Friday, January 22, 2010

Am I the only Hawaiian Offended?

By now, the chances are that you have seen the "Defend Hawaii" clothing brand either on the backs of young people around Honolulu or on the shelves of a shop at your local mall.

Pretty interesting logo, right? My first impression, as I seen this logo as a sticker on a pickup truck on the highway, was a sudden a feeling of uneasiness. But at the time, I wasn't aware of what the underlying purpose of this campaign was. However, I knew that the message "Defend Hawaii" circumventing a AK-47, the weapon of choice for many gangsters and terrorists wasn't going to sit well with me if I was to continue seeing it around.

Well I did...and a selection of new designs were causing the brand's popularity to grow exponentially.

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Hmmm..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_856" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Apparently, Defend Hawaii supposes that if Kamehameha was alive today, he would be a member of the bloods."][/caption]

Yes, this is actually one of their designs: kind of takes it a step further doesn't it.

Is putting a Crip rag over an ali‘i's face, who resembles the widely used depiction of Kamehameha The Great, and an AK in his hand meant to belittle his recognition as a Hawaiian icon and leader? Is this campaign a political satire in which "Aloha Family" is labeling him as a gangster, or outlaw because of the fact that he used European firearms during the unification of the Hawaiian Islands?

...are they even savvy enough to intend for such a message, or are these vacuous designs merely a product of plain ignorance and unintentional exploitation and denigration of our culture? ...after reading the "about us" section on the brands website, I'm beginning to lean towards the latter.


"DEFEND HAWAII is a clothing company representing the lifestyle of our young Hawaiian generation. We combine the old traditions of Hawaii with a new urban twist."
(i bet that second sentence could make any Kupuna cringe...)

iKill represents the lifestyle of our young Hawaiian generation? wow. Really, what does an Mac ad parody with a wangster twist have anything to do with "old traditions of Hawaii"?

The "About Us" section continues:
"Being born and raised in Hawaii, our way of life is something that we are proud of. We hold on to the values of our ancestors and hope to keep the ALOHA alive…"

Yea?...aloha? At first, one (especially one from a less politically apathetic time) may assume that the company may be attempting to start a violent, political movement of young people. As much as I am opposed such measures, at least the campaign may be credited with having at least some purpose for it's usage of visual irony and pop-culture design trends to appeal to the young masses.

However, the paradox that arises when the statement "We hold on to the values of...ALOHA..." is considered along with these designs, allows for the conclusion to be drawn that the brand is clearly, purposely exploiting Hawaiian culture and "values" for no reason other than the bottom line.

The sad part is this isn't the only case, and whether it arises from ignorance or greed, this type of exploitation and manipulation of our culture will continue. Perhaps, Defend Hawaii may not intend to be offensive, but they sure are not being responsible enough to prevent offense from being taken.

Caveat Emptor: it is our duty to make informed decisions, and although the color schemes may be eye-catching and clever, please keep your cash (or credit) to yourself, and don't support such negligence.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Rage 4 Haiti"

Under the surface of the "dedicated to my lubby-dubby girl" up-beat Jawaiian reggae sounds, that have been dominating Hawaii airwaves fort he past couple of decades, exists an eclectic music scene that ought to tickle any music lover's fancy. If you were to ask me, and a few of my friends from around the Mainland, the variety of downtown Honolulu's music scene is comparable to that of any major city in America; you just need to know where to listen.

Rage 4 Haiti

Tonight, SoHo, Manifest, and Next Door will be hosting a stellar lineup from everything Soul, Jazz, Hip-Hop, to Heavy Rock. Tickets are $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door, awesome price for a nine hour event! All the locations will be open from 7pm-4am and will feature live music or a mix of various DJ's throughout the night.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="The Beautiful and Talented Singer/Songwriter Anuhea"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_849" align="aligncenter" width="456" caption="The also Beautiful and Talented Singer/Songwriter Kimie Miner."][/caption]

I actually had the pleasure of jamming for a few hours with singer/ songwriters Kimie Miner and Anuhea at a party a few years back and let me tell you, these girls not only have talent and beautiful voices, but an endless passion for their music. I also have checked out The Deadbeats a few times, who perform Wednesday nights at Jazz Minds, and it is clear that they value the artistic merit of their music at least to the same regard as its entertainment value. They have a fresh, catchy, yet sophisticated sound of Jazz infused hip-hop and are definitely worth the $10 cover alone.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="the Deadbeats at Jazzminds."][/caption]

But along with the great line-up is a great cause. All proceeds will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti fund to help aid survivors and help the nation of Haiti recover from last weeks natural disaster. So head down and Rage 4 Haiti tonight, hear great music, have a blast, and support your fellow humans.