“I Hate White People!”—Subverting the Televisual Gaze

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I have previously argued that the other viewing the Self highlights the ramifications of the question “Who are they?” vis-à-vis notions of “Who are we?” and that the answer to the former directly shapes and informs the latter, as Fourth World people are forced to negotiate their identity upon exposure to First World television. In this article, I examine a particular group of subaltern viewers who reassign the roles of self and Other in order to preserve, defend, and construct their own selfhood. Because they look and act differently from those in the mediated mainstream, Navajo television viewers create oppositional identities by understanding themselves first in relation to and then opposed to standardized models. Subverting the televisual gaze is their way of articulating experiences of powerlessness in a white-dominated society as well as a means of communicating a discourse of resistance to the dominant ideology.