Dior’s got a new ad campaign for their perfume Sauvage and it features American indigenous imagery. My first impressions of the poster is that it’s just Johnny Depp (who, by the way, has claimed he is Native American but is not Native American) looking unwashed in a serape. That’s funny because Dior thought Johnny’s usual weekend lewk was going to sell their scents. But then they had to go and add some dopey mess into their Twitter teaser copy that referenced Native Americans and the video sounds like a cringey shit show that’s being about as well-received as American Imperialism.
The Guardian reports that Dior’s Twitter tease on Friday was ill-received.
The fashion brand teased the ad, which stars actor Johnny Depp, on Twitter on Friday as “an authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory”. It has since deleted the tweet and all references to the campaign on social media.
This is the ad:
— MadDepphead (@deppsvideos) August 28, 2019
Well – hey – at least they hedged their bets by using actual Native Americans and First Nations performers in their not-at-all cliched vid. Why didn’t they just go all the way in and get that American Indian with the one tear running down his sorrowful face?
An extended video promoting the $150 fragrance shows Depp walking amid the red rocks of south-western Utah, stacking rocks to mark his path, as a Native American fancy war dancer Canku One Star, a Rosebud Sioux member, performs on cliff and a young woman, portrayed by Canadian actor of First Nations descent Tanaya Beatty, follows Depp from a distance.
It gets worse. Oh, and fun fact, the French “Sauvage” translates to “wild” or “savage” in English. A
Depp also whips out a guitar and plays a famous riff by Shawnee guitarist Link Wray.
Bad enough that this film is dopey and tone-deaf and then Depp’s torturing us with his gnarly guitar licks, dude. (And, ugh, he played gee-tah in the last one, too.)
And here’s a sampling of the reaction:
The absurdity of the @Dior #Sauvage Ad w/ Johnny Depp:
• Supposedly anti-appropriation, but goes balls deep in appropriation.
• Titles the actress as maiden & the native actor, warrior.
• Says it is helping Native folx, but invokes stupid/ignorant "indian" tropes.
— Dallas Goldtooth (@dallasgoldtooth) August 30, 2019
“Honestly, I couldn’t help but laugh because this drips with irony – every single aspect of it,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, an environmental and economic justice group. “But I’m also upset and angry at the same time.”
The video “romanticized Native Americans as relics from the past”, Goldtooth said. “It’s deplorable that Dior thought this was appropriate.”
And Dr. Keene would like a word, Johnny.
In summary: I’ve been on Johnny Depp’s case since at least 2012. He’s not Native, he’s not a friend to Indian Country. Dior has also been on the appropriation train since forever. Galliano literally put ghost dance designs on dresses: https://t.co/Nsqlp7v1rS
— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) August 30, 2019
Dior took that tweet down and has erased any mention of the campaign from social media. And they’re objecting to the criticism by claiming they did everything but vote Native American people onto their board of directors for this campaign.
In a press release, the French fashion giant noted that the film was created in collaboration with Native American consultants and the advocacy group Americans for Indian Opportunity, with the aim of “moving away from clichés in order to avoid the cultural appropriation and subversion that so often taints images representing Native peoples”.
Dior isn’t known for being the most woke of fashion houses. So this is pretty typical of them. What they need now is for those assholes Dolce & Gabbana to say something ridiculous to take the heat off them.