Oh Johnny… Honey. No. Just No.

Hands up if you’d almost totally forgotten that they were remaking The Lone Ranger? Me too. I probably shouldn’t have because it just meant that I got a nasty surprise when I remembered its existence. I was casually strolling through the internet, doing my morning rounds, when I came across the newly released poster.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty sassy new poster. I really enjoy the design. HOWEVER, I have issues. Many issues. Allow me to go into minute detail about them.

For those of you who don’t know, The Lone Ranger was originally a TV show that ran from 1949 to 1957 about a masked Texas ranger, his horse named Silver and his trusty Native American sidekick, Tonto. It spawned the classic line “Hi-ho, Silver! Away!” which was generally followed up by someone asking, “Who was that masked man?” as aforementioned masked man rides off into the sunset. These lines were frequently shouted at random intervals in my household while I was growing up by parents who were brought up on a steady diet of Westerns. In other words, it’s very kitsch and was very much a product of its time and, as much as I like/d it, like most things that rely on particular stereotypes of race or culture to create characters, it does not need a reboot.

When the first promotional images were released back in March, I spent a lot of time going “Oh my gosh, they can’t be serious.” Because I was positive they couldn’t be serious. Because Johnny Depp was playing Tonto. And he was dressed like this:

They can’t be serious…

Does that not scream “terrible fucking idea”, to you? Because it should. This blog isn’t really a political blog. I’m not here to get on my soapbox and preach the ways of the world. Honestly, I think that would be a waste of my time and yours considering that my idea of a productive day is to watch and have thoughts on at least 4 randomly chosen films. But some things are just so blindingly obvious, I don’t even really feel like I should have to say them. This is one of them.

Resurrecting Tonto is problematic for a lot of reasons. For starters, let’s talk about the makeup. It’s inspired by this painting by Kirby Sattler, titled I Am Crow. Now, Sattler isn’t a Native American. His artist statement says that he “purposely does not denote a tribal affiliation to the majority of my subjects, rather, I attempt to give the paintings an authentic appearance, provoke interest, satisfy my audience’s sensibilities of the subject without the constraints of having to adhere to historical accuracy.” If that sounds like a load of wank to you, it’s because it is. Sattler’s “innate interest in the world’s indigenous cultures” amounts to nothing more than cultural appropriation to create an exotic ‘Other’. To put it in simpler terms: Sattler is grabbing the stuff he likes from different cultures and mooshing them up without thinking about how that might affect the people that he’s stealing imagery from, so that he can make an interesting painting about something wild and exotic. Which is just a bit shit, really.

Then, on top of that, Tonto’s character is a identified repeatedly throughout all incarnations of The Lone Ranger, as being a full-blooded member of the Comanche Nation. So, taking inspiration from Sattler’s painting of someone who is supposed to be a vague reference to the Crow Nation (but not one constrained by historical accuracy, thank God), is just a further blending of cultural innaccuracies, so that we eventually end up with a visual that screams “Indian” at the audience, in the most traditional “Cowboys and Indians” sense, without them having to examine anything beyond the surface. And that’s bollocks.

Then, THEN, we have Tonto played by Johnny Depp. JOHNNY DEPP! I love Johnny Depp. I don’t think I can emphasise that enough. I went and saw Pirates of the Carribean at least 10 times at our local cinema. I even watch and enjoy the more questionable (repetitive) Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations regularly. I just really fucking love Johnny Depp, OK? Which is why, when I looked at my computer this morning I just kind of had to go “aaaaarrrrgghh”. Because essentially, you’re casting a white dude to play a person of colour, which is what ALWAYS FUCKING HAPPENS and it’s SHIT. If you’re going to write people of colour, for a start, don’t make them hollow, two-dimensional caricatures, and then, when you’ve written something substantial, don’t cast a rich white dude to play that character. Because it’s stupid and it makes you look stupid.

