In an advertising landscape that’s run by (and caters to) the Don Drapers of the world, it’s hardly surprising that we’re seeing commercials like this one from Volkswagen, set to air next Sunday at the Super Bowl. Various critics have been attacking and defending the ad, which likens driving a Volkswagen with being more chilled out – a trait that’s illustrated by characters emulating Jamaican accents. The commercial signs off with the closer, “Get in. Get happy.” The emergence of this spot, along with CBS’ rejection of a SodaStream commercial earlier in the week, got us thinking about other controversial Super Bowl ads over the years — including some that didn’t even make it to game day. … Read More
In perusing this year’s biggest movie controversies, we found ourselves discussing matters a good deal less trivial than last year. Make no mistake, there are some tempest-in-teapot situations here: ratings woes, questions of reappropriation and hagiography, and (god help us all) frame rates. But we also grappled with issues of artistic responsibility and racial representation, and with the ongoing question of the very health of the form itself. Join us after the jump for a stroll through the year’s memorable movie controversies, won’t you? … Read More
Earlier this month, No Doubt found themselves in trouble for their latest music video, “Looking Hot,” which critics said depicts Native Americas in a racist light. Apart from the song itself being kind of lousy and November happening to be Native American Heritage Month, the video has its share of stereotypical smoke signaling, headdress wearing, spear throwing and tipi lounging. In some shots, Gwen Stefani, the captured Native American lead — obviously — is shown tied up and writhing while villain cowboy, drummer Adrian Young, points his six-shooter at her. In an open letter from the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Director Angela R. Riley wrote that the video advances the perception that “American Indians are mere historical relics, frozen in time as stereotypically savage, primitive, uniquely-spiritualized and — in the case of Native women — hyper-sexualized objects to be tamed.”
The band has since pulled the video as best one can in the digital age, and issued an apology on their website, stating: “As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures. Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history. Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realize now that we have offended people.”
With mounting accusations of Native American cultural appropriation happening these days — Lana Del Rey, Khloe Kardashian, Ke$ha, and Urban Outfitters, among others, have all dabbled and been scolded — the No Doubt video seems to have brought the discussion to a tipping point. But, in comparison to some of the other stuff out there, is the video worth getting upset about, or is it just some silly fun that happens to rely on the cliched Cowboys and Indians genre? To help make sense of what constitutes cultural appropriation as opposed to a cultural hybrid, an homage as opposed to an act of exploitation, we spoke with Professor N. Bruce Duthu, Chair of the Native American Studies Program at Dartmouth College and a member of the United Houma Nation of Louisiana. … Read More
One difference New Yorkers might notice when subway service is finally fully restored? According to an MTA spokesperson, the controversial advertisements that urged readers to support the civilized man in his war against the savage should now be gone. The posters, which were placed in several New York City subway stations such as Grand Central and Times Square, concluded their four-week run on October 21st. “But there’s always some lag time getting them down,” the spokesperson added over the phone. One can only hope that any remaining ads were washed away in the storm.
For Pamela Geller, writer, activist and force behind the 46- by 30-inch ads, the marketing campaign accomplished what she had hoped it would: it got people to notice. “I intended to raise awareness of the nature and magnitude of jihad activity, and have done so,” she wrote in an email.
Since the campaign’s arrival in late September, the shock value and racist undertones of the posters have been reported in daily newspapers, nightly news broadcasts and websites like this one — right here, right now — effectively magnifying the poster’s image and spreading Geller’s message well beyond its initial trajectory. Although the ads were only placed in 10 subway stations across Manhattan, the end result was more like a billboard on each street corner in every borough.
How many new devotees, financial donations, or sympathetic nods of the head the coverage garnered for Geller’s cause is uncertain, but considering that the attack on the US Consulate in Libya had just occurred a couple weeks prior to the campaign’s launch — not to mention the anniversary of 9/11 — for those already thinking about reaching out to a figure such as Geller, the thought must have been all the more tempting. What is certain, however, is that many who were once unfamiliar with Geller and her ilk are now slightly less so. But did it have to be this way? … Read More
Every Wednesday in December, Flavorwire will take a look back at the year in film — the stories, the performances, the movies that we were talking about in 2011. For this week, let’s revisit some of the year’s movie controversies, shall we?
We film folk can get worked up pretty easily, so while we found plenty of things to get all a-tizzy about in 2011, the assembled list of 2011′s film controversies doesn’t exactly read like end-of-the-world, stop-the-presses stuff. But these things are important to us! We’re easily excitable! Thus, ratings and posters and Oscars and Darth Vader’s scream were well worth talking about — then, and now. Join us after the jump to relive some of the year’s very big deals. … Read More
As an architecture buff, and one with an academic interest in the somewhat underrated field of vernacular architecture, I’ve been following the “Brad Pitt saves New Orleans” story with a healthy dose of skepticism. Yes, anyone using his celebrity and monetary largesse for a good cause is to be commended, and yes, I’m kind of psyched that Brad Pitt is into architecture and not just wine, women, and song. But a Hollywood celebrity swooping in to impose a clearly modern taste onto an area known for its historic domestic architecture, a building tradition termed the “shotgun” house which traces its roots to Haiti and West Africa? Like I said, I’m dubious. And so is preservationist Clem Labine, writing about the issue for The CIVITAS Chronicles. Read… Read More
What a tangled web they weave. After over fifteen years of on-again, off-again, romantic, platonic, and catastrophic relationship strife between Billy Corgan and Courtney Love, Corgan exploded earlier today on his Twitter feed, spewing pure vitriol in Love’s direction. In a quickfire series of tweets that started approximately two hours ago, Corgan fired shots at Love’s artistic ability, her facilities as a parent and decent human being, and musical credibility without him or Kurt Cobain to latch onto. It’s pretty vicious, and surprising after a month-long silence following Love’s attempts to reconcile after Corgan blasted Love as an “abyss” in a self-congratulatory Rolling Stone interview. Follow the twisted tale and tell us: whose side are you on?… Read More
At this point, you must have heard about the Prophet Muhammad brouhaha stirred up with last week’s South Park episode,
“201″. It is certainly nothing new for creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who have already tackled the issue of censorship and Muhammed with their “Cartoon Wars” two-parter, when Cartman also goes on his Family Guy witch-hunt. The bigger issue here, “Censorship In The Media,” is again referenced in the episode with a guest appearance from Bart Simpson, his skateboard, and his impeccable comedic timing. Noting signs of an animated alliance, we began to wonder when and where signs of such a “relationship” between the shows first took… Read More
One would think something titled the Erotic Heritage Museum and located in the T&A capital of the American West would be allowed to embrace the art of the birthday suit. And one would be wrong, at least in the public sense. The Las Vegas museum’s Ho-Down Mural Project has violated the county’s sign code that bans visible areola of female breasts. Thus: pasties! If that’s not indigenous local culture, we don’t know what is. And… Read More
Twitter and the blogosphere are starting to go abuzz with a video shot at a Miley Cyrus concert in Kentucky. In it, the pop star replaces a lyric from one of her songs with a gay slur. Innocent mistake? Or yet another example of this girl’s innate prejudices?
This isn’t the first time that Cyrus has been accused of being discriminatory. Last February there were accusations that she was racist after a photo of her making “slanty-eyes” circulated, even making headlines in some major news outlets. After apologizing for the photo, claiming that she was just making a “goofy face” and that the media had taken it out of context, the controversy died down and her career survived without so much as a scratch. It seems odd that Cyrus would stir this pot up again intentionally and risk alienating part of her core… Read More