Zine Review: The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018

The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018
Joey Clift
Illustrations: Janet Myer

The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018 is a black and white (with a full-colour cover) half-fold comedy satire zine in the form of a fashion catalogue. Inside, Joey takes a look at all the ridiculous ways Native Americans are represented in the media.

From the back cover…

“The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog has all the fashion tips you need to be the only type of American Indian that white society will allow you to be: a racist caricature.”

I think humour can be great way to address a lot of things in a non-threatening way. I knew that Joey was going to hit this right on the head from the front cover with one of the ‘headlines’ on the cover reading: Is It Possible to be “Native at Heart”? with the subtitle responding: “No! Stop asking.”

I grew up in Wisconsin, a place where Native American stereotypes are rife, and the picture of the ‘Land O Lakes Butter Maiden’ on the back cover put me right back there. Of course, when I was very young, I didn’t understand what a stereotype was or even that not all Native American tribes weren’t the same. Therein lies the danger of perpetuated stereotypes in media.

But I’m getting off track. The zine!

Joey pokes at the media stereotypes from the start. Page one features an illustration of ‘Iron Eyes Cody’ and, like any good fashion catalogue, placing numbers on the image so people can pick out what they like and find out more about it below. (The very process taking a poke at appropriating other cultures, don’t you think?) Small notes for the ‘items’ are funny, but some also include facts. One being that ‘Iron Eyes Cody’ who played a Native American for decades was actually Italian.

The catalogue continues with a number of examples from the ‘$346.1 Million Box Office’ Rewrite of History so John Smith is the Good Guy item (because talking Disney trees!) to the “Conveniently ‘Discover’ Your Native Heritage for Career Purposes’ as modelled by Twilight move star Taylor Lautner.

In the way you can enjoy dark humour, this zine… Oh, this zine! Joey really gets right to the heart of it in a way that makes me laugh (many, many times out loud) in a sad way because I know there are people out there who still won’t get it. Every page I read, I thought, “this is my favourite”, and then I’d turn to find that the next page had to be my favourite.

In the end, I couldn’t decide. The Land O Lakes Butter Maiden has ties to my childhood, and the special note that Joey actually called up the company and the company sent him a pamphlet about how much they respect the image of the maiden and a coupon book for butter…

While I endeavour to make zine reviews about the zines and only the zines, but I did find it interesting that the author, Joey Clift, is a registered member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and works in the entertainment industry. Thus Joey knows all too well the lack of actual native culture has in media.

The sarcasm is thick and on point in this zine, and I absolutely adore it. (I even raved about it to Wanderer, which is always a good sign.) I could list off all the examples I like, but I’d end up just retyping the entire zine without the pleasure of the illustrations – which are excellent and fit the feeling of this zine perfectly.

Pick up a copy of this brilliant zine for some dark laughs and a reminder to take a closer look at the world – and the popular media – around you.

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