Monday, March 18, 2013

Indian Feathers: Edgy or Offensive?

I heart Michelle Williams. I buy into her sympathetic appeal, her blonde pixie hair do and her adorable little lisp. I imagine we would be friends if I met her at a bar when she was here in Portland filming Meek’s Cutoff. Recently, she had this controversial cover on anOther magazine where folks have purported she dressed up in Native American Indian garb and in "redface."
I love the photo and it's costume-like imagery appeal. I don't see her in redface but more embodying an inspired look from the pioneer era. Unlike Johnny Depp and his Tonto Misstep in The Lone Ranger.
Refinery29 had this to say: "(She) appears to mimic the stark relief of facial features often seen in early portraits of Native American women." And Jezebel writes: "Just as Blackface is never okay, Redface is never okay…stop supporting cliché images of American Indians. Racism is racism no matter what era of our history you attempt to portray, or what lens or filter you use."
Since when does a feather in a braid become racially and culturally offensive? Does the American Indian have a trademark on that look?
I mean, I never TM'd my bangs, DID I?!?! (Although I often wish I had—Zooey Dechanel would be paying my mortgage.) I think Michelle looks edgy and interesting and it's not like she's Karlie Kloss horse-stomping down the runway in a giant Village People Indian headdress atop her lingeried self. I guess my rule is, if it looks editorial and artfully fashionable and you're not Al Jolson singing "Swanee" on a stoop eating watermelon, you're okay.

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