Cheerful and adorable or primitive and lacking hygiene and “morals”. Such is the defined public persona of the Inuit or more derogatively, the Eskimo. Like pets. Cuddly. Except when they pee on the floor. Guilt at the extermination of tribal society’s is overrated, not really sticking when tossed at the wall. While people close enough to “primitive” cultures to annihilate them seems to have experience only limited or passing regret for their actions, it portends an explanation in which the thirst for authenticity as a cultural value must derive from a more profound source of which the Inuit is simply part of this primitive/innocence industry.
The validity of the following may be contested since its deconstructed from context. However, its also valuable to discard the Heidegger bunk of cultural relativism and place it within the idea of disavowal; the desire to wipe out authenticity yet enjoy it; to transform it into something different on which to impose a different version of “individuality.” :
Native Americans, Eskimos, New Guinea Highlanders as well as African tribes slaughtered one another with skill and vigor, frequently winning their first encounters with modern armed forces. “Even in the harshest possible environments [such as northwestern Alaska] where it was struggle enough just to keep alive, primitive societies still pursued the more overriding goal of killing one another,” Wade notes….
… In primitive warfare “casualty rates were enormous, not the least because they did not take prisoners. That policy was compatible with their usual strategic goal: to exterminate the opponent’s society. Captured warriors were killed on the spot, except in the case of the Iroquois, who took captives home to torture them before death, and certain tribes in Colombia, who liked to fatten prisoners before eating them.”
However badly civilized peoples may have behaved, the 100 million or so killed by communism and the 50 million or so killed by National Socialism seem modest compared with the 2 billion or so who would have died if the casualty rates of primitive peoples had applied to the West.Read More:http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/2006/07/populism-authenticity-and-other-lies.html
Cinematic representation seems to follow the norm where the Eskimo is sex object or criminal. In the True Story of Eskimo Nell ( Richard Franklin) there is a holy grail search towards the tundra of Yukon for a legendary hooker named Eskimo Nell. Its a bawdy buddy story of tracking down the greatest “womper” of all time. The Savage Innocents of 1960 may have inspired Sam Huntington and his Clash of Civilizations; fear of Inuit wearing designer parkas and driving Lexus snowmobiles blowing up pipelines and oil tankers. Here an “eskimo” with little contact with white folk goes to a trading post where he accidentally murders a missionary and finds himself being pursued by dogged and honest mounties. The tropes are appalling. He is a typical Eskimo hunter, living proudly as his ancestors- just trying to make an honest living- while eking out a subsistence existence in the Canadian arctic.
When Inuk brings spouse and mother-in-law to a trading post to exchange furs, he meets a sympathetic priest. Then, in time honored tradition of Northern Hospitality,he proffers the wife for sexual favors onto his new friend. Instead of being a gentleman, the Priest- would a reverend or rabbi refuse?- cites god, the church and refuses. Not one of those agree to disagree situations, the Eskimo, Inuk, reveals his primitive savage interior and dispatches the man of the cloth. Having broken Western law, Inuk is chased by two Mounties; bogged down by a borching mother-in-law, in a neat sequence of transference, Inuk coaxes then uses moral suasion to send the slow footed woman out on the ice to perish, confirming another of his people’s allegedly ancient traditions juxtaposed to convenient new contexts. In sum, the women are sex objects and disposable, a commodity, and the men are virile killers bordering on the psychopathic but gifted with a general happy and smiling underlying disposition. If only they could dance and sing!
That raises the question: Why, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, does popular culture portray primitives as peace-loving folk living in harmony with nature, as opposed to rapacious and brutal civilization? Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, which attributes civilization to mere geographical accident, made a best-seller out of a mendacious apology for the failure of primitive society. Wade reports research that refutes Diamond on a dozen counts, but his book never will reach the vast audience that takes comfort in Diamond’s pulp science.
Why is it that the modern public revels in a demonstrably false portrait of primitive life? Hollywood grinds out stories of wise and worthy native Americans, African tribesmen, Brazilian rainforest people and Australian Aborigines, not because Hollywood studio executives hired the wrong sort of anthropologist, but because the public pays for them, the same public whose middle-brow contingent reads Jared Diamond.Read More:http://dailyduck.blogspot.com