Patterico's Pontifications


Christian Dior’s Latest Ad For “Sauvage” Men’s Fragrance Under Attack

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:52 am

[guest post by Dana]

Taking a break from the dumb world of politics, let’s look at the dumb world of social justice. Specifically, the new, cringe-inducing Christian Dior ad for the men’s fragrance, Sauvage, starring Johnny Depp:

As you can imagine, the ad was attacked for cultural appropriation: Dior pulled the from YouTube within six hours of it being uploaded.

Dior is facing backlash for promoting its perfume line Sauvage with an advertisement featuring Native American imagery.

The fashion brand teased the ad, which stars actor Johnny Depp, on Twitter on Friday as “an authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory”. It has since deleted the tweet and all references to the campaign on social media.


Scholars and critics have responded that the campaign is racist and a clear cut case of appropriation.

“It is so deeply offensive and racist,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, CEO of the media watchdog group IllumiNative. “I don’t know how anyone in 2019 can think a campaign like this can go down well.”


The French name of the fragrance line translates to “wild” or “savage” in English.

“These types of tropes, these types of narratives about Native people as savages they do real harm,” Echo Hawk said. “And fuel racism.”

And more criticism:

“Honestly, I couldn’t help but laugh because this drips with irony – every single aspect of it,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, an environmental and economic justice group. “But I’m also upset and angry at the same time.”

The video “romanticized Native Americans as relics from the past”, Goldtooth said. “It’s deplorable that Dior thought this was appropriate.”

“It has huge connotations. ‘Sauvage’ was to say we were dirty, uncivilized, that we had no culture. So this is not good at all. This is a racial slur for any Indigenous French-speaking person,” said Melissa Mollen-Dupuis, the co-founder of Idle No More’s branch in Quebec.

“It’s as if they used the N-word to promote a perfume.”

But here’s the thing: Dior worked in collaboration with Native Americans on the project as well as having Native American fancy war dancer Canku One Star, a Rosebud Sioux, and Canadian actor Tanaya Beatty, descended from the Da’Naxda’xw Nation in British Columbia, appear in the ad. One can reasonably assume they were not forced to be in the ad, and that they were compensated at a fair rate of pay per the terms of their contracts. Also noted: Depp gives a nod to Shawnee guitarist Link Wray as he riffs on Wray’s well-known Rumble.


In Dior’s press notes, and in an accompanying behind-the-scenes video, the company pointed out that Depp and director Jean-Baptiste Mondino collaborated with Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), an advocacy group for Native American people, “in order to respect indigenous cultures, values and heritage.”

Adrienne Keene, [an assistant professor at Brown University, who writes the “Native Appropriations” blog and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation], points out that AIO was founded by LaDonna Harris, who, Keene wrote, “has worked tirelessly for Native folks throughout her career, and done incredible work.” Keene also notes that Harris courted controversy among Native Americans in 2012 by adopting Depp into her family, giving him a Comanche name, “Mah-Woo-Meh,” or “shape shifter.”

In reading about this kerfuffle, I noticed that a number of outlets neglected to mention that LaDonna Harris’s daughter, who is also AIO’s executive director, Laura Harris, said: “the [‘Sauvage’] name is the name, and we knew it would be controversial.”

Eyes wide open.

I know Indians who are offended by the ad because of the cultural appropriation. I’m not offended by it other than on an aesthetic level because it is some seriously over-the-top-cringe-inducing awfulness, primarily because of Johnny Depp. If the Dior people had been smart about this, they would have scratched everything – especially Depp – and simply presented the gorgeous Canku One Star dancing on the red cliffs. Now that would be a breathtaking ad.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

29 Responses to “Christian Dior’s Latest Ad For “Sauvage” Men’s Fragrance Under Attack”

  1. If you have an opportunity to attend a Native American pow-wow in your community (local university’s and reservations host them yearly), I highly recommend going. It’s a wonderful experience. There is traditional dancing (Grand Entry), which is just incredible to watch as is the music and drumming, beautiful handmade regalia worn by tribes from all over the nation, delicious fry bread, hand-crafted jewelry and other items from Indians, etc. It’s a great way to get familiar with the culture and its people.

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. It is no longer enough to include members of a protected class in the proccess; the gatekeepers, too, must be included – in this case, paid off. If Dior is paying attention, they will first check with everyone who complained and then relaunch an “approved” campaign.

    It is the new business environment.

    felipe (023cc9)

  3. I have done what you suggest, Dana, and agree that it is most worthwhile.

    felipe (023cc9)

  4. Glad to hear it, felipe. The Grand Entry is always amazing to watch, especially when seated up in the stands. Looking down on it is really quite an experience. Here is some video of a Grand Entry. Unfortunately, it’s not shot from above, so you can’t really see the intentional coil that is being formed by the dancers, but it gives you an idea of what it’s like.

