Ec2 - Movie Review Example

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Native American-based mascots have been part of American sports teams, but University of Illinois Art graduate student Charlene Teters questioned this widely-accepted practice. Teters, a Native American, had her first encounter with University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek…
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October A Movie Review of Rosenstein’s In Whose Honor The (Dis)Honor of Indian Mascots Native American-based mascots have been part of American sports teams, but University of Illinois Art graduate student Charlene Teters questioned this widely-accepted practice. Teters, a Native American, had her first encounter with University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek during a basketball game. When she saw that the Chief was not a caricature, but rather, a true person, and that her young children sank in their seats because of embarrassment, she realized the wrongness of using Native American symbols and personalities as mascots. Jay Rosenstein captures Teters’ growing movement in the documentary In Whose Honor?: American Indian Mascots in Sports. Rosenstein balances views by using short video clips of interviews with different stakeholders to portray the divisive issue of using Native American identities and symbols in sports teams, though it is clear that the director favors the complete removal of such sports practices because they undermine the integrity of Native American identity and history.
Rosenstein strives to provide a balanced view of the “honor” involved in using Native American nicknames and characters as sports mascots. He uses interviews with different alumni, trustees, fans, and former Chief Illiniweks in the documentary. For instance, though the mainstay is Teters, Rosenstein also obtains the views of University of Illinois alumni and Board of Trustees because they also have a stake on the issue. Ken Boyle, University of Illinois Trustee, stresses in the documentary that he does not consider Chief Illiniwek as a “mascot,” but as part of the “tradition and heritage” of the university (In Whose Honor?). Rosenstein does not just focus on the voice of Teters and other Native Americans, but also includes as many voices needed to explore the complexity of the issue. Furthermore, Rosenstein explains why using Indian names and characters are wrong through Teters and other Native Americans’ point of views. Teters argues that universities should not use Native American mascots and nicknames because she sees a “mascot” as a symbol of control and ownership. Dennis Tibbetts, an American Indian counselor, agrees with Teters because to have a chief as a form of “entertainment” is a “mockery” because it is not a “caricature” (In Whose Honor?). A caricature means that the mascot is not real, but using a real person connects the mascot to the Native American identity. Hence, the film demonstrates that a Native American mascot dishonors Native Americans.
Despite the balanced sources of information, it is clear that Rosenstein supports Teters and Native Americans in their plight. By showing examples of universities that have dropped the use of Native American mascots and nicknames, the film stresses that even the mainstream is beginning to agree with Teters. Still, the University of Illinois shows remarkable opposition to removing the Chief in its sports system. Moreover, through interviews with the trustees, Rosenstein underlines the racial meaning of this resistance, where the University values its control over Native American identity because it disregards the voice of the minority who are legitimate owners of that identity. When the Board of Trustees also mentions the possibility of losing funding if the Chief is removed in the sports system, the documentary shows them as people who have a superficial sense of heritage, since they value sponsorship more than correcting their culturally insensitive practices.
The film is highly recommended to high school and college students because it contextualizes the issue of Native American honor. It talks about Native American voices, experiences, and history, thereby enriching students’ understanding of American identity and history. Furthermore, students can learn more about criticizing diverse issues and exploring the implications of manufactured minority identities through mascot practices. I specifically enjoyed the film because I understand Teters’ point. It is a racial slur to consider racial identity as a mascot. It may not be a racial slur to whites, but it is for Native Americans. And for that, the film is correct- it is not honorable to honor Native Americans by turning them into aggressive and competitive sports mascots.
Work Cited
Rosenstein, Jay. In Whose Honor?: American Indian Mascots in Sports. United States: New Day Films, 1997. Documentary. Film. Read More
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