Missio music and a skull in a headdress

[Image of the single ‘EVERYBODY GETS HIGH’ taken from Big Hassle publicity site.]

A promo went through my timeline that linked to this:

The title “EVERYBODY GETS HIGH” caught my attention, as did the tired, stereotypical skull in a headdress design. It intrigued me enough to make an inquiry hoping that maybe it wasn’t Missio’s decision completely, but things took a turn fairly quickly.

I decided to make a point, perhaps educate. This was prior to Twitter expanding to 280 characters, so I tried to be brief.

Rather than perhaps ask WHY someone had this view, thus opening the dialogue to learning and respecting, this was Missio’s response.

I didn’t assume they disrespected my culture – I could see it in the image connected with the tag “EVERYBODY GETS HIGH’. When, in fact, not every Indigenous person ‘gets high’, never mind the concept of ‘everyone’ as being non-Native. With the strong and wrong assumption involving peyote or Natives and vision quests, perpetuating such a stereotype is already wrong.

The skull in a headdress is a design that many an Indigenous person has tried to educate non-Natives about with often abysmal results. Most people simply think it’s some ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ design and the number of people tattooing it on their bodies is rampant (see the post on cultural appropriation and tattoos).

At this point, rather than engage in a learning dialogue, Missio decided to block me.

I thought perhaps Twitter and its character limitation was not the platform to attempt teaching and I took it to their Facebook Page where the following played out.

The empty threat of being blocked from all their social media was laughable since it would only prove my point. The fact that their fans went unchecked in coming after me only solidified the fact that they had no plans on learning and would expect their methods of ‘honoring’ us to be accepted, much like far too many people who deflect our concerns and voices because they somehow know better than us about what constitutes respect of our culture.

One thing that I would like to point out is that I follow Sony Music Global on Twitter. The originating tweet that led me to Missio’s Twitter is gone though they are tagged in the conversation because of its once existence. I searched for it by date, going more than a week previous and have been unable to find it on Sony Global Music’s timeline. I would wager someone saw the thread and quietly removed the promotion tweet. But no one seemed keen on accepting education of why the image and the image paired with that specific tagline was wrong.

Bonus: This is what they, jokingly or not, wanted to call their fans.

Let’s take apart a couple of the Facebook posts.

Image text, left side.

Missio:
May we remind everyone on this page that this is a band page, not a political platform. We have in no way shown any disrespect or disregard to any culture and will continue to back that. We support all cultures, ethnicities, races, religious backgrounds etc. If we’re honest, your activity/trolling of our Twitter & now Facebook pages is the only sign of insensitivity present. If you have something to say, reach out personally, but please don’t create havoc among our social media pages or you will not be allowed on our platforms any longer. – Missio

Ali Watson:

Missio Sirs. I did reach out personally. Your response was to block me on Twitter rather than have an open discussion. If by reaching out personally you mean doing so out of public view, give me an email address and I’ll reach out.

In the meantime, consider this thread on twitter. [link]

Or this

[another link]

Right side text:

Debbie DI Camp:
I’m so thankful that we live in a world today where the beauty of culture is shared so openly. I see your passion for your culture and I thank you for sharing. I do want to ask that you see the hearts of this band and know that there is no way they would have never meant to offend or degrade the history of any people. I believe this because I feel the emotion behind the lyrics and I can see their passion for their own unique histories. I want to encourage you to continue to share your passion of your culture with the rest of the world and I also want to remind you that when you have issues with people that have specifically done something that brings you pain or discomfort that there are opportunities for you to do so in a private manner. I also encourage you to find music that brings you peace instead of steals your joy. You don’t have to be part of something that brings you no happiness, you have other options.

Missio:
Thank You!

“I’m so thankful that we live in a world today where the beauty of culture is shared so openly.”
We didn’t share it. It was stolen, just as Missio stole it.

“I see your passion for your culture and I thank you for sharing.”
I didn’t share anything. Again, they stole.

“I do want to ask that you see the hearts of this band and know that there is no way they would have never meant to offend or degrade the history of any people.”
Why is it always on us to take your views and feelings into consideration, but not the other way around? There is an inherent problem with that.

