Jena Malone Drops Her Song ‘Indian Giver’, A Phrase She Really Should Have Googled

Jena Malone looking around creepily GIFCongratulations to Jena Malone, who released a song and a video today! But I have to follow that up with an immediate un-congratulations, because for some insane reason, she titled it ‘Indian Giver’.

Seriously? Is there not a single celebrity on the face of the earth who knows how to Google something other than their own name? The phrase ‘Indian giver’ is used to mean someone who gives a gift that they have no intention of letting someone keep. They give you something but then want it back, which is how the first European settlers interpreted the behavior of the native tribes they encountered in America. The Native American custom of gift-giving differed from the European custom in that it wasn’t one-sided; if a gift was given, something of equal value was expected to be offered in return. Basically it was a trade, but because the settlers misunderstood the interactions, the phrase came to be synonymous with ‘shady business dealing’.

So just to catch you up, the phrase that Jena used as the title for her song is not only dated and offensive, but wholly inaccurate. Like the word ‘Oriental’, which described Asia and its inhabitants from a (literal) Western perspective, the phrase is an antiquated example of Anglo-centrism, and the fact that Jena used it for the name of a song doesn’t mean that she’s automatically labeled a racist, but it does betray her ignorance on the topic.

And unfortunately, she’s hardly alone in that regard. We’re having a weird insurgence right now of shitting on Native Americans. If celebrities aren’t aren’t actively insulting their history like Jena did, they’re appropriating the culture by wearing headdresses everywhere from their Twitter photo to the cover of ELLE. It’s 2014, you guys. Get yourself an internet connection.

(Image: Tumblr)

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    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Wouldn’t be a crushable day if one of the authors didn’t unleash the PC Police!

    • Isabelle

      I’m guessing she knows what it means….

    • itpainsme2say

      Im really having a hard time figuring out why your mad

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Did you happen to read the post?

      • itpainsme2say

        yes yes i did and i can see why YOU are mad but i think most people wount be because its a phrase everyone uses to describe one specific thing that has no other name. I also think the continued use is a reminder of how misconception/ misunderstandings can effect people far in the future so we should all work on being understanding. Like one of those history should never be forgotten type things if that makes sense in this case it would be lets not forget how supper judgy the europeans were

    • Mlg555

      I guess people don’t think it’s important to get upset when celebs do something like this. Im not Indian but I am a native Ojibway aboriginal person. I guess maybe people don’t know enough native people or have ever met a native person. So they still think of us as a character or a costume you can buy, they still have that old time view of us. It’s not ok to dress up like a black person or a Asian person so why is it ok to do so with native people? Here’s a clue it’s not. We should respect all cultures and all people. Equality for all as they say.

      • Isabelle

        I’m related to. Native Americans and know others who are Native American at least partially and know that they dress like “normal people” and go to school/ work etc like you or I. I also took a couple anthropology classes and loved it and understood the importance of respecting peoples beliefs without judgement of whether or not it was “right”. But I also don’t feel the need to get upset about every little thing like which word is used where. And offensive or not there are going to be nasty people everywhere, there is no way we as a society are going to get rid of them no matter how PC we get.

    • krittabug

      Did no one else care to notice that the song is terrible? Who cares what it’s called?

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        The fact that it’s terrible is the least of my worries. But yes, you’re correct. It’s abysmal.

      • krittabug

        Well right, of course. But I’m just physically stuck at the part about it being truly, truly the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Dammit Johanna Mason.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Just heart-breakingly bad.

      • ernest schoenmakers

        I’ve seen better performances of her, but i’ve to agree with you to a certain extent. This is really a stab in my heart being her biggest fan when it comes to her acting and i know she can do better than this. Is Jena really ignorant using the title Indian Giver, not knowing that it’s a racist term, well i know she’s smart but with this she maybe was mistaking.

      • Ria

        I’m listening to it now and cannot stop laughing! It is really, really bad.