A week ago today, No Doubt released their ill-advised ‘Cowboys and Indians’ video for “Looking Hot” off their latest album. It didn’t last long and was pulled after many Native Americans decried the cliched perpetuating of stereotypes it represented. The band, whose origins, of course, trace back to Anaheim, issued a weak salsa apology on their website and said that consulted UC experts had co-signed the effort beforehand! If they did so, that speaks ill of a faculty that issues a hall pass for a sacred headdress worn by Gwen Stefani — who also allowed her child to play “Indian dress up” too for a Beverly Hills Halloween party. The hyper-sexual imaging led one writer to actually describe her as a “squaw.” On top of all of this, mind you, is the fact that November is Native American Heritage Month!
Should this be a surprise to anyone? Not at all. No Doubt’s lead singer is a repeat offender when it comes to being a culture vulture.
Long before “Seniores and Señoritas” day at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills splashed across the headlines (way after I broke that story) Gwen Stefani played “Mexi chola dress-up” for her “Luxurious” music video as a solo artist. Sure, the singer went to school in Anaheim — emblazoned in Old English on her tank top — but that part of the city was a far cry back then than what exists now…you know, police brutality against Latinos, social unrest and what not splashed across said headlines. So luxurious! Sorry, grubbing at Brito’s Taqueria by Loara High School back in the day wasn’t good enough to signal the green light and I hope no Chicano Studies professors were consulted on this one!
And then, of course, there were Stefani’s “ethnic accessories” known as her Harajuku Girls who accompanied the singer everywhere on her solo artist ventures. Writers and bloggers weren’t silent on this stereotyping of Asian women then. Katie Molinaro wrote at the time that, “These “Harajuku” girls are sexy and stylish, but also loyal and obedient to Stefani. Stefani’s white fans can admire these qualities in the four women because that fits our idea of how Asian women are supposed to act: sexy, exotic, polite and non-threatening.”
With this history, is it really all that surprising that Gwen Stefani and No Doubt played ‘Cowboys and Indians’ before getting sacked by the righteous ire of indigenous people last week? Until the next, “we’re sorry we offended you” apology!