See, the thing that really bugs me about the whole "cannibal native savages" thing is that there's always the unspoken corollary that these savage peoples are just waiting to be tamed by a white man. And even when you play it up for humor, there's a pretty clear subtext that makes me squick.
And if you don't think this sort of thinking has any impact in the modern era, I'd like to point this out to you: via TPM, a recent Lawrence Kaplan post that I'm sure everyone else is already talking about.
The shorter Lawrence Kaplan? "We invaded Iraq to bring Civilization and Democracy to these savage peoples, but they appear to be too savage and brutish for even us to tame and civilize."
Am I being rude and crude to Kaplan? Oh, yeah, totally. But just keep in mind: these are the sorts of ideas that shaped the modern era, and continue to shape it today. Even if they're not being spoken out loud, they're still there.