In The Touchstone, an independent feature film recently released on YouTube, three teenagers from the suburbs are unlucky in love (or lust) until they find a Native American fetish artifact during a class trip to Kickapoo Mountain. Suddenly, thanks to the magical powers of the tiny object (a rock carved into an animal shape), they are irresistible to virgins.
Fetishes are small animal-shaped rock carvings associated with the Indians of Zuni Pueblo, although Navajo artists are also known to make them. They are said to confer upon the bearer or owner attributes, anything from patience to physical health — and yes, some fetishes are said to promote fertility. For more information, visit the page about fetishes at IndianSummer.com, a retailer of American Indian arts and crafts.
In using the fetish as a plot device, The Touchstone mangles the truth pretty thoroughly — the film was shot in the Washington, D.C. area, but refers to “Kickapoo Mountain.” Whether that’s a made-up place or the actual Kickapoo Mountain (which is in Texas) is not clear from the trailer, but, whatever the case, fetishes of the type shown (or parodied) in the film are associated with Zuni Pueblo, and not Kickapoo Indian, culture.
And as to the power of this fetish to make the bearer irresistible to virgins — well, it’s up to Native viewers to decide how they feel. The power of the fetish stands in for the improbable science that is a plot device in films like Zapped! and Weird Science. While some viewers might claim there’s no difference — it’s comedy, after all — others would say that playing fast and loose with science is not really the same as bending the truth about the beliefs and culture of a living people.
You can watch The Touchstone in its entirety at Youtube.com; here’s the trailer: