Over the weekend, No Doubt pulled the video for their latest single “Looking Hot” off YouTube after receiving many complaints that the video was racist. The video depicts singer Gwen Stefani as a Native American princess who gets kidnapped by her cowboy bandmates. The band issued this statement on their official website upon taking down the video:
“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. The music that inspired us when we started the band, and the community of friends, family, and fans that surrounds us was built upon respect, unity and inclusiveness. We sincerely apologize to the Native American community and anyone else offended by this video. Being hurtful to anyone is simply not who we are.”
Many people are saying that the band isn’t racist; they’re just ignorant. Others, like Gawker, feel that their statement isn’t a sincere apology, it’s a dismissal–“oh, well we’re a multi-racial band and we did consult with Native American studies experts, so you’re just being hypersensitive, it’s art.” It’s interesting to see that on various websites, the comments aren’t so much about the video, they’re directed at the sites for pointing out the cultural appropriation, the commenters having to make a point that they’re not racist. Others are calling out the issues, but are quickly being shot down.
Why do we collectively suck when talking about race? When I was in college, I took a course called “Intro to Race, Gender and Sexuality.” Gender and sexuality, nobody could shut up. But when we got to the race portion of the class, it was silent. One day, my professor dismissed us early and told us to write our feelings on Blackboard, and he would gather the material from there. “I can’t teach a class where we can’t even talk about the subject matter.” he said as we gathered our things. The next day, the professor read back our postings. Many students were afraid to speak because they felt if they said one wrong thing, they’d be labeled as racist. Other students thought it was irrelevant, that we should look beyond race and more about the people themselves. Race is a tough, uncomfortable issue–what is oversensitive and what is truly racist? Instead of talking about it, we don’t say anything, which is just as bad. If we don’t talk, how will we come to a solution and truly be a post-race society?
So, LivLunatics, what’s your take on the No Doubt video? Is it racism or ignorance? Are people over or under reacting?