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.

self-proclaimed:

"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.

26 comments:

  1. Your not the only Hawaiian offended

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  2. the guy how started this company is in jail for dealing ice. some other guy took the brand's name and now making a ton of money mind fucking uneducated hawaiians. btw, this shit is growing on maui because of 180.

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  3. This is MESSED UP. Reading that 'about me' section sounds like the next assignment in my advanced art class: Send a new urban twist on traditional Hawaiian ways. But, when I hear this, these designs are NOT the visual duality that comes to mind at all. My first impression when I saw this was extremely good visual irony and very post-modern. But I guess they're foreal?!

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  4. hahahahahaha GOOD

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  5. its a M4A1 carbine

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  6. that is not an AK47, that is an M4, what the US army is issued. i'm not hawaiian and i don't have an opinion towards this other than it shows the character of the wearer

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  7. no, you're not... it seems offensive at the surface.

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  8. OH HELL NO! i checked out their site! i mean FAWKEN HELL NO! who da hell do they think they are putting a fuken gangsta rag on Kamehameha?! and i agree with u Kia'aina! thats so not true!

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  9. "...representing the lifestyle of our young Hawaiian generation."

    oh my.

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  10. its just ignorance

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  11. Jayren Babo WatsonJanuary 23, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    aue.......

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  12. nope. i really dont care for this brand! Hawaiian?! YEA RITE!!!

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  13. 100% right rasta mark...its obvious its a horrible design choice!

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  14. Kamehameha used cannons.

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  15. intentional exploitation and denigration of our culture

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  16. That is TOTALLY MESSED UP!! Good for you Mark, bringing it to the attention of others! I had never heard nor seen of such a thing until you posted this but "SICK"!!!

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  17. yeah i think this is pure nonsense! they are not spreading aloha they are spreading hostility and ignorance. If Kamehameha or any "ancient" Hawaiian ancestor saw this they would roll over in their graves! Try wearing one of those shirts around the Hawaiian studies building and lets see how much "aloha" they spread... When i think of defending hawaii i think of standing up against overdevelopment and keeping kam school hawaiian.. i dont think of shooting every haole or tourist around--if thats what theyre promoting (and how could they not-its a damn gun in the Kings hand!). If its not, they sure fricken fooled me. Im not even Hawaiian and Im offended. This is NOT what our islands youth should be representing.

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  18. the person is obviously ignorant of the old traditions of hawaii and does not have the right sense to see what kind of culturally and political statement he is advertising through these production of these images on shirts. this person has no knowledge of what it is to be hawaiian or culturally sensitive.

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  19. kamehameha used guns btw.....but yes these shirts do show hostility and some ingorance but the one I definitely have a problem with is kamehamehas crip rag....that is not pono!

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  20. rugged. i guess im not part of the 'young hawaiian generation' right now.

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  21. US Military M4-AI? Thanks for the correction...
    but like I said, widely used by gangsters and terrorists ;)

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  22. Scary what passes as "activism" in the minds of these people. The fact that Kamehameha used guns is besides the point; I somehow find it hard to stomach the notion that an assault rifle is the weapon of choice (no pun intended) for "keeping aloha alive."

    I think I know of someone else who would take issue as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdTj4sJ1CNA

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  23. WHAT!!?!!?!!!!?!!



    !!?!!!?!?!!? X_____X

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  24. Hawaii like the rest of our culture in America is in a state of decay. We went from "Live Aloha" to "Ainokea" now to "Defend Hawaii". I don't believe it is a matter of education or ignorance albiet it does come off as both, it's a matter of the heart. I heard a man once say if you take a man stealing nuts and bolts off a railroad track and send him to college, by the end of college he will be stealing the whole train. We as people need a savior from ourselves, we need revoloution and it must start within, we need Jesus.

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  25. First off, that is definitely an M-16. Not an AK anything. Second, if you are unsure of what you are criticizing, how can I take the rest of your rant seriously? How dare Hawaiians (or anyone) defend their homeland that was forcefully taken from them. They want to defend their home just like anyone, and did it occur to you this slogan boomed when our LOVELY president spoke out against Ammendment 2? Open up, dear; there is a lot more to this picture.

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  26. nice to know.....

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