Essentially, I said all of that when that initial press photo came out in a much shorter and more swear-y way on my Tumblr back in March. And now the trailer has happened. It looks like this:

The thing that I was holding hope for was the fact that they would at least maybe skip over the fact that Tonto spoke in broken pidgin English. It is apparent from that trailer that they’re sticking with the pidgin English. Which is…I don’t even know. I can’t. I just can’t with this film.

So, I should probably end this blog with the following statement. I am a middle class, white girl from Sydney. I am far and away not the most politically correct person you will ever meet. Sometimes, I put my foot in it. I’m working on that. But I am a big fan of the idea that words are as powerful as the person being victimised by them tells you they are. To me, the fact that several prominent Native American people have come out and said that this portrayal upsets them is enough to make me more than a little uncomfortable. Popular culture is one of those things that seeps into your brain when you least expect it. If you’re not paying attention and thinking critically then you can let it drastically alter your perceptions without even realising it.

TL;DR: Disney, this is a terrible idea and you should really consider firing whoever was responsible for greenlighting this shit. I leave you with a really great article from 1998, by Sherman Alexie called I Hated Tonto (Still Do). This blog will return to regular programming next week.

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154 thoughts on “Oh Johnny… Honey. No. Just No.

  1. If there were a Native American actor that was as famous as Johnny Depp to play Tonto, he might have that role instead. Hollywood gets away with casting white people in ethnic roles because audiences continue to go and see them! I’m willing to bet that half of the people who say they’re offended by this trailer will end up seeing the movie because they’re either a) big enough Johnny Depp fans to ignore the fact that the movie seems kind of racist (thus the reason Disney casted him), b) they’re not outraged enough by the time the movie comes out to find something else to do on a Saturday night, or c) enough people will tell them the movie was good and they’ll have to see for themselves. The point is, people will see this movie and they’ll care very little about the casting choice. And yes, he looks like Captain Jack hiding out in the desert.

    • So right! Captain Jack in the desert! Big time!
      No offense to Armie Hammer, but why couldn’t they put Johnny in as the ranger and cast a successful Native American in the part. I am from Sydney too and I know of a few that I think would have been more suitable. How about Gil Birmingham? Chaske Spencer? Benjamin Bratt? Tyler Christopher? Adam Beach? Or really blow things out of the water and hire Christopher Judge who is of African American and Cherokee decent… eat that Disney! :)

  2. Oh…NO..XD..I think I will not be amused by that dress (and that serious look) if you didn’t say “They can’t be serious”..
    but Johnny, I will still love you :D

    And..following your blog. it’s interesting and you write well:)

  3. i dunno. Nick Fury was played by Samuel L Jackson so that kinda pees all over your THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS nonsense… and Johnny Depp [who IS amazing, like you say] is at least one eighth some type of native american so he’s a little closer and he has the olive tones [did you see Chocolat?] to pull it off so why not? and it’s Johnny Depp. did i say that? Johnny Depp. I’d watch him in a Highlander sequal…

      • I totally agree with isobeldebrujah there, but just to add a geek detail: Additionally, years before the Avengers film was developed, the Ultimate Marvel version of Nick Fury actually used the image and persona of Samuel L Jackson in their reimagined version of the comics. So there was a Marvel comic book black Nick Fury before Samuel L Jackson was cast in the role. They used his image with his permission, and happily they were actually able to cast him in the role too.

  4. True words. The casting people *may* have asked Indigenous people to do the role, but they all probably responded something like this:

    http://i3.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/002/135/sw50sw8sw578.gif

    White people go see movies with white people in them because white white white white white. It’s the default, which doesn’t mean that’s what people want to see, it’s what they are used to seeing and without intervention, that’s all we’ll ever see. Movie studios have to make a concerted effort to put more POC in films. The traditions of cinema have always favored (that’s not even the right word) white people, so why would that change without people, like this blog, speaking up?

    But as for this movie, it looks like trash, it’s straight-up racist, and it’s unoriginal. Bleck.

