Caution: Not Suitable for Children is explicitly about the perpetuation of the stereotype of Indian people through the commodification of goods such as food (beef jerky, etc.), books, crafts (made by non-Indian people) and particularly toys (cowboy and Indians, bow and arrows etc.) These stereotypical images include: the romanticized Indian, the drunken Indian, the dumb Indian, savage or barbarian, bloodthirsty, immoral, proud or stoic, Indian princess, squaw, etc.
This show brings attention to the blatant misuse of the image of Indian people and how they are being exploited and appropriated for the betterment of their creators to sell products. It is true that many of these images are in the form of children’s novelties, which may seem harmless, however, they serve to perpetuate the false images of Indian people. As children we are shown these images at an alarming rate in the way of television shows (Scooby Doo), comic books (Archie), coloring books and toys (inexpensive and expensive), to name a few. Children take these images as being authentic and when these children grow up they accept these images without question, leaving one to question what a real Indian is and, thus, continuing the cycle.
Caution: Not Suitable for Children humourously shows that mainstream society (Indian people too) have become desensitized to the outright racism of these images. For example, the Halloween ‘costume’ of the Indian or the game Cowboys and Indians. Carol Sanchez writes, “Cowboys and Indians is still played every day by children all over America of every creed, colour and nationality. Well – it’s harmless isn’t it? Just kids playing kill Indians. t’s all history…would you allow your children to play Nazis and Jews? Black and KKKs? Complete with costume?” How often do you walk by many of these images and either do not notice them or do not question them because they seem normal?
IMAGE CREDIT: Judy Boyer
September 26, 2019