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31 Aug, 2019 04:48

Internet loses its mind over ‘racist’ Dior perfume ad featuring Johnny Depp & Native American dancer

Internet loses its mind over ‘racist’ Dior perfume ad featuring Johnny Depp & Native American dancer

Dior has pulled posts promoting its ‘Eau Sauvage’ men’s perfume after a new ad for the fragrance triggered the PC cyber police. The ad’s unspeakable crime? Featuring a Native American grooving to Johnny Depp’s guitar.

A clip of the promotion, called ‘We are the Land’, was posted on Dior’s social media accounts on Friday. The teaser shows Depp, clad in a poncho, shredding on an electric guitar as a Native American, decked out in full ceremonial garb, performs a tribal dance.

In an apparent attempt to preempt internet outrage over alleged ‘cultural appropriation’, Dior noted that the spot was filmed with the help of Native American consultants. In a caption to a now-deleted Instagram post, the company wrote that the film was made in “close collaboration” with Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) “in order to respect Indigenous cultures, values and heritage.”

However, what some would argue was the brand’s attempt at preemptive damage control did little to help Dior escape the internet’s wrath, spurred by accusations of cultural appropriation and outright racism.

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Many took issue with the French name of the fragrance, ‘Sauvage’ which can be translated into English in several ways, including ‘wild’, ‘unspoiled’, ‘unsociable’, ‘savage’, and ‘fierce’.

The majority of those incensed over the campaign, however, presumed the most obvious (which is not always correct), while pointing to the uncanny similarity between the word ‘sauvage’ and the English ‘savage’.

“Using Native American people and imagery to market a cologne whose name means ‘Savage’ is completely out of pocket,” a user wrote in one of the most-shared tweets.

“There’s no way in hell that Dior didn’t know that it was inappropriate to equate Native Americans as savages. They know what they’re doing. It’s purposeful,” another chimed in.

Some members of the indigenous community have joined the criticism, with one Twitterer, who identifies as a member of a Seminole Tribe, accusing the Hollywood star and the long-time face of the perfume of “profiting off a racist reference.”

In fact, it’s possible that Dior knew that the video would enrage the politically correct hordes lurking on social media – thus increasing the ad’s reach.

“Our aim was hopefully that the controversy would do exactly what it’s done on social media and raise people’s awareness,” AIO executive director Laura Harris told AP.

There were also those who came to Depp’s and Dior’s defense, noting that the perfume is said to have been inspired by Christian Dior’s friend, Australian fashion publicist Percy Savage, hence its peculiar name. ‘Eau Sauvage’ was introduced by the perfumery line of the famed fashion house back in 1966, long before the online cultural wars began.

Others argued that neither the creators of the ad, nor Depp – an honorary member of the Comanche Nation since 2013 – did anything wrong, with the ad itself being a powerful homage to Native Americans.

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