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Wednesday, May 13 • 10:45am - 12:05pm
Indigenous Representation in Popular Culture

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For many people working in education the media forms of Reality/Factual TV, Animated Disney blockbusters, and Computer Games are considered forces that disrupt and distract students from their real studies. I believe that we've been tricked into believing these lowbrow forms are worthless, when the real trick is that these increasing popular entertainments (often considered unworthy of scholarly activity), can be great forces of good that can lead the way in education, and even Truth & Reconciliation. When Two-spirited couple. Anthony Johnson and James Makokis, won Canada's Amazing Race in 2019, this was perhaps the first time the Two- Spirited community was seen in a positive light in the mainstream. They raised awareness, they modelled respect and love for all peoples, and they won. When Disney's 1995 Pocahontas animated film came out it was widely criticized in Indigenous circles for reinforcing damaging stereotypes and sexualizing Indigenous 'princesses'. Yet Disney took on this criticism to eventually make Moana, where they created a positive Polynesian princess who didn't need a man to fulfil her, and proved that her navigational knowledge was as good as any European science. Most recently, Frozen 2 took on the criticism that the original Frozen exploited Indigenous Sami People, and the sequel was made with Sami consultation and a Truth & Reconciliation theme. The character of Olaf the snowman can even been seen as part of the Trickster/Shapeshifter archetype found in many Indigenous cultures. Meanwhile, the gaming world has been rightly criticized for its representation of gender, race and graphic violence, but there's been a rise in positive Indigenous games (like Never Alone), and academic/game designers like Dr. Elizabeth Le Pensee (Anishanaabe/Metis/Irish) So how can we take what are often considered disruptive forces and use them to help our goals of Indigenization/Decolonisation and stop demonizing popular culture. I'd like to throw that wero (challenge in Maori) out to everyone. I'd like people to bring along their prejudices about these forms, and also perhaps their pride/guilty pleasure in finding worth in some of these, to share and to play, and see if the tribe has indeed spoken... but we haven't been listened. Nga mihi nui / many thanks David Geary (Taranaki Maori / Pakeha - English/Irish/Scottish settler, and Canadian since 2008)

avatar for David Geary

David Geary

Instructor, Capilano University
I teach scriptwriting in the IIDF Indigenous Independent Filmmaking program at Cap U, documentary, playwriting, and write haiku on twitter @gearsgeary. I'm from the New Zealand Maori iwi/tribe Taranaki and the settler nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and now also a Canadian... Read More →

Wednesday May 13, 2020 10:45am - 12:05pm PDT
Salon E

Attendees (3)