Make one off-handed remark about the Holocaust and you can get blacklisted from Hollywood and all society forever, but make an entire film perpetuating the stereotypes of the North American genocide and you can rake in 50 million dollars.
There’s nothing funny about the aftermath of any tragedy but for some reason North Americans can find humor in the suffering of the Wild West Indian. Can anyone in their right minds imagine a foreign market making a comedy about the aftershock of 9/11? This isn’t satire or bad taste, this would be condemnable and cruel.
Adam Sandler’s racist film ‘Ridiculous 6’ debuted on Netflix this weekend, and The Independent reported that viewers and critics are calling Sandler’s movie ‘unwatchable’.
Mr. Sandler thought it would be funny to depict an Apache woman squatting and peeing while smoking a peace pipe – a scene which was cut from the movie at the last minute. How have indigenous people, and women especially, been so dehumanized?
Back in April, twelve indigenous actors, including the cultural advisor, walked off the set of Ridiculous 6 when it became apparent that racist “Indian” stereotypes were part of Sandler’s comedy routine. Alison Young, one of the actors who walked away said the producers of the film told them, “If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.”
Especially hurtful was the derogatory fashion in which Sandler portrayed indigenous women with names like ‘Beavers Breath’ and ‘Wears No Bra’, woefully unaware that this nation is currently facing an epidemic of over 1,000 indigenous women that are either missing or murdered. How the writers could find “Indian” names like “Sexy Bar Girl,” and “Prostitute” even remotely funny is beyond comprehension.
The front page of the Globe and Mail shows the statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Report on residential schools. It says “150 000 victims, 6 000 witnesses, 3 200 deaths.” Someone should mail Sandler a copy.
In Sandler’s defense, the film is supposed to be a “satirical taste on the old western.” We wonder if he would be bold enough to produce a satire of the blackface era and include all of the racist tropes and baggage of “Jump Jim Crow”. If the internet is any indication of taste, there would probably be people defending him even if he did.
“Just because [the story] is sympathetic does not mean it is a positive portrayal,” remarked Danis Goulette. “Even if Adam Sandler was completely well meaning, there is a total cluelessness of the history and the stereotypes that the film does perpetuate,” she said.
CBC’s Q put a video online with reactions by indigenous people condemning Ridiculous 6 but they forgot to disable the comments on their website. Canada still does not get it. Literally every single comment says ‘it’s just a comedy’ or telling native people to ‘lighten up.’
Commenter Jennie S. summed things up best when she wrote, “Native identity, and how we are portrayed, belongs to Natives and not jack wagons like Sandler and Netflix CEOs out to make a dollar by stealing from us – yet again.”
If you are having trouble understanding why Native Americans are ‘so touchy’ about stereotypes and football team names consider this:
Over 90 000 000 peaceful and innocent inhabitants of this land died because European immigrants showed up with smallpox. That’s 9 times the devastation of the Holocaust. This isn’t political correctness, it’s a call for decent humanity and basic empathy. Someone should have stood up to Sandler and told him to stop assaulting our vulnerable and grieving population with even more racism.
If I had the opportunity to ask Adam Sandler one question I would ask him how many indigenous people died post-contact with Europeans. Genocide deniers generally believe that the death toll was in the thousands. Academics and scholars need to start pounding the pavement and setting the record straight.
If millions of human lives are not a call for sensitivity and political correctness, I don’t know what is. Our dead have never been recognized. There is no memorial or special day to remember. Our bones get bulldozed over when developers are making a new housing lot or mall. To us, Canada and the USA is one big burial ground. We are forgotten even though we are still here.
If the tables should ever turn and (God forbid) 90 million Americans are annihilated by disease or misfortune I know for a fact that our people will not make comedies or reckless films about the aftermath.
We know just how much it hurts.