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Outkast Grammys Performance Racist?

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A new round of apologies from CBS, and this time no teats were bared. Was Outkast’s Grammys performance racist? I abhor the Grammys (because (i) the music generally emphasizes popularity, not quality or creativity; and (ii) the Hollywood aspect deeply annoys me), so I missed the broadcast. According to the CNN article, a Native American Cultural Center member called it “the most disgusting set of racial stereotypes aimed at American Indians that [he has] ever seen on TV.” Any opinions? (AP Photo)

For more musings on rock, independent rock and the industry, check out No Matter What You Heard.

About Sabo

  • duane

    “the most disgusting set of racial stereotypes aimed at American Indians that [he has] ever seen on TV.” ?? Hahaha. Worse than F Troop? Has he ever seen Bugs Bunny? Sheesh.

  • Eric Olsen

    I guess you could see stereotying in the performance if you wanted to, but it was so over-the-top, involved so many elements (shocking lime green color scheme, a marching band?) and was so abstract in its “indianness” that it didn’t even really occur to me that it could be perceived that way. Also, why do people always perceive these things to be attacks rather than tributes?

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    I didn’t see the performance, but this seems to be the “I’m outraged! Shocked and appalled” media attention strategy. See also PETA (they wouldn’t show our ad!).

    I caught a bit on teevee about some group, well actually one guy, who is outraged about the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue being sold at supermarkets. Apparently, it is Pure! Unadulterated! Filth! and the sight of human bodies will destroy the children.

    As with many other things, consider the source.

  • http://nomatterwhatyouheard.blogspot.com Sabo

    Jim, your analogies are misguided — or at least misstated. Talking about showing some skin in a magazine and an arguably racist musical performance are two wholly different things. I will assume that you are not likening them in that way, and that you only refer to the strategy of making a stink in the limelight.

    But your last comment puzzles me. So a Native American activist group makes comments, I should discredit it automatically because it pertains to Native Americans? Puzzling.

    And, though this post deals nothing with PETA (MoveOn, too, right?), the fact that CBS censored viewpoints from its broadcast of the Super Bowl (esp., in retrospect, in light of the halftime show), is worthy of a little bitching. A flatulent horse, now that’s gotta be good for the masses.

  • http://nomatterwhatyouheard.blogspot.com Sabo

    That said, and from not having even seen the performance, I would not doubt if there is at least some overreaction going on here.

  • Jobe

    That’s what CBS gets for being ever so edgy.

    EVER SO!

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Read the so-called apology. It is one of those non-apology apologies.

    I visit Native American forums several times a week and the only people I’ve seen beating the hell out of that drum are Indians who are fervently racist against African-Americans. I think this story should have stayed on E Online.

  • Jamie

    I’m a “Native American” and their thing was fine. It’s Outkast, they’re supposed to be funny. He’s part Indian anyway. We don’t care, why should you.

    Everybody on the reservation who listens to Hip Hop thought it was cool in a cartoony sort of way.

  • sheri

    Feathers are considered sacred, that was the main offense.But so is the drum, used in a Pow Wow, aswell as the arena once it has been consecrated, so it’s a part of Indian spiritual beliefs.

    At any rate, some were offended, some weren’t.

  • Nick Jones

    So they must’ve really hated the “Indian” in The Village People. Funny, I don’t remember hearing of any protests…

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    If I remember correctly, Sheri arrived here with David Yeagley, as nasty a racist as one will ever encounter, Jamie and Nick. Birds of a feather. . . .

    I am an Indian and I love the playful aspect of Outkast. We need an act like it to lift our spirits in times like these.

  • sheri

    The perspective of most native americans about the subject, is that if the member of OutKast was a native, it MIGHT have been appropriate in the correct place and time. Some don’t care.

    About the Village People, of course there has been an ongoing plight to break down the stereotype of Native Americans as savages. Not only has the VP been protested, but others such as sports teams, depicting a warlike attitude.

    As for OutKast, some who were offended saw it as a cartoonlike depiction, somewhat degrading.

    I have no idea who Yeagley is, so whatever on that.

    “He who stands on toilet is high on pot” – EagleSpirit

  • Nick Jones

    Thanks, sheri, for filling in a gap in my knowledge.

  • Dakota

    I am Native American, Navajo And half lakota sioux and i am deeply offended it was the fact that OutKast sang the Navajos beauty way song and he had no right nor permission to sing it. thats what so offensive. And the fact that all the people on stage were African Americans just made it even more worse and in no way is anyone part of OutKast native or part native. i have nothing against African Americans i even envy them a bit for all the hard ships they went through and how they came out on top. However Native American went through the samething and you dont here them complaining about it all the time. All we want is your respect for our culture and traditions. Its what we fought for and its ours so lets leave it at that.
    Thank you for reading my comments. If i have offended you an anyway you have my deepest apology, which is more then i can say for OutKast.

  • Truth Sayer

    Well few if any may see this but anyways, if an native artists went out there dressed as a steretypical black savage and mimicked the moves it is doubtful that there would be virtual silence in the mainstream media or the apologia that is coming from people who are clearly ignorant of native Americans and their history. Taking a look at many of the responses above, they appear to be primarily from outsiders who are imposing, yet again, their structure and their perspectives of natives and what they should be subjected to rather than actually trying to see things from natives’ viewpoints. You simply do not get native voices in the mainstream media so it may not be surprising that people do not see the need to listen to natives. After all, the dominant white culture knows best, white? So if any protest comes from a native group or individual then, of course, we need to “consider the source.” But if the perspective comes from a mostly white organization then that’s arlight. To a large extent even blacks are guilty of this racism and ignorance since they are complaining about their own supposed suppression while ignoring and obviously, as with outkast, presentig the same racist stereotypes of natives and therefore participating in the subjugation of natives. The “Color” struggle of the NAACP doesn’t include anyone other than blacks. Overreaction? I doubt we’d be hearing about “overreaction” if protests were made against something targetting something white America held sacred. Rather, we’d be hearing about those damn politically correct bastards trying to destroy what makes America great.