Friday, December 06, 2013

Poverty Porn or Helping Our Youth? Chase & Status Video shot on Blackfeet Reservation




This video was released this week by the UK techno band Chase & Status.  It has cause a firestorm of controversy in the Native community detailed here in Indian Country Today - Controversial Video Set on Rez Depicts Drug Use, Violence and Sundance.  

My morning after thoughts (I saw this yesterday) on Chase & Status video shot on the Blackfeet Reservation are that yes, it was beautifully shot and I think youth will identify with the story, because, drug use is epidemic in many of our communities. I do worry that it glorifies it a bit and the resolution (his girlfriend dies after they smoke crack all night) and he does the Sundance (they depict this) is a bit stereotypical. They also never speak (it is a music video) but this lack of voice by the protagonist makes "Indians" what we have always been: a blank slate to project others ideas on of who we are & what we think. The director worked with a Blackfeet society who approved the script and I sense his heart is in the right place. He, himself, is from a similar background in the UK. I don't know, it just comes off as exploitive all the same. I know some will be happy to see themselves depicted, but as it is being used to sell the band's music it feels a bit like Slum Tourism. The band is well-known in Europe, but not here, so it won't have the same cultural effect in the United States (it won't be on Good Morning America or Anderson Cooper). Chase & Status gains the cultural cache (they do not plan to donate any of the proceeds to Native youth), their audiences in Europe get a particular type of cultural voyeurism that makes them feel good when they buy the song, a few donations trickle in, perhaps, just perhaps, and this is everyone's greatest hope, a few, even just one Native youth decides to take a different path in life. I suppose, for our community our hopes are small but they are always for the next generation.

2 comments:

aznnoodles said...

Can I pin this onto Pinterest?

Jacqueline Keeler said...

Yes, no problem!