Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Don Armando’s Rhumba Band, “I’m An Indian Too”

This 1979 mutant-disco reinterpretation of a song from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun arguably queers the offensiveness out of it, and arguably doesn’t. The original has its roots in the ethnic-masquerade/hate-comedy of vaudeville and minstrelsy that Berlin partook in, early in his career – which likewise may include maneuvers of self-assertion and not just exploitation. (Cf Bert Williams; cf Jewface.) Many a toxic parasite haunts these borderlines between mockery and camp. But it’s sure hard to inoculate against this infectiously incorrect arrangement.

(Thanks to Sholem Krishtalka and Anthony Easton for the Facebook tip.)


Filed under carl wilson, music, Tuesday Musics

2 responses to “Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Don Armando’s Rhumba Band, “I’m An Indian Too”

  1. aceterri

    I wouldn’t call Annie Get Your Gun late in Berlin’s career — it was his last hit show, and while he survived into the 80s, he was pretty much done as a composer by the 50s, when the exoticization and infantilization of non-WASP culture for mass audience consumption was still going quite strong, even if it wasn’t as openly cruel as it had been in the vaudeville era. (But then as No Doubt showed just this month, it’s still hard for a lot of people to grasp that it’s possible to be cruel to indigenous Americans, because they locate them so entirely in a glamorized, ahistorical past.)

  2. I’m a little confused, aceterri: I only referred to vaudeville as being early in Berlin’s career – I didn’t call Annie Get Your Gun “late.” Maybe my syntax was unclear? Also it seems like you’re making the argument that it *was* late, in his career though not in his life, though you start out saying the opposite. Did you mistype?