Gwen Stefani, Victoria’s Secret, Lana del Rey and the appropriation of Native American culture
If you’ve been paying attention to the world of pop culture over the past few weeks, you will have heard about the No Doubt controversy – the furore that blew up after the release of their latest single, Looking Hot. …
If you’ve been paying attention to the world of pop culture over the past few weeks, you will have heard about the No Doubt controversy – the furore that blew up after the release of their latest single, Looking Hot. In short, the video features Stefani dressed in a traditional Native American headdress, tied up by two men and writhing against a wall, so it’s fair to say that it’s not the most sensitive appropriation of culture we’ve ever seen. The issue at hand is that Native Americans have, let’s face it, had a pretty tough time of it (to say the least); rates of sexual assault against Native American women are higher than most other ethnic groups, historically they have been degraded and sexualised, and seeing more of the same in popular culture isn’t going to help.
Lisa Charleyboy (best name ever?) in the Guardian wrote an interesting piece about the appropriation of culture, although I think her accusations are a little too general. While Charleyboy says that “appropriation of culture is never okay”, she doesn’t mention how she feels about Adele’s appropriation of black American soul’ culture, or No Doubt themselves having appropriated ska culture since day one; or the use of gospel music in the largely Caucasian Glee . . . the list goes on.
In any case, poor Gwen’s not the only one; just last week, Victoria’s Secret sent Karlie Kloss stomping down their glitter highway in full on Native American regalia, a look they have pulled from their December 4th broadcast (woe!). And Lana del Rey threw a Native American headdress into her largely confusing, bizarre and all-over-the-place video for Ride, not that any of the aforementioned adjectives make her any less mesmerising. I’m a sucker for the curls, y’know . . .