No Doubt Remove Racist ‘Looking Hot’ Video and Apologize After Indigenous Outcry

As the firestorm of controversy over No Doubt’s new native appropriating and flagrantly racist video “Looking Hot” (or perhaps, better, “Lookin’ Racist”) began raging to a boil across social media on Saturday, Gwen Stefani and her “multi-racial” band quickly took to their website to issue an apology and remove the video from YouTube.

Updated: November 4, 2012

Here is the band’s official statement:

As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures. Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history. 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. This is of great concern to us and we are removing the video immediately. The music that inspired us when we started the band, and the community of friends, family, and fans that surrounds us was built upon respect, unity and inclusiveness. We sincerely apologize to the Native American community and anyone else offended by this video. Being hurtful to anyone is simply not who we are.

Although the video was only published on November 2nd, in less than 24 hours, the clip had already been viewed 400,000 times (at the time of this writing), before being removed from the popular video sharing site.

Vincent Shilling previously reported on the Indigenous backlash against the video for Indian Country Media Today:

On November 2, the second day of Native American Heritage Month, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt released her latest music video for “Lookin Hot” on YouTube. In the video Stefani wears a series of American Indian styled outfits while appearing in a series of situations such as being handcuffed and tied to a wall, dancing in and around teepees and fighting cowboys.

Soon after the video was released, a backlash on Twitter erupted and dislikes jumped from 60 to over 700 in a few hours. Several YouTube viewers made comments in frustration and support of the video.

One comment on YouTube stated: “This video is very insensitive and very discourteous. Stefani, you have disrespected and slighted the entire Native American people with your counterfeit portrayal of our heritage. The way you pranced and frolic around, dressed in so called Native American attire, is a mockery of our way of life and culture. You have also debased all Native American women. The word squaw is very insulting and demeaning to me and all Native American women.” […]

Twitter was especially active after the video was posted and continues to generate comments as to how disrespectful the video is.  Lorie Lee, Sac and Fox, (‏@lleetewa) tweeted, “@gwenstefani disappointed n ur portrayal attempt of beautiful strong warrior woman Natives. Invited to Hopi find out who u will nevr be NOW!”While Colby Tootoosis ‏(@colby22sis)  referred to an article written by UK publication, Mail Online, that calls Stefani a “Native American Squaw”  she says, “our women were never squaws.”

The controversial video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who posted on Twitter that the video is “taking it back to the wild west”. Matsoukas has yet to issue an official statement on the controversy. As TheDeadBolt reports:

The “Looking Hot” video was filmed over two days in October at the Valuzat Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita, California with Melina Matsoukas in the director’s chair. This was Melina’s first time working with No Doubt. Her extensive directing resume includes Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” video which recently won Video of the Year at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.

Despite No Doubt’s stated claim to have “consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California”, some substantial questions remain.

As many of our readers asked, who are the band’s “Native American friends” and who did they “consult” at the University of California? But, more importantly, how did this video concept and its offensive imagery get approved?

In an response posted to LastRealIndians.com, writer Linda Tioleu attributes No Doubt’s misguided act of appropriation to the popularization of Indigenous iconography in contemporary fashion and pop culture, however, she also draws attention to the important ways in which the video contributes to the hypersexualization of Indigenous women as targets of colonial violence that “perpetuates and reinforces the misconception that Native women are the sexual property of mainstream media and the general populace”:

There can be little doubt that No Doubt (hehehe) was responding to the current “hipster” trend popularized by companies like Urban Outfitters, who created great controversy with their line of “Navajo” clothing, inspired by Native American cultures.  There can be no other explanation for their actions than a simple, misguided attempt at caving in to the mainstream.  The song has absolutely nothing to do with Indigenous peoples (the primary lyrics being the masterfully written “Do you think I’m looking hot? Do you think this hits the spot? How is this looking on me, looking on me?”).  But, I’m being overly sensitive, right?  I shouldn’t have a problem with the fact that Gwen and her bandmates are connecting those lyrics to Native American women, to me.  Right?

I won’t repeat all of the statistics on Amnesty International’s recent student of the sexual exploitation of Native women, but I will repeat the fact that Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than the average American woman, and that 86% of these violent acts are committed by non-Native men.  Additionally, a U.S. DOJ study found that over 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetime.

These statistics frighten me – not just for my own safety, but for the safety of our mothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters.  No Doubt’s hypersexualization of a woman dressed as an American Indian further perpetuates and reinforces the misconception that Native women are the sexual property of mainstream media and the general populace.  We absolutely cannot sit idly by and see Native women – who are the foundation of our people, culture, spirituality, and community – thrown out to slaughter by anyone – let alone by Hollywood’s greed machine.

I won’t go on and on about the fact that there are approximately 15 different Indigenous cultures very poorly (mis)represented through this video.  I will, however, say that I am so tired…so exhausted…practically incredulous, at having to explain why it is wrong to exploit and misappropriate another person’s sacred culture and imagery for a music video, movie, clothing line, Halloween costume, sports team mascot, or military operation.  It is 2012.  Really, folks?  Can I just list some books for you to read?  Can I just direct you to the nearest tribal college?  How about just emailing me so that we can talk?  I promise not to scalp you or ride up to your house on a wild steed dressed in a black buckskin bikini top.  Me, that is.  Not the horse.  Because…why would I dress a horse like that?

Although the official video has been removed from YouTube, a lower resolution version has since been uploaded to DailyMotion. Here it is for your feedback and consideration:

What are your thoughts on the video and the controvery? Should the band have removed the video? Is their apology satisfactory?

1 Comment

  1. Frank B.

    These morons should be sued for pulling that kind of stunt! Removing the video isn’t nearly enough! They need to sued and expelled from the music industry!!