Monday, February 16, 2009

My visual aid for this story is lamer than usual; I apologize for that. But I hope you are able to get the gist of the advertisement (surreptitiously captured at this pathetic resolution by cell phone on the bus), for it encapsulates well a bit of European culture. 


The ad is for some sort of cold medicine. The man in the photo is Native American – not sure whence he hails, but Peruvian Indians seem to be a special favorite around here – he is wearing a leather vest and large shell necklace. He holds a box of medicine next to his face and stares ahead stolidly. The text above his head reads "The Indian does not know sickness." 

As a cultural outsider, I very well may be missing something here, because I don't really understand. If Indians don't even know sickness, why do we trust their judgment on cold medicine? Or are they saying Indians don't know sickness because they are always taking this medicine? (Did I just uncover a large medical conspiracy?) A third option, I suppose, is that the drug company stole the idea for this treatment from some Indians and are now using its origin to promote the product. In any case, "the Indian" is evidently a cultural authority here. 

I do not employ the term "European culture" (as if there was one) lightly, but I feel it might be appropriate in this instance. I think it is safe to say that Indians (and their friends, the cowboys) occupy an special place in the imagination of Western Europe at least. Someone's putting them in special museum exhibits, in photo galleries, and on TV.  Someone's using them to sell products and political ideas. Someone's listening to all those Native American bands on the streets across Europe. And (especially in the last case) it isn't us. 

8 comments:

Healthy Indian said...

Your photo would be of a much higher quality if someone in your family owned an iPhone.

Swiss Ms. said...

Also if I were not trying to sneakily take it over the big white hair in front of me or the lighting was better or the bus was going slower.... What's your point Healthy Indian?

Strong Indian said...

I think that Healthy Indian is just trying to say that the iPhone would make your life a lot easier. Surely someone at your house would like to have one. Surely you would like to have one...

Swiss Ms. said...

Did Steve Jobs put you up to this, Indians?

Wise Indian said...

I don't know anything about Steve's Jobs. If he lives in the US he probably doesn't have one anymore.

Don't discount the sage advice of Wise Indian: iPhone will increase readership in your blog 10 fold.

Indian's Companion - COWBOY said...

This here Cowboy agrees with my Buddy Indian. IPhones will bring great Joy into your Life.

Swiss Ms. said...

Well, with all of the Old West supporting it, I guess I must pay this Gadget some careful consideration.

Nerd Indian said...

I have to disagree with all my brothers and our sometimes ally COWBOY: The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the unquestioned leader in Indian photography.