  5. Haha….while you sat there…..speaking the bare truth….i sit here with a smile on my face. This blog made my night.

  6. I am also weary of this film. However, Robert Downey Jr. was amazing in Tropic Thunder, so I don’t know that I completely agree that actors can’t get away with playing different races (even though that role was pretty much a direct satire of this type of casting). Maybe Depp will blow it out of the water but, based on his recent work I tend to doubt it.

    • RDJ in Tropic Thunder was amazing, but it was definitely a parody of terrible casting bungles like this one.
      I doubt Depp will be able to pull off the miracle he needs to make this work.

    • I was pretty sure that the point of that character was to parody exactly the point that is being made here. That Hollywood figures they can get away with white-a-fying any character.

  7. At the risk of getting all uber-nerdy, Samuel Jackson was cast as Nick Fury because in the Ultimates comic line (a subset of Marvel), Nick Fury was modeled on Jackson and looked just like him.
    But got to go with the general feeling of being appalled by casting a white actor as a Native American. At least in the old TV show, they had Jay Silverheels and he was totally bad ass.

  8. I have to say I too just shook my head and sighed when I first saw the trailer – similar to the feeling I had when I first saw the Tropic Thunder trailer: I didn’t care then or now that it was a parody characterisation being played by Downey Jr.

    Thank you for the LA Times link (great article).

    • Yeah, I think Tropic Thunder was/is quite a contentious issue with a lot of people. I didn’t have so much of a problem with it because I think it was a joke made at the expense of the system rather than at the expense of a minority, but I can definitely understand how people would think otherwise.

      I’m so glad you liked it. It’s such a good article! It’s one I often go back and re-read.

  9. I went to the cinema this weekend and one of the trailers I saw was for this movie. Once the trailer ended, my husband and I looked at each other and said, simultaneously, “That’s racist”. Damn cultural appropriation! Who cares if there isn’t a famous enough Native American actor to play Tonto. They could have gotten an unknown and this could have been his break. Ugh! Needless to say, I won’t be seeing this movie.

  10. I agree with your post, and I totally get why this film will definitely spark a little bit of outrage. The thought of going here is cringe-worthy. There are so many ways that it can go wrong.

    BUT.

    I think that even though Depp might not actually be native or even if the images being used aren’t “authentic”… it is still visually appealing. He does kinda look native in that costume. And Depp is known for his character roles. He will probably be hilarious and he will probably do a better job than most other actors. I don’t think they are looking for a serious portrayal of an aboriginal person, and if they were, they might have gone with someone a little more seriously aboriginal. He is a character, and it’s entertaining (whether for the right or wrong reasons at this point).

    I don’t think that this film will go to the extent that the original went in terms of prejudism/racism. This is 2012, and I think the folks at Disney acknowledge that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney recreates this with a more politically correct perspective. Even though the imagery and clips being used in the trailer/poster are causing a bit of a kerfuffle… I didn’t even know that this movie was happening until I stumbled across this blog. Maybe… just MAYBE… that is their point.

    BECAUSE it is getting so much hype (good or bad) people will be more likely to go see it. And if Disney DOES pull something wonderful out of their hat, I’m sure the skeptics will be relieved.

    And as a period piece… I don’t even necessarily think it’s a bad thing if it DOES cross the line a little… Sometimes, it’s nice to be reminded how drastically things have changed from then to now. Like when you read To Kill A Mockingbird and the N-word is shocking, and how we LEARN from them that it is wrong.

    Also– While Johnny Depp definitely gets more creative control when it comes to his characters than… say… a 5th grade drama student… I still don’t think it’s fair to call him out on everything, when really, there are so many other people involved with the making of this film that are going to call the final shots. A lot of the time, what he says won’t even be his own words– and there are people influencing his costume choices.

    If this film really is as bad as we are expecting it to be– at least it will probably give a lot of First Year humanities students something to write about with a lot of obvious examples of how wrong this is.

    • Do first year humanities subjects need more matter? We have to entirity of human history to go through without producing more content haha.

