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Old 03-13-2013, 01:56 PM   #1
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AnOther Racist Jab Job

What?? We Can't Believe How Offensive Michelle Williams' Latest Cover Is | Fashion - Yahoo! Shine

By Lexi Nisita, Refinery29


Was there some secret media conference we weren't invited to where everyone decided that 2013 is the year to be really, really offensive in very public forums? First, there was Numéro's awful "African Queen" editorial, and now this: Michelle Williams appears on the cover of AnOther magazine in what Jezebel rightly calls Redface.

This is shocking, not in the least because Michelle Williams is someone we respect. Of course, this cover probably wasn't her idea, but it's hard to imagine she didn't see what was going on here. Before you jump the gun and say this isn't an imitation of Native American dress and physicality, let us point out a few things. Michelle Williams currently has a blonde pixie cut. So it's not like they just braided her hair coincidentally. They added super-long, thick, black extensions and braided them - and darkened her eyebrows. Then there's the makeup. The photo is in black-and-white, so you can't tell for sure if they've altered her normally fair skin, but there is some definite contouring around the nose and the cheekbones that not only makes her look nearly unrecognizable, but also appears to mimic the stark relief of facial features often seen in early portraits of Native American women. The same mimicry applies her stoic, unsmiling pose - also a typical trope in that particular genre and period of art history.

The worn jeans, plaid shirt, beads, and feathers only serve to deepen our concern and reinforce the fact that this is no accident. Plus, the tagline "there's no place like home" is actually very pointed in this instance, given the fact that thousands of Native Americans were forcefully ousted from their homes (not to mention slaughtered and denied full rights of citizenship) when European settlers came to this continent. The line is, of course, a reference to Ms. Williams' recent role in Oz The Great And Powerful, but if that's all they meant, they should have just dressed her up as Dorothy.

RELATED: Here's The Image That Inspired This "Racist" Vogue Italia Photo

Plus, the reference to Oz actually makes things worse. It trivializes something tragic and serious. And, as Ruth Hopkins points out, L. Frank Baum (author of the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) was an outspoken racist who called for the literal "annihilation" of Native Americans in an editorial for the newspaper where he worked in December of 1890, just days before the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Pretty much the only thing we can do here is balk. Why was this produced and published? Who approved this idea? On what planet is this okay or called for, by any measure? Though it doesn't usually change anything, when creative imagery is found to be offensive by the public, artists usually say something about how political correctness shouldn't interfere with the direction of their art. But what's particularly ridiculous about this photo is that we can't imagine what lofty artistic goal could possibly call for this kind of offense against a people who are still marginalized in many ways today. Whatever it may be, we're not interested.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting this. I didn't know Frank L. Baum was such a racist.

The whole thing sounds just bizarre. I mean, why? How is this successful as an advertising campaign or gimmick? Are there that many Indian-ophiles in Italy/Europe (I think vogue Italia is widespread circulation there, I don't know)?

Darwin lied. *sigh*

Last edited by muskrat_skull; 03-13-2013 at 03:18 PM..
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:27 AM   #3
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Michelle Williams looks just fine.
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:58 AM   #4
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The below is directly cribbed from one of the responses. I completely buy it:

"This isn't racist or offensive: I think it is a very interesting comment on the Wizard of Oz's writer Frank L Baum, and current media. We tend to view the Oz stories as playfully childlike, and thus put the author on a pedestal. It is actually very clever, and if you move past the (rightful) indignation, and see the historical inspiration for the photo, it reflects racist attitudes, but does not promote them.

Mark Twain has been considered a racist over the years, but in his time was considered a radical humanitarian, and the idea that all men are created equal and that freedom is a right, regardless of race. But the "N" word, while a derogatory comment even then, has become much more stigmatized today. While Twain used that term because it was an acceptable usage in his time, his novels defy that accepted attitude . If someone were to be in a Huck Finn movie today, I would think the idea of maybe putting one of the adult characters into a Mark Twain costume and black face would be a good reminder of the socially charged atmosphere that we often ignore or "put" up with, and would show contrast of how some things have gotten better, while showing there are still issues.

Going back to the very clever picture (yes, clever), it has taken the line "there's no place like home" and juxtaposed it against Baum's own desire to take the homes away from the original inhabitants of America, to quote the article "was an outspoken racist who called for the literal "annihilation" of Native Americans in an editorial for the newspaper where he worked in December of 1890, just days before the Wounded Knee Massacre."

