Here’s the selection (via MTV) with her sporting a headdress and face paint: UPDATE 2/25: MTV took down the link, so here’s a youtube version. The headdress comes out at 2:26.
After the jump, some more blogger’s thoughts, an Outkast flashback, and analysis.
I’m not the first to post on this today, fellow Native blogger Lisa Charleyboy has a post on Urban Native Girl Stuff here, Racialicious has an open thread going here, and most of the news bulletins about her performance mention Ke$ha donning a “Native American headdress.”
The thing that annoys me, besides the obvious, is that the headdress had absolutely nothing to do with the song, the performance, anything. The song is about picking up a guy at a bar, or something, and has such deep and fantastically well written lyrics as:
I dont really care where you live at just turn around boy and let me hit that.
Dont be a little b***h with your chit chat just show me where your d**k’s at.
So beautiful, right? The asthetic of the performance was more futuristic/technological, with dancing TV screens, silver, black, electrical chords, the like. Her dress is even metallic silver. So where does a headdress even come into play here?
There has been a lot of outrage from Native outlets, and rightly so, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Anyone remember the 2004 Grammy’s? And this performance by Outkast?
That one still makes me mad. Think of how many layers of approval these performances have to go through–executives, publicists, set designers, lighting, performers–and not one person thought these might be offensive? That’s so troubling.
Headdresses aren’t traditional to my community (though many wanabees would have you thinking otherwise–so many “Cherokee Headdresses” out there. ugh), but when I see them in the mainstream media, it usually is associated with people who deserve deep respect in Indian country; Rick West (former director of NMAI) wore his at the opening of the museum, Joe Medicine Crow wore his when accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom…I could go on. Lisa Charleyboy pointed out that warbonnets like the one Ke$ha is wearing have true spiritual significance:
The significance of the war bonnet in traditional Native cultures is huge. It is used in ceremonies, and it is only worn by those who are awarded them after many years of effort, and usually only be men. No artist would dare don a kippah or a turban so the same respect should be given to Native peoples and their traditional, ceremonial wear.
It’s so true. We come back to it again and again…why is it deemed ‘ok’ to appropriate Native culture, religion, and spirituality, and not others?
The fact that this “trend” is catching on really bothers me. I was out at the mall in SF today (I’m on spring break!), and spotted the window displays at Juicy Couture. Their mannequins are wearing headdresses. They even had a tie-dyed tipi inside the store! I didn’t have my camera, and my cell phone pictures turned out horribly, but I’ll try to snap some tomorrow. I keep hoping this will fade out, but unfortunately it seems to be just catching speed.
Earlier Post: The Strange Case of the Hipster Headdress–http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/02/strange-case-of-hipster-headdress.html
Urban Native Girl Stuff: http://www.lisacharleyboy.com/2010/03/kehas-too-blah-se.html