      The problem with having things cross the line like that is that not everyone is thinking critically about what they’re watching. There’s a huge number of people, as you can see from the comments on this blog, who don’t necessarily see a problem with a white man playing an indigenous characters and those people aren’t going to think about why those portrayals are wrong.

      The fact that it doesn’t look authentic but is aesthetically appealing is another part of the problem because it’s cultural appropriation at its worst.

      Thanks so much for commenting! Sorry my response wasn’t longer or more coherent!

  11. I had no idea that Johnny Depp was playing this role. I do find it rather odd. In the picture – and I don’t mean to be rude or offensive in any way at all- I find that it is so similar to how Captain Jack Sparrow is clad..the same kind of “look” if you know what I mean, that it seems the only reason they picked Depp was because of this reason alone. Which would be sad. Unless, however, good ol’ Johnny approached them and wanted to play Tonto as a sort of challenge to his acting abilities. Could that be possible? I have to say I don’t know enough on the matter…..

  12. Interesting to note (although I completelyh agree with your thesis) that the quintessential cinema “Indian,” Chief Dan George, was in fact Native American, and also a real, no foolin’ Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (British Columbia) for about 10 years back in the fifties.

  13. I also LOVE some Johnny Depp. I’ve had a crush on him since 21 Jump Street. But this is just bad. Now I’m just another Native American rolling my eyes at Hollywood. But at least I’m not another white person playing a playing a person of color, when there are plenty of really good actors out there that ARE the nationality of this character. I do have to say, though- it is Disney. They’re not exactly famous for their accurate and respectful cultural representations.
    If you haven’t already seen a documentary called Reel Injun: On the trail of the Hollywood Indian, I think you might really enjoy it. It chronicles the history of caricaturing Natives in Hollywood, with lots of great film clips and commentary (often hilarious) from Natives in the biz. And, if you’d like to see a very authentic movie about indigenous people, made by and acted by actual indigenous people (Inuits of Alaska), check out a movie called Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. It’s free to watch online- a real cultural gem!
    Thanks for your post- very refreshing and had me laughing a whole lot, which makes the cultural insult a bit more bearable. Humor is good that way. :)

    • I’ll have to look those up! I’m so glad I posted this cos so many people have been recommending a lot of really good articles/films/websites etc. :D
      I agree. Disney don’t have a great track record for anything really. It’s a bit shit.
      I’m really pleased you enjoyed the post! Thanks for reading.

  14. I guess this statement confuses me – “Sattler is grabbing the stuff he likes from different cultures and mooshing them up without thinking about how that might affect the people that he’s stealing imagery from, so that he can make an interesting painting about something wild and exotic.” I don’t know of Kirby Sattler except for having seen the picture in question here but he is an artist. If he were painting a history book it would be historically inaccurate but can’t he have a little creative license with his work? I mean, Picasso painted pictures of the human figure with legs where arms should be and complete anatomical impossibilities but again, it’s art. If Sattler wants to blend different cultures into a single image to create something interesting and make people think a bit I don’t see a problem with that.

    As for Johnny Depp playing an American Indian, well that’s just Hollywood. It’s all about the box office draw and he is a big draw, especially for Disney coming off of the Pirates franchise. That’s just a money move.

    • There’s a difference between Picasso rearranging the human anatomy and Sattler nicking bits from a bunch of different cultures because he finds them aesthetically pleasing. I’m not saying Picasso is problem-free. He isn’t. But the problem with Sattler is that he coming from a position of privelege as a white guy, grabbing bits of different cultures that he finds interesting and rearranging them so that they will be aesthetically pleasing to him and his predominantly white audience, without regarding the impact that that kind of practice can and does have on the indigenous cultures that he’s stealing from.He’s created an image that people outside of those indigenous cultures look at and go “Indian” (I say that in the ‘Cowboys and Indians’ sense) without examining why they’re thinking that. It’s a hollow representation created to please one kind of audience. The ‘it’s art’ excuse doesn’t cover all sins.
      As for ‘just Hollywood’, I mean…I know it’s a money grabbing move. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change. That’s why people have to keep pointing these things out. So eventually Disney will go “ahh… this is wrong.” Haha.

