Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting Depp into Tonto - Disneyfying Political Correctness

Getting Depp into Tonto - Disneyfying Political Correctness

This weekend The Lone Ranger was released to theaters and well, that shit was not getting over well with the public. It's probably not much of a surprise. It seems that in this modern day, not very many people enjoy westerns all that much.

Look for example on the whole Cowboys Vs. Aliens that didn't go over very well. John Carter of Mars was also a very western-ish film and that didn't go over well either. The Lone Ranger comes in at about two hours and twenty minutes. Which just seems like it's way too much Western and way too much Johnny Depp acting like Captain Jack Sparrow stuck in the middle of the desert... oh yeah, and he's in red face.

Which in itself can be the major problem of the film.

You have to ask yourself why the fuck they decided to forgo the attempt to cast an actual Native American for the role of a Native American in the film and go for Johnny Depp? It's pretty clear that they wanted to Captain Jack Sparrow it up some. They even went the full mile and made him look all Sparrowed out by making his Native American have a dead raven on his head for some unknown reason.

Though, to be fair. It was based and designed off this painting of a Native American...

But also to be blunt, it is a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, called I Am Crow.

If that name doesn't sound like he belongs to some Indian tribe or as the cashier of your local on-reservation casino, it's because the painter is a white man. In fact, on his website he goes on to state;
"I am not a historian, nor an ethnologist," as he hopes his paintings "satisfy my audience's sensibilities of the subject without the constraints of having to adhere to historical accuracy."
He also goes on to explain that he purposely eschews denoting tribal affiliations for the subjects of most of his works, though the title "I Am Crow," suggests the mythical figure depicted in the painting might, just by chance, be a member of the Crow Nation of Native Americans.

This is what Johnny Depp had to say about the striking face paint on the character.
"The stripes down the face and across the eyes … it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean…There's this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side."
Why yes. He's certainly breaking those stereotypes of Native Americans. What with his portrayal of this one being wise, angry, and understanding. You shoot to strike down those stereotypes, Kemo Sabe.   

Depp also touched on the fact that he wanted to portray Tonto in a way to counteract stereotypical images of Native Americans through history. 
"The whole reason I wanted to play Tonto is to try to [mess] around with the stereotype of the American Indian that has been laid out through history or the history of cinema at the very least."
It's really starting to irk me more and more about this Red Facing. Especially when you whitewash stereotypes of Native Americans by having a white eccentric actor put on make up to represent another white man's fictional representation of what he thinks a Native American would look like.

This all ignores the main issue of going back to the basic complaint about WHY NOT HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS ACTUALLY A NATIVE AMERICAN ACTOR!? And I'm not buying this notion that Depp has described himself as some sort of Native American.... he guesses.
"I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line. My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian."
Perhaps if Depp is claiming that he is actually Indian, which in itself is a pretty bold statement and big claim, that perhaps he should fully know what it is he is claiming. Just randomly picking a tribe or two and guessing it's one of those, how about you look into the past and find out exactly which one it is and align yourself with that.

Besides that, it's like claiming you are one one tenth's black, and thus you can proudly say nigger in public. Cause you're cool like that. Or to some lesser degree claiming that you can toss out that word simply because you know or have a black friend.   

But perhaps more people feel this way. I know that The Lone Ranger is getting its ass handed to it in the Box office by Universal's Despicable Me 2. A film that is far more entertaining and even though it has minions who talk a sort of foreign language gibberish, is far less culturally offensive than Depp as Tonto. 

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