View from the North 40: Misappropriation is a global issue
Last updated 8/14/2020 at 11:44am
Canada, land of polite people and popular beer, among other magical things, has for the past two years also been home to one of the most unfortunately and rudely named beers on the market.
HuruHuru Pale Ale brewed by Hell’s Basement Brewery of Alberta, was released on the market two years ago. The beer was both proudly promoted by the brewery and a success with customers. But the custom brewed beer has fallen on complicated times.
Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, the brewery’s fourth anniversary, BBC News Canada reported that Maori TV personality Te Hamua Nikora had made a Facebook video about the brewery’s use of the word huruhuru, a Maori term.
The brewery folks told BBC News they thought it meant “feather” in Maori and it was meant to be a nod to the connection between the beer and the New Zealand hops used in the beer’s brewing process. Turns out that they translation they used was incorrect – though interestingly the Google translation of “fur” is just a bit closer to the harsh reality.
Nikora pointed out that using the hops didn’t make the company owners fluent in the Maori culture. Also, if the brewery had, at least, consulted with the Maori before using the word they would have found out that despite whatever literal translation of the term is, in common Maori slang usage hurhuru refers to, um, something else.
I am supposed to keep things clean on this page, so let’s just say huruhuru refers to a specific patch of hair on the human body which is not considered to be pubic hair.
Don’t make me have to wink here.
Think of it this way, the name John is a perfectly respectable name of Hebrew origins, used by biblical characters, popular modern people like John Wayne, John F. Kennedy, astronaut Sen. John Glenn and the every-man John Doe. Don’t even get me started on the whole host of Catholic popes. Yet there isn’t a John among us who hasn’t been snickered at at least once in their lifetime.
Somehow the English language got from John meaning “god is gracious” to also referring to the john – the bathroom, or the toilet specifically – and a john – a guy who solicits prostitutes. John, what happened to you over the years? Really, the cleanest, most respectable alternate usage is long johns, those insulated undergarments that seem to imply that once upon a time English speaking people were familiar with short johns. Was that usage lost in time?
So, unfortunately for Hell’s Basement Brewery, which issued an apology to the Maori people via the news article, they will be rebranding the beer with a new name.
Cultural appropriation actions like this have to stop, said Nikora, who also said that a brand of shoes in New Zealand had used huruhuru to name a brand of shoes thinking that the word referred to wool – which I would like to point out is, ironically, a euphemism for the hair which can’t be named.
I’m not trying to appropriate the indigenous people’s issue, but I’m all on board with this. I want to advocate that Pams everywhere should reclaim our name from the “Product of Arthur Meyerhoff” owners ConAgra. Popularly known as PAM cooking spray, the stuff made my childhood miserable among a certain crowd of young people. It got so bad that for a time I had to introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Pam. No relation to the cooking spray.”
I would welcome anyone to the fight and hope that the Johns of the world will join us in solidarity, we need the outhouses in case a crowd shows up.
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