Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Momentum grows in MTV boycott

Since my last post, additional chapters of AIM, and a number of other Native American actors and organizations, have added their voices to the protest against MTV's racist self-injury show, The Dudesons: Cowboys and Findians.

Today Clyde Bellecourt, speaking for the Grand Governing Council of the American Indian Movement, has condemned MTV for continuing to air the show despite protests.

Letter to AIM Santa Barbara, reprinted at request of recipients:

July 14, 2010

Michael Fairbanks, Director
American Indian Movement-Santa Barbara
P.O. Box 204
Santa Barbara, CA 93102

Dear Michael and Santa Barbara AIM,

The American Indian Movement National Office located in Minneapolis, Minnesota is in full support of the Santa Barbara Chapter of AIM in their efforts to stop the airing of The Dudesons in America-Cowboys and Findians, and demanding an apology from MTV.

The American Indian Movement through the development of the National Coalition on Racism and Sports and Media has a long-time record of intolerance for racist imagery in regards to Native people here in America.

We condemn MTV for refusing to recognize the harmful effects of such broadcasting.


Clyde H. Bellecourt
National Director
American Indian Movement
Grand Governing Council
Anishinabe Ojibwe Nation

[signature on record]

National Offices:
TELEPHONE 612-721-3914/FAX 612-721-7826
Web Address:

Billy-Talako Williamson of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Department of Education weighs in at length on working with the kids who are the target audience for this programming, and how these racist stereotypes, casually passed off as light humor, set back the efforts of anti-racist educators:

We work on a daily basis with Cheyenne & Arapaho Students along with numerous other students that are members of other tribes. The negative images and stereotypes of Native Americans that have been created over the years are a constant detriment to the progress and self esteem of our students. Most recognize that a new language has emerged in the world, one that has grown to reach all nations with equal effect and understanding,… it is the language of Mass Communications. The average parent spends about 38 minutes a week in quality conversation with their kids, while the average kid spends 3 to 4 hours a day watching television. The American Medical Association recently reported that 60% of the information children receive comes from television. Mass media has become the second language of our children.

This MTV show manages to tear down much of the work we have accomplished.

(Read full letter here)

Other groups who have joined the protest include:

ETA July 17, 2010: Bit by bit the mainstream media has been picking up the story, with coverage in the New York Post and numerous entertainment news outlets. The Santa Barbara Independent has published an excellent editorial by Michael Fairbanks:

Red Face Minstrel Show Unamusing
“Cowboys and Findians” Not Merely Dumb, It’s Abusive

The other side of the coin is that there is a media blackout on Native issues. In this past year, there have been states of emergencies called from tribal leaders, and practically no media covered these stories. People were freezing to death in the plains area, starving to death in the southwestern region, and now, Native nations are struggling with the effects of the oil spill of the Gulf. Yet, ironically, MTV airs The Dudesons, stating the episode was created to honor Native people. This argument is frequently used with regard to the use of mascots in school and sports (think Carpinteria High School). Imposing one’s definition of “honoring” on someone else, and the “honoring” as a guise to hit upon every stereotype ever used to characterize Native people, is simply not good. Our cultures, our spirituality, and our ceremonies laughed at on an international level, with the everlasting shelf life of the Internet.

(Read full editorial)

There are also preliminary reports, via a letter from an MTV-Canada executive, that MTV-Canada is pulling the show. There have also been positive responses from some of the advertisers about pulling their advertising from the show if it continues to air in the US. More on this as it develops.

Members of AIM LA, AIM SB and supporters
demonstrate at the MTV Movie Awards, June 6, 2010
Photo by Tim Keenan

No comments: