[UPDATED: Paul Frank Speaks!] Paul Frank Hosts Racist Native American Pow-Wow-Themed Fashion Night Out Party

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Paul Frank
See message from company founder Paul Frank at the end of this post. 

ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 10, 1:10 P.M.: 


If you were too caught up in President Obama's acceptance speech last Thursday, you might have missed another monumental event that took place that evening: Fashion Night Out. It's the annual, nationwide kickoff to New York Fashion Week. Stores everywhere hosted mini-parties complete with fashion shows, sales, #FNO hashtags and tons of free booze.  

Joining the fun was Costa Mesa-based Paul Frank--you know, of monkey-pajamas fame. The company thought it'd be super adorbz to give their West Hollywood party a neon Native American pow-wow theme. From photos posted on Native American fashion blog Beyond Buckskin, we see that the event was filled with bright purple feather headdresses, florescent talking sticks, war paint, tomahawks and cocktails with names such as Rain Dance Refresher, Dream Catcher and Neon Teepee. 

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Paul Frank
Nickelodeon actress Ashley Argota. 
Native American fashion is having a hipster moment--and that's not cool with many in Native American communities. When they see guys and girls Instagramming themselves at Coachella while wearing headdresses, feathers and warbonnets--spiritual symbols of honor and respect--it's deeply offensive as it misrepresents an entire culture. Last year, Native Americans forced Urban Outfitters to remove it's "Navajo" description from 21 items on its website. Paul Frank actually sells at least two T-shirts with its mascot Julius in Native American-inspired gear.   

paul-frank-bows-arrows.jpg
Paul Frank
According to Beyond Buckskin, Paul Frank posted more than 1,000 images from the pow-wow party onto its Facebook page. Many people immediately blasted the company, writing comments such as, "It makes me sick that nobody at your company or in the hundreds of people involved in that party ever raised a red flag that this event would be hideously offensive" and "I'm a human being, not a mascot or a fashion statement or a trend." 

Yesterday, Paul Frank apologized on its Facebook page, stating: 

Paul Frank celebrates diversity and is inspired by many rich cultures from around the world. The theme of our Fashion's Night Out event was in no way meant to disrespect the Native American culture, however due to some comments we have received we are removing all photos from the event and would like to formally and sincerely apologize. Thank you everyone for your feedback and support.   
    
Some Facebook commenters say that's not enough and are calling for a boycott. 

UPDATE, SEPT. 13, 12:21 P.M.: Paul Frank--the man, not the company--wants everyone to know that although he's the creator of Julius the Monkey and the co-founder of Paul Frank Industries, he currently has no ties to the brand that had partygoers prancing around with neon tomahawks. He has written a message saying he is "saddened and disappointed" by the recent news of the event. Guess that's one of the dangers of naming a company after yourself and then letting it slide into someone else's hands. His own company is called Park La Fun. Cute letterhead. (Click to enlarge.) 
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61 comments
nobunny1
nobunny1

PS-will the real Paul Frank please sit down?? I like how he intervenes as if anyone really cares...

nobunny1
nobunny1

Good lord.

First off, let me say that Im of Chocktaw and Cherokee desent.

We have to realize that most Native American decoration, be it in textiles or jewelry or even art was because the Europeans came in and brought seed beads, they brought dyes and textiles. You actually think they were mining for silver and turquoise before Europeans got here?

Native Americans owe a good portion of their culture to the Europeans. 

Second,  Native American tribes have always sought to commercialize their culture with roadside shops and touristy tribal villages. Its a double-edged sword. And while I appreciate the need to preserve the cultural identity of America's indigenous peoples, I don't necessarily think people playing dressing up is considered a problem. What IS the problem is poverty, alcoholism and unemployment. Let's focus on that shall we???

Also-I have experienced more anger and intolerance by Native Americans at an AIM meeting than at a stupid dress-up party. 

Be happy that the word Navajo is still being used-whether for a dress or for jewelry, what's the difference?? At least its being used. 

beyondbuckskin
beyondbuckskin

@urbanrezlife Yes! It is a task we must do every day, evidently. #WeAreStillHere and #WeArePlenty and #WeCanBeRuthless

c.christian.lyons
c.christian.lyons

This country is getting so whiny about everything. Seriously. People just like getting upset at someone or something. That's just the way it is. Gustavo would make an awesome South Park character. Now, if at this party people also dressed up as Union soldiers and pretended to massacre the Indians...that would have been offensive...and a little funny. But just a little.

rsmken
rsmken

Amazing how the word "racist" is seemingly applied to anything that "may" be offensive to a small number of people. We all know true racism and this does not even come close. Paul Frank used his monkey character - he did not create some offensive stereotyped "Indian" as Gustavo does with his Ask A Mexican (by the way - I may not like Gus' political views..but his Taco book is fantastic!).

