Lack of Diversity

30 Apr

As I was actively searching for representations of Native American individuals in popular adult cartoon shows, the lack of diversity I found was unsettling.  With each new post, I will outline and discuss each portrayal I came across in my research.

“Red Man’s Greed” South Park

Image

I do not own the rights of this picture. It is being used solely for educational purposes and was retrieved on Sunday, April 29th from Google Images.

          In this episode, the South Park boys’ travel to the “Three Feathers Casino” run by Native Americans on the reservation.  As soon as the episode begins, stereotypes can be found with each passing second.  Furthermore, the mere title of this episode has racist tendencies that play upon the stereotype of the “Casino Indian”, which is filled with negative connotations.  The actual casino is shaped as a giant tee-pee and once inside, all of the Native American people speak in a slow, rhythmic, choppy dialect.  Chief “Runs with the Premise” wears a sacred headdress at all times and even the waitresses are dressed like the popular and highly misunderstood Disney Princess Pocahontas.  The next scene is of a comedy show within the Casino and the audience laughs in a chant-like manner (HA ha ha ha! HA ha ha ha!) which mocks yet another aspect of the Native American culture.

After one of the boys father looses all of his money gambling, the episode took an interesting turn by having a role-reversal of the complicated Anglo-Native American relationship.  The Native Americans who own the “Three Feathers Casino” essentially try to take all of the power and money from the poor and helpless town of South Park.  Native American’s are thus portrayed as aggressive, revengeful, evil, and greedy, while the middle-class, white townsfolk are the one’s shown being oppressed.  This episode therefore, was essentially a satire of the history of American imperialism, relocation, and genocide that has oppressed Native Americans since the arrival of Anglos to their land.

Implications? (Not so good…)

             Because the audience is never given any other modern day view of how this ethnic group lives and breathes, it gives the implication that Native Americans are primitive people who are stuck in the past.  They are thus marginalized and placed along the outskirts of modern society, left to be forgotten.  Obviously, this is a major issue that should be addressed and talked about to raise awareness.  Portraying such a narrow view of Native Americans is so dangerous and harmful because if the audience is only receiving one image, they are much more likely to believe such stereotypes.  The lack of, or extremely hyperbolic depictions raise questions about the status of this group within the framework of today’s culture.  By bringing these portrayals out in the open and bringing them together in my blog, I hope to make my readers aware of the implications the media makes about certain minority groups.  In a sense, I might ruin media for you.

Take a Look for yourself!

Premise Running Thin

Johnny Many Moons

             I want to challenge you to take note of the various misconceptions that the audience is receiving of Native American people.  Look at the ways in which they are dressed and the manner in which they speak.

Demographics

          For a sense of the demographics of Native Americans, check out this website that provides various statistics and percentiles of this ethnic group.  I’ve provided a few statistics and facts from that website that I think are important.

  • American Indians make up 1.5% of the total population of the United States.
  • To be eligible for Bureau of Indian Affairs services, an Indian must (1) be a member of a tribe recognized by the federal government, (2) be of one-half or more Indian blood of tribes indigenous to the United States; or (3) must, for some purposes, be of one-fourth or more Indian ancestry. By legislative and administrative decision, the Aleuts, Eskimos and Indians of Alaska are eligible for BIA services. Most of the BIA’s services and programs, however, are limited to Indians living on or near Indian reservations.
  • AI/AN women report more domestic violence than men or women from any other race (CDC 2004).
  • Reports of neglect appear to be higher for AI/AN children than for White children.
  • Rates of violent victimization for both males and females are higher among American Indians than for all races.

              To learn more about Native Americans and their relationship to Casinos, I suggest you read the study by William N. Evans and Julie H. Topoleski that outlines both the negative and positive changes that Casinos have brought to the reservations.

Read the article HERE

Positives (provided by the article above):

  • Young adults moving back to reservations, fueling an 11.5 percent population increase
  •  Adult employment increasing by 26 percent
  • 14 percent decline in the number of working poor.
  • In counties with or near a casino, the employment- to- population ratio has increased and mortality has declined.

Negatives (provided by the article above):

  • 10 percent increase in auto thefts, larceny, violent crime, and bankruptcy in counties four years after a casino has opened
  • An increase in bankruptcies within 50 miles of a new casino.

Source

Evans, William N., and Julie H. Topoleski. “The Social and Economic Impact of Native American Casinos.” National Bureau of Economic Research (2002). Print.

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