IT AIN’T FUNNY.
Apparently these are the sentiments of a handful of Native American actors on the set of Adam Sandlers new Netflix film ‘Ridiculous Six.’ A group of Native American actors walked of the set of the Sandler film on Wednesday asserting that they found Native American costumes and script references offensive.
Sandler’s satirical western ‘Ridiculous Six’ is a spoof on the 1960 film ‘The Magnificent Seven.’ The Native American actors along with the film’s Native American cultural adviser reportedly walked of the set. They had voiced complaints regarding the inaccurate Native American garb which they deemed stereotypical, and they took issue with Native American character names such as “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra.”
Native American actors Loren Anthony (also the lead singer of the metal band Bloodline) noted to Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) that, “There were about a dozen of us who walked off the set. I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn’t down for it. They told me it was going to be a comedy. but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set.”
Loren and another Navajo actress and former Dartmouth film student, Alison Young asserted that when they complained they were told by the producers that the film was a comedy and that anything they found offensive was unintentional, and they if they were displeased they were free to leave.
“The producers told us – ‘If you guys are so sensitive you should leave.'” Allison said. “I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way….. When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted,” she said. “I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. We talked to the producers about our concerns. Nothing has changed…. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
Loren Anthony noted that he was first insulted that costumes being used were supposed to portray Apache, but were significantly incorrect and that the jokes just got increasingly offensive.
Actress Goldie Tom told ICTMN. “I felt this was all really disrespectful…. Our costumes did not portray Apache people. The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said ‘It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.’ Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones.”
David Hill: “… I Would Knock His Ass Out.”
Another actor, 74 year-old Choctaw Native and American Indian Movement activist, David Hill noted that the producers later called the actors back for a consultation session. Hill, who also left the set later noted, “I hope they will listen to us. We understand this is a comedy, we understand this is humor, but we won’t tolerate disrespect. I told the director if he had talked to a native woman the way they were talked to in this movie—I said I would knock his ass out….. They were being disrespectful,” he said. “They were bringing up those same old arguments that Dan Snyder uses in defending the Redskins. But let me tell you, our dignity is not for sale. It is a real shame because a lot of people probably stay because they need a job….. This isn’t my first rodeo, if someone doesn’t speak up, no one will.”
Many of the actors were of the Navajo nation and noted that the script insulted native women and elders and rendered a gross misrepresentation of Apache culture. There was an actress portraying an Apache woman. They had her squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe. there was another image of a teepee with feathers inappropriately positioned upon it.
Anthony made note that though he does understand that film is a comedy, it remains that the portrayal of the Apache was extremely negligent and that the insults to women were ample reason to walk off the set.
The script was written by Sandler and his collaborator Tim Herlihy. It is a Happy Madison Production exclusively for Netflix . The film also stars Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice.
A Netflix spokesperson reported spoke to Vulture saying, “”The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of, but in on the joke.”
Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions failed to respond to ICTMN’s attempts in reaching out to them for comment.
“When All Is Said And Done… You’ll Go To The Movies.” – JWL
Follow Janet Walters Levite’s News and Entertainment posts on Twitter: @JanetWLevite