This photo is speaking on very many levels, and if people get offended, then clearly they don't understand their own culture or history."
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
The below is directly cribbed from one of the responses. I completely buy it:

"This isn't racist or offensive: I think it is a very interesting comment on the Wizard of Oz's writer Frank L Baum, and current media. We tend to view the Oz stories as playfully childlike, and thus put the author on a pedestal. It is actually very clever, and if you move past the (rightful) indignation, and see the historical inspiration for the photo, it reflects racist attitudes, but does not promote them.

Mark Twain has been considered a racist over the years, but in his time was considered a radical humanitarian, and the idea that all men are created equal and that freedom is a right, regardless of race. But the "N" word, while a derogatory comment even then, has become much more stigmatized today. While Twain used that term because it was an acceptable usage in his time, his novels defy that accepted attitude . If someone were to be in a Huck Finn movie today, I would think the idea of maybe putting one of the adult characters into a Mark Twain costume and black face would be a good reminder of the socially charged atmosphere that we often ignore or "put" up with, and would show contrast of how some things have gotten better, while showing there are still issues.

Going back to the very clever picture (yes, clever), it has taken the line "there's no place like home" and juxtaposed it against Baum's own desire to take the homes away from the original inhabitants of America, to quote the article "was an outspoken racist who called for the literal "annihilation" of Native Americans in an editorial for the newspaper where he worked in December of 1890, just days before the Wounded Knee Massacre."

This photo is speaking on very many levels, and if people get offended, then clearly they don't understand their own culture or history."
I think it totally misses the point about how she was dressed up and chose only to focus on the Baum part of the author's argument, which probably was a little weak.

Most white people know next to nothing about the white people they support, and probably didn't know about Baum. They are the ones that don't understand their culture. And honestly, they don't care to in many cases.

The photo is a lame attempt to glom on to ndn-ness to sell magazines. Put her on the When White People Go Bad page.

The comparison with Twain is also lame because Twain used the N word in the idiomatic speech of his characters for the sake of accuracy and local color, rightly or wrongly. A character like Huck Finn would have used that word. Huck used the word as an ignorant child who actually liked even loved Jim in his way.

Baum, outside the confines of his work, as L. Frank Baum, chose to express in the press his own racial hatred. As himself. There was no expression of love or compassion.

Another pseudo-intellectual trying to argue comparing apples with oranges. And the article was just another sad attempt to get attention for an actor and magazine that apparently isn't getting enough attention already.

I think the idea of putting anyone in black face or "red face" is appalling and serves no social good and for the author of the post above to suggest that is pretty ignorant. Racism is never "clever", even if it does appeal to whites. It does nothing to raise awareness, it simply looks bad.

The ad posing as a photo shoot if taken at face value, even if a Native American posed for it instead of a white person trying to look native in some weird way, makes light of the horrible events of ndn removal and genocide, as if ndn removal was just an act of nature, like a tornado, and people just got moved to a strange and wonderful place, were educated and strengthened by the journey, which was in fact just a dream, and their real lives began more enriched.

Worse, it looks like gloating.

The stylists were smart in using just enough to evoke the idea of ndn-ness but leaving enough ambiguity to try to skirt responsibility. Perhaps that's the cleverness the author above speaks about. I think she looks like crap and wonder why so much effort was made.

All this said, for me, I don't care, this stuff goes on all the time, people have the right to wear what they want, however in bad taste it is. I just don't support it if I don't like it.
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Last edited by muskrat_skull; 03-15-2013 at 01:13 PM..
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskrat_skull View Post
The ad posing as a photo shoot if taken at face value, even if a Native American posed for it instead of a white person trying to look native in some weird way, makes light of the horrible events of ndn removal and genocide, as if ndn removal was just an act of nature, like a tornado, and people just got moved to a strange and wonderful place, were educated and strengthened by the journey, which was in fact just a dream, and their real lives began more enriched.

Worse, it looks like gloating.
This is the same thought I had. That it makes light of atrocities and gloats about it. It attempts to re-present the atrocities like some adventurous hunting story you tell your buddies, and here's your very own trophy pic to mount on your wall. Even still the picture is not you, just a mockery of you. Your nothing but an idea, a story; a subject.

The real trophy being they get to control and colorize the memory in their own way. Them as the all-powerful and glorified, and you the lost minions. The bottom line for me is that nDn, your thoughts don't matter, whether you take it as racist or not, whether you like it or not. They'll do what they want with you, your image, history, and soul. And they'll make money off of you and boost their ego while they're at it.

I don't think anyone buying into this will approach the atrocities with any kind of understanding, rather it gives permission to feel ownership over you. Its not relating nDn as human beings but as a subject of their whim. Anyways, you're busy looking for home, remember? "kekeke", says the wicked witch of the west.
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