The White Man Come Saveth!

Posted October 2, 2017 on Connect

I had two minds about watching the clip of “Nanook of the North”.  First of all, there was a genuine attempt to capture “everyday life” or at least the bits of everyday life that was clearly made palatable for a wider audience. The portrayal of Nanook and his family was not in line with the Spaghetti Western stereotypes of dangerous and savage Indian.  Providing the names of the family members at least attempted to personify these people. On the flip side, however, it blatantly characterizes the traders as the saviors. This is exemplified perfectly when the movie shockingly reveals that Nanook had but only a harpoon to hunt with.  With a different spin, the producer could have featured Nanook’s incredible hunting skills, in that he ONLY needed a harpoon.  But alas, no. Amen, for the white man who could trade him skins for more advanced hunting tools. Colonizers are “the good guys” right?

For students to engage in media products more critically, I think we need to replicate what was done for us on this week’s Discussion. Michael teed us up with questions to think about as we watched the clip.  For myself, this forced me to think about the key issue as I was watching, as opposed to passively watching.  It is incredibly easy to be thinking about something irrelevant while watching media.  Heck, I even do this when I read sometimes.  I have had to read text three times, if I am truly mentally distracted! Another tip could be to have the media available outside of class time, so that students can watch, pause and “rewind”, thus allowing students to regulate their own learning, and hopefully engage in critical thought, at their own pace.

Inuit cultural advocate, Mary Simon’s interview with George Strombolopoulous was too short; I really could have listened to this conversation for a lot longer! She spoke so well and her approach was very personable. She did not hesitate to point out similarities between Inuit and other cultures, and she made sure to highlight the differences. Not in an adversarial way, but in a way, that did not imply one culture being better or correct… just different. I can easily see why she is in the position that she is in. She is incredibly relatable, yet simultaneously no push over. I don’t watch this show, but the interview really seemed too rushed.  Is it normally like this? Or this another case of inequity in main stream media?

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Filed under ETEC 521, Indigenous culture

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