Monday, September 14, 2009

The New Endangered Species

"Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality"
by Drew Hayden Taylor
ISBN No. 978-1-55365-276-2

"The White Guy: A Field Guide"
by Stephen Hunt
ISBN No. 978-1-55365-302-8

Remember that line from "Annie Hall" when Carol Kane tells Woody Allen she loves being reduced to a cultural stereotype? Well, it's 1977 all over again - but with a big twist. In the ensuing thirty years the stereotypes have either crystallized or caved in.
"Me Sexy" is the progressive title. This is an honest, unflinching and surprisingly well-researched argument about viewing the native man and woman in a hot new light (the cover of the book is of a native man in a pulp romance clench with a fair-skinned woman). What makes the book's plea for a re-think of native culture so palpable is the humour with which it's all written about - along with some things you probably never, ever thought about. There are chapters about indigenous erotica and sexually provocative Inuit art in this book that will have you looking at soapstone in a whole new light.
"The White Guy" is the dark side of cultural stereotyping, onein which the white man is seen as Satan. Stephen Hunt does a great job blaming white men for every conceivable ill of the world - and then some. He studies their leisure habits, their quirks, their likes and dislikes - and then blames them some more. It's a witty piece of work, owing much of its existence to that bible of whitebread stereotyping anthropology, "The Official Preppy Handbook" that was published two or three decades back and treated wealthy whites as some sort of exotic species and studied their shopping and mating habits. Considering that, "The White Guy" should feel dated but weirdly it doesn't. It's a credit to Hunt that his book seems like both a topical episode of "Wild Kingdom" as well as a starting point for the inevitable snappy sequel.