On the Tyranny of Individualism: MAGA boy, Media, and the Drum

In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “boy, that escalated quickly.”

I began writing this blog post the day after a video featuring Covington high school students taunting a Native American man went viral. When I returned to the piece a few days later, the story had blown up like few that I can recall in recent memory. The initial narrative, which was clipped from a 2-hour video, posted on Twitter, and seized upon by the press, created the perception that the high school boys had surrounded Nathan Philips (e.g., see this NYT piece), an Omaha elder and activist, sparking outrage across the media spectrum. At the center of all this was the image of a young man in a MAGA hat (pictured below) starring smugly at Philips as he played a drum song (see Leonard Peltier’s explanation of the song here) . Continue reading “On the Tyranny of Individualism: MAGA boy, Media, and the Drum”

The Irony of Names

14_12_31_US_Patent_Office_Sign_Alexandria_VA_02While names become a personal part of our identification, ironically, most of us had no choice in our name. At least for many in the contemporary United States, the family choose the name before the baby is even born, making the name more about their prior image than something about the baby itself. A few people change their name legally, and many decide what form of the name they prefer. (Please call me Steven; it really is not too much effort to add that second syllable.) Both situations require recognition from others, either a court or those with whom you interact. (In my experience, that second syllable is too much to ask of some people, sigh.) Continue reading “The Irony of Names”

How…?

lone ranger tonto first stillYou’ve probably heard about the controversies over Johnny Depp’s portrait of Tonto, in Gore Verbinski’s new film, “The Lone Ranger.” Although portraying a Comanche, the character’s “look” is based on a painting entitled “I am Crow” — and the artist is, yes, a white man (as is the the film’s director [of Polish descent], of course, as well as [to the best that I can figure] the Detroit radio men who first came up with “The Lone Ranger” back in 1932 [first broadcast in 1933]). But beyond that, there’s the general problem of how Hollywood’s depiction of Native Americans continues to reproduce troublesome stereotypes, such as argued in Salon.com‘s recent article on the film: Continue reading “How…?”