Is it racist that when you go to Hawaii and there are "Aloha" shirts and other "native" island garb and trinkets to be had? Of course not! And anyone who has traveled through the Southwest (Gustavo!) knows that the tribes would be the first to sell this stuff (and do!). Maybe had Frank contracted with some Indian casino to sell this stuff no one would make a big deal out of it!

 

Don't be an "Al Sharpton"  and cry wolf at everything you you see! Because when the real stuff happens know one will take you seriously (just like with Al!)

 

skinheadrob
skinheadrob

@mandeeguns Yeah youd think at least 1 person over there would have thought it was a bad idea.

RyanLoco
RyanLoco

@skinheadrob Paul left in 2005. Couldnt imagine him doing something so stupid. Idiot corporate people thinking theyre clever

lavirgo67
lavirgo67

I would not be in the lest bit offended (amused, but not offended) if these people celebrated the following themes:

 

1. Trailer Park Chic - The decor possibilities are endless!

2. Redneckognize Party - Thank you Honey Boo Boo!

3. Winter's Bone Ball - Meth chic party done right

4. Beverly Hillbillies - A blast from the past

5. Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer - Yee Haw! 

6. Country Music Swa'ray

 

 

Guerro
Guerro

Ay someone is offended!  Pobrecitos!

Lisa Davis
Lisa Davis

He is stuck in the 1970's, I guess.

Joel Montes
Joel Montes

He should think ahead and do a "gay night out" with all the stereotypes he can come up with. Because "gay" is not passé right now, like Native Americans or other traditional ethnic groups. So I'd think the reaction would be flattery, and not an offensive reaction

indigenous_2
indigenous_2

Appropriating the culture of a group - in this case of  Native American dress  - dehumanizes Native American people and turns them into a commodity that can be bought and sold.

 

Attitudes and behavior by fashion industries leaders like Paul Frank perpetuates the stereotypical image of Native Americans, women especially.

 

For those that don't believe that a problem exists, consider the following facts: One in three Native American women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape. Their rate of sexual assault is more than  2.5 times the national average. And if you think those numbers are staggering, consider who is carrying out these attacks: at least 86% of sexual assaults are reportedly being perpetrated by non-Native men, this information provided by the US department of Justice.

 

Failing to acknowledge, or denying, that the appropriation of Native American dress contributes to ongoing stereotypes is behavior defined as "racist".

 

a good educational resource  can be found here.

http://beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com/2012/05/teacher-resource-politics-of-fashion.html

kristenbdorsey
kristenbdorsey

Thank you OC Weekly for covering this story.  I was outraged and sickened to see the photos of this party and the accompanying product line of T-shirts.  Furthermore, it was disturbing to see children and Disney teen celebrities partake in these blatantly racist events.  This is teaching the next generation that it is OK to perpetuate harmful stereotypes.  For those of you who do not think that this 'party' was severely problematic, please read the native appropriations blog post here: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2012/09/paul-frank-offends-every-native-person.html and the Beyond Buckskin blog post here:http://beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com/2012/09/paul-franks-racist-powwow.html#more

Furthermore, please join me in submitting Native arts and culture organizations to the Paul Frank company to consider for a donation because the Native Twitter and Face Book community thinks that that would be an appropriate next step.

Kimberli J. Frost
Kimberli J. Frost

Being a 'fashion designer' with so many ideas in mind, you would figure to think outside the box. No. You must have the typical pre-colonial war paint and tomahawks. In my opinion, You can do better Paul Frank.

fernrichardson
fernrichardson

Eh...this is hardly racism. Any more so than dying rivers green and drinking Irish Car Bombs on St. Patrick's Day is racist.

miller9
miller9

Hipsters love the headdresses. Too bad Paul Frank didn't change the theme earlier.

ernestogoldstein
ernestogoldstein

Yeah, and that guy with the headdress in the village people is a REAL asshole, then.

 

I personally take offense with the construction worker--how dare they!

mandeeguns
mandeeguns

@skinheadrob paul would've never done that shit and i bet someones getting fired real quick. what a bunch of dumbasses

Prieto
Prieto

 @Guerro It's spelled "Guero", not Guerro. You should know.

TweetsNotTwits
TweetsNotTwits

@GustavoArellano Por Supuesto - I've been a fan since !Ask a Mexican!

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

 @indigenous_2 You got a link to those crime stats. The vast amount of rape is within the same race. I've looked into interracial rape and the only easily available stats are for black and white perps and victims. According to victimization surveys, whites almost never rape blacks, in many years the incidents of white on black rape is statistically 0 (that is, crime victimization survey's turn up zero cases -- though there might be a few nationwide.

 

The reverse is not true, while black males rape black females most frequently, but also rape white females at non-trivial rates. 

 

With whites males raping blacks so infrequently, it is hard to believe they (we) are raping a lot of indians.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @fernrichardson PLEASE tell us how this isn't racist. Also? Your use of the Irish is specious—surely, they taught you better logic at Chapman!