      • I guess my point is that it’s a movie. It’s entertainment, it’s fantasy. It’s not intended to be historically or even culturally accurate. If they were making a movie about the struggles of the American Indian in the 1800s and they had Johnny Depp or any other white guy playing an Indian then I could see where some offense may be taken. He has a skin tone that matches a look they were going for. It’s not like he’s using black face to pretend to be an African American. Also, actors are constantly using language accents and such to pretend to be from different cultures. Would you be just as offended if Johnny made a movie and used an Australian accent to pretend to be from your culture? I think the key word here is “pretend”. It’s not a documentary. Sometimes you just have to let go and let it be what it is, a movie.

  15. Hmmm! alex, I am not sure what you are talking about. Although it seems that some of your comments relate to stereotypes and YOUR belief of how they should be portrayed. Let me share a stereotype with you. Women. Now I was brought up on a healthy diet that women are gentle creatures, caring, loving and OK maybe you get the picture. In my stereotype women do not swear, especially not in print. Imagine how offended I am then to see your blog plastered with swearing. Is it to prove a point? Or is it just to show that you are macho and the aforementioned gentle, loving caring attributes do not apply to you? As far as Johnny Depp and his portrayal of Tonto is concerned does not concern me one jot. After all Johnny is doing it for the money and no amount of ranting will change that. Unless this and his nrxt three movies bomb out. Maybe then he will have another look at how he portrays his characters.

  16. Allow me to clarify what I’m saying: There are numerous problems with this film, not the least of which is the fact that there are negative sterotypes of a culture that have not only put me out, but have also offended people from that culture. The fact that the film is still going ahead is a testament to the fact that Disney has little to no regard for their audiences. If you read the articles I linked at the bottom, you’ll find a couple of really great descriptions of the negative impacts those kinds of stereotypes can have.
    As for the charming little stereotype of women you were brought up on, surely you’ve realised that shit is a myth by now, dude? Women are people. Not caricatures. We’ve got personalities and feelings and a whole bunch of other little surprising tidbits, just like a real boy (that was sarcasm, by the way, referencing a piece of pop culture because this is a pop culture blog… just to make sure we’re on the same page.) So when I swear, I’m not trying to be macho or break stereotypes. I’m just existing. Much like yourself. I would apologise that the swearing offended you, but I’m actually not sorry. There’s a lot of swearing here. And a lot of women with angry feelings. And a lot of men too. And we’re all different. It’s madness, I tell you! Madness! But yeah, you’re probably on the wrong blog.
    As for Johnny doing it for the money, I can only sadly agree. But the more people who point out how incredibly stupid and racist the film is, the more people who rant and raise their voice, the less chance there is of a sequel haha! (No but seriously, you gotta rant about this shit. It’s important. Pop culture is important. People need to learn to think critically about it and not just passively consume.)

    • So…why are you and others like you, angry? Have you tried controlling your anger? Do you hurt people with your anger? Are you angry because Johnny Depp portrays Tonto in a way you think causes offence? Are you offended because Disney is in the business of making movies which pay for the employment they create and make a tidy profit as well. Are you anti profit? Are all the American Plains indians offended by the way you think Tonto will be portrayed. Is it possible most of those you claim are offended will line up at the box office and enjoy the movie? Did you complain about stereotypes when the “Pirates” movies portrayed British Soldiers as pompous asses? Do you complain when James Bond and similar spy movies portray all Russians in the same way? Do you complain when movies spoof a particular type of personality, race, religion, ethnic group or location and create a stereotype. If you do then you are one very busy person. If not then why not? Why single out the American Indians for your cause. Surely there are bigger problems in the world for you to get involved in. Who knows, you might even direct your anger in ways that will help the cause of world peace, understanding and brotherly love. Personally I think you will just go on being angry and not even sure what you are angry about. Try being angry about being hungry, poor, shot in the head because you ask for an education or simply to be treated as a human. The USA is one of the few countries in the world where you can express yourself. Its just a pity people like you prefer to tear down the very fabric which feeds and nurtures you.
      Thanks for the opportunity to have a say, none of which is intended as sarcasm.

