Paul Frank Actually Doing a Good Job Apologizing For That Racist "Dream Catchin'" Theme Party

Illustration for article titled Paul Frank Actually Doing a Good Job Apologizing For That Racist Dream Catchin Theme Party

For Fashion's Night Out this year, designer Paul Frank Industries hosted an outstandingly offensive Native American-themed party, featuring cocktails with names like "Neon Teepee" and encouraging guests to pose in "war paint" with tomahawks. Urgh.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Paul Frank Actually Doing a Good Job Apologizing For That Racist Dream Catchin Theme Party
Advertisement

After the outcry of the fashion-conscious Native community, specifically bloggers Jessica Metcalfe and Adrienne K, the company has apologized on Facebook, and has now taken additional steps to make amends: company president Elie Dekel had a phone conversation with Adrienne K (and plans to have one with Metcalfe) to inform her that all Native imagery had been pulled from the stores and online, as well as invite her and Metcalfe to speak on a panel about the use of Native designs in retail at next June's International Licensing Merchandisers Association conference.

Finally, the company has announced that they'll be hiring a Native designer to produce a new line whose earnings will go towards a Native American charity. And for the record, Paul Frank himself wrote to Metcalfe and said he had no involvement in the event, and was very sorry that his character Julius the monkey had been used to offend.

You heard it here first. Julius the monkey: Not racist.

'Paul Frank Industries Will Take Major Steps to Reconcile With Native Americans' [Indian Country]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I have read a lot of explanations of cultural appropriation and why it's wrong on Jezebel, but I have to admit that I still don't get it. If it matters, I'm not white. I can kind of see how this would be offensive, since it relies on stereotypes, but when it comes to things like Native American art in fashion, I just don't understand. It's just art, and fashion references art, so why is that a problem? Just because the artist is not of the culture from which the art originates? But why is that a problem? Maybe I'm just dense.

Oddly, the one thing that really does get to me is something that I have never heard anyone talk about: yoga. To me, that seems like extremely offensive cultural appropriation. Yet it seems that all the people squawking about cultural appropriation not only don't notice it, they practice yoga themselves. I just think that art and symbols of a particular culture are open for reinterpretation and free to be used as inspiration in other artistic endeavors. Yoga is a religious practice, and it baffles me that Lululemon-clad white women using it as exercise, murmuring "ohm" and muttering butchered Sanskrit pose names, wouldn't be seen as incredibly offensive.

I'm not trying to criticize anyone; I truly just want to understand, because it keeps coming up here, and I just don't get it.