I wanted to make a celebratory, or even quasi-political post today for National Aboriginal Day. I thought about different topics, and pondered different styles of personal writing that I could do. But then this came across my email. In Christian Allaire‘s piece for the Toronto Standard on fashion appropriation, titled ‘Hey, Fashion: Stop Ripping off my Aboriginal Culture‘, I came across the most disturbing video.
It’s a promo video by Proenza Schouler titled “Snowballs” by Harmony Korine (the director of Kids). Now, of course, with Harmony behind the lens, you are going to expect something slightly off. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the type of racist, stereotypical, misogynist type of messaging that you encounter in this short film.
You meet two young girls, who are facially disfigured to not even be distinguishable (much like our nations, but that’s an entirely different topic), dressed in cheap, tacky headdresses for no particular reason. The narration and the music pulsates an impending doom. I’ve transcribed the beginning of the film below.
They tried to kill us before, but it did not work. We are from the broken nation, battered and brusied, but still tearing shit up.
Oh man we are trouble. We love trouble. They used to call us the trouble twins. We dance on raindrops, we are God’s children. We love trouble, I have never seen a damn snowball. I haven’t even seen most things.
We love to find shit all over the place. I can make a stick dance. I can make a pig do a magic trick. I can crush a whole tree in my hands.
“Wake up to their country, we took away their souls, took away their land and run ‘em out ot the snow. I can understand what the white man does to you. They took away your souls and run you through hell. Not good.
Oh baby that turns me on, that’s kinkier than hell. Oooh, I like it. I’ll bark like a dog for you. I’ll lick that thing like a dog licks water out of a bowl. What about it baby? Two hands means no date, one hand is no. I promise I won’t hurt you, I’m just a good old boy.”
We don’t need to be brave, because we are perfect. We can fly. Lurking in the shadows …
This video has been online since last September, and it’s the first time it’s come across my path, and I am horrified. Why has this New York based design duo used such a medium to
exploit explore their “Navajo-themed” collection of Fall 2011? It’s no secret that the mainstream fashion world does not understand the line between appropriation and inspiration, but this bit of “art” right here has taken things to the level that even Urban Outfitters never has.