(In this post, guest writer Tal — whose own blog is here — forcefully expresses some opinions about the shirt emblazoned with the above image released by the band Mastodon for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday. As always, Comments are welcome.)
In case you haven’t been on the internet since before Thanksgiving, Mastodon decided to mark that holiday by putting out a really tasteless shirt. The shirt, which shows a male Pilgrim pointing a musket at a kneeling, scantily clad, stereotypical image of a Native American woman holding up a turkey, has drawn outraged responses from members of Native communities (for example here and here). The band seem to think that they are doing something to raise awareness; they wrote on Facebook:
“Regarding our thanks giving shirt, whether you choose to believe or not, the American Indians were massacred by the white settlers who became the Americans we are today. this shirt represents this atrocity and celebrating in the face of this atrocity is chilling.”
They felt the need to add: “we may have a sick sense of humor, but we are far from being ‘Racist’ as some of you who might not get it are calling us.” (What’s actually chilling is that this post had over 4,000 likes as of the writing of this article.)
Mastodon in effect dismisses the criticisms leveled at their choice of imagery by implying that the critics don’t “get” the shirt or somehow don’t believe that Native Americans were massacred at the hands of white settlers, when this is not the problem at all. The problem is not their message, but the way they’ve chosen to execute it, and the band’s response just makes it worse.