saw it in the movie Jungle 2 Jungle. The Amazon boy quickly learned our Western ways and how to fit in without making a scene.

Notably, he didn't attack or kill anybody the way Zagar did. The Bud Light commercials presupposed that Natives were violent and vicious, not just ignorant. A peaceful Amazonian Indian wouldn't be anything like the thuggish Zagar.

Again, I covered most of this in my article. Sorry, but I'm right and Richie's wrong on this issue. You can tell him I said so.


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