Sweet mother of Al Jolson—does political correctness have to ruin everything we’ve held sacred over the years? Given what’s gone down this week with No Doubt, your local Block Watch committee will soon be busting kids who spend their Saturdays playing cowboys and First Nations.
As you might have seen on the Intraweb, No Doubt landed in a big heap of trouble for “Looking Hot”, the new single off its comeback release, Push and Shove. The band assumed, quite correctly, there was nothing that heterosexual American males of all races would love to see more than singer Gwen Stefani writhing seductively while tied to a post. Not to mention straddling a strapping white stallion, half naked, while riding that massive thing between her legs like Hyapatia Lee in Indian Summer. Or thrusting her barely concealed crotch lasciviously at the camera in front of a raging… Er, you get the idea.
Where Stefani and company evidently erred is that they chose to sell the sizzle with a video that, back in the un–PC 1950s, would have been described as being centred around cowboys and Indians. “Looking Hot” is set in the kind of Old West frontier town where the men are all white and spend their days at the saloon drinking whisky, smoking cigars, and banging the petticoat-wearing prostitutes. Those playing the cowboys include No Doubt drummer Adrian Young and guitarist Tom Dumont.
On the flip side of things, we’ve Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal representing the pure and noble First Nations. Kanal plays a stoic warrior locked in the town jail after losing a dustup out on the frontier. (He’s also occasionally shown in shadowy profile, channelling his inner Flea, the big question there being “Where in the hell did a First Nations fellow in the late 1800s find an electric bass?”)
Whatever. As with most No Doubt videos, everyone’s too busy staring at Stefani to notice those three other guys anyway. And by the first couple of frames of “Looking Hot”, it’s obvious why the band decided to go the tobacco-stained-crackers and indigenous-peoples route, namely because it gave Stefani the chance to play dress-up—dress-up in a fashion that makes you thank Chief Joseph that No Doubt didn’t go with its original plan of setting the video on a muddy pig farm in rural Kazakhstan. When you’ve got a legitimate Betty at your disposal, you don’t black out half her teeth, throw a grease-stained head scarf on her, and wrap her in a mangy yak overcoat.
What we get instead is Stefani looking hotter than Pokahotass in Lap Dances With Wolves. The trouble, apparently, is that we’ve got a white woman dressed up in traditional First Nations garb, including a sexy feathered headdress, fringed ghost-bear-white pants, haute-frontier-couture bracelets, and a crimson pyjama ensemble that would give Wild Bill Hickok an erection.
And who are we rooting for in “Looking Hot”? Here’s a hint: it’s not the stinking white man, which is to say everyone goes home happy when the Indian (played by the South Asian Kanal) throws a tomahawk and cuts a rope that metaphorically frees the white indigenous woman from honky town.
Despite all this, No Doubt was in an uncomfortable position this week. Some First Nations members—no one has actually come out and said who—got upset at the group pretending to be Indians. As a result, the band quickly did a mea culpa, willingly pulling the video from all the places that play music videos these days, which is to say YouTube and Vimeo. It also apologized for “Looking Hot” on its website with: “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.”
To that, it’s hard not to say “What the fuck?” The message here is pretty simple: the First Nations folks are completely and outrageously hot, while the filthy fucking ghostfaces are a bunch of drunken assholes. More to the point, Stefani isn’t pretending to be anything other than a white chick playing dress-up; it’s not like she painted herself Ralph Lauren Buffalo Blood Red for the shoot.
If you want to get offended about something, people, might we suggest the Red Hot Chili Peppers pretending to be members of the Silver Surfer tribe in “Give It Away”? Everyone knows those motherfuckers don’t know shit about either Galactus or the long-struggling people of Zenn-La. Someone call the PC police.
Follow Mike Usinger on the Tweeter at twitter.com/MikeUsinger.