      • Ahh, I’m so confused. Did you…did you read the post? Or did you just get to the first paragraph, assume you got the general gist and jump right in and comment? I mean…I think I’ve explained fairly clearly why I’m annoyed and why the prospect of this film makes me cringe, both in the comments and the post itself. I even linked to a couple of useful articles to have a look at. Like, they aren’t just there for show. You should really truly click them and really truly no foolin’ have a look at them. They’re really good and better still, they’re written from the perspective of Native Americans who explain their point of view infinitely better than I ever will. I say this because I’m not sure how we got to the bit about me being anti-profit and potentially violent. Because I’m neither.
        I do however object to huge sums of money being spent on perpetuating harmful stereotypes. So yeah, I spend a lot of time objecting to things in cinema (again… this is why I have a blog). I haven’t exclusively picked Native Americans as the one cause I’m going to campaign for. I’m not going to address the whole ‘portrayals of the British in PotC’ because if you don’t get why that’s silly now, my attempting to explain it in a short comment is not going to help. The Russian thing is an essay unto itself and if you stick around long enough, you’ll probably see me post about it after the James Bond bender that’s inevitably going to happen when I finish exams and watch Skyfall.
        As for the rest of your comment, let’s not assume that you know all there is to know about me based on this blog. I love pop culture so I write about it. What I do outside of this blog in terms of my social work and charitable causes will probably never be posted about because it isn’t relevant, much in the same way that you probably don’t post about that kind of thing on your blog because it’s a travel blog.
        Now, if you’d gotten to the end of the post, you would have noticed that I point out that I am a white girl from Sydney. That would be Sydney, Australia. So I’m not trying to tear down the fabric of US society… or any society for that matter. But societies don’t grow or improve without constructive criticism and debate from their citizens. Consider this my addition to the debate and to the constructive criticism. Like I said before, I think that pop culture has the power to shape the world in a variety of ways, and it’s usually because people aren’t paying attention to it as closely as they should. This is me zooming in.
        Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m guessing that you’re still in the wrong place though.

  17. While I’m not as off-put by the portrayal as you and others and simply don’t take it seriously enough to be bothered, I do realise that the vast majority of people are such that, as you so nicely put it, “Popular culture is one of those things that seeps into your brain when you least expect it.”
    People will far too often believe things and details about things from sources that even they know (or at least should know) are at best vaguely in the vicinity of accurate. If that.
    Hopefully either (a) they’ve done a better job on the character than we imagine based on whats out thus far or (b) this movie will tank and be seen as an embarrassing and poor/cheap cliche-ridden clunker that could have done with some serious tweaking and updating.
    It wasn’t the greatest, but Dynamite Comics ran a very good Lone Ranger comic series not too long ago which was actually far superior to how this is looking so far.
    Cheers!

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  19. Ironically, he was adopted into the tribe this year. I don’t think many members of that tribe are very happy with this. The Shaman who took him in adopted him legally because it was the only way to get him in. I wonder if he calls her “mother” and what his own family thinks of this. I have one greater concern however. How will this man represent the tribe he is now part of. http://www.eonline.com/news/318132/johnny-depp-adopted-by-comanche-nation Here is a link to an article on it–and there are tons of them, so now he legally is an American Indian–but will he claim that in France? Stay tuned…Same bat time! Same bat channel! BTW I love your post and the honesty therein!

