Shrine Circus official says archery act will be modified
CALGARY (CP) - A performance by the Shrine Circus has drawn criticism from some aboriginals in the Calgary area.
Vitals Crossbows is an act consisting of a precision archer and his assistant dressed in ceremonial feather headdress, tapping their mouths and clowning
about to music that might have come from a spaghetti western.
Jason EagleSpeaker said he took a group of youths and elders to the show and some left fighting back tears.
''(The performers) began dancing with the moves of every native I have ever seen on those old Bugs Bunny cartoons and shaking to a drumbeat straight out
of old Hollywood,'' EagleSpeaker said.
''There has never been a time in my short life where I was surrounded by such a joyful crowd, while at the same time (I would) turn to the elders I was
with and see tears in their eyes.''
He said the buffoonery displayed on stage was likely unintended, but the nature of the act is something the circus and the Shriners should have considered
before displaying it to an audience.
''This type of mock powwow outfits and dancing is highly offensive to most Blackfoot people in this area,'' he said.
''We have worked hard to overcome stereotypes such as these and to have them used for entertainment is a difficult message to tolerate ... the era for that
form of entertainment is definitely long gone.''
Larry Solheim, general manager of the Shrine Circus, said the archery act is new to the circus. He said it's the first time any concerns regarding the act
had been brought to the organization's attention.
''We have noted their concern and will be making our best efforts to modify as best we can for this year,'' he said.
''In addition, we have made detailed notes to avoid similar situations in the future. We are a family-owned business, and because of that we are very sensitive
to produce family-oriented entertainment - it is certainly not our intention to be offensive.''
That pisses me off. I wasn't planning on going anyways because I don't agree with circus' use of animals in the show, but now I'm definitely glad I never did. I don't need to, neither does my son, see this kind of bullshit racism. I don't care if they've modified the show, from what I've heard they're not planning on pulling the native aspect of it, just not making SUCH a mockery of it. The 'blackface' style of media is not acceptable, my culture is not up for grabs to be made fun of in a comedy routine. It makes me sad that aboriginals in the audience stormed out in tears.
You can email the company TZ Productions who is the company who puts on the circus here:
, let them know you think it's unacceptable and instead of modifying the act it should be pulled entirely until it can be done in a way that focuses on archery without an aspect of native culture exploitation, and that it's disappointing that a company as large as TZ Productions would put on a Shrine Circus without recognizing what is and what is not blatantly racist, and that you do not condone the use of 'blackface' antics for entertainment.
I'd also suggest contacting or cc'ing the circuses sponsors:
CityTV: http://www.citytv.com/calgary/3876_contactus.aspx (general contact us form)
Deerfoot Outlet Mall:
Calgary Sun: http://rapids.canoe.ca/cgi-bin/reg/NR-cust_service.pl?MODE=CUSTOMER_SERVICE&LOOK=CALSUN (general contact us form)