It was Christmas Eve, and I was driving with my brother and two teenagers. I stopped at the drive thru to get a magical diet coke from McDonalds. As any connoisseur of diet soda knows…….a fountain soda is the best option and the diet cokes at McD’s are perfect….the perfect mix of syrup and CO2. Then the big straw……so, I can get more to my mouth quicker…..add to that the $1.00 price tag for a large…..magic. While in the drive thru, my brother (he is older) tossed his empty soda can out the window into the bushes.
“What? What are you doing? Littering…… in front of the kids? Dude…..”
“No problem” he replied……”some can collector will be by soon…..it’s not like real litter…..” We went back and forth for a few minutes when I said…….”you know what? I don’t litter…….because of the crying Indian.” He smiled, instantly going back. Way back. The teenagers, who hate being left out, are like “what?”
So, I told my kids the story of the commercial (it was actually a PSA). How the Indian was dressed like an Indian…headdress, Indian “costume”, a feather……and as I am describing it I am realizing how horribly horribly racist and stereotypical and just plain wrong it was. And, I started to laugh….until tears came out of my eyes. The whole time teen-aged girl is like, “That is so wrong. That is not funny mom. That is racist….blah blah” like only a 15 year old know-it-all-can. And, now I can’t stop laughing…because it is all so ridiculous. Especially when I got to the part about the car driving by, throwing trash on the Indian. Causing him to shed a single tear…… I am trying to describe the commercial…but, it keeps getting worse and worse. Well, it keeps getting funnier and funnier.
By now…we were home and friends were over and they wanted to know what was so funny….because I had reached that point of no return….where I was just going to laugh until I calmed down…..breathe…….they are younger than I and never saw that PSA…so we looked it up online…….(where I discovered it was a PSA) and it starts out with the Indian rowing a canoe……so, now I am not able to breathe again I am laughing so hard….because I don’t think they believed me…..
Kids still not laughing. All of the adults laughing. Teenager still ranting “that is so wrong…”
Yes. It is. Racism is not funny. Stereotyping is not funny. The fact that anyone conceived that commercial and it was shown over and over AAAANNNNDDDDD everyone thought it was okay….is not funny “haha” but, funny like……”the world is flat” funny. Okay….that isn’t very funny. But, this still tickles me. Maybe the expression on my kids faces? Mostly it was so preposterous…..We have come so far.
I wrote this piece weeks ago, but I guess I knew it wasn’t finished. Since then, I have seen the “crying Indian” being discussed on on Friends…..a TV show same teenagers mentioned above are obsessed with. And, recently someone posted it on FB. Mentioning how much they loved that commercial and wondering why they didn’t show it anymore. So, I piped in….”racist, canoe, feather…..” The responses I received to that were unpleasant. And they neglected to see the racism……OMG really? Aren’t we the same people who are trying to decide if Washington should rename their team? People are funny. And, after I laugh, I write about it. Lucky you.