Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Crying Indian

Between Facebook and YouTube it's like the '70s exploded in my head. I'm reconnecting with people I made sugar-cube igloos with in first grade and reliving the horrors of having a "Mrs. Beasley" in the house as a child. Watching the Chrissy and Velvet commercial, with it's poor-man's-Paul-Simon jingle, brought back painful memories of not being able to grow my hair long enough so I could sit on it.

But those are like aspirin compared to the heroin of all '70s commercials: The Crying Indian. I remember this commercial more clearly than any other minute of TV I’d watched as a child. Seeing it again some 30 years later made my brain feel like when you pull the coffee pot out too soon and the hot liquid starts pouring out onto the burner, sputtering and bubbling. It was as if long-severed neural pathways were reconnecting or something. If you are 38-44, watch with caution: Like a solar eclipse, this kind of powerful nostalgia can damage your retinas.

I think it’s so disturbing because I can clearly remember when it was okay to throw your garbage out your car window, or leave trash on a park bench, or drive with a can of Oly wedged between your legs (with all the drinking and driving that went on, you’d think cup holders would have been invented way earlier).

In sum: the ‘70s sucked on almost every level.

Post script: my husband just dug up a hilarious commercial about "Big Jim" and "Big Josh" that had to be made by out-of-work Tom of Finland designers.


Kimberly Derting said...

That was awesome, I'd totally forgotten about that commercial!

By the way, I nominated you for an I Heart Your Blog award on my blog yesterday. This just proves that I made a great pick!!!

Graeme Stone said...

I remember the poster more than the commercial. It is so depressing to think we have come almost nowhere in terms of pollution, energy efficiency, etc. I'm reading "The World Without Us," which is fascinating at the same time it's depressing. I'm also re-reading "Six Degrees Could Change the World." ditto on my review for it.

I've driven back and forth to my house in Kansas many, many times, and it's always through Indian country (well, what's now Indian country) and I always feel like a trespasser. I wonder how they must feel, how long they will be able to hang on to their culture, if they'll ever rebound at some point. I think nature is always waiting to rebound (check out the New Orleans video on the World Without Us website). I wonder if native peoples are waiting for the chance too.

Davis said...

Darling, the 70s did not suck. I don't think you can really blame the whole decade just because your mom wouln't buy you the right pair of San Francisco Riding gear or that you had difficulty mastering the sausage curl technique. Face it, you always felt more comfortable in the 80s, with big shoulder pads and lots of blue eye liner, and in general, with displays of conspicuous wealth that had a Dynasty-feel. That's all I'm sayin'.

Christy Raedeke said...

Kimberly - THANK YOU! What a wonderful gesture! I'm not worthy. Not even close to worthy.

Graeme - At least the Native Americans are now exploiting US with the whole casino thing. I love how successful those things are! Rob us blind, I say.

And Davis. Ah, Davis. I hate it when you are right.

Anonymous said...

Creepy. If memory serves me correctly, this commercial usually aired during after -school shows like Gilligan's Island or Bewitched. It would be dark and rainy outside, and my mother ironed next to the tv console in the living room. (the kind where you would lift the lid and find a turntable hidden inside) Weird how the impact is still vivid after all these years. You have a way of remembering this stuff like nobody else Christy!


Anonymous said...

I have a small disclaimer for this particular entry. In the 70's Christy was NOT allowed to throw garbage from the car, leave it on a park bench, or drive with an Oly between her legs! Occasionally a child did roll out of the car on a curvy road, but that is another blog altogether.
Carol (Christy's mom)

Hardygirl said...


The crying Indian actually came and SPOKE TO MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! It would be like Beyonce' or Britney showing up at school today. We were going absolutely CRAZY!

He looked pretty normal--short haired and street clothes. He talked to us about not littering. Then he said quietly, "Do you know who I am?" . . . he turned around, hidden for a moment . . . when he faced the crowd again, he had on his Indian hair braids. We all screamed and pointed like crazed lunatics.

THE CRYING INDIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He gave each of us a trash bag for our car.

Christy Raedeke said...

OH MY GOD! I would have totally freaked out! I love the reveal - pretend to be just another schmo talking about litter 'n stuff and then pull out the wig - PRICELESS! Now that's one memory I wish I could buy.

Hardygirl said...

Twenty bucks and it's yours . . .

Christy Raedeke said...

That's cheap for bragging rights! I'll take it.