So I wrote about that racy Renault ad for the Scenic not long ago. Shortly after that, I took a closer look at the other ad they’re running for the car and realized this one wouldn’t go over too big in the States either. Might offend a neighbor, or a martian, or a cat…


It seems benign enough, even sweet, till you see what’s going on outside the teepee:

No car companies would run this ad in Amerka. They would run screaming from the concept because they wouldn’t want to offend Native Americans (I am conditioned to use the PC term, being American, because being PC makes it all OK). That could hurt the bottom line. Even if Indians made up no more than 0.1% of their target market, they just wouldn’t want the inevitable bad press and lawsuits. (I pulled that number out of my ass, BTW). Who knows if it would even occur to them that it’s just plain wrong to make a game out of genocide? How many Americans give that any thought?

Those little bags of plastic cowboys and indians, and especially the toy soldiers give me the major creeps and always have. Don’t they? Plastic bag, bodies all piled this way and that. I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam war vividly… Fortunately, Trevor never expressed any interest in those toys when he was little. But one of the things you can count on in life is finding those little mass grave body bags in the toy row of your local pharmacy right next to the UNO, jigsaw puzzles, and Chinese jumprope. What does that say about us? Cowboys and Indians are OK. Why don’t they sell little plastic bags full of of Jews and Nazis? Soldiers? Why not little bags of slaves and masters? Mexicans and Border Patrol officers? That might be a big hit.

As for the French, our Old West history is part of their concept of the American mythology and they romanticize it, just like we romanticize lots of things about French history. They probably just find this ad charming. I don’t know if they go so far as to reflect on the implications of the cowboys and Indians game. Maybe, because it’s not their mess, they’re removed enough to just be able to enjoy the whole Western thing without any discomfort. But still, while I love the use of their slogan “More room for happiness” in the Barbie ad, I have a hard time reconciling killing and happiness, which is what this game’s about, after all.

I was bopping around to see if I could find a good picture of one of those body bags filled with little men and I found this guy’s site. This pretty much says it all:

A sad note – John from Long Island mentioned that kids don’t play cowboys and Indians any more – they don’t even know how to play it. When coaching a flag football team, he told kids that buckling on the protective gear was just like buckling on a belt for a six-shooter. His explanation went right over their heads. The kids had no concept of gun belts or cowboys. Supporting evidence was on the shelves of Toys R Us. Soldiers moved well enough, but the Western sets went almost untouched. In the 50s and 60s, the stores couldn’t restock them fast enough! Today, Western sets and cowboys and Indians languish on store shelves. As we say in New York, “Ya gotta wonder….”

“Ya gotta wonder” is right.

Ain’t that America?