“…when you have issues with people that have specifically done something that brings you pain or discomfort that there are opportunities for you to do so in a private manner.”
Private so no one else can see the disrespect we endure and people like Missio get to continue operating under a false idea of ‘we listened’.

Missio thanking this person for shoring up their own lack of empathy and understanding only illustrates that their brand of respect does not include Natives who hold headdresses sacred and do not want them disrespected. This fan was well meaning, but instead of standing by their own convictions, Missio allowed fans to come at me for trying to educate THEM. A pretty low maneuver.

That’s not to say artists as a whole aren’t capable of learning. Pharell caught flak for wearing a headdress for ELLE magazine and apologized for it. Chris Hemsworth wore a whole Native type costume for Halloween and though it took some time, not only gave an apology for the disrespect, during Standing Rock, he showed solidarity with our water protectors.

Missio’s words. “We have in no way shown any disrespect or disregard to any culture and will continue to back that.”
Yes, you did show disrespect AND disregard when called out on it. Yes, I know you’re backing your ignorance.

“We support all cultures, ethnicities, races, religious backgrounds etc.”
Yeah, except Natives.

“If we’re honest, your activity/trolling of our Twitter & now Facebook pages is the only sign of insensitivity present.”
Because my defense of my culture is insensitive to THEM. Their disrespect of my culture is a-okay.

“If you have something to say, reach out personally, but please don’t create havoc among our social media pages or you will not be allowed on our platforms any longer. – Missio”
I did reach out. They blocked me on Twitter and played victim in Facebook. Duly noted.

And from the other image.

Ali Watson:
When you have the opportunity to research and evaluate what you may be negatively portraying onto a whole people and culture. Do you take the time to back off and research or simply attempt to silence the voice(s) that are attempting to inform you that you may be disparaging and/or disrespecting a culture that you claim to respect. Because you respect everyone.

“No other people are more accepting of all cutlure, races, ethnicities, & religious backgrounds etc than us. Not sure how you came to this”
[link to tweet]

Max Danta:

Ma’am, no culture owns something as trivial and universal as a hair style. It may mean something for your background, and I don’t intend to detract from its significance in that context, however, this is not respectful.

Hair braids are not specific to any one culture. Even if they were, it isn’t inherently disrespectful to engage in a culture practice other than your own.

So no, MISSIO aren’t the ones disregarding and causing pointless offence – you are.

Ali Watson:
Max Danta Hello, it’s not a hairstyle to which I was referring, it was the skull in a headdress from their single ‘Everyone gets high’ and the intro to their promo video for an app/game.

Ali Watson:
Max Danta A headdress is a sacred item to Plains Natives, of which I am a part of. Any one headdress is constructed from featheres that one has earned over a long period of time. So a headdress is specific to a person. It’s not an ornamental thing. It’s not a costume. It’s not a gimmick. A skull in a headdress is an image of a dead Indian with a headdress who has no ties to any Plains Native. Their use of it is simply ‘edgy’, ‘cool’, or something other than a respectful representation of my people and culture.

Ali Watson:
I appreciate people taking an interest in my culture. I welcome it. But I would really like to educate and prevent people who may not know that what they do is potentially a negative reflection of a living culture. Of which Missio is aware of now.

“Hair braids are not specific to any one culture. Even if they were, it isn’t inherently disrespectful to engage in a culture practice other than your own.”

It is inherently disrespectful to ignore the voices pointing out that it IS disrespectful to shit on one’s culture. To suggest that what I was doing is disrespectful of Missio, and for Missio to piggy back on other people putting down my views and the points I’m making is a direct reflection of the fact that Missio actually does NOT respect Indigenous cultures, nor the views we have for our sacred items.

Missio has never come forward with anything remotely resembling apology or respecting our culture. The tweets stand to this day. This was 2017. They aren’t the only ones, but they definitely deserve to be noted as artists that Indigenous peoples should not support. In my opinion, they are simply another set of culture vultures who would rather exploit our cultures than respect it.

 

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment