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Killing “Mia,” or: Icons Away!

In We know iconography when we see it! Forum on December 10, 2021 at 2:15 pm

Say her name!

Just ahead of its 100th anniversary, Land O’Lakes retired the iconic American Indian beauty who for decades adorned its packaging.  She wasn’t just an attractive Indian maiden targeted by the Maoist culture assassins bent on rubbing out every vestige of Americana. She had a name! It was Mia. And Mia was not some confected fantasy of randy Madison Avenue Caucasians peddling sex in beads and buckskins, no– Mia, at least by derivation, was a full-blooded Ojibwe Indian. Mia was originally  rendered by artist  Arthur C. Hanson, and first graced product labels in 1928.

Patrick DesJarlait, well known cubist and bona fide Ojibwe.

In 1955, however, the iconic Indian was painstakingly revamped for authenticity by celebrated fine-artist and member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation, Patrick DesJarlait.  Mia’s bead patterns and her dress’s floral motifs were brought into conformity with actual natve designs. Her visage was softened and her overall appearance rendered less severe and more carefully detailed. And so she remained until the cockamamie year of 2020 when her company’s philistinic executives gave Mia the tomahawk chop.

This is definitely not the actual artwork, but illustrative of the fact that Land O’Lakes moved to the lady’s upper half in recent labeling–possibly to prevent that unseemly business with the knees.

It was always about our farmer-owners…

In a company statement released earlier this year, Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford described the change in design that scrapped Mia as “reflective of the foundation and heart of our company culture—and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products.” [CEO Ford surely meant to say “whose cows’ milk,” but lacked time for clarification.]

White maiden with hair of gold show path forward.

What Ford was trying to say is that like practically every other major American corporation approached by the pitchfork-and-torch bearers of woke culture, her company performed a well known bodily function and produced a brick. Ford was cloaking her corporate pusillanimity in the woke-appropriate veneer of family farming, which could mean a lot of things and at best deserves unanimous support, but in this case brings joy mainly to the hearts of Volvo-driving liberals exhibiting such absurdly apodictic bumper stickers as “NO FARMS NO FOOD,” or the cloyingly sanctimonious “IF YOU’VE EATEN TODAY THANK A FARMER!”

Yipes!

In other words, Land O’ Lakes like much of America may have lost touch with its origins, but at least its gone green, along with thousands of Volvo owners who have in common mainly their autos, their bumper-sticker hauteur, and their utter lack of farming experience.

“Our farmer-owners” are proud to replace Mia–which should be obvious from the fact they are mainly standing arms akimbo.

“Almost empowerment…”

On his Facebook page, Robert DesJarlait, Patrick’s son, made the point that many Ojibwe people shared a very different perspective  of Mia. “Basically, it was giving the previous generation a sense of almost empowerment to see a Native woman on a box of butter. It gave them a sense of cultural pride. After seeing those posts, I said, ‘that’s right, that’s why my dad created this image to begin with’.”

DesJarlait Sr. at work in his studio.

No matter, of course. The PC battalions stormed the barricades, and the corporate defenders scattered like dry leaves in the autumn wind. Pride of place for asininity surely goes to State Rep. Ruth Buffalo who thundered that Mia walked “hand-in-hand with human and sex trafficking of our women and girls … by depicting Native women as sex objects.” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan was effusive. “Thank you, Land O’Lakes, she gushed, “for making this important and needed change!” 

Why’d ya do it, Mia?

...heh,heh!…

Mia’s evident criminal proclivities were not lost on Kevin Dragseth. Writing for TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) the blatantly woke Dragseth explains that “High-visibility incidents of racial trauma in recent years, including a horrifying epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women across North America, put such cultural artifacts under a very high-powered microscope. “Mia…seemed increasingly out of her element in a society actively wrestling with structural racism, white-centered narratives and perspectives, and cultural appropriation.” Goodness…take a breath, Dragseth! Maybe the most appealing aspect of Mia was her evident aloofness from all that junk–and besides, WOOF awaits without particular expectation the first violent sex offender to tell arresting officers, “I couldn’t help myself –it was that girl on the butter box!”

Now that the Buffalo’s gone…

That anyone had much time to sensibly consider the implications of Mia’s rapid undoing seems unlikely, however, It shouldn’t have required a battery of Mensas to foresee the imagery inherent in dragging the comely maiden from her product containers while leaving behind DesJarlait’s bucolic depiction of the confluence of the Red Lake and the Narrows–which the artist intended as a further tribal tribute. Instead, without Mia’s benign presence, we are left with an ironic impression of usurpation– or as our youngest WOOFketeer (age 12), put it: “It looks like they drove off the Indian, but kept her land!”

Vintage Land O’Lakes serving tray–wish we had one!

Why the errant hostility toward poor Mia–surely aberrant among those who claim to revere her peoples and traditions, and odder still when directed against the work of a recognized Native American artist whose paintings are highly valued. Of course, Mia’s tragic discomfiture is by no means the end of the matter!

The only good icon is a dead icon!

The Washington Redskins named themselves in the year 1933 in honor of beloved coach William  Henry “Lonestar” Deitz, who boasted of his Indian heritage (which is now deemed exaggerated by critics) and to avoid confusion with the Boston Braves with whom, in those days, they shared Fenway Park.

“Lonestar” sure looks like an Indian!

