No Doubt has never been particularly controversial but it is at the center of a media storm. American Indians say the band's new "Looking Hot" video is racist.
Debuting on YouTube last Friday, it is a satirical take on and old-fasioned Western, featuring cowboys and -- you guessed it -- Indians, and the images have many people up in arms.
In the video, lead singer Gwen Stefani plays an Indian princess who is captured by cowboys. The cast is dressed in stereotypical garb -- headdresses, beads, carrying spears, etc.
As soon as it hit the net, fans in the Native Community began to complain. I totally understand their gripe. Stereotypes are incredibly annoying at best and demeaning and insulting at worst. It reminds me of the Italian American community’s response when the Sopranos first debuted on HBO. Many felt that it fed into the idea that all Italians were in the mob or linked to organize crime. Then came the Jersey Shore cast. No one wanted people to think they represented average, everyday, Italian folk.
That's not the only cultural group dealing with images they don't appreciate of a culture on TV. I cringe every time I watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Basketball Wives. I always think, "I hope people aren't too dumb to realize we are not all like that." Despite all the uproar, none of these shows ever went anywhere -- nor should they have. It's silly entertainment pure and simple. And I can't imagine that No Doubt had any nefarious, mean-spirited intentions. In fact, the band (which includes Stefani, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont) said they consulted with "Native American friends" when coming up with the concept.
They explained in a statement on their website:
"As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures. Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history. Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realize now that we have offended people. This is of great concern to us and we are removing the video immediately."
It's clear that the band did not mean to hurt anyone. From what I could see of the clip, it was a very dramatic-yet-kitschy take on a western. It seemed no way near as insulting as some of those big screen westerns that are still being produced. Again, I understand the criticism and all fans deserve a voice when they don't like something. I just have to question whether pulling the video from the Internet was really necessary.
Do you think the video is racist?