Stupid Time Machine's parody Urban Outfitters ad draws online outrage — but is it justified?

by

comment
An image from a parody commercial produced by the New Orleans comedy group Stupid Time Machine. The fake ad for Urban Outfitters skewers the use of Native American imagery and iconography in pop fashion — but not everyone is laughing.
  • An image from a parody commercial produced by the New Orleans comedy group Stupid Time Machine. The fake ad for Urban Outfitters skewers the use of Native American imagery and iconography in pop fashion — but not everyone is laughing.

The New Orleans comedy group Stupid Time Machine released a clever video over the Thanksgiving holiday — it's a fake commercial for Urban Outfitters, which has drawn criticism in the past for some of its controversial clothing lines. Some Native Americans were particularly incensed by the clothing chain's "Navajo" line (which included hip flasks and panties), which seemed to inspire Stupid Time Machine. The website Bustle described it well:
The video opens with some Vampire Weekend-esque, trendy, indie-style, drum-led music, and some “cute” hipsters in eclectic outfits gaily bounding down some stairs in what appears to be a fairly barren industrial area of a city. The voiceover says, “Let us give thanks for a new type of tribe,” as a hipster pushes a Native American guy out of frame, and a purple-haired girl in a pink shaggy coat unfurls an American flag. The video then quickly devolves into a montage of Native American headdresses next to Urban Outfitter’s range of records and record players, American Spirit cigarettes, beaded vests and “honoring heritage by making it sexy”—and making me laugh out loud, because it’s so on point.
(The "fairly barren industrial area of a city" is Crescent Park in the Bywater.) 

Anyway, it's pretty pointed satire about co-opting native cultures ... unless, of course, you take it seriously.

Of the more than 20,000 people who have seen the video on YouTube, a good number of them seem to think it's a real Urban Outfitters ad, despite the description:

An ad for "Urban Outfiter's" new We Are All Natives collection - "Indian wear for the rest of us." Filmed by sketch comedy group Stupid Time Machine, this is a parody of everybody's favorite controversial retailer. This Thanksgiving, let us all embrace the coy charm and original hipster style of the indigenous people our country displaced and killed by the millions. 
"I am a native and I can tell you we don't respect people who wear our sacred objects for fashion wiping away meaning for your personal use is beyond disrespectful," reads one comment. "Our lives are not for you to take bits from and pick away at we are people who deserve respect. We are not here for your fashion." Another person says, "You are white people who are trying to steal our culture! Do us a favor and apologize! Next time you want to have someone wearing a bonnet make sure it's a registered American Indian chief!"



Those are the YouTube comments — Tumblr people seem to take it in in the spirit in which it was intended.

Was it too pointed? Too subtle? Just not funny? Or do people just not read before they comment?


Add a comment