Emerging from the 1960s, civil rights protesters and at least one sizable “Native American advocacy group” became vocal in their abhorrence of the moniker. Support for the name “Redskins” came from the team’s owners, the NFL Commissioner, and almost the the entire fan bass including a good many Indians who insisted the name honored the integrity and courage of Native Americans. Certainly that was accurate perceptually, since nobody, regardless of ancestry, is apt to root for a team named The Washington Racial Scapegoats.

Lexicography for the masses…

Anonymous lexicographer ponders the issue.

Lexicographers split politically, one side pointing to the team’s name as a direct translation of names the American Indians used to describe themselves, and others howling that it was probably all mistranslated by biased waischu.  Former team president Bruce Allen argued that an identical name was attached to at least three high school teams, which might have counted for little, except that two of them were situated on reservations.

Stats Wars...

When Supporters pointed to a national poll by Annenberg Public Policy Center showing negligible objection to the name by American Indians, fifteen “Native American scholars” were produced, unanimously of the opinion that the survey was hopelessly flawed and proved nothing beyond the prevalence of “white privilege and colonialism.” 

William Butler Yeats was a famous Irish poet, (for those of you in Rio Linda).

That said, when the The Washington Post published a poll in 2016 that duplicated the central question posed in 2004, and yielded an identical result, UC Berkeley felt obligated to conduct its own poll and determined that 49% of its Native American responders found the name offensive.  Again, the battle went ultimately to the virtue signalers, whose voices yammer incessantly against the center, which, as Yeats noted long ago, cannot hold.

“Battlin’ Bob Costa–or: Does sanctimony give you pink eye?

No William Butler Yeats, but rather the more pipsqueak-ish  Bob Costa famously postured his way through a 2-minute mid-game diatribe against the Redskins, calling the name “an insult, a slur…” and  vowing never again to enunciate it during his NBC sportscasts. Despite the high probability that nobody apart from his co-workers and a sprinkling of audience liberals and his mother cared about anything he said on the subject, Costa was hailed as “courageous,” and “unafraid” by his frothy compeers who seemed in awe of his boldness on a topic that might, at worst, fetch him a kick in the shins from an irate eight-year old.  Still In its preposterous way, the Costa rant and Berkeley’s outlying data seemed to tilt the matter toward the Maoist revisionists.                                          

Native American protests fist sprang up in the late 1600s.

And now the Redskins are no more. Instead we have the nameless team…a vagabond collection of NFL players representing the nation’s capital without an official identity. Liberalism, having struck, leaves once again a vacuum in its self-righteous wake. Fans have risen to the occasion by suggesting potential appellations, but so far none seems particularly inspired. In fact, the Appellations might serve the purpose no less dubiously. Here are the leading entries thus far: 

      The: 

  • Defenders.
  • Red Hogs                   

    The Senators? But that was the name of their loser baseball team! And the M for “Monuments” is upside down, people!

  • Armada.
  • Presidents.
  • Brigade.
  • Commanders.
  • Red Wolves.
  • Aviators
  • Wild Hogs
  • Monarchs
  • Aviators– (and our personal favorite so far):
  • Washington Football Team

And we didn’t make any of those up, either. The only decent name, if you ask us, is the Red Wolves–and you just know some American Indian named Red Wolf is itching to file suit if it gets picked. Come to think of it, Red Hogs may be unsafe as well!

Ben gone!

From 1946 to 2020, Uncle Ben’s visage beamed proudly from parboiled rice products originally developed for soldiers during World War II. An elderly Black man of stately countenance, Ben seemed an unlikely racial target, but in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2017, Ben’s distinguished bearing, tuxedo,, and bow tie were not sufficient to ward off accusations of racism from (mainly white) critics in media, and the usual assortment of racial advocacy groups seeking microphones.

We bet McLuhan never said “Kafkaesque!”

Long ago media critic Marshall McLuhan said “America is a place where people beat up the peanut vendor when their team loses,” and truer words were never spoken. Insensate police reaction leads to the senseless death of a Black man accused of passing a fake 20 dollar bill, and who catches the brunt of reaction? Uncle Ben and a host of other beloved marketing icons. The illogic is virtually Kafkaesque, gentle readers, and that’s an adjective we use only when compelled by extreme circumstances.

Looking for Uncle Ben….

The other Uncle Ben.

Some say Uncle Ben was based on a Chicago maître d’hôtel named Frank Brown. According to Mars, the corporation under whose penumbra Ben’s products are marketed, “Uncle Ben was an African-American rice grower known for the quality of his rice.” Ironically, entrepreneur Gordon L. Harwell, a principal in supplying parboiled rice to G.I.s during WWII, may have invented Ben’s name and image as a “a means to expand his marketing efforts” when his product became available to the general public—a nod to inclusivity in Harwell’s era that exclusively earns umbrage in our own.  At any rate, Ben’s image is gone, and so is his famous specifier, because “uncle” transpires to be a term used by White southern bigots (except, one assumes, when applied to Spiderman’s uncle–who was himself a bit stereotypical).

You say you want some evolution…

Mars, the company that currently makes Uncle Ben’s rice, explained Uncle Ben’s disappearance as the company’s acknowledgement of its “responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices.” “Now,” Mars insisted, “is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.” And they did. They got rid of the Black guy.

Original box, pre-Floyd box, new box–just plain Ben, no Blacks allowed.        READ MORE!

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