    • Thank you! I couldn’t help thinking as I read this that the Comanche Nation is perfectly “okay” with Tanto being portrayed by Johnny Depp. In fact, they’re beyond okay with it. They were quite proud to adopt Depp as an honorary member of the tribe, which is, from what I understand, the tribes’ standard practice for ensuring one of “their own” plays the role. Then, the Comanches were very excited to have Depp as a special guest here for their Comanche Nation Fair. Having Johnny Depp in Lawton, Oklahoma, naturally, caused quite a stir, and not once did I hear anyone, tribe member or otherwise, express disapproval of his portrayal, the costume design or the dialogue. In fact, tribal artists embraced the “Crow like” makeup and included the “historically inaccurate” character’s appearance on the fair’s posters, which depicted Depp’s Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands and Tanto all riding together in a convertible. I understand and agree with the author’s assertion that Hollywood hasn’t always played the Native card “right,” but this blog needs a little more in-depth argument as to how this specifically “victimizes” Native Americans. She just says, essentially, “he’s a white dude; Tanto is Comanche, I mean come on!?” she talks about “otherizing” Natives, but doesnt tell us how that really affects tribes in present day. And it certainly doesn’t appear the Comanche Nation feels victimized one bit. Groups can definitely be victims without fully knowing it, but typically teibes are very vocal about their disapprovals portrayals of historical figures. Remember code name Geronimo, the operation name given to the plot to find and kill Osama Bin Laden? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_name_Geronimo_controversy

      • Hey, thanks for reading. Like I mentioned, I’m Australian, so I’m definitely writing as someone outside the issue looking in. Having said that I did link to some really interesting articles at the bottom that I would highly recommend reading, which feature some of the backlash against the initial casting. I would also recommend reading the “I hated Tonto (still do)” article because I think it gives a really beautiful look at exactly how portrayals of Native Americans in cinema actually affect individuals and communities and totally expresses it in a way I never could as a white middle clad girl from Sydney. It’s obviously a much more complicated issue than I’m prepared to deal with here because this blog is mostly me talking shit about celebrities haha.

      • I totally get the idea that how we portray groups of people in popular culture “matters,” and I wish you just would’ve verbalized that more in this particular blog. I was specifically responding to the Johnny Depp issue, simply because the NDNs around here would have made their distaste quite vocal if they had a problem with Johnny himself or the filmmakers. I must say, it was quite an honor for the tribe to have him participate in their festivities and to play Tonto. Just because he’s white doesn’t mean he won’t be good, even though Hollywood has been guilty of stereotyping and misrepresenting Natives historically. And what do I know? I’m just a middle-class white girl from the suburbs. I’m not a Comanche.

  20. Pingback: I Hated Tonto (Still Do): an article by Sherman Alexie « NOT YOUR USUAL FOLKLORE

  21. Sensationalism, grandiose reality, if their were true conscioness instead of regressed consciousness you wouldn’t have a so called culture that is obsessed with entertainment and reference it as some sort of benchmark for morality(lol)! Traditional cultures will and have borrowed and improvised in ceremonies… Ever been to a powwow?? So if you are looking to Mainstream Americana for your moral leader in authenticity go to their text books and John Wayne and his wooden teeth. Become familiar with the terms called: Simulacrum-Hyperreality. I believe I’m asking a lot for people to wake-up but I dream big!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. I thought Tonto was originally Potawatomi? I guess it doesn’t matter as Tonto is based off some white guys idea of what an Indian is to begin with.

  23. Finally! Somebody saying Johnny Depp has some Native American ancestry! You can see from his skin tone and his facial features that he is in part Native American, not plain old rich white American as has been stated here. He has also been quoted as saying that his great grandmother grew up as either Cherokee or Creek Indian. Ive also checked out the IMDB cast list for the movie and Gil Birmingham (who was suggested by someone) IS a confirmed Comanche and IS in the movie. Saginaw Grant, David Midthunder, Malachi Tsoodle-Nelson are also confirmed Native American actors appearing in the movie. Granted this list isnt infinitely huge but that was after just a quick scan of the credits list without proper examination. And blaming Depp for the wardrobe choice of his character? As a major actor he has a little more creative control than most but that outfit and image for Tonto in this movie was chosen by the costume design and art design departments. I am by no means a Johnny Depp groupie who blindly defends his honour to the hilt, but point blame where it is due.

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