Mastodon Thanksgiving Shirt

Atlanta sludge-metal outfit Mastodon have some new merch for sale, including a Thanksgiving t-shirt that some are claiming is racist.

The tee highlights the atrocities of American colonialism by depicting a pilgrim holding a musket to the head of a scantily clad Native American woman. As Pitchfork points out, Mastodon have responded to criticism with this Facebook post:

Regarding our thanks giving shirt, whether you choose to believe or not, the American Indians were massacred by the white settlers who became the Americans we are today. 
this shirt represents this atrocity and celebrating in the face of this atrocity is chilling. 

we may have a sick sense of humor, but we are far from being “Racist” as some of you who might not get it are calling us.

The t-shirt is available at in a limited edition.

If you’re looking for more seasonally appropriate merch that is just ugly, not racist, check out these.

Comments (25)
  1. I don’t think they’re racist. Misogynistic on the other hand…

    • I also do get the irony in the entire cartoon image, though. White guy looking all macho and handsome with a musket with a babely Native American woman serving him a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s basically a hair metal interpretation of the holiday, but maybe we just don’t need hair metal humor anymore?

  2. Bringing up arguably the worst chapter in American history is racist? Um, OK.

  3. this is one of the coolest t-shirts i’ve ever seen.

  4. Whoever is calling them racist seems to be missing the point entirely and is most probably more than a little naïve and/or fairly stupid, considering the whole point is to highlight how colonials (who were white, as are the members of the band) slaughtered Native Americans. Now, saying that the entire idea is in bad taste is more than fair.

    • A bold statement, since “whoever is calling them racist” definitely includes, though is not limited to, actual Native Americans, whom I wouldn’t consider “a little naïve and/or fairly stupid” just for being unamused by Mastodon’s brand of black humor.

      Rule of thumb for determining if someone/thing is racist – don’t just take the white person’s word for it.

  5. People are stupid. Racism will never be seen by the ignorant as real. So, in the heads of the small minded, yes, the white man came and freed the Native Americans from their own savagery. Blessed them with ideas like cooking, trade, and survival… right?

  6. Scantily clad Native woman on her knees with a gun pointed to her face? Yeah, not racist at all. Looks like the bullshit costumes ignorant white women wear on Halloween or to music festivals… and I want to give the band the benefit of the doubt and say that was part of the satire, but then they posted their response to the criticism completely not understanding why people were offended to begin with, trying to turn any backlash to the shirt as white people being upset that the band was ruining their idea of Thanksgiving.

    And even if it WAS part of the satire, it’s really just another image furthering the fetishization of Native women. It’s not challenging stereotypes at all. Native American women are sexually assaulted and raped at higher rates than any other group in the US, and mostly by white men.

    Regardless of their intent, they are garnering a ton of publicity and are currently sold out of the shirt. Using a genocide as a marketing tool is gross.

    Today I learned that this band sells their own autographs on Ebay, which is fucking hilarious. Good on ya, dudes.

  7. I get that they’re trying to do satire with the shirt, but I think they miss the mark by a lot. This looks more like a “hilarious” shirt that some frat boy would wear to be “edgy”. When an ignorant person looks at this shirt, they’re not going to think “hey, that looks awful”, they’re going to think “oh, that’s a funny picture!” Doesn’t help that the Native woman is highly sexualized as well.

    I think they were trying to do a Raymond Pettibone type thing with this, but it lacks any nuance. Now, take for example, this 7 inch cover by Agnostic Front: You don’t look at that and say “Ha, that’s funny”. They fucked up, and should just admit it.

  8. Deer everywhere have been complaining about their depiction on Mastodon’s last album cover

  9. So let me get this straight…they are not racist because the Black Ranger controls the Mastodon Dinozord?

  10. We could go on and on about the debate, but if they’ve confronted the problem head on claiming that their racists action are in fact no intended to be racists then it probably true. I get how this could be mistaken as racists, but it’s surfacing a problem we’ve long forgotten. The shirt is sickly funny, as mentioned above. That’s that.

  11. As a Mastodon fan, I sincerely doubt that there was a hint of racism in the shirt. Mastodon aren’t imbecilic to such a low brow degree. It can be debatable that the shirt isn’t in the best of taste, but it’s not racist. The band Dying Fetus has a shirt that says ”Rape your dog, kill your mother”. Be nice to hear some outcry on something like that, to be honest.

    • Where’s that large Dying Fetus/Stereogum crossover audience? Probably why there isn’t a bigger issue about that shirt. Mastodon has been a part of the indie hype machine for a few years now (remember that 7″ they did with Feist?), so the uproar over this makes sense.

      Basically, it’s a bunch of left-leaning white dudes who thought they were being funny by making a jab at American exceptionalism but stumbled over their own privilege. Fear not though, I can assure you that somewhere on Tumblr a gaggle of social justice drones are waiting to launch a humorless counter-assault, with a thesis amounting to: all metal fans are neanderthals.

  12. Yeeeaaaaanotracist

  13. Regardless of the intent, since a huge number of real native Americans are outraged over the imagery on the shirt, and the fact that it can also be worn proudly by non-native men who rape native women as a “badge” if you will, the shirt is an epic fail. Thank you Mastadon for trying to bring light to the horrible treatment that us native American’s have received since first contact, but if this is the way you are going to go about bringing us into the light, I think I can speak for the majority and say we will just go it alone. Again thanks, and if you would like to try again with some real native input, there are many knowledgeable natives who would be happy to help prevent another tragedy like this shirt.

  14. My two cents:

    $00.01 #1

    The personal is not political – non-Native Americans can find this racist too, and it’s valid. Conversely, Native Americans can find this NOT racist, and that is just as valid.

    $00.01 #2

    It’s clearly racist and misogynistic, but isn’t it supposed to be? I mean, the depiction on the shirt is supposed to be offensive, and hopefully that will make you think about why you find it offensive, and where that comes from (from US history).

  15. It’s racist, but it’s not *racist* racist.

  16. I think the shirt is racist. I think the shirt is satire.

  17. and I think that Dan Snyder isn’t racist.. and Todd Akin and Steve King aren’t sexist and Phil Robertson isn’t a sexual pervert, racist and homophobe.. ooops.. just satire

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