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David Guetta's Native American Fiasco Doesn't Make Him a Bigot—Just a Buffoon

The superstar DJ's caricature of Native American culture to promote his Pacha Ibiza residency has ruffled quite a few feathers.
July 15, 2015, 3:20pm

Oops poops! David Guetta is getting a thorough online spanking after releasing a controversial video to promote his weekly "F*** Me I'm Famous" residency at Pacha Ibiza. In the video, white models cavort around a beach dressed in Native American headdresses, face paint, and other faux-ceremonial accouterments, shouting war cries as if they're extras in some dusty spaghetti western.

The public backlash was basically, F*** Me I'm Famous? More like, F*** You You're Racist! Commenters expressed disgust and outrage, many accusing Guetta of racism and cultural appropriation. Pacha Ibiza eventually removed the video from its Facebook page this morning, but neither the club nor Guetta's team has commented on the growing controversy.

This cringe-worthy mess gets even weirder. Guetta is also getting heat for a second video shot by a club-goer at the F*** Me I'm Famous opening party on May 28. That one shows a goddamn horse standing morosely in the middle of the club—apparently functioning as another culturally insensitive prop… or perhaps a sacrifice in the nightly ketamine worship?

Deadmau5 put Guetta on blast with a series of tweets expressing sympathy for the bottle service-besieged stallion, although he did not comment on the war bonnets—being privy to some pretty offensive headgear of his own.

for real… horses belong on a farm, not in a shitty overpriced nightclub to be subjected to a shitty overpaid DJ. @pacha
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) July 9, 2015

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding that Guetta be banned from subjecting the animal to further abuse has already reached more than 6,000 signatures in three days. We've come a long way since Bianca Jagger clambered on top of a white horse led by a naked man covered in glitter at Studio 54.

The real question looming over this debacle is: how the hell did a superstar DJ (and one of the world's biggest clubs) completely miss the growing consensus that using a Native American headpiece as novelty club gear isn't cute? In fact, it's the exact opposite—wearing one of these to a party these days has become a sign that you're an ignorant buffoon.

Over the last few years, there has been rising awareness that these war bonnets are symbols of honor, and therefore probably don't belong on a dancefloor packed with gurning, booze-soaked hedonists. Maybe Guetta missed the headlines last year when Glastonbury banned headdresses complete, calling the wearing of them by non-Native Americans "disrespectful." (Other festivals like Bass Coast, Osheaga, and have also done the same.) Still, the issue of Native American cultural appropriation is being discussed far beyond the music world—from the Washington Redskins to Urban Outfitters underwear.

The fact that Guetta completely missed the memo is not so much evidence that he's bigot scum, and more of a sign that he's embarrassingly clueless, living in a bubble of privilege completely divorced from reality. For a DJ whose job involves keeping tabs on popular tastes, ignorance and irrelevancy might be the worst type of fate.

Michelle Lhooq is THUMP's Features Editor. Follow her on Twitter