A complaint from a Native American actor

‘We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,’ he explained.

Hmm, not the strongest of complaints there I would think.

20 thoughts on “A complaint from a Native American actor”

  1. He’s got a point.

    Only the other day I was watching a movie about Custer’s last stand and I thought, hey that war paint on those indians is all wrong, that’s, like, so 1874 and the battle took place in 1876.

    Who advises on indian fashions on these movies?

  2. That’s an impressive cast list for a Netflix-only release. It’s also impressive for an Adam Sandler film – I’d have thought no decent actor would be seen dead in one of his films. I fear this doesn’t bode well for any of the participants.

  3. AndyC,

    I’ve seen some interesting debate about the “American Indian” versus “Native American” terminology. There are at least some American Indians who prefer to be called “American Indians” and find “Native American” demeaning. And there are others who feel the opposite. Bit of a minefield, really. Personally, I think it’s a shame to name two entire continents of people after a Spaniard’s chronic miscalculation half a millenium ago, but hey.

  4. bloke (not) in spain

    Actually, I’d sort of go along with this guy. There’s still the tendency to have a sort of “generic injun” for any of N. America’s original inhabitants. When the tee-pee living, nomadic hunter gatherer was somewhat of an anomaly. And, to an extent, a late occurance resulting from the re-introduction of the horse into the continent.
    It makes a difference because the Americas had quite complex agricultural societies before European diseases killed 90% of their members. So the “natural America” settlers saw as they progressively moved west, wasn’t particularly natural. What they were looking at was the result of nature reclaiming what had been managed land. Like you’d see weeds on a bomb-site, when I was a kid.
    Even the massive buffalo herds seem to be a fairly late occurrence. There’s not much sign of buffalo bones in remains from pre-Columbus societies. The animals likely wildly proliferated by occupying a niche left vacant by the changes.
    This does make an important difference. The Americas the campaigning eco-warriors fight to preserve is no more “natural” than a mall car park. There is no “natural Americas” & hasn’t been for thousands of years.

  5. Andrew M,

    Happy Gilmore, Punch-Drunk Love and The Wedding Singer are pretty good.

    He mostly makes rubbish now, though. His top priority is that a film has to be set somewhere he would like to visit. Which is a hell of a way to live if someone will pay you for it. And the guy makes profitable films.

  6. Stig,

    I just don’t see the economics of it. A typical cinema ticket costs £9 per individual and 50% of the ticket price is returned to the studio. By contrast Netflix costs £6.99 a month per household, and that money has to be shared amongst all their other productions. It can’t be a low-budget film since it has several very well-known actors and a star director.

    I presume Netflix are trying to entice new subscribers with big name movies like this, then relying on inertia to prevent them from leaving. This film could well be a loss-leader.

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    @Peter Risdon
    Very good point. And in the context of the film, which is a send up of the “Western” genre, it’s like getting Hungarians in national dress to play English characters, without including the anomaly in the plot-line. So, by the look of it, they’ve missed out on quite a good gag.

  8. Andrew M,

    “I presume Netflix are trying to entice new subscribers with big name movies like this, then relying on inertia to prevent them from leaving. This film could well be a loss-leader.”

    That’s exactly what the economics are. House of Cards was really expensive – something like $100m for the first series. But it increased the number of subscribers.

    BTW – the percentages for films are quite variable. A blockbuster in week 1 will return most of the ticket revenue to the distributors. The cinemas still show them because they bring in huge audiences that buy lots of high-margin popcorn and drinks.

  9. 1959 lyrics from the Kingston Trio:

    “The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles. Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch and I don’t like anybody very much!”

    I remember hearing at the time that Negroes couldn’t relate to this song, as it was all just white people to them. They saw no distinction.

    Although there were hundreds of distinct tribes of Indians, Americans tend to have a stereotypical view of Indians.

    And Africans. I used to bewilder people by referring to my Egyptian neighbors as African-Americans.

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    By all accounts, the current crop of people-who-lived-in-North-America-before-the-Europeans-came either displaced or supplanted the ones that were there before them, who in their turn were migrants from Asia. There are no ‘native Americans’ (or native Filipinos or native Moroccans or native Norwegians for that matter). On the scale of butthurt this rises to about the level of irritation I feel when the baddie in a Hollywood movie is once again some supercilious cove with an RP accent. Stop stereotyping people like me wot speak proper, Hollywood!

  11. So Much for Subtlety

    Squander Two – “Personally, I think it’s a shame to name two entire continents of people after a Spaniard’s chronic miscalculation half a millenium ago, but hey.”

    But they aren’t. They are named as a consequence of an Italian’s miscalculation. But you have two choices here. You can go with the first Italian’s stubborn refusal to accept the reality that he was not in Asia. Or you can go with another Italian’s recognition that he was in Asia for which he got two continents named after him. But they will be named by some Italian either way.

    Squander Two – “Seems like a reasonable complaint to me. It’s like portraying an English character by having the actor wear a kilt.”

    Is the King’s Own Scottish Borderers a Scottish Regiment (well it is now) or an English one? It was based in Berwick upon Tweed. And wore a kilt.

    bloke (not) in spain – “it’s like getting Hungarians in national dress to play English characters”

    I have a picture of Winston Churchill dressed as a Hungarian somewhere. Well, in the uniform of the Queen’s 4th Hussars.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    There is at least one “not” missing my post above.

    The Stigler – “Happy Gilmore, Punch-Drunk Love and The Wedding Singer are pretty good.”

    In what sense are they good? Sandler’s films are all the same. He is a nasty, spiteful, vindictive little sh!t who for some reason expects the audience to like him and for him to end up with the girl. Happy Gilmore is a good example. Why should anyone like this selfish little ar$e who hates golf, is routinely cruel to everyone he comes across, and has some serious anger managements issues?

    I can’t believe his audience is made up entirely of eight year old budding sociopaths, but I don’t see why anyone else would like his work.

  13. SMFS,

    If you can’t tell the difference between Happy Gilmore and Punch-Drunk Love then you need to lay off the crack.

    “Happy Gilmore is a good example. Why should anyone like this selfish little ar$e who hates golf, is routinely cruel to everyone he comes across, and has some serious anger managements issues?”

    He’s a guy who’s trying to keep his grandma in her home. That gives him an edge over the taxman.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “If you can’t tell the difference between Happy Gilmore and Punch-Drunk Love then you need to lay off the crack.”

    That is a strawman. I do not deny that some of his crap is worse than others. I just said that I find it hard to believe anyone does not recognise that all his films are crap.

    “He’s a guy who’s trying to keep his grandma in her home. That gives him an edge over the taxman.”

    His grandmother is the mcguffin that keeps the plot rolling but in the actual film he shows no particular concern for his grandmother nor is she important in the film except for setting up the basic plot. His character is still an utterly vile human being. Who, for some reason, Sandler thinks should be loved by everyone.

  15. The whole thing’s supposed to be a piss-take, so I doubt they’re being that careful with period detail. Cowboy clothing was actually incredibly specific, adapted to the climate and environment of different regions. But I bet they’ve got a white character from Colorado wearing some Idaho chaps (or whatever), and no-one gives a shit. Whereas they would care if it was a serious Western made by Eastwood. Maybe this actor just signed up for the wrong project.

    In other news, I hear not all Israelis are much like Zohan.

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