AngelaC
AngelaC

 @fernrichardson As a "privileged white woman in America," your opinion on racism is VERY important. No, this isn't racist at all... they're only appreciating the culture stolen and destroyed by the so-called "discoverers" of America, so much so that it's a costume and a trend now. And the headdress was so totally just a trend among the native people. You're right, this isn't racist.

fernrichardson
fernrichardson

And if I had any grammatical education at all, I would have written, "Eh...this is hardly racism. No more so than dyeing rivers green and drinking Irish Car Bombs on St. Patrick's Day is racist."

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @ernestogoldstein You, a construction worker? Betcha the only thing hard your hand has held in its life was lingam...

indigenous_2
indigenous_2

 @Mitchell_Young  @indigenous_2  Mitchell, thank you for your interest.

I'll provide you with links to information that may help. .

The first link is contains data gathered from 1992-1996 and published in a report entitled "American Indians and Crime" from the US Dept of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

 http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/aic.pdf

 

2nd link is for data gathered from 1992-2002 - same title, report and same publisher, same source: US Dept of Justice.

http://www.justice.gov/otj/pdf/american_indians_and_crime.pdf

 

Recommended reading is a May,2012  NY Times article "For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice" 

http://nyti.ms/LppjAN

 

Thank you. Best wishes.

fernrichardson
fernrichardson

 @GustavoArellano I guess not. Although in all fairness, Cal State Northridge should have to take part of the blame. I know I am a privileged white woman living in America whose opinion no longer matters, but crying wolf over every tiny thing just isn't going to get my panties in a wad. If you go into any clothing or home goods store you'll see tons of stuff inspired by various cultures. Is the current "African" home goods trend racist? Why is dressing up in a Native American inspired costume racist but promoting the idea that Irish people are all drunks perfectly OK? To me, people cross the line when they promote a negative stereotype of an ethnic group, like the kids dressing up as gangsters for a Mexican-themed school event. But stupid fashionistas wearing colorful feathers in their hair, getting drunk, and talking about how much they have to exercise and starve themselves to fit into their size 0 outfits...not so much.

909Jeff
909Jeff

 @GustavoArellano  @ernestogoldstein

 All I'm sayin is if this is racist then the next time I see an Injun iwearing board shorts, a wife beater, and a flat billed trucker hat, I'm gonna be pissed!

gabrielsanroman
gabrielsanroman topcommenter

 @fernrichardson  @GustavoArellano Read the open letter from Adrienne K of the great Native Appropriations blog (nativeappropriations.blogspot.com)  if you sincerely want answers to your questions from an Indigenous perspective.

 

fernrichardson
fernrichardson

 @GustavoArellano Perhaps the fact that you're so upset that Paul Frank had his clothes hangers parading around in neon feathers is the proof of the sad state of consciousness in this country? Since my BA and JD haven't properly expanded my mind to understand, could you please explain in terms that even dumb white girls can understand, how exactly models wearing head dresses that look like something out of a kindergarten Thanksgiving play at all insults the whole "pinche tribe?" And again, acknowledging my dumb white girl status, I thought there was more than one group of Native Americans? Which group, exactly, was demoralized by models wearing feathers in their hair?

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @fernrichardson I'm glad you at least acknowledge that the Canyon High fiasco was racist, but people parading around as Indians is patronizing at best—and that you can't understand why Native folks would be offended shows just how sad the state of consciousness is in this country. As for the Irish jibe: please. It's a tired canard gabachos trot out whenever they want in on the victim game as well, and it doesn't work. St. Patrick's Day celebrants stereotype the Irish as much as they do Mexicans during Cinco de Mayo, which is to say they stereotype drunk Irish and not the whole pinche tribe

Lunachick00
Lunachick00

 @fernrichardson  @AngelaC Fern, the days of white folks deciding what people of colour will do and think are so OVER, honey. We get to decide what is offensive to our cultures, not you. 

ernestogoldstein
ernestogoldstein

 @GustavoArellano Perhaps it is you that is the "pendejo" who must lash out at others from your insecurity and inferiority complex in order to feel good about yourself, but good luck with all of that....

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @ernestogoldstein Any idiot can see you're a pendejo, so it's not like I'm raising myself to intellectual heights 'round here...

ernestogoldstein
ernestogoldstein

 @GustavoArellano  Gustavo, the fact that I see you for the complete idiot YOU are speaks of my intellect. And who the fuck are you to go around judging who is smart and who isn't? You are such a dumbass: yeah, take a hot dog and wrap a piece of bacon around it and it's mexican food. What a fucking maroon you are. TROLL.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @ernestogoldstein You, a construction worker? All the ones I know are smart, so that immediately disqualifies you.

ernestogoldstein
ernestogoldstein

 @GustavoArellano  The truth that I've done construction work most of my life? Yeah, I've got gnarly arthritis in my hands and fingers from swinging hammer so long.  The REAL question is why is Gustavo always obsessed with homosexual thoughts. There is nothing wrong with your being gay, Gustavo--it's pretty much accepted in today's society. 

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