    Dana (fdf131)

  5. Two observations: One, Depp played Tonto in a movie, so what’s the big deal? Two, his guitar riff isn’t acting; he knows what he’s doing.
    Dior should double down, just to piss off the complaining cultural Marxists.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  6. Ha, ha, ha! Good for them! There’s a thousand reasons why any group, not just American Indians, would not want to be associated with some poofter-boy perfume, promoted by some tatted-up overage poofter-boy actor, put out by some poofter French poofter-schlock purveyor for poofters.

    Heap plenty kudos to everyone who helped pull this coup and cauterize this fungal growth on the behind of Western culture before it spread, no matter what their reasons.

    nk (dbc370)

  7. Derp should be known by his Fugawi name… “Mook-Tan-O-Hi-She-Vitz”… he-she who piss away hunnerd million bucks on fruit of vine…

    Colonel Haiku (055db5)

  8. Heap plenty kudos

    Heh. ISWYDT.

    Dana (fdf131)

  9. For most of my life I’ve lived pretty close to Chicago’s American Indian Center, now gentrified out of that location and moved three miles North (which you have to admit was a historic inevitability), but I’ve only been there when I was looking for a book on Indian Crafts and Indian Lore, not for any events. Uptown, which the new center is closer too, was known as Chicago’s American Indian community but they might have been chased out of there by the condos and granolas too.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. I watched it yesterday, and wondered: Is the dance in a spectacular costume a beautiful part of a people’s heritage – or is it something they are all insulted to have associated with them or their ancestry?

    Radegunda (e6c209)

  11. Cultural appropriation is BS mind control. Just another form of PC. Fools listening to morons.

    NJRob (15b08d)

  12. My “all of the above” nephew, the product of my MexiRican cousin going to school along the MN/ND border meeting a girl who I think is part Lakota, have their kids do the pow wow dancing. But the most I’ve talked to them in recent years is to ask what they do with the braid when the oldest son went into the Marines last year.

    urbanleftbehind (d01544)

  13. I don’t know that I necessarily agree, NJRob. I think that cultural appropriation can be used with the intention of mocking and debasing a people and/or culture. I don’t think the Dior ad does that. It’s just stupid. I do, however, agree though that the pendulum has definitely swung toward the extreme.

    Dana (fdf131)

  14. Don’t ever make that fool forget he had Amber Heard and couldn’t tame that wonderful mare.

    urbanleftbehind (d01544)

  15. Hold my firewater.

    Munroe (33bad0)

  16. If the cheese-eating surrender monkeys want to promote la sauvagerie of their perfume (snicker), why don’t they use their own ancestors? The Gauls were headhunters and proud of it. They used to decorate their horses’ bridles and saddle straps with conchos each of which represented a head they had taken.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. Dana,

    And if it is, so what? Anyone coming here is hopefully trying to appropriate American culture. If not, why are they here?

    Sticks and stones, namecalling, 1st Amendment is for offensive speech.

    NJRob (15b08d)

  18. Personally I’m grateful that the leftists are eating each other as they always do. But they will still come for us in the end if we don’t stop them.

    NJRob (15b08d)

  19. It’s just stupid.

    Exactly. You see the Army renaming the Tomahawk missile or the Apache helicopter? Jeep the Cherokee or Dodge the Dakota? It’s not the cultural appropriation, it’s the use it’s put to.

    nk (dbc370)

  20. It took me a while but ” Men’s Fragrance” is like “after shave”. How many men would watch this commercial? Or is this a Gay Thiing? Or do women buy their men “fragrance”? Anyway, they did it better back in the old days:

    Old spice means quality;
    Said the Captain to the Bosun;
    look for the package;
    with the ship that sails the ocean.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  21. Silly Savage Depp ride many mares hard after they put away wet.

    Also, the boyish man is not known for meticulous personal hygiene…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  22. Uncorked bottles, and brand new cars
    Hey b*tch, you’re in my way
    There’s too much coke
    The man is broke
    His latest movies stink too
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of Depp surrounds you

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. This ad has been out for months. It’s probably time for a new one anyway, and cynically, I wonder if they decided to go for some increased publicity before they pulled it.

    Nic (896fdf)

  24. Mom and Dad hauled us kids over to see it a couple times.

    mg (8cbc69)

  25. This commercial should be pulled merely for Depp’s awful version of Link Wray’s fantastic “Rumble,” one of rock and roll’s greatest instrumentals.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  26. Although I suppose to be fair, Depp seems to be basing his version of the song on the way Link played it at the Winterland Ballroom in 1974.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  27. Thanks for linking that, JVW, I forgot to do so in the post and will do so now.

    Dana (fdf131)

  28. JVW (54fd0b) — 8/31/2019 @ 11:21 am

    Yeah! That’s from the opening of The Delicate Delinquent starring Jerry Lewis.

    felipe (023cc9)

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