Videos: The 1491s Stir Up Controversy with Clips Showing Blackface and Utah Utes Fans

ICTMN Staff
10/12/12

Sketch and YouTube comedy group the 1491s are on a roll with their latest videos -- though some are saying that the pranksters are rolling in the wrong direction. The fun and games started with a video framed as a PSA (public service announcement) to white people considering dressing up Indian for Halloween. The PSA ends with a white actor wearing blackface. The choice was not hailed as clever satire by all viewers.

The troupe followed the PSA video up with another video criticizing the outrage and ultimately encouraging civil dialogue -- and ending with an interview with a college student dressed in what might be called a stereotypical "Pocahottie" outfit. That footage was filmed at the University of Utah, at an event sponsored by Budweiser, and again the reaction to the video was not universally supportive.

To complete the unintentional trilogy, the 1491s posted footage of some discussions between a Native student at Utah and some white fans of the football team, one of whom is wearing a feather headdress. Again, the clip proved controversial with viewers.

Below are all three clips, along with some sample reactions from the YouTube commenters. To watch and read more, visit The 1491s' YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/the1491s

A few comments about the above video from YouTube users:

"Satire or not, blackface is NEVER okay. You? can't justify the wrongness of making a costume out of a culture by doing the exact same thing. You just come off as an anti-black racist instead."

"I think 1491s proved their point and all these comments about the blackface scene just confirmed what I already knew; Black-face is not ok; but red-face in mainstream society... is ok? Nope! Wrong! Both are not OK, but majority of mainstream society has that mentality; "blackface is wrong, but redface is? not!" Both are racist and that is what this video conveys! Or at least attempted to convey, for some folks."

"What's the commotion about? I just see another racist white person who believes with all their white might that they aren't? or can never be racist 'cause it's a "joke." They're honestly never going to learn better."

"Natives have used all the rhetorical tools our disposal for YEARS to point out that dressing up in redface is abusive and offensive. What's the result? Dressing up in redface became the? hottest trend of the year.
Most of the people commenting here have entirely missed the point: BOTH SHOULD BE SHOCKING. But only blackface is."

A few comments about the above video from YouTube users:

"Spot on. Absolutely brilliant."

"You guys, SUCK!!! You profess to honor Indians - referring to your recent Indian Country Today article - and yet you mock them! Calling the kettle black, wouldn't? you say? Grow up, you bunch of hormone-fueled, college drop-outs, and get a job that actually helps Indian people!"

"I love the Happy Ending: She admits that she can't justify her double standard AND instead of trying to defend it--as? SO many people would do--she realizes that she needs to reconsider her position! GREAT Vid, the1491s!"

"This still doesn't justify your use of blackface."

A few comments about the above video from YouTube users:

"The 1491s should enroll in one the colleges they are always "performing" at and take Critical Race Theory, Whiteness Theory, and Multicultural education classes and learn how to effectively bring awareness to American Indian social justices issues.? Otherwise, it's just the blind leading the blind evidenced by their videos."

"The point they are trying to make is that it is Sacred to our people it is only given to those that have been our Leaders and earned great respect within our people. Thats why some take it as disrespectful to ndn culture. Then people where is as a costume and not know the understanding? of it or earned the right to wear it. But for me this being a fake and not real i could careless about. And yes they should be proud to have a team Named after there Tribe. as i would be if we had one up here."

"You know the only thing that I would say as a critique of this vid is that the banjo music, imo, calls up "redneck" stereotypes that 1) will let way too many "non-redneck" (aka middle class urban and suburban) white people let themselves off the hook for this sort of behavior and not consider if they also? feed into it, and 2) contributes to stereotypes of rural whites as "dumb hicks" and "white trash" that I don't think is particularly great to reinforce. :\"

"So you're comparing having a song played on a banjo to the systematic, socially acceptable, racial oppression? You mention nothing about how using a Native mascot is marginalizing an entire race of people. Sorry if the banjo music offended you. I'll start a petition to have I changed. Will you do something to stop the exploitation of? Native culture at Utah University?"

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

robert lafountain's picture
robert lafountain
Submitted by robert lafountain on
There's too much worry about politically correct. Freedom of choice, freedom of speech and common sense are important enough for the rest of us to fight for the right of the 1491s to say whatever they want. If you don't want to hear it don't listen to it. Indian mascots are only a representation of past history. Non-indians respecting or even criticizing the mocking portrayals of indians and indian ways is a matter of like it or don't and those making the portrayals should simply be prepared for the backlash and argument they create. The 1491s obviously use their comedy as a learning tool for others. Black faces are okay. Red faces are okay. Redneck banjos are okay. Grow up if you have a problem with the free speech of others. If you don't like it tell the actor or go away from it.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I only have one question. Why is it always "political correctness" that is blamed when your own aberrant behavior is deemed racist, but "reverse racism" when you're called on it? ____________________________________________________________ Along with free speech comes responsibility. You can't scream, "FIRE!" in a movie theater and you can't refer to other human beings by the terms racists came up for them. The 1491s have proven themselves a viable voice for most Native Americans. They don't require college degrees to see how Natives are treated or how they are marginalized. It amazes me how someone can defend their "right" to call me a "Redskin," but when I object to it, I'm